I used to think everyone thought I was a fun guy. But I recently discovered some people were referring to me as fungi. At least they find me more complex than my single friend Fun Gus. See, you can always find the good if you are a seeker of the positive. I am positive I would not like being Athol Guy of the Seekers, an Australian Pop Music group. I have no idea how he pronounces his name but I bet he is tired of how fun guys say it.
My smart phone was not smart enough to avoid lint. At first I blamed myself for the phone’s declining battery life. Maybe I did not plug it into the charger correctly. Then I blamed the obviously defective chargers. But after using four of them that were working fine for other devices, I knew my phone was failing. I lovingly cared for it during its illness. I jiggled charger cords and gently propped the insert module on my wallet or the toothpaste tube at just the perfect angle to prompt a charge. Unfortunately the phone did not respond to my loving care. The guy at the Apple Store brought my battery back to life with a Heimlich maneuver that coughed up the lint. I hide my filth as best I can. But my slovenly habits keep getting publicly discovered. I am bummed that I can no longer store my lint in my pocket. I will henceforth keep my lint collection in the dryer filter where it belongs.
A recent bride wrote that her maid of honor did not give her a wedding gift and wanted to know if there was a polite way to bring it up and avoid tension. My answer would be: No. The etiquette expert, Catherine Newman, took more words to agree with me while referencing the Frozen soundtrack. I especially liked Newman’s family motto: “Try not to hurt your own feelings.” If only that had been my family’s motto, I might have avoided tormenting myself over the years. We made our family motto into patches we stitched into articles of clothing. We were stuck with the motto Never Give an Inch which Ken Kesey made famous in the book Sometimes a Great Notion about feisty Stampers in the Pacific Northwest. I assume Newmans Catherine and Paul are not related because Paul fully embraced Never Give an Inch in his portrayal of the Stamper family in the movie version of Sometimes a Great Notion. On reflection, Catherine’s less macho and more boring motto is probably the better advice to follow.
The headline for a July 1st Time Magazine piece by Rachel Simmons proposes that parents should tell kids the truth that “hard work doesn’t always pay off.” Simmons challenges the strategy of praising children for working hard. That suggested approach only seemed to “benefit high-risk or economically disadvantaged students.” But Simmons says it breeds an unhealthy perfectionism in “teens in wealthy, pressure-cooker communities.” Life is not always fair. That is a good lesson most kids figure it out at an early age, just like zero sum games. Hard work might be the key to making the high school tennis team but eventually you need some additional gifts if you expect to win a Wimbledon title. My youngest son took eight years earning his undergraduate Psychology degree with enough credits for a Drama minor. He was disillusioned when that accomplishment did not immediately open the door to fame and fortune. But I do not regret not mentioning to him that hard work does not always pay off. Simmons can script life disclaimers around the whole truth. But I am not going to point out that some smokers do not get lung cancer. Having unprotected sex does not always result in a pregnancy but I plan to concentrate on more important messages. I can pedal one truth that is hopeful: Most delusional narcissists do not become President and most presidents, flawed as they may be, are not delusional narcissists.
My friend Pat is 72 today but looks 60. That does not sounds like as big a compliment as when she looked 29 at age 41. Same twelve years. My Mom could pass for 82 when she was 94 but she earned better compliments than that. You cannot tell a 24 year old that she looks 12, so you have a narrow window to get those twelve year younger compliments in. People always told me I looked older and acted younger than I was. My full grown 14 year old self won a prize at a county fair when the barker pegged me several years older. I had no driver’s license to prove it but he brushed my receding widow’s peak hairline to let me know he did not believe me. He also paid up when I weighed light for my frame. Apparently guts weigh a lot and I do not have any. I am supposed to be wishing happy birthday to Pat but I can pretty much make myself the focus of any Blog posting.
While in the Pool with my seven year old granddaughter yesterday, she asked me if there were more words or people in the world. I wanted to know where that question was coming from. Usually the answer is YouTube but she claimed it was from her head. I told her there were more than seven billion people on the earth, so I assumed that was more than all the words. But add up words in all their forms, languages, and dialects and you should at least get into the millions. I could do some research. But a reader responded to my recent Blog rant on not finding men’s shorts with a size 35 waist by identifying Eddie Bauer as a seller of off sizes. So I figure some other reader should do the research on how many words exist and just let us all know.
I spend less and less time in brick and mortar stores because sites like Amazon save me so much time and effort. Too bad for bricklayers and mortar pasters because I am as old school as geezers come. I do miss trying on clothes before I buy when I am forced to choose between size 34 and 36 inch waist for men’s shorts. That is a huge difference. I can select a seven inch inseam and know exactly what I am getting but waist sizes are a joke. Clearly I deserve tailor made clothes but cannot find my winning lottery ticket. I ordered one size 34 advertised as a loose fit and one size 36 slim fit. I planned to reorder more of whichever fit best. But a loose 34 apparently means 36 for men too proud to admit they are no longer size 34. And I found nothing slim about the size 36. I now assume that slim had nothing to do with a trimmer fit. It was just a flattering adjective because Fatboy 36’s would not sell as well. I should appreciate that waist downsizing makes me thinner without actually becoming thinner. Losing weight is one of the signs of dying but I will not worry until I am forced to buy shorts labeled with a 32 inch waist. No wonder I see young men who cannot keep their pants up around their waist.
My friend Dan the Traveling man took a pilgrimage to Italy this Spring, presumably to learn more about Pier Giorgio Frassati. Although Frassati died at the age of 24 in 1925, he is remembered to this day as an advocate for social reform. He came from a prominent family in Turin and dedicated himself to helping the poor and disadvantaged. Catholic schools are still being named after him in the United States. He was instinctively generous. As a child, when he answered the door to a woman begging with her shoeless son, Frassati famously removed his own shoes and gave them to the boy. I have lived three times as long as Frassati but have not yet taken shoes off my feet and offered them to anyone. At least not that I can remember. I vaguely recall offering my socks to Dan after a muddy game of flag football only to have him politely decline my generosity. I am not even sure if he went to Italy. Maybe it was my enemy Don who traveled to Spain without socks. But surely we can all agree that Frassati was a cool dude.
When I was young, sun was good. I spent way too much time sun bathing without sunscreen. One sun nap resulted in silver dollar sized blisters on the back of my ankles. I paid for my tan and sun bleached hair with thirty years of skin cancers. During my later decades, I have worn long sleeve shirts and applied sunscreen daily, rain or shine or swimming. Now I learn that all those chemicals in sunscreens may be doing me another harm. My daughter-in-law who works at Pharmaca keeps introduced me to mineral sunscreens. But some experts say screening out sun may harmfully block my body from producing valuable Vitamin D. I have always been willing to accept my own negligence but how can I even choose negligence if the rules keep changing? I hate waste, so I just used my expired, chemical, and reef unsafe sunscreens to stain my deck. I can confirm the deck looks just like my skin: gnarly, scarred, faded, and unsafe.
Joe Biden withered in a debate when Kamala Harris criticized his past views on busing. He cut off his own response in the exchange by apologizing that his “time was up.” At the time, I thought one of the candidates missed the opportunity to quip, “Yes, Joe Biden your time is up.” Later I realized that wounding Biden does not really help the person delivering the blow. Governor Christie knocked out Rubio with his reference to Marco’s repeated use of the same “memorized 25 second speech.” But that only helped eliminate a Trump competitor as Christie also slid right out of contention. Biden actually wounded himself by meekly calling time out. I do not have any opinion on the the 20+ Democratic candidates. I am neither pro Biden or anti Biden. I can not spend energy sorting out candidates for an election sixteen months away. I am required to wait for the voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina to pick a couple of finalists. Then voters in Pennsylvania will choose the nominee and I will vote for that person in a meaningless Washington State primary. The Democrat will beat Donald Trump in Washington State but my vote will not actually count in picking the national winner. If our founding fathers wanted the majority to pick the President, they would have granted women the right to vote.