Mr. Grooism

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February 26, 2004 - 10:01 p.m.

Special Guest Grooisms

The Measure of a Man

My buddy BJ “Bunny” Trapp sends us the following Grooism for our amusement.

Says Bunny:

Fortunately many of my worst Grooisms happen when I am the only one who knows about them. The most embarrassing one that went public was when I volunteered to help set up targets for a women's archery competition.

There were two of us, and we got the string for the shooting line out and pegged it down, and then after finding out the distances they were to be shooting at, we taped out the distance for the first round and set up the tripods. Then it was over to the shed and we wrestled these enormous wound-straw targets down range to set them on the tripods.

These things were huge and really heavy. The organizer thanked us and told us she had someone coming at the end to help her get them back to the shed. Since I knew they were going to be shooting at two distances, I said we could stay and move the targets for the second round.

She gave me a look that I later recognized as amazement and pity and told us that they would just move the string!

Follow The Leader

My buddy Azamin lives in Malaysia, and offers the following:.

I got this from Raja Petra...

People are peculiar. They like to follow rituals and trends without understanding the concept behind them. Take the pilgrimage or Hajj to Mekkah as an example. How many of those who perform the Hajj (‘Haji’ in Bahasa Malaysia) actually understands what he or she is doing? Malaysians are fortunate though. They are forced to sit through a ‘kursus haji’ (Hajj course) before they embark on the pilgrimage. In that sense, Malaysian Muslims are more learned than their brethren from some of the other countries. But then, Malaysians are also forced to enrol in a driving school and submit to a driving test before they are let loose on the roads. But do Malaysians really know how to drive? Malaysians are probably amongst the worst drivers in the world.

Anyway, back to the Hajj. Let me relate a kisah benar (true incidence) that occurred way back in 1982 when I performed my first Hajj. There was this group of Indonesians who were performing their Hajj. The Sheikh (sort of tour leader), a Malaysian from Kemaman, Terengganu, who had made Mekkah his home (complete with second family and all), asked the Indonesian group how much they knew about the Hajj ritual. To his dismay, and this is not an isolated case mind you, none of them knew a thing.

Never mind, he said, just follow exactly what he does. He led the group through the main door leading to the Kabbah, the Babus Salam. He then read out the doa (prayer) and asked them to raise their palms and just recite “amin” (amen). They did just that. He then waved at the Kabbah and they aped him. He then led the group down the steps to the main courtyard of the Kabbah. The group followed close behind.

As the Sheikh walked down the steps he slipped on some water that had overflowed from the Zam Zam containers lining the mosque. He was thrown backwards and almost hit the floor but, in a reflex action, he grabbed the railing and saved himself from smashing his skull on the mosque steps. The entire group of Indonesians, seeing this magnificent display of acrobatics by their Sheikh, all slid down the steps and grabbed the railing in a sort of break dance fashion.

This scene would probably have been ideal on the streets of New York accompanied by some background rap music. It was, however, certainly not one of the obligated rituals of the Hajj. But the Sheikh had done this and the group of Indonesians did exactly as instructed; follow everything and anything their Sheikh does, including any accidental moves the Sheikh makes.

This is the danger when people try to perform certain rituals or acts without understanding the concept behind it. And this goes for the concept of perjuangan (struggle) as well.

Grandpa’s Grooism

This reminds me of something that happened when I was a kid. My grandfather spoke very little English, mostly Italian and was partially deaf. He relied on a hearing aid, but often turned it off when he didn’t want to be bothered.

One day we went to church with him, and he caused a hysterical chain reaction. In Catholic services there is a lot of sitting and standing and more sitting and more standing, up and down and up and down, seemingly at random if you’re not paying attention.

My grandfather wanted to sit in the front row, but upon arriving he shut off his hearing aid! I guess he figured he didn’t understand the language well, so just being there was good enough! Anyway, towards the end of the service while the congregation was standing, he decided he was tired of standing and just sat down! This caused a reflexive, rippling effect as the people in back of him started to sit, then some folks in back of them sat, and so on. The folks who first sat realized everyone else was still standing, so they stood up again! So while the back half was still starting to seat themselves, the front half was standing again! Hee hee, ya gotta love it!


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