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Omaha Magazine

Get Lost

Dec 04, 2015 09:42AM ● By Otis Twelve

We pause now for a moment of silence in memory of the plethora, the genus, phylum, and species of old jokes japing the male’s propensity to stubbornly refuse to ask for help on the way to that weekend family event he didn’t want to go to anyway. An example of the genre:

Q - Why was Moses wandering through the desert for 40 years?

A - Because men refuse to ask for directions!

Yes, a moment of silence, because that witticism, and all others based on this gender-based “truth” are now obsolete.

It must be said that though the trope was based on a factual reality that the primitive male brain, steeped in the evolutionary soup of “not wanting to seem stupid” to the other giant sloth hunters in our long-ago fur-clad clans, as in, “The water hole is just over this ridge, a quick left past the tar pit,” forced us alphas to maintain that said “water hole” was exactly there, whether we, upon arrival, discovered a toxic fumarole instead of said pond. It is a biological/psychological fact that for men it is more important to be “sure” rather than to be “right.”

Note: we manly-men usually confuse the two.

In our defense I must state that in reality we would ask for directions when we were unsure of where we were going, but we would only ask very close friends. We expected our best mates would not tell anyone our little secret, and we also used their answers to our inquiries as a dependable gauge of the quality of their character.

Let me illustrate. If I ask Joe “Which way to the (blank)?” and he responds, “Go down to St. Paul’s church, turn left, and when you get to First Lutheran, turn right.” I know Joe loves God. If I ask Bill and he says, “Go down to McDonald’s, turn left and when you get to Wendy’s, turn right.” I know Bill has a weight problem. If I ask Tim and he answers, “Go down to the Med Center, turn left, and when you get to the urology outpatient surgery clinic, turn right.” I know Tim needs to drink more pomegranate juice. And if Ted tells me, “Go down here to the Starlite Lounge, turn left, and then when you get to the Nifty…” I know I want to hang out with Ted. You can tell a lot about someone when you hear the frame through which they see the world.

At least that used to be true.

Now, no one asks directions. Everybody just takes out their smart phone and looks at where their blinking dot is blinking and where their destination’s red pin is sticking. And don’t get me started about the disembodied voice that tells you to, “Turn left in 300 feet.” Like I didn’t know that already.

So, bottom line, the old jokes are dead. I blame Steve Jobs. I mourn their passing, as does Rand McNally, but mainly I feel a sense of loss because it’s almost impossible to get lost these days.

Some of the best things in my life have happened because I was lost. Once I turned left on a dotted line that led into Wyoming’s Wind River Range and…but that’s another story.

For now, I encourage you all, unplug.

Get lost.


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