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Friday Night Clam Bake – #15: Everybody Was Dancin’ in the Moonlight

Howdy, Clam Bakers.

As some of you are surely aware, Bonnywood Manor recently hosted a series of seminars by the esteemed Dr. Brian, an uncertified psychologist renowned for his ability to take a mere bit of happenstance and turn it into a chronic condition requiring years of intensive therapy. The series was a great success, with many of our guests finally admitting that one or two of their personal cogs might be a bit wonky. After the final presentation, Dr. Brian approached me with a request, and the conversation went something like this…

Writer: “Who are you and why are you in my office?”

Dr. Brian: “Now, now, let’s not be so accusatory. You certainly aren’t wearing the right outfit for it, based on what I have gleaned from the personal profile I developed whilst you were busy not paying attention to what I was doing.”

Writer: “This intrigues me, your subterfuge, although I must say I am somewhat offended that you would analyze me without my knowledge. What are your intentions with this visit?”

Dr. Brian: “I want to analyze some of the guests at Bonnywood Manor without their knowledge.”

Writer: “Oh, well that’s not actually about me, so I really don’t care. Run with wind, I say. And how do propose to go about this running?”

Dr. Brian: “I have a list of 20 questions that I would like them to answer.”

Writer: “20 questions? This is 2017. Most people don’t have the time for more than three. If you sit still longer than that, then the world has already changed too much for you to keep up.”

Dr. Brian: “Precisely. The true basis of the test is to see which of the twenty they choose to answer. Life is all about selection. And proper hydration.”

Writer: “And what if they don’t choose any of the questions?”

Dr. Brian: “That’s just as telling as picking them all. Analysis is in the details. And the co-payments.”

Writer: “Hmm. And what’s in it for me?”

Dr. Brian: “A brief mention in my next scientific paper, buried in the footnotes that nobody reads. Oh, and based on what I’ve seen from the guests who have attended my seminars, you are bound to get a plethora of blog ideas so you won’t be forced to re-post older pieces because you are lazy and your imagination is broken.”

Writer: “Wow, you really are good. Give me the list.”

1. You walk into a grocery store, glance at the checkout lines, and realize there are more people queued up than voted in the last national election. Do you turn right around and flee or do you buck it up and suffer humanity for the next three hours?

2. You are driving your car, approaching an intersection with a 4-way stop at the exact same time that the other three cars are arriving. Do you politely let the other three figure out their lives or do you gun it through?

3. You are hosting a weekend family reunion. As your relatives tumble out of bed in the morning, wiping sleep out of their eyes and slowly preparing for the biscuits-and-gravy breakfast that you have promised to make, you suddenly realize that the milk expired five days ago. It smells okay, but still, five days ago. Do you make the gravy anyway and keep your mouth shut, or do you fess up and face the disappointment backlash?

4. If the doorbell rings and you are not expecting anyone, do you answer?

5. If you realize that the bill your waitress just handed you has an error in your favor, do you bring it to her attention?

6. You are visiting the home of a good friend for the first time, and you have the urge to tinkle. Whilst attending to such, you discover that the toilet bowl is wretchedly filthy, and it has clearly been that way for a while. Does this affect your friendship?

7. Have you ever lied about the performance of a sexual partner?

8. Have you ever been lied to about your own performance?

9. Do you sing along with the radio when others aren’t around? Do you sing when others are around?

10. Do you ever reach the midpoint of a questionnaire and think “why in the hell am I still reading these questions instead of doing something more important?”

11. If life gives you lemons, do you throw them back with a vengeance or make the stupid lemonade and pretend to be happy?

12. Would you rather have one glowing, heartfelt comment on one of your blog posts, or have 200 people click “like” with no comments?

13. Have you ever deleted a comment on one of your posts?

14. Have you ever commented on someone else’s post simply because you felt compelled to do so rather than wanting to do so?

15. Have you ever watched a movie that is worshipped by everyone you know, yet at the end of the viewing you thought “well, that was a total crapfest”? Be bold, name the movie.

16. If you could turn back time, at what age would you reset the dial?

17. Name one book that you have read at least five times. Pornographic novels do not qualify.

18. Would you rather be given the time and opportunity to read the 100 greatest books ever written, or would you prefer to have one of your own books on that list yet never be able to read the other 99?

19. Do you feel peace and serenity in a cemetery or are you uncomfortable and want to leave as soon as possible?

20. Have any of the preceding questions given you just a nudge of inspiration about a future blog post? Because really, that’s where I was headed.



Note: Most of you will not answer any of these queries, and that’s fine, completely understandable. But a few will take the plunge, cannonballs into the water, and the backsplash will be a mighty fine experience. Sunlight never gets in if you keep the door closed…


40 replies »

  1. I will be diving in a little later after I have recharged this wretched device (the iPad, not me ….) This is a promise and you know me – I never ever say anything I don’t mean 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 1. Ever heard of online shopping?
    2 I live in India. What four way stop? Free for all, brother.
    3. Depends on how many toilets are functional in the house.
    4. I have to put on some clothes first.
    5. Yep, and the loser that I am, I would tip her extra – poor thing, she doesn’t know to count.
    6. Who do you think I am? Mother Theresa?
    7. Haven’t you?
    8. Haven’t you?
    9. What is a radio?
    10. I’d say
    11. I would love to squeeze that lemon out of its life. I get lemonade, and the lemon got what it deserved.
    12. How about 200 heartfelt comments?
    13. Yes. At the commenter’s request.
    14. No .
    15. La La Land
    16. Now. And it is even possible.
    17. Anna Karenina. Don’t judge.
    18. 100.
    19. Depends on the live company.
    20. I already did !

    Liked by 2 people

  3. #15. Some Like It Hot” what a waste of time, and concept and money and energy and who the hell made Jack Lemmon a star? There are places I’d get shot for that, but there it is. He made “The April Fools” with Catherine Deneuve! What? How the hell did that happen? He was the weasely junior high math teacher everyone hated and was probably a perv. Oh well. Some like it tepid, not my cup of tea.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My psyche is not in tune with your questions today, however, I have a random question for you: Have you ever had an aardvark walk into your house? There you go, ponder where that thought came from 🙂
    P.S It was thoughtful of you to try and prompt creative thoughts – mine just seem to have gone on holiday.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Forrest Gump. I actually walked out on it, that’s how much I disliked it. Please don’t hate me.

    I loooove cemeteries! NAU (my alma mater and where I met Husband) is right next to a lovely old graveyard and it was a favorite place of mine to walk through if I was feeling stressed or needed to think through some deep, existential problem. *sigh*

    This was a fabulous post, Brian. You’ve given me much to mull over. 👍🏼

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have issues with Forrest as well. There are some wonderful individual scenes, but there are far too many elements that felt discordant and unrealistic. The soundtrack, however, is golden, and I still play it to this day.

      Cemeteries are wonderful, and I feel great peace when visiting one, especially the older sites. The only time I get uncomfortable is when I stumble upon a cemetery that has been neglected or even abandoned. It hurts my soul a little when I see that.

      I think I’ll be doing more posts like this one, as the answers have been fascinating. (Yes, I know, I often say “I think I’ll do more” and then I never do, but hopefully I can keep this one alive.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 1. I once stood in a queue for almost 5hrs, I believe I’ve seen the worst of them and none can intimidate me anymore

    2. In Kenya, we have traffic rules in principle only. Every driver on our roads is basically a character from Fast and Furious, so that answers that.

    15. Does Twilight count anymore? Or Transformers, ugh..

    18. Right now I’d definitely rather have the first option, there’s way more useful knowledge to be gleaned from those books than I could possibly have to offer others.

    20. Definitely!

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1. Five hours in a queue? You have far more patience than I.

      2. It sounds like you would be quite comfortable driving on the back roads of Oklahoma.

      15. I haven’t seen either of those movie franchises, and I will take your word that I made wise decisions on the matter.

      18. I like the “right now” part of your answer. I much prefer the opportunity to read others at this point, but I have to be honest and say that as I got deeper into my “golden years”, I might give up the reading just to leave that one special book behind.

      20. Yay!

      Thanks for taking the time to answer, as it was interesting getting to know you a little bit better.


  7. As promised:
    1. I queue apparently patiently and nurse my inner rage – I’m British, it’s what we do
    2. I sit apparently patiently whilst nursing inner rage – I’m British, it’s what we do
    3. If the smell doesn’t make me physically retch, it’s good to go.
    4. Absolutely no way – I have been known to hide under the table with all my children when the egg man came at the wrong time.
    5. Of course – unless she has truly offended me in which case I don’t and then I sweat on the possible karmic consequences for the rest of my life and blame all future catastrophes on this one moment of spite and greed
    6. I have had this occur. We are still friends but I never EVER visit their home. I figure they won’t notice how long it’s been since they don’t notice their own stenchy dirt
    7. No, I just divorced them.
    8. You are kidding, surely
    9. I sing as I snort … whenever the mood takes me and to the pinched lemon faces of my neighbours
    10. Not in this case ….
    11. I make delicious lemonade and nurse my inner rage – I’m British, it’s what we do
    12. One. Just one.
    13. A few but only when they are those endless chatty things that cease to have any relevance and will certainly bore others
    14. No. For example I am allergic to Haiku I simply ‘ne peut pas te voir’ ‘can’t see you’ … it’s genuinely a French etiquette if you hate someone – they cease to exist in your vision and you do not acknowledge them in any way.
    15. I went to the Premier of ‘Purple Rain’. My boss couldn’t be bothered to join. The following morning he asked for my opinion. I told him it was self-indulgent clap-trap and would surely bomb. An hour later, as I read ALL the glowing reviews for this work of genius, I overhead my boss on the phone to the President of the (yup William Morris) Agency telling him the movie stunk and was destined for obscurity … I leapt into his office and tried to warn him that he should cease and volte face through the trusted medium of dance. Unfortunately I was lost in translation. I don’t think he ever forgave me for the egg his face wore that day
    16. Ground zero might be safest
    17. I had four kids so huge numbers have been read 5000 times but just for me? ‘Atonement’ I have read more than any
    18. I’d settle for reading the 100 and being 101 on the list 😉
    19. I’m very fond of cemeteries, particularly here in France but in fairness it’s more the poignancy than peace for me
    20. Every single one of these in your skilled hands xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • All of the responses are quite satisfying (and confirming, in many cases), so it’s difficult to select my favorite one. (The “I’m British” refrain was a surprising front runner, with the building anticipation making it even more enjoyable.) But if pressed, I would have to go with the Princely Egg Foo Y(o)ung. We who have the temerity to pontificate prematurely often fall the farthest. We learn nothing from the plunge, of course, because at the end of the day we’re still right, but at least we are no longer surprised by the sudden descent…

      Liked by 1 person

      • *Princely Egg Foo Y(o)ung* …. me likee very much. You are so right …. I was 24 at the time – I haven’t learned much except to expect the plummet which I can take graciously and with an beatific smile because I DO know I am right 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  8. 1. Depends on my state of mind. In instances when I am struck by nihilistic ideologies (like, after an exam) I consider suffering as the essence of existence, and conclude that it is bound to happen irrespective of whether I decide to stay or not. In a less delusional (or as the other folks call it, “normal”, whatever that is) frame of mind, I would give the store a figurative middle finger and break into a run.
    2. I brake and fish out my phone to capture the crash. Could complement a great blog story.
    3. Here’s my chance to see if those dates really matter. Why waste such an experiment? I can always claim to have turned vegan overnight.
    4. Hell no. The best type of contact with society is none.
    5. Again, depends. If it happens to be the kind of place where an omelette costs me my yearly income, then no. A quaint little place that wins my favor on the other hand can expect benevolence.
    6. Not really. But I might make a mental note to avoid unnecessary encounters later on.
    7. I am a woman. I believe that answers the question.
    8. Again, I am a straight woman. Duh. Men aren’t all that difficult to please, are they?
    9. I am an amazing singer and I let the world know it. (Or anyone who doesn’t get up and leave midway, anyway)
    10. Nope. Questions make me feel self-important. Right now my brain cells are going, “I bet this is Brian’s favorite comment. Of course he is going to read the entire wretched thing and not just like and leave a cursory reply. Of course not!”
    11. I would squeeze them in someone’s eyes. That always feels great.
    12. Right now I have less than 200 followers, so 200 LIKES would be swell. But a great comment always feels better.
    13. Nope. Maybe I should be writing more explicit and enraging content and help build my stats.
    14. Never. If I had the right social skills to please people, I would out partying and not blogging.
    15. This applies to a lot of Indian movies I think. Commercial flicks with little intelligent content are becoming a rampant illness in the country and I’ve protested vehemently on multiple occasions. All the good ones are losing the fight for screen space.
    16. A great many possibilities come to mind, but somehow I feel I’m gonna screw up in any given scenario, so might as well stick with the present.
    17. The diary of Anne Frank. I read it when I was around 13, the same age she was when writing it, so I guess I could really relate to her in a way. It’s one of the most tattered books in my collection.
    18. Mine on the list. I can’t even pretend that I’d have it the other way.
    19. I’ve not really been in any. We cremate our dead.
    20. It’s possible. This is the longest I’ve written in a long time, and I realize I miss the feeling!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Another round of wonderful answers, with lots of whimsy and insight, and you have officially convinced me to try this exercise again. (I have been threatening to do so in several of my previous responses, on here as well as the re-blogs, but this is the real kicker. If you’ll allow me, I’d like to focus on three of your tidbits. #10. I did indeed greatly relish this one. #19 was terrific in that it was a cultural eye-opener, as I honestly had not fully contemplated the now-obvious fact that some folks would simply not have a need for cemeteries. (Sometimes I’m a little slow in figuring out where the sun might be.) The best, however, is #20. Any time I can possibly inspire someone to wrangle with words is a good moment, and most everything else pales in comparison…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ooh, do bring on Round Two! 😀
        Oh, and just to clarify, cemeteries do exist in our country, next to churches, in places where sufficient Christian settlements are there. Common in some parts, unheard of in others. I studied in a Christian school, and there was a small one near it. But these are not often the sprawling affairs you have in the West, and people do not usually visit without a reason. I have personally never ventured in one.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. 1. At the grocery store no…at Starbucks yes. And I get SUPER mad about it too. It pretty much ruins my entire day. Like yesterday.

    2. The right thing to do is let the person on your right go first and then follow through. However, here in MN, people are STUPID and don’t understand so I’ll probably just sit in my car screaming and throwing my arms about so they think I’m being attacked by a bee.

    3. Five days? That milk is JUST fine.

    4. Obvi! What if its publishers clearing house? I want my big check!

    5. Probably not unless its super big… However, if this happens at a store, yes. That’s call stealing.

    6. I don’t want to be judged for my toilet…especially after my husband has used it. Give the girl a break.

    7. duh.

    8. probably but how would I know?

    9. Yes. And my son has asked me to stop. 😦

    10. ALL. THE. TIME.

    11. Throw em back.

    12. I like the “likes”. but comments are nice because it means that people most likely actually read my blog and that makes me happy.

    13. No. Rude!

    14. Yes. sadly.

    15. I know I have but I simply cant remember.

    16. I liked being 6. It was a good time.

    17. I read this book back in the 6th grade about this ogre that lived under the stairs. I kept re-reading it because I couldn’t finish it but I would lie and say it was such a great book.

    18. I usually love to read books but right now, Not much can keep my attention.

    19. During the day we’re cool bro but NO WAY at night. Have you seen night of the living dead? Just sayin.

    20. I just had fun 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks oodles for taking the time to answer all of these, as I know you’ve constantly got 27 other things going on that need your immediate attention or harsh words might be spoken at ill-advised times. I think my three favorite answers are “Five days? That milk is JUST fine”, “And my son has asked me to stop”, and “I liked being 6. It was a good time”. I’ve often wondered what age I would go back to, and I think it would be some point in my childhood, but this time with the understanding that all of the madness going on around me was not my fault…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Brian! Her are my answers – had so much fun reading your post and doing this questionnaire! 🙂

    1. suffer and try to breath calmly and levely, eerily hanging out in another state of mind 😉
    2. I gun it through – I´m German, I have to, it´s what we do, Time is Money and all that 😉
    3. Sure, if it smells alright, then I would make it… or simply unfreeze more croissants which are my favorite breakfast and never fail to win over hearts 😉
    4. Hell, no! The mere thought of it makes me shudder! 😀
    5. Yes, I would, because it´s a tough world, especially for waitresses who depend on tips already.
    6. In a way… something like this did occur a couple of years ago and afterwards I made sure that they would come visit me instead 😉
    7. Nope – I´m extremely blunt, it´s a German thing 😉
    8. The mere thought…ridiculous! tsk, tsk, tsk 😉
    9. I don´t sing, I massacre regularly any song which happens to be my favorite at the time, no matter who´s around. They can always leave if they prefer to 😉
    10. No, I actually love questionnaires, but only the good ones, mind you 😉
    11. I make a lemon pie, eat it and then everything´s much better automatically 🙂
    12. The one!!!
    13. Yes, once.
    14. No, Time is Money 😉 So I make sure to comment only where I want to 🙂
    15. Oh, yes! Gladiator with Russel Crow, although I actually do like the guy, but this movie just su…. Especially when you´ve studied archeology like I did and were confronted by countless mistakes that made it into the movie because no one really cared about the historical details.
    16. Mmh, not too far back, don´t really want to go to school anymore, but studying was nice so I would say my mid-twenties.
    17. Totally cliché, I know but this would have to be „The Little Prince“ by St. Exupery because I read it every time I learn a new language.
    18. That totally depends on the definition of the 100 greatest books… but I tend to prefer to read those, mine doesn´t have to make the list as long as it sells well 😉
    19. I love wandering around cemeteries, especially old ones where I can take lots and lots of pictures with my camera.
    20. Oh, yes! Though who knows when I will have the time to actually write them? I´ve got plenty of posts waiting to see the light of day, and some of them actually could have been inspired by this one!

    Have a lovely day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for taking the time to respond! Your answers were quite engaging and clever (“I’m German!” and “They can always leave if they prefer to”), further underscoring the serendipity of our digital meeting. Looking forward to sharing more!


  11. No, I actually making love questionnaires, but only the right ones, nous you 😉
    11. Probably not unless its tiptop self-aggrandising… However, if this happens at a memory board, yes.


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