In Which Larry and Joe, Some Dolphin Elders, Educate a Young’Un

The Daily Life Text


“Oh, look! Here comes the new kid.”

“Hey, Flipper!”

“Joe, don’t call him that. It’s not like he’ll even know who Flipper is. That show was made, like, three generations ago.”

“Oh, whatever. If his parents are anything decent, they’ll have already told him about Flipper. Yo, Flipper!”


“Hiya, kid. Nice to meet you. This here’s Joe, and I’m Larry. That one over there is Neptuna. S/he calls herself that because s/he hasn’t figured out what s/he wants to be when s/he grows up.”

“Mmmmmkay. Hey! Hey! I have a question for you.”

“Good, good. Questions are good. Where are your parents, though?”

“Joe, shut up. You know how some parents are.”

“I saw a big shadow today.”

“Oh, shadows are good. Was it pointy at one end, flat at the other?”

“Yeah, yeah!”

“Big bubbles coming out of the flat end?”

“Yeah! I didn’t want to get too close.”

“No, no, not at the flat bubbly end. But you should get close!”

“I swear, where are this kid’s parents?”

“Joe, shut up. Kid, you want to get close to the sides of the thing. It’s called a ferry. It moves fast and low in the water and it makes New Waves for us to mess around in.”

“Mess around! Mess around!”

“Larry, we gotta do something about Neptuna. S/he keeps on making that same noise over and over.”

“Just smile big at her. She’ll calm down. Kid, don’t pay any attention to Neptuna yet. S/he has a thing for Messing Around, and not always in a nice way. Anyway, about the ferry. You want to get close to the sides and the front, but don’t get too close to the back end where the bubbles and the Angry Water are. You’ll get cut up.”


“Yeah. You ever hear about One-Finned Flapjack?”

“Joe, shut up, you’ll scare the kid. Anyway.”

“Tell him about the good stuff.”

“Oh. If you stick close enough to the sides and look up, you’ll see more shadows. The bi-peds. They like to stand on the sides and yell if they see you. Like this: EEE! EEEE! EEEEE! Don’t confuse that with our International Distress Signal. It’s the sound that the bi-peds with the mammary glands make when they see us. Now listen. The ones with the mammary glands are nice, but it’s not those shadows you’re looking for. You’re looking for the short ones, the tiny bi-ped shadows. Stay right beneath those.”


“Oh, Poseidon’s rake, where ARE this fry’s parents? Kid, the tiny bi-peds are the ones that Drop Things. Crispy terrestrial things. Orange-colored curls of crunchy goodness. That mystical feed called Fruit. And the even more ambrosiac, perpetually elusive, FROOT LOOPS. (Those are homophones, Flipper. Don’t confuse the two.)”


“What? It’s true. All these are good eatins.”

“Do they taste like fluke? I love fluke.”

“Flipper, there’s a whole world of foodstuffs out there, and it ain’t all flappy sloppy scaly. I want you to be worldly, see things, taste things.”


“Oh, fine. Don’t eat the crispy orange things, kid. And stay away from the plastic bags.”


A Lesson from Magnum, P.I.

The Daily Life Text

MagnumPI_TSHere are the things I like about Thomas Sullivan Magnum, Private Investigator.

I like the ineffable cheer with which he greets everyone from a set of prickly guard dogs to a bunch of street thugs: “Hi, guys!”

I like that he doesn’t mind wearing the same shirts over and over–he’s been wearing the same King Kamehameha tank top for five seasons running now, or that nasty Army-green tank top, or one of what seems to be the same five Hawaiian shirts.

I like that he surf-skis, and doesn’t always compete to win.

I like that he talks to us.

I like that he’s writing a book.

I like that he puts friendship above a lot.

I like that he eats popcorn for dinner.

But of all these things, I love the most the fact that he drops literary references just often enough for us to be reminded that he is, after all, a smart, well-read little dooby.

Magnum as Dashiell! Two favorites in one! It’s like the Reese’s peanut butter cups of television shows!

Off the top of my head, Magnum has quoted Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, and Agatha Christie; and he dressed up as one of my favorites, Dashiell Hammett, for a 1920s party one episode.

This, like so many other things, reminds me of what I like about most of my friends. I can like a lot about each of them, but it’s almost always the idea that there is something unusual about each of them that makes them stick out in my head as individuals.

Larry has a bizarre obsession with Lonesome Dove. Alan loves to cross-country ski. Mr. Gooddirt has a really strange obsession with death metal. Aileen adores dogs, and, like me, makes up voices for animals; and Bill, although a buttoned-up , three-piece-suit-wearing entrepreneur on the outside, is internally driven to pursue waves and slopes whenever he can.

This is also what I like most about my work colleagues, and networking. What a joy, to find out something unusual about someone you only know through work!

Sure, these things may lead to friendship. But they don’t have to. Often, it’s enough just to know something interesting about the folks that  populate your life. After all, if you don’t think your personal life, or your personality, affects the business decisions you make, or your work methodology, you’re missing out on a key part of life.

What’s one thing that people don’t usually know about you? Tell me in the comments below. I’ll go first: I also make up voices for inanimate objects. Right now, at this very moment, my houseplants are talking to me. 😀