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Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections were completely bewildered by this one. They were unable to deduce what’s it about. They asked if I had smoked anything prior to writing it (no). They let it through as the lesser of two evils. I was going to write about ball bearings. Spo

Samoans or Bantus or some other primitive tribe it is hard to tell.

I think I was in high school when I learned about Margaret Mead the anthropologist, who became famous for her work with The Samoans. I somehow got the facts mixed up that I later in life I coined the expression “I felt like Margaret Mead among The Bantus, observing tribal behavior” and of course Ms. Mead never met these folks as they live in Africa. Oh the embarrassment. Putting aside the idiocy of my mixed metaphor, the point of the expression is to convey feelings I get when I am slightly away from a group or worse in it, and I haven’t the foggiest what is going on.* I can accept that people often have interests other than my own (fools!) yet when I try to appreciate their panache for the matter at hand, my mind’s a blank.

Sports, for instance. I’ve been to a handful of various types of games in which I’ve watched folks go into hysterics over what’s happening. I like baseball games for I like to keep score yet my quiet demeanor through it all bewilders and annoys my mates “aren’t you having fun?” they ask. I get more kick watching the fans than the football, especially if they are acting zany or have tight ends. While I am on the topic of sports, games on TV are worse as people (usually men in suits with headphones) are constantly talking about sport sport sport allowing no ‘dead air’ as it were. Oh the pain.

Vocal and emotional Protestant church services are another examples of tribal behavior where I can sit in the back and watch the sacred shenanigans from a distance with eyebrows raised. I grew up in a ‘quiet’ church in which there was no shoutings out, nor were there people getting up to dance or roll around in the aisles, apparently in ecstasy or something.

These two examples have in common they are religious, boisterous, and lots of money is involved. They both often have meals, the former eats out of the back of large vehicles in parking lots while the latter congregate in church basements run by the Ladies Auxiliary (the dears!) I suppose I’d feel Margaret Mead-like at similar loud religious events such as car demolitions, GOP political rallies, and Black Friday midnight sales (to name a few) but sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than attend any of those services.

Of course the remedy for from-a-distance bewilderment is to join in with the natives and see things from their point of view. I can’t imagine myself dancing and kissing snakes in a Sunday service, but I could buy some football tickets and go see what the fuss is about. I might even get a book out of it, just like Margaret Mead. At least at a football game you get chili.

What sort of tribal behaviors do you find bewildering?

*There is a quote from “Anna Karenina” I cannot find (worse luck!) about a woman feeling lost in a croquet game feeling everyone else is acting in a play she isn’t a member of. If any Spo-fan knows this quotation I would be most grateful.

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September 2022

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