Dumbing It Up


Elizabeth Willis Barrett

Sometimes I am in the flow.  Daily life just works out like it’s supposed to.  I can turn left with only a 15 second wait, I can find what I need at Walmart in record time, I feel energetic and “with it”–whatever “it” is.  That usually happens when I start the day with a good dose of scripture study, prayer, exercise, Airbourne and my Silver Centrum multi-vitamin.

But some days I don’t quite make it into the flow and the day jigs and jags across the minutes like a Tiddly Wink and I’m glad when that day is over and I can begin again with a new morning.

As it turned out, I needed a new morning on the Freshman Dinner day.  I took on the Freshman Dinner and planned a very simple menu that I could execute myself.  The centerpieces were Teddy Bears and balloons and any Freshman should have been in awe.  Success was in view.

The main thing I wanted to have happen at the Freshman dinner was to have each of these ASU freshman in our LDS University Ward get to know each other and mingle with everyone.  So several days before, I worked on the name tags.  Name tags are a must.  I color coded them so that the attendees would begin their simple meal at one table and when I rang the bell they would go to the next, changing table partners and chatting prodigiously during the whole event.  I had everything there on time–the foil wrapped hotdogs, the condiments, the pea pods and carrots, the drinks and the cookies.  I repeat–Simple!

Everything was in readiness for the huge crowd.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t advertised it very well and the crowd wasn’t huge.  We had to go out into the halls and bring in Sophomores and Juniors and even non-students to eat those hot dogs.

I thought they would still get to know new people because I had worked so hard on the table-changing name tags.  There I found that I had slipped also.  When I told them all to change tables to the next color on their name tag, I realized that those who started out at the blue table would all go together to the red table because they all had the exact color order on their tags.  Another “duh!” in my favor.    The only thing to do was to let them stay at the tables they had sat down to at the beginning and get out of their way and let them eat.  Sort of missed the point of the Freshman dinner.

Every time I have an out of focus kind of day, it reminds me of that Freshman Dinner name tag fiasco.  Some things are just hard to think through.

I heard once that Mark Twain was trying to dock a canoe and kept coming around to the wrong side.  Maybe it wasn’t Mark Twain.  Maybe it was Benjamin Franklin or some other celebrity.  And maybe it wasn’t a canoe.  I’m sure it wasn’t a car and a gas pump, but someone with disorientation could bring a car around to the wrong side on several tries.  That is how I feel when I try to make a two sided birthday card on the computer–disoriented.  No matter how hard I try to think it through, I still print the second side incongruently to the first side.  I have finally had to write down the order and position of the pages in explicit detail so I can make it work on the first try.  Then I have to remember that making a two sided copy on the printer works differently than printing directly from the computer.

Is it any wonder that my mind or anyone else’s sometimes has a hard time figuring things out?  We can only keep trying.


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