Smith: Scapegoat cheese can’t fix my flat tire

I woke up early one morning and stared at the wall for a while as those first thoughts of the day began to float through my head: coffee, I wonder what’s for breakfast, I wonder what’s for lunch, coffee, I wonder what’s for snack after lunch, scapegoat cheese, coffee …

Yes, I thought “scapegoat cheese.” And I have have to say, it was very exciting.

Scapegoat cheese!

Scape goat cheese.

Scape. Goat. Cheese.

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

This, I think, is the sort of stuff that makes me me — that I would wake up and have something as cleverly surreal and potentially hilarious as “scapegoat cheese” just arrive from out of nowhere. This is what it must have been like to be Leonardo Da Vinci. Absolute genius. No, really — genius.

Scapegoat cheese.

How do I do it, you ask? Well, I wish I could explain it. But how does one explain genius? How could I possibly deconstruct and convey the intricate workings of my finely trained subconscious such that you, the person who does not wake up and think “scapegoat cheese,” would understand? Sorry, but as the old saying goes, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

Scapegoat cheese.

I know that my muse has served up yet another winner. It’s a bizarrely insightful word combination that, if I post it as a Facebook status, will garner an unprecedented number of likes, comments, subscriptions, reposts and cross-posts, all leading to an eventual book deal, sitcom, HBO special or “60 Minutes” feature. Or, if I tweet it, it will be retweeted with the sort of retweeting that … well, OK, I’m over 40, so I don’t really understand Twitter. But however it works, it’s guaranteed to work really, really well.

I mean, c’mon — scapegoat cheese!

And here’s the thing: I know that these scenarios are all juvenile, ego-drenched fantasy, but there’s a part of me that kind of believes it, part of me that still thinks that just because random, predictable and stupid stuff like “scapegoat cheese” floats through my head, well, “I’d like to thank the Academy.”

I’m not proud of this; I’m just telling you how it is.

Even after nearly 20 years of hacking my way through attempts at being an “artist,” part of my brain still functions like a 6-year-old, thinking that every half-hearted crayon scribble needs to go up on the fridge at once and praised to every visitor who happens to stop by.

And that part of me is dying a slow, painful death.


That’s because here in my new life, living in a rural, small town in a 110-year-old house that’s in constant need of repair and upkeep, sitting around thinking stuff like “scapegoat cheese” just doesn’t cut it like it used to. There are things to do, real things, things that require skill, action and effort. At any given time, I’m lucky to have one of those three at my disposal.

And because I spend most of my time sitting around thinking of puns, when it comes time to fix something, it generally falls on me to do the fixing because hiring someone else to do it is a luxury reserved for people with jobs.

For instance, when my irrigation system needs repair, I can no longer rely on wordplay to save the day. No, I actually have to learn how to repair an irrigation system. Puns don’t add much in the way of getting water to move from point A to point B. Yeah, you’d think I would have known this stuff by this point in my life, but I guess we’re all moving at our own speed.

Window needs replacing? Running upstairs to scribble “gluten freebird” in your notebook isn’t really gonna keep the elements out.

Lawnmower won’t start? Whipping out your phone and emailing “sparkling waterboarding” to yourself, just so you don’t forget it, will only take you so far.

Caulking the part of the upstairs patio that’s leaking through to the kitchen? You may think that coming up with “rednecrophilia” constitutes a good day’s work, but it’s not going to prevent any further water damage.

Chicken coop needs cleaning out? Well, sure, you could sit around daydreaming until “Tennis Elbozo: The Lateral Epicondylitis Suffering Clown” magically appeared in your thoughts like a wispy cloud, but that’s pointing life in the right direction.

These days the fog is slowly lifting on what it actually takes to function in the world. Hey, if the chicken coop needs cleaning, cleaning the chicken coop is really the only way it’s gonna happen. I could even go so far as to consider such a revolutionary overthrow of my thoughts and habits to be a bit of a personal “coop d’etat.”

Baby steps — baby steps.

Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays. More at