I Just Wanted to Look at Some Memes

There I was, just scanning my Facebook feed for some funny memes and humorous tidbits to help me survive the week. But what do I find instead?  My friend posting about how an owl came down into her yard to tear apart a squirrel. With photos. Cause, you know. Wildlife. Another friend posted about seeing a dog get hit by a car. No context, no lead up to the story, just blam, there in your face as you’re scrolling through your newsfeed.  Oh, and a friend of a friend (cause Facebook just loves to introduce you to new people you have absolutely nothing in common with) whose post you’re not even interested in shows up as well: “here’s a picture of a dead cat I saw down by the bridge,” and that’s it. No lesson to be learned, no particular warning to others, except for maybe if you’re going down to the bridge, you might see a dead cat. Not even to raise money or awareness for a cause, just “hey, dead cat everyone. Heads up.”

One post I had the misfortune of stumbling upon was about two doves that came to someone’s yard to drink, but as the post was sure to point out, only one flew away… and frightened no less. “I mourn with you, Mr. Dove.” Someone commented, being sure to detail the demise of the unlucky bird who was abruptly snatched up by a hawk with dinner plans. Why? Why do people feel the need to share such awful stories with such (seemingly) glee? Oh, sure, these folks ostensibly post these horrible encounters because they’re just sooo sad, but then in the comments, they sure seem to love talking about the thing that has made them sooo sad.  Well, what about the rest of us, I ask you?  Now, we’re burdened with these images that we would very much prefer not to be burdened with, thank you very much.

So, the county historical society decided to post pics of local hunters with their “prizes” – real dead geese – in hand as a “story” on Facebook. There wasn’t any historical anecdote behind the photos, just proud hunters proud of the fact that they had killed something. I mean, why? I get that people hunt, but I’m not sure why they feel the need to showcase the dead animals to the unsuspecting public. I mean, it’s no problem if you’re part of a wildlife group or hunting organization, you expect these sorts of things to be shared, discussed, and what have you. In that case, more power to ya! Share within your own communities all you want! I encourage happiness, morally, ethically, and legally (mostly) of course. But I don’t want to see this kind of stuff in my public feed. That’s why I don’t belong to hunting groups and the like. It wasn’t some sort of ground-breaking story either, and call me old-fashioned but shouldn’t a historical society be posting, hmm I don’t know. Historical things maybe?

In the case of the former, is it like a “misery loves company” sort of thing? With the latter, I cannot even begin to understand the “pride” behind killing something and then pushing photos of said achievement onto the unsuspecting masses. Here I am scrolling along, looking at memes and AITA posts, and then…BAM! A story about a mutilated dove and a dead goose, staring me right in the face. Talk about a buzz kill. But seriously, how have we become so jaded, so numb that it doesn’t even cross our minds that, hey this stark, and startling, photo/story/video might just be upsetting to some folks, maybe I should keep it to myself or maybe, you know, share it somewhere designed for content like this, where folks are expecting it. It just seems like society is all about shock value anymore and those who rail against such random awfulness are labeled “snowflakes” and worse. When did compassion and empathy become bad traits to have?

Some people have a difficult time coming across such things. I’m one of them. It’s the randomness of it, the incongruity of it all, that jars a person. Society as a whole has become an unsympathetic glob of the worst kind of voyeurism.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I really need to find some funny memes.

 

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Shopping, Lunch, and a Baptism

Mobile prayer and baptisms are a thing. Did you know that?  I did not. However, there is a mobile prayer and baptism RV and trailer that sets up shop most weekends in the parking lot of the local strip mall in my town.  So, it’s gotta be a thing, right? It’s not every weekend though. Perhaps they have other locations they visit as well. An evangelical tour of sorts. Now, I’m not going to judge anyone for their beliefs… okay fine, maybe I do judge a little. Listen, don’t roll your eyes at me, I’m doing the best I can here! But seriously, does this type of proselytizing really work? I mean, do they see a lot of foot traffic in these pop-up prayer shops?

The gentleman who was apparently in charge of the “mobile prayer” today was using a microphone attached to a bullhorn to garner attention, singing and preaching his heart out about fire and brimstone and eternal damnation. So you get a show whether you want it or not, when all you’re trying to do is go about your business at the Dollar General Store. But I come back to the same question, is this successful?  Do people look at this RV with its accompanying trailer and say, you know what I need today?  A baptism.

To me, it looks like an obvious (to the audience anyway) trick you’d find in a horror movie where they trap the teenagers who are just a little bit too curious for their own good and then sell their organs on the black market in a gruesome plot twist.

I’m not a church-going person, but even if I were, I’d be hesitant to enter an RV and a makeshift trailer with only one way in and one way out and no windows, no matter how badly I needed to confess or save my God forsaken soul. I’d be more afraid of becoming yet another statistic in the missing persons’ department.

I’ll just stick with Hell, thank you very much. After all, I have a special place waiting for me there.

 

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Belated Greetings… in Green

I almost missed wishing you all a happy day of drinking and debauchery… I mean St. Patrick’s Day! Maybe I shouldn’t have had those Irish coffees for lunch.  Oh, who am I kidding?  Shamrocks and shenanigans for all as they say.

Much like my “Happy Thanksgiving, Addams Family Style” post, I promised some time ago to share the below video every year for St. Patrick’s Day. At least until I find something that moves me more than this does which, unsurprisingly, has not happened.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland, have a listen to some truly amazing voices.

Glutton for Punishment

I’m no stranger to dating apps. I’ve had the pleasure, or rather, displeasure, of using a few. After all, I’ve been single for a while now and if I’m being honest, I like it this way. But while I’m on the topic of being honest, I do get the urge to download an app or two and take a dive into the proverbial dating pool. I don’t know why. To just window shop if anything. A glutton for punishment perhaps. I mean, my experiences have been far from graceful and usually by the time I realize it’s a futile exercise, I already have a migraine from banging my head on the wall in frustration. It’s kind of like scratching poison ivy or eating an entire half-gallon of Ben & Jerry’s before bed. It may feel good at first, but you’ll wish you hadn’t later.

When it comes to men, especially on these dating apps, I feel as if I’ve seen it all. I’m not a gamer, but if you’re familiar with those old role-playing games where you get to choose what “class” or “build” you start as, it’s kind of like that. First up we have the Alpha Male. This grizzled outdoorsman can land a pike with a shoelace and some bubblegum or skin a deer in 6 minutes flat with nothing more than his trusty pocket knife. The Alpha Male is always keen on showing off any recent kills, focusing on that trophy buck or legendary lake bass he roped in last summer at the cabin with the boys. Don’t get me wrong, I like a man that can handle himself in nature, but it’s 2022, so drop the whole Alpha Male thing already, and I’ve never done the whole swooning over the big strong hunter/gatherer thing. You’d have better luck if you posted a photo of that ridiculously cute squirrel that visits your patio every day begging for peanuts. If you consider “matching” with me lucky that is… and if you do, that’s on you. Just so we’re clear.

Next on the list, we have the Fuckboy, or Poolboy build. This is the kind of guy that could have been trouble before I was wise enough to know better. They come in all ages and are generally the kind of guy mothers hide their daughters from. These “boys” usually sport clean-shaven faces and never miss an opportunity to take a picture without the annoying restriction of a pesky shirt. Sometimes they even go as far as shining up with a little baby oil just for a little added extra effect. I’m wondering who takes their profile photos?  Professional photographer?  A friend? Their mother?

Neither of those types do it for you? Maybe the blue-collar typical single dad build is the one? Still a little bitter about the divorce, but he got to keep the boat! Yes, I know what tailgating is, no, I don’t think we should do it every week, and neither of us has any kids in little league, why the hell are you grilling hot dogs in a Denny’s parking lot?

Even with these great “builds” or “classes” to chose from, I’m still confused about some of the other profiles I see. I’m not a sheltered person and I wouldn’t consider myself a prude, in fact, I’d say I grasp the whole dating scene rather well, but here’s the thing… do men understand women at all? Like, seriously?!

Ironically, the three dating app types I just described make a touch more sense than what I’m about to say. There’s a word I see thrown around a lot in men’s profiles that is quite perplexing. Open-minded. For example, a single 50-something male seeking an open-minded woman. Like what does that even mean? Open-minded. Do you mean you like to collect half-dressed anime dolls?  Are you into dressing up as a fox who moonlights as a police officer? Somehow, I just don’t think they mean it in a social consciousness sort of way.

Adventurous is another personality staple that men seem to be looking for. And again, I’m overcome by the feeling of uncertainty. Are they looking for someone to ride the scariest roller coasters with or should I show myself to the gutter for a more accurate understanding? Chances are it’s the latter because I seriously doubt it’s in a let’s go hike Mount Kilimanjaro way.

Okay, but wait! This one I get. Man seeking a woman who is the selfless nurturing type. Okay. Great. I get this reference. But to put it in your eHarmony profile?

For those who may not know, eHarmony is one of the sites that pride themselves on helping lonely souls find long-term relationships. Tinder, it’s not, which is more for fuckboys and thirst traps. I am just baffled by the way certain men approach their quest of finding a potential significant other. Selfless? I can definitely see where that one’s going. Their profiles seem to be more of a list of requirements for a mail-order bride. It reminds me of that disturbingly catchy song on Tik-Tok called “Build-a-Bitch.”  Sweetie, this ain’t that.

One divorced guy said he’s looking for someone with “no big mood swings” and he prefers someone who “doesn’t complain too much.”  Oh, and she “must be selfless and giving in the bedroom.” Again with the selfless. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how this man’s wife just left this stud go. Perplexing how his marriage didn’t work out isn’t it?  Unfathomable.

So anywhere from a few hours to a few days after downloading a dating app, things like this happen and I’m reminded why I’m single and deleted the app last time. Wish I could say it gets better over time but either everyone’s getting weirder or perhaps it’s me?  I also find the algorithms of these sites to be suspect. After forcing me to take an hours-long quiz, I’m still paired with men who think posing with dead animals is the way to a woman’s heart.

I will say this, I have had some minor success at deciphering the secrets of the male species. One of the codes I’ve cracked is when older men describe themselves as “young at heart,” they mean they prefer to date out of their age group. Or if an older man says he’s a “bad boy” chances are he listens to Five Finger Death Punch, owns a Harley, and watches old war movies.

I’m still looking for an app for folks like me. A place for people who’d rather binge Netflix with their animals on the couch than have to sift through a ridiculous montage of phony, celebratory bios that don’t mention how they chew with their mouth open or smoke menthol cigarettes like it’s the mid-90s.

A Hallmark Moment

Ah, the good ole’ class reunion. We’ve all tuned into the Hallmark channel a time or two just to find some sappy retelling of the classic “class reunion rekindles forgotten love” story. Just gag me already. I really don’t get what all the fuss is about. Maybe I’m just a bit too far removed from that scene. I mean really… do any of us actually care about the same shit we cared about back in high school? If I wanted to see all my classmates again, I would have kept in better contact over the years. All the personalities, the cliques, the stress, it’s not really something I care to revisit anytime soon. Could you imagine?

“Hey, Billy! Remember that time you pissed your pants on the bus during the dairy farm field trip and the entire class laughed?”

“Why no Jimmy. I’ve spent years in therapy and thousands of dollars on a psychiatrist trying to repress that memory, but how fun of you to bring it back up!”

Let’s see, we had the jocks who seemed to just cruise through their four years with that “too cool for school” mantra. There were the cheerleaders, which I tended to avoid. The rich kids who could do no wrong, probably because mommy and daddy were boosters for the local sports clubs, and then you had the rest of us. I guess you’d find me in the Freaks and Geeks section. If you don’t get the reference, check out the show here.   It was a short-lived one season masterpiece from the ’90s based around a unique group of kids in high school during the 80s. Great stuff!

Back at the reunion, you’re having more fun than you can safely stomach. At least, something is making you sick and it’s not the smell of gym socks left in a locker for two semesters.  Perhaps it’s the sheer awkwardness that comes with seeing your teenage crush who is now balding, on his third marriage, and running a failing used car dealership. Or better yet, you could reminiscence with some old high school bullies who completely gloss over ripping your schoolwork to shreds on the daily or shoving you in the aforementioned gym sock filled locker.  Or maybe it’s being asked to dance by that kid that smelled like milk and pulled on your hair in the middle of class every freakin’ day.  I mean, why wouldn’t we want to subject ourselves to such a blissful evening?

All sarcasm aside, I wouldn’t be completely against a walk down memory lane again, but it’s not at the top of my list. And yes, I’m completely aware that there are quite a few people out there that absolutely loved high school and would waste 1 of their 3 wishes from a genie on having the chance to relive the glory days that were those 4 fateful years. To say a lot of people peaked in high school would be an understatement. Okay, yeah, so that walk down memory lane may not be worth the calories after all.

I mean, what about the people who simply couldn’t wait to get out of high school? For these folks – and by these folks, I mean me – reunions are a whole different animal. And seriously, back to the Hallmark movie thing. Do those moments ever really happen? They’re always the same. Way back in high school, the jock is dared to ask out the ugly duckling girl, and she accepts just to have it blow up in her face. Then 20 years later she’s on the cover of Cosmo and he’s managing a Waffle House in small-town South Carolina. They meet up again at the famed reunion just to have him profess his true feelings. He was a victim of peer pressure back n the day, you see, and he’s pined after her all these years. She looks deep into his eyes as they dance and is hypnotized by the depth of his feelings and the beat of his heart, and well, the rest is Hallmark history with a wedding in the works before the weekend is out. I guess if you put it that way, I can kinda see the appeal of these reunions. I mean they’re just the conduit to one’s true love and a happily ever… nope, I’m sorry, just can’t say it with a straight face.

More likely that whole scenario would play out with her getting drunk and mocking the people who realized too late that in the “real world – adult version” they’re no longer the “in crowd” and she ends up going home with the bartender. To be fair though, he was awfully cute.

Cats 22

Before I get started, I want to make something clear. I love cats. I love all animals, but with cats, it’s a little bit of a love/hate thing so, know that this is a topic based solely on love. But seriously, if we’re being honest, cats are kind of asshoIes. I think my fellow cat owners will agree and understand where I’m coming from.

Of course, we’re owners in name only. Cats, as a rule, view us as giant servants. By employing two of their strongest assets, cute + cuddly (despite the razors on their feet), we willingly wait on them hand and foot, oftentimes dropping whatever we’re doing to answer their siren-like beck and call. Cats have it figured out. And don’t let anyone fool you, cats indeed know their names. In fact, I think they understand everything we say. Some dog owners will have you believe that cats are incapable of such mental prowess, that they lack the intelligence of dogs. I call bullshit. The real question here is not whether they understand you, but rather, whether they will deign to listen and come to you when you call for them. In most cases you’ll get “the look,” or maybe, if you’re lucky, an ear twitch, but you know they know.

I have a lovely little monster myself, named Holly, which I think literally translates to evil incarnate (when it’s a cat… I’m sure human Hollys are very lovely). She weighs all of 4 pounds and “though she be but little she is fierce.” There will be times when she starts to continuously meow and outright howl when she’s in a room by herself. Let’s just say she has a set of lungs on her that would make a banshee proud. Now, you might think it’s because she’s lonely. It’s not. She just wants attention and is unwilling to seek one of us out to get it – even though the condo is small and if she would simply be willing to journey out no more than 10 feet in any direction, she would be greeted by a person ready and willing to love on her. But no. She refuses. Why? Because she is a manipulative little jerk princess who demands we seek her out or desperately plead with her to come grace us with her holy presence. It’s her way of keeping the servants, er… I mean us, in check. And we do it. Why? Well, because her raucous lyrical beckoning normally begins around 11:00 pm or midnight, so our desire to keep her quiet tends to override any self-worth we might have in bowing down to the tyrannical feline overlord known as Holly.

Do you want to know how I know Holly understand what I’m saying? I’ll tell you. The other afternoon I was working at my desk, and she started doing her thing. She was out in the hallway, a mere few feet from me, but still around a corner, just out of sight. In a normal voice (so as not to alarm my zoom team members with an outrageous facial expression while I was on mute), I asked, “where are you?” and she came trotting right to me like a proud little puppy (for the love of God, don’t tell her I said that). So she knew the words, understood the words, and presented herself accordingly. If I were to call her deliberately, she wouldn’t come. And why? Because fuck you servant, that’s why. Unless of course I come prepared with an offering such as some string or even better, treats.  With a little shakey-shake, the feline princess will appear out of thin air.

All of this just to say, that cats do in fact know what you’re saying to them, and they know that you know that they know. They just don’t care.

an exhausted ne’er-do-well after a long day of ne’er-do-well things

Don’t be a Gatekeeper

Perhaps I’m wrong (no surprise there), but I seem to remember a time when liking things and having hobbies wasn’t something that needed rules. You could casually talk about a TV show at work with your colleagues, you could go to see a band play live without knowing their entire catalog of songs inside and out, or you could watch football without some jerk telling you you’re not a real fan because you don’t know the personal history of every player from the last three decades.

I’ve talked about this before in more depth, but I’m bringing it up again because it sure seems like gatekeeping other people’s fun is gaining more and more steam in society today. Worse than grammar police, gatekeepers take it upon themselves to protect and guard every single hobby, fandom, or interest that anyone anywhere might enjoy by making it clear that you are not a real fan and even if you were, you’ll never know as much about it as they do. Essentially, they’re the gatekeepers of fun. They might as well walk around with a loudspeaker and shout “Stand clear! Casual enjoyment is NOT tolerated here.” It would certainly help people know who they’re dealing with and I, for one, would be thrilled if those red flags flew high. You know, for visibility. 

Some people have an uncontrollable need to make absolutely everything into some sort of competition. Everything you can do, they can do better. Gatekeeping joy is no different.  I’ve thought about why some folks do this, and it really seems like it’s a matter of giving their ego a nice, long, painstaking massage. They want to prove that they’re more of a fan than you. A better fan. A bigger fan, if you will. Most important, they’re desperate to prove you’re not a fan at all. Now, why? Just why? Perhaps, they are a little bit insecure about something themselves, so they just want to appear more knowledgeable, even if that knowledge bank is just Witcher lore or thesis-level data on the original Marvel comics vs the MCU. Or maybe, just maybe, they do it for no other reason than they’re a pain in the ass. There’s a lot of that going around.

What would happen, I wonder, if two of these people met each other? What if two gatekeepers engaged in verbal warfare? Would they both stubbornly pretend they knew more than the other? Would one concede defeat and just pretend they didn’t really care? Is that scenario even possible? Or would they create a standoff for the ages, where an unstoppable force meets an immovable object and both of their superiority complexes combine to create an unbearable, condescending atmosphere? Perhaps the world would explode. In an Earth shattering kaboom, as Marvin would say. 

One of the worst places for this isn’t in real life, though; it’s online, specifically on social media apps like Facebook and Twitter. If you tweet a one-off, harmless opinion about how you think Tom Holland is the best Spiderman, your replies will be full of fandom police telling you that you obviously haven’t seen the original movies with Toby Maguire. Don’t even get me started on Andrew Garfield. If you’re bopping along to Fleetwood Mac and tweet, without thinking, that you thought Rumours was a great follow-up album to their debut, well, I’m sorry, but you’re about to meet an unfortunate demise.

“You fool! The original lineup had way more albums before that! And they were better! Blues is better than pop! Look at this idiot trying to talk about something they know nothing about – so cringe!”

Your common interest with these people about something you both enjoy is lost to the wayside in favor of fandom measuring. I guess you should have known better than to express enjoyment, right? On another note, do we still say “cringe?” 

When did liking things become so stressful? There aren’t supposed to be any rules to liking something. Celebrate the commonality instead of trying to make someone feel lesser than. Share the joy instead of stealing it. Stealing someone’s joy doesn’t make you the golden protector of your chosen fandom. It just makes you an asshole.

truer words were never spoken