15 September 2007


"You should have a goal to be whelmed," Bernard counseled me, his hands busily unwrapping his fourth piece of gum, his advice barely squeezing past the unwieldy wad.

"What?" I countered, my gaze fixed on his mouth, amazed that he could so quickly insert so many pieces of gum in so little time. I expected him to suddenly stop, pulling a jaw muscle and using his big, moist eyes to communicate his distress, wordlessly pleading with me to call 911.

"Whelmed," Bernard said.

"Whelmed?" I repeatedly stupidly. "And what does that mean?"

"It should be your goal," Bernard said. "It should be everyone's goal."

"So you say." I paused, hoping he would volunteer more. But he seemed happy just to work on his half dozen pieces of gum, no longer fumbling with wrappers but merely chewing with what might have passed for a smile if his mouth had not been so distorted by the wiggling wad of Wrigley’s. "And what is whelmed?" I asked, finally taking the bait.

"Whelmed is good. Over-whelmed means that you're stressed. Under-whelmed means that you're bored or unimpressed. Whelmed - that's just right."

"Whelmed," I repeated. "I see."

"The golden mean. The happy medium. Whelmed," Bernard repeated, sagely.

"This from the guy with a pack of gum in his mouth? A pronouncement on moderation."

"I'm nearly 80," Bernard said, looking offended. "You want I shouldn't share my hard earned wisdom with you?"

"No. I want you should share it."

"Whelmed," he said, looking a little offended that his precious advice hadn't been received with more respect. "That's all you're gonna get from me today."


exskindiver said...

i love bernard and his sage wisdom.
it is my goal to be whelmed as well.

Life Hiker said...

My sense is that a lot of people complain of being overwhelmed when they are actually only whelmed or underwhelmed but lazy.

Each person's definition of "whelmed" is likely to be customized to their energy level and initiative.

It would be nice if "overwhelmed" status could only be conferred by an external observer rather than self-diagnosed. Sure would save on long and painful conversations!

Ron Davison said...

I'm delighted that you enjoy Bernard. He'll be back. (As a child, I never got to have an invisible friend - it's quite fun to finally have one.)

I suppose that an individual's level of whelm is at least as different as their height. I'm sure that it takes very little to overwhelm some folks and a huge deal to do other than underwhelm others.

frand004 said...

My fav way to go from over-whelmed to whelmed is NAPS. mmmmm.

Ron Davison said...

Naps - one of my favorite activities. (Wait? Is that actually an activity?)

LSD said...

I bet Bernard has done his share of mulling.

Ron Davison said...

Bernard had planned to retire but then took up mulling. Now, with his bad hip, it's about all he does.