Traditions Are Hard to Break
By Ernie Witham
I was in my home office Googling myself when I had a thought: What if someone is monitoring me -- like the CIA or the Justice Department? I heard the government is pressuring search engines like Google to reveal humorists who may have “accidentally” visited some questionable sites in the name of research. I mean you type in one wrong letter while looking for “really big boots” or misspell “Sun-Loving Buddhist Colonies” and bang – suddenly you are a victim of circumstances.
Or maybe you are working on your novel so you go to the Ask Jeeves website and type in: “What’s the best way to launder drug money without getting caught?” The next thing you know Jeeves is sending your name to a secure cubicle containing a guy wearing a starched white shirt and one permanently cocked eyebrow.
I guess part of the problem is that I like to expose myself to the public and then see who notices.
Wait. Did I say that right?
What I mean is I put my columns up on my website (erniesworld.com) so that I can share them with the less fortunate people in the world who don’t have access to the Montecito Journal. After they have been up a few days, I Google my name to see where my words end up.
And things I have written end up in some interesting spots. When Home Depot put my New Year’s resolution story that took place in their toilet section on their website, I was bowled over. Then a piece I wrote about Sedona Arizona ended up on a psychic website. Who could have predicted that?
I even ended up on some Arab websites. Seriously. It made me wonder who was reading my story “Szcze˛s´liwych walentynek, kochanie!” (Happy Valentine’s Day Dear, Here’s Your Mesh Body Stocking) which appeared in the book “Balsma dla Duskzy Romantycznej” (aka, Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul). I guess my insights are universal because guys are guys no matter where they live.
“ I got wife new head scarf as gift. In dark gray.”
“Very nice, Hasheem, dark gray is new black.”
“Ya. I get romnabtycznej tonight sure thing.”
I also have to wonder whether my story about beginning golfers which ran in Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul and ended up on a Korean website is being fully understood and appreciated for the art that it is.
“Hey Kwan, what are you reading?”
“Tragic story about clueless American man who can’t aim straight.”
“You mean Dick Cheney?”
“No. Guy named Ernie.”
Oddly, the reason I was Googling myself today was to find out what I might want for Christmas. The family has been asking me for weeks what I want this year and I really have no clue. So I thought if I tracked my current columns maybe it would lead me to the perfect gift on some website I ended up on.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find any links to GQ or Maxim or Playboy. However, I did find myself listed on a bunch of golf equipment sites, but that’s what they buy me for every holiday and I have all the golf equipment I need.
“How about lessons?”
“More than five dozen golf balls?”
“Okay, so I had one bad day.”
I’m on a number of travel sites, but the last time I said I wanted to go somewhere untamed with strange sights and smells, they suggested I just go to my office.
I also found myself featured on some horticultural sites.
“I’m not sure bonsai trees qualify as horticulture.”
And of course, I’m listed on hundreds of book selling sites… wait, that’s it.
“You want us to buy your books for you?”
“But we already have 300 in the garage.”
“Right, but when you guys buy a bunch, I’ll have to send those sites a bunch of new ones. Then you can buy more for my birthday… Valentine’s Day… Father’s Day.”
“So, we keep buying the same books over and over?”
“Yup, and I become a best-selling author. That’s what I want for Christmas this year.” I beamed with ingenuity.
They all stared for a minute, then said: “You should never, ever drink egg nog while Googling.” Then they went to golf store to buy me a gift.