Parsons’ Law

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One social label I will take credit for is what I’ve come to call Parsons’ Law. We were not generally socially sensitive lads in the ‘60s, probably reflecting a climate of boorish behavior that generally attended gatherings of males engaged in high pressure, high risk activities such as air traffic control. I’m not saying we couldn’t have behaved better—I’m saying we didn’t and that it wasn’t unusual for the time.

We had a woman in the facility (not a controller) who was decidedly unattractive. I mean world class unattractive. I mean sneaking up on a glass of water unattractive. And although I don’t even know what her real name was, she was universally known among the complement as Salty. If you were to mention that name to anyone who was there in the ‘60s and ‘70s they would instantly recognize the name and describe her much as I have done.

I now recognize how shallow and inappropriate the foregoing was, but it’s history, I’ve repented, and I hardly do that sort of labeling any more. Anyway, I’m sure she was a nice person but she didn’t do herself any favors with her dress or hygiene. That isn’t a defense by any means of our behavior, but I want to try and set the scene in order to properly grasp the import of Parson’s Law. It is, by my estimation, inviolable.

One day a half dozen or so of us (one of whom was named Steve Parsons) were sitting in the café when Salty walked in. A half dozen (or so) shudders rippled through the shoulders of the multitude and several (inappropriate) remarks were made to the effect of, “I wouldn’t touch her with a ten foot pole,” (and progressively cruder variations on the theme).

Steve listened as the sentiment was passed around the table, each observer essentially embellishing the preceding when finally Steve, pointing his finger to each in turn, intoned, “you’re a liar, you’re a liar, you’re a liar. If she got her warm hands on your equipment, you’d engage her.” (For accuracy, try to image a baser version).

We all laughed, most of us recognizing the veracity of the observation, and I later tagged it as Parsons’ Law. You now know what many understand but what few know of its genesis.

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