Friday, August 30, 2013

Sharing



Sharing is the joint use of a resource or space. It is also the process of dividing and distributing. When an organism takes in nutrition or oxygen for instance, its internal organs are designed to divide and distribute the energy taken in, to supply parts of its body that need it.  
Still more loosely, “sharing” can actually mean giving something as an outright gift: for example, to “share” one's food really means to give some of it as a gift. Sharing is a basic component of human interaction, and is responsible for strengthening social ties and ensuring a person’s well being.
Sharing ideas, photos, stories, songs, artwork, experiences, friendships and much more seems to be the human way.
Just look at social media. We also don’t mind sharing our opinions.
But there are some things we will not share. We put our valuables under lock and key. Some are priceless heirlooms and some are family treasures. To have them and protect them and cherish them and keep them close gives a person a sense of importance and power. Others can view them, but the possession of their wealth cannot be shared.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Make Believe




Make believe describes a loosely structured form of role-playing. Make believe generally has no rules except to stay in character, and requires no specific props. It is normally restricted to young, pre-pubescent children, and aside from its straightforward purpose of fun can sometimes also serve the purpose of allowing children to explore adult roles and relationships. Make believe play can reveal a great deal about a child's psychological state, perception of gender roles, home life and interpretation of the world that is around them.
Participants in games of make believe may draw upon many sources for inspiration.
Children engage in make believe for a number of reasons. Play allows children to "deal with fears in a safe setting." It also allows them to "indulge their secret fantasies."
When I was growing up, just like everyone else, I played cowboys and Indians and cops and robbers, emulating what I had been watching on television. There were space adventures played on jungle bars and army invasions in cardboard boxes. Sticks became rifles or horses or spears. Then toys started to look like real weapons and the merchandising industry grew.
As we grew up, we left the fantasy of Peter Pan and Nancy Drew behind, and accepted the responsibility of raising children, paying mortgages, and automobile repairs. It was a rite of passage to be grown up.
Yet as the baseball pitcher becomes an accountant and the cheerleader becomes a housewife and the clarinet player in the marching band becomes a drug addict and the home coming queen gets married three times then dies of heart disease, there is a group who don’t stop make believe playing.
Some will say these are the “creative” types who see the world differently than everyone else. Some will say they never grew up and are lost in their childhood fantasies. Some say they see futuristic wonders whose ideas are far beyond what the common person can perceive.
Don’t look around because everyone is picking up their smart phones and starting their pads and logging onto electronic games or streaming explosion movies. Why? They are falling back into make believe.
There is fantasy football or Harry Potter or even theme parks to take you away from the diapers and mortgage bills.
We have games to “release stress” or be a powerful figure or just taking it out against the boss without getting fired. We can drive fast or blow up things without consequences. We can shoot the bad guys or get our brains eaten by zombies. We can play alone or with worldwide friends. And this “make believe” is available 24/7.
There are easier ways to “make believe”. We can dress-for-success, purchase flashy cars; go in debt with expensive jewelry and houses trying to give the impression of wealth and fame. Sometimes it even works.
Some may want to continue the dress up role playing and become actors or historical recreational participants. Some become writers and they create their dreams and fantasies for the readers to interpret. Some dance or sing or paint their mystery worlds losing themselves into “make believe”.
We like to pretend. It is a good psychological relaxation therapy if not overdone. Then again, maybe all this time of playing student or parent or boss or any other title we assume is reality, it is all “make believe”? 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thank you for having me



Have you heard this? It seems in interviews there is an introduction and then the subject of the interview and then a thank you by the host or reporter or whoever called up and asked questions. What does the respondent say?
If the conversation has been casual it may be “Sure!” or “No problem!” (My favorite) or “Anytime!” Sometimes it is a mysterious “Thank You!” as if the respondent wants to thank the interviewer for calling.
Recently I’ve been hearing more “Thank You For Having Me!” response. It just caught my ear and I wondered what it really meant. “Thank you for having me
Vocabulary idioms or phrases like these are used when saying good-bye. “Thank you for inviting us” or “I had a great time. Thank you for inviting me” or “It was good talking to you.” I’m no expert in etiquette or proper gratitude expressions, but the phrase of “Thank you for having me” just doesn’t sound right.
Now as I recall, to have, is to own. “I have a lamp” or “I have a cold” or “I have a week of vacation coming up” is the possession of the item. But a conversation “had” between two people? I seem to be having a problem with this “have” word.
Maybe I need to refer “to have and to hold”. Perhaps reconsider what to say after a date?
Thanks for having me.”

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Parents


Biological parents consist of the male who sired the child and the female who gave birth to the child. In all human societies, the biological mother and father are both responsible for raising their young.
I had a mother and a father of course or I wouldn’t be writing this. Here they are. They were the typical mother and father of the ‘50s.
I don’t remember any special names used like “nana” or “pop”. I may have called them “mommy” and “daddy” when young, but for the most part they were “mom” and “dad”. They were never George and Marguerite. Never.
They were my and my brother’s parents in a little house on a corner of a busy intersection. The house next door had parents, as did most of the neighborhood. Each house looked the same with green lawns cut on Saturday, trimmed hedges, washed cars and television antennas. All the kids went to local schools and on Sunday went to church.
All my friends had parents that looked the same as mine. The father would work during the week and the mother would stay home and care for the house and the children. We would all take summer vacations, go to camp, and celebrate Christmas the same.
These two people had a different adventure before they became parents. Growing up a few houses apart in a small North Carolina town, he went to college and then became a local rock star of the time picking her to be his singer. The two traveled north and west before getting married in Kansas. After modeling in Chicago and dances in New York, the war started and the band broke up. My parents never really discussed those times.
There was some early years that my brother remembers better than me, but by the time I was aware enough to understand what was going on, I was obeying my parents. I would go to school, hang up my clothes, make up my bed, and go to my room when guest arrived.
Looking at photos of my parents it looks like they were happy together. I have no idea, but the stayed together. All of my friend’s parents stayed together. It wasn’t until high school that I realized some parents don’t. 
For the most part, these were good people. They provided shelter, clothing, food, and lots of toys with little requirements of their children. They may have had political opinions or cultural values, but I don’t remember being taught or persuaded to follow them. When they were growing up at the turn of the century, there were dirt backyards filled with live chickens and covered in chewing tobacco spit. Things like electricity, automobiles, and telephones were invented in their early years.
My dad was a fairly quiet man. He was well known around town for his entertainment background and connections with the leaders of the community and in the church. He would bring home banquets for family gatherings, pick the ticks off his dog, paint a little shed over and over again, and watch black and white westerns while eating ice cream.
My mother enjoyed the limelight but the life of a housewife didn’t offer much, so she started playing golf at the country club and became famous again. At home she would stay in the kitchen, even though she wasn’t much of a cook. Coffee and cigarettes were her daily diet.
Then I found out that some parents don’t want to be parents, so they leave. Now making a child, from what I’ve seen, is a life-changing experience, but responsibility is what it is. There were some alternative options, but back in the day, it wasn’t talked about.
This isn’t about me; it is about these two people. One from a small family and one from a big family, they traveled through most of their lives together. 
In the history books, they did a pretty good job. I think my brother will agree.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Subordinate




Was reading an article about what are the most annoying things your boss does, not that I need it or even care, but I thought it was an interesting topic so I took a look. From the Huffington Post article follows:
“1. You pass off work.
I'm not talking about delegation here--that's different. I'm talking about routinely sloughing off tasks to employees that you just don't want to do. Need someone to pitch in on something while you're away from the office? Find a way to return the offer so employees know you care about pulling your weight.
2. You insist on tweaking things to perfection--yourself.
If you’re the person who constantly refuses to see eye-to-eye with your team on whether or not a product is finished, expect disgruntled employees. You’re likely wasting time and money trying to reach your own unattainable standard. Why not try to set a new standard? Make 80 percent the new 100 percent. Stop chasing perfection and begin focusing on getting projects and tasks to the point where they’re good enough.
3. You often shout commands.
There’s a big difference between delegating tasks and ordering others around. Establish more pleasant and effective interactions by asking your employees for their input on given situations or projects. This allows them to come up with their own solution, rather than forcing them to simply swallow yours.
4. You’re avoidant.
Are you MIA at company cocktail hour or other staff events? Bad idea. You're missing out on informal ways to chat up your employees and learn more about their ideas. While being friends with your employees isn’t necessary (or maybe even all that desirable), putting effort into strengthening working relationships almost always pays off.
5. You lack professionalism.
The idea of what is and isn’t casual varies from workplace to workplace, but there are a few behaviors that should be deemed unacceptable across the board. For instance: gossiping, sharing too much personal information, and not using your manners--just to name a few. Just because you're the boss doesn't give you license to do any of the above.
6. You enjoy raining on the parade.
Your negativity may be getting in the way of your employees’ happiness. Positivity and optimism aren’t realistic every day, but consistently exuding negativity will bring your colleagues down.
7. You regularly waste time at meetings.
Meetings are the No. 1 productivity killer. You of all be shouldn't be the person who is constantly straying from the presentation, asking unnecessary questions, and circling back on points. This doesn’t just waste your employees’ time; it also wastes your own. Keep it concise and relevant.”

Now I have been on both sides of that table, but what my mind turned to was the thought of “subordinates”. In this report they are called “employees” and in my environment the term “associates”, like Wal-Mart, was agreed upon, but these people are all “subordinates”. Like different ranks in the army, it helps to define an organization chart. It puts everybody in his or her place.
A boss is the person in power. The boss makes the rules, the boss defines the expectations, and the boss can hire and fire for a variety of reasons.
A subordinate is hired to perform a certain task or assignment with the qualifications or knowledge to achieve the goals, but is under constant scrutiny by the boss. I looked up the definition of a “subordinate” to find:

1.    A subordinate is a person of lower rank or position.
2.    A subordinate is a person who is treated or regarded as of lesser importance than someone else.
3.    A subordinate is a person under the authority or control of another within an organization.

Synonyms: secondary, lesser, minor, subsidiary, subservient, ancillary, auxiliary, peripheral, marginal, junior, assistant, second (in command), number two, right-hand man/woman, deputy, aide, minion, underlings  
Antonyms: superior, senior, or ranking, boss, chief, superior, supervisor, or director.

I will preface this with the full understanding of what was expected of “managers” in my organization. It may not be true in other organizations or companies or businesses so I can only refer to my personal experiences to reply.
I know through my growth up the corporate ladder, I was confused and befuddled by what a boss’s role was. There was the usual attendance and payroll that was usually handed down to a secretary or office administrator. There was also the responsibility to represent the company’s standards of operation on personal matters.

Now most bosses are only bosses to subordinates and must still answer to a higher authority in the organizational chart. There is always someone more important or powerful than any boss’s position.
Maybe all those meetings are worthwhile proposing new and innovative ideas or possibilities to increase profit shares by a few of the leaders while the subordinates continue to produce the product or provide the service or keep the wheels turning all the while awaiting another memo or order or change in their daily lives.

Bosses or whoever directs or supervises the subordinates have perhaps worked their way up by experience or skill or age or family connections. The boss is the person who shows you to your work area and explains the requirements and details of the occupation you have been hired for. They show you they are the authority.
It does not immediately require respect, but the understanding that you are a subordinate is clear. No matter the education or radical ideas, a supervisor who controlled your workflow and your paycheck controlled your position. The personnel department, which morphed into human resources, was a silent ear but their mission was to take care of hiring requirements and subordinate files shuffled through the years. In the background were the union activators who wanted to support the subordinates, but were opposed by the bosses.

The real thought of all this was the submission of a person, with qualities and skills to apply for employment and submit to an inquiry by a stranger following (hopefully) the acceptable required questions to confirm the qualities of the applicant. After the offer of employment, a subordinate or a submissive person will accept the pay, hours required, expectations, and supervision.

My idea here, even though I am rambling, is that a young idealist person, coming out of the latest education environment with up-to-date ideas and skills be surprised to become a subordinate to some older organization with questionable ideas. Now new entrepreneurs are popping up every day and promising ideals that may or may not come to truism, yet a subordinate in a secure working environment offering a steady salary and a somewhat standard workweek may seem comfortable enough to exist in.
 
As long as the work requirements are not too uncomfortable and the pay is suitable, one can become a subordinate. I understand, somebody has to be the boss and somebody has to be the worker.

My thought here is the description of what a “subordinate” is? Since peasants and kings, someone has been subservient to another. Whether the power is by strength or wealth, someone must submit to another. And those who submit become subordinate to whatever task or requirement demanded.

As we continue to watch the separation between those who become motivated and educated and inspired to move beyond the subordinate level, I wonder about those who don’t. There are many historical examples of this separation of rich and poor. All you have to do today is look at the educational results and the employment situation.  

1.    Then there is the description of subordinate position.  A subordinate is a person who is treated or regarded as of lesser importance than someone else.
2.    Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation. Historically, slavery was institutionally recognized by many societies; in more recent times slavery has been outlawed in most societies but continues through the practices of debt bondage, indentured servitude, serfdom, domestic servants kept in captivity, certain adoptions in which children are forced to work as slaves, child soldiers, and forced marriage

So have we learned anything?

A subordinate clause, also called a dependent clause, will begin with a subordinate conjunction or a relative pronoun and will contain both a subject and a verb. This combination of words will not form a complete sentence. It will instead make a reader want additional information to finish the thought.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Recipe For Life


Take one mum and one pop
Mix gently until done
Bake in the oven for 9 months
Add an uncle, aunt, and a bunch of cousins, 4 grand parents, 8 great grand parents, and a whole list of ancestry
Blend in religion, education, games and most important television
Add a dash of friends
Mix with tenderness, prejudice, confusion, betrayal, comfort, loss, and a dash of lust
Let rise for decades in a mundane world of monetary necessary
Add a family and a home and transportation and keep adding bills
Continue to add children until it can’t rise anymore
Cover to maintain health
Separate and re-add ingredients as necessary
Add alcohol and herbs. Taste to preference and add more if required
When the edges start getting dry, remove and rest
Season to taste and repeat

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Shaving

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To run a razor over your face is part of growing up into manhood. From the preteen years, hair started poking out from all sorts of places. Luckily for guys, it was acceptable except for the face.
Now beards have been historic. Just look at all the faces on your money. Great figures like Abraham Lincoln or Moses had beards.
 
But by the mid-50’s it was unacceptable for a man to have a beard. A few professors and scholarly types could be bearded for then it was a sigh of intelligence, but anyone else was classified a “bum”.
Maybe it was the technology that removed the sigma of men having to go to the barbershop to a straight razor strapped and then pressed to the face to provide the appearance of what will not be tomorrow. Beards just keep coming back.
An entire industry has grown around cutting off the stubble on men’s faces. Razors of every description have been invented to relieve the male species of facial hair. Multiple blades and electricity brought a variety of instruments to crop one’s face of those pesky hairs.
It is a wonderful marketing strategy for tomorrow those hairs will start growing back out. Like haircuts, it is an on-going industry lobbied by fashion. 
In the mid-twentieth century a rebellion was taking place. College age kids were trying to change the world or at least it’s politics and they needed a symbol to unite them. What better than a beard?
Sorry girls, but this was a guy thing. Guys at the time became very hairy. Long hair matched them to what the ladies were wearing and was accustomed to, but now those guys started getting hairy on their faces.
Beards were forgotten due to the new slick image of the modern man with his slick haircut, double weave suit, silk tie, and fancy Italian shoes, but these kids wanted to oppose all of that. They (we) wanted to strike out against the norm, so we started growing hair on our faces. 
What stood out from the crowd became a badge of courage. It was easy to become acquainted with someone else wearing a tie-dye t-shirt, long hair, beads and a beard.  A beard on another guy connected on music and politics and religion and hobbies. No one did dope without a beard. 
But even back in the day, us guys had to get jobs. Unless we wanted to keep up the revolutionary banner and sleep under a bridge, we had to “conform” to the work place requirements. Ties, button down shirts, suits and haircuts but what about the beard? 
When I first started working, I had a moustache and that didn’t seem to bother the personal requirements. I had my hair trimmed and put on a tie. The other folks were fairly casual where I worked, so I kept a low profile and started letting it grow. 
Instead of one of those ZZ Top or Duck Dynasty beards, I shaved it down to a soul patch and a goatee. That appearance seemed to be acceptable. Later my hair started getting longer and no one minded. And the beard started getting hairier and no one minded. Perhaps it was because I was in a creative position or by then the familiarly of beard was becoming acceptable again. 
When I turned 30, I wanted to make do something different so I shaved. Haircut, suit and clean shaving face were the big change. It was a big change, but it didn’t last long.
As you can tell, I don’t like haircuts or shaving or even cutting grass because it only put off the inevitable. They just keep on growing. Now I do shave (somewhat) when it starts getting too hot or too scratchy, but it is more of a trim and it has been at least 40 years from when the beard turned from dark brown to white. One wife saw my face, the other never did.


So now that I’m about to get really, really old and go on Medicare, I may or at least at this point intend to shave on my birthday. I think that would just be a hoot. I will even get a haircut, but not just a haircut but also a full shave. The results would be a complete naked face. Shake it up baby.
I have the tools of the trade to prepare my chin, but I will have to go to the professionals to do my head. About four or five years ago I went to a shop at the mall and said, “Cut it off.” She gave me a fairly contemporary style with a pile of hair on the floor. This time I don’t know if they could handle it. 
It will also be time to get a new identification card, so the changed look will keep the authorities guessing. Oh well, it will grow back.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Did I Do That?




Some mornings I just wake up confused. This morning was one of those mornings. Maybe it is the cloudy cool rain or did I stay up too late last night watching football, but my first thought was I should go in and wash the dishes. So standing up, putting on my eyes, I slowly walking into the kitchen to make my cup of coffee and there are the dishes all stacked nice and neat.
Did I do that? I must have because the maid hasn’t been here in years. So I guess I did that last night when I came in. Why don’t I remember it?
I’ve done a lot of things during my existence on this planet. Some have been good and some not so much. There are also lots of things I haven’t done but no regrets. And I didn’t do that.




It is not that I’m losing my memory but these little chores are so infrequent that I wonder why the event of accomplishing a task is not more memorable. I could analyze the timeline and the action taken or ponder the reason why washing the dishes was not more than a simple activity or just wonder.
We spend a lot of our lives wondering. I wonder what I’ll have for lunch? I wonder where I put my keys? I wonder what is on television tonight? I wonder if she likes me? I wonder if I like her? I wonder when my guitar will arrive? I wonder when I’ll decide to take my bike to the shop to fix the tire? I wonder if I had turned left when I turned right?
I wonder what I’ll wake up to tomorrow? I wonder if I’ll wake up?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Eating Out



If I don’t get out of the house by noon, I start going crazy. So as the morning rain starts to slow down, I accept the urge to wander over a slowing mist. I take my usual path but slow a bit because I know these drivers get panicked when it rains. Locking up at the store my blue jacket is soaked but it is my second shower and feels pretty good as the sun starts to appear.
It seems everyone who was coupe up by the rain also had the same idea; and they brought their kids. I didn’t need to get much but I wandered the aisles trying to avoid the screams of the children or run over the little cart pushers or step aside to their wild abandon with lost directions from a flustered mother’s face.
After my usual feeding of the yard and commenting to the drown rats, my stomach is growling. I think it is because I had two meals the past couple of days instead of one and it wants more. Even with fish and noodles, I’ve been stuffed, even over stuffed so instead of washing dishes or cooking, I decide to treat myself and eat out.
I’m not really hungry and don’t have a taste for anything unusual so I decide to try out this little place up the street. I had passed it a couple of times going to the hardware store. It is just a little hole in the wall shop in a ‘50’s strip mall between a wedding photo shop and a antique place that has gone out of business. I remember it because there was a sign in the window saying it had the “best” chili in Richmond. Or was it salad? Soup??
I think it is called “Karen’s Kitchen” or maybe “Karen’s Kooking Kitchen” (with a K, that is so kute). There is nothing overall distinctive about the exterior. A big glass window that could have been a display for shoes or toys has some colored paper menus or flyers or something taped to it, but I don’t look at any of them. A rolled up awning crossed the front of a fairly plan white building.
I open the glass door and walk inside. It feels like I’ve walked into another time period. On the window sill there is a little ceramic pot with some brown and yellow sticks that used to be a plant. The walls have booths filled with what looks like regulars. Wood pews from some faraway church separated with red Formica tables held up by chrome legs are populated with folks who seem to be comfortable here rather than home watching television. Groups of three or four have quiet conversations and little movement holding their beers. A musty hazes fills the air and I see this is not a “no smoking” zone.
A woven wall divides the “dining area from a counter/bar with uncomfortable looking wooden stools but they are all filled. The lighting is minimal so deeper in the room becomes darker. An old television sits on platform attached to the wall in the back. A tiny screen with the sound turned down so I have no idea what it is showing. On the side of the quiet room is a Wurlitzer jukebox. It looks like it has been there for years.
There are two empty tables between the booths, so I take a seat. They are fairly small tables with little wooden chairs that are light enough to stack on top of tables or move around with round seats that looked well worn and dipping for heavy duty. The backs are curved like bamboo but it is only brown bent wood. As I pull the chair back it scraps on the dusty wood floor making a loud noise that brings everyone’s attention.
I sit down in the wobbly chair and take my hat off. The table is covered in a red and white check vinyl tablecloth like those on picnic tables during family reunions. The center of the table tells me everything I need about this eating establishment. The condiments.
A woman comes around from behind the bar and approaches my table. She is wearing an apron that looks like it should have been washed a couple of weeks ago. Her shirt is red and white checked patter to match the tablecloth. Around her neck is a blue bandana like a cowboy. Her tussled hair is pined back but sprigs are sticking out giving the effect she is working hard. She slaps a menu on the table with the plastic meeting plastic with a load wake. Again I get the rooms attention. “What can I get you?” she asks.
It is three o’clock on a Sunday afternoon and as I look about the room everyone seems to be nursing a long neck beer, so I ask, “What do you have on tap?”
“Bud, Bud lite, and Pabst” she replies as if I was bothering her. I again scan the room and there are a lot of red labels on those bottles.
“Do you have Coors?” I ask as if to annoy her a little more.
“Bottle or Can?” she huffs.
“Bottle.” Sends her off to the bar again followed by wandering eyes of elderly men.
I pick up the menu and smile. It is the old clear vinyl single fold variety that an 8x10 printed or hand lettered description of what the restaurant offers can be slid in. The front does not have the name of this place or a phone number or address or any reference to make this a unique dining experience. There is not even a website. I look around the room again and decide they do not have Wi-Fi.
The first page or cover offers the breakfast items. Eggs, or course, and all sorts of meats are offered in similar variations but mostly the same. Eggs with ham, eggs with sausage, eggs with links, and even eggs with steak and sides of taters and grits appear under the stained cracked plastic cover.
Opening the cover I discover new adventures in fine dining. The second page offers lunch options and the third page is designated to dinner or supper dishes. For lunch there are sandwiches ranging from ham and cheese, grilled cheese, egg and cheese, egg salad, and hamburgers with assorted toppings. Sides were described as taters, slaw, tater salad, and beans. There is also the mystery “soup of the day”. Dinner gives an assortment of hamburger steak, ham, or meatloaf with sides of mashed potatoes, taters, Mac and cheese, and slaw. Flipping to the back page I see a libation list of assorted American premium beers, cola, coffee and that’s about it. I guess you have to ask for water?
My beer arrives sweating droplets on the table without a napkin. “What will you have?” she request pulling out a small pad and pencil from her apron. I want to say, “The cuisine is so rewarding that I don’t know where to select.” Or “What do you recommend?” but I know better. I’m in a strange land and will get what I expect.
“I’ll have the eggs.” I say while folding back to the front.
“That is only for breakfast.” She replies with a bit of curse in her voice. “Breakfast ends at noon.” She point with her pencil to the deadline sentence that had been covered by greasy fingerprints. A couple of guys in the next booth seem entertained and chuckle at our conversation.
So I open the crusty menu again and run my finger down the options. “I’ll have a burger.” I have made a selection that can’t be too messed up. “You want cheese.” She replies while writing down burger as if that was so hard to remember since no one else in this place seems to be eating. “No cheese, but how about tomato and lettuce?” Now I didn’t see many greens on the menu and got a shocked face from the lady I will call “Karen”. “You want fries?” she says holding her little pad tightly in her grasp. “Sure.” I reply as she walks away.
I settle in to my uncomfortable chair and my lukewarm beer to observe the room. There is an elderly guy behind the bar who is constantly opening bottles and scurrying about replacing the empties. The clinking of bottles thrown into a trashcan in the back is the constant soundtrack. I guy in the back booth gets up as he walk through an even darker passage. I guess that is the bathroom but I’m not sure I want to go there. A few minutes later he returns to his companions and his refreshed beer. One guy raises his hand as the guy behind the bar with his stooped over shoulders going as fast as his frail body will carry attends the booth with overripe obscenities and demeaning orders. The old man seems used to it and returns to his station. One group, with a hardened lady, seems ready to venture on. A guy put his arm around her neck and laughs excessively. She doesn’t seem amused and gets up and walks out the door. The two gentlemen follow, waving good-bye to the old guy behind the counter as if to say, “Put that on our tab. We will see you tomorrow.” Another guy in the back gets up and staggers into the door I think is the kitchen. The door swings closed and then there are loud voices. The yelling subsides after a few minutes, the door swings open, and the gentleman staggers back out and into his booth under the television.
Amid all this activity, someone steps up to the jukebox and puts a quarter in (or whatever amount it takes to run one of these things now-a-days). The old Wurlitzer lights up like a Christmas tree and the small speakers strung up on the wall to increase the sound blast out an unexpected number. Instead of Tammy Wynette or Porter Wagoner or George Jones, which I expected, comes Randy Newman “Little Coppers on Parade”. There may be hope for this place after all.
My wonderfully lovely Karen slides my plate of burger and fries on the table and asks, “Do you want another?” pointing to the empty bottle. Knowing they make more money of beer than food, I ask for a cup of coffee. Annoyed as ever Karen removes the bottle and walks back stopping to wipe the table of the group that just left. Another chorus of clinking bottles follow.
The burger, sans tomato or lettuce, is somewhat warm on a soft bun. The fries were those crinkly ones found in the frozen food section. They were almost cooked but a bit wobbly like the table. Karen did bring me some unmatched silverware but the rest I had to do myself. Now it was on to the condiments.
In the center of my table were all the selections anyone could ask for. Squirt tumblers of yellow for mustard and red for ketchup offered possibilities. I guess this was not the place to as for Gray Poupon. The salt and peppershakers looked like little chess pieces with silver caps. The salt looked as if it was filled with a crust on top and the pepper looked as if the interior had decayed into dust. The sugar container seemed full with the lid half open gathering flies. The napkin dispenser was half full of that really thin paper that will not absorb anything or will fall apart when you wipe your face. A half bottle of Tabasco sauce was the spice alternative.
A generous squirt of mustard and pressing the bun down, I took a bite of the hamburger. Yum! A precooked slab of processed substance heated on a greasy grill. Seriously what did I expect? Sloppy up some of the mustard drippings on the fries made them almost suitable. More salt and whatever was left of the pepper made the mystery food at least tolerable.
The coffee arrived in a white, well kind of off white, mug that seemed to have been used since the beginning of the last century. There was no cream offered and remembering the sugar container; I decided to drink it black. The cup, though cracked on one side, reminded me of what coffee cups are suppose to be. It was that thick walled short stocky Wicker cup that was so popular in the 50’s. Not a big volume but coffee was cheap and refills were free back in the day. I almost asked Karen if she had another one I could buy. I had a couple of these cups but somewhere lost them. Coffee doesn’t task any better in these mugs but it just feels right.
After a refill and removing the plates of leftovers, Karen slipped me the check. Not a bad price for such an exciting and delicious home cooked meal. I place a twenty under the coffee cup which should cover the cost and the gratuities, put on my hat and slide the chair back creating such a noise to get everyone’s attention again. I wave at the couple behind the bar and mouth “Thank You” before ducking out the door and back to my bike.
Though I respect the grit and the homage to another’s kitchen now you know why I don’t eat out.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Out of Your Mind





Usual weekend morning with waking at sunrise, then going back to sleep until ten. A quick scan of the news telling me I’m glad I’m not in Egypt while strapping on my shoes and tying up my hair. A brush and spit then turn off all the electronics and check the front yard. Someone has been by because the storm door is not completely closed and the gate is ajar. Those are just the things you notice when you see the same scene everyday. Nothing else seems out of place so I convince myself it was the wandering witnesses. The yard is quiet this morning with the weather changing. You can feel the moisture coming and even taste it. Grey Jay reminds me it is time for a feeding, so I pedal off. A few joggers are out with the cooler weather along with some nice ladies walking their dogs with big hunky security. I roam the food land to decide what I will feed myself today. Today, I think, I will have fish since I haven’t had that in awhile, so I stop to see the frozen options. (Why not get fresh, you say? Well, I don’t want to think about what I’m really eating.) Faith and her smiling face and girlish giggle that make my day see me on my way. Seems like an ordinary day doing the ordinary routine but then I notice.
As I put out the grub for those grey robbers who drop out of the trees, I talk to them. Not just a quiet whisper, but also a loud “Come and get it” or “Do you want a peanut?” comes out of my mouth. Like I am talking to someone who understands my vocabulary, I talk to these creatures that chew on my house, run amok through the ivy and even enter my space to steal peanuts.
So I step back inside, scanning the neighborhood for folks who may not understand and maybe calling 911, then close the door and peer out the window to see who comes to feast. I speak out to them then catch myself saying, “Why am I saying this out loud?”
We all do things that are out of the ordinary, so I can rationalize this action as just hearing my own voice since I don’t talk to many people. Then again this is a conscious decision to talk out loud to these critters rationally knowing that when they stop and look at me they recognize my voice and make an association with flying peanuts.
So with all your intelligence do you laugh it off like the person passing by speaking to themselves with their hand up to their ear or do you wonder? I am just going out of my mind.

In your face



Have you noticed those websites that follow your searches and apply enticements that may invite you to enter an unknown place and over a period time purchase?
It is what technology does now. You can be followed with every click then analyzed to provide you with opportunities to explore what you are interested in.
I’ve talked before about “personal space” and this technology invades mine. I want to go here and it wants to send be there. I say, “Get out of my face.” And cancel. Sorry marketers but this trick does not work on me.
Going to the grocery store I notice the same thing. If I stop to select a product and someone pulls up behind me or even close to me, I will move on. I’ll even go around the aisle and come back again giving the other person time to make their selection and move on. If the space is filled with someone else, I decide it is not worth it and will go somewhere else. I’m sure this is a phobia but I just don’t like getting too close to people unless I invite them into my personal space.
Some head doctor would say, “That is why you live alone.” I would say, “For 9/10’s of my life I have lived with someone else, so there.” Then I think of why these people shared my personal space. Some were family. I had no choice with them because they were there before I was. A roommate in college was not my choice but it worked out well. Then it was marriage. I had never lived alone so maybe I was scared and needed a support system. Marriage is like a roommate with benefits. It took me a number of years to figure out living with another and having “personal space” was difficult if not impossible.
Then for a couple of years, I lived alone. Every room in the house was my “personal space”. I could get up when I wanted to, go to sleep when I wanted to, and I was master of the remote control. It could have killed me.
So I fell back into inviting another into my “personal space” only to realize I had lost it. Maybe this is what we are supposed to do. Compromise or surrender, I could never decide. I found a way to get my “personal space” and seem to enjoy it now.
But with all that said, it is not what I was intending. My message for the moment was getting in your face. Not like a drill instructor who has to persuade you that you are not a person but a team, or a coach yelling in your face giving you trauma over dropping the ball through humiliation before others, but the more pleasurable meaning of “in your face”.
When you invite someone close enough for a kiss, you are sharing you “personal space” with someone else’s “personal space”.  I’m not talking about a kiss on the top of the head by your elderly aunt or that peck on the cheek for a European greeting. I’m talking about that slobbery exchanging of spit and pressing lips together. There is some kind of switch that goes off when you and another press lips.
One of my favorite activities as a teenager (and still now) is called “making out”. It was the exciting acceptance of getting “in your face” with possibilities for much more. The “making out” could be done in the back seat of a car or on a couch (until interrupted by a mother who’s sly smile knows what is going on because she has been there before) or anywhere you can feel private and together. “Making out” has the potential to lead into other possibilities or it can just leave you thrilled and wanting for more.
Unfortunately after the simple pleasure of “making out” and the wandering hands and sweating palms get to second, then third and then a homerun, the innocence is lost. We bypass the enthusiastic pleasure of just enjoying another person who has invited you into her “personal space” and go directly for the home run.  
That is until she says, “Get out of my face!”