Usually when people ask me if I have any regrets, I say “no” because I think they are trying to trick me into admitting I made a mistake. I am too proud to admit to mistakes but not too proud to lie! I regret all the times I performed that party trick of lighting the hairs on the front of my head on fire. I foolishly believed all the politicians who said hair always grows back even though legions of bald people are visible proof of that lie. I regret sending love letters to anyone other than my wife. Ironically she is the only girl who did not save the letters. Apparently everyone else thought they might be worth something if I became famous one day. Or maybe they just like to embarrass me at reunions. I regret that I stubbornly resisted fame just to spite them. I regret trying to embarrass my friend Scott by telling him a bright blue paisley tuxedo would be cool to wear to Prom. He backed me into the corner I created and made me join him in a matching outfit that made us look like back up singers for the band Clueless Clowns. I regret that our dates are still saving those pictures. I regret that I dropped mescaline back in the day because it seems to have affected my memory. I can no longer remember which parts of my Blogs are gross exaggerations and which parts are outright lies. An old classmate ran into me and was laughing about the time I was supposedly caught drinking at school. I told him that never happened. But he insisted, “Dude, I was in the Auditorium when you threw up on the Vice Principal.”
I had a boss who painted one side of his home every year, so every four years he completely painted the house without being overwhelmed. I do not know how long he kept it up or if anyone even paint their own house any more. My wife and I are reverse fixer uppers. We have purchased three homes in mint condition. After enough benign neglect, we sell as is and start over. We intend to do upkeep but have trouble just maintaining our own bodies. We painted our first home because my wife’s sister had a boyfriend Vic whose family owned a paint store. He generously volunteered one weekend to show me how easy it was. He did all the hard work and we bought him a rowboat he wanted when he would not accept cash. I desperately bombarded my sister-in-law with relationship advice when she and Vic were breaking up but the quality of my advice apparently accelerated the split. We never painted our second home. After about fifteen years in our current residence of 23 years, I asked my sister-in-law if she had heard from Vic lately. Rather than stir up trouble with her husband Ray, I decided to try the four year paint plan instead. I cannot do second story work, so I saved time by not taping trim and windows up there. I wielded a fifteen foot extension roller and my mild hand tremors and weak arms made the task surprisingly difficult. I was surprised by the precision required and how streaky the paint dried. I kept the blinds closed as much as possible, hoping my wife would not notice the paint splotches on the windows. We warn the neighbors that we were scammed by an outfit called Detention Art Therapy for Fourth Graders.
My mind is cluttered. My mental hoarding must be purged like my physical possessions, so I am reducing data and repackaging all remaining information in my head into 200 word summary compartments beginning with HISTORY OF HUMANS: The first two generations of humans manifested dominant genes for deceit, jealousy, and murder. These genes were passed down even as humans made hunting alliances to kill animals and eventually enslave other tribes. Recessive genes of kindness, generosity, and justice were purged by the pressures to accumulate resources to insure individual and tribal survival. Occasionally individuals emerged with rogue genes of kindness and generosity but their numbers were squelched by violent leaders like Attila the Hun who culled them from the herd and out-propagated them. The well worn trail of deceit, greed, and killing was cluttered with redundancy as the centuries raced by. Jesus preached love but was crucified. Marie Antoinette tried to feed the hungry but ran out of cake and was guillotined. Abraham Lincoln worked to end slavery but was assassinated. Martin Luther King marched non violently for civil rights but was also assassinated. John Lennon created beautiful music and promoted peace but he was murdered. Humans began to worship the Gun God and ritualistically sacrificed school children to appease their great deity. Besides the violent destruction of each other, the humans began to systematically destroy the natural resources of the planet. But then… [200 word storage limit reached; second compartment under construction with working title: HOW FLAT EARTH MOLDED INTO ROUND PLANET]
My daughter-in-law Asia and I are both aggressive advocates for her three children but we have wildly different parenting styles. She expects me to enforce her very strict rules of diet, exercise, grooming, and behavior while her children are in my custody. And I better do it without disciplining or traumatizing them. She knows my three sons, so why would she think I have the skill set to do all that? I spoil children but balance that mistake by making them feel guilty about it. Asia never overeats because she only consumes organic fruits and vegetables. She drinks tea, swims, does yoga, meditates, and speed walks hills at least 90 minutes each and every day. She is compulsive enough to run/limp ten miles to work in ice and snow with a homemade splint on her leg. As a part time esthetician, she knows everything about skin care. Her schedule means I spend a great deal of time with her two youngest children. The discipline of deprivation can make Asia cranky. I am also cranky even though I eat ice cream every day. Put two cranky people together and you get some epic bickering. Asia’s oldest daughter Izzy is a younger version of her mother. She has dated Scott for almost three years, so I passed on to the couple the adage about forecasting how a girl will age by looking at her mother. No correlation may actually exist. And Scott may think I was pointing out that his girlfriend’s mother is hot at age fifty but that would be creepy coming from me. On reflection, I hope he is looking for inner beauty aging attributes like kindness, generosity, intelligence, and sense of humor. [Scott, I was only trying to warn you to be alert for signs of crankiness.]
Have you ever wondered which hour of the day during your lifetime you have been awake the most? And conversely, which hour have you slept through the most? No you have not. My job is to Blog about this nonsense while you assemble poetry, artwork, photographs, essays, and self help inspiration. WordPress (WP) tracks how many people read our posts for each hour of the day. Sunday at 7am is my sweet spot which means people and bots prefer to read/skim/click on my site while the rest of their family is at Church. I am like the religion of last resort for the irreverent. Actually with or without time zone perturbations, that data is meaningless. I assume WP also tracks how many times we get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom but they do not report it on our Insight pages because they do not want to freak us out. I figure 3am to 4am is the hour I have been asleep the most in my life. I did work graveyard shift a couple of summers but at 3am I was usually squirreled away somewhere sleeping on the job. I have probably been awake the most during the noon hour because even as a teenager, I would get up for lunch. And when I was employed, I never napped at my desk or in my car until after a big lunch. We can only make educated guesses about our lifetime sleep habits but future generations will access the real data on their Fitbits, Foodbelts, and Fatbutts. We will be able to check our yawning, burping, and farting patterns. I do not oppose this. It makes as much sense as anything else in our world.
My wife boarded an airplane on Saturday for the first time since early March 2020. She did not take me with her, so she was on vacation by definition. My life is a shambles when she leaves. One reason is that she does all the shopping. I am perfectly willing to buy groceries. But about 18 years ago, I bought all ten bottles of some unknown barbecue sauce on close out sale for one dollar apiece. Oh yeah, and who knew how addicted everyone in the family was to Heinz Ketchup? Well, we all found out when I stocked up on an off brand at an incredible price. If she sees a credit card charge pop up from a grocery store while on her trip, she will have one of my sons at the door in no time doing an intervention. Of course, I could buy take-out food for myself but I have forgotten how. She orders my food for me in restaurants. We thought it would be good practice for later. Plus she orders two items she might like and can pick the best one or we can split them both. She will often bring me a Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks. But if I go there myself, I get asked insanely inappropriate questions like: “Cup size?” I hope my wife left one on file as I stammer “the usual.” The decisions are endless (hot or cold?) and I do not even know the ingredients (do I prefer non fat milk?). Despite all the drawbacks to my wife’s absence, I discover silver linings. I can load the dishwasher any way I want. I can turn off the bedroom television any time I choose. And personal hygiene rituals are not as time consuming.
My 13 year old granddaughter Noemi said she had never actually cut anyone’s hair but would be willing to give me a haircut. I do not like going to the barber because it takes time, costs money, and includes an awkward situation full of tension. A stranger stands over me and snips hair on my face with a dangerous weapon while I sit defenseless and subject to interrogation. But when Noemi was two I let her paint my nails and put curlers in my hair, so I already crossed a line I never imagined before grandchildren. I like being the center of attention so I sat for a haircut during a family gathering in the backyard of her uncle’s house. We agreed to a trim so I would have more to work with if I needed an emergency repair job. But she took enough off to make me look and feel better. Everyone said she did well even though they were clearly rooting for a hatchet job. And what else could they say without crushing the spirit of a rising eighth grader? I used to crush the spirits of my younger siblings but I am a genetic aberration in my family. I would include a picture of the haircut but I learned a lesson back when I showed my mother a picture of me in curlers with her great granddaughter. She requested a copy and displayed it prominently in her home. Probably to get even with me for teasing her other children. I wonder how many haircuts I can get from Noemi before she starts charging me for them.
I have a daughter-in-law who turned 50 on Tuesday, so I took Asia’s milestone birthday harder than her. Asia’s grown daughter Izzy made a rare appearance at the party with her longstanding boyfriend Scott. When my wife asked Izzy how Goktug was doing, Scott interjected: “Goktug? You know a Goktug? I have a friend named Goktug!” My wife said we were talking about the same Goktug. Izzy and Scott had a quick sidebar where Izzy attempted to justify why she had been discussing his friend Goktug with her family: “You remember when all that stuff was happening with Goktug a year ago?” Scott seemed perplexed. Izzy was defensive. Uh oh. But my wife plowed ahead, “Yeah, we Blog about Goktug all the time.” We!? My wife normally distances herself from my Blog even more than she denies being married to me. Why lob this bombshell when enough awkwardness had already exploded? I explained the writing device where I create a conversation between a rational person (Goktug) and a crazy one (me), making for an amusing post. I assured him that I make Goktug look good and me look bad which I now hoped was true. Scott seemed to embrace the “me looking bad” concept but was far from amused. I tried to show a genuine interest in Goktug by bombarding Scott with questions about his friend. He showed me Goktug’s picture on his phone. He is quite handsome but this was not the time for me to suggest that maybe Izzy should be dating Goktug. Later that night I discovered an all time daily high for views on my Blog. I suspected a bot until I noticed only a fraction of the usual “likes.” So I am guessing someone has been searching for those Goktug posts.
Yesterday I noticed the words “except” and “expect” were anagrams. I would Blog about my epiphany except I expect that eventually Haoyan Do will write a post on this topic and do a better job of it than I would. I also accept [what a glorious homophone for except!] that I am the lazier writer. The rest of this post is unintentionally left blank to better link up with my mind.
One of the reasons I was a bit defensive yesterday about the topic of falling is because I fall quite a bit. My shoelaces are usually untied. I also have a great deal of pride and it comes before a fall. In my case, pride also comes after a fall. And during a fall. Once when I was still skiing, I took a spectacular fall and tumbled straight in the direction of a ski lesson that the widows Hansen and Swenson were conducting for the grade schoolers from the local orphanage. As I somersaulted toward the group, they instinctively huddled together like pins in a bowling alley. I proudly imagined that I would become famous through the next news cycle if I saved the widows and orphans by rolling myself into the gutter. But I glanced off a tree, hit the center of the cluster, and left only a seven and ten year old standing. I was proud everyone survived but was not allowed to go back and pick up the spare. One boy went missing but we think he fled during the confusion to escape the harsh conditions of the orphanage. Autumn is always my most dangerous season. It goads me with leaves that fall. Even such natural acts put me on high alert. Trees fall. Water falls. Rain falls. Snow falls in the mountains. Hopefully I am worrying about nothing but this coming Fall, I am going to learn how to tie my shoes now that my wife will no longer do it for me.