Downtown YMCA

Re: Pool Incident Tuesday, 5pm, September 18, 2001

To whom it may concern, in particular the lifeguard, Ellen and Meredith,

On Tuesday I apparently became too absorbed in the content of a thought that I failed to realized that I had not transited to the locker room before removing my swim trunks. I need to explain the sequence so that any ill motives cannot be ascribed.

I often refer to myself as an intelligent idiot, for I can mentally focus on an idea and drop out of the present. This raw intellect is one reason that I completed undergraduate at Southern Illinois University in two years, cum laude. One semester I ace'd 24 hours. My resume lists numerous other achievements that reflect an exceptionally high IQ and pitless memory. But being smart has it's disadvantages.

The ability to totally focus on a thought is sometimes a social disability as evidenced Tuesday afternoon. I am aware of the limits to being a transit catatonic who can focus devoid of his surroundings. As lifeguards may have noticed, I don't swim laps though I medaled as a swimmer in high school. Why? If I start thinking, I forget I am swimming and I swim into the wall. Duh.

I want to share my recollection of the sequence that led to my going through the motions of getting ready for the steam room when I had not made it to the locker room. I share this for two reasons. Primarily, I don't want it to repeat. Secondly, I don't want the YMCA staff with whom I have had many good laughs to think of my jokes in any light other than an effort to add light and lightness to the world which we share.

In preparation for an impending sequence of public speaking engagements, I have been practicing a number of speeches on economics and politics. I laminate the speeches so I can practice in wet environments. One speech, "Why Economics is a Dismal Science" has the line "Economists have our cities looking like cemetaries with vacant buildings rising like tombstones to dearly departed businesses." This thought, as I was getting ready to leave the swimming area, triggered a new reflection on the World Trade Center collapse as well as on the mentality of Osama Bin Ladin: Why didn't he wait till there was a joint session of Congress? I remember blasting through a whole train of thought (some of which I wrote down later). And, I also remember becoming aware of noise. I see the lifeguard coming, shouting. I assume someone is having a problem in the pool or jacuzzi so I walk forward to possibly help before the distant, approaching lifeguard can render assistance. Then I realize everyone is looking at me. Bare butt. Towel in hand. A quick wrap with the towel and I'm gone.

In certain ways, it's funny. Reminds me of the account of Archimedes recognizing the principle of specific gravity as he sank into a bathtub, jumping up and running nude through the streets of Syracuse, Sicily, to the king's palace, shouting "Eureka, I've found it."

The irony is that I had an "all consuming" insight that made me oblivious to where I was as I mechanically went through the motions that normally happen a few minutes after a final cooling off in the pool. Rest assured, nudity has never been my modus operandi to insights. As a matter of prevention, I will limit my speech practice to less serious topics at the YMCA. Feel free to remind me, if you see me, "Bob, it's ok to think, but keep your clothes on."  


Bob Barnett

P.S. Do you know how to tell really smart persons by their shopping habits? They don't seek smart pills but, instead, price shop lobotomies. Brains pain the sane. I predicted the NASDAQ dive a year ago Labor Day, 4200 > 2000, by Superbowl. I was off a month. Three weeks ago--I predicted the Dow in 7000s and NASDAQ under1500 by Dec 1. It will be here before the end of the month. Based on the World Trade Center pivot, my new predictions are ones that I no longer intend to share. I've been told that most of the people with my IQ are either in the back wards or on death row. I understand why. I've been fortunate in consistently trying to follow the maxim "to whom much is given, much is expected." Hope there were no kids around, for part of enjoying the Y is watching little kids who have not started to worry about the world in which we live. How do we make the world safer for them?

[When I described the events to my wife, I told her that I was suddenly aware that I was standing in the "full monty" to which she replied, "More likely, a quarter monty."]