Dr. Zaius


This is the Midwest, so just about everything starts with a weather report. Accordingly: Friday was the day we have all been waiting for, all winter.  It was sunny and calm, with highs in the mid-twenties.  The snow from earlier in the week was soft over the record base that we’ve built this past month.  Pete and I played hookie in the late afternoon, and met some friends for skate skiing at Governor Nelson Park.


My favorite part of the outing was being able to ski a couple of laps with our friend Tom McMahan.  We’ve recently asked Tom to fill one of our open Board of Directors positions here at Pemba Serves.  We’re still in negotiations over terms and the like, but we’re hopeful that Tom will take over as our Minister of Fun.  He’s perfectly suited for the job, in so many ways.  He laughs easily, plays hard, and – most importantly – he plays full-time.  Tom is one of the lucky few reps who have actually retired successfully from repping.

Tom is also a great skier in all disciplines, particularly so in skate skiing.  Thankfully for me, he’s a patient and willing instructor.  I picked up a few pointers, and learned a lot by skating behind him for a fair distance.  Tom’s cadence is faster than mine, and his glide is about twice mine.  In short, he kicks my butt two ways from Sunday.  This was inspiring for awhile, and then very disheartening.  I’ll just never be as good of a skier as Tom.  After being out a few times on my skate-skis, I’ve decided that the sport is – for me – impossible.

This is an important lesson for me.  I’m not very good at recognizing the impossible when I’m confronted with it.  In fact, I’ve never actually recognized something that’s impossible, before now.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this, particularly since I’ve met quite a few people recently who are experts at recognizing the impossible.  I’ve never before viewed this as a valuable skill-set.  

Perhaps I’m just weak at it, and – oh – how I’ve suffered for this weakness.  Just imagine the heart-ache I could’ve saved myself if I had only known.  I wouldn’t have run Rim-To-Rim at the Grand Canyon by myself if somebody had only said,”You know, that’s impossible.”  Working full-time while going to college?  Why did I bother?  That time I tried to climb Everest?  What a waste of time and energy.  Don’t even get me started about how I’ve tried to start my own business, twice.  What was I thinking?  What am I thinking?

This all really came full circle for me the other morning when I was on the treadmill at the local health-club.  Pete has told you that I’m training for a big event again this year (Pete writes our biographies here at PEMBAspeaks.)  At this time of year, I do a lot of lab-rat work on treadmills and spinning bikes.  The only good thing about this kind of training is that I also get to watch TV while I’m working out.  The other morning was truly a bonus-day, because AMC was showing The Planet Of The Apes.

One of my all-time favorite scenes from this movie is where Taylor (Charleton Heston) is trying to explain to Dr. Zaius (some other actor in a monkey-suit) where he comes from, and why he can talk.  As a way of proving that he came from another planet, Taylor folds a piece of paper into a paper airplane.  He hands it to Dr. Zaius and says,”Just throw it, it will fly.”  Of course, Dr. Zaius knows that this is impossible, so rather than tossing the plane he just crushes it in his hand.  This ape is visionary, I tell you.

This sort of fortitude and certainty when faced with that which is known to be impossible is exactly what I lack.  As I’ve said, this must be one of my major weaknesses.  So, two things:  1) We’ve identified another spot on our Board of Directors, and will be nominating somebody quite soon to be our “Dr. Zaius,” The Minister of the Impossible (fortunately, we know where to find several qualified candidates quite quickly); and 2) I’m going to forget about this Ironman event in September.  Clearly, it’s impossible.

2 responses to “Dr. Zaius

  1. To quote Homer, at a pre-flight NASA news conference: “The only danger is if they send us to that terrible planet of the apes. Wait a minute… Statue of Liberty?! That was our planet! You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you all to hell!”

  2. I rather like “Take your stinking paws off of me, you damned dirty ape.” That, and he got to ride bareback with Linda Harrison. Pretty hot for 1968.

    Seriously, the number of people who say things are impossible is growing. Shun them like you shun an antibiotic-resistant strain of TB. Or sales managers.