The Duncan Banner

September 1, 2013

What’s written is not always what’s read

Jeff Kaley
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Not sure who decided summer should start in late August, but while we sweat it out, here’s some of the sticky notes that serve as my memory:

I first started writing for human consumption over 37 years ago, when writing music reviews for my hometown paper somehow evolved into a career in journalism.

Over the decades, I’ve learned an undeniable fact about the writer-reader equation: What is written is not always what’s read. Or if you want to flip it around: What’s read is not always what’s written.

A writer can pen a simple observation — something that seems universally apparent, almost innocuous — but in the mind of a reader the meaning can get folded, spindled and mutilated.

Take the sentence: “The sky is blue.” When 10 people read those four words, five of them will know exactly what the writer was saying. They look up at the sky, nod their head and go on with their lives.

However, two readers process the same sentence and insist, “No, the sky’s not blue, it’s more a Pilgrim gray.” One other reader will launch into a scientific explanation about the sky not having any color, and what we see is actually sunlight reflected and filtered through dust particles.

And two other people will read “The sky is blue.” and respond, “Hmmm. What are you really trying to say?”

Advice to young married guys from a marriage veteran: Remove the phrase “What are you mad at me for?” from your lexicon. If your wife is mad at you and you don’t know why, you’ve just tossed gasoline on a fire.

If she wasn’t mad initially, through the power of suggestion you’ve opened the door for her to remember one of your past screw ups.

At the risk of the ’Bama grad in the Big Office calling down the Crimson Tide on my head, here’s how I think this 2013 college football season pans out. Alabama goes undefeated in the regular season but is upset in the SEC championship game by — take your choice — Georgia, South Carolina or Florida. In the final BCS Championship Game, the SEC representative is beaten by Stanford or Oregon.

This life thing is all about “paths.” You know, right ones, wrong ones; short ones, long ones; ones we may fear but must travel to see where they lead before knowing if they were right or wrong; ones that are a nice stroll, which give us a chance to catch our breath for the more challenging ones.

Alabama Shakes singer and pretty-danged-good-guitarist Brittany Howard has the most interesting female voice I’ve heard since Joplin. No, not Scott Joplin — Janis.

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” Pulitzer Prize sci-fi author Ray Bradbury said it.

Should sick days also include the days you’re sick of work?

This sign outside a restaurant in Springfield, Mo. proves there is value in commas: BBQ and tunafish salad sandwiches. Gag. What sounds a little more digestible would be: “BBQ, and tunafish salad sandwiches.”

Even though the percentage of use of marijuana by white people and black people in Oklahoma is equal, the ACLU has reported black people are nearly three times more likely to be arrested for pot possession.

When someone starts a sentence “I’m not being ...”, they almost always are.

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer, builder of a replica of the Titanic, when he was assessing the dangers it would face: “One of the benefits of global warming is there hasn’t been as many icebergs in the North Atlantic these days.”

What I look for in people is how we’re alike. Seeing the differences is easy and usually only true on the surface.

“Got chicks?’ On the message board at Cackle Hatchery outside Lebanon, Mo. (Hey, when you’re driving long distance, you’re easily amused.)

My most favorite town name anywhere? Cookietown, Oklahoma. Yum!

About the only better name would be Nestle’s Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookietown, Oklahoma, which could be a problem fitting on to an envelope.

For the young techno crowd: An “envelope” is a container human beings once used to transport something we called “letters.”