Intro: It’s been a while since I did a “Sunday in the Park” (7/24/17, according to my anal-retentive spreadsheets), a project I once relished and then slowly let drift. (Sound familiar?) I really would like to revive this little tradition, so I’m revisiting the very first one as a personal catalyst. As those of you who have been with me for a while know, this series eventually veered in whimsical directions and became something I hadn’t anticipated, which was part of the fun. This is how it all began…
Let’s talk about a few things, shall we?
In the midst of my randomness here at Bonnywood Manor, I often have briefly inspirational blog ideas that quickly flame out once I realize that I don’t have enough material to slap together a compelling, full-length blog post that will amount to anything of worth. Still, these thought-snippets rattle around in my head until I pay enough attention to flesh them out or I relegate them to the dust bin of “not gonna happen”.
This can be annoying, especially to a writer who has momentary fever dreams that what he has to say might actually carry some weight in a society that has not been invented yet. I really do want to chat about these fleeting thoughts, but I don’t have the perseverance or proper diet to adequately sledge-hammer these random musings into something that will entice readers long enough to reach that sacred “Like” button at the bottom of the page. (Side note: Many writers in the land of WordPress, or any land for that matter, pretend that they don’t seek digital glory in the form of a simple click. Most of them are liars. We want the clicks, those little affirmations that we have accomplished something of worth, even if that something is vaguely defined and smells a bit like vanity.)
So, as my partner and I finished watching the last few episodes of Season 3 of “Arrested Development” tonight, I had a few more random thoughts. One, “Arrested Development” rocks. It was ahead of its time, it pushed the boundaries, and the carefully-crafted jokes reward the viewer who faithfully watches from episode 1 into infinity. If you like witty absurdity and you have an appreciation for breaking the norm, you’ll love it. If you still think that Ozzie and Harriet in the 1950s was the pinnacle of humor, then you should probably watch something else. And vote for Donald Trump while you’re at it.
See? The preceding paragraph is what I mean by random thoughts that cannot sustain a full blog post. I can squeeze out a decent paragraph or two, but I can’t surmount the debacle of creating an entire post that will enrapture the reader to the point of running out and buying my books that no one else wants to buy.
(Did you catch that second whiff of vanity?)
Two, maybe I should start doing a blog series where I just mainline what is coming out of my head and see if I can wrestle my unregulated thought-processes into something that minimally approaches an acceptable level of communication. And let’s stylize it a bit, pretending that it’s more important than it really is. Something along the lines of the Algonquin Round Table of yore, wherein certain American writers gathered at various pubs in 1920s New York City and had sarcastic conversations concerning how everyone else was wrong and they were right. But in this version I’m flipping it a bit, in that I may be wrong and everyone else is right. I’ll leave it up to the like-clickings at the bottom of the page. (Vanity, checkpoint 3.)
So here we go.
ONE: If you don’t have the “Like” option enabled on your blog posts, please reconsider.
I get that some people don’t want to do this. It’s a draining task to pour your blood and sweat into a post, and then the entire world ignores your efforts except for that one creepy guy from high school who really belongs in some type of rehabilitation program. Still, there have been so many times when I’ve stumbled across a blog, really enjoyed a post, and then discovered there is no way to acknowledge my appreciation in a single click. Yes, the comment option is often available, but I may not have anything to say that hasn’t already been said by the 446 people commenting before me. I’ll probably leave your blog without any trace of my visit other than a mystical uptick in your stat counts. Of course, if you have 446 comments, you are not going to notice my input one way or the other, so there’s that.
TWO: People who are talking on their phones in the checkout line at Target.
There is no reason for you to be doing this. If you are actually in the midst of a personal crisis, with loved ones in some type of jeopardy, then your ass should not be queued up to buy yogurt and condoms. Run out the door and take care of things. Otherwise, you’re just coming off as a self-absorbed twat, regardless of gender. If you don’t have the decency to put your phone away for the twenty seconds it takes for you to be cordial to the cashier, you shouldn’t be allowed out of the house. End of story.
Wow, that one felt really good. I guess I had a bit of angst stored up.
THREE: The citizens of Dallas who raised holy hell when the city tried to implement a 5-cent surcharge for consumers who preferred that their yogurt and condoms be nestled in a plastic bag instead of a paper bag.
This one is a bit archaic, in that the city council caved and rescinded the ordinance some time ago. But it still irks me, and here’s this for the people who demanded the caving: Have you been to a landfill lately? It’s not a pleasant environment, granted, what with the unattractive odor and the possibility that you might stumble across the remnants of what used to be the Republican Party. Still, what you can’t avoid are the massive amounts of plastic whatever that are lying about and chemically refusing to decay. Bags and water bottles and breast implants from here to the once-shining sea.
You own that, you created that. Take at least minimal responsibility for the fact that you are destroying the planet with your selfishness. I know that some of you were raised to seize the day, with no regard for culpability. (Thank you, Ronald Reagan. Not.) I believe that we were meant to share the day, especially the future days when we hand off what we have done to those who haven’t yet had a chance to do anything.
FOUR: The privatization of public education in America.
I’m not a fan of publicly-funded charter schools. I can’t fathom how any elected official who truly cares for their constituents would sign off on legislation that allows corporations to instill values in our youth. Charter schools are nothing but factories designed to produce a product. (Granted, most “news organizations” of today are guilty of the same thing, but that’s a topic for another post.) The most annoying thing in all this mess is that my tax dollars are being diverted to the factories. I don’t have any say, despite the fact that I have paid school taxes for decades even though I don’t have any children.
To be fair, I didn’t have the most splendid time during my own internment in the public school system, or at least the system that it used to be. I was a little gay boy who didn’t have the brazen ability to butch it up for the masses, and I suffered for it. (Bursting into a Broadway song in the middle of Home Economics did nothing for my machismo, suffice it to say.) But that was a time and place. Overall, my servitude at Broken Arrow High School managed to instill a few things: a sense of community, albeit lopsided in favor of the football team whose members were considered demi-gods; a sense of accomplishment, albeit hindered by certain school administrators who used to be on the football team and were clueless about meaningful growth; and, most importantly, an exposure to all elements of society, good, bad and indifferent, the hallmark of a true public education.
That last checkpoint is critical, in that the factory-line concept of education does not prepare our youth for the real world. When students become commodities and statistics on corporate earnings reports, trained in the art of taking standardized tests and yet not allowed to explore the subjects which actually interest them, to explore life, we all fail.
I know this sounds really dramatic, and I’m sure there are some great charter schools out there doing the right thing. But when I drive by the local strip mall and see that a charter school has opened up in what used to be a Mervyn’s department store, I know those kids are not getting the traditional educational experience which is crucial for proper social development. There are no sports teams to cheer, no choirs to join, no Friday Night dances in a gym that probably doesn’t exist, no eccentric teacher who quietly hands you a volume of poems, no debate team, no decades-long cross-town rivalry with another high school, and, worthy of repetition, no sense of community. Just oiled machines, churning and spitting out. How is this right for our children?
FIVE: My knee joints.
I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but it did. My knees have been taken over by a mind that is not my own. I’m
51 53 years old, which means I no longer qualify for the “Freshly Picked!” sticker in the produce aisle. But still, there’s not a quantifiable reason for me to be decommissioned and shoved into a storage facility just yet. I exercise fairly regularly (via the treadmill, which rips at my soul but still I persevere), I try to be healthy with my eating (cheese is my downfall) so my weight is at least somewhat respectable, and my physician has not noted any symptoms which would lead to him decreeing a change in my lifestyle and a surcharge on my bill.
Still, my knees do not care for these efforts. Instead, they follow an agenda of their own. I simply want to stand up from the couch in a discreet manner. They want to issue explosive cracking noises that sound like gunfire, leading to family members diving for cover and a police helicopter flying overhead. I want to merely walk to the refrigerator and see what kind of cheese we have in stock. My knees insist on contorting themselves in unhealthy ways, with my lower extremities cavorting about like I’m in a Salvador Dali painting that someone will eventually find in a flea market in Amsterdam. What the hell is that all about? Do I no longer have any ligaments down there?
Oh, wait, yes I do. Because if I’m on the floor for some innocent reason (petting the cat, finally tending to the cobwebs in the corner of the dining room, looking for my dignity under the bed) and then I try to stand? Those ligaments are definitely present and they are not happy. Little pain bolts shoot in all directions if I simply use my legs for ascension. My knees insist that I grasp nearby furniture and hoist myself, with a grunt and a randomly-chosen curse word. It’s not pretty.
Scotch the Cat just looks at me. Dude, I can leap 9 times my own height with complete ease and then hoist a leg and clean myself whilst I ride the ceiling fan. You need to take some vitamins.
Sigh. He may or may not have a point, but at least he has an opinion and he’s willing to express it, instead of waiting for other people to tell him what he should think.
Outro: Originally published in “Bonnywood Manor” on 08/21/16. No changes made other than the addition of bumpers. If you’d like to help me resuscitate this series, wherein I muse in bite-size bits, please be so kind as to offer topic suggestions in the comments. As should be evident by now, no subject is off limits here at Bonnywood. Spark my fire. Or at least click the like button. (Vanity, checkpoint 4.)