I could have learned to ice skate but I took the easier path. I could have gone sky diving with the others but I stayed on the easy path. I did not tarry for tattoos and making apologies. I could have made that phone call but I did not. Weeds of regret now encroach on the overgrown trail and my eyesight grows dimmer. I can barely read the signs or see where the shortcuts lead. I fear the easy path is coming to a dead end.
Over thirty years ago, I was stuck in a busy Dennys Restaurant with my family. We were hungry and the restaurant was short handed. Customers were complaining. Finally our waitress approached balancing too many plates at once. My middle son was about eight years old and in genuine awe when he asked how she could balance so many dishes. She experienced a brief but unmistakable moment of pride in a day filled with criticism before she dropped her load. Nothing we could do would help with this catastrophe as her day and the day of other patrons just got worse. The image haunts me so I like to imagine that waitress telling her grandchildren about her worst day working at Dennys and laughing. Unfortunately, some bad days do not get better with time. I once witnessed a young woman clinging to a young man’s pickup truck until it shook her loose. She was sobbing and begging him not to leave. I have a harder time imagining a happy ending. I have had some of my very lowest points witnessed by strangers. I wonder if any of them are ever haunted by what they saw.
Stella became infamous some 25 years ago for winning a huge verdict (later reduced substantially) against McDonalds after she spilled her coffee and was severely burned. This helped ignite the issue of Tort Reform. Outrageous cases began receiving Stella Awards. But it soon became more fun to make up wilder urban legends and circulate them in the tradition of the Poodle in the microwave. Stories flourished of windfall judgments for crooks and negligent plaintiffs who caused their own injuries while committing outrageous crimes or doing really stupid stuff. A lady allegedly put her RV on cruise control while she made lunch in back and received millions for the inevitable accident. Truly crazy legal outcomes exist but fake ones are more fun and easier to construct when not constrained by facts or mitigating circumstances. I am surprised by otherwise savvy people who pass on suspicious stories without a few clicks of investigation while they otherwise profess horror at fake news and political lies. I recently responded to an obviously bogus Stella award email. I shared the age of the story and where it was debunked. The forwarder responded only to the staleness issue, feeling it was good to “refresh old memories.” He addressed me as “George,” perhaps an auto correct of “Geoff,” but a good indication of how broadly he was disseminating fake news.
An attorney I worked with used to say she had a difficult time staying in hotel rooms because she would think of the hundreds of people who had slept in the bed in just the last year or so. This is a legitimate phobia but she should keep it to herself. I never once focused on that fact until she brought it up. So now everyone she shares this insight with is infected with the same creepiness vibe. I like to compartmentalize. For me milk comes from a carton, not a cow’s udder. Burying certain facts in the subconscious is a path to mental health. Too many people are so self aware and just smart enough to suffer from depression and anxiety. I have discovered that obliviousness is also an excellent tool in the war against self loathing.
The BBC reported on July 18, 2018, that researchers had “found evidence of a liquid body of water on Mars.” They believe it to be a frozen lake under the south polar cap. The lake measures about 12 miles across. No life has yet been detected on Mars but now scientists have a good place to look for it. According to the Cohen Tapes, Donald Trump has been in secret negotiations with the Russians to gain rights for a Trump Lake Resort and Martian Water Bottling facility. Since the deal involves ceding Alaska to Russia, Rudy Giuliani has been tasked with spinning the news to the public.
In fifth grade, we took tap dancing from Mr. Jimmy. I hated it for so many reasons but especially because it favored kids who were coordinated. After a semester of preparation, the dreaded Recital date was looming. But during the dress rehearsal, Mr. Jimmy quietly removed three of us boys from the tap dancing lines. I could not believe he could even do that since no misbehavior was involved. We just stunk. Although I was thrilled to avoid a tap dancing event, rejection always stings. Nothing ever came of our dismissal. Probably no one even noticed. I certainly was not going to call attention to my humiliation. I assume Mr. Jimmy was desperate to justify the success of his lessons by weeding out the worst performers. I am not sure his strategy was successful because Mr. Jimmy was not around the next year when my brother was in fifth grade. But there were also rumors about him and the second grade teacher Miss Zissis. So who knows?
July 12th was the last time I even made so much as an oblique reference to Donald Trump in my Blog. I have been avoiding all news shows and all internet sites with political commentary. This is not my first attempt but this is the longest I have lasted, partially because my life has been a hot mess recently. I am not complaining because I am responsible for much of the mess and because being alive is enough to make any complaints seem trivial. Besides, it has been a great time for watching sports with Major League Baseball, Wimbledon, the World Cup, Tour de France, and the British Open all going strong around the same time. My wife will change the channel when I walk into a room and say, “I know you don’t want to hear this.” But later she will ask if I want to take a Russian language class with her at Bellevue College this Fall. So she tortures me with tantalizing hints.
I hope I can live long enough to see all of the Star Wars movies. The Second to Last Jedi is not scheduled for release until 2020 and the prequels will be every two years afterwards. So the Seventh to Last Jedi will not open until at least 2030. Of course, the many spin offs will be interspersed with the prequels. The Birth of Jar Jar Binks (directed by Roseanne Barr) is set for release on Halloween. Then on Thanksgiving, Darth Vader is resurrected to life by Yoda’s hologram in the feature Too Much of a Good Thing.
The humorist David Sedaris says he has a money disorder. If you compliment him on a piece of clothing, he says “I would immediately tell you how much it cost.” He does a funny riff on the topic. But I have seen the disorder in people I know. I may even have it myself but I only recognize disorders in other people. If you consider even the mild cases, this is not an unusual affliction. An addict will try to justify the reveal when giving a gift by citing cost under the guise of providing useful insurance or exchange information. The cost of my Blog is zero because I have refused to pay for upgrades or to block targeted ads inflicted on my readers (which I cannot see). The pitch I get is that an upgraded site would attract enough readers that I could get paid for ads. So the readers get stuck either way. It seems like advertisers control the universe. Certainly they determine the start times, length and pacing of major sporting events. This is the ultimate money disorder. How unfair. I wonder how much it would cost for me to control the universe.
I was really stressed when I woke up yesterday. I had left my pick-up truck in West Seattle for two days with a horse tied up in the bed. This filled me with dread because I knew I was in big trouble. The horse could be dead, I could face criminal charges, and/or the horse could have made a big mess in the back of the truck. But wait. As I moved from sleep through that state where one is half awake, I realized something was wrong. I am afraid of horses and would never allow one near me or my truck. What a relief to realize I was breaking free of a dream. Now I was in a great mood just because there was no horse and my truck was not in West Seattle. I was euphoric until my 14 year old grandson broke his sister’s new bed while he tried to unload it from the truck. I am not too bummed yet because I hope I am still dreaming. My grandson is hiding from me just in case I am awake.