One of the great comics of the 20th century. Bob Newhart’s conversations with unseen and unheard folk were part of my life from the late 1950s onwards. So, I wrote this back in 2018 but wouldn’t have managed it without the inspirations of this great comic.
We don’t ask for them. And maybe we don’t like them, but somehow we get stuck with them, because up until a certain age it’s an adult who is recording the name or names officially on so many records. And for a lot of us it’s just too much trouble to try and convince everyone who could possibly have your name that it has changed. Even worse these days because if you forget to tell just one organisation then computer systems get confused and are liable to wipe you out. So we carry on with the name given us. Though for some people this can be a trial and they really get upset about it.
Bearing this thought in mind. Last summer this advert popped up on one of my sites and like most adverts I didn’t ask for it, even so I had some explaining to do to my wife!
But as you will see the title ‘Flirty Singles’ has a peculiar ring to it, I mean you have the picture of this forward young lady and an encouragement to meet ‘Flirty Singles’, which if you read it one way can mean a direct invitation to a young lady of this name. This set me thinking, just suppose there is a young woman out there whose family name is ‘Singles’ and by some chance she’d ended up with the first name ‘Flirty’. Now she has a real problem and as you know such burdens can give folks a certain attitude and outlook in life. So I offer to you Miss Singles going for a job interview at a construction site, and the owner and site manager’s conversation might go something like this….
“Ah Good Morning Miss Singles. Welcome to the job interview. Can I get you a glass of water? Tea? Coffee? Sure coffee! And, black, yea. No sugar, sure….With a spoonful of salt? (nervous laugh)..well that’s different…Eh keeps you focused does it? I’ll have to…err…look into that.
Now with construction site work many folk don’t realise that in addition to being quite labour intensive, a lot of skill is needed so I hope you don’t mind if some of my questions seems a measure intrusive…Err would you like a tissue Miss Singles….looks like you got something in your eye…Ah I see, that just a twitch…Yeh! Quite twitch…Anyway. Now I have to ask (laughs). Your first name there, it’s…… I see….uhh-huh…Yeh rich grandparents sometimes make some freaky requests of their children…uh…their weak-assed Godforsaken children? Yeah, I see…. Oh they made their money in the 1960s on the West Coast, yeh…kinda makes sense now….Have you ever discussed this condition of the…ahh…name…. with them? Oh, both died. Suddenly….At home…falling downstairs together…Gee…that’s tragic…..I’ll just get you some paper towelling, you spilled some of your coffee when you were giggling. And your parents?….Those creeps are still alive y’say….Well I guess that ties up that line of enquiry.
I see you went through twenty schools. Did you parents move much? No. Hmm, some places can be picky can’t they? Did the kids call you silly-nick names….Yeh I guess it would have gone better for them if they hadn’t….. Sports? Gridiron, I didn’t know some schools had girls’ teams…..Not the girls’ team… Offensive tackle? No kidding, they are usually kinda taller….You say it an’t needed when you jump at the face….Yeh that would be different…Hmm…Now my opinion is those guys were being a bit whinny, it is a contact sport after all, just as long as you didn’t try and wrench the helmet off….Only the once…I suppose he kept laughing when he used your first name did he?…. Oh y’know, just a lucky guess.
I see you’ve had quite a few jobs…Hmm…finding the right one can be a bit difficult. This is different though, most of the recommendations coming from your employers’ wives… Hmm…quite a bit of colourful language but the phrase ‘He had it coming’ crops up quite a lot, guess that explains the lack of police enquiries….Oh the police liked you…Muggings dropped off wherever you lived.
Ah I see here you signed up for the Marines…..And were dropped out of basic training because your drill sergeant and the rest of the squad were getting nightmares. Special Forces said they needed stealth not banshee screaming. Geez, I hate to come across as old and cranky, but they don’t breed them as tough as they did in my day…Nah…I was in cooks and that’s no walk in the park I can tell you! Now this rejection from the Chicago Police Department. To my mind just isn’t helpful, I mean what does ‘Hah! Not until Hell Freezes Over’ offer to the applicant, it’s just not helpful.
OK, before we go out and try out on site there, if you don’t mind me asking, who took the photo? It’s only just first impressions y ‘understand but…..ahhh…doesn’t seem your style. Oh….right.……That…ah… thrice-dammed witch, your mother. Well she is good at photoshop and all that…stuff…Annd she put it on FaceBook and Instagram did she?……Gee that’s tough. But I guess that mothers for you. Trying to get you married….My, that is some twitch!
Well anyway, here we are. Office being on site. As you can see a lot of construction going on here….HEY guys! You might wanna tone down the sexist remarks….YEH? Well JOE it’s my opinion you’re damn lucky you are up there and not down here! Don’t worry I’ll have a word with them at lunch break….Sure…ha-ha….for their own sakes.
OK, so this is Harry our site foreman. No, Harry I wouldn’t make too much of that twitch if I were you. I’d be careful there Harry…Yeh I kinda guessed she’d have that sorta tough grip in her handshake, put it in cold water after, swelling will go down. So this is Miss Singles…No Harry, her first name isn’t important, truly Harry you want to trust me on that one. Remember how I was right about that gas leak?…Well it’s the same kind of situation Harry. Yeh, glad you agree.
So Miss Singles, we’ll just go for a quick walk for you get a feel of the place…Oh sure, if you want to…ahhh….try a swing with the hammer at that rubble, sure be our guest…..JOE!….Tone it down will you? Trying to help you here fellow!
Yeah I know Harry that’s one hellva swing she’s got there and…..Wow!!…Did you see that Harry?…..Harry ?…Harry, what are you doing hiding behind the truck there Harry? I mean they were only rock splinters Harry. No, Harry I’m sure you saw worse shrapnel in Iraq. Well I give you that Harry, that expression when she swung the hammer, yep it’s kinda imposing…those bared teeth.. Yeh Harry she’s got great impact there? I dunno Harry, something on the rock, looks like a piece of paper…Oh yeah, it’s a photo Harry….Probably of her parents Harry. How do I know?.. Hmmm….just a feeling. Y’know how it is when you interview folk. Aww now come on JOE! Sayin’ she can swing your hammer anytime, those sort of remarks just an’t funny anymore fellah.
Now y’see JOE, you provoked that. Quit whining. It was only a little piece of stone. Betcha didn’t think Miss Singles could get you at that range uh?… I know Jeff, that was a great pitch wasn’t it?…..I dunno Jeff. You’d best ask Miss Singles herself if she does any Little League coaching, yeah I think your daughter’s team would love her… Hey would someone get JOE down from there and off to Emergency, there seems to be a lot of blood there….Wassat Dave?…You can’t prize his fingers from the girder?….Oh boy, what a cry-baby, ok just wrap something about it, for the time being.
Well Miss Singles, I think you proved you can contribute to the team….Yeah… That’s ok, if you’re not done with the rock…Not done with the picture?….OK…What’s that…. Sure you can borrow the hammer, take it home and show your folks… Err we call it a tool Miss Singles, not a weapon…. Fine, if that’s what you like to call it…. Yeah Harry, kissing it, I dunno, but some folk get attached to equipment, remember Ken and that chainsaw..(Laughs)…Crazy way to trim your toenails…Yeah Harry, she does remind me of Ken too, is he still in?…Uh-uh…Well, they tend to keep folk in that place quite a while….public safety y’know.
So Miss Singles if you would care to come back into the office to sign some paperwork… I think some of the guys want to come down off of the scaffolding and rush Joe off to Emergency, no I don’t think it’s the wound , I think it’s the hysteria they’re kind of worried about. They’ll sort it out.
….. Oh no don’t be so formal, not Mr. Nightly, no we use first names…Ah I’m Jay…. Well to be truthful it’s kinda of shortening from Jerkov…..Yeah (laughs) my parents had a thing for East European names…Uh?…..No, they’re not alive. Died in a freak car accident, engine exploded. Yeah (laughs)…Still Life must go on….And if I may say so I think we’re gonna get on just fine……..”
Once again….thank you Bob Newhart.