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Becoming an Out-to-Pasture Thinker
 By Randy Bechtel 

Question: Who do feminist white supremacists hate most? Answer: Everyone.

So went one of my many stupid inquiries. It is stupid because, even if true, its findings are meaningless. More and more I occupy myself in retirement with such stupid inquiries. I even inquired into why I make stupid inquiries. Here are my meaningless findings.

To paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield, men die before their wives because they want to. This works as a joke if we infer that men want to die to escape their wives. It has the ring of truth to sixty-something men when they retire, although not because they want to escape their wives.

In retirement, one lives to consume. This is an easy transition for most women. I know women who from childhood regarded shopping as the meaning of life. But living to consume is difficult for most men—unless, of course, they are golfers.

Time was, the few men who lived to be 60 would occupy themselves by being wise. Of course, wise meant being philosophical. Today, philosophy is a word most associated with the game plans of football coaches. Those of us whose interest in philosophy begins at 60 usually flail about making stupid inquiries—unless, of course, we are football color analysts. 

Still, you hope some of your findings someday will be meaningful. You must hope that because once you begin making inquiries, it’s impossible to stop. Inspiring me recently was the epiphany that the best path to meaningful findings begins with a question that is not stupid.

Take the question: What’s in a name? The question can’t be stupid because Shakespeare asked it. However, if everyone accepts Shakespeare’s answer that a rose by any other name smells as sweet, why did Shakespeare raise the question? Sorry Will, but names do create impressions.

A good example is the mystery evoked by the first name Lloyd. Lloyd begins with a double “L” as if it’s taken from runic symbols or ancient Greek. Underscoring the mystery is the fact that I’ve never met a Lloyd who was younger than 50. It’s as if, like the goddess Athena, Lloyds are born full grown springing from the head of Zeus. This explains why Lloyd has never inspired a nickname even for children.

There is also something forlorn about the name. For whatever reason, I associate Lloyd with a man who awakens on an unfamiliar cement floor dehydrated from a terrible hangover. If I were to write about Tulsa, Oklahoma during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, I would call it, “Town of 10,000 Lloyds.”

The exciting thing about my inquiry into “What’s in a name?” is that there are so many names to inquire into. And thinking about it, once inquiries into names are exhausted, there are other questions posed by Shakespeare that should lead to meaningful findings. Not “Oh Romeo, where art thou?” necessarily, but how about, “To be or not to be?”?

For all his tirade following “To be or not to be?”, Hamlet leaves us wondering, “To be or not to be what?” Of course, he lived in the Middle Ages when a man could be only one of three things—a noble, a priest or a peon. Hamlet doesn’t seem particularly religious and who wants to be a peon?  It's likely that Hamlet could not tell us what he wanted to be because he was peering into the future.

Word on the street from sixty-something philosopher wannabes is that we don’t create the roles we become, but rather choose roles created for us by some metaphysical Zeitgeist. Maybe the Zeitgeist revealed to Hamlet roles in the future that Hamlet would be brilliant at being but could never be, such as a podcaster or a game show host.

Personally, I believe the future that Hamlet foresaw was his own as he retired at 65 and was faced with the choice of making inquiries versus golfing. He was, after all, a Scotsman . . . wasn’t he? 

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Email Randy Bechtel at rkirkbechtel@hollywoodlexicon.com


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