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Ringquist: Do You Care About Flypaper?

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Famed physicist Richard Feynman wrote a book called "What Do You Care What Other People Think?" Now, I think that's a fine concept.

It's not a bad way to live your life, within reason. I mean, really -- who cares what those people over there, swilling straight gin while sucking on vermouth-flavored Jolly Ranchers, think about the fact that you are dancing in your underwear to old Madonna tunes in broad daylight on the median of the Merritt Parkway? Nobody, that's who. Let them get on with their own lives.

And why are they standing huddled together in a group like that on the side of the Merritt Parkway? I'd like to tell them what I think of them. Except they don't care what I think.

Which brings me to my point (didn't think I had one of those, did you? Well, what do I care what you think?) My point being, it's all well and good not to care what others think but the flip side of that is this: "What do other people care what you think?"

If you don't, they don't. They're rubber but you're not glue -- you're rubber too. What they think bounces off you, then bounces off them, then bounces back off you.

And those other 9,753 people driving on the Parkway, they're all thinking thoughts about other people that are just bouncing off those people and flying back around until they hit a random person who does care and then everything sticks to that poor sucker.

Is that fair, you may well ask? And well you may. You may well think it isn't fair to that poor soul -- everybody's thoughts stuck to him like flies on flypaper (you may think that's an outdated simile, but what do I ... never mind).

So this "Who Cares?" game needs to be played by everybody or somebody's going to get the short end of the flypaper stick, or something. The reality is that everybody cares sometimes and doesn't care other times.

I'm writing this stuff because I like the sound of my own voice but I hope you like it too. I care if you don't like it; I care what you think. To a point. If you don't like it, my caring about you and your dumb old thoughts comes to a screeching halt and I can move on to caring about what somebody who does like it thinks.

Is that where we end up? If people agree with us, we care; if they don't, we don't. "What do you care what other people think?" and its cousin, "What do other people care what you think?" really mean something else. They both mean, I care passionately what you think if you like me and if you like me, you care passionately what I think.

But those other people, gathered together, wearing those dumb parkas with the fluffy hoods in the 90 degree heat, sucking on their Jolly Ranchers can all go to blazes.

That's what I think. Do you care? I don't.

Kurt Ringquist is the author of numerous scraps of doggerel, superfluous information and questionable prose. His work has appeared in Kansas Quarterly as well as at the bottom of bird cages in and around Fairfield County. He is the former publisher of the LW Flyer, a satirical newspaper with as many as seven readers, all coincidentally named Ringquist. Comments and questions may be directed to Kurt at kurt@kurtswords.com. For more nonsense along these lines, visit www.kurtswords.com.

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