The best way to start this column is a line from Roman Polanski’s 1974 film “Chinatown.”
Noah Cross says to J.J. Gittes, “You may think you know what you’re dealing with, but believe me, you don’t.”
That pretty well sums up my Christmas and as a result I have decided to be little more careful when I write my columns.
One never knows who is reading.
I recently wrote a column whining about smartphones and vowing to keep my dumb phone “no matter what.” I am so happy I said “no matter what.” That was brainy.
There is a word I often hear tossed around at government meetings — hubris. It is the Greek term that I spent a pile of time in college writing very boring papers about.
A Greek guy named Herodotus a couple of thousand years ago wrote a history book about hubris, or nothing to excess.
In Herodotus’ view, if a guy wins a war and gets all smarty-pants about it, things will go wrong. The gods may wait a while and take it out on your great-great grandson, but not to worry. The bad day is coming.
I was going to write a column about folks using the term for all sorts of goofy reasons to sharpen their agenda knives when Christmas suddenly fell on my head.
Here is the short version.
I had just finished making breakfast for the kids. I served baked French toast stuffed with cream cheese and cherries topped with whipped cream. I cooked a rasher of bacon, little pigs and eggs over easy.
I, of course, got all snooty and decided to text a friend who is the smartest woman I know. She loves to heckle me about eating weird things like tofu and pickles.
As I was texting her to show off that I could cook real food, I dropped my stupid, dumb phone and broke it. I’ve dropped it a million times, but this time the phone decided it would be a dandy time to break the screen to smithereens.
As I was picking up the phone I heard a distant, odd hissing sound.
I thought to myself, “That’s funny.”
At first I tried to ignore the hissing and concentrate on moping about my broken phone. I knew this meant a trip to the cell phone store and a direct path to who knows what kind of hard hell.
I was planning on making a Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza with a cheese stuffed crust for the afternoon. I started the dough and set it to rise, then I decided I had better check on the hissing — you know just in case.
That darn God sure has a finely honed sense of humor.
It was my water heater. It decided Christmas was the best day of the year to break. I certainly couldn’t agree more.
There is nothing like celebrating Christmas under a house, wallowing in water, singing cheery Christmas carols like “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and “Please let this house fall on me and kill me.”
After spending nearly forever soaking wet and covered in mud, I patched things up enough to get through.
After fixing the water heater, I schlepped to the cellphone store and immediately become incoherent. A very nice young woman helped me after I used my fake limp to get sympathy. She showed me a cheap phone I could get while I wade through all the hard stuff about smartphones, which are just dandy and all the other zippy things I am supposed to say so I don’t get whacked again.
In conclusion, while lying under the house I did have a couple epiphanies.
First, not only did I not know God had a smartphone, I didn’t know he liked it so darn much. Sorry I exploded.
Commit hubris and you are going to get it, sooner or later. Apparently, God has all the time in the world to get his point across and he can be as funny as he wants.
The second under the house epiphany came when I thought about John Huston’s 1948 movie “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”
At the end of film, when all the gold and fancy dreams are lost, there is only one thing to do: laugh, a lot.
Huston was on to something.
I have a funny feeling my saga with the smartphone is far from over.
Have a happy and very safe new year.