Breaking the Chain

We’ve all seen the dreaded posts on our Facebook timelines:

“Like this photo or get ten years of bad luck!”

“Share this post and pass on a hug – I bet most of you won’t!”

“If you don’t comment and share this picture, all the evil of Pandora’s Box will fall on your head!”

Not to date myself, but… gag me with a spoon.

I thought with the death of sending letters through snail mail, the extinction of chain letters would also come about – wrong! Oh, so very wrong! It feels like the age-old tradition of chain mail has mutated into chain posts, chain comments, and chain messages – and it’s quickly spiraling out of control.

Recently, the trend has been to “test” your friends with these asinine posts. “Look at those who take the time to read to the very end and comment,” they all say. “Those are your true friends!”

Are they? Are they really your true friends? Is this how you judge the quality of your friendship?

What if you’re stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire? Are you going to turn to the people who commented on your Facebook post, and nobody else? What about bail money? Are they going to send you bail money? Or better yet, be right there in the cell with you after a weekend of debauchery.

What about this scenario: you need someone to talk to because you’re having a hard day. Your friend can see that you’re struggling, so they approach you and ask what’s wrong. Before you say a word, you hold up your finger and open the Facebook app. You check your post and see that this person never commented on it. “Sorry,” you say. “You’re not a true friend that I can confide in. You never commented on my “if you’re a true friend” post from this morning.”

None of us (at least, I hope none of us) would screen our friends like that in real life. So why subject our friends to that screening process on the internet?

Attention – that’s why. People love to get the likes, shares, comments, and conversations around their posts. They feel good when people notice them, and it’s completely fine to want to feel noticed. Until it’s taken it to this unhealthy level.

I recently came across this post on my Facebook timeline:

Too. Far. It used to be an annoying fad, but now it’s crossed the line.

To be clear, the person who made this post was not recently (or ever, as far as I’m aware) diagnosed with cancer. Why on earth would they want to worry their friends in this way? Someone very near and dear to me died from cancer. I mourn his loss still… it’s fresh in my heart, like it was yesterday. I have loved ones who have lost their battle. I have more who still struggle against cancer daily. I’m sure we all know someone. Cancer is an insidious disease that touches just about everyone in some way or another. Just because it’s common doesn’t make it fair game for ludicrous social media posts.

Do you know what a real friend would do if they read this post on your timeline? They would stop reading after the very first sentence. Their heart would leap into their throat, their stomach would twist into knots, and adrenaline would start rushing through their veins. They wouldn’t comment; they would be too busy picking up the phone to call you and ask if you were okay or if there was anything they could do to support you. That’s what a real friend does in a time of crisis – they reach out in real life.

If they made it through the whole post, heart in their throat, only to realize it’s a “trick,” a true friend might still reach out… if for no other reason than to slap you silly for posting such a ridiculous thing.

I understand that we love our social media. I understand that many jokes and pranks will be circulated with a few hundred thousand clicks. But please, for the love of all things good and pure, think before you post. Don’t mislead your friends and family with attention-seeking fodder, just to give yourself a nanosecond of happiness when someone comments on your post. And do not ever joke about cancer.

Try posting something worth sharing instead. You really want to raise awareness and honor those who have battled cancer in the past? Go to the Fuck Cancer organization – post their message on your Facebook timeline, and make a real difference with the content you share with your “true” friends.

Age is Just a … Fraction

Recently in one of my social media groups, a group member posted, “Roll call! Where are you from, and how old are you?” Now, this post intended to explore if there was any correlation between a love of classic movies and people’s ages. Things were going well with the post, plenty of comments and activity on it which was all kind of interesting, really, when suddenly, this comment came through:

“I am 49 and a half.”

[Insert crickets chirping here.]

Wait, hold on a minute here! Do we still get to count our ages in halves? Is that a thing past grade school?

More importantly, should I be counting halves of my age? Is there a backlog of half-birthday parties, gifts, and general celebrations that I am owed? If so, should I hold one half-birthday celebration every month to catch up, or one ginormous half-birthday extravaganza?

I think I’ll go with the extravaganza – that’s a fun word to say, and it will look great on an invitation.

I need to have words with my family and friends. Surely they were aware of this half-birthday business and decided to be economical instead of showering me with gifts twice a year. Rude.

Wait, if this person has counted their age in halves for 49 years (and a half) that begs the question: is there an age cap on half-ages? Do people count their ages in halves right up to the bitter end, or only until retirement?

And another question: if there are people out there counting their age in halves, are there also people who take it one step further? Are there people who count their age in quarters? What about eighths? Entertaining the idea of half-ages opens up a whole can of worms that none of us are ready for, if you ask me. There’s a world of fractions out there, folks. Do we really want to delve into the mathematical pit?

Side note: if you or someone you love counts their age in quarters or eighths, there is hope. Don’t stay silent. Reach out, get help.

Moving on…

Can you imagine if half-ages were used as age qualifiers for everything in our lives? For example, you couldn’t legally drink until you were 21… and a half. You can’t vote (or smoke) until you’re 18… and a half. No rental cars for you until you’re 25… and a half. Those half-birthdays seem like a bigger deal now, don’t they?

Age isn’t even the half of it. (ha!) There are so many things that would be strange to count in halves. Imagine that you’re grocery shopping. You pick out a few tomatoes but feel like you just need a teeny-tiny bit more to make your recipe perfect. So, what do you do? You use your fingers to squeeeeze the tomato and rip it clean in half. Well, not so clean. There’s tomato juice all over your hands, dripping onto the floor, leaking onto the other tomatoes, your sneakers now look like you’ve been walking through a crime scene. And when you reach the checkout counter, the clerk calmly swipes the half-tomato across the scanner and puts it in a bag with the others, leaving a trail of tomato juice and seeds across the belt and the scanner.

Do you think this is just a tad far-fetched? Do you think this is out of the realm of possibility? I thought adults counting their ages in halves was, too – yet, here we are. Buying half-tomatoes and renting cars at 25 and a half, and probably ordering half-pizzas for dinner tonight.

But I digress – I’m only half-joking.

Age is just a number; this much is true. Now, I find out that age is just a fraction. I’m not quite sure what to do with this information.

So, why not go for it, then?  Host the half-birthday extravaganza of your dreams (or half of your dreams) and invite all your friends (or half of them), eat plenty of cake (or half of a piece).

Just be sure to enjoy every minute wholly.

Missed Connections

Craigslist has brought us some of the most memorable and shocking content of our time. People have tried to sell a piece of cheese for $100, put out ads for replacement friends, and even given away human-sized hamster wheels for free (it’s a thing, look it up).

But some of the brightest gems of Craigslist are found in the most intriguing section: Missed Connections.

This corner of the internet is the perfect place for you to search for your better weirder half. Have you ever been mesmerized by someone dressed in a sloth costume? Have you been completely smitten with the Taco Bell employee taking your order? Or have you fallen in love with a mugshot on the local news channel?

Some people have. And in pursuit of connection (or something like that), they appealed to the Missed Connections gods. For your reading pleasure, here are some of the best.

  1. I YAM IN LOVE

Okay, I can’t help but wonder how old is the OP? He mentions that the Crazy Lady is in her 50’s or 60’s, so I feel like we need some added context. Age is just a number, and love knows no bounds, yadda, yadda – but we need to know! Is this a gentleman of a similar age, or a young man making a head-tilting plea to the internet?

Knowing Craigslist, it’s probably the latter. I hope he brought enough sugar to the yam candifying party.

  1. MIXED SIGNALS

Man, what a turn we took there! I don’t know what’s better, the fact that the OP still posted the ad after completely changing his mind about finding the person he made out with, or the fact that there is a festival called “Plough and Stars” in Philadelphia.

Don’t worry, OP. We’ve all been there. At least it was ‘pretty solid.’

  1. HOLD YOUR HORSES

Even though this is a short post, there’s a lot to unpack here. OP is kind enough to post on behalf of their friend, which is the sweetest part of this whole mess. But, apparently, seeing a horse in a hotel just wasn’t enough for the friend, they had to take it one step further and find the horse’s owner!

I have even more questions than that, though. Why was the horse in the hotel in the first place? Why was the horse left unattended? Did anyone sneak him in, or did the horse sneak in himself?

Considering that the location is listed as “not sure,” the world may never know.

  1. STEALING YOUR HEART

There are just… so many things. My forehead is sore from face-palming, just from this post alone.

OP, maybe you haven’t been an accessory of a crime before, but did you honestly not expect the routine pat-down? I guarantee it was not a gesture of love, ma’am. And speaking of which, what “romantic” movies are you watching if you thought being roughly grabbed by the arm and dragged into a room was romantic?

You know what, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know.

I hope that when you did do go to court, you at least pretended to support your friend while you were eyeing up your Loss Prevention Lover.

  1. EXPRESS YOUR LOVE

This ad is the best, the winner, the ultimate champion. I know that 2009 was a weird time for everyone, but this guy takes the cake.

Honestly, I give mad props to the OP. Even in the most vulnerable position known to humankind, he made smooth moves on his lady love. I’m not sure what I would have said at that moment, but “hey beautiful lady,” definitely wouldn’t have been it. And he does have a point – their relationship just advanced like, a whole year now that she’s seen him pooping. I just hope she likes Indian food too.

If you’re on the hunt for a partner who lives just on this side of stalkerdom, do yourself a favor and peruse the Craigslist missed connections. Your one true love may be searching for you too.

Just a Number

The other day someone asked me, “What’s the latest age that someone should begin to write?”

My answer to them?

When you’re dead. Then, it is definitely too late to start writing, I’m sorry to say. Unless you are reincarnated as the next Stephen King or James Patterson, in which case I suppose you’ve managed to circumvent the limitations of time anyway, which is a pretty nifty trick, if you ask me.

There should never be an age cap on writing. To be clear, there should never be an age cap on anything you love to do. I know I’ve talked about this before, but too often we convince ourselves that there are age limits or expiration dates on starting new hobbies, learning new skills, or even continuing to do things we already know and enjoy. I say to hell with that nonsense.

Remember Sergeant Roger Murtaugh in the 1987 film Lethal Weapon? You know who I mean. Sergeant Murtaugh was known for the infamous phrase, “I’m getting too old for this shit.” Any time things started going sour, he would let out a sigh from deep within his weary bones and mumble, “I’m getting too old for this shit…”  And I felt it. You felt it. We all felt it. The man had a point.

I think we all feel a little too old for this shit sometimes. I mean, I can certainly see why… *waving vaguely at everything*.  There are bound to be days when we feel too old or too weary to go about our normal routines, much less add anything else to our plates. And it’s totally okay to feel this way every once in a while.

Operative phrase: every once in a while. Don’t convince yourself just because you’re having an I’m-too-old-for-this-shit kind of day, that it’s going to be a permanent feeling.

Perhaps there are some things in life that are best left by the wayside when one reaches a certain age. Who knows, maybe you’d want to give up extreme-MMA fighting, or shark wrestling, or even volcano surfing – once the midlife crisis has passed, anyway. But who am I to judge? You do you. I am a firm believer that there is no “latest age” to begin anything.

Does happiness have an age limit?

Does joy have an age limit?

Do feelings of content have an age limit?

A resounding NO – a thousand times, no.  Picture yourself doing something that brings you joy. Go on, picture it! Is it baking? Painting? Horseback riding? Writing? Surfing? Moving to the wilds of the Australian Outback? That feeling that arises, that inherent sense of delight, does not have an age limit.  There’s a whole world out there, offering you a chance to feel alive and joyful – age be damned.

Don’t fall for the trap of “it’s too late.” It’s never too late. Take ownership of the life you’re living. Learn that new skill. Take that class. Visit that place you’ve always wanted to go to. Write those words. And, above all, forget your age – it’s just a number.

Essentially Annoyed

Turns out, I’m essential… who knew? As an essential worker, driving on the roads for the past few weeks during the shelter-in-place for our state was amazing. Of course now that they’re reopening the state, all hell is breaking loose. But there for a while, there was no traffic; just breeze right on into work and right on home. My gas tank was loving it, that’s for sure. Bonus: it made for a much less ‘road-ragey’ kind of experience.

But the few people that were on the roads with me were determined to undermine my “serenity now” resolve. Even though there was minimal, and I mean minimal, traffic out there, those I shared the road with weren’t exactly good at sharing. Tailgating, dangerously weaving around people to the point of being completely ridiculous, quite like the chase scene from every heist movie ever made. I guess they were taking advantage of the empty roads to live out their Vin Diesel inspired fantasies. The car ones, people. The car ones. I just don’t understand why people are in such a mad dash to get somewhere. And you know damn well they’re rushing off to get somewhere they don’t want to be in the first place. While not rage-fuel, it’s been annoying.

Speaking of being annoyed, sometimes it’s the little things that get me, you know what I mean? I’m one of those people who are very adamant about the express checkout at the grocery store. If you have 12 items or less, all is good. Hell, I can even forgive that 13th item people so often sneak in. I’ve been there myself. But sometimes, you get behind that person who has a month’s worth of grocery shopping in their cart and have the nerve to get into the express lane. In my head, I start counting and when I get up past 30, I start to see pink (yeah, yeah, I know, it’s supposed to be “I start to see red,” but really, in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t truly a “sees red” kind of a situation, so I just “see pink”).  You know that the poor cashier, who really just wants to be done with the day (and honestly, who can blame them), won’t or can’t say anything and according to my kids (killjoys that they are), it’s not my place to speak up either, but you best believe I’m giving that lady the old stink eye the whole time.

People not returning their grocery cart is something else entirely. I mean, honestly. The cart return is right there. I know I’ve ranted about this subject before, but still… I have zero remorse for cursing these “non-returners.” And I don’t mean throwing a few sentence enhancers out of my vast repertoire their way. No, I mean cursing, as in “may your errant cart roll backwards over your foot and then ding your car.”  It’s a matter of basic courtesy. You grab a cart, you use said cart, and then you return the cart so that others can use it. It’s stupid easy.

Oh, and quick question, I realize the pedestrian has the right of way. I mean, of course they do. However, is there any point at all when a car is actually moving that the pedestrian should just look at the situation and say, yeah, umm… I think I won’t walk out in front of that moving car all willy-nilly, or behind it, for that matter.

I mean, come on people. Get your shit together.

Unpaid Talent

I realized recently that I am truly good at so many things… and get paid for absolutely none of them.

For instance, I’m excellent at choosing the wrong line. Oh, some people may be skilled at this particular ability while visiting the grocery store to which I say: amateur!  Me, on the other hand, well, not to toot my own horn, but here lays remarkable talent, I tell you. I’m on top of my game in all sorts of venues — the grocery store, the gas station, the library check-out, the carnival ride, the train, the cab kiosk, even the McDonald’s. Yes, the McDonald’s.

Our McDonald’s has a new double lane drive-thru… and I kid you not, it makes no difference which lane I pull into, something, anything, will cause it to be delayed. The car in front of me may be purchasing 20 of everything off the menu, but not stating their demand in any sort of order whatsoever or with any sense of hurry. Hell, sometimes they have to phone home just to confirm they’ve got it right. “Hey, I’m here at the McDonald’s now. You want onions on that McDouble? No? You sure?  Oh no, no rush, it’s not like people are waiting in line or anything. Take your time. It’s an important decision.”

Or perhaps the person taking the order decided to take a break. They say “I’ll be right with you,” but then they never are; probably they’re distracted by indoor customers or the constant barrage of impossible multi-tasking that’s required in their position. Or maybe they’re new. Or there are technical problems with the computer system and they can’t get the order to come up just right. It makes no difference. The end result is the same. It’s no longer fast food.  I don’t blame the workers, their life is hard enough, and I don’t envy them their jobs. At. All.

It’s me. I’m the line delayer. That’s my job. And I’m good at my job.  Damn good.

 

 

Gone Strolling

It was a lovely day, so I decided to walk around the neighborhood to get some exercise and let the beautiful weather work its magic on my curmudgeonly mood. It didn’t help the mood… after all these years, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just who I am now, but it was still time well spent.

And yes. That is a cat in a stroller. Sitting on a cat blanket. Don’t judge me.

Stop, Hey, What’s That Sound

As many of you may remember, I live in a patio level condo. You might also remember, that the neighbors from hell recently moved in above me. It’s been one long noise-fest ever since. Is noise stress a thing? If not, it should be a thing. Because I’m here to tell you, constant noise can make you crazy. Oh sure, the argument could be made that I was crazy before they moved in, but still.  Noise stress is definitely a thing.

Fast forward to this weekend. I was napping today, as one is wont to do when one is tired with a migraine. Alas, I awoke from my nap… and not in a comforting way by the relaxing crash of ocean waves against the shore or the rustling of a gentle breeze through a bedroom window that opens on a lovely white sand view… no, truth be told, that was the dream from which I awoke, worse luck. Instead, I was wrestled violently from my slumber by the upstairs neighbors having loud afternoon sex from a bed that is clearly in desperate need of some WD-40 (in volume quantities from the sounds of it) and while we’re at it, let’s just throw some padding between the headboard and the wall, shall we… as their youngest – who, along with the rest of the crew, had no doubt been shown the door for the momentous occasion – stood outside, feet planted inches from my bedroom window, face turned upwards, screaming “mooooommmmmm” over and over and over and over again at the top of his lungs. His volume capability was really quite impressive. He beat The Wailing Child hands down, and that’s saying something. And all I could think of in that moment was, “for the love of all that’s holy, let them be using protection.”

And how was YOUR day?

I think my neighbors took their online training course.

Metaphysical Menu

In my near constant perusal of the interwebs, I came across this gem:

I get the idea behind the sentiment, it’s kind of like that old saying, “you are what you eat,” just on a metaphysical level.  But what does that really mean exactly? Besides me being a total cheesecake. (Ha! See what I did there? Cause I love cheesecake… therefore, I am cheese – oh, never mind).

I guess you could simplify it even further and say if you only eat veggies, you’re a vegetarian. But what about those kids that only eat French fries or what if you only eat ramen noodles and pop-tarts? What are you then? No. Don’t answer that.

I know, I know. The reference here is that if you eat healthier, you live healthier. Live by junk food, die by junk food. Something like that. But honestly though, it’s not an all-inclusive statement… unlike that resort I kinda sorta remember in the Caribbean (hey, they had excellent margaritas!)

Then again, people often misunderstand old sayings. Maybe you’re familiar with the phrase “nip it in the bud.” Referring to rooting-out a problem before it starts. I’ve heard people say “nip it in the butt” more frequently than you’d think possible. Yeah, I don’t know, people are odd.

It goes with song lyrics too. Have you ever wondered why Jimmy Hendrix said, “excuse me while I kiss this guy” in Purple Haze? If you’re at all familiar with the song, I’d hope you’ve learned the actual lyric is “excuse me while I kiss the sky.” This was one of the highest voted misheard song lyrics of all time. No, really, it was. Along with “Dirty deeds done dirt cheap” by AC/DC, poorly translated to “dirty deeds done to sheep.” Which makes one wonder, if that’s what you really thought it was, what the hell are you doing with your life? I mean, come on people.

Okay, so I digress… I want to get back to the quote in question.

“You are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the conversations you engage in. Choose wisely what you feed your mind.”

Let’s take this in order, shall we?

I love horror movies and Stephen King books. So, does that paint me as a secretive sadistic serial killer in clown make-up? Or am I the paranormal investigator seeking the truth of an otherworldly existence? Or maybe a member of a cult just waiting to run off and join a bunch of fanatic – if not homicidal – youths in a corn field somewhere, waiting for the perfect human sacrificial lambs to wander by with car trouble so that we can offer them up to our demonic deity for a bountiful harvest. (Children of the Corn if you miss the reference – the original, thank you very much.  But alas, I am too old now to join their little hellfire club. I would instead be the Linda Hamilton character in this movie… which is cool, if you ask me. Not the whole almost being sacrificed to a demon in a cornfield thing, but just being Linda Hamilton.)

Don’t even get me started on music. I’ve had the Ipana Toothpaste song stuck in my head for days. Days! And, it’s not the first time.

As for people, I tend to stick to myself. I suppose my mind is starving in this regard. Unless you count the very patient librarian who routinely processes my out-of-system book requests. You won’t find me mingling at the hottest dance clubs every night or bar hopping across town. Remember the show Cheers? When those guys walked in, the whole bar knew who they were. “Hey Norm!”- “Hey Sam!” Yeah, no thanks. I prefer to sneak in undetected and go about my drinking in peace.

That brings me to the conversations that I engage in. Well if that isn’t the final nail in the coffin. You know how you have that friend, or friends that you can talk however too. You can say the grossest stuff, or dirtiest thoughts, or share the stupidest jokes. Thankfully, I am blessed with friends like that. Oh sure, we might discuss something like A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, but then again, we can get just as worked up arguing whether cereal should be considered soup… or discussing at length the perks of having a special place in Hell awaiting us or even the age old question: “are birds afraid of heights.”

Choose wisely what you feed your mind.

Welp. Maybe I am rather well-suited for those cornfield shenanigans after all. Huh. Who knew? But then again, maybe I’m reading into this quote all wrong. Maybe it’s saying I’d be more of a sleuth, equipped with the knowledge needed to deal with strange situations. Sort of like Sam and Dean on Supernatural or Scooby-Doo. Unmasking the monsters and ridding the world of rogue archangels. That could be it… yeah, we’ll go with that one.  Seems better than joining a cult that worships some sort of harvest demon. I hate farming anyway.

“It was old man Jenkins all along!” Ha! Just practicing.