While an optimist can occasionally be pessimistic, and a pessimist can occasionally be optimistic, but a flake remains eternally as flakey as grandma’s homemade biscuits. I have a theory that every social group has at least one in each of those categories. Not sure which one you are?

If a homeowner receives a piece of mail which proclaims that, “You may already be a winner!” the optimist thinks that he is soon to become a multimillionaire. The pessimist thinks that it is just a ploy to sell magazines and probably a rip-off. The flake will be rolling in mustard and sauerkraut because she thought it said, “You may already be a wiener!”

Upon receiving a phone call from your dentist reminding you that it is time for your annual checkup, the optimist is certain that the dentist will find nothing amiss. The pessimist is certain that the dentist will find a mouthful of cavities and advanced gum disease. The flake is sure that the dentist is planning to implant a radio receiver in her molar in order to communicate with her fellow aliens from the planet Neptune.

In my social circle, Brenda is our eternal optimist. She greets each day as a gift; a joyful awakening and a promise of new and exciting experiences. Frankly, it is annoying. If Brenda’s house were to burn to the ground, her only comments might be, “Ooh, look how pretty the flames are against the night sky” and “At least now, I won’t have to clean out those messy closets.

Bev is the pessimist in our group. When her husband joined the military and was about to be deployed overseas, she insisted that her husband Richard have his Social Security number tattooed on his arm. She told him it was in case he got killed and lost his dog tags, he still could be identified. To humor her and ease her worry, he had it done. Her response to that was, “But what if that arm gets blown off?”

Is that the kind of remark to instill confidence in a soldier going off to war? What did she want him to do? Have every part of his body numbered and labeled so that the various parts could be collected from the battlefield and reassembled like a swingset on Christmas Eve?

I told Bev, “all I am saying is when my father assembled our family’s swingset at 3 a.m. on Christmas morning, it ended up with an extra leg and a handful of leftover parts. How would Richard feel about that?”

“Optimistic Brenda chirped in with, “Think what a great dancer he would be with that extra leg!”

Wait a minute. My social circle has Brenda the optimist and Bev the pessimist, but what about the flake? Maybe my theory is wrong. We do not seem to have one of those. There is not a flake in our bunch.

As I was saying to Zolkar, prime minister of the Interplanetary Council of Federated Planets when he contacted me through my dental implant yesterday, “Perhaps we need to rethink my theory. I will have to study it further as soon as I finish reading this valuable piece of mail from Publishers’ Clearinghouse. I may already be a wiener! Does anybody have any relish?”

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