"So you're speaking at the convention this year?" she asked, and when I nodded, she said, "Maybe I'll go."
A little less than enthusiastic.
She must have caught that I was surprised. "I mean, after thirty years of conventions, there's just not much new anyone can say anymore."
Shirleen is a teacher, a kindergarten teacher, and has been forever. Immediately, I knew she had to be right; there's not a million ways to skin a cat or teach a kid, and you can get only so much at a teachers' convention.
So my wife and I have turned that moment into something of a theme. We get "Shirleened" every once in awhile, when the sheer repitition of information or ideas gets old, no matter how flashy the presentation.
Like yesterday. A good speaker--no denying that--but he was singing the same old song, which is new, I'm sure, to a whole crowd of college students, freshmen at least, who were required to be there and took notes dutifully. But to me, a veteran of more than 30 years, his standing-room-only speech was the same-old, same-old. Yesterday, I got myself thoroughly Shirleened.
Seriously, it's a deadly syndrome, and you know you have it when rolling your eyes requires most of the energy you have. You get Shirleened when you know exactly what's going to happen--where the speaker's going and, sure enough, he goes there. Yawn.
So I was feeling depressed because getting Shirleened is no picnic. It's a straight shot of mortality, in a way, although it doesn't have to be. I too could move to Japan, like one of my former students, who says he's basically a wanderer. Or could I, at 61? I doubt it. All afternoon I felt sorry for myself. I just hate being Shirleened.
At night, I have a meeting--good! Then another lecture--same guy and he wasn't bad, better, at least, than the morning's all-school turnout.
But the truth is, I left home last night and went to the lecture because I wanted to avoid watching the Packers get drubbed by their own former maestro. I knew it would happen. What's worse is Bret Favre had a career night. That's no arm he's got--it's a laser.
Now, I like Bret Favre. If anyone has never been Shirleened, it's Favre. Watching him is like watching someone half-drunk on the Autobahn. But in his last years at Green Bay, he was the quintessential loose canon; and when they let him go, in my book they made the right move.
But last night the gunslinger was back, in deadly fashion. I turned on the TV when I got home from the lecture and watched him come back from the dead with pinpoint passing that picked the Packers apart.
All of which made me even more depressed, and I still am, the next morning.
Yesterday, on NPR, John Ridley said that a baby born in Wisconsin has his pink little tush branded with a green G. He's right.
Last night, Favre, on task, decked out in purple, was perfect. He took apart his teammates systematically, as if he knew every last chink in their system.
Maybe that's it. Last night, the Green Bay Packers got dissed. Last night, they got themselves thoroughly Shirleened, and this morning, like some of the Packers, I'm sure, I can barely get up from the chair.