Gary Rinsem

Susan's Best

I wrote this journal in 2013, I don't remember when it happened.

Sitting barefoot on the patio was a rare occurrence for me. My skin dries out quickly on cement. Susan came out the door and looked at me a moment before saying "Your big toenail is black." She stood quietly waiting for a reply. When I had none, Susan went back into the house giggling over stumping me.

It's one of only a few challenges by her which wasn't immediately answered. I most always instantly met her challenges with an escalation, a challenge more difficult than hers. Susan involved a bit of ego in the game. She constantly tried to "win." Regardless of the other players, I've never seen it as a competition.

BB were the very best. We laughed constantly over our understandings of each other's minds. The three of us most often spoke in riddles. Nobody outside of a close group could understand even the simplest communication between us.

It took several years, but since Susan died I have finally concluded... the challenge of the black toenail was simple. It meant nothing. I failed it because Susan was too closed off for me to see deeply enough into her mind. Her best attempt was only a challenge because it had no meaning. I should have instantly replied "Your hair is The Color Purple." It would have been an escalation because it's also meaningless, yet appears to have meaning.

I constantly challenge everyone, looking for a connection that proves I'm in the presence of another true intelligence. At least someone who's mind didn't die decades ago. I've been doing it since 1969. Nearly everyone fails the challenge. To deny their failure, the vast majority simply label me a nut case without trying to understand. On rare occasions, becoming far more rare with age, I find a connection. Usually it's nothing which can be pursued, resulting only in a mutual smile or quick volley of challenges.

(2021 NOTE: The best in recent years was a clerk at the Fry's deli counter. To my red Ferrari challenge she replied by writing "Ferrari" on the baggie of sliced cheese, in red ink. She and I had a friendship for a few years at the deli counter. She always met my challenges and often had one waiting when I showed up. Then one day she was gone, hopefully off to a job she didn't hate.)