The Complaint Cloud


“There’s a continental divide between what happens on a daily basis and what could happen?” we say to try to ease the fears of a fellow passenger who fears flying.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me that a machine this large, with this many people on it, can lift up off the ground and fly 36,000 feet in the air, at an average of 500 miles per hour, for four to five hours,” the passenger who is in obvious discomfort says.

“Oh I know it,” we say with an expectant chuckle. We think the passenger is trying to ease his fears by doing a bit, and we are the bit players.

“I trust the earth, gravity, and the ground,” they say. “I trust concrete.”

“Okay,” we say, “but the designs in many sidewalks and streets make them more susceptible to cracks than you’ll find in the designs of commercial aircraft.”

Our role, as bit players, is to encourage them in any way. We think we’re only adding to their bit, but our expectant smile drops in direct proportion to them progressively proving how serious they are. They don’t trust air travel. They don’t trust that industry professionals know what they’re doing, and some travelers don’t believe in the human ingenuity that has made air travel relatively safe, and they never will, because it is so far beyond their grasp.

“I view it as public versus private,” we say. “The public institutions that create our sidewalks and streets are much less concerned if we trip over a crack on their sidewalk than a private institution. The state, in general, doesn’t much care what we think about their reputation, but private corporations are in business to care.”  

It doesn’t matter to some that the technology necessary for airplanes to achieve and sustain flight is now over one hundreds of years old, they don’t trust it. It doesn’t matter how many thousands of aerospace engineers have checked the technology and corrected the various design flaws since the Wright Brothers fist took flight. It doesn’t matter that one of the top reasons for flight delays is that the pilot and/or the ground crew discover a hint of what could be a mechanical issue that warrants a check, an investigation, and an official release from a qualified professional in the ground crew. It doesn’t matter how many routine checks pilots and/or ground crew do on a daily basis, for decades, most people fear these industry professionals don’t know what they’re doing, and most people fear what they can’t understand.

“If they knew what they were doing why is there ever a crash?”

“Things happen,” we say. There’s a difference between what happens and what could happen. Some of the times, things happen, and there’s nothing anyone can do to prevent somethings from ever happening.”

A NASA site informs us that there are four forces that “Keep an airplane in the sky. They are lift, weight, thrust and drag.” Some of us can read the science of flight on a site like that one and still feel uncomfortable, because we know things happen. To maintain this uncomfortable stance, we also think the companies who own commercial aircraft are willing to chance-it that the plane we’re on will make it to its destination without incident.

Even though the science is now relatively sound on flying, we’re still taking a chance. Yet, we’re taking a chance, when we step off a curb to enter into a crosswalk, we’re taking a chance that there is no car coming. We can minimize the chance of something happening by looking both ways, but we’re still taking a chance that we’re correct. Things happen. Similarly, an airline is taking a chance that one of their planes will crash every time one takes flight, but they put each machine through vigorous checks and tests, on a daily basis, to minimize that chance.

I thought about all this on my very first flight, and I knew that there was still a possibility that something could go wrong. Maybe I’m too trusting, but I felt secure that if something could go wrong, the company flying me knows that their reputation would take a drastic hit.

Those who will never trust human ingenuity often know what happens, but they’re more concerned with what could happen. The fuzzy line between the two can often be heard in a complaint cloud. While in the complaint cloud, the complainer details for us the chronology of something that happened months, years, and decades ago to suckers who trust the system too much. While detailing for us their findings, they shapeshift into the most prominent being in the complaint cloud, the informed. The informed will often litter their presentation with characteristics of the concerned to endear them to their audience. Their performance in the cloud, as an informed, concerned citizen, is important to them, and they will combat any attempts to correct their informed concerns in a uniquely personal manner.

The primary function of their brain, like ours, is to protect them from harm, but theirs see bodily harm and premature, unnecessary death in every arena. When someone suffers a bout of food poisoning as a result of something happening in a relatively careless restaurant, they’re quick with the I-told-you-so’s, but nobody likes an I-told-you-so, and they know it, so they often say they don’t want to enter into the complaint cloud as often as they do.

***

When the complaint cloud approached our table at a restaurant, we didn’t need a meteorologist to tell us that conditions were ripe for a chance of complain. All we had to do was talk to the complainant for five minutes. “There’s something wrong,” she said to introduce the complaint cloud to us, and she added the international refrain of the complainer, “I don’t want to complain, but …” We’re so accustomed to some complainers complaining that we don’t even stop eating while they’re doing it. In lieu of that insult, they say it again. She won’t eat. She can’t eat. She found something wrong with her food. The rest of the table gives her the attention she requires, but we’re silent and silently screaming at her to say it, but she won’t say it, because she “doesn’t want to complain” because she “[doesn’t] want to be seen as a complainer.”

She doesn’t call the server over, because she some part of her enjoys hovering over the rest of us, in her cloud, with her hard-earned knowledge of the steps required in the proper preparation of an onion ring. She doesn’t want to lord her industry knowledge over the restaurant, the server, or us, but she keeps changing the subject back to her improperly prepared onion ring. It’s such an easy fix that it might take less than two minutes for the server to come over, address her concerns, and return with a new plate of onion rings. She doesn’t want to explore that possibility, because she knows her complaint time in the cloud will be brief, and she enjoys the respect she attains from the uninformed for the knowledge she’s attained while in the industry. She smiles a strained smile to reveal for us her internal struggle, but she now knows so much that she just can’t eat a poorly prepared onion ring anymore that she knows it isn’t a temperature that the industry standard. She could say they’re cold, but she knows that exaggerated description carries no attention-grabbing exclamation points, so she says they’re “ice cold!” to superlative her way to some real attention. When she’s done with her exaggerations, we fear touching it the way we do dry ice, knowing that it’s so cold it burns.

To bolster her characterization, and the resultant sympathy that follows, she should also add that her slightly above onion rings are, “Gross.” Would it be a gross exaggeration to say that they’re gross, yes, but that doesn’t stop everyone else from doing it. Why does everyone do it, because few challenge a gross assessment. Gross is a relative term that should never face challenge, because it’s uniquely personal, and anyone who dares challenge the assessment should prepare for blow back.

All she has to say is her onion rings are gross and her table will crinkle up their noses and sympathize with her plight. Gross can now be used to describe everything from finding live insects in our food to tasting excrement in fresh seafood, but it can also mean finding a stray french fry in a serving of pasta, or an onion ring that is less than perfect. I once thought that one of my purposes in life was to try to unseat the word from its perch atop the lexicon we use to describe poor quality. I thought if I could start a personal campaign to limit the use of the word, in my social circles, I might give it back some of its power. I did the same with the overuse of words such as like and the ’ly words, such as literally and actually, but my battle to limit the use of the word was pointless and pitiful. Gross is gone, I realized, it just is. Overuse has diluted its meaning, but people still think it has the power it once did. 

When someone at the table tires of her carefully orchestrated drama and just calls the server over, it’s anti-climactic when the chef quickly arrives with a hot plate of onion rings that he informs us will not appear on our bill. Shows over folks, time to go back our other conversations, because there’s nothing left for us to talk about in the immediate aftermath of a resolved dilemma.

“How are your onion rings?” one of the uninformed asks her.

“Eh, they’re all right.” The truth is that those onion rings are not right, because they never will be, because no onion ring can ever be right in the complaint cloud. They’ll never be as tasty as they could be, or as hot as they should be, or as crispy, or as pleasing as the industry requires. “I like a nice crunch when I bite into an onion ring, don’t you? Yeah, no, this isn’t for me. This is a fine restaurant that’s known for their food, but it just doesn’t meet my professional expectations.” She picked the restaurant, and she selected the meal she would eat on this restaurant’s menu, for which this restaurant is well-known. She knows restaurants, because she works for a competitor, and she knows what this restaurant specializes in, and she’s “always wanted to try it”. When it arrives, she takes it personal when they serve her something that is a couple of degrees below the industry standard that she knows too well.

“Do you have any idea who I am? I work down the street, and I am a manager, and there’s no way I would allow one of my servers to serve these onion rings.” She didn’t say this, but this was the subtext of her complaint, because no one knew who she was, and no one cared. Her entrance into the complaint cloud was personal, and she expounded on her virtuosity after they served her a second inferior plate of onion rings by saying (drum roll please), “I will eat them.” She was kind enough and virtuous enough to suffer through her “all right” onion rings, so we wouldn’t view her as a complainer after she spent the last couple minutes doing nothing but complaining.

Praised be the all mighty, now will you climb down and speak to the peasants, as you said you would when you invited us to try to enjoy an evening out with you dining?

Complaining is what we do. We complain about our friends and family members, our politics, religion, and our place of employment. Complaining about stuff is just what we do when we gather in groups, but we shroud most of our complaints in humor. There’s also a hint of irony in this article in that it’s a complaint about complainers who complain too much, but in the right context, there’s nothing wrong with complaining. Complaining can be fun, and it can provide provocative, engaging conversations. When we invite friends and family for a night out, however, most of us try to keep out complaints in check. We see such complaints as bringing an evening to a crashing halt. Some of us don’t even complain when we probably should, because we want to avoid bringing attention to ourselves in this way. 

“But you’re paying them for their goods and services,” complainants say to justify their complaints, “And the least they should do is try to provide everything that you’re paying your hard-earned dollars for, and I don’t think they even tried in this case.” They also say such things about air travel, “You’re flying in their aircraft, and the airline should do everything they do to make you feel secure.” It’s all true of course, and it’s actually a good rationale to expect as much from our fellow man as we expect from ourselves, especially when we’re paying them, but as Malcolm Gladwell once wrote, there is a tipping point.

The tipping point arrives when everyone around you knows that you’re going to complain. You might not think you’re a complainer, and you might even say that you hate complainers, but when everyone who knows you knows that a complaint cloud will darken their table the moment the server puts your food before you it’s time to reevaluate. If it happens once or twice, it’s annoying, but when it happens so often that the people at your table dread this moment, it becomes obvious that your greater complaint is not with the goods and services others provide, but with the way your life panned out. 

The Leans


“This is it,” Andrew Parizek said crouching down beside my desk. I was listening to music in my earbuds, so I didn’t see, hear, or sense his approach. By the time he said that, Andrew was so close he startled me. He was a close talker, but he narrowed his normally uncomfortable distance until I could smell the cool ranch Doritos he had for lunch. “My final farewell to you, my friend,” he added. “I’m leaving the company. I’m on my way out the door.”

“Oh shoot,” I said to the co-worker I considered a close associate. I don’t know how he would characterize our years-long association, but when we had a go-between, we spoke every day. When that third party changed jobs, I thought the triumvirate was over. Yet, Andrew kept coming over to my desk to talk about the stupid stuff people talk about. “It was great working with you buddy,” I told him.

This “Final Farewell” had been in various stages for about two weeks. Two weeks prior, we discussed his departure at his going away party. One week later, he and I discussed his imminent departure in greater detail, and we also discussed his future at length. We shared brief discussions about the people we knew and the good times we shared. We also talked about how we would miss the little things we both did to brighten the other’s otherwise boring days. We didn’t hug at the end of those discussions, but we engaged in heartfelt, hearty handshakes that expressed how we felt about one another.  

I thought that those final farewells were the final farewells, but his presence at my desk informed me that those notions were premature. “It won’t be the same around here without you,” I said, as I had in the other farewells, but I felt compelled to add original material to this one. I don’t remember what I added, but it involved some sentimental junk that I didn’t mean. I was being nice, and I was trying to make Andrew feel important in my life. I liked the guy, but we weren’t what anyone would call close.

“Are you excited about this move?” I asked him, and when he told me why he was excited, and how excited he was, I said, “I’m jealous.” I wasn’t jealous, as Andrew was moving onto a career that I didn’t want to do, but it seemed like a fitting sentiment to add to this final version of our final farewell.

“You’ll succeed,” I said, “because you’re a nice guy and a hard worker.” I meant that.

“Are you a little scared about the prospect of leaving the comfy confines our company? I know it’s what you want to do, and all that, but you’re venturing out into an unknown world where the prospect of failure is greater.” He said yes to all of the above. Then he launched.

He spelled out for me, in explicit detail, this new venture of his life. He did so with magnificence and aplomb. He was also magnanimous. He spoke about how he thought that I was delightful, and the type who would succeed, and that if I stuck to it, all my dreams would come true. It was as sappy and weird as you imagine. I hid my revulsion for his word choices. He tried to be multisyllabic, and he used as many –ly words as he had in his vocabulary to instill a sense of timeless profundity to this final version of his “Final Farewell”. If it were a speech, it might have caused some emotional reactions. The audience might have been applauding at the end, some may have cried, and others may have even stood to applaud. The over the top farewell was one that often elicits such near-compulsory emotion. Andrew lit up in moments where ‘dreams can come true’ lines poured out of him. When the line “If it can happen for me, it can happen for anyone” brought him to crescendo, I might have reached for a handkerchief if I had what they call emotions.

It was so over-the-top brilliant, coupled with subtle attempts at self-deprecating humor, that I wondered if Andrew plagiarized the material he prepared for this from one of the soldiers’ “going to war” letters Ken Burns compiled for his The Civil War documentary. If it wasn’t, I felt safe in my assumption that Andrew practiced and rehearsed this speech that day, before a mirror. Whatever the case was, I felt compelled to inform him that I thought this version of the final farewell was an “Experience for anyone lucky enough to hear it,” “Your best, final farewell since final farewell number two,” and a “Tour de Force!” I didn’t say any of this, but I felt Andrew Parizek choreographed his speech in a manner that warranted such superlatives.

We were fellow office workers who chatted almost every day for years. We got along on those levels, so receiving an invitation to his going away party wasn’t a big surprise. When I arrived and Andrew offered me relatively little attention Andrew compared to his closer friends, it didn’t wound me. I thought he offered me as much attention as our association warranted.

This Casablanca-style parting was just way beyond protocol as far as I was concerned though. Once I got past the idea that it didn’t matter that Andrew already said goodbye to me a couple times, I politely listened to his spiel as if for the first time. We exchanged email addresses so we could keep updated on each other’s lives. I knew that wouldn’t happen, but I thought it was a nice sentiment. He then concluded with another note about how he was nervous about his future, but he was just as excited by it.

By the time he began to step away, he was all but yelling good wishes to me. My mouth wasn’t open, but the display did set me back a pace. Then it happened …

Andrew Parizek entered into a wicked case of the leans with my desk neighbor, as she entered into the aisle he was exiting. He leaned left to get past her, she leaned left, and when he leaned to the right, she leaned right. Before they finally made it past one another, they performed four separate and distinct leans.

If Andrew was extracting himself from a casual conversation, and exiting the aisle in a routine manner, he might have been able to avoid the spectacle that ended up occurring between these two. If he felt no need to execute a departure to be earmarked in the annals of time for those “who were there” to witness his ride into the sunset, I suspect he would’ve been the gentleman he always was and stepped aside to allow my female desk neighbor to pass. At worst, the two of them may have engaged in two leans, if it wasn’t Andrew’s hope that this “The Final Farewell” include women waving handkerchiefs and someone, somewhere saying, “You know what, there goes one hell of a good feller.” I assume that Andrew pictured the rest of us as side characters in his exit, left behind to chronicle the attributes of the main character of this “The Final Farewell” scene.

I don’t keep a ledger on such things, but I do believe that the Andrew Parizek v. desk neighbor case of the leans was the most intense I’ve ever seen. I’ve witnessed a number of severe cases in my day, and I’ve ever been a party to a few, but I don’t think I witnessed four separate and distinct leans prior to that day.

The one thing we know about the public humiliation that results from a case of leans is that no one gets out alive. Most people try to find some way to quell the embarrassment, but I’ve witnessed some get angry. “Get out of my way!” they shout, in an unsuccessful attempt to direct the humiliation to other party. I saw one person grab the other person by the shoulders and gently usher them right, so they could pass left. I’ve seen some giggle at their own foolishness, and I’ve seen some try to change the subject as quick as they can. None of it works. No one gets out alive.

The one exception to the rule was a nondescript, middle-aged, restaurant hostess named Susan. She fell prey to three separate and distinct leans with another co-worker. She was able maintain a modicum of dignity following the episode, and she did it with three simple words: “Shall we dance?”

The witnesses to this event said she said it in the second of what would be a reported, and corroborated, three leans. Susan said it in the midst of what should have been her humiliation. The witnesses of this episode would later swear that she said those three words with a glint in her eye. The glint was faint, they would report, and it was a little insecure, but the observers suggested that they thought Susan knew exactly what she was doing.

What she was doing is subject to interpretation, of course, as this woman named Susan maintained a degree of humility that prevented her from addressing the full import of her purported casual salvo against future ridicule. Those who witnessed Susan issue this phrase swore that Susan knew that by saying this she would be setting the rest of us free from the ridicule that follows such an episode.

We can only assume that Susan suffered similar ridicule for much of her life, and that it bothered her so much that she sought to put an end to it. If that wasn’t the case, it might have had something to do with Susan’s hope that this line might provide a remedy to future sufferers. Her hope, we can only guess, was that the witnesses of this episode would spread the word to put an end to this scale of human suffering. Whatever the case was, this unassuming restaurant hostess provided those who were lucky enough to be there that day, and those who later heard about it, a shield against public scorn that we would use the rest of our lives. We might not have carried it off with the grace Susan did that day, but we would always think of her, and silently thank her, for freeing us from this ever-present spectacle in our lives.

Had Andrew Parizek learned of this antidote prior to his case of the leans, it might have spared him the humiliation. I doubted it at the time, and I still do, for I considered Susan’s humorous quip an antidote to two, and in her case three, separate and distinct leans, but I wasn’t sure that even her ingenious response could shield someone from the public fallout of four.

Four separate and distinct leans were so unprecedented, to my mind, that I doubt there is a sufficient antidote. Couple that with the fact with the Gone with the Wind-style, dramatic exit that Andrew hoped to execute preceding it, and I doubt that any clever quip would’ve permitted him to save face. His only recourse was to walk away and just hope that witnesses would forget it soon after it happened.

Andrew Parizek was an “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” fella. Everyone I knew liked him. He was a likable guy, but no one I knew liked him so much that they would hang out with him, or consider him a best friend. He was one of those guys who was always there but never the focus of the room. Andrew Parizek wasn’t the type of guy we will remember, and perhaps that’s all he wanted when he delivered so many final farewells to so many people that he accidentally said goodbye to the same people more than twice. I don’t know how much preparation he put into his final farewells, but I’m sure he did it so that he could let each of us know how important we were to him to have the sentiment returned. This is not to suggest that Andrew’s actions were intended to be self-serving, but everyone wants those around them to remember that we were here. It is possible that had Andrew escaped unencumbered by my desk neighbor, his final farewell might have had the lasting effect on me he hoped for, but the lasting memory I now have of him consists of him shucking and jiving with my desk neighbor, trying to get past her for a dramatic ride off into the sunset.

Guy no Logical Gibberish III


Most of us have been reading for so long that we fail to appreciate what a complicated exercise it is. Those of us who read every day are shocked when we read that literacy rates are not 100% across the board in the United States. The U.S. literacy rate matches the world literacy rate at 86%, but with as much as the U.S. taxpayer pays on education, the U.S. citizen should be angrier that it’s not higher. As low as it is, it’s double the literacy rate when JFK was the president, when it was 42%, and that more than tripled the literacy rate of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood in 1820, when only 12% of the world was literate. Our eyes glaze over when we hear that Lincoln was self-taught, as self-taught has taken many meanings over the years. The bar of our current definition of self-taught now is much higher than it was in Lincoln’s day. Lincoln’s formal schooling, he once said, wouldn’t have amounted to a full year. He had too much work to do as a child.    

Those of us who read something every single day assume that human beings have been reading for as long as human beings have been on the earth. When we hear that some famous historical figures were either illiterate, or barely literate, it’s noteworthy to us. “They accomplished that with little to no education?” When we learn that Abraham Lincoln was mostly self-taught, after reading his speeches, we think, “What a teacher!”

Books are such an unlimited commodity today that we take them for granted, but as far back as Abraham Lincoln’s day, the future president and others walked miles to borrow a good book. They didn’t have many books, newspapers and pamphlets were a limited commodity, and they didn’t have the internet of course. They appreciated the limited commodity of books, and they loved to use their brains for the complicated past time of reading.

If we take this one-step further, how complicated is it for the average citizen to write a book? For most of my life, our lives we’ve heard how difficult it is. “I wrote a couple novels in my spare time,” Actor George Kennedy once said. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”

Kurt Vonnegut counters, “Writing allows a stupid person to seem halfway intelligent, if only that person will write the same thought over and over again, improving it just a little each time. It is a lot like inflating a blimp with a bicycle pump. Anyone can do it. All it takes is time.”

***

Planning to go to an Easter Egg hunt, Nephew #5 was in the basement with a stick practicing fencing techniques on a wall. He was two-years-old, but he apparently watched enough video to know lunge techniques and some counter attacks. Sister-in-law #3 said his facial expressions were so intense, he looked angry.

“What’s the stick for?” she asked.

“My nana said we’re hunting the Easter Bunny,” he said, “and my mom won’t let me bring a gun.”

While still two-year-olds, nephew #5 had a real phone that was not plugged in. He picked up the phone and said, “Maury, my girlfriend and my wife keep arguing, and I can’t take it anymore.”   

***

My first nickname for a woman I knew was “unfair”. I considered it unfair that she should have all of the characteristics boys like. Most of us have an abundance of one characteristic and a deficit of the others. My guess is that anyone else who saw considered it just as unfair that God decided to be so stingy with all of our superficial characteristics while giving her everything. Those who believe our characteristics are solely genetic and a result of everything our forebears passed down, have to wonder how all of the optimum characteristics filtered down to her. My guess is that her relatives, or those who didn’t have all of the optimum family characteristics passed down to them, hold a lifelong grudge against her. When her relatives, and anyone else who sees her walk down our employer’s hallway, see her, they know how unfair life can be. I developed another nickname for her, through the years. I called her “The Godfather”. Every time we went to a bar together, guys would come up to her and whisper in her ear. We sat at these bars together, in a group, for about 90 minutes on average, and it never failed. Some guy, from some part of the bar, would walk up and whisper something in her ear. One night, in particular, four different guys whispered things in her ear. She told us she knew two of them, and two she didn’t. What were they whispering? She didn’t cite the Southern Italian code of silence and the code of honor that forbids telling outsiders anything that is discussed, but she wouldn’t break their trust and tell us what these guys were whispering to her.

***

An eight-year-old boy asked me if I wanted to hear examples of the extent of his knowledge of swear words. I asked him why he was so fascinated with swear words. He didn’t know, of course, as he never dissected it. My guess is that it’s independent knowledge he has attained outside the home, and the psychology of it fascinates him. He knows it’s taboo and that fascinates him.

***

Some people complain that other people, mostly men, waste huge chunks of the precious time they have left on earth watching NFL games. Watching the NFL is a complete waste of time in the sense that we get little to anything out of it, but it’s no more a waste of life than watching any other TV show. I found an even greater waste of time, paying attention to mock drafts.   

True NFL fans are almost as concerned with next year as they are this year. As such, they waste huge chunks of their precious time left on earth reading Mock NFL Draft experts guess what college player NFL teams will select in the upcoming draft. The NFL Mock Draft industry is now a multi-million dollar business built almost single-handedly by a guy named Mel Kiper, a man some claim “built an empire out of nothing.”

Why is spending countless hours reading, listening, and watching what these experts think such a huge waste of time? A writer named Derek White graded Kiper, Todd McShay, Peter King, and other top experts of mock drafts in 2014, and he found that top, universally acclaimed experts picked the player an NFL team would select 4.6 times out of 56. Reading other, more recent grades for the experts, they often correctly pick an average of 6 times out of 32. This inflated score includes a heavy asterisk, as the first draft pick is often set in stone by draft day, and the next two are often so obvious that we shouldn’t give these experts any credit for stating the obvious. If these admittedly debatable points are true, then the true prognostication of NFL Draft experts begins at pick four. At that point, the top experts in this field average about 3 correct picks out of 29, or just under 10%. These experts watch countless hours of game film, they have insider access to insiders of each team, and they spend hours studying their algorithms before they sit before a massive NFL audience to reveal their findings. They know way more than we do, and they correctly pick the college prospect an NFL team will select less than 10% of the time. Do these mock draft experts take abuse for missing, yes, but before we feel sorry for them remember that they are paid fairly well to do something most of us pay to do. The question isn’t why do they do it, but why we waste such a huge chunk of our precious time left on earth watching, listening, and reading them do it? 

***

In 2015, a writer for the East Oregonian wrote that major league pitcher Pat Venditte was the majors first major league pitcher to switch hands pitching in 20 years. The writer for the EO picked up a story from the AP and wrote, “Amphibious Pitcher makes debut”. I believe the writer intended to write that Pat Venditte was the first ambidextrous pitcher in 20 years. I know Pat Venditte. I might not know him well, but he’s never been anything less than a mammalian to me.    

Some 30 years prior, while former NBA player Charles Shackleford was at North Carolina State, he told reporters, “Left hand, right hand, it doesn’t matter. I’m amphibious.”