My brother and I bought a used boat this winter — fifteen feet of leaky fiberglass, with a 90 horsepower motor that assumes that 15 of the horses in harness are dead and being dragged by the others — so I went downtown to register it with the authorities. If you have assembled the right set of treasure hunt collectibles, including a hand-rubbing of the vehicle identification plate, it all goes smoothly. But…
One of the checkboxes on the registration form asks if I’m “retarded.” I thought we were done lumping the various ways our intelligences fail us into that particular bucket, but I also wondered whether the state had minimum intelligence requirements for boat ownership. No, said the state employee on the other side of the counter. They also provide hunting licenses at the boat registration offices, and to get a permit that lets you carry a gun, the state does want to know if you’re “retarded.” They only have the one form, so they have collect the information for boat owners as well.
Inevitably, we read backwards from the metadata that’s asked of us. Had the form asked for prior felony convictions, known allergies or political party affiliation, we would have tried to make sense of the intentions behind the form. Requests for metadata are expressive. Which is one good reason you should bother to print up separate damn forms for boat owners and hunters.
Categories: Uncategorized dw