On the Other Hand

Read this first.

I was all set to come here and agree with Stanley Fish, one of the most intelligent and entertaining writers around.  But then I thought about it a little more.

As much as I abhor season finales (I held a personal celebration last spring when LOST's last cliffhanger faded to the credits), I have to admit there is something thrilling about them.  The rug was just pulled out from under you.  Ouch!  But also, wow!  You have fodder for thought, discussion and conjecture.  There's excitement in the unknown.

Sold-out movies?  I've had my share of those, too.  Almost all were from my days living in the East Village, which seems to be populated entirely with eclectic movie buffs.  More often than not, my friends and I would get tickets to the next available show, then go out for coffee or inspect the art books at Barnes & Noble to kill time.  It was like a free gift: more time to spend away from school and with each other.  Come on, who ever heard of studying while you wait for the movie to begin?

About the worst story I can think of in this vein is the time Rob dropped megabucks on tickets to a Rolling Stones show in Atlantic City.  I took off work early and we drove three hours through a torrential downpour and checked into our hotel, then went to walk the boardwalk.  As we sauntered through a neighboring casino, we overheard a conversation between two patrons, the gist of which was, "I can't *believe* the Stones show was canceled!"

We gaped at each other, aghast.  But we had already paid for the room, and there was no way we were driving another three hours through the giant puddle that stretched from Baltimore to the Jersey shore.  So after a little sulking, we dressed for the show, then played enough blackjack to pay for a fancy dinner at a restaurant that turned into one of our favorites.

Not much to argue with in his withering critique of automated voice information systems, of course (my favorite is "Is there anything else I can help you with?" because it's usually preceded by a most unhelpful conversation.)  And I know he's just having a bit of rhetorical and satirical fun.  But when the ATM near our house is out of service, I have to drive to the one near my parents' house, which usually means I stop in for a bit to catch up and play with the cat.  And I have occasionally been able to make friends with the customer service representatives who apologetically place me on hold (if you've never had occasion to use your AppleCare, I recommend you do so just for the fun of speaking to their service staff!)  And I'm sorry, but "We sure don't!" really means, "I know this for a fact, and I take responsibility for it, as opposed to the people in my position who might equivocate and / or pass you off on someone else.  I'm being straight with you."

To be clear, I am not a "Make Lemonade!" person.  I can gripe with the best of them when I don't get what I bargained for.  But I also see the value in being denied something you want -- not just moral and spiritual value, but entertainment value too.  Some of the best moments are the ones that blindside you.  If you're not too cranky to enjoy them.