I’m actually not allowed ice cream any more

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week I’m preparing two presentations for which I just realized I have no qualifications. One’s on effective use of Powerpoint, the other is on social media for service organizations.

I get a lot of requests for my so-called expertise. I don’t ever say no, so it’s probably my fault it keeps happening (A note to my clients: … I mean in my volunteer life. I am totally credentialed for my day job – with a certificate that didn’t come from a Cracker Jack box).

To be honest, there’s not a lot of formal training out there for some things, there’s just spending a lot of freaking time on them. This says something about the time social media sucks from me. I can’t explain the Powerpoint thing.

A couple weeks ago, I was showing mom how to share stuff on Facebook, and update a web site I help her manage, which is built on a WordPress platform.

“Did you learn all this this in college?” She said.

When I graduated from college, Mark Zuckerberg hadn’t yet started first grade. The Internet wasn’t even a gleam in Al Gore’s eye. Computers were the size of Volkswagons and I was using a manual typewriter for my lit papers.

And, by the way, I’m sure about seventeen things about Facebook will have changed in the time it takes me to write this, and I will remain clueless as to why people still say “I never see your posts.”

I learn most stuff either by doing it a lot, or by doing the exact opposite of what someone tells me I should do and learning the hard way they were right in the first place. I don’t read instructions all that much, which is a source of consternation for my husband who creates those sorts of things for a living (he’s totally credentialed, too).

I figure I can learn almost anything on the fly if I approach it with the right attitude. If someone else of fair-to-middling intelligence can tease out the answers, so can I.

There’s also something to be said for looking like I know what I’m doing, even when I don’t.

I used to think it was fine to at least look like I was trying really hard. I’d charge into a meeting, papers flying, hair in my face, out of breath and ready to smack anyone who suggested one more freaking thing for my to do list.

After one meeting with me and my crazy hair, one boss gave me the most valuable piece of advice ever: “If it’s your meeting, walk in the room like you’re supposed to be in charge. People don’t get behind crazy.”

It was solid stuff.

Never mind this guy was also the only boss ever to tell me to “f—k right off,” in a really loud voice, not two inches from my face, and in public.

And I hear he’s received some of court-ordered anger management, so it’s all good.

The event in question doesn’t even have to be my meeting. It could just be dinner, or a parent-teacher conference, or stepping into a crosswalk and making eye contact with the douche in the car who apparently doesn’t understand the concept of a school zone.

Thanks for taking the time, people, now let’s all have a seat and talk about how this is going to go down.

I have the voices, though, just like everyone else. They aren’t very nice. They like to remind me of the time I wore cut-off sweat shorts with penny loafers to class, or when I thought my girl-mullet was the height of fashion.

You’ve made some pretty spectacularly bad decisions, they tell me. Maybe you should sit this one out.

Shut up, I tell them, it was the eighties and I was not the only kid with a mullet.

The cut off sweat shorts were pretty stupid, though.

My reaction to the voices tends to get me into trouble.

When I was an eleventh grader on a school trip to the city, some new acquaintances and I played hooky and wandered around looking for ice cream. Someone came up with the really funny idea that we should all pretend to be foreigners, speaking an exotic language. We could all agree ahead of time on our ice cream order, and someone would “translate” for us.

As we approached the ice cream shop, someone said this is so stupid. It could have been the voices. In any case, everyone started chickening out. Finally, no one would even pretend to be my translator. I wouldn’t get any ice cream if I went ahead on my own.

But it would be so awesome, I thought. These people had no gumption.

I modified the plan.

I went for a Bolivian/Russian fusion accent and threw in a couple of what I thought sounded like tribal tongue clicks for good measure. I looked the ice cream guy straight in the eye and ordered a vanilla cone dipped in sprinkles, then made a big show of counting change out in my made up language: “Gate … Kafka … Kafka(click) … Oleg … Meers … Da!”

I left the counter with my ice cream and flashed a surreptitious thumbs-up to my friends who were standing outside gaping with big eyes. Not a single smile for my performance. Bastards.

I heard the clerk ask the remaining member of our group what country I was from.

“Oh, uh, … South Dakota,” he said, “I think.”

Some people really shouldn’t be allowed to ad lib.

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Ignore the voices and vote. Every day.