Monday, March 1, 2010

By any other name

Many a year ago I travelled around Europe with a friend. She was fond of expectations and had many; I was not fond of expectations and had none. While my responses to most places we visited ranged from mildly ambivalent to ecstatic, hers ranged from deeply, personally disappointed to reasonably satisfied.

I maintained during our long journey that it was better not to have expectations because being expectation-less left you free to experience something for how it appeared to you in the moment. She maintained the wrong, oops, I mean the opposite view. This made for many interesting hours in our very-tiny-close-proximity-oh-my-God-I-can-see-your-nose-hairs 1.2 litre Renault Clio (not to mention in our two-person tent).

The Renault Clio, seen here in relation to the equally minute and irascible common house fly, or Musca domestica.

So I've always thought I was foot-loose and expectation-free but I've started to realise, to my horror, that I do indeed have expectations and they're rather easily upset.

And how have these hideous expectations revealed themselves to me? Why through an innocuous little misnomer.

I recently bought a book for my son: The Dangerous Book for Boys. I expected practical suggestions for jail breaks and jewellery heists (or, more usefully, jewellery heists followed by jail breaks), for how to escape a grizzly bear by sawing off your leg then using said leg to hit said bear, and surviving in a post-apocalyptic (i.e. Liberal/Coalition) world. So dangerous + a pile of folios folded, assembled and glued + son (fun for).

What did I get when I opened The Dangerous Book for Boys (so newly purchased and so erroneously titled)? 'The Greatest Paper Plane in the World,' 'Understanding Grammar - Parts One, Two and Three,' and my favourite, 'Five Pen and Paper Games'. So lame + lame + lame.

I expected something good and realised I'd paid top clams for, well, 'Some Australian Trees' and 'Growing Sunflowers'.

So what did I learn from this foray into the world of expectations? That it really is better to be perennially mildly ambivalent than deeply, personally disappointed.


squib said...

I don't know, Kettle. Grammar can be dangerous. Take for example, punctuation. Consider:

"Let's eat, Grandma"


"Let's eat Grandma"

Expectations are nasty things. Look what happened to Pip. I remember expectations were especially disagreeable in the days of singledom. Also, in the areas of gift-opening, movie-going, and friendships

Kettle said...

Fair enough, Squib, I'm willing to concede grammar should be in 'The Dangerous for Boys,' but I maintain there's nothing dangerous about paper hats (see 'Making a Paper Hat,' page 111) so the book is still partially disappointing.

Expectations are nasty, aren't they? Let's start a petition to ban them! Let's start the Anti-Expectation League! (Or at least the Anti-Disappointment-From-Unfulfilled-Expectations League.)

squib said...

Yes! Let's eradicate them, Ghostbusters style

squib said...

Who you gonna call?

Kettle said...

The Anti-Expectation League!

[Alternatively the Anti-Disappointment-From-Unfulfilled-Expectations League!]

Wow, catchy.

Will we be using marshmallow in our eradications?

squib said...

Yes! Toasted ones on sticks. En guard!

Kettle said...

Great mental image, Squib. If only I could draw.