Thursday, June 21, 2007

Concession Stand

It all started with me asking a simple question. A question that I didn't really expect an answer for. Just me thinking out loud really. Now that I think about it, it wasn't even a question, more of a statement really.

"I wonder if that star right there is brighter because it's closer to earth."

He answered, "No, it's brighter because that's the North Star."

Now, right here it's important to note that we were facing due west. So, I point due north and say..."I don't think so, because that's north over there."

He replied, "No, that's the North Star, are you prepared to tell Joseph and Mary that they were going west not north." Don't ask me why he felt the need to bring the sweet baby Jesus's birth into this silly discussion.

I didn't want to go back and forth so, I said, "Ok, whatever." Why debate something that can easily be proven?

But, he wasn't quite ready to let it go. "If you think that's north, then we should be able to see the North Star, we just need to be up higher."

"Look, I know that's north, we don't have to go hiking to prove it do we? Especially, in this parking lot."

"What? Are you getting scared now?"

Why did he have to say that? So, we found the nearest hill, climbed to the top of it and looked for the North Star. The trees were in the way, we couldn't see any bright stars in the cloudy night sky.

"Oh I know", he said, "We can use the GPS in my car. That will tell us which way is north. Then THAT will be the be all end all. We'll go with whatever the GPS says."
"Sure, that's fine."

See, he was banking on the fact that this machine was going to prove me wrong. I can't describe to you how fast he ran to the car, he was soo excited. 'Penni doesn't know every dayum thing', he thought, 'I've got this one.' (And he was partially correct. I DON'T know everything and would never claim to. It's funny how people try to put that on me.) I stroll back to the car. I'm thinking this fool has lost his ever loving mind and why is it soo important for him to prove me wrong anyway. What's that about?

So, he powers up the car. The little N with the triangle above it is pointing towards 'my north'. I meekly point that out. His reply is, "Well, let's move the car in the other direction just to see what happens." I sit back in the front seat, amazed at how far he's taking this. He backed the car up and turned it left (west). The triangle above that little N didn't budge.

"Hey wait, that triangle didn't move."
"That's because it's facing north."
"How can it be facing north when you make a left but, incorrect when you
were parked. You can't have it both ways."

He thought about that for a moment. Meanwhile, I looked at the icon that represents his car in the middle of the onscreen map. Then I notice that it is sitting perpendicular to I-95. I said, very calmly...
"95 runs north to south right?"
"Well, why is your car perpendicular and not parallel to 95 right

Then, I tried to wrap it up so that we could move on.
"You know how I know which way is north?"

I pointed in the direction of the interstate.
"Because that's 95 over there. It runs parallel to where we are right now.
So, I figured that the North Star couldn't be 'beside' 95. It would have to be
in front or in back of us."

At this point, I was beyond annoyed. We'd just spent a good 20 minutes 'proving' me wrong...and why? I thought it was over but, my luck isn't that good. He was not going to end the night on a low note.

"So, that star must be another galaxy."
"You can't see another galaxy with the naked eye. You'll need a
telescope for that."

"No, people see other galaxies all of the

At this point I'm thinking surely he's seen Men in Black. I think they covered this concept in that movie. Sci-fi channel anyone???
"I don't think so."
A white couple minding their own business have the misfortune of walking in our direction. He says,
"I'm going to ask that man."
"Why do you think he knows. You think all white people know more about astronomy than I do?"
"He just looks like he might know."
I'm so embarrassed, I hang back while he approaches the man. I overheard the man corroborating my story. He's still not satisfied.
Did I mention that I'm beyond annoyed.
"Why are you so hell bent on proving me wrong?"
"It's not about proving you wrong, I just don't think you are right."
"Ok, well, you can always go home and google this stuff. I'm not making it
up. All the stars we see with our unaided eyes are in the Milky
Way. That's our galaxy."
"Ok, I just think we should be able to see other galaxies."
"Alright, well, I'm going in now. Have a good night."

I didn't know what to make of the whole exchange. It was very strange and competitive and weird.

I titled this post Concession Stand because this afternoon after googling all morning trying to find some kind of evidence...some kind of 'ah ha!' to prove me wrong, he sent me an email which read simply...

"okay you win. i conceed victory to you : )"

How telling is that? Nowhere during the exchange was I trying to 'win'. In fact, I kept trying to back down and let it go. But, I 'won'...and I didn't even want to 'play'.


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