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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dummies and Idiots


Apparently, we are a nation of morons. I was in a book store the other day, and every time I turned around, there was another one of those Dummies books. There wasn’t, it seemed, one section that didn’t have at least a couple of either those or the Complete Idiot’s books.

There are literally hundreds of these books in print now that explain to us boneheads things such as the mafia, ghosts, assertiveness, bulldogs, TiVo, and How tough can a retail Web site be? Chapter One: Clicking the Mouse.

In the beginning, these books were helpful to those of us in the pre-Windows era who needed a simple and humorous way to navigate through software that had lame or non-existent help screens. As far as I’m concerned, all those books have been rendered obsolete by the F1 key. Instead, the phenomenon exploded out into the non-computer world.

There are three books that I’m sure that George Bush got his vast knowledge from: There are Complete Idiot’s books for The Middle East Conflict, National Security, and The Politics of Oil. I don’t think Bush has actually read them, though. I think they are just the bedtime stories that Condoleezza Rice reads to him every night after she tucks him in after he says his prayers. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Jesus actually exists, too, in case he’s completely baffled by the Bible. The ones I think Bush has actually read are The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Elves and Fairies and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pirates. Who doesn’t like adventure tales, and those probably don’t have big words. On second thought, he probably just read the Cliff Notes.

Why is it that every good idea has to be exploited to death, all in the name of profit? I went through the Web sites of these publishers, and these books are getting out of hand, as you can see by the list below of actual titles these publishers are offering. In order to save you time and money, I have also included their ultra-condensed summaries.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Model. Be very good looking. If you’re not, don’t even attempt this.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Oceans. There are four. All are salty and contain fish.

Genetics for Dummies (a big seller in Appalachia). If you’re going to mate with your relatives, don’t do it with anyone farther up the line than second cousin.

Here’s my all-time favorite: Bipolar Disorder for Dummies. Don’t go off your meds.

Adopting a Pet for Dummies. Go to the pound. Look around. Take home a hound.

Florida for Dummies. Don’t vacation here. It’s too crowded.

Acne for Dummies. Don’t pop your zits or scrub too hard. See a dermatologist for antibiotics.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Girls. Don’t read books on how to get girls. If the author has enough time on his hands to write this book, he’s not getting girls.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fasting. Don’t eat.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being Vegetarian. Don’t Eat Meat.

The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Oral Sex. Eat Meat.

Stroke for Dummies. (No, this is not a masturbation how-to.) Try not to have one. They suck.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cleaning. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Sex Goddess. See The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Model.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome for Dummies and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Menopause. Both of these books offer the same recommendation: Spend all of your time in the bathroom with the door closed. It won’t be fun, but everyone will thank you.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pleasing Your Woman. Try doing the laundry or changing a diaper now and then. And pick up after yourself.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Electrical Repair. Don’t be an idiot. Call an electrician.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being Sexy. Don’t eat a chicken leg and work a Sudoku puzzle during sex. Your partner might think you’re not interested.

When I worked in the corporate world, I had complete idiot supervisors, and now I know why. Thousands of hours were wasted doing mandatory team building crap. We went horseback riding, saw movies, and gambled at casinos on company time with the company’s money. We anguished over our yearly performance evaluations, which never recognized our worth unless, of course, we were practicing what we learned with our Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Oral Sex on our supervisor. (One woman was. Now she’s the supervisor.) And we lived in constant fear that our jobs would be flushed down the corporate commode via outsourcing. Apparently while the rest of us were doing actual work, management was reading The Complete Idiot’s Guides for Performance Appraisal Phrases (not the appraisals; just the phrases you’d use in one), Team Building, and, of course, Successful Outsourcing.

I was thinking it would be fun to write The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing A Complete Idiot’s Guide, but it’s already a Web page. has a lengthy URL on writer’s guidelines for their books. Why they haven’t developed this into a printed manual is beyond my comprehension. I’m sure it would be popular, as everyone is good at something, and everyone likes to earn money. The publisher is missing out on a big best seller.

They must be complete idiots.

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