Good Luck Never Smelled So… Bad

I wouldn’t consider myself an extremely superstitious person, but I’d be lying if I didn’t believe in bits and pieces. I don’t know whether walking under a ladder is really bad luck or not, but for some reason I just find myself avoiding it whenever the situation arises. I mean, if Looney Tunes has taught me anything, it’s to avoid ladders. And anvils.

Another famous superstition in regards to luck refers to the misfortune that will befall anyone who breaks a mirror. Not your short term misfortune either. We’re talking 7 years of nothing but bad luck. Just thinking about how expensive mirrors were during the time this superstition was likely conceived can help shed a bit of light on its origins. If I were a mother back then, I’d definitely say things like that to my kids if they were horseplaying around with expensive fragile items.

“Hey, get away from that mirror! If you break that you’ll have 7 years of bad luck, you know!”

Then in my head, “ha, that’ll teach those little whippersnappers to play ball in the house.”

They say that a broken clock or a cracked crystal on a pocket watch or wristwatch is also believed to be a bad sign. Not surprisingly, these are also very expensive items that are as old as the superstitions themselves. The story even goes on to say that a broken watch symbolizes failure to progress in one’s work. Which would make sense… cause you’d be late to work and all sorts of bad luck would no doubt ensue. So again, the origins of such superstitions somewhat make sense. Some superstitions about luck aren’t as easily explained though.

Tell me if you’ve ever heard this one. Originating somewhere in the UK, it’s believed that by saying “rabbit” right after you wake up on the first day of the month, you’ll bring yourself good luck for the next 30 or so days. No matter how you say it; rabbit-rabbit, rabbits, white rabbit, run rabbit run, etc., it’s supposed to work.

What about knocking on wood? Another dumb superstition that I find myself doing from time to time. Okay fine, often. Do I necessarily believe in it? I have no idea, but at risk of jinxing myself, it’s easier to just tap on the table just in case. There are two big theories behind this one. One is that pagans believe spirits live in trees, so it was kind of used as a nod to them, for lack of better words. The other theory comes from Britain and mentions a popular children’s game called “Tiggy-touch-wood,” where the only way you were “safe” from the other children chasing you was when you were touching a piece of wood. Could the whole concept of knocking on wood for luck have really stemmed from a kid’s game? I wouldn’t be surprised. Though I favor the tree spirits myself.

From blowing out birthday candles, lucky horseshoes, throwing salt over your shoulder, breaking wishbones, and even picking up pennies (not tails up, that’s bad luck!), superstitions on luck abound. It’s hard to keep up with them all, and sometimes I just think people are having me on with some of these tales.

A bird pooping on you is supposed to be good luck. I know, I know, but it’s true. Or so I’m told. I don’t believe it. And I’ll tell you why. A bird pooped on my hand the other day. There I was, minding my own business, walking around the neighborhood, trying to get some air and exercise, and a bird decided to just poop on my hand. Cause, you know. That’s what I’m here for. Oh look, my friend said, a bird pooped on your hand! You’ll have good luck! No, Sharon, I have germs. Germs are what I have. You’re so lucky! No, I’m not lucky, I’m disgusted. And for your information, there was no luck to be had here. No luck at all. I mean, I guess it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been my head. Or my face as I turned it upward to see what the hell that freakin’ bird was doing. Maybe the bird just had bad aim. Maybe that’s where the good luck came in.

So, yeah. Superstitions stink.

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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Love and Craigslist

I know I’ve talked about online dating and Craigslist a few times before, but I couldn’t let this new opportunity go by without saying at least something.  Let’s just take a look at Liam here… wait, my fault, Severin. Because he wants to be called Severin.  Be still my heart.  Seriously though, I don’t know about the rest of you women out there, but when a guy introduces himself and insists that you call him some strange nickname that is in no way a variation of his regular name, it comes across as kind of … odd. Hi, I’m Steven but you can call me Spider-Man. I think this approach worked better in the 50s when you’d come across some greaser named Ace, Scarface, or Ponyboy, and the next thing you know you’re wearing a leather jacket and riding on the back of a motorcycle. But that’s a different post for a different day. Back to Woman-Slayer Severin here who had his Friday night all planned out to the tee. Severin’s big Movie Night! Co-starring some skinny short girl! Hey, I don’t make the rules. Severin does.

Did a grown man write this ad? Perhaps a teenager? I don’t know what to think here. If it weren’t for the clear misogyny, I might’ve been on unlucky Liam’s, I mean, Severin’s side but instead, I’m left standing here feeling like I just read an ad that should be titled, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Speaking of Severin. I couldn’t figure out if he was referencing some fictional character in his preferred name, like from a book or anime or something so I did a little research. Well, I typed the name into Google at least and came up with nothing substantial. However, I was instantly reminded of Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series and Severin is a masculine given name derived from the Latin word severus meaning severe, serious, strict. Hmm, maybe there is something in a name after all? A little look into the mind of this lady killer perhaps?

Serious question though, are there women out there that would respond positively to this ad? And by positively, I mean would you give him the time of day, let alone trust this post? Twitter is having a ball with this poor sod, but after publicly placing an ad like this, I’m not too sure what he expected. Well, I guess he expected a short skinny girl that was in the market to catch a vampire-themed superhero movie with a stranger that prefers to use a fictitious name at 9:15 p.m. at the Veranda Luxe Cinema. And now here I am, sometime later, and I can’t help but wonder if it worked. To be honest, If the archaic language he apparently uses to try and be cute isn’t enough of a red flag, perhaps his description of the perfect woman (or rather, the imperfect woman) or the, I’m waiting, line at the end will prompt you to say, no thanks! No thick or tall girls, really? I almost felt bad for you Mr. Severin. Almost. And unfortunately for you, almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

There’s someone for everyone, as they say, and perhaps the same holds true for ol’ Severin here. Love can be very strange as we all know. After all, someone even had the heart to marry Charles Manson while he was in prison, so there is little doubt that there is someone for everyone no matter how high their freak flag waves.

But can you just imagine him telling the story to his kids about how he met their mother? We met at the movies. Well, um, on the way to the movies. Okay, fine, I put up an ad looking for a woman who wasn’t too tall or too fat who might be down to watch Morbius in IMAX on Craigslist and the rest was history. Real love at first sight kind of stuff, right? Maybe I should get some sort of trademark or copyright on this love story before Hallmark blows the roof off this thing.

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Seeing Red

So, just recently I had the pleasure of watching the movie Turning Red. I’m sure you’ve probably at least heard the name as it’s been in the news quite a bit lately. It’s an animated coming-of-age film by Pixar (subsidiary of Disney) that tells the story of Meilin “Mei” Lee, a confident, average, dorky 13-year-old girl who struggles with being her mother’s obedient and perfect daughter amid the pandemonium that is adolescence. Her protective, and oftentimes overbearing mother, Ming, is never far from her child, which is a rather unfortunate reality for the teenager. School isn’t even a safe haven as Ming often shows up, keeping an embarrassingly close eye on Mei. On top of maintaining her honor roll grades, navigating relationships, and valiantly trying to to meet her mother’s impossible expectations, Mei Lee turns into a giant red panda every time she has strong emotions… which, as a 13 year old, happens quite often.

Overall, it’s a great movie, I really enjoyed it, and I plan on watching it again. There were a lot of cringe moments in the movie, which went along beautifully with the story, and, if we’re being honest, encapsulated the awkwardness that is being a teenage girl extremely well. I may be a few summers removed from my youth, but not so much that I don’t remember being a 13-year-old girl or what the household was like when my daughter hit the teenage years.  The movie was spot on.  And, if you’re a fan of kids’ movies (like me!) or you have young kids of your own, this is probably a movie you all would enjoy. I highly recommend it.

This brings me to someone else’s opinion on the film. Now, I don’t have any problem with people who aren’t into this kind of thing. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who wouldn’t find this movie, or any kids’ movie, enjoyable at all. Different strokes for different folks, right? But when you’re a globally recognized company with a verified YouTube account and claim to be “the go-to source for today’s information and updates on new movies, tv shows, games, and celebrity news and gossip,” that’s a different story.

According to CinemaBlend’s managing director, Sean O’Connell, it’s a niche film. Now, to be fair, after having read his original review, I thought surely this O’Connell dude must be an old white guy. I was wrong. He’s a middle-aged white guy, and it shows.  So, according to this middle-aged white guy, Turning Red is relatable to only a select few, namely the film director’s friends and family. This so-called managing director goes on to add that “some Pixar films are made for universal audiences. ‘Turning Red’ is not. The target audience for this one feels very specific and very narrow. If you are in it, this might work very well for you. I am not in it. This was exhausting.”  You can check out the drama here. If you ask me, his opinion is shite, um, less than credible. He put his foot in his mouth and then shoved it in as far as it would go while saying hmmm, this tastes delicious.

Okay, let’s start with the “very specific target audience” and these are his words, not mine. The target audience, ok? So the lead is an Asian girl, and Asians alone make up nearly 60 percent of the world population. But ok, that’s just the main character. Who relates to the main character of a story anyway right? Well, the lead, as well as her friends, are all female. Wait a minute. Females? That’s like half the population, right? But for the sake of Mr. O’Connell, managing director, let’s continue. The movie is about kids, primarily young teens, and who knows how many of them exist out there in the world. I’m sure someone has the stats, but I’m guessing it’s a lot. Alright, that does it. Mr. O’Connell, managing director and middle-aged white dude, I’m going to need to see your credentials, because clearly you have no idea what you’re talking about.

So yeah, perhaps the movie’s reach isn’t such a narrow niche after all. Not to mention, that literally everyone can relate to this movie unless you somehow skipped your entire childhood. We can ALL relate to the nerves, the anxiety, the crushes, and most of us can relate to the mother who loves us but will also accept nothing less than perfection. Like I said before, it really is a coming-of-age film. Who hasn’t come of age? I mean, who can’t understand what a young person goes through?

Similarly, Luca is a film about a young boy who experiences an unforgettable seaside summer on the Italian Riviera filled with gelato, pasta, and endless scooter rides. Stay with me here for a minute. So, Luca goes on these fascinating adventures with his newly-made best friend, Alberto, but things take a mysterious turn once Luca’s deep-dark secret comes to light. The fact that he is a sea monster from a world that exists just below the ocean’s surface. Oh, and so is Alberto. It’s a great movie, don’t get me wrong. It even had a similar storyline to Turning Red – a coming-of-age tale where a young person is not all they appear to be. Both stories have a suffocating mother, and both kids want the freedom to be who they are and explore the world. It’s a well-loved movie, in fact, it was rated 4-stars by CinemaBlend. Of course, the leads were all males so therein lies the difference. Mr. Managing Director could relate to a movie about a boy-who-turns-into-a-sea-monster. A. Sea. Monster.

In regard to Turning Red, a few conservative critics have even gone as far to say that the film deals with topics that aren’t suitable for kids. Like periods and girls having crushes. *GASP* I know, right!?  I’m scarred for having watched it.  Scarred, I tell you!  You know what’s a-okay with these conservative critics though? Killing Bambi’s mother. Killing Nemo’s mother. Killing Elsa and Anna’s parents. Killing Tod’s mother (Fox and the Hound). Killing Quasimodo’s mother (Hunchback of Notre Dame). Killing Koda’s mother (Brother Bear). One word, Mufasa. Hmmm… there seems to be a pattern here. Even Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben died in the streets, just the same as Batman’s parents. What else? The hanging of Clayton in Tarzan. Sid, the sadist in Toy Story. But a story about a young teen girl getting her period and experiencing her first crush just isn’t suitable or relatable viewing material.

Here’s the kicker. CinemaBlend called Turning Red unrelatable as compared to other animated films.  What the hell are they even talking about it?  Do they mean Finding Nemo, where the lead is a fish? Or Luca, where the lead is a sea monster-boy-hybrid? Or perhaps it was Finding Dory, oh wait, that was about a different fish. It was probably Toy Story. No, wait, that’s not right either. All the leads in that one were toys. Now I know they couldn’t have been referencing the movie Cars because they were all actually cars. CARS. I love Wall-E, it’s one of my absolute favorites, but even this one is all about AI and robots. The humans in Wall-E are secondary characters at best.

So, what I’m getting out of all this is that CinemaBlend can relate more to a FISH or a TOY than they can a Chinese GIRL. I happen to love Shrek, also a fantastic movie. Soundtrack is phenomenal. It’s a film that CinemaBlend gave 4.5 stars, maybe because they relate more to ogres and donkeys than humans? Misogyny and racism has always played a role in non-kid films, but here you go folks, puffed up old middle-aged white men want to keep girls out of kids’ movies because they’re unrelatable.

Still Waters

I know I’ve been talking cats quite a bit lately, but what can you do? They’re such great subjects. Recently, I found that someone, who shall remain nameless, is failing at their job as servant to the almighty feline overlords. It’s me. That someone is me. I’m someone. Take note of the accompanying picture. This is Shaylee, one of my personal feline overlords, and she will remain locked in this very position, oozing contempt and staring at her water fountain until someone, like me, a trusty servant, turns it on. Even though she has a bowl of non-moving water right next to her heaping full bowl of food. But does that matter to her? Nope. I’ve heard some people say that it’s not good to leave big bowls of food out for your fur babies, but in the case of Shaylee, if it’s not full, she will annoy you until it is. Trust me on this.

Don’t even get me started on cat litter brands. A friend of mine was telling me that he tried a few times to switch cat litter brands, but his cat, Archie, wasn’t very keen on the idea. This orange bundle of joy decided that pooping in the bathtub would work much better than the new litter. While some people might think this cat was just being a dumb animal, perhaps his actions were far more genius than given credit for. Hear me out. Archie found a litter that he was very content doing his business in, it felt good on his paws, and didn’t have that overly perfume-y scent… but due to the lack of that product’s availability at the local store, his owner opted for a similar brand. Similar is not the same. Similar is different. Similar will not do. Archie checked it out, scratched it up a little, and then left. It wasn’t until the next morning that his owner was greeted by a fresh pile of cat poop while stepping into the shower. Well, at least it was in the shower, his owner thought, easy cleanup. Until it happened again that evening to his wife. That didn’t go over nearly as well. So, where’s the genius in this? Well, would you rather step in cat crap (or worse, be on the receiving end of your spouse’s rant about stepping in cat crap) or just drive the extra 20 minutes to get the litter your cat likes? That’s exactly what happened in this case, and needless to say, Archie got what Archie wanted. Dumb animal indeed.

Of course, I could have saved my friend a lot of grief if he had just reached out prior to making such an ill-conceived decision. I must say though, I’m impressed with his brave, albeit failed, attempt at asserting his … dare I say… ownership. Shaylee trained that out of me long ago.

Sometimes I think it may have been easier to raise kids than it is to keep these furry little hellspawns happy. For instance, Shaylee’s favorite place to be in the entire house is the bedroom. Unless the door is shut. Then, in that case, she wants to be in the living room. If nobody is present to act upon the ruling command of her highness, she will constantly rub up her paws against the door. Which is better than scratching it I guess, but it still produces a rather horrendously annoying sound. Think nails on a chalkboard but squeaky. Sometimes I just sit there and attempt to wait it out. However, my patience proves to be no match for Shaylee’s unrivaled determination. And I start thinking, “Hey, she won’t keep it up for long,” but time and time again, she proves me wrong. That god-awful noise will continue to resonate through the house until I answer the beck and call to let her out or in. And don’t even dare close the door after she leaves… or enters, depending on how this whole game started. Because the entire process will just start all over again. There are times when I sit down and think, she hasn’t noticed that the door is shut, maybe she’s occupying herself with other things or perhaps she’s conked out taking a cat nap, and I’m rewarded with a moment of precious quiet.  No sooner do I start a project or, God forbid, put my feet up, then BAM! The infernal sound of Shaylee’s paws against the door pierces my ears once again.

Okay, so have you heard about the snack zone? Let me tell you about the snack zone. Cat treats are kept in a pantry aka closet. The cats know this. But then again, MY food is kept in the pantry as well. As are my towels (hey, it’s a small condo, mind your business). If you open the door to the pantry, a treat is required every time. Every. Time. I feel like I have to pay a toll just to get into the closet. It has crossed my mind to try and break the habit and just not give her a treat whenever I’m getting stuff out of the closet but then I get to thinking. As intuitive and intelligent as cats can be, it may not be in my best interest to mess with her demands. It’s maybe a vicious and unforgiving cycle, but I feel it keeps me in her good graces.

You know, people have been training animals for years but with cats, I sometimes wonder if they’re actually training us. Who am I kidding, they are definitely training us. And, if that is the case, I don’t want to do anything that puts me on Shaylee’s shit list.

Zoom Zoom

Question of the day: Are Zoom training sessions better or worse than in-person training sessions? Personally, I thought in-person training sessions were the worst, but Zoom is making its way to the top of the list. The future I imagined that we were heading towards slightly resembled that of The Jetsons. Flying cars, fully-automated homes, and living in condos above the clouds. Instead, we have Zoom training.

When the Covid pandemic hit, social distancing came about, and this complicated a lot of things for a lot of people and a lot of businesses. Some businesses thrived in these trying times, and unfortunately, many of them were forced to close their doors forever. It came down to “adapt, evolve, overcome” for those who stayed in the game, and one of the ways businesses stayed in the game, such as it is – cause it’s not really a fun game if we’re being honest, unless you’re Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos – was by transitioning to remote work and with remote work came the world of Zoom.

Ah, Zoom calls. Where individuals can attend work meetings, educational courses, job interviews, and more, all from the comfort of their home. Since only your upper half is in view, you can do all these things without having to put on pants, pick out shoes, or match your socks. Just like everything else in the world, there are pros and cons to everything, Zoom included. One benefit that I found is that you can mute Hank from accounting when he starts telling one of his “blonde” jokes. I’ve even had the pleasure of seeing someone go to answer their door, only to have their Labrador Retriever expertly steal the sandwich they left by their computer. To make this even funnier, the stealthy pooch was gone by the time their owner returned, and I got the privilege of seeing them legitimately search for their lunch for nearly 2 minutes before they realized that Rover pulled the old dine and dash on them. None of us told on Rover, by the way, and I feel proud about that. Snitches get stitches, or so they say, and we had Rover’s back.

It goes without saying that there are a few perks to Zoom World, but I will admit, the streaming delays that last just long enough to make you think your system is glitching, the actual glitches – you know, the ones you don’t notice right away like when you’ve been talking for 10 minutes into a frozen screen, and people constantly repeating themselves because someone wasn’t listening, or someone was muted, or people were talking over each other, can be exceedingly frustrating.

The monotony of a 70-page training deck and a Zoom trainer that sounds straight out of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as they read each slide word for word is made all the worse when you remember that the in-person meetings always had donuts to make up for the torture that is workplace training. Pajama pants or no pajama pants, I like a good donut.

But, on the plus side, the errant toddlers suddenly showing up in the background and the cats jumping on unsuspecting laps always make it worthwhile… bonus points if the owner of the unsuspecting lap was drinking a coffee at the time.

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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