This is a game everybody can play.
It began with a thought I had about the Payson People column that runs every Tuesday on the Living page of your Payson Roundup. One of the things we ask Payson People to do is fill out a questionnaire that runs as a boxed "sidebar" to the main story, and one of the questions we ask is what three words describe them best.
We've been doing this for a long time, so I wondered if there was any kind of pattern to the three words people choose to describe themselves -- if, in other words, there were a few words that people choose more frequently than others.
I decided to conduct an informal survey and find out. I chose 10 men and 10 women who had recently been featured as Payson People, and compared the three words each chose to best describe him or herself.
As I suspected several words jumped out -- three in particular. But before I tell you what they are, stop here and write down the three words that describe you best.
I'm not kidding. If you read beyond this point without writing down the three words that describe you best, you will be condemned to a fate worse than death -- sitting between Mayor Ken Murphy and Vice Mayor Barbara Brewer at a town council meeting. That's better.
If you said "honest, caring and energetic," you chose the three characteristics most Payson People claim as their defining traits.
Others that were mentioned more than once included "spiritual," "passionate" and "humorous."
Men also tended to choose words like "organized," "aggressive" and "on-time," while women used more words like "unconventional," "spiritual" and "social."
Not surprisingly, nobody used words like "mean-spirited," "dishonest" or "ornery." And there was nary an "overbearing," "snotty" or "crude." Strange, don't you think, since "honesty" was the most frequently listed trait.
I'm not suggesting that any of us are "mean-spirited," "dishonest" or "ornery," and I would never imply that anyone among us is "overbearing," "snotty" or "crude" -- only that we sure do tend to put ourselves in the best possible light.
To make the three words most accurately depict the person, we'd probably have to ask his or her children. Or, better yet, an ex-spouse. Or even better yet, the next door neighbor with the telescope.
But then, as fate would have it, another idea came to me -- literally out of thin air. I'm driving to work one morning listening to KRIM and this commercial comes on for The Carpenter's Wife. It mentioned that antiques, collectibles and something called "primitives" were their stock in trade.
It got me thinking that there might be yet another way of classifying the people who live in the Rim country.
First I had to make sure I knew what I was talking about, a worthy goal for any newspaper person, I'm sure you'll agree. I picked up the phone and called Christy Dillman, owner of The Carpenter's Wife.
In my best investigative reporter's voice, a full octave below normal, I asked authoritatively, "What the heck's a primitive?" Here's what she said:
"A primitive is not an antique, but a piece of furniture that has a very used look to it -- say a table from an old ranch house that has been used for 50 years and has all this character in it."
My research completed, I postulate the following -- that instead of allowing people to choose just any three words to describe themselves in the best possible light, we classify everybody in the Rim country as either an antique, collectible or primitive and let it go at that.
Before you play along, here are some helpful definitions:
A person who is really old, either physically or in the ideas and attitudes he or she espouses. Also known as a Republican.
A "normal" person who is neither too young nor too old. Just right. These are the folks who describe themselves as "honest, caring and energetic," and are so cute you just want to smack them.
An authentic Rim country character full of quirks and foibles. Very used. Maybe even a little smelly. Ask this person for three words that best describe him or her, and you'll be sorry you did.
OK, it's time to play the new game that's sweeping the Rim country -- "Antique, Collectible or Primitive?"
Make a list of your least favorite Rim country people -- ex-spouses, mothers-in-law, insurance salesmen, newspaper reporters, local politicians, liberals -- and classify each as an antique, collectible or primitive.
I'll give you a head start. Mark me "Primitive."