If you’d asked me a few months ago if I’d enjoy cleaning the pool so much I’d want to give the skimmer a name, well, I’m not sure what I would’ve said. That’s kind of an odd, pointed question for two people bullshitting on a patio over beer, don’t you think?
As it turns out, there are few things I find more Zen-producing than an hour spent quietly skimming the swimming pool in the backyard.
Last weekend, as I was turning tiny circles in the water and tossing flying ant carcasses into the gravel with my trusty partner, S’Kimmy, a question brewed: wasn’t there a kid named Kimmy in “Full House”? And what was her last name?
Typically I’d drop S’Kimmy, grab my phone and look it up, but I decided a couple of weeks ago to experiment with NOT going to the internet to answer every question that burbled up inside my head. I have this theory there might be some power in not having an answer seconds after a question is formed, that maybe there’s some magic in not knowing.
I’m pretty sure if my father were still around, he’d find that a pretty stupid theory; he was a smart, learned, curious man, and I’m betting he’d have loved having answers at his fingertips. But maybe you’re with me, maybe you also wonder if the quality of conversation changed about the same time the public started using “Google” as a verb.
Back in the day, you’d find yourself wondering if there was a better way to keep your dog from jumping the fence, or what bait is best for fishing a specific river in Montana, or what the Axe Murderer of New Orleans had to do with jazz — and you just didn’t have an answer. The question would percolate in your mind for days, months, years. And then one day, someone would tell their own fence-jumping dog story, or talk about their last visit to Billings, or shout at a live band, “If you play jazz now, I won’t hack you to bits!” and an opportunity for an answer would arise. “Wait, wait!” you’d tell Shouting Dude, “Do you know anything about the Axe Man of New Orleans?” And maybe you’d end up buying him a beer, and maybe you’d become best friends. And maybe that all happened because after three years, the chance to finally have an answer would outweigh any general predilection you have to avoiding conversation with loud strangers shouting at standup bassists.
And so I’m trying to not go to the internet for questions I don’t need answered immediately. It’s already bearing fruit. Last night at work, I asked Liz, “Hey, wasn’t there a kid on ‘Full House’ named Kimmy?”
“Yeah,” she said, “Kimmy Gibbler.”
“How in the hell did you know that?” I asked, quietly renaming my skimmer, S’Kimmy Gibbler.
She pointed to our friend across the parking lot and said, “Remember Mike’s birthday at Old Chicago’s? She told us Kimmy Gibbler made her realize she was gay.”
Google never would have told me that.