In 1963, Edyie Gorme recorded the hit song, “Blame It on the Bossa Nova,” which explained why she and her boyfriend fell in love… “with its magic spell…” A couple of decades later, Michael Jackson recorded, “Blame It on the Boogie,” as he related in song that his “baby’s always dancing…” and so he never gets no lovin… Depending on how old you are, you can probably relate to either of those songs – there are also some rap music albums that invite you to blame “it” on the singer, or the music group for whatever it is you might want to blame them for.
Blame is always a helpful tool, when you want to give a reason for something happening. Of course, it is also a miserable title to receive when the finger of blame points at you, for something you have done or not done. Aren’t we humans a funny lot? I have always had to shake my head when I have heard about “no-fault” divorces. It’s nobody’s fault, they say – we just fell out of love, or grew apart, or … when the awful truth is that it is “both-fault,” if a relationship just falls to pieces. To enter a relationship means that each one takes the responsibility for both the success and health, and for the dis-ease or breakup, unless of course, there was an action totally on the side of one of the parties that is particularly pernicious (the word means, “having a harmful effect”).
The “song” that seems to have captured the hearts and minds of most Americans over the last seven months is “Blame It on the Coronavirus!” The truth is, whatever “it” happens to be, “it” can easily be fitted into being a victim of the pandemic. Of course, this started off with a shortage of toilet paper, then eggs, then hand sanitizer, then craft projects, then meat, then whatever else, from Pepcid to all-purpose flour. Earlier this month, we realized the freezer in the garage just wasn’t keeping things cold, and found that its new hobby was creating a facsimile of the Antarctic Ice Shelf on the roof of the compartment, so that it had trapped a number of food items behind the frost. When we counted back to try to remember when we purchased the freezer, we settled on 1997, which made it only 23 years old, so we decided that perhaps it was time for a new one – even one that possibly could be frost free! I did the research, found the best one for us, and promptly ordered it and was greeted with the news that it would be ready for delivery in a month. “Blame it on the pandemic,” they said. And so we did.
Another pernicious (there’s that word again) development for our family began in March. I went from driving close to 3000 miles/month to less than 300 miles/month. Adam started working from home, which dropped his driving by 75%, and Aaron and Cheri’s cars also began to sit for long periods of time. We are doing better now, in starting and driving the cars at least around the block, but for a time there, it seemed most every week, one or the other vehicles would just run out of battery juice. Apparently, modern cars have all sorts of sneaky little systems that run whether or not the car is turned on, and it’s far more than the clock. Apparently as well, if someone (like us) simply neglects to start or drive the car for two or three weeks, someone will be surprised by the sound of sheer silence as they attempt to start the car. This also will happen when, after driving the car a week or two earlier, “someone” (I won’t say her name…) didn’t give the door the expected hard shut, but left the door slightly ajar, which also kills the battery.
I blame it on the pandemic. I’ve taken to blaming all auto problems on the pandemic. It’s easier that way. The time finally came last week, which dragged into this week, that Aaron’s car communicated that it needed “service soon,” and then that the service was overdue. I didn’t want to wait for a Mazda tantrum, so I made an appointment. It was then that Aaron mentioned that his “fob” would only work when it was pushed against the starter button.
Ok – most of you will know what I’m talking about, but for anyone else, a “fob” used to be a little ornament that was attached to a pocket watch chain, that men of distinction would wear across their vest. It also meant the chain itself, and it also meant the little pocket in the vest where one would place the pocket watch – different than a wristwatch, and so the different name.
That was then. The word was co-opted by those engineers who invented a wonderful gem known as the keyless entry. Instead of actually having a key that would be inserted in a lock to unlock your car door, all you really needed to do was to keep your “fob” – a small device of varying shapes, depending on the car – in your purse, or curiously enough, in your pocket, like the fobs of old. With the fob on your person, you simply touched a button, or a handle, and the car would open for you. Getting in the car, no key is required to actually start the car. All you do is push a button, and the car starts like magic, so long as the battery is charged. Remember that.
So, Aaron was having fob issues. I had actually changed a fob battery before, so I bought one, opened the secret fob compartment, slipped out the old battery and replaced it with the fresh one. I put it back together, gave it to Aaron, who went out to his car, and of course, nothing happened. That stinking pandemic. He actually had two fobs, and neither worked. This told me it was a car problem, not a fob problem. Or so I thought.
I took the car to the dealer, explained the issue, gave them both fobs and wished them well. About ten minutes later, the service rep found me, and explained the problem. Indeed, the second fob’s battery was dead as a doornail, which made it not much more valuable than the sinker on the end of a fishing line. The first one, however, which housed the brand-new battery that I put in, apparently had a little different issue. APPARENTLY, the little disc battery is packaged with a small, clear sticky piece of plastic on one side – the side I didn’t look at – which then kept the battery from making contact with the outside world, or its friend, the fob. They pulled of the plastic, and it worked like a charm. There is no way to fully describe what it’s like to be proven a fool – all it takes is a tiny bit of plastic.
I blame it on the pandemic. I blame it on the coronavirus. I actually blame it on the effort to be intentional and problem solve, but also being just distracted enough that the attention to detail is missed, and intention becomes accident, and there you are.
My dad used to always say, as we children would go flying through a process, whatever it was, “Now, slow down a minute – don’t go off half-cocked. If you will be careful, you will do what you want to do the right way.” He also would say, “Straighten up and fly right!” He was in the Air Force.
This is our challenge in this scornful pandemic that is the fault of everything that goes wrong. The challenge of taking responsibility for the best decisions, not just the fastest ones, because things already take so much time, and can’t we just get a vaccine and get back to old normal? Careful – full of care – is the hallmark of an intentional mind, and an intentional heart.
You can still blame it on the pandemic, if it feels better.
Word for the Day: athazagoraphobia. Yes, it’s a very long word. Its root is Greek, as you can find bits and pieces of it in “phobia,” with means fear, and possibly “agora” which means marketplace. The word is pronounced like this: ath-a-ZAG-or-a-FOE–bee-a. It’s a psychological term, with the phobia and all. It actually means both the fear of forgetting someone or something, and the fear of being forgotten by someone, or ignored in a group. Lots of fear. It’s a bit hard to break down into the purest Greek roots, but it looks like the fear (phobia) of not (a) will, or going to (tha) the marketplace (agora)?
It probably has more value is just knowing the phobia. Have you ever stood in a group of people in a conversation, and feel as though it’s just swirling around you, and you could just vanish, and no one would care? Or you are at a meeting, and try to contribute, but just get shut down? Or you can’t remember the name of the first girl or boy that you had feelings for? Athazagoraphobia is not a happy word – it is caught in the memory or the meaning of one’s life, especially that part that is either ignored, or forgotten.
I personally wouldn’t use up a lot of time thinking about it. Just forget it.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.