Ask Ceil – The Prize for Brain Damage

Dear Ceil,

If a car door is moving at 10 mph towards a person’s head, at a distance of 2 feet, how long will the person be incapacitated?

–Concussed in Carolina

Dear Concussed,

At exactly that speed, at exactly that distance… no one knows. However, if you’re wearing a helmet… still, no one knows. It could be a week, it could be four weeks. It could be four months. It could be four years. No. One. Knows. You are done for exactly as long as your brain feels like being done. With all the doctors and all the research, we still have no idea how to put a band-aid on a brain, because no one knows how it works.

It got me thinking: If a brain was a product, would you buy it? Or if you had one laying around, would you ever use it? Come along with me as I illustrate.

So, you’ve decided to purchase a car. You’ve got your eye on a beauty. It’s smart, reacts quickly, runs on little fuel. But this particular car has one odd quality: no one understands how it works. Not even the people who work on it day and night. The commercial says “Safety crash tests prove nothing.” Or, “We don’t know if it’ll get you there, and when it does, we don’t know how or when.” Or: “Engineered somehow, to transport you erratically.”

The marketing slogan is something like: “BrainCar. It’s really just a crapshoot.” Would you buy that car?

OK, but the brain does a bunch of thinking, right? And even the smartest smart car can’t come up with the stuff we think of in a day, right? Sure. But we know why the smart car is thinking the things it thinks. Light on the dashboard says the gas is low? That’s because the gas is low. Beeping sound says I’ve left my keys in the ignition; thank you, car, for not letting me lock the keys in the car.

In contrast, I had a dream last night where Steven King was serving ice cream at a restaurant I’d never been to, while people from my 3rd grade class were taking turns performing different styles of interpretive dance to Frank Zappa’s “San Ber’dino”. Then, my cat sat at my table and did algebra. And I don’t have a cat.

We use our brains to interpret the world around us, but we don’t know what it’s actually doing up there. Right now, there could be a booming message from God, on infinite loop, flooding the air around us with the meaning of life. But instead of hearing the meaning of life, we hear “Carmina Burana”. How profound, we say. And God thinks, “Simps.” Maybe people who have mental health issues actually are hearing God in the radio waves. And maybe she does want us to wear purple and eat paste. Who knows? I don’t judge.

Or maybe I do judge, and I don’t know it. That’s just like my brain, to work that way. I guess.

Dear Ceil,

How do I win a Nobel Prize?

–Contested in Colorado

Dear Contested,

Do you know anything about physics, chemistry, literature, economics, or physiology and medicine? No? Perhaps you are excessively peaceful? Like, Mother Theresa peaceful?

It’s tough to score a Nobel. You have to make outstanding strides in some very challenging areas. But you do have a few outside shots.

First, a Nobel Prize can be split between no more than three people. So, if you know two very smart people who are working on something really, really cool…see if they need a third person to take notes or a runner for pizza and beer. Make sure you add your name to the bottom of the notes. Cha-ching! You’re going to Oslo!

If that doesn’t work, go to Plan B. You can hire a bunch of hackers to pretend that you won a Nobel Prize. I mean, you won’t actually get a Nobel Prize, but for a little while some people may think you did. And let’s face it, you really just want the thing to show up your ex, right?

As a last resort, and if you want to show your Nobel Prize to people who have something less than an eye for detail, you could always use these handy instructions from Crayola to make your own. As the website says, adult supervision is needed, so plan accordingly. Also don’t keep it near an open flame or put it in the oven, expose it to water, put food on it, or feed it to anyone with gluten allergies. As a matter of fact, it might just be safer to earn an actual Nobel.

On September 6th, Ceil Kessler smacked her head so hard that she was forced to lay in bed for weeks and weeks. Note to readers: If you need a vacation, do not smack yourself in the head. First, it hurts. Second, lying in bed is vastly overrated. Lastly, you apparently need your brain to do a number of things, like stand without falling over, and play Words With Friends. Who’d have thought? Certainly not Ceil Kessler.

As her brains heal, she attempts to consult on business intelligence and marketing, postpones the marketing and publishing of the magazine “Business Perks“, and inefficiently runs the Laurel Highlands Vegetarian Society.



3 thoughts on “Ask Ceil – The Prize for Brain Damage

  1. How does a car door move by itself? Are you sure you are healed? I’ll have you know that your cracked head cost me a severed foot and I’m still upset about that!

    On a serious note (a rare one from me), glad to see you writing again and congratulations again on winning the Halloween writing contest 🙂

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