Let’s talk about a few things, shall we?
First, I didn’t know if I would make “Sunday in the Park” into an actual series. I suppose some part of me was contemplating a regular feature, especially since I rather obtrusively added a subtitle of “Therapy Session #1” to that first post. Still, as many bloggers know, you can have grandiose plans for your blog, but it all depends on reader reaction. If you throw something out there and it sinks miserably, burbling its way toward the rusty drain, it’s a game changer. You might think your goal is lofty, but if tumbleweeds are blowing post-post, it’s time to move on.
So I was pleasantly surprised to see that the first installment did fairly well. (With “fairly well” meaning “I did not break the Internet because I’m still a tiny blogger in a sea of digital ramblings but there was a slightly erogenous uptick in my stats for the day”. Those of you struggling to gain any kind of traction in the blogging world know what I mean. If there’s a stat spike, it’s better than sex. Well, mostly.) More importantly, the comments on that first post were the kind you always want to get. Warm, receptive, supportive. One comment in particular, from someone we’ll call “Cathi”, a code-name that will hopefully make her smile, is the one that pushed me to pick up this still-forming torch again.
And here we go…
ONE: What This Day means.
It’s been fifteen years since it happened.
It still seems surreal, the panic and the fear and the loss.
There are so many things I could say, with the decency in me outraged by the probability that somebody out there knew this was going to happen and did not take action when they could have, whether for personal or political reasons. I’ll leave it at that.
But I will get more specific with a certain scenario. I’ve been to New York City several times since people jumped from buildings, and I’ve been to Ground Zero, before the memorials were complete. (I don’t know if I can go back now. I really don’t.) On one of the visits, I was stunned by how many street vendors there were surrounding the site, crassly selling cheap-ass 9/11 “souvenirs”. This was abhorrent to me, nauseating.
So while I’m standing there, appalled, one of the vendors hollered out to a passing woman, attempting to entice her into buying one of his thoughtless trinkets. She slammed to a halt and marched right up to him. “I don’t need a reminder. I lived it. F-ck you.”
I worshipped that woman that day.
At the same time, I mourned the fact that Big Business in America has such a crushing grip on society that morality is an ignored casualty. (All of these vendors had similar carts and duplicate merchandise, making it clear that this was an organized and funded violation.) This is not a religious assessment in any way. There is simply a right way and a wrong way to conduct yourself as a human being, and so many people and corporations willingly choose to take the dark path without any hesitation or ownership of the fallout. (Hello, Wells Fargo. Do you really expect me to believe that no one in management had any idea what your underlings were doing?)
TWO: Ryan Lochte.
This is perhaps a dead horse, and probably old news at this point with the way media trends change within seconds, but this Man-Boy deserves every ounce of retribution that comes his way. I have no issue with him getting drunk in a foreign city and doing something stupid. I’ve personally been in those shoes many times. My problem is that he willfully chose to make up a lie, blame somebody else for his own indiscretions without any regard for the people and the country he was slandering, and then went on national TV to propel the lie. As if the world needs to see yet another example of unearned privilege run amuck in America.
I think my passing acquaintance in New York City would have a certain phrase for you, Ryan.
THREE: My unhealthy affinity for Chinese buffets.
I am obsessed with Chinese food, when it’s done right. There are several locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where I can indulge this fetish with hedonistic abandon, and I have done so with a gusto that could reconfigure the planetary alignment. But a few years ago, another such buffet establishment opened up mere minutes south of my house. (Full disclosure, for those who like to verify what they read on the Internet, unlike most of the American population: This restaurant debuted in a retail zone that has seen some hard times. Even Wal-Mart pulled out of this enclave, and since that corporation is all about exploiting people who have limited resources, their departure should have been a death knell for the surrounding businesses.
Still, this particular Chinese buffet managed to survive, despite the lack of reputable anchor stores in the near vicinity. (I wouldn’t say they have especially thrived, because at any time of day you can get “booth” seating instead of the crappier (in my opinion) “table” seating. If you are a true aficionado of restaurant dining, you know exactly what this distinction means.) And to be fair, the cuisine proffered on the buffet lines, items kept warm by that “boiling water under the metal serving trays” method which means your pinky finger could be melted off if you catch a gust of Chernobyl steam from the sides of the tray, is only adequate. Nothing spectacular, and any food critic who manages to dine in my part of the hood is not going to leave the experience with an afterglow of lustful satiation.
But the kicker? If you decide on the “carry-out” option, they only charge four bucks a pound for whatever you can cram in a Styrofoam container. Four dollars, no questions asked. Which means you can walk out of that place with two pounds of food and only be out eight bucks and some change.
Nobody can eat two pounds of food in a single sitting, unless you have something seriously wrong with your priorities in life and/or your doctor has put you on a Watch List. So the primo option is to get your food to go, and this is something I do every Friday, lugging my grease-dripping container to the checkout counter and singing a little song about the exquisite joy of being able to snack on the contents of said container for the rest of the weekend. It’s an arrangement that makes me very, very happy.
Naturally, because happiness in my life has always been doled out in cryptically varying amounts by whoever is in charge of such things, my Cloud of Gluttony has a very non-silver lining. Either via some nefarious ingredient that the restaurant uses or my own ignorant combination of items that should not be consumed together (my container always looks like there was a lot of turbulence on the last leg of the flight to San Juan), my Asian Ambrosia almost invariably turns on me before the weekend is out. The natural progression of things comes to a halt, so to speak. The UPS man does not arrive for package pick-up. Houston, we do not have lift-off. By Sunday night, the pressure is so intense that it registers at the local seismographic monitoring center.
Easy answer? Stop being a pig and grunting my way through mounds of teriyaki chicken and garlic shrimp. And I strenuously vow to adhere to such a life path every Sunday, one hand raised and the other hand placed on the grease-stained receipt from Grace Buffet. Yet five days later, Friday invariably finds me standing outside the restaurant, waiting for the doors to open and practically licking the glass in anticipation.
FOUR: The drivers who refuse to get out of the way when an emergency-response vehicle is trying to maneuver through traffic.
Dear Such Driver: I know you think you are all that because your parents exalted you to the level of a mini-deity, giving you everything you wanted, including a self-involved ego the size of Utah, but you are mistaken. You are not better than everyone else and you are not exempt from behaving in a certain way when it is expected of you. Get the hell out of the way. Better yet, turn around, go back home, and spend some time sitting in the darkness of your bedroom, surrounded by all those “I got this just for showing up!” trophies on the groaning shelves. Maybe, just maybe, this downtime will allow you to think of someone besides yourself.
Related note: The drivers who knowingly barrel through an active school zone at fifty or sixty miles an hour? A hefty fine is not adequate punishment for your transgression. You should lose your license, or at least face a suspension, because you should not be on the road. End of discussion.
FIVE: The people on HGTV house-hunting shows who buy a Victorian home, gut the interior and then rebuild it as “open concept”.
You are buying this house for the wrong reason, and you are destroying the character of the dwelling. Stop babbling about how you “love old houses!” or have a fondness for certain architectural styles of yore, because you clearly don’t. What you actually love is being trendy and hip, and trendy right now is flipping old houses, so that’s what you’re doing, even though your heart is not in it and you are going to dump this house just as soon as it becomes trendy to do that.
Dishonorable Mention: The realtor who showed you this house instead of the one that already had what you wanted. Think about your client’s actual needs and not your potential commission.
Finger-of-Shame Mention: The designer who agreed to do the gut and completely disrespect history. Do they not have any ethics classes in design school? Because they should.
Exasperated Mention: The people who reconfigure the entire house just so they can always keep an eye on Little Timmy whilst standing in the kitchen and prepping the quinoa and bean sprout casserole. Little Timmy is going to be Big Timmy in just a few years, invalidating the need for your smothering line of sight, but you are going to have a house designed as a daycare facility for the rest of your life. Put some perspective on things other than your ability to procreate.
Astounded Mention: The people who have a “budget” of 800,000 dollars for a vacation home in Panama that they are only going to use one month out of the year. What kind of jobs do these people have? (Quibble: These same people who whine if the realtor dares to show them a property priced at 802,000 dollars. You can wave around 800k without blinking an eye, but that extra 2k is going to destroy your life? Shut the hell up. And quit your job. Because I want it.)
That’s all for now, folks.