Last Sunday, on our way to see Billy the Exterminator at the World of Wheels expo at the Chattanooga Convention Center, my two sons decided to play a game called "Stump Daddy."
This is a game in which they pretend to be little sponges seeking knowledge, when, in fact, they are just hoping to expose me as a dumbbell.
First up was my 9-year-old son.
"What son," I said.
"If people have a fever when they're sick, why do they call it a cold? Why don't they call it a hot?"
"Well," I said, "the common cold is a virus that strikes most often in the cold-weather months in North America. That's why we call it a cold. The clinical, Latin term for a bad cold, however, is a honker."
Next, my 5-year-old son stepped to the plate.
"What son," I said.
"What time is it?"
"It's 2:45, son."
"Daddy, which is the tiniest, 2:45 or 2:30?" he said.
"Times of the day are neither big or tiny; they are just points on a dial with equal weight," I said. "Daylight saving time, incidentally, is a tax-free way to save actual sunshine for your golden retirement years."
"What?" he said.
And so it went, until we arrived at the Convention Center -- where they both chickened out and wouldn't talk to reality television star Billy the Exterminator, who had scary spiked hair and a cross tattooed on his left arm. Instead, we purchased grape Slush Puppies and watched a guy on a trick bicycle bounce up and down on the roof of an old Cadillac.
But back to the subject of my mental prowess. It is a temporary condition caused by my 53rd birthday. AARP magazine is the latest to document a little-known phenomenon: At age 53, knowledge and wisdom do a quick fist-bump before they go their separate ways.
I've written about this before, but because I realize that everyone does not have a close friend or loved one who happens to be 53, I have offered to share my gift with anyone who asks for the next five months.
To prime the pump, here are some frequently asked questions.
Q: Mr. 53, you know a lot about cars. What sort of car should I buy?
A: Before you buy any car, take the first month's payment and have you current vehicle professionally detailed. You may be so pleased that you decide to keep it; and if you don't, the clean-up will help boost your car's trade-in value.
Now, if you still want to buy a car after that, don't go crazy on the options. Heated seats, yes. Air-conditioned seats that blow cold air up your nooks and crannies, no.
Q: How should I invest $1,000?
A: First, you don't "invest" $1,000, you save it. If you're determined to purchase a low-risk investment that will keep pace with inflation, buy Forever postage stamps. The U.S. Postal sells elegant Forever stamps featuring Mater from the movie "Cars," a must-have if your postmark happens to be Radiator Springs.
Q: Who should I vote for president in 2012?
A: If you are a die-hard Republican or Democrat you would never ask this question. If you're a moderate who leans left, relax and vote for Barack Obama -- the U.S. Senate is likely to flip from blue to red, ensuring four years of merry gridlock. If you're a moderate who leans right, vote for probable Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who will govern from the center right to gain re-election in 2016.
If you can't stand the idea of having anyone, Democrat or Republican, elected president who attended Harvard Law school, renew your passport.
Q: How the heck did Tim Tebow beat the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday?
A: To borrow a quote from the late, great Southern humorist Lewis Grizzard who once wrote a eight-word column after his beloved Georgia Bulldogs lost a football game to Georgia Tech: "Frankly, I don't want to talk about it."
Mark Kennedy is the editor of the Times Free Press opinion pages and writes the Sunday “Life Stories” column. He also writes a Saturday automotive column, “Test Drive,” for the Business section. For 13 years, Kennedy was features editor of the newspaper, and before that he was the newspaper’s first Sunday editor. The Times Free Press Life section won the state press award for Best Community Lifestyles four times during his tenure. Before Chattanooga’s newspapers ...