I, Too, Must Apologize For Eating at Chick-Fil-A

It was Tuesday, around 1 pm. I had a morning networking meeting and then I worked at the library for a couple of hours. And I had a call scheduled for 2 pm, so I didn’t want to get distracted and miss it. How unprofessional would that be?

So, I walked over to the Chick-Fil-A next to the library. Not a bad walk. Yeah, it was hot, but not unbearable for the 2 minutes I was outside. Actually, I rather liked it. Got me a bit of a sweat which then felt great when I opened the door and re-entered modernity.

I stood at the counter and contemplated my options. Sandwich? Tenders? Nuggets? And then it hit me:

Cool Wrap.

Like, duh, could I have done anything different? The Ranch Cool Wraps are, in my memory, like the second-best thing ever made for fast food. #1 was Wendy’s pitas from the late 90’s, but since those have gone the way of the Dodo, I console myself with the fresh, multi-faceted goodness combination that is a Chick-Fil-A wrap.

“Cool Ranch combo, please”. Aww, yeah, deliciousness hitting my mouth soon.

I grab my drink and by the time I’m ready to sit at a booth, there’s a smiling, “My pleasure”-spouting employee with my tray. Score! I slide in, sip a bit of root beer, sample a few waffle fries, and then dig in, unwrapping one half of the log so I don’t accidentally-on-purpose ingest some wax paper.

I’ve ordered the Avocado Lime dressing. Not a bad choice. It adds some nuanced flavors to the creaminess, and as I dip I get the full effect: wheat wrap, lettuce, carrots, chicken, dressing. Not a bad way to spend a half-hour, if I do say so myself.

All too soon, though, I’m finished with the first half. Huh? That’s it? I wonder if, by some chance, my wrap was mis-cut, leading me to pick up the substantially smaller portion first. But, no, I look at the other and it’s just as paltry.

What the hell happened? It used to be that a Cool Ranch wrap was a full serving. Now it looks like it’s been cut down to 80% of its former size. Like Jim Carrey in Me, Myself, and Irene, you appreciate it for what it used to be, but these days it’s just not delivering like it’s supposed to.

So, I finished my wrap, waffle fries, and drink, gathered my trash, and left, my still-not-full stomach unsatisfied. And for that, I apologize.

I’m sorry, belly. I got your hopes up. I did not realize that the situation around me had changed so dramatically since the last time I partook of what used to be a delicious luncheon session. I won’t make the same mistake again. Next time – Waffle House.

Extremely Bad Advice – He Ain’t No Fortunate Son

Dear SJ:

My son is 34 years old. Recently he quit his job and moved in with his girlfriend. Now, I’m not certain, but I think they do a lot of drugs. Pot at least. There are a lot of pictures of them on Facebook with these dopey smiles and their eyes are half-closed. I’m not a prudish, naïve mom. I got drunk and smoked a few times in college. I recognize that there are people who have a legitimate need for release from the stress of life.

But if he’s not working, what kind of stress might he have? I think they’re getting by on her trust fund payouts – grandpa was loaded. So if it’s not about needing to work for money, and they don’t have any kids making them want to pull their hair out, what’s the deal? And how do I go about getting him on the right track? That trust fund won’t last forever, and when it’s gone they’re going to have no career, no prospects, and no way to pass a drug test. Which means they’ll probably want to move back in with me. And I absolutely REFUSE to take care of children again in my sixties. What should I do? – DISAPPOINTED BY DARREN

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Well, what do you know? Something I’m familiar with. No, not the pot-headed loser or his equally worthless girlfriend. But the feeling of failure on your part when your children don’t measure up to your standards.

I get it. I’ve been there. Can you imagine my shame when my daughter almost brought home a B last semester in World History? And my son struck out thrice in last week’s double-header. If that isn’t enough for me to want to save the world from my seed by a couple of selective late-late-term abortions, I don’t know what is.

So I can sympathize with wanting better out of your progeny, because, like any self-serving modern American, you’ve completely abandoned the notion that people’s decisions reflect their own choices in life. Instead, you’ve bought into the perspective that if your kid screws up, it looks bad ON YOU.

Let’s be honest. You don’t give a flip about whether or not you’re going to have to support them if they move back in. You would in a heartbeat, because he is your son, after all. You’re really worried about your image if that happens – and rightly so. All the rest of us would judge you mercilessly behind your back while putting on a sympathetic mask when agreeing to your face that “sometimes they just need a little help.” And rightly so.

Therefore, what you need to do is to convince your son of the error of his ways. He’s over 30, so it really is time for him to grow up. But since he’s acting like a juvenile again, arguments and logic won’t work. They didn’t the first time around, why would they now? This time, you need to show him what it would be like in a few years if everyone pretended to be young and dumb and did young and dumb things.

And what are the things most young and dumb kids like to do most of all? Yep – pot and sex.

Now, since pot is mostly illegal, I’m not going to advise you to do that. You could live in one of the 40-plus states which haven’t gotten their acts together just yet. But sex? That’s all right, all right, all right in every jurisdiction.

I’m telling you, there’s quite a fetish industry for Grandma Porn. GILFs really are a thing. Google it and you’ll have at least half a dozen sites where you can submit your own amateur video. [If you need a partner, there’s this really cool new site called CraigsList Casual Encounters, check it out.] After you’ve made the cut, send your son a link with the subject line “You Want To Be Young And Stupid? So Do I”, and no other text. He’ll get the message.

While you’re at it, send that link over to me. I need a little more fodder for the spank bank 😉

Stuff I Just Want To Write Down – 6/4/2018 version

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed a trend. I seem to be getting a lot of hits on my review of Mocelli watches. This is pretty cool! When I look at the stats I see that starting about April there was a big jump in the # of daily views. Many of them that watch review, but many others as well. Come for the scam, stay for the story! my grandmother used to say.

No, she didn’t. I made that up.

She did say, though, “If someone says a bad word, just don’t hear it.”

And she said, when she was talking about how to make bread, that you grab the flour can under one arm, and sugar can under the other, and when you’re measuring, you “take one hump of this, and two humps of that,” and she would kind of shrug her shoulder and pretend to be shaking the flour or sugar into the bowl. I never understood whether it was two parts sugar to one part flour, or the other way around.

I was going to tell the story of how I saw my grandmother’s breasts once, but I decided I don’t really remember what happened. It could have been just in her bra. Not sure. So I don’t want to go back to those repressed memories.

Not sure where this is going. I started out on watches, and now I’m onto incest. Ew, gross.

In more interesting news, my 15-year-old daughter told me tonight she isn’t entirely convinced that Earth is a sphere. She thinks there’s a non-zero chance that the flat-Earthers are right. I smacked her upside the head and said, “Don’t believe stupid stuff.” She tried to defend against the smacks by holding up her cat. So I flicked her on the forehead instead.

This whole post has been uncurated. I’ve just sort of let myself write things down and see what comes out. This is not Writing Practice (I already did that) and it’s not a pointed Personal Expression, where I have something important to say. It’s just my thoughts on today.

I know, pretty low-quality stuff right here.

THE END

P.S. I started reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s pretty powerful stuff. I’m rethinking my “angry white boy doesn’t give two shits about the world around him” stance.

P.P.S. I checked the stats. Turns out my Mocelli watches review has 109 views so far in June. The Home Page / Archives has just 9. Apparently I’ve done something right to get that page into some kind of preference for Google searches. May was just as lopsided – something like 230 views for Mocelli, and like 45 for the next most popular page. So I got that going for me.

Non-review of books

Here’s a few books I’ve read recently that I’m not going to review.

The 37th Parallel: The Secret Truth Behind America’s UFO Highway, by Ben Mezrich. Interesting, but in order to make a point it has to ignore a lot that doesn’t fit with the theme of the book.

Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny. Read this one so I could participate in a book discussion group. I liked it, but apparently I missed one of the major points in the narrative when it was either implied or directly stated that what was coming next was flashback.

Aesop’s Illustrated Fables, Barnes & Noble edition. I liked it. I could see a lot of parallels to other morality tales. Just flipping through right now, I find “The Farmer and His Sons”, which is almost perfectly preserved in Jesus’s teaching (700 years later) of the gardener who had a dream that there was treasure buried beneath a tree. I liked reading the whole tale from which we often just distill the lesson. Plus I was intrigued to see Aesop break the 4th wall when he told stories about the slave Aesop.

The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin. This won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the National Book Award when it was published in 1974. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s the passage of time and seeing a fair amount of sci-fi since this was published, but I don’t really get why this would have been so spectacularly received.

Writers of the Future, Volume 34, edited by David Farland. I read this and WotF Vol 33 this spring, to get a better feel for the stories that win the contest, as this is a writing contest I try to enter every quarter. I’ve had Honorable Mentions and one Semi-Finalist. I’d still like to win, as long as I’m eligible. I’ll take being not eligible, because I’ve been published, too.

I think there’s more, but I don’t remember. I used to keep a list of books I’ve read. I haven’t maintained that this year. Unfortunately.

 

P.S. Edited to add – I remembered one!

Adventure Cats: Living Nine Lives to the Fullest, by Laura Moss. Gave me things to think about as I try to train my cat to come with me camping, hiking, and bicycling.

This Is Terrible Writing. Not This Post Itself, But This Article I’m Writing About … You Know What I Mean

Yesterday I was browsing around the web and clicked on one of my bookmarks. It’s an article from Metro, titled “The 11 Essential Documentaries of 2017.” Now, I haven’t seen any of these. I haven’t even read the article fully. But at some point, earlier this year, I saw that headline and probably thought, You know what? I should watch more documentaries, rather than Hollywood big-budget experiences leaving me empty inside afterwards. Maybe I’ll come back to this someday. [Click] – bookmarked.

So, here it is, the end of May, and I clicked back on that to see what I was supposed to remind myself of. Scanned it. Eh, probably some stuff I’ll eventually watch. Then I scrolled down a bit, to see what other things Metro has to offer. Fluff articles like “The Best NBA Basketball Players of All Time” and “If You Pay For Amazon Prime – Here’s How To Make It Even Better”. Not my thing, but not doing any harm either.

Then I saw one that might actually be something of interest.

Who is Dimitrious Pagourtzis, the Santa Fe Texas school shooter?

Now, being a father of a high school student, and three more to come in future years, this is an area of interest to me. What do we know about this kid? It’s been a couple of days. In the same amount of time after Parkland in February we were embroiled in a nationwide argument that, somehow, has been rather absent in this case. So, I wanted to know a little more about the young man. Might there be insights I could take away to use in discussions with my daughter? Might there be suggestions for how to watch for tendencies in my own kids (or their friends) that would indicate we need to intervene before they do something stupid?

Here’s a link if you wish to read the article for yourself. It won’t take long, it’s only 24 sentences, 418 words. Metro: Who is Demetrious Pagourtzis?

I won’t repeat it here. I will just make my commentary that this is in the top 3 worst pieces of writing I’ve ever seen.

Now, there are no typos here. No grammatical errors. No factual fallacies. No unjustified speculation. Taken all together, that might seem a fairly weak case for “top 3 worst pieces of writing I’ve ever seen”.

My reasons are as follows. First, Metro did absolutely nothing to create this story. They simply regurgitated facts from the Associated Press and a USA Today story. They did no investigation, no interviews, sent no representative to a press conference, or anything similar that should be expected of a journalistic enterprise. This piece was clearly written simply to have something to address the issue of the moment, to keep up with the overwhelming tidal wave of attention-grabbing that apparently passes for “news” these days. Disgusting.

Second, for a story entitled “Who is Demetrious Pagourtzis?”, I would have expected background. I would have expected an interview with his friends or classmates. Perhaps a talk with his parents, if they could be found, or a statement that such parents were not willing to talk with Metro. I’m pretty sure I’m not far off here.

However, of the article’s 24 sentences, only 6 deal with personality, background, interests, potential motive, and the like. They read as follows:

Pagourtzis was a high school football player at Santa Fe High School, USA Today reported. He played defensive tackle on the junior varsity football team. Pagourtzis was also a dancer with a local Greek Orthodox church group, according to the report.

However, Pagourtzis’s online persona wasn’t nearly as wholesome as his extracurricular activities. Social media accounts, which have since been removed, reportedly showed Pagourtzis’ fascination with firearms, a knife and a custom-made T-shirt that had the words “Born to Kill” written on it. One photo allegedly showed a coat that depicted a Nazi insignia, USA Today reported.

Two facts: football player and dancer with the Greek Orthodox church group. The other elements there are speculation, based on “alleged” social media accounts.

Everything else in this article is about the facts of the day: where he was when arrested, the suspicion of an accomplice, Donald Trump’s Twitter response, quotes from other students in the high school. These do nothing to bring to light who Pagourtzis was or why he might have done this. Not a whole lot I, or any other parent or concerned community member, can go on in creating meaningful conversations around the issue. In fact, it is completely useless to me or to anyone else reading it. [Other than as fodder for this rant, obviously.]

Finally, my last problem with this article: At the end it says “Reuters contributed to this report.” I can only imagine that’s pure bullshit. If Reuters, an international news agency with a high-class reputation, knew that their name was on this filth, they’d likely sue for defamation.

It was a waste of Metro‘s time to create this article (they probably paid some content freelancer like $8 to pump out this in under an hour), and a waste of my time to read it. But, apparently there’s some kind of market for such things, for Metro is still going strong, with enough worldwide market share that they keep up appearances. According to them, “Metro is published in more than 100 major cities across Europe, North & South America and Asia . Metro has a unique global reach — attracting a young, active, well-educated Metropolitan audience of more than 18 million daily readers.”

So who’s worse? The audience who pretends to demand such imbecilic pablum in order to soothe their own infantile attention span just one more minute, or the money-grubbing marketers and internet bandwidth prostitutes who profit from their naivete and simplicity every step of the way? I can’t tell.

The Most Interesting Person in Mexico

A couple of weeks ago I went to Cancun, Mexico for a short vacation. Going in, I deluded myself that I’d do a few hours of work in the morning, then relax in the afternoon. Yeah, right. Who’s gonna work when you can look at this all day?

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So I didn’t work. My buddy Troy, who’d invited 50 different friends, called me “the 2%” all week. Because I was the only one willing to come down and hang out in the tropics, sitting on the beach, reading a book by the pool, enjoying the scenery.

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The Royal Cancun, Cancun, MX

 

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The Royal Cancun, Cancun, MX

Oh, and speaking of scenery, the landscapes are pretty nice, too! 😉

We met a bunch of people. This is Dave, Stacey, and Troy on Monday at Isla Mujeres.

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I met a turtle in her pond who wouldn’t leave me alone.

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I met a couple, Max and Brittney, who had come down from Kenosha, Wisconsin. Troy’s city. Imagine, flying 2,000 miles and across the Gulf of Mexico, to meet someone who lives just a few doors down from you. And not only that, but this couple had a connection to me, too. Last August, on a whim, they drove a half a day to come down to this area and watch the eclipse at the same amphitheater in Chesterfield where I watched it.

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Ian Wardlaw

You might be thinking they’re the most interesting people I met in Mexico, but you’re wrong.

Perhaps you think it’s the friends from New Jersey (where my mother grew up and I still have nice memories of visiting as a child). Nope.

Perhaps you think it’s the whole group of friends / frenemies that Troy and I hung out with a few times over the week, laughing and drinking cerveza and telling jokes and them smoking. (Hint – a couple of them are in that first picture above). Nope.

Perhaps you think it’s Janet and her daughter Billie, who Troy ended up spending a lot of time with, over the week. Janet bought us dinner on Monday at the resort. Pretty sweet! But no, she was not the most interesting person I met.

Perhaps you think it’s Kyle (I think), the iguana who peed on my hand on my tour of Tolum.

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Nope.

Maybe the people I met at the cenote, the freshwater reservoir where we ate lunch and swam after Tolum?

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Strike three! (Four?)

Maybe the tour guide, Carlos, who showed us how the sun can be viewed through a piece of obsidian. Still not the most interesting person I met.

No, the most interesting person I met was someone else. I met her after I climbed up the pyramid at Coba:

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And had to stop a couple of times to let my fear subside. I’m not usually scared of heights, but that was a little precarious. After we butt-scooted back down, we made our way out to the front of the park in groups of two or three. There I bought a frozen fruit pop and rested a bit.

Within a few moments I saw a woman standing by her bicycle. Mid-twenties and slim, she looked a little out of place compared to all the rest of the white European tourists in groups of ten or more, and very out of place compared to the shorter Mexican citizens.

Her bicycle was loaded on the front and rear wheels with bags. And it looked like she was on a tour. I decided to be nosy.

“Excuse me, can I ask you a question?”

“Yes, sure.” Her accent sounded French, but we spoke in English, as most people there do.

“Are you on a tour?” I pointed to the bicycle.

“Yes, of course.” Her demeanor seemed almost dismissive, as if I was asking if the sky was blue.

“By yourself?” I couldn’t see anyone else on a similar bicycle, and she didn’t look like she was waiting for a group.

“Well, I had a partner for the first part of the trip, but now, yes, it is just me.”

“How long have you been going?” Expecting a few weeks.

“Ahm, about six months now.” My eyes popped open. This is not the first time I’ve met someone on a long-term tour (there was a guy going through here from California to Maryland last summer). But it is the first time I’ve known of a non-native doing it across thousands of miles in a strange country, all alone.

Color me dazzled. Or is it “be-dazzled”? Regardless, I admired her resolve. I envied her freedom.

“Wow, very impressive. Good luck,” and I waved a short goodbye. She did the same, and turned away to purchase her ticket to go see the Coba ruins and pyramid.

And I turned away, back to my tour bus, back to my pampering in air conditioning, back to letting other people do for me instead of doing for myself.

Back to wishing I could do that.

Back to planning for the day when I can do that.

Back to yearning for the chance to go where I want, when I want, without obligations of schedule, of deadlines, of mortgage and health insurance and homeowner association fees.

Back to waiting.

Ugh.

Extremely Bad Advice – How to Deal with Sentimentality

Stealing from Abby once again – ’cause I’m too lazy today to write a new question.

DEAR ABBY: My adult son passed away two years ago at a young age. We were very close while he was growing up. He married young, and I maintained a great relationship with both him and his wife. They gave me the most precious grandchildren any woman could ask for, and I am extremely active in their little lives.

My daughter-in-law has moved on. She met a nice young man, and they are planning to be married in the near future. Do you think I would be out of line to request to have my son’s ashes back home with me? We live near each other, I love her very much, and we still have a great relationship. I don’t want to damage it by asking this if it’s not appropriate.

I would pass his ashes on to his children when they grow up, of course, but for now, I’d love to have my son back home with me and his dad because she has started her new life. My husband is noncommittal about the subject. When I broach it, he says he “doesn’t want to talk about it.” I really have no one to ask or confide in about this. Your thoughts would be most appreciated. — STILL BROKENHEARTED IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR BROKENHEARTED,

Well, what can I say? I would say I’m sorry for your loss, but I’m not. I think “sorry for your loss” is about as meaningful as “the sky is really blue today”. If I was saddened by your loss, I’d tell you that, and perhaps that would do something. If I was interested in showing how much I care about you, I’d ask, “Oh, that must be hard. What do you miss most about him?” But, again, I don’t care, because your sorrow and misery really don’t affect me on the daily. Other than to provide fodder for my advice column, for which I will gladly say, “Next victim!”

Okay, here we go. The classic dilemma – who gets to keep the crispy bacon that used to be your son’s body? Because, let’s all agree, your “son” is no longer there any more, just like the dream I used to have of being an Abercrombie & Fitch model has blown off into the wind with that first hit of the mind-altering substance known on the street as Jif Extra Crunchy. Your son disappeared from the shell that held him the moment his cranial electro-activity ceased. What he left behind was the meatbag for DNA that did its job incredibly well by providing “the most precious grandchildren” [hold on – just threw up in my mouth a little].

And in order to do that, he had to procreate with his wife, your daughter-in-law (DIL). Who is now his widow. So, for that you should be grateful to her, not jealous.

What’s left is sentimentality. I get it. People have good memories of the past, and it’s hard to move on. It’s hard to imagine that your progeny wouldn’t love you as much as you loved him. How could he? You’re a mother, and everyone knows a “mother’s love knows no bounds”. He couldn’t reciprocate your devotion to him. And he proved this by not pulling an Oedipus and fucking you! He shagged the DIL, knocked her up a couple of times, gave her good memories, and now his burnt ends occupy a silver chalice on the mantle. Good for him and her.

But – you’re a selfish hag who has nothing left in her life, and you’re trying to fill your own void by commandeering what should be left to her in order to appease your own shortcomings. As evidenced by your question to me! Don’t do this. Would you be out of line? Absolutely. Don’t do it! Leave well enough alone. Your husband “doesn’t want to talk about it” not from an ethical or emotional perspective, but simply because you’re looney-tunes and he recognizes a bear trap when he sees it.

However, because I suspect you won’t take my advice above, being as reasonable as it is, I’m going to give you a bonus recommendation of some Extremely Bad Advice. This you’ll probably do with gusto. Have fun!

Step one: Offer to babysit the grandkids for a night. Give the DIL and her new guy a chance to go out and have fun.

Step two: Prepare for the switch. Get a plastic bag, about a gallon, clear (not white), full of ashes from your backyard barbecue pit. Take along a second, empty bag for holding.

Step three: Once the kids are in bed, make the transfer. Go full Indiana Jones. Play dramatic music, sweat profusely, look over your shoulder for booby-traps.

Step four: Revel in your glory. You now have your son’s actual remains, and she, the grandkids, and your husband are none the wiser. Dare I say they might view you as a hero for how magnanimously you deal with the situation? Visit a bar and order a glass of Chablis to celebrate. Send me the bill – I’ll gladly treat you for that job well done!