A recent Allen wrench request while I was working on a project at the Lee County Alliance for the Arts reminded me of something.

Well, a few things, actually.

The first was the acronym MEGO.

That stands for My Eyes Glaze Over.

That’s what happens whenever anybody brings up anything to do with useful subjects such as tools or personal finance or cooking or car repair or plumbing or whatever else may count as essential life skills.


My Eyes Glaze Over.


I was at the Alliance in my role as president of the Southwest Florida Historical Society. We were helping assemble the Smithsonian’s Hometown Teams exhibit in the gallery.

We had 20 large black crates of pieces of the exhibit. At some point somebody said there was an Allen wrench in one of the crates that the directions dictated was needed for something. To attach a widget to a whatchamaccalit or a gizmo?

I had no idea.

We started looking for an Allen wrench.

Or everybody else did.

What is an Allen wrench?

What does it look like?

And is it spelled Allen or Alan or Allyn?

I had and have no idea.

I pretended to look for said implement and pretended to be useful.

Good thing the exhibit is about sports. Now there is a topic I know something about.


Not a dang thing.

The Smithsonian exhibit includes photos of Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson and Yogi Berra.

I could ramble on for hours about their exploits. When the exhibit opened I prattled on and on on about various elements of the exhibit such as photos of baseball legends Roberto Clemente and Lefty Grove.

Allen wrenches?

The mere mention of which propels me into a deep MEGO state, eyes glazing over, addled brain slowing down to a halt, balance going unsteady and perhaps keeling me over into a fetal position and coma. Fortunately, I didn’t fall into a MEGO coma on the Alliance floor.

It was possible.

You wanna talk about sports or movies or literature or history or a play? I’m all in.

Personal finance or home maintenance or cooking or auto repair or air conditioner overhaul? MEGO. Full-blown, comatose, brain shutting down, eyes glassy state of inertia.

I’ve always been that way.

I had an appointment recently at my bank with a fellow to discuss important personal financial matters such as doing something about my onerous credit card debt. But I’ve met the guy before and knew he played high school baseball and even played at a small college in Tennessee or some neighboring state.

Of the roughly 30 minutes I was there we spent about 28 minutes talking baseball.

It’s a pattern I established decades ago.

Way back during my days at Riviera Junior High in St. Petersburg in the 1960s I exhibited the same MEGO behavior. The same glassy-eyed, thousand-yard stare when any subject I didn’t care about was broached.

Back in that long-gone era boys were required to take shop and girls were required to take home ec. I wasn’t interested in either.

But I had to take shop. I was likely the worst shop student of Riviera Junior High history, or possibly the history of any junior high in the country. I didn’t care about tools and what could be done with tools.

Somehow, I suppose, I scraped through the class with a D-minus. Maybe.

I was much more interested in baseball than Allen wrenches (or Alan wrenches or Allyn wrenches) or saws or woodworking or whatever was going on in 1960s shop classes.

Who was my shop teacher? I have no idea. But it’s possible I helped send him into early retirement or an early grave.

I could have learned practical skills in that class but I didn’t pay attention and just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.

At that same school in that same decade they forced students to learn dancing. Well, not all students. I refused to participate in those classes. Absolutely refused.

I could have learned social skills that may have helped me navigate the next few decades but I didn’t venture on the dance floor in the gym.

Couldn’t we go outside and play basketball or softball or run on the track?


Dance lessons were mandated by, I suppose, some bureaucrats in the Pinellas County School System.

I didn’t care what the education bureaucrats decreed.

I was too shy and insecure to venture out and dance with girls. I cowered and may have even trembled in a darkened hallway outside the gym. A kindly physical education coach came up to me and pleaded with me to join the dancing.

I absolutely refused. My social skills needed improvement. Well, at the time I didn’t have any social skills so I needed those lessons.

Instead, I lapsed into a form of MEGO.





They still do when the subject is something I don’t care about – like Allen wrenches.

Or is that Alan wrenches or Allyn wrenches?

Either way, I wouldn’t know one of those wrenches from a soufflé.