With the epic drought we Californians have endured for three years, it is surprising that the one thing which has not dried up is our sense of humor.
You may have seen the news that one local city threatened a homeowner with fines for not keeping his lawn green even as other cities announced fines for people who waste water.
There is a middle ground, of course, but Californians don't do middle ground. What do we do? We hire a "Drought Czar."
I wonder what job he had before this. Traffic Pope?
A few items I like to imagine were on his resume as he applied for Drought Czar:
Facilitated lower water use through commingled cleansing (I shower with my wife)
Popularized "If it's yellow, let it mellow" smiley face refrigerator magnets
Reduced neighborhood water consumption through "targeted shaming" Tweets
One way the state government is getting the word out about water conservation is through public service ads, one notably featuring Lady Gaga. You know, to reach that coveted young, lawn-owning demographic.
In the ad, La Gag says that she became aware of the need for water conservation when she had the opportunity to shoot a music video at Hearst Castle, evidently because it has giant swimming pools.
That really is about as much sense as the ad makes.
Getting a New Yorker for this was not genius, but her sunglasses were cool, at least. They reminded me of the beach, which made me thirsty, so I went and made some iced tea, using water.
The state's slogan is "Save Our Water" ("you know, the water we took from Colorado.") It is not as divisive as their previous choice, "Stop sweeping your driveway with a hose, you #!!@!$&!!"
It is easy to become a water snob in a climate like this. Neighbors who have never been in your house begin weaseling ways inside to "see the new tile work," but you know they are just checking for low-flush toilets.
In tones usually reserved for characters in a Charlotte Bronte book, one hears neighbors whisper, "Can you believe she's watering her lawn in the middle of the day?"
Only one of my neighbors has converted his lawn into a desert landscape, graced by a tiny goatee of plants near the curb.
It takes some getting used to. I fear it is our future, though. I expect in 20 years we will all just have to go back to judging each other by our (unwashed) cars.
Supposedly a person's favorite sound is his own name, but scientists recently admitted that this is only if your own name is Dale Carnegie.
Or if you are a dog.
Or if your name was recently changed from Horatio.
I am O.K. with "George," which I received in homage to a couple of uncles, but it is not my favorite sound. My favorite sound is a hummingbird's laughter, which is rare because hummers are almost humorless.
Physical comedy works, but it always feels kind of cheap.
Guys I went to school with had cool names like Lyndell and Bud. Wade. Kal. In contrast, George seemed an old-fashioned, stodgy name created, regrettably, even before cool itself.
Nowadays, according to Census data, you can't even find one state in which George is in the top 100 baby names. Americans are naming their babies Silas before they are naming them George. They are naming them Jaxson. Bentley. Jase, even!
I am not complaining. Did that sound like complaining? I am not complaining. To everything its season.
I guess texting has had an abbreviating effect on everything. I suppose these days "Jason" is just too many exhausting syllables. I wonder how long before they cut "David" down to "Day." Of course, then a parent could have fun at bedtime by saying "'Night, Day." Or "It's Christmas Eve, Day."
"Fun" being, perhaps, a bit too strong a word for it.
On the other hand, naming a kid is one of the few unassailable powers a person has in life, and the temptation to be original is strong. I know several families who have given their children unique, bold names. It's a gamble that the kid will be unique and bold too.
I would have made a poor "Blaize."
I could never have pulled off "Jett."
Popular culture often drives new names, but also cements them to a bygone time. How many kids had to endure the question, "So your parents were fans of 'Gunsmoke,' huh?"
One can only imagine the damage "Game of Thrones" is doing to newborn babies even as I write this.
My wife suggests a kid should be able to choose his own name once he turns 13. If I had had that power, I would probably be known as Young Frankenstein now. The world would be full of Han Solos and Wolverines.