Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Rule of Thumb for Our Times


Warning: I’m not in a good mood.

I fell asleep at three last night and at seven-thirty a crew of rowdy partiers returned home in an assortment of heavily altered states.


Actually, I’m used to it. It comes with choosing to spend high season at the heart of summertime Europe’s party central island. Yes, that undoubtedly says more about me than my neighbors, but don’t lump Barbara into the diagnosis as she escapes to calmer shores until mid-August.

Could I be crazy?  Don’t everyone rush to answer, for after all, it’s the only chance I get to see good friends from around the world who also enjoy/endure insane August.  Besides, the energy of the place definitely inspires me. I write at a clip where words come at twice their normal pace, and I generally stay at home to write, what with the town and beaches sheer madness. 

Hmm, I’ve now used “crazy,” “insane,” and “madness” in one paragraph—plus “diagnosis” elsewhere—which brings me around to an observation I heard a few years back from a Mykonos friend who served many decades as assistant to the chief of psychiatric services for one of the United States’ most populous states.

He had a rule of thumb for explaining the state of our world, formed through his years of first hand professional observation.  Here goes: 

“Thirty percent of everyone out there should be institutionalized, another thirty percent need heavy medication.  That leaves forty percent to work with, and half of them simply won’t like you.”

That’s a pretty dire—and dour—outlook on our world, or even just the US.  I found it hard to believe, yet too irresistibly funny not to quote.  After all, to some extent it’s undoubtedly true, but the percentages had to be way off.  I mean sixty percent of the population in need of serious mental attention?   Come on…no way that could be accurate. 

Enter 2016.  What the hell is going on out there?  Truth is now such a negotiable commodity that alternative realities have gained a firm foothold in our belief systems. People who don’t even know how to spell Schadenfreude are rooting for it. 

If the sixty percent is on the march, thankfully so far it’s to different drummers. The question is, what role does the forty percent plan on taking?

I sure wish I knew the answer. It used to be I thought only those on Mykonos in August accepted madness as normal. Now it seems a worldwide phenomenon.

At least on Mykonos, come the fall, sanity traditionally returns.  I’m not so sure about that for the rest of the world.

We shall see. And pray.



  1. They ask us to pray for Columbine.
    They ask us to pray for New York.
    They ask us to pray for Boston.
    They ask us to pray for Sandy Hook.
    They ask us to pray for Dallas.
    They ask us to pray for Orlando.

    I don't think the praying is working.

    I think it's time to try something else...

    But, hey, Jeff, keep a stiff upper lip, chap. Everything's going to be all right, as long as you have a wild eyed chihuahua in your pocket.

    (Or are you just happy to hear from me?)

  2. You're right on all points, EvKa.

    And, yes, I can't believe I just wrote that.

  3. Fall could just be the start of what historians will call 'the crazy era' in the U.S. I fear this is just the prelude. When friends remark, "No television in Greece!?" We tell them that is a feature of our home there - done by choice. And luckily it won't be long until we return to the world of limited news of the U.S.

  4. But if you don't have a TV, how do you replace the joy of throwing things at it. :)

  5. I can't hold off any longer. It amazes me how none of you eagle-eye mystery buffs picked up on the heavy duty message sent to you in the photo at the very top of this post. The subject stopped me in my tracks when I came across it in front of a popular bar. Take a close look at the hoohah/shisha and tell me what you see.

    And your reaction. I'll be interested.

    1. I honestly didn't have a clue what it was, and I didn't look closely enough to spot that it was in the shape of an assault rifle. Or maybe I'm just so tired of seeing them that my eyes automatically (heh) filtered it out.

      Yeah, that's what I'm going with.

      Unfortunately, it's all too apropos for our times. :-(

  6. You mean the AK-Hookah? Noticed it, figured it was a pretty good metaphor for the insanity, actually.

    I sincerely hope things relax around here by the end of November. If they don't, I might have to turn around and head back to Japan on a more permanent basis.

    1. Sadly, that photo is also a pretty good metaphor for this summer's awesome bad taste.

  7. I feel like I'm living in the Twilight Zone with daily explosions of Trump-speak, no facts, no reality. Just right-wing blather and bigotry.

    Every day I turn on the TV and he's there. There is no escape -- and that's on the "liberal" media.

    I'm hiding in crime fiction. That's the only place. I'd rather be anywhere but here until November, except in a war zone.

    1. I hear you, Kathy. Sadly I must return in mid-September for Bouchercon (that's not the sad part:)), meaning I'll be there just in time for the dirtiest part of the mud wrestling.