Haikuing Your Way to Success

Posted on February 28, 2012


If you’re anything like me, most of your New Year’s resolutions focus on ways to impress others.

And when I say ‘others’, of course I mean rich people.

And when I say ‘rich people’, of course I mean people who are rich because they were paid handsomely for being good looking.

Every year when I look back at my resolutions for impressing rich, good-looking people, I’ve always failed to achieve two goals: 1. speak in haikus at Mensa parties; 2. get invited to Mensa parties. But this year will be different.

Speaking in haikus while commenting on random every day topics like the weather, politics, or your innocence in starting a warehouse fire is a guaranteed ticket to impressing others and moving up the social ladder. I know what you’re thinking, what if I’m not smart enough to haiku in conversation or smart enough to remember the strict syllable rules of haikus or smart enough to remember what a syllable is?

First of all, here’s a trick for remembering that a haiku contains:

5 syllables
7 syllables
5 syllables

To help you remember 5-7-5, I’ve made up a little song using the chorus melody to the ’80s hit 867-5309: 

minus 8-6-7-4-7-3-4
equals 5-7-5

If you can remember that simple song, you’ll never forget 5-7-5. Now that you remember a haiku is 5-7-5, how do you become the sort of person smart enough to quickly think of haikus relevant to conversation? The trick is to anticipate what people are going to be talking about and prepare a haiku for every potential topic. The quantity of potential topics may intimidate you, but you might be surprised to learn 95% of human conversation revolves around the same five topics:

1. This hot weather and whether it’s hot enough for you.

2. This cold weather and whether this cold weather is as cold as last year’s cold weather.

3. Your day and how it was.

4. Celebrities and how you can’t believe they got divorced because they seemed so happy and if they can’t figure life out, what hope do the rest of us have.

5. Celebrity deaths and where you were and what you thought when you heard the news.

If my wife and I attend a Mensa party and my host asks me about my day and how it was, i.e. was it a good day or a bad day, after allowing my eyes to become misty as I stare off into the distance, I might answer:

fate smiled on my lunch
a new cheese spread I sampled
freshen my drink please

Always pause for a few beats while continuing to stare off into the distance, before breaking your concentration and announcing, “That was a haiku.” After your host is finished applauding, hand him your glass so he can freshen your drink.

When you hear about a celebrity death, quickly jot down a few relevant lines, then pretend you haven’t heard the news and throughout the day when people ask if you’ve heard Whitney Houston died, you can stare off into the distance and say:

pop golden voice pop
thrilling peaks and somber sighs
we will always love

Again, pause for a few beats while continuing to stare off into the distance, before announcing, “That was a haiku.” After the newsgiver is finished applauding, hand her your glass so she can freshen your drink.

To prepare yourself for the occasional situation when news breaks while you’re with friends and they’ll expect a quick haiku before you have a chance to prepare, you should memorize a few standby sentences that can be plugged into any commentary on bad news.

‘It makes my head hurt’ is always a good opening line when musing on tragedy.
‘Insufficient evidence’ is usually applicable.
‘Freshen my drink please’ is always a relevant close.

Posted in: Columns