Baboon Redux – Fear of Flying

Dear Baboons, for the next few weeks I will be unable to administer Trail Baboon, so I’ve lined up a series of classic guest posts for review.  Starting with this one, which may have been the first guest post to appear on Trail Baboon back in October of 2010.

A Guest Blog by Jacque

In my young adult years I worked in a library twice, once in college “keypunching” the stacks during the first computerization of the collections, then later, at the front desk of the Public Library in Grand Rapids, MN. There in that presumably intellectual, quiet, sedate literary setting, I found a noisy, messy, colorful human parade.

It was not at all what I expected.

One day while I was at my front desk post, a quiet man who frequented the library shot through the entry door carrying a bag, making a beeline for me. He abruptly stopped, spun around to face me, then reported to me that he had just returned from a trip to Martinique where he owned an estate. He handed me the bag saying, “These figs are from my estate. They are for you. Next time I go there, you must accompany me.” He turned and fled out the front door. I was stunned. I looked at the bag of figs. The bag was from the local green grocer who was offering figs on a special. The library book he returned was a book about Martinique. Although he was at the library often, he never spoke to me again, silently presenting his books at the checkout station, then moving on.

Another patron routinely checked out grocery bags full of paperback romances—Harlequins, bodice rippers, tattered and torn books. She always returned them on time, then took another bagful with her out the door. However, the patron was so shy she could hardly look at me. When she did look at me she frequently had a bruise on her cheek or her arm, or a black eye. Not a romantic life at all I feared.

Most afternoons at the library between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. local businessmen would come in and sit in the lounge area near the front desk where the newspapers were located. They would read and chat with each other. It was a party atmosphere.

One afternoon at that time when the area was full of these patrons, a ditsy blonde approached the front desk. “I’m going on a vacation to England,” she announced to me loudly and proudly. “But I am afraid of flying. I need the book Fear of Flying by Erica Jong!” hitting the J heavily.

“Excuse me?” I said, surprised. “Fear of flying?”

“Yes! I’m going to England on an airplane. But I get so nervous, so I want to read that book to get over it.”

I cleared my throat, uncomfortably viewing the room full of businessmen and lowering my voice. “Well, ma’am, actually, you might not want that book. That is an erotic book. It’s not really about air travel.”

“Oh, yes it is!” she insisted. “ I read about this in a magazine.”

“Um, no, Ma’am, it is an erotic book.”

“Erractic?” she said loudly. “Well, of course I’m erratic!. That’s why I’m scared on an airplane! Now, where can I find that book?”

The businessmen were looking at us. She had certainly garnered their attention. Several were chortling.

“Ma’am,” I said in a whisper. “Not erratic. EROTIC. It’s a SEXY book.”

“Well, I want that book.” She demanded.

I gave up, my face reddening, then directed her to that section of the stacks. She brought the book back and checked it out. I thought it might cure her anxiety – surely the subject matter of the book and the shock of the content would distract her from her fear of air travel. But I’m sure that this book was not what she thought it was. She had a significant misconception about the Fear of Flying. I just wish I could have watched her read the first few chapters.

How do you tell someone they’ve got it completely wrong?  

45 thoughts on “Baboon Redux – Fear of Flying”

  1. great solution dale
    starting us off eith this one remonds me ghat i likely recalled that i too was not aware it was a sexy book when pn an sirplane i sat next to a woman dreading itand told her that i hoped it helped with her fears
    she looked sheepidhly and said i fidnt tber the backdtory but i thanks..i could have been hitting on het snd not even been aware if it.

    i didnt remember the bavkstory but i fid remember the fear of flying part

    should be interesting to see what the best of is comprised of

    thanks again jacque 5 years later


    1. Classic tim post, here! It gives me a chuckle.

      I was surprised to see this, but I am anticipating seeing some other classic posts from years before.

      I am sitting outside the Liberty Bell with my twisted ankle uo on a chair, waiting for Lou to see the Bell. The ankle is not sprained, but it is tender after wrenching it on a rock at the dog park the day before we left. It is not tolerting all the walking despite the Ace wrap. Frustrating! What was worse was than that is that my sister had to cancel entirely after cutting her thumb with a paring knife in her kitchen.
      She called from her Dr’s office Tuesday to explain that she cut the tendon and would be having hand repair surgery instead of a vacation. So resting my ankle seems bearable compared to that.

      This morning we saw the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, a site worthy of an entire post. Tomorrow we are off to Medford NJ to the Quuaker Cemetery. I found a list of Jewish Genealogy resources at the National American Jewish Museum.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Most of politics, now and probably always, is comprised of groups of people telling other groups of people that they’ve got everything completely wrong. You see how well that works. I don’t think you can expect to convince someone they are wrong unless they have indicated an openness to reconsidering their belief, as when that person solicits your opinion. Persons in a position of power can sometimes force conformity on a precept, but that isn’t the same as convincing anyone.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. You’re totally wrong on this, Bill. Politics is all about serving the people in your constituency. Doing what’s best for them and all that. Didn’t you know that?



  3. Morning all. This is a great piece – I remember it well as it triggers memories of my days in the bookstore. “I want that book that was on the Marlo Thomas show this morning – it was red.”

    I’m in the service industry so I get the joy of telling people they’re wrong all the time, but I can never just tell them straight out that they are wrong – sometime I have to lead them to the water and hope they drink. Sometimes I get to tell them straight out “No, your airline ticket does not route you through Canada. The LA/Ontario airport is in California.”


    1. I often took calls from MPR listeners wanting an answer to a similar question as VS in the bookstore. If they knew what day and (hopefully) time they heard the interview or mention, I could accommodate them. Sometimes a shot in the dark would hit the mark.

      But my favorite question was “I saw a program last night….” Sir, this is a radio station, we are not associated with PBS.

      Liked by 6 people

  4. Another story that this blog reminds me of… if I told it before I’m sorry.

    My folks were very committed to no censorship when I was growing up, so if I wanted to read something, then they weren’t going to stop me.But I knew that this didn’t mean they were happy with all my reading choices and as a teenager, I occasionally used this as a weapon. When I was in high school I picked up Fear of Flying at the local bookstore. It had a lurid picture of a woman’s torso on the front cover with a zipper running diagonally through it:

    I would purposely leave it laying around with the cover facing up. My mother couldn’t bring herself to tell me not to read it, but every time she came across it, she would turn it upside down so the cover wouldn’t show. Normally I would have finished it in a couple of days, but I dragged it out for a couple of weeks just to torture her! Aaah youth.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. And one completely OT. Cantus did “Little Potato” last night. I couldn’t find it online but did find this nice bit w/ Malcolm Daglish doing the hammer dulcimer…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A friend is a passionate progressive whose politics are left of Bernie Sanders. Her daughter believes Barack Obama is a foreign-born Muslim who hates America and means to destroy it with illegal taxes on people whose only crime is that they are successful and wealthy. Mother and daughter send newspaper clippings to each other every other week. The clippings are chosen to show the other how totally wrong she is about everything. Four decades of dueling clippings have not changed either one of them. I have gently suggested that they might drop the conflict and just accept their differences. They do love each other.

    Misunderstandings . . . now, that is different. With patience and respect we can sometimes resolve conflicts resulting from misunderstandings.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. I just spent 10 days in Calif. biting my tongue, and not to telling two Young Adults how to fix a part of their various dilemmas. They couldn’t have taken in my knowledge (vast though it is) at this time. I know from experience about the “teachable moment”… maybe I will find appropriate articles to email to them when the time is right.

    I like this idea of Dale’s – we may have forgotten some of the archival guest posts. (This one is like new for me – at least, I don’t remember the details…) Babooners who have joined more recently will be seeing them for the first time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think you are exactly right. Unasked-for advice has so little value we can’t even give it away most of the time. The more we offer our opinions without being invited to, the less people attend to them. If you and your young friends are lucky, they might conclude they need your advice.


    2. Sometimes personal experience is the best and most lasting teacher. It’s important for those of us with a lifetime of sometimes painful experience to resist the temptation to jump in and try to spare younger folk the same difficulties. Struggle can be formative and they probably wouldn’t follow your advice anyway. I know I wouldn’t have.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bill, once I found myself urgently trying to save my daughter from making a mistake I had made myself. Somehow I caught myself and tried to understand why I was so vehement about protecting her from my old error. There is nothing special about my old mistakes, nothing except they are special to me. To live is to make mistakes and (with luck) to learn from them. We shouldn’t be too quick to protect the young from goofing up and learning the necessary lessons. (Obviously, some mistakes, like substance abuse, are in a special category.)


        1. One of the worst things in life is to watch your children with your faults and make your mistakes. But I have always bitten my tongue, even when they make their won mistakes.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Knowing from experience that someone, whether young or old, is headed toward likely difficulties is excruciating, like a train wreck in slow motion. Sometimes all you can do is prepare for the aftermath.

          Liked by 3 people

        3. This isn’t, of course, something unique to young people. Ii’s also possible to have an older person reject your advice and personal experience, convinced that there’s some reason it couldn’t possibly be applicable to them. I think I usually have a pretty good feel for how entrenched the person is, and sometimes it’s better to just drop the whole subject. And yes, it’s rather painful when you see a better path for them and they won’t take it.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Yup.

        Although some young people (at least in my vast experience of raising three daughters) will listen and learn a bit from my wise experience (insert sarcastic font for those last two words). Others absolutely have to learn everything the hard way.

        Then again, perhaps the ones that appeared to be listening and learning just let it go in one ear and out the other and were just more polite about not listening.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. It’s a frightfully geeky thing to do, but you can use faux HTML code to denote insert sarcastic comment here. I have also seen this with and framing the text.


        2. Dang it – WordPress stripped out my fake html. Pooh. So, the intent is that you open your text with or and close it with the same thing including the forward slash (like putting in italics or bold).


  8. When have I told someone they were wrong?
    Well, hardly ever.
    I have to be so rock solid secure in my rightness that it’s hard for me to be emphatic in correcting someone. The fact that they have a different idea may be enough to insert a crack in my firm foundation.
    Perhaps I will think of examples as the day goes by.

    Meanwhile – great idea, Dale. As one of the Newbies, I appreciate seeing the old posts.
    And this was a good one, Jacque.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Since I am always right, it seems i am always disabusing people of their mistaken ideas! (Well, not really, but I sure would like to). I am not a great debater. I get a little bossy in doing parenting education with people, because there some things that really work and some parents have such poor parenting skills or have really unrealistic ideas about what their children can and should be doing.

    Off to Newell, SD today for our lambs. We were going to go last week but it was too windy.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. One of my favorite things about the internet is that it can save a lot of time haggling over a point of fact.

    I get a fair amount of mileage with my boy by admitting I was wrong when I in fact am.

    Production work is another matter. You are set a task and need to figure out the best way to accomplish it in the least time and with the least expense possible. More often than not, the Idea person will tell you why their brilliant idea can be easily accomplished if you just do X.

    Your experience tells you the materials at hand will not result in the desired effect.

    The toughest lesdon I have had to learn is that you must attempt to do X with all will, and just tell your common sense to shut up.

    One if 3 things will happen.
    1)X will work and the idea person will be very smug. You may get a new trick up your sleeve.

    2) X will be the less than stunning outcome you knew it would be, but either a) the idea person will shriek wih delight that it is exactly what they want, which everyone knows is a lie, or b) will shriek that the thing is an abysmal failure because of your technical incompetence in executing their genius idea.

    In either case, avoid working with them at all cost.

    3) X will be admitted a failure all around. You now have even less time and money to do the project over from the start. SAY NOTHING.

    Observe the idea person’s reaction. If they are contrite, graciously forgive them. Decide based on the size and quality of the box of chocolates whether to ever put yourself through this again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm says I am logged in as madislandgirl but posts me as ABD.

      I do think one of the nicest things I’ve done for my child is admit it when I have been wrong. My parents have never been wrong about anything, which of course made me the same way. I do not recommend it as a way of life.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. From my own observations, I recognize what you describe as typical, but this ridiculous dance is engendered by the assumption that there is a hierarchy whereby the idea person is superior/more essential than the production person. In an environment where everyone has a necessary part to play, the idea person would bring that idea to the production person and together they would collaborate to agree upon the best way to achieve the desired end. The outcome, if successful, would be a shared achievement and even if unsuccessful would be a noble experiment. No office kabuki would be necessary.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. The futility of trying to convince someone they are wrong was brought home to me one day, years ago, when a “friend” and I had a disagreement. She maintained that there was no racism or racial discrimination here in Minneapolis. I tried to convince her with my observations of inequality (I was on food stamps and WIC for a short time years ago and when I would go to pick them up, I would be the only white person there. And when I take public transportation, the vast majority of riders are non-white. How can there be no discrimination when almost of all of the people who can’t afford cars or need food stamps are black?) and some other arguments. No matter what I said, she had an answer for it – not an answer that convinced me, but one that allowed her to keep her opinion as the right way of thinking. She wore me down until I realized that it was impossible to get her to admit that she might be wrong and I just shut up. Looking back, I wonder if she thought she convinced me that I was wrong and she was right because I stopped arguing.

    Perhaps the best way to dialog about things is to listen to each other and try to understand the other person’s viewpoint rather than trying to show the other person that he/she is wrong and you are right. I know I am much more willing to listen to someone if he/she says “That’s interesting; I don’t think that way at all. Tell me why you think that way” rather than “Your opinion is different than mine, therefore you are wrong – now change your thinking to my way or I can’t be friends with you.”


  12. Returning for a moment to Jacque’s superb intro, I’ve been told that erotic books are selling faster than they ever did. The reason is supposed to be e-readers. Shy folks who never could have bought a book with a salacious title or lewd cover art can read Fifty Shades of Grey during a work lunch break, and nobody knows.


  13. Just over the SD line, husband says, “I think you should watch out for pronghorns”. I say with extreme confidence “Oh no. There aren’t an pronghorns around here anymore”. Just around the next curve, three pronghorns were waiting politely to cross the road. Husband says “I get three points!”

    Liked by 4 people

  14. In addition to pronghorn, the trip today provided a total surprise that yielded photos and a blog post for when Dale returns. I will say no more. My lips are sealed.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. This was a “new” blog to me. Hilarious, Jacque. Of course, I’ve heard of Fear of Flying, but I’ve never read it. Now I’m curious. Is it worth reading?

    I don’t recall ever being wrong, so I’ve had plenty of practice telling others they were. It’s not easy, but someone’s gotta do it. Don’t need special font to make that assertion, if you get my drift.

    Liked by 2 people

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