Thu, Nov 7, 2013 07:27 PM
Talking in circles
It used to be a clear sign of mental illness if you saw someone
walking around alone and talking to themselves.
Nowadays, that's rarely the case. It's not that mental illness is
on the decline, but rather that earpiece phones are on the
In the past few years I have personally mistaken several people
for schizophrenics because I saw them fully engaged in a
conversation, with arms gesturing and head shaking in agreement,
and no one else in close proximity.
Of course, any anxiety we have about someone doing this is
immediately assuaged when we see their arm bent at 90 degrees and
their hand next to their ear - an instant giveaway to an obvious
The first time I witnessed the "Bluetooth phenomenon" was at an
airport several years ago when earpiece phones were first becoming
I was waiting for a flight at my gate when a guy wandered up and
sat down two seats away from me. I was reading a book at the time
and could clearly hear him having a conversation with someone. But
when I glanced over his way, he neither had a companion nor a
cellphone in his hand. In fact, he was just staring straight ahead
I did a double-take, closely analyzed the scene and then casually
pulled my backpack a little closer to my side.
My mind raced with scenarios: Is this guy having a conversation
with an inner demon? Is he meditating out loud? Does he think he's
in communication with an alien race?
Whatever the situation, the more I watched him out of the corner
of my eye the more anxious I became that he was about to go postal
inside the terminal.
I was just about to engage the woman sitting across from me with
the statement, "Seriously, are they really going to let this guy
onto our plane?" when I heard him wrap up his conversation in a
very phone-like manner.
Once finished, he reached up to the side of his head that was
blocked from my view and removed a small earpiece.
The guy noticed me looking at him and cheerfully stated, "These
new hands-free devices are amazing."
I shook my head in agreement, acting as if I used one all the
Because of that experience, I now avoid rushing to the "crazy"
judgement when I see people having seemingly one-sided
However, I was in the grocery store recently when I crossed paths
with a woman who seemed to be having a perfectly normal
conversation without anyone in sight. I noticed that she did not
have a phone in her hand so I obviously assumed she was wearing a
Bluetooth device. But as I got closer, I realized that was not the
I was just about to tag her with the "nut-case" classification
when I noticed her body language gesturing toward something inside
her shopping cart. When I passed by, I caught site of a tiny infant
child lying in the bottom of her cart, swaddled up in a blanket and
set at an incline by a sack of potatoes - no baby carrier, no car
I try not to judge so I simply assumed she was making the best
with what she had.
But it wasn't the lack of baby accouterments that had me
concerned, but rather the strange conversation she was engaging in
with the child. It wasn't the typical goo-goo-gaga, mommy-type
This child was clearly an infant and obviously far removed from
understanding the specifics of language. And yet the mother (I'm
assuming it was the mother, of course) was rambling on about how
her friend Debbie had
questionable morals and that if she didn't change her sinful ways,
she was going to be run out of town.
Now I can see working through some thoughts by using your child as
a pretend sounding board, but all that should come to a stop when a
stranger wanders by. Sadly, this was not the case. Even though I
was only a few feet away analyzing my choices for breakfast cereal,
she carried on in full volume, ripping poor Debbie to verbal
I hate to admit it, but I immediately rushed to judgement with
this woman's child rearing techniques while also wondering what lie
ahead in the life of that innocent soul in the bottom of that
Ironically, this week's film also features some questionable child
rearing techniques. Except in this case the future of the human
race is at stake.
"Ender's Game" is the story of a teenage boy who has been molded
since childhood to be the commander of an elite military force that
will one day wage battle against an alien race that is threatening
Starring Asa Butterfield (who came to worldwide prominence as the
main character in Martin Scorsese's "Hugo") and Harrison Ford,
"Ender's Game" is part sci-fi adventure, part meditation on the
role society plays in the indoctrination of our youth.
While I would not label "Ender's Game" a top-shelf sci-fi
selection, I would note its success at maintaining an accessibility
to younger viewers without alienating more mature patrons.
Check this one out if you love sci-fi and can also bring a
youngster to the theater. Seeing them engaged in the story should
beef up the enjoyment factor for you.
A nurturing "B-" for "Ender's Game."
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at