Assholes Out to Dinner

Even in the age of plastic and pay apps, there are some people who still like to pay for everything in cash. I know, I know, hard to believe… but it’s true.

Some people like the cash-only method because it’s easier to budget when they can see what they have right before their eyes. You can better live within your means if you know you only have $80 in your wallet to last until the end of the month.

Well, a couple I know exclusively uses cash to pay when they go out to eat.  For them, it’s not a budgeting tactic. It’s a means of payment that they reserve solely for eating out, and I do believe there is method to their madness, so to speak. I think they do it as a way to show off to other people. They want the servers, the cashiers, their friends, and even complete strangers in the restaurant to know that they’ve got money. They hear those dollars screaming, “We’ve got it! We’ve got cold hard cash! Look at me and admire it!”

If they lived in Hollywood, their attitude might fit right in. But they’re eating out at places like Cracker Barrel, so I’m not entirely sure why they feel the need to brag. Don’t get me wrong, I like Cracker Barrel as much as the next person, but it’s not exactly an exclusive hang-out. And this story will confound you even more when it comes to the way they show off. It’s not with a fancy Tesla or a Gucci bag.

This story is about 41 cents. Yep, you read that right.

Well, as you know, the past year has seen a major decline in dining out due to COVID. This couple, however, still sits down to eat at restaurants on a regular basis. I know. But what can you do?

This story I’m about to share was told out of frustration. They were upset and angry. They felt victimized and desperately needed to share their story with anyone who would listen. The whole mise en scène had an air of “How dare they?”

Basically, the restaurant where they had dinner didn’t want their waitstaff or cashiers handling money because of COVID. They were asking customers to pay with a card the customers could put through the machine themselves so that the staff didn’t have to touch it – a contactless purchase. No big deal, right? Wrong.

This couple? They refused. Absolutely not. There was no possible way they could pay with their card (even though there was every possible way they could pay with their card). Since the couple insisted, the cashier says, “okay, fine, we’ll take your cash.” I’m sure a huge eyeroll was also in the offing, but really, who can blame the cashier at that point.

Here’s where that 41 cents comes in. The bill was $38.59, and the husband – who was in line while his wife wandered into the merchandise area of the restaurant – wanted to pay with $39. Well, the restaurant (along with the rest of America there for a while) was experiencing a coin shortage – also due to COVID. So, the cashier asks, can we round your bill up to the $39 and donate the 41 cents to a local charity. Other patrons were usually happy to oblige. I mean, right? Who wouldn’t? Pennies add up after a while and charities are hard hit right about now.

Well, the husband felt truly put out at this point… I mean, the audacity of a cashier asking him to donate 41 cents! Just FYI, his wife later concurred, but that goes without saying. He was indignant and loudly – but loudly – proclaimed this was stealing. Stealing.

I’m still trying to figure out how being asked to donate to charity was a form of theft. First of all, the restaurant asked for their consent. Second, when you’re going out to eat anyway (which implies you have the funds for said meal) is the exorbitant sum of 41 cents really all that much to get yourself worked up about? Third, the restaurant wanted to give it to charity! It’s not like the cashier wanted to pocket the money, though at this point, she deserved that and so much more.

I imagine that as this scene was unfolding, there was someone with the unenviable job of ushering the other guests around them. They’re saying, “Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. No stealing, just assholes out to dinner.”

So, then, the husband GOT OUT OF LINE to search for his better half so he could ask her to come up with 59 cents so he could pay with exact change. Because he’d be damned if someone was going to get over on him!

This man would rather cause an outrageous scene and dig around the bottom of his wife’s purse for lint-covered pennies and dimes instead of donating a measly 41 cents to charity. And somehow, he is the victim.

Behind this mask-down-around-their-chin-type of couple, a line is beginning to form. The cashier – who just wants to get through her day without getting sick, is waiting uncomfortably, no doubt dreading the prospect of handling dollar bills and sweaty coins in the midst of a freakin’ pandemic from a couple who is clearly careless in regard to said pandemic and society as a whole. And the couple is ignorant to it all.

As they share this story over and over, somehow proud of themselves, everyone else is just shaking their heads at the assholes out to dinner.

Looney Logic

So, most cartoons are made for kids, right? And obviously, someone like me would never watch cartoons for fun—unless it’s Looney Toons, which is hilarious, by the way. But that’s beside the point. Where was I? Oh, yes, I never watch cartoons. Except sometimes. Sort of like that old letter “i” rule. You know the one… i before e except after c – and sometimes. So, yeah, sometimes it is.

My question with all of this is, why does all logic fly out the window when it comes to cartoons? Okay, anvil drops. Character survives. That’s no big deal. I get it. Physics and mortality rates are a whole different ballgame in the cartoon world. But why is Little Bear naked when no one else around him is? And nobody in his cartoon world acknowledges his nudity? Weird.

Then, there are the animals that walk around half-dressed. A cute tee shirt is totally appropriate. No pants, that’s fine, too. Think about it. Everyone is okay with Pooh Bear letting it all hang out, not to mention Micky Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, Roo, and Woodsy Owl. Oh, and Smokey the Bear even accessorizes with a hat and belt — but apparently his jeans are enough. If he were a shirtless human, those “protect the forest” ads would read a lot differently. I’m just saying.

What makes it even weirder is that in those same cartoons with the half-dressed animals, there are fully naked animals and fully dressed animals. Like Pooh gets a shirt, but Rabbit and Tigger are nude. And Mickey Mouse gets pants, but Goofy, Minnie, Pete, and Clarabelle are modest enough to be fully clothed. Or, in Tom and Jerry, Tom is naked all day. But when he visits the beach, he wears a swimsuit. Excuse me?

The examples are overwhelming. Next time you watch an animal cartoon, just pay attention.

Oh, but that’s not where the weirdness of cartoon logic stops. Animals will own other animals as pets. And all the other animals are fine with it! Or, there’s some strange animal kingdom hierarchy that makes no sense at all. Just look at Pluto and Mickey Mouse. A mouse owns a dog.

In Little Bear, Tutu is a pet dog who doesn’t speak. Her owners are humans who befriend other speaking (and clothes-wearing) animals. What?

Then, there’s Peppa Pig, who owns a goldfish, who she takes to the vet, who happens to be a hamster.

Have you ever seen Alvin and the Chipmunks? Well, in one episode, they visit the zoo. The plot thickens when Alvin gets put in a cage in a case of mistaken identity, and everyone is outraged. But where is the outrage for the non-speaking, non-clothes wearing animals on display?  What the hell is that about?

And this broken cartoon logic transforms into the downright ridiculous when you think too hard about it. There’s one scene where Donald Duck is sitting around the table with his three nephew ducklings. On the table for dinner is a roasted chicken, for fuck’s sake. Something seems deeply wrong about this.

Or the classic scene where Minnie Mouse is afraid of… a mouse.

So, the hierarchy here isn’t even based on what type of animals they are. It’s totally arbitrary. Some animals are like humans. Others are treated like animals. Or, you know, food.

Cartoon logic is, well… illogical.

Why is Road Runner just a very fast bird, while Wile E. Coyote has the wherewithal to mail order jet-powered roller skates and hand out nifty business cards? Yes, I get it, he’s a suuuuper genius.  Still.

Elmer Fudd has regular conversations with Bugs and Daffy yet tries to shoot them — and presumably eat them, anyway. Okay, well, yeah, that one I understand. I have a few coworkers I feel that way about.

As it stands, I think the incongruous nature of the cartoon world needs to be studied further. And tomorrow is Saturday. You know what that means.  Saturday morning cartoons. So, if I’m sitting in front of the t.v. with a big bowl of cereal watching cartoons all morning, it’s research, people. Research!

Valentines and Self-Realization

The older I get, the more I realize that my mother was right after all. I am just like my Grandma Mooney.

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Grandma Mooney & the Case of the Vinegar Valentines

Valentine’s Day always reminds me of my Grandma Mooney (more specifically, she was my Great-Grandmother). That may seem odd to some people (to think of grandparents around a holiday meant for couples), but there’s a reason behind it.  She was actually quite a colorful character… and then some. And one of her favorite things to do centered round Valentine’s Day.

It’s not really observed much anymore, but back in the day people would give out what were called “vinegar valentines.” They were basically insult cards with a caricature drawing on the front and a small acidic poem on the back that tended to call people out as being either foolish, a spinster, a loser, etc. You get the idea. They were pretty unflattering for the recipient and not exactly the heartwarming valentines we give out now covered in hearts and roses. Grandma Mooney absolutely loved giving these out to so-called loved ones and friends.

Image

It was one of her favorite times of year because, while she may have been thinking these evil thoughts all year, now she was able to put those thoughts to paper. And let me tell you, she got serious pleasure out of poring over who would get what card. If memory serves they were sent out anonymously so the person receiving the snail mail insult couldn’t be sure who thought they were an idiot, but rest assured, someone out there in the world did. The ironic part is that Grandma Mooney would get super pissed if she ever got one. She sent them out by the bucketful but getting even one in return was blasphemous.

I wish I could’ve seen her face as she was picking out the cards and sending them out. It’s hard to picture without having seen it up close, but anytime Grandma Mooney was up to trouble, she’d laugh… not out loud… but sort of an internal laugh so that her massive bosom shook like jelly. Watching her go through her stash of valentines with an intensity more often seen in a tax auditor and the inevitable intervals of shaking as she came across just the perfect one for say… Georgie or Carlene… would’ve been a hoot. Although I’m just guessing that these two were among the lucky recipients.  Grandma Mooney always kept her list top-secret so no one could rat her out.

In truth, though, I almost wish more that I could’ve seen what she did when she opened up one that she had received. I’d be observing that from a very safe distance of course.  I mean, there’s just no sense in poking an already pissed off bear. Grandma Mooney would’ve made Sherlock Holmes proud though… because after receiving one of these heart to heart communiqués in the mail, she suddenly became a resolute and determined investigator, examining handwriting, postal stamps, and whatever else would give her a clue as to who sent it.  She’d wander around the house muttering names for a week as she narrowed down the list of suspects. And when she finally had that “eureka!” moment and was convinced she knew the perpetrator of this horrible crime, she immediately began planning the coming year’s list, editing it accordingly, and putting that person’s name in the top position. Ahh… it’s the simple joys that mean the most.

When I was young, my mother used to tell me that I was just like my Grandma Mooney. I’d take offense at that if I could only figure out how to argue the rationale. Admittedly, I can see the similarities — though not to the extremes of my enjoying sending anonymous insults. But I do share some of her ornery eccentricities. In some respects, it may seem like an awful comparison — but along with her cantankerous quirks, my grandmother had a heart of gold and took care of her family above all else. So I guess when all is said and done, I’m pretty happy to be compared to her.

 

X is for Xenophobia

Here I am, spilling more tea about my book club. Hey, my daughter taught me that phrase and I’m going to use it whether I completely understand it or not!

As you know, I recently got kicked out of a Murdoch Mysteries group and quite frankly, I’m not sure how I didn’t get kicked out of my book club today.  And this time, it would have been a proud moment.

This was posted by a member:

I have a petty pet peeve. Just started a book and there it is again.  Characters with impossible to pronounce names.

That’s it. That’s the post. She came on to complain about hard to pronounce names. Now, you might be thinking ahhh, the fantasy and sci fi genre can certainly have some unusual character names!  But, no. She’s reading a book with Russian characters and she hates their names because she can’t pronounce them, and she can’t be bothered to Google a pronunciation. Her solution? To just give them completely new names. Simple easy to pronounce names, names that she feels are befitting her narrow-minded view of the world … um, I mean, reading enjoyment.

The frustrating thing was, as is so often the case with social media… the comments. Not all, but I’d say 90% of the comments were in agreement and the number of people who simply rename characters or give them nicknames because they’re too freakin’ lazy to learn something new was astounding.  This is a reading group. Reading. Group. Presumably this is a group of people who want to expand their horizon via the written word, but alas, no. They apparently have no desire to truly open their minds or expand their world view or tread anywhere outside of their own bubble.

Here are a few of the like-minded comments:

I hate this too. WHY do authors do this? They should be writing to their majority audience, not just a specific few.

I just make up my own pronunciation. Doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, all it does is identify the character. I have too many books to read to be looking up names and who cares how they’re pronounced anyway?

I make up my own names: ie: Laghoire [sic] becomes Lori. (It should be noted that it’s Laoghaire – a name with Irish origins. Apparently remembering how to spell a name is equally too much effort, much like Googling the pronunciation.)

I just come up with my own pronunciation and go with it. Authors need to do better.

I won’t even read a book if the names are too ridiculous or if I don’t know how to pronounce them. It’s definitely a pet peeve.

It’s so annoying to stumble over the name again and again. A book should flow so you can get lost in it… writers should use names that everyone knows how to pronounce and if they don’t, I just make up a name that starts with the same letter and read it that way!

If I can’t pronounce a name in a book, I just give them a name I like and then that is who they are the rest of the book.

I just give them different names. LOL! Life is too short to worry about pronouncing someone’s name.

I won’t get a book if I read the synopsis and the names are too crazy.

I make up my own version of the name which is usually better anyway.

It annoys me too so I just give them a similar name that I can pronounce. I just read a book with main characters from Nigeria and I didn’t even try. Buy a vowel for god’s sake. 

I size those long Russian and German names down to some four-letter words. I assign them names like Bob, Billy, Hank and use those nicknames all thru the book. Muslem [sic] names are even worse.

I just make a sound up in my head and go with it for the rest of the book.

Bob, Billy, Hank instead of Mikhail, Fyodor, or Piscine. A fucking arbitrary sound instead of Aiofe, Itumelang, or Adaugo. Yeah, I mean, that seems legit.

Mispronouncing names or words that you’ve only read is one thing… I personally do that quite often. Okay, fine, all the time. But once you figure out the correct pronunciation – and let’s be clear, you should figure out the correct pronunciation, you say it correctly going forward. No, it’s not that. It’s the adamant refusal to even try to learn how to pronounce these names that I find so maddening.

The original member who ignited this firestorm of xenophobia came back later to rebut comments – mine included – that called her out on her pet peeve. She claims to be “incredibly inclusive” and “loves diversity” but she’s lazy, so what?  “… but I can’t be bothered to try and figure out what the author means or how to pronounce some of these god forsaken names they come up with. So, I’m lazy. Who cares?”

There’s lazy and then there’s lazy but I’m sorry, this is waaayyy beyond lazy.  There are elements of xenophobia and racism as these readers minimize entire cultures and heritages in an effort to remake the world – even a literary one – to fit into their fantastically small bubble of existence.

Why do I find it hard to believe that these people limit their “pet peeve” to the fiction section of their lives?

So yeah, I didn’t get kicked out. But long story short, I need a new book club. That 90% statistic? I didn’t like those odds.

“Names have power.” — Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief

“Mutilating someone’s name is a tiny act of bigotry.” – Jennifer Gonzalez

“If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.” – Uzo Aduba

Midsomer Revisited

Once again, I find myself binge-watching the last couple of seasons of Midsomer Murders. Ahhh, yes, Midsomer… where the most creative murders ever known to man take place.  Squashed by a wheel of cheese? Yep. Covered in truffle oil and eaten alive by wild boar? You’ve got it.  Boiled in a vat of brewing beer? Shaken by an apple harvester? Check and double check. This idyllic English county has a knack for homicide, that’s for sure… and Wi-Fi service worth killing for.

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Originally written May 23, 2017

Midsomer Lifestyle

Have any of you ever seen the show Midsomer Murders? It a great show from England about two detectives, The Barnabys (first there is Tom, played by the incomparable John Nettles, who protected and served Midsomer for 14 seasons and then Tom’s younger cousin John, played by Neil Dudgeon, who takes over when Tom retires) and their varying Sergeants who assist in their crime-solving routines. If you haven’t seen it yet here’s the basic premise: Set in the fictional county of Midsomer, the Barnabys take on and solve murder cases, which are never in short supply given the area’s shockingly high murder rate. I. Love. This. Show. I’ve been binge-watching (or rather, re-binge-watching) this week to my daughter’s dismay.  To say she isn’t into languid, picturesque British detective shows is an understatement.

the cousins Barnaby

The villages of Midsomer — many named Midsomer something, as in Midsomer Florey or Midsomer Worthy, or perhaps something as delightful as the jaunty Badger’s Drift — are so tranquil and charming that I don’t see how anyone would be angry enough to commit murder there. But murder they do, and the perpetrators never seem satisfied with just one, either; more often than not, there are multiple per show.  It’s like potato chips with these people. There was only one episode in the history of the series that had zero murders, and from what I understand, fans were outraged with that singular murder-free storyline…go figure. Who knew there were such rabid viewers addicted to rampant violence running amok amid an idyllic backdrop?  If you’re a fan of fun crime dramas this is for you. There’s no shortage of material. The show started in 1997 and as of right now, 21 seasons have already aired.

If you’re a fan of breathtaking English countryside, this is also the show for you. The locations in which they shoot are always beautiful, historical, and quaint little hamlets. They’re so quiet and comfortable-looking that I’ve daydreamed about buying a little cottage in one of these villages and living that Midsomer country life. You may be asking, “But what about, you know, all the murders that happen there?” I’ve thought about it and while it would be a disadvantage if my neighbors were getting iced all the time, it just might be worth the view. These towns are REALLY pretty. And you know, the violent crime rate does give everyone something to talk about down at the local pub. So there’s that.

Amazingly enough, while from the outside, these locations seem about as far away from modern technology as one could be, everyone (in the later episodes of course) have a laptop and a smart phone. Flip phones were all the rage in the earlier shows. It’s not just the “old-money” rich, either, in their truly opulent homes, and who seem to outnumber the middle-class residents of the area by a landslide. No, everyone from the farmer down the lane to the Lord who renovated that castle up the street have electronics that make me envious… and the data to back it up, despite nary a cell tower cluttering up the landscape. I mean, I can’t even get service in my local grocery store, let alone when travelling between towns on our rural backroads.

Outside of the steady flow of homicide, I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to live in Midsomer. If it existed, that is. With the lovely to-die-for (ha!) scenery AND the possibility of unlimited data, I think I could ignore the rampant carnage.

Seriously though, how is Wi-Fi not an issue in Midsomer? That’s the real mystery I think the Barnabys should spend some time investigating.

Petty is as Petty Does

If I’ve heard it from one teacher, I’ve heard it from 1,000 “Wendy, you’re an underachiever!”  Or “You have so much potential, what is wrong with you!?”  Well. Those teachers would be eating crow today. For today, I achieved a feat almost unheard of in modern times. Are you ready?

I got kicked out of a Murdoch Mysteries discussion group on Facebook this morning. I know, I know, don’t all of you applaud at once… my ears, they’re aching! I don’t blame you for being awe-inspired though, it’s an impressive achievement, if I do say so myself.

Murdoch Mysteries is a show set in late 1890s to early 1900s Toronto. It’s a terrific show, I highly recommend it. My erstwhile Facebook discussion group, not so much.

I’ve always thought that Facebook was full of cliques if not clichés and there is nowhere that this more evident than in Facebook groups, regardless of the topic.

While boasting a large-ish following – and despite a name that implies participation (Murdoch Mysteries Discussion Group), this particular group allows just a small band of people – admins and presumably the admin’s friends – to post or otherwise participate in the commentary. Others are routinely muted or the post deemed off-topic or conversations simply disappear. I get that some group admins can feel an overwhelming sense of power given their seemingly complete control over their realm and its citizens. They smite members and create arbitrary rules on a whim. And yes, I also understand that it’s “their group, their rules.” I suppose I just assumed that a discussion group would have some form of … discussion.

Today, someone who is tight with the admins was bashing the members, as a whole, for constantly asking “when will the show be available in my area!?” A question that they can “basically google themselves if they weren’t so freakin’ lazy.”  It’s an annoying question, I’ll give them that. But bashing members is “against the rules” and besides, it was a stupid, self-serving post. There. I said it.  Anyone else, and it would’ve been gone almost before it hit the interwebs.

My comment of “How does a post like this help to further the discussion of Murdoch Mysteries?” was deemed, you guessed it, bashing a member.  Hence my ouster. It was really kind of funny, actually. The OP (original poster) immediately – but immediately – tagged her friend, the admin, and well, there you go. Tattling, adult-style.

Now, my feelings aren’t particularly hurt due to my ejection from the group. It’s not the first door to hit me in my… well, you know what, and it won’t be the last. Although, I assumed it would be over something a bit more dramatic and worthwhile. I disappointed myself in that regard.

 But it does leave me with one burning question:  Does high school ever end?