DON'T LET FACTS
GET IN THE WAY
I was having lunch the other day with a good friend of
mine, and naturally the conversation turned to politics, as it always does
My friend, who I disagree with on practically every
political or economic issue that has ever been discussed, proceeded to
throw fact after fact at me to prove his latest point.
I hate that. Nevertheless, I told him he was dead
wrong, his so-called "facts" were distortions and I had plenty
of facts of my own to completely obliterate his stupid theory.
"Like what?" he brazenly asked.
"I can't remember," I replied, as usual. "But
they were really good ones and you would be thoroughly defeated if I did
He snorted, as he is apt to do when I make hollow but
heartfelt claims, and then he proceeded to tell me every little detail
about some snotty article he recently read, where the distinguished author
confirmed everything my friend was saying.
"So what," I retorted. "I read an article just
the other day that said the complete opposite. It completely backed my
"And what article was that?" he asked as he
arrogantly took a sip of his Diet Coke.
It was a really good article.
Concise, logical, filled with facts that couldn't be refuted. If I could
only remember what it said, or where I saw it, I would have had him cold.
It's not that I have a particularly bad memory. I'm
great at phone numbers. That's worth something. Or sports facts. Batting
averages, win-loss records, quarterback ratings---I'm a veritable scholar.
The problem is with economic or political facts. I have
about a seven-hour window of recollection. After that, the window slams
right on my brain. Gone and forgotten.
I would have made a particularly inept politician. I'd
have everything mixed up, sooner or later. Millions, billions, trillions?
Couldn't we come up with names that weren't so similar? How are you
supposed to remember if it's $40 million, or $4 billion, or $2 trillion?
The presidential race, global warming, unemployment,
the war in Afghanistan, deficit spending, free trade, import quotas---the
list goes on and on. And I've got all the facts and figures floating
somewhere in my brain, so eager to see the light of day. But they never
"I had him scrambling," I said to my wife
when I came home that night after lunch with my friend. "He would've
agreed with me on everything if only I could have remembered a fact or
"You didn't mix up the million/billion thing
again, did you?" she asked, knowing that usually shoots my
credibility out of the water.
"No, I didn't even go there this time. I started
to talk about that article on free trade, but I couldn't remember what it
had to do with anything, so I dropped it after he bombarded me with more
"You poor baby," she cooed, rubbing my empty head.
"You'll get him next time."
She was being sympathetic, which is not her usual manner,
mainly because she is every bit as bad as me when it comes to remembering
facts and figures. It makes for a very happy marriage because our
arguments don't last long.
"Why don't you create a "cheat sheet" next
time you read a good article," she suggested. "Then when you're
in the heat of the battle, you can just pull it out and let him have it
right between the eyes."
I considered it for a moment, but quickly realized I'd have
to start carrying a briefcase if I wanted to cover all the pertinent
issues that might come up, and I didn't want to go that route.
"How about letting you 'call a friend' when you're
struggling to find a fact?" she innocently asked. "He'd probably
think that was okay."
"Yeah, but it might be kind of awkward, and it shows
weakness," I replied. "I've got to come up with something
We racked our little brains for a while longer, and came up
with nothing. Nevertheless, when I had my next argument with my friend,
and he started spouting facts once again, I did come up with an
appropriate reply that stopped him in his tracks.
"SO IS YOUR MAMA!"
Victory was mine.