Do I really look like a guy with a plan?
That line quickly became one of the Joker’s classics from 2008’s “The Dark Knight,” but it always kind of seemed strange to me. Shortly before that moment Commissioner Gordon talks about how the Joker planned to be locked in the MCU and actually wanted to be caught because of the opportunities it would present (namely, granting him access to one of the other characters under police custody).
So no, the Joker didn’t look like a guy with a plan, but he still seemed to always have one. Even when he changed the plan at various points, there was always something in place as a contingency. He even references this himself in his final climactic battle with Batman when he asks if the hero really thought he would risk the battle for Gotham’s soul on a mano-a-mano battle. Instead, he says, you have to have “an ace in the hole.” That’s the sign of a guy with a plan.
Now shedding all the creepiness of the psychotic serial killer aspects of his character, I understand the Joker’s dichotomy of planning to not have a plan. Or is it not planning to have a plan? Either way, this is the worst possible tie-in to a post about flexibility and a desire for spontaneity.
In college I was the guy who would distract his friends from doing their homework by convincing them to do something fun and random instead. My reasoning was always something along the lines of, “Five years from now you won’t remember whatever you’re supposed to be studying, but if you go along with this then you very well might remember what we do tonight.”
Those plans often involved midnight trips to Seattle to enjoy Dick’s classic burgers, or all-night movie marathons or something similar. I’ve never been a typical college partier, but I loved the idea of just deciding to do something totally random at the weirdest time and actually going through with it. I still do – last Friday night after finishing up at work at about 10:15 p.m. I went with some friends to Seven Feathers casino. That might not seem too crazy, except for the fact that the casino is 85 miles away and we didn’t get home until about 6:30 the next morning.
I’ve often used this desire for randomness to put together somewhat poorly-planned surprise trips to visit family. Last June I decided at about 2:30 p.m. on a Friday that I was going to drive north to surprise my dad for Father’s Day that weekend. Eight hours of nonstop driving later, I walked into my grandparents’ house to the shock of everyone (and to see my grandma’s face, you would’ve thought she’d just seen a ghost. When she asked me how I got there, I told her that I walked. Obviously.)
Numerous times I’ve surprised my mom with visits, and she continues to pretty much fall for the same formulaic plans. It’s one of my favorite things to do, because it never gets old. I love seeing the look on the faces of people I care about when they’re happily surprised by something they never expected.
Maybe after all these years I should’ve expected someone to turn the tables on me. But when I got home from a very tiring and stressful day working our first football game of the year on Sept. 1 – the day before my 25th birthday – the last thing I was expecting was to see my big sister Frank and my brother-in-law Brandon. I took a quick shower before sitting down to write the game story, but when I stepped into the living room and saw them standing there I pretty much went into shock.
I can’t imagine ever having a bigger grin (although my excitement leading up to my first-ever visit with my baby cousin Malachi might come close), and I was completely speechless for about two minutes. It was the best birthday present I ever could’ve asked for – well aside from her announcing to me that they’ve decided to move to Ashland… That one might be a better birthday present.
After fully expecting to spend my birthday away from family for the first time in my life, I instead got to spend the rest of the weekend with two of my favorite people in the world. And true to my form of coming up with these fun plans at the last minute, Frank confessed that she’d only thought of making the drive down to visit me a couple days earlier.
I still have done very little in the way of spur-of-the-moment adventures since moving to Ashland. I guess while I was living in my old house about 10 months ago I came home one night after an exhausting 14-hour Saturday at work to find my roommates wondering if I’d be interested in going out to do karaoke. We all know I’m not turning down that opportunity. That night I also got to take a breathalyzer for the first time in my life, although not for the reason you might expect (and I’ll just let you imagine whatever reason you want).
Seven Feathers might have been the most ridiculous thing to this point, but who knows when I’ll be able to convince some friends to make a midnight run to Redding for some In-N-Out? Those are the stories that stick with you forever, and in my experience they’re rarely planned very far in advance.
While I’ll always try to find a way to make the surprise visit as perfectly-timed as possible, I’m really not much of a guy with a plan. I’m more like a dog chasing cars – and when Frank and Brandon came to visit it was as if I’d finally caught one. And sure enough I was so excited that I didn’t know what to do. But it definitely put a smile on my face.