Some Gave All

This year our Memorial Day celebrations are looking a little different here in the U.S. But then again, this “holiday” has never been about a weekend at the beach or sales at the mall… it’s not even about the fireworks and fanfare. Memorial Day is about giving thanks to our nation’s heroes as we honor those who have fallen in their service to our country. So I implore you to remember the dedicated men and women of our military who never made it home.  May their steadfast service to their country – and their fellow man – serve as inspiration to the rest of us.

“The way they all lived, in service to one another, should be our road map in the months ahead.” – Barack Obama (Memorial Day 2020)

“At its core, the nobility and the majesty of Memorial Day can be found in the story of ordinary Americans who become extraordinary for the most simple of reasons: They loved their country so deeply, so profoundly, that they were willing to give their lives to keep it safe and free.” – Barack Obama (Memorial Day 2010)

 

Long Story Short

I think we’ve all been in the position where there’s something incredibly simple that we’ve needed from someone, but we loathe asking for it. Oh, not because you fear the person will reject your request, quite the opposite in fact… they are often eager to help. You just dread the long and drawn out interaction that you know is going to go with that simple ask.

For instance, you need that recipe from a co-worker… you know, the one for that dish everyone was raving over at lunch last month. You jotted it down but misplaced the napkin you sketched it on. In all probability, you forgot you had made the note in the first place, duly wiped your mouth, and threw the napkin away. So what do you do? Call up your pal, except she’s one of those people who will literally talk your ear off. It doesn’t matter though; you promised some friends that you would make the best tapenade that they ever had and damn it, that’s what you’re going to do. So, you begrudgingly make the call, knowing you’ll be on the phone for hours for a piece of information that would take a normal person no more than a few minutes to repeat.  And… you were right. Because before you know it, you’ve learned that 3 generations of men in her family have done their time in the military, but not Henry, oh no, not good-for-nothing Henry, and little Janie is getting straight A’s in school (thanks to the tutor that her hairdresser recommended), her husband got a promotion, which was long overdue, because allegedly he could perform the job better than his boss could have, in his sleep mind you! And finally, little Billy is all grown up, and off to college, so after an hour and a half of story time, and 20 minutes of sobbing into the phone, I’m now equipped with the knowledge to prepare that banging tapenade from the pot-luck lunch we had a few weeks ago. Next time I need a recipe, I think I’ll just google it.

My mother has a neighbor that will talk about nothing for three hours. She’ll get off the phone with this woman and I’ll ask, how’s Marion, what did you talk about for five hours? And my mother has no idea. Of course, she wasn’t the one doing the talking, so there’s that. We’ve all known someone like Marion. For instance, I didn’t even know there was lecture-length material out there on the history of bowling balls, but growing up, my friend had an Uncle Randy, and he could talk to you about bowling for a full day and not repeat himself. True story.

Another pet peeve of mine is people that take the long way around to tell a simple story. And I mean, the scenic route. Especially if I’m in a hurry or already trying to do something. Or when the story starts out sounding like it’s kind of important.

“Hey, don’t freak out, but I was in a car accident.”

“What? Are you ok!? What happened?!”

“I’m fine. But get this… so I was at the grocery store, right? They had this crazy sale on Milkbones and I was like, wow, that’s a really good deal…”

“That’s great, but the accident? What happened!? Are you okay??”

“I was getting to that, but you didn’t let me finish. Geez! So anyway, I got the Milk-Bones and I remembered that you said you had that thing for work coming up…”

Yeah, you get the idea, 40 minutes later you find out that the guy who rear-ended her used to be her husband’s old co-worker who got drunk at a work party once and ate a box of Milk-Bones.

I’m telling you, even kids notice.

“Mom, do we have to go to Aunt Karen’s?  All she does is talk about her Pomeranians.”

“I know sweetie, but it’s her birthday. Just pretend you never heard any of it before.”

“How am I supposed to do that when I could write a book on Pomeranians just on what I remember from last week’s visit?”

Don’t get me wrong, I can gossip and shoot the bull with the best of them, and I’m sure I’ve talked someone’s ear off a time or two. Especially when I’m riled up about something. I’m sure we all have. It’s just that some people seem to have the uncanny ability to do it often and do it well. Too well if you ask me.

 

 

The Lesser of Two Evils

Pennywise’s lesser known cousin, Poundfoolish, never quite saw the same success as his movie star kin. Having fallen on hard times in recent years, he can be found roaming the aisles of the local grocery store, doing his utmost to intimidate the Karens and Beckys of the world,  which, as we all know, is virtually impossible.  To be fair, though, even the more popular, and arguably more frightening, Pennywise would find it a daunting task.

at least he’s social distancing

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.

Ode to Strangers

Have you ever played the “people” game, where you watch the people around you and make up a story about them? Say, you’re sitting in a café having a cup of coffee and you watch the customers come and go. For each one you make up some sort of crazy backstory based on their attitude (good or bad) or something they’re wearing.

For instance, that woman with the silver sky-high bouffant hair and neon pink suit is a dog groomer who specializes in poodles that frequent the canine beauty pageant circuit.  At one time, she was in beauty pageants herself, and won quite a few medals too, but she didn’t want her talents to go to waste so she combined her love of dogs and her love of outdated hairstyles to create a really successful business. Go ahead and mock, but she could buy and sell just about everyone in the café.

The guy in the ratty jeans (and not in a designer $500 a pair way), muddy boots, and stained jacket but oh so perfect hair, just got back into town. His best friend was abducted by aliens and he spent the better part of the last three days digging pits and booby-trapping his backwoods cabin and he’s only in town long enough to pick up his hair pomade and an espresso before he heads back up to the cabin to await the return of the alien mothership.

Hey, I can do this all day. A man walks in wearing an expensive looking tracksuit. He’s handsome and fit. Most likely has a bit of money but wait! What’s this? A fresh scratch on his cheek. He seems to be in a bit of hurry. Let me put it all together really quick. A good looking, athletic man who looks like he may have gotten into a bit of a scrap with a certain feline adversary. Don’t worry Batman, your secret’s safe with me.

I personally like to play the “people game” in reverse. That’s when you dress up before going out and let people have a stab at your backstory.  Throw on some weird outfit and head to the grocery store or the drug store or wherever you need to go. Not now… right now, you just need to stay home, but when things are safe again, consider adding some fun to a stranger’s day – and your own. Wear that bright purple cowboy hat with the tassels (on the hat!) along with your yellow fishnets and jogging shorts. And don’t forget to throw on that “Pink Ladies” satin jacket that you bedazzled the hell out of for a laugh last Halloween.

On a closing note, I’m reminded of a story from a friend of mine. It’s always brought out and dusted off on those nights out when the stories told around the table invariably start with, “this one time, I was so drunk…”  During his time in art school, he and a few classmate chums had a presentation to do prior to graduation. I forget the details of it, but during the day of said presentation, they all decided to get nice new haircuts to go with the matching suits they rented to wear. And no, I have no idea why they rented suits, and matching ones at that. From what I understand, they looked like a 4-man crew of Ray Liotta à la Goodfellas impersonators.  Anyway, the presentation went great, or so I’m told. Drunk with the joy that is having your final project graded and behind you, they decided to splurge, you know, as one does. So, they went to a somewhat nice restaurant to eat and chat and generally celebrate. They ordered wine and way more food than anyone in their right mind should be ordering… or eating for that matter (on the other hand, yay! leftovers!).  Yeah, you could say they went a bit overboard. Due to the constant flurry of wait staff at their table and the trays upon trays of food and drink that kept materializing in front of them, people took notice. You wanna know what else they noticed? The suits. The haircuts. I mean, really, matchy matchy for a presentation is a bit much on its own, but cosplaying a Goodfellas tribute band?  Yet, here we are – we wouldn’t have the story without a few bad choices.

As a family of 6 was making their way past the table to be seated at an adjacent booth, one awestruck teenager whispered to his mom, “see, I told you the mafia comes here to eat.”  Needless to say, the whole family kept their eyes down as they scurried to their table.

Oh, how we must look to strangers sometimes.