Dear Uptight Seattleite, I forgot my bus pass. What should I do?Absent-Minded Harold
Dear Harold, Logically, you have two choices: Explain the situation to the driver, or pay the fare. But the best approach is a mushy blend. Neither one nor the other. An edgy vagueness that leaches into the atmosphere of all within hearing distance. Achieve it by taking your money out very s-l-o-w-l-y and saying, "I have a bus pass, but I don't have it with me, so..." Then trail off and smile tensely. If the driver doesn't stop you from paying, then hooray, Harold! You've just earned the right to storm down the aisle, frowning at the floor and shaking your head with righteously bottled-up indignation. A buzz of irritation will propel you like a rocket through your morning, and be well worth even a peak-hour two-zone fare. Dear Uptight Seattleite, Paper or plastic? I was frozen with indecision at Thriftway recently as I didn't want to produce more consumer waste by choosing paper or plastic, but didn't have any reuseable bags, either. Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning: I could carry my items with my own two hands, leaving no carbon footprints whatsoever. I think I may be on to something here, what do you think?One World, Two Hands
Dear Two Hands, Congratulations on catching on to this technique! Now consider taking it to the next level: juggling your items as you walk out of the store. When your performance catches people's attention, then it's "each one teach one" time. Flash a twinkly smile and chant, "Juggling resources, juggling resources, you know we can't keep juggling resources!" Master this and you're ready to go up one more level: leaving the store without carrying anything at all. Jam carrots into your sleeves. Apply your mouth to the bulk-honey spigot and suck down a week's supply. Scoop from the granola bin directly into your pants. The store should be fine with this if you explain that you'll pay the difference between your weight when you came in and your weight when you leave. And if you promise not to dishonestly reduce your weight by going to the bathroom between weigh-ins. Dear Uptight Seattleite, Can we talk about the word "literally"? It seems like people think that no one will believe them unless they use this word in every sentence. Have we lost faith in the simple power of words?Literally Larry
Dear Larry, What you're really getting at, Larry—and it's a point I commend you for making, even if you weren't able to clearly articulate it—is that people have actually lost faith in the simple power per se of words themselves, as it were. So they feel the need to give an extra signal that they mean what they say. I suggest you slyly undermine this tendency by swapping "literally" for "figuratively." As in, "I figuratively had the shits until sunrise." Let's take this from another angle. I happen to be a sacred activist. That means my commitment to change is radically internalized. I inhale the change I want to see, then exhale, sharing it with the world. Some may scoff, but I'm doing nothing worse than praying for peace with every breath. That doesn't mean I won't work with activists who happen to be in an earlier stage of their journey. In fact, I'm grateful for their relatively profane state. For the sacred exists only insofar as its opposite also exists. Words, too, share a dark communion with their antonyms, and can never be pinned down to a single literal meaning. You, Larry, can appreciate this rich ambiguity of words all the more when you compare yourself to those unblessed with your level of awareness. So instead of getting annoyed when you hear someone piling on the literallys, do like me and silently thank them for their ignorance. Dear Uptight Seattleite, It's getting warmer, and the ladies are out. What I don't get, though, is all the beautiful, stylish women with schlubby losers. How does this happen?Joe Jackson
Dear Joe, Just between you and me, I know what you mean. The very sight of some couples can strain the imagination to the breaking point. But remember that the imagination can be a dangerous thing. There was this one time when I saw this one particular couple, and, well, I don't exactly regret what happened. Because I don't believe in regret. But it turned out that the woman was not in fact blinking out the Morse code for "Please help. I'm being held against my will." I suggest you, too, beware of dark imaginings. Instead of envy, focus on procuring stylish female companionship of your own. I myself may be in a bit of a slump in that department, but that doesn't mean I don't live in hope. How else is there to live? Have a question for the Uptight Seattleite? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.