I'll not bore you with the details of our fun family day celebrating our strangely shaped state's Centennial State Fair (although Tulsa also claims a State Fair of their own, which begs the questions, who's the the Fairest of them all?)
Of all the wonders we did see and experience that day, one item stands out, only because it found a memory tucked deep inside the once fired but long forgotten neurons in my brain.
Rounding the corner in one of many vendor crowded buildings, I found myself staring at this wonder of mechanized, 50's-era marketing cheese whiz and had what amounted to a mental flashback worthy of a vintage acid trip from the '73 Grateful Dead appearance at the Summer Jam in Watkin's Glen.
Long ago and far away, I attended the LA County Fair with some buddies. As a goof I remember coughing up the buck or so ($5 today...yikes) to get my signature "personalized-computerized-analyzed."
Now recall, this was back in 1977, and the concept of having a computer at your home was still relatively foreign to a good portion of the population. My family had a just released and tree-ripened Apple II (48K, later upgraded to an Apple II+ with 64K) and were just getting familiar with the ups and downs of home computer ownership.
But as I cursively wrote out my name on the "high-tech" strip of cellophane which was then "input" into the slot on the front of the "mainframe," what printed out as my "personality profile," changed my social life forever.
There, on the third line of outputted text, were the words, "You are attractive to the opposite sex."
Don't laugh now, because up until that very moment, no person, place, or thing had ever told me that very phrase. Whether it was true or not, whether or not I believed that this hunk of fortune-teller marketing could tell me this from my signature - was all irrelevant.
Whereas Descartes wrote, "I think, therefore I am," my mind was saying to me, "The computer said, therefore it MAY be true."
Just like the first person who said, "man can't fly," and the guy next to him started thinking about why man couldn't fly and if he could how would he do it, the very idea that there was the slightest possibility that I could actually be considered attractive to the opposite sex, was a mind-blowing and earth shattering revelation.
Don't get me wrong, even at that time I was your typical cocky pre-teen American kid with all the moxie in the world when it came to doing "guy" things.
But as we all know, self-assurance in one area of your life, doesn't necessarily translate to other areas -- especially if that other area involves a giggling gaggle of 8th grade girls.
Not immediately but soon after my fateful signing with the "Machine," I somehow developed that self-confidence needed for a pre-teen lad to approach pre-teen ladies in social situations. Within a few months, I was racking up local phone calls and handing off notes during passing periods with all the gusto of a lounge lizard lothario.
And I've not looked back since.
Sometimes we have to have the obvious stated to us, before we can start to process what may be obvious to others, but is not obvious to ourselves.
Even if that statement comes from a Fair-born gimmick contraption for a cheap 4 bits.
Funny ... I've seen those "computers" at two other state fairs -- one at Illinois all through the 1970s and '80s and the other in Tulsa last year.
It really does help when someone else says it to make us believe it could be true. I've had my own experience like that, but it came from a human, not a machine. Though, you know, it doesn't matter who or what says it. Heck, sometimes the things that I read in my fortune cookie sure make me feel good about myself :)
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