“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
– Albert Einstein
George Nowak doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
It’s what throws a wrench in his otherwise contented life – nothing makes his blood boil more than people who seem allergic to common sense.
So much so, he’s written a book about it.
Nowak – a.k.a. Cayman’s musical icon Barefoot Man – has penned “Life on the Wrong Planet,” a collection of short essays, rants, real-life stories and commentaries on the woeful state of common sense.
Spanning from raunchy and decidedly politically incorrect to funny, sad and infuriating, pretty much everyone who reads this book will have a laugh, shake their head in amazement and – more than likely – be in turns offended, amused and bewildered.
While some of Nowak’s views and opinions can be over-the-top and occasionally offensive, for the most part he’s spot-on. And that’s unfortunate because there’s no denying it: fools are pervasive. It’s an inescapable fact of life on Planet Earth.
That’s the premise of the book: Nowak says that somewhere far, far away in the galaxies there is a twin planet to Earth called Planet Coherent – where common sense is common. Nowak is sure he has been misplaced on the wrong planet – Planet Earth – where common sense is uncommon.
“I believe that astronomers are incorrect when they say Jupiter is the largest planet in the universe,” he writes. “Earth must be the largest, as you need a huge planet to hold so many dummies.”
And there is example after example to confirm this statement. Indeed, Nowak says the book was three years in the making because just as he was about to wrap it up, yet another fresh example of the seemingly unlimited breadth and depth of human stupidity would come to light.
Francesco Schettino, the captain of the luxury cruiser Costa Concordia, claims he tripped and fell safely into a lifeboat as his ship was sinking – with 4,000 passengers aboard.
Ohio school teacher Maria Waltherr-Willard claims discrimination due to her fear of children. The case is scheduled to go to court in early 2014.
When his 38-caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a holdup in Provo, Utah, would-be robber Jason Ellison did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The folly factor spans all spectrums: from politicians, preachers and criminals to lawyers, athletes and musicians. And it definitely doesn’t discriminate – stupid comes in all colors, cultures and religions.
Nowak also writes about some of his pet peeves, taking to task everything from cell phone etiquette and the world of abstract art to fashion fads gone wrong and unreal reality shows.
Some of his stories are quite amusing and many will relate, such as Nowak’s real-life experiences dealing with customer service – or lack thereof. There’s the tale of an elderly gentlemen being asked for ID at a bar in the Miami airport. The bartender explained that if he didn’t ask, it would be considered discrimination. Nowak asked a lawyer friend to explain how that could be the case. His response: “If they card you and not me, they are saying you look younger than I do – which we all know is not true. So, they are showing favoritism to you by not asking me for my ID.” Uh-huh. (Nowak was also carded trying to buy a six-pack from a convenience store in Nashville – when he was three decades over the age of 21! He had to leave empty-handed as he left his ID in the hotel room).
Examples from Cayman abound as well – including one from this venerable newspaper and the local police force. Some may remember the headline: “$1,000 Reward for Burger King Robbers.” This happened in 1984. The police sketch artist drew a composite of the suspects: two men wearing paper bags with holes cut out for the eyes – and that very drawing appeared on the front page of the newspaper. Writes Nowak: “The next day I played bounty hunter and drove all over the island looking for two people wearing paper bags over their heads. I had no luck.”
“Life on the Wrong Planet” is ultimately an entertaining romp through the land of idiocy, and Nowak has a wellspring of material to tap into.
No doubt that between the time it took him to finish the last chapter and send it to the publisher, there will be more than enough tales of common sense gone awry to fill a second volume.
“Life on the Wrong Planet” is available via Amazon Books and Amazon Kindle.