The only stupid question is THE ONE YOU JUST ASKED HAW HAW HAW

Today, we had Coworkout at Shofuso, the seventeenth-century Japanese house in Fairmount park

I arrived first, a few minutes before the house is opened to the public. I walked around the fenced garden, watching volunteers dig holes for new azalea bushes. The house looked IMPOSSIBLY, UNBELIEVABLY, INCREDIBLY awesome. This is the photo I took with my iPhone:


Once the gates opened, but before the other folks arrived, I walked all around the house, looking for power outlets. I mean, I know there were not power outlets in seventeeth-century Japan, but this house was designed and built in 1954, and assembled in MoMA’s courtyard in NYC. Even though there are no nails in its construction, I thought there might be utility plugs hidden away somewhere for use by someone.

I did not want to ask if there were outlets, because I was afraid that the answer to "excuse me, is there an outlet around?" would be "HA HA HA, YOU IDIOT! SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY JAPANESE HOUSES DIDN’T HAVE POWER OUTLETS."

“But I thought maybe you wanted to vacuum?” I pictured myself asking, followed by them guffawing in my face: “HO HO HO YOU FOOL! SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY JAPANESE HOUSES HAD NO VACUUM CLEANERS!!!

So I didn’t ask. We sat on the veranda, smelling the sun on the cedar, the sweet-hay smell of the Tatami mats, and enjoying the shade under the deep eaves:

Shofuso veranda

I worked as long as I could on my mostly-charged battery. Finally, when the last ounce of battery juice was gone, we started packing up, and struck up a conversation with Prudence, the friendly executive director of the house. I got comfortable enough to ask:

"Say, there’s no, you know… power jacks or anything hidden around here, are th…"
I was so afraid that I was about to get ridiculed, I trailed off.
"Oh, power outlets? Sure! You were sitting on one!" she said.
"Ha ha ha", I agreed shamefacedly. It was a stupid question, and I felt silly for asking. I’m not surprised she answered sarcastic —
"No, seriously, you were sitting on one!" she said. She cheerfully pointed at a teeny tiny little metal dealie in the floor, which clearly (I thought) was a part of the door hardware:

17th Century Japanese Power Plug

We all stared at it.

Jon Bettscher slowly reached down and twisted the little tiny middle of the dealie — a metal disk the size of a quarter.

Two familiar little slots appeared.

BECAUSE OF MY FEAR OF GETTING LAUGHED AT, I had spent two hours carefully marshalling my laptop battery. Dimming the screen to the point where I could barely read my screen. Composing only short emails, and using only antialiased fonts, to conserve electrons.

ALL WHILE I WAS LITERALLY — literally, as in "my bottom was touching it" — LITERALLY SITTING ON TOP OF THE POWER OUTLET.

I bet there’s a life lesson in here somewhere.

Too bad I’m too afraid of looking like an idiot to ask what it is.

One response to “The only stupid question is THE ONE YOU JUST ASKED HAW HAW HAW”

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