The cultivator of doom
A man does not need direction. It is enough for a male to wake up in the morning and follow his impulses throughout the day. This is the ideal masculine condition, dating from the dawn of humanity, when the only thing a primitive guy needed to do was to find something to kill and eat, unless he had killed something large enough the previous day that there were leftovers. Then he just sat around the cave scratching himself and wishing they would invent ESPN, while primitive woman smoldered resentfully at his refusal to make himself useful.
The only ripple on the ocean of his prehistoric bliss was the worry that another primitive man might kill some animal that was bigger or had more teeth. Competitiveness is innate in the male. Eventually someone discovered how to exploit this flaw, and civilization was the result. All men wanted to have the biggest spear, the fastest chariot or the most impossible sales quota. The inner peace of the primeval male has been lost forever, no more so than in our age, where proof that billions of other men are bigger, smarter, faster and have more friends on Facebook than he does is available to any guy at a mouse click.
In all males the cave guy lingers, though, and makes himself known on certain occasions. One is when a man is confronted with the task of assembling something, or operating some piece of equipment for the first time. Directions are provided.
The inner Cro-Magnon does not ask for directions, read directions, or follow directions. Asking directions would mean admitting that he knows less than the guy he's asking. Reading directions means he knows less about the pile of components he has slid out of their packaging than the guy who wrote them, and having to interpret a lot of Slot A Tab B directionese, instead of following his simple, manly instinct to just start jamming stuff together to see if it fits.
Following directions means having to locate objects such as "the left-arm socket-swivel assembly." If tech writers could just describe objects in plain masculine terms, such as gizmo, whosamageezer, or even the formal Latin dingus, directions would be easier to follow. Not that they would be followed. It would just be easier for a woman to read them aloud in exasperated, icy tones, after her man has failed for the fifth or sixth time to successfully assemble a tricycle on Christmas eve at four AM. Most women cannot resist adding sarcastic inquiries when reading directions aloud, inquiries like "Do you want to be the one who tells your child 'Santa brought you three wheels and some pieces of sheet metal, honey?"
The knowledge that men will not read directions resulted in the invention of the disclaimer. These are the paragraphs on the front page of the directions that start off with something like WARNING. In the USA, the writing of disclaimers has become its own art form. Everything comes with a disclaimer, from Barbie dolls to nuclear reactors. We Americans are warned that if we attempt to breathe water or fail to breathe air, we will die. We are warned that coffee is hot and that ice packs are cold. We are warned not to use chain saws on our fingers or play our electric guitars in the shower.
The obviousness of the advice does not prevent it from being printed. It just prevents it from being followed.
Disclaimers are often written by lawyers, who are also often men. We men know that these male lawyers can write WARNING and HAZARD and DANGER all day long, and advise us to wear safety goggles when attempting any activity, including sex and passing gas, but we also know they don't mean it. We know they go home and try to trim their toenails with the electric carving knife, just like the rest of us.
Someone's getting serious, though, and that someone is the Honda Motor Company of Japan. This writer was recently forced to rent a roto-tiller manufactured by Honda, because he was foolish enough to point out that his significant other's spacious condo yard, having become overgrown with weeds as a result of a rainy winter, looked like feces. Having been cordially invited to do something about it or perform a certain biological act with himself for the foreseeable future, he rented the cultivator and ripped up those weeds like they were first-round losers on American Idol.
The job done, this reporter was loading the cultivator back into the car when a useless booklet caught his eye. It was the owner's manual for the cultivator, included by the equipment rental company as a courtesy. Instead of the expected CAUTION and NOTICE (and PELIGRO and ADVERTENCIA—it's not only English-speaking males that refuse to read directions) Honda had seriously upped the stakes. On the first page the manual clearly states:
YOU WILL BE KILLED IF YOU DON'T FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS
Now that's putting it bluntly. How Honda is going to carry out its threat is unknown. It's a Japanese company, so they could have a ninja division. They might keep the last surviving hundred-year old Zero pilot on retainer, and point him at violators for his final kamikaze mission. Or they could outsource; they make their cars here now, so they could have some kind of contract with Halliburton.
Or they just know a guy who'll rub you out. Whoever performs the deed, there's one thing for sure: It's going to look like an accident.
So if this blog ceases to be published, this author wants both of his readers to know that there's only one possible suspect. Honda. Don't believe any of their alibis, like they were busy putting together a couple hundred thousand Civics on the day in question. This is being written in an undisclosed location, in a darkened room with blackout shades drawn.
Oh yeah, and the safety goggles are on.