You think you’ve been embarrassed? Well, I’ve got you beat.
First, it all happened to me on the other side of the planet so I couldn’t go home, turn off the lights and put my head under the pillow.
It happened in Xi’an, China, in an airport the morning I was scheduled to fly to Chongqing to see a panda sanctuary, then board a boat to go down the Yangtze river through the Three Gorges, and then down to Shanghai.
Second, I was traveling with a small group and the Xi’an Airport was huge, so I had nowhere to hide as my embarrassment went on and on and on…
It all started innocently at dinner the night before we were scheduled to fly out of the Xi’an airport the next morning. Our guide addressed the group and informed us that because our plane left so early the next day we all must have our bags packed and outside of our door at 4:30 so they could be picked up and taken to the airport before we went to breakfast.
Everything had to be packed except the clothes we would be wearing the next day and whatever toiletries we required for that morning.
We were told that those toiletries, once used, had to be carried on our person until we landed at Chongqing airport several hours later at which time we could return them to our suitcases.
After dinner that night, we all went up to our rooms, picked out the essential toiletries, which in my case was toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, razor, soap, and hairbrush. I also chose my clothes for the next day, which in my case, were one of my endless pairs of khaki pants, a blue long sleeve business shirt, underwear, sox and shoes.
All the rest was packed in the suitcase, which I put outside the door right before I set the alarm and went to bed.
The next morning when my alarm went off, before I showered and shaved, I peeked out the door. My suitcase was gone and on its way to the airport. I looked at the clock and measured the short time I had to get to breakfast.
After my shower, I bundled up my toiletries, put on my blue business shirt and started to pull up my khaki pants, but couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get them on until I realized that the only pair of pants I had to wear were actually those I had mistakenly packed, which unfortunately belonged to my teenage son.
My son has a 32-inch waist. I do not.
I was running out of time. I had to get to breakfast.
I grabbed both sides of the pants so that my fingers gripped the pockets and I hoisted as hard as I could. No progress.
Next, I lay on my back on the bed with my feet extended in the air and bounced on the bed to get maximum leverage, kicked my feet into the air and yanked with all my strength. No progress.
The top of the pants made it to maybe slightly above my crotch. I’m pretty certain I did not get the pants high enough to halfway cover my back end. Nothing.
Next, I tried straddling a chair and forcefully rode my pants like a cowboy rides a horse in order to force the crotch into submission. I then tried jumping up and down to get maximum thrust, lift and torque. Nothing. This was not good!
I had to get to breakfast but I couldn’t leave the room. This was not good at all!
I reassessed my situation.
I still had to put on my shoes and socks. I would have to roll up the bottom of the pants so that I wouldn’t trip over them.
I was able to walk, but only if I could hold the top of my pants up as high as possible, and walk with my knees banging together every time I took a step.
I searched the room for any possible help. I was fortunate to find yesterday’s Chinese newspaper — bright with color — to cover my crotch.
It was a very long and slow elevator ride for every inch of the decent down maybe three floors. I noticed that the Chinese people in Xi’an, at least in this elevator on this particular morning, tended to be very quiet as they tried to find someplace else to look other than at my crotch.
My group at breakfast was less forgiving. They had to stop eating because they couldn’t stop laughing.
Our guide tried to be helpful and encouraged me to wander the airport to find a clothing store, apparently in the hope that I could learn Mandarin instantly and acquire a pair of pants that was twice the size that any self-respecting member of the culture would never wear.
The guide was just trying to be helpful I know, but didn’t seem to understand that I was really, at this point, no longer interested in clothing. I was no longer hoping to fit into the culture.
I was hoping to vanish from the face of the earth.
Everyone in the airport seemed to be walking by and rubbernecking in order to catch sight of whatever everyone else was laughing at.
I was completely hunched over, gripping my newspaper and pants, with my pant legs rolled up above my ankles and, just to add to my unlikely assimilation into the culture, I was wearing my disposable razor, shaving cream, toothbrush, toothpaste and hairbrush bundled up into a boutonniere blooming from my shirt pocket to add to my look.
The Chinese newspaper was fast becoming my most valuable asset since, as it turned out, my seat on the plane was between two meticulously dressed, very frightened Chinese businessmen who apparently feared any eye contact with me, their fellow traveler, for fear that it might prompt me to flash them.
In times like this I try to focus on making my situation into a positive learning experience.
After thinking about my situation for a little while, I concluded there wasn’t a lot to learn so, in the alternative, I thought it might be helpful to try to imagine what could be worse than what was happening to me at this exact moment.
I no longer wonder what it must feel like to wear a miniskirt if you are knock kneed, but that wasn’t bad enough, so I tried to imagine what it was like to wear a miniskirt, knock kneed with high heels.
I made sure that I would be the last person to leave the plane when we landed. in order to give the baggage handlers extra time so when I went to pick up my bag it would be there.
I hid in the airport men’s room for a while. I was afraid I had permanently injured my lower intestines. I was sure I had bruising. I couldn’t really lift or lower my pants now.
Eventually, I built up all my courage and raced through the teeming airport hunched over, with one hand holding the top of my pants and the other gripping my newspaper.
I swooped down on my bag and hauled it into the men’s room, found a stall, opened the suitcase, liberated myself of my son’s pants, and instantly threw them away for no good reason other than I needed to purge them.
A few months ago, I went on a trip with some of that same group that had gone on the China trip. When my story came up, I refused to relive the experience, so they went right ahead and told it anyway. They kept on embellishing the story at my expense.
The trip to China was 10 years ago, and the listeners could not stop laughing. Apparently, it gets better and better.
One person, who I am not sure was even on the China trip, claimed to have seen it all from the back and referred to it as “the morning the moon rose over the Yangtze!”
I must now live in infamy forever.
Hopefully this will make you laugh.
This is the year of my 50th college reunion and here is my ode about what I think about that.
The 50th Reunion of the Class of 1973
(and a Tip of the Hat to the Class of 2023)
So is this where sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll ends?
With grandchildren, prostate problems and Depends?
Not for the class of 1973
On this, our 50th anniversary!
We’re the Alums that never stopped having fun…
For us our college years were just a dry run
So why try to remember what I’ve forgot?
Maybe it’s a little. Maybe it’s a lot.
Who cares? Fifty years of paranoia
Now pot’s legal’n, some say, even good for ya.
Forget that thought that we are all old relics.
Now shrinks treat patients with our psychedelics.
Memory and “smarts” never go hand in glove.
I’ve no memory of what my major was.
Who cares, long as they don’t take my diploma back
If my “memory lane” is a cul-de-sac!
I do still remember my graduation!
That 50th, class of ’23, had some fun!
And that is one thing that I’ll never forget.
Them dancing to James Brown, I really regret.
I’ll tell you the whole truth. I will tell you no lie.
Wasn’t exactly “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”
Man, we lived through some stuff you just can’t forget:
Watergate, Berlin Wall, and the Chia Pet.
But wait! Just stop and wait. I wonder what we
Look like to the grads of 2023?
They’re so advanced I check for hair on my palms.
They have evolved so much! They’re truly phenoms.
I still type with both hands and I feel very dumb.
Darwin was right. Now they can type with their thumbs.
Oh, but we’ve got wisdom in the class of ’73!
First, you must accept Harvard’s study on longevity.
It is not your new Harvard degree or your new PhD.
Joy comes from your classmates, and your friends and your family.
Second, the older you get the shorter your stories should be.
And last, “Peace ’n Love!” from the great class of ’73.
For the last 10 or so years I’ve been a poet laureate. I love the school, I love my class, and I love my classmates, and all I have to do to keep the job is hope the alumni laugh. This is a very prestigious job which pays nothing and thus has made me irreplaceable.
Visit https://robertbowiejr.com/haa/ for further hometown skulduggery.
I want to tell you about a special award I created and bestowed upon myself.
The Stuffed Shirt Award.
Usually, awards are to celebrate accomplishment — with plaques or statuettes and a large party where such honors are bestowed, like The Oscars and Tonys, or Lifetime Achievement Awards.
However, there are also awards that single out questionable distinction.
For example, the Darwin Awards are annually given for “improving the gene pool.” This is deceptive because it only honors an act so stupid it often ends with the demise of the honoree and is thus given posthumously.
One of the early Darwin Awards went to a gentleman who put a jet rocket engine in the trunk of a Dodge Dart, and died after hitting a vertical cliff wall about 400 feet above the highway.
Somewhere between these two extremes lives the Stuffed Shirt Award.
The Stuffed Shirt Award is typically reserved for professionals, specifically professionals who think too highly of themselves.
The award requires a public demonstration of perceived self-worth, which must be 1) noticed by at least one other person and 2) leads to a moment of genuine disbelief demonstrated by a visible shake of the head by the observer.
An example would be the senior partner at a large law firm I was up against in NYC who FedExed his dry cleaning home to Chicago because he didn’t like the way the dry cleaners in New York City did his shirts.
Hence, the name of the award but the award is not about shirts alone. Here’s how I qualified:
I was fortunate when I first started my law firm back in 1990 to be representing a very large electrical contractor who routinely did huge jobs, such as the electrical work on Coke ovens at Bethlehem Steel, and also the Ted Williams Tunnel, which was towed in 12 sections by tug boats up to Boston from Maryland.
The case covered the construction of a subway system in southern Maryland leading from to Washington DC. There were loads of defendants.
It was an arbitration. The judge and everyone involved had agreed it should be held at the empty yet-to-be-opened subway station where the work had been done. I loved the idea because the subway station “courtroom” was my Exhibit A.
The Maryland State government had many branches and each had different lawyers representing them who were “in-house counsel.” I, however, was an independent lawyer with a big client and I was my own firm and I was damn proud of it.
I had all the makings of a stuffed shirt. All I needed was an event that would lead to a “genuine moment of sincere disbelief and the shake of the head” to be a competitor.
My client and I were seated in the middle of several tables pushed end-to-end, with all the opposing lawyers spread out on the other side.
As the arbitration began, each lawyer introduced their agency. They started at one end of the table, announced the agency, and then announced they were “in-house counsel“ for the agency.
The introductions went from left to right and finally ended after perhaps 15 minutes. None of them were independent counsel. They had all introduced themselves as “in-house counsel.”
Then it was my turn, and I decided that I needed to distinguish myself as an intimidating big shot lawyer.
I paused. I straightened the evidence books and the trial notebooks on the table, leaned forward in my chair, and announced:
“I’m Bob Bowie. Outhouse Counsel.”
My effort at intimidation had fallen short. The laughter rose and renewed several times, echoing in the large empty building. Thereafter, throughout the case, my fellow lawyers would periodically slap me on the back and say how funny I was.
I won the case but had dodged a bullet. There was no plaque or statuette. There wasn’t a celebration. They didn’t even know I had qualified for a Stuffed Shirt Award. To my amazement, this was the start of several long friendships.
Whenever I see them, they are quick to remind me that I am still their favorite “outhouse counsel.”
Self-importance can be like a hot air balloon.
It’s beautiful to see the world from an exulted height but returning back to earth may be its unexpected gift.
Forget politics! This is about Dizlxia… sorry. Dicklessia… Dilexsia… sorry.
BBC Science Focus Magazine, dated June 24th, 2022, headlined that researchers at Cambridge University have determined:
“Dyslexia isn’t a disorder, it’s part of our species’ cultural evolution…”
This is wonderful news.
Apparently, I was part of a “cultural evolution“ when I was flunking first-year Spanish three years in a row.
I wasn’t because dyslexia was my “disorder.” It must have been my “unconscious commitment to a cultural evolution.”
That explains everything!
Maybe I have been creating my own language as part of this cultural evolution? Maybe English is my foreign language?
All these years, I haven’t been some old dyslexic with a nasty addiction to spellcheck. Hell, no! I see myself differently now.
I’m sort of an old professor working and creating in my own language based on bad grammar, worse punctuation, and horrible misspellings! A pop artist working in a collage of words!
This is great! I have already contacted my old middle school and my two high schools and I have asked for a reevaluation.
I have asked that my grades be changed from F- to A+ because of my deep and abiding early commitment to being part of a cultural evolution, as is evident from the fact that I repeated 4th, 9th, and 11th grade and attended endless summer schools.
Because it took me six years to get through high school, after rereading the article I requested masters’ degrees from my past schools.
In hindsight, I jumped the gun. I should have asked for Ph.D.s.
What if this “cultural evolution” is the new age of honesty and fairness and we are all part of it?
I will confess in all honesty it came easily for me to create my own language (and at times even my own alphabet) but once I finally accepted that nobody could understand anything I wrote, it seemed fair because I couldn’t understand anything they wrote either.
Anyway, because of this — my new linguistic and cultural understanding — I decided to give my new language a name. After all, it is not French or Spanish or Russian, no.
I decided to call it “BOB.”
Despite what you think I did not name my language after myself. I named it BOB as a public service.
It is a language which is specifically designed for dyslexics because you can spell it frontwards or backwards and it is still B-O-B.
Let me give you an example:
B-O-B. You see?… There I spelled it backwards.
The article went on to state:
“People with dyslexia have brains that are specialised to explore the unknown, and this strength has contributed to the success and survival of our species.”
Wow! I am feeling blessed that I have “contributed to the success and survival of our species,” because I am pretty certain that I have spent my whole life exploring the unknown.
When it takes six years to get out of high school it is not unreasonable to be exploring and expecting a long professional life in footwear.
Please read the BBC Science Focus magazine article to see if it applies to you.
It’s not long. It’s just about four, maybe five pages.
It only took me two months. If it takes you less don’t worry about it.
It’s a little different being part of cultural evolution but it can be fun and it will teach you tons of empathy for other people.
Maybe that’s the “cultural evolution” they are talking about. Even though we are all different we are all in this together.
There has been a lot going on in American politics since the search of Mar-a-largo to recover some confidential documents. A lot of finger pointing.
Almost half of the country believes it is a “witch hunt” and the FBI is a cover up for the deep state.
I decided to quickly solve this problem and offer a solution.
Trust me — here is the inside story!
The deep state is real and I have the proof.
(The real deep state is never capitalized. That’s how you know it’s the real deep state.)
The deep state is real, as is evident from the demise of the stick shift.
Ask yourself: In a world driven by Classified and Top Secret Information, isn’t it amazing that nobody has objected to the disappearance of the stick shift?
It is that big of a cover-up!
Hasn’t the entire insurance industry for years been obsessed with “uninsured motorists”?
Why wouldn’t they be? Think of the years of lost profits.
So, why no reporting on the fact that the insurance industry has silently teamed up with personal injury lawyers in order to support driverless cars?
It was hidden but obvious. Follow the money!
It benefits the insurance companies and the lawyers!
If only cars — and no longer the drivers — can be sued, lawyers need only to sue Tesla and other car manufacturers making driverless cars and then, even better, the manufacturers will have to buy the liability insurance — not the drivers — so uninsured motorists are no longer a problem.
You know how they did this?
They eliminated the stick shift.
It gets better. Imagine if they got a favorable interpretation of the Constitution?
If you are an “originalist” member of the Supreme Court there is no evidence that there were any cars with stick shifts around at the ratification of the Construction. In fact, there is ample evidence that there were only horses.
This Supreme Court could put the icing on the cake, because an originalist Court could rest its case on the fact that horses back then never were operational by stick shift.
Thank God for the wisdom of the founders.
The thing is, the deep state can get you off track intentionally. They often hide things in plain view. Like our former president admits everything to avoid a cover up.
For example, remember that signer of the Declaration of Independence with a huge signature? John Hancock? Why the big signature? What was his line of work? Could it have been he just started an insurance company that would solve the age old problem of uninsured motorists and ambulance chasers?
I told you. The deep state is all about getting you off track.
Think about it. The deep state is too smart to be really concerned about insurance companies or personal injury lawyers!
You guessed it?
It is all about Elon Musk controlling Twitter and a past president who can’t buy his voice back and didn’t buy Twitter stock early?
… Go a little deeper. It is about communication in fighting.
Why did Musk go into space on a space ship that did not have a stick shift?
It was a secret message.
This is actually very subtle, even for the deep state. Is it in fact a message from the anti-deep state, which is the deep state acting as the anti-deep state being the deep state that is really the actual hidden deep state?
So maybe Elon was sending an undetectable message that ”all is ready. Release our guy from the past!”
What do you think that raid at Mar-a-Largo was all about?
To attack the FBI and American law enforcement in a “new law-and-order campaign” of the deep state?
Nobody messes with the deep state! They got their man — and the first steps to a new law-and-order campaign for a new nation!
Okay, I promised to offer a solution. Here it is:
If you don’t want the deep state to hack into your passwords, install a stick shift on your computer — because no one but you will remember how to use it — and then put your GPS in a driverless Uber Eats® and send a cheeseburger to Mar-a-Largo with extra ketchup and napkins.
No one will understand, so you will be safe.
If there is any problem, the lawyers will have to sue the car.
As a lawyer I was your advocate, but now as a Poet my job is to help you see all things differently. For example:
I have a silver gray antique BMW Z3 convertible. It looks like a ridiculous self important go-cart. It has five gears and a stick shift. It is loud. It is very low to the ground and only my head sticks out of the top.
When I drive this car I am publicly on display as a self-confessed idiot. Sort of a clown. Young boys with fresh learner’s permits pull up to me at stop lights, rev their engines, and laugh at me. I should be embarrassed.
But if I tell you, “I know I look like an old man driving a roller skate…” you laugh — but once you’ve imagined me in this car, you look at the car and the old man differently. It may be funny or it may be sad, but as a poet I have that ability to make you see things differently .
It is the ability to break the mold that we all live in and take for granted, again and again and again. The cement truck pours and we instantly take for granted that hardening cement and live with those forms forever. Poetry has the ability to break what is permanent and make it new by presenting it differently.
When I write a poem or a play I am asking you to hear my voice, look through my eyes, and see the “flash” vision that I create out of what we live in and take for granted together. I am driving the same roads, obeying the same traffic lights, and stalled in the same rush-hour traffic as you are. I’m using the same language and your words but I am aware of the sound of the words and the rhythm of our shared language in order to create that “flash” of the vision I want to create: “The old man driving a roller skate.”
That is the poet’s work. I must jackhammer out of existence something you have seen in your imagination, perhaps forever.
Let me give you two “flash” examples. Two quick comic examples from the best Poet of the English language: Shakespeare describes a drunkard who is upchucking on the street as, “Speaking with a full flowing stomach,“ or snidely describes a couple in an illicit affair as, ”being a beast with two backs.” In a “flash,” he can help you imagine what you expect, differently.
The job of the Poet is to bring you back to before the cement truck came into your life.