“I’m not a liar. I just have a good memory for things that never happened.” ― J.T. Bock
There’s a story I’m fond of telling, about a girl I met in a park during a blizzard. Sad fact of the matter is I don’t remember what she looked like. Not exactly. In my fading memory’s defense, I only saw the bit of her frosty red face that was nestled within the furry ring of her hooded parka. And I’ll admit that my recollection of events might be slightly dramatized and infused with more schmaltzy innocence and devil may care fun, as we built a snow fort to defend ourselves from the invading snow army, but it happened, the girl was real and not some imaginary snow playmate—I’ve had plenty of those, so I know the difference—and a good time was had by all, or at least by me.
The memory gets more Michael Bay-ish with each retelling. It takes on mass and bulks up and challenges me to become a better liar in order to bear its additional weight. But am I actually a liar? If the current version records over the initial memory on the VHS tape in my mind and all I have left is the most recent telling, then I am relaying events as I recall them, no? And why shouldn’t I drape this memory with grace so that it might straighten its back and hold its head higher as it strolls amongst my other remembrances? I am one of only two people who possess this memory and since I cannot verify that the other party is holding up their end, it’s my sworn duty to keep it alive, embellishments and all.
It started out as one of my favorite kind of schooldays, you know, where you wake up and the world outside is completely white and Alice Cooper’s voice is on a continuous loop in your head as you do your victory dance in front of the window, “School’s out forever…“
What was that? Just me, then? All right. Good to know.
Anyhoo, after lying about leaving my books at school–thereby avoiding studying to get ahead of the class (perish the thought)–and breezing through my chores, I ventured forth into snowmageddon and discovered… no one else was outside. Oh, sure, people were attempting to dig their cars out, but none of my friends, hell, no one my age was visible in the dense thundersnow.
Cowards, the lot of them!
Undaunted–I wasn’t going back inside, not on a day like this–I trekked to the local park and that was when I saw The Girl. Out on her lonesome, rolling the lower portion of a snowman-to-be with all the intensity of a Winterland Victoria Frankenstein.
When she eventually caught sight of me, she stopped and glared, trying to suss me out. Was I friend or foe? We stood there for ages, still as statues, locked in a silent Mexican Stare Off. She was determined, this one, to wait me out. She had staked claim to this park and I was the trespasser. If we were ever going to come to an accord, I’d have to make the first move. So, I did the only thing I could do in that situation…
I began rolling the middle portion for her snowman. That seemed to be good enough for her.
You ask me what her name was? Well, there are only two words that come to mind when I think about her: amber and hazel. So, either her name was Amber and she had hazel eyes, or she was an amber-eyed Hazel. Perhaps even something in between like Hazamberel or Amhazelber? I can’t rule any options out at this point.
The park was ours and ours alone, we two intrepid children of The Bronx. We laughed in the face of the snowpocalypse and frolicked–as much as our starfish overlayering would allow–and built an ominous snow army that we waged snow war against, plowed through the snow soldiers and beat them down to the ground, before turning on each other in the snowball fight to end all snowball fights, tried to sled downhill on a ratty piece of cardboard, discovered how truly fast squirrels are when we tried to catch one, marveled at how far trees could bend under the weight of snow and made a pact to be friends forever.
I learned that day that pacts are not unbreakable–I never saw Hazamberel again–and just how like a snowflake a memory is.
Not a terribly exciting story to hear, I realize, but I’m not telling it for your enjoyment. I tell it so that I don’t lose it, so that it doesn’t fade any more than it already has from the weathers of time, or become trapped and freezes to death in the hedge maze like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
That’s part of the duty we owe to our past, to not only remember it but become the architects and build up the bits of the foundation that have crumbled away due to neglect.
So, please stop me if I’ve told you this one before, but once, when I was younger, I met a girl in a blizzard, at least I think it was snowing, maybe it was rain, and her name was some sort of color, Vermillion or Fuchsia, maybe…
“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.” ― Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
I have a memory like a sieve. My recollections of the past come to me in flashes and snippets and I have to be mindful not to fall into one of the many great blank holes when traipsing around in half-forgotten yesterdays. Part of it is the result of a built-in self-defense mechanism, tamping down the harmful events that one never quite survives intact. The rest? Just plain negligence. I am a poor caretaker of retrospection.
And for a while, I wasn’t bothered by it. Then I reached a point in life when memories—–of love and pain and the whole damned thing—-became important because I found myself wanting to catalog my journey before I reached the end of the race (it’s always closer than you expect and they say you never see the finish line with your name on it).
But now, when I recount the tales of the various and sundry someones who impacted my life before blowing away like a leaf in the wind, someones whose names I used to be able to recite by rote, those names have now taken up permanent residence on the tip of my tongue but never so close as to venture past my lips.
I find that in order to remember a past event, I have to place it in a location that’s visible so that I don’t misplace it along with my keys and smartphone. I have chosen this place as the soil in which to plant my evaporating memories before they’re gone forever.
I put this moment here:
Of the girl that I fancied in the first grade whose name might have been Cheryl or Shirley but for some reason I remember it as “Squirrel,” whom I wrote about when the teacher asked the class to write about something we loved. And that selfsame teacher thinking it was so adorable that she took me to Squirrel’s class and made me read it aloud to her. You’re never too young to discover embarrassment.
I put this moment here:
Of the German woman who made me my first brown bag lunch for school that consisted of a healthy liverwurst sandwich which I enjoyed the taste of but stopped eating altogether after being teased at school by the other kids for eating dog food. It hurt her feelings and I wish I had a stronger conviction to continue eating the lunches she prepared with love.
I put this moment here:
Of the asexual woman I worked with at a car rental agency who looked like a young Peggy Lipton and lived in New Jersey. I remember riding the Path train to her house and we would regularly break dawn discussing her passion, serial killers. She didn’t own a television and instead had an impressive collection of serial killer and unsolved murder case books. I found her fascinating and in hindsight I suppose I’m lucky that I never went missing.
I put this moment here:
Of the woman I worked with at a banking institution, who I spent a bizarre New Year’s Eve with as we dropped tabs of acid that didn’t work and searched Manhattan for the perfect place to ring in the new year and ended up laying on the grass of Central Park making resolutions and wishing on stars for a better year to come.
Sometimes when my mind is idle, I struggle to recall the names of people and events trapped within synaptic pathways that withered from non-use, names and events I feel I should remember because of the emotions that linger despite the fact the memories have faded and recognition has faltered.
I lament the loss of these remembrances because they’re all a part of me and I’m afraid to learn the answer to what of myself will remain when all the memories have faded away.
Gather ye memories while ye may. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
In Greyhound, directed by Aaron Schneider, screenplay by and starring Tom Hanks, based on the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester, an inexperienced U.S. Navy captain must lead an Allied convoy being stalked by a Nazi U-boat wolfpack during World War II.
Only a few months after the United States officially entered World War II, US Navy Commander Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks) receives his first war-time assignment aboard the destroyer USS Keeling, codenamed GREYHOUND, to deal with the problem of German U-boats disrupting convoys of supplies in the Mid-Atlantic gap between North American and Britain where shore-based military air support is sorely lacking. Accompanying Greyhound in the assignment to get the 37 Allied ship convoy safely to Liverpool are two British destroyers codenamed HARRY and EAGLE, and a Canadian Flower Class corvette codenamed DICKIE.
When the convoy is three days away from Liverpool, Greyhound sonar identifies an incoming U-boat closing in on the convoy and the destroyer prepares to intercept. The U-Boat is able to launch a single torpedo before the Greyhound fires a full pattern of depth charges. Luckily, the U-boat torpedo misses, and the Greyhound depth charges effectively destroys the U-boat.
Before the Greyhound crew can celebrate their victory, their sonar picks up multiple targets slowly approaching in the distance. A Wolf Pack of six U-boats are stalking the convoy, staying just out of firing range. Krause suspects the Wolf Pack is waiting for nightfall in order attack under the cloak of darkness.
When night falls, the U-boat attack commences and a number of passenger and freight ships are destroyed by torpedoes. Krause has sonar on a few of the U-Boats but chooses to rescue the survivors of the downed ships rather than engage the enemy. And after their successful attack, the U-boats pull back to a safe distance once again.
The following day, the U-boats mount another coordinated attack and the Greyhound crew are now being taunted by broadcasts from the lead captain of the Wolf Pack in an attempt to affect ship morale. During the Wolf Pack attack, the Greyhound is barely able to evade the torpedoes deployed against her but the Dickie and the Eagle, are less fortunate. The Dickie takes some damage but still seaworthy, the Eagle, however, eventually sinks. Through the combined efforts of the Greyhound and Dickie, another U-boat is destroyed but Krause’s destroyer is now down to only six depth charges and their ammunition is running low and the convoy is still two days away from Liverpool and not yet in range of air support.
What happens next? They would be telling, and you know I hate dealing out spoilers (somewhat) but you’re free to head over to AppleTV+ and find out all on your lonesome.
So, would I recommend Greyhound? I have to admit that based on the trailer, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the theater to see this, COVID-19 notwithstanding, but, surprisingly enough, yes, this gets a recommendation. In fact, of all the films I’ve watched over the past week, I enjoyed this one the most, which is saying a lot because I’m typically not a war film kind of guy. I think it’s because this film takes a different approach by placing us inside the Greyhound along with the crew through the entire skirmish. The adversaries remain faceless voices issuing taunts over the airwaves, and when convoy ships are destroyed it all happens at a distance. There are a few explosions, U-boat destruction is typically marked by oil slicks on the ocean’s surface and I believe there are only three scenes containing blood and they’re minimal at best. Unfortunately, also minimal is character development, though subtle Tom Hanks plays to his strengths in portraying an ordinary man facing extraordinary circumstances, and I’m a fan of Stephen Graham and Elisabeth Shue, even though they aren’t given much to do here.
Another thing Greyhound is lacking (and this time it’s a good thing) is that mid-movie slump. You know exactly what I’m talking about, when a film comes out the gate strong, then sags in the middle and has to ratchet up the action in the third act to get you interested again. I can safely say, once you’re aboard the Greyhound, your investment in the story and the outcome remains consistent throughout. Despite its shortcomings, it’s a very well-paced film and I’m impressed by Hank’s handling of the screenplay.
In closing, if you’re looking for the intense, high octane tension of a 1917 or Dunkirk, you should probably go watch 1917 or Dunkirk. Greyhound isn’t that sort of war film and it doesn’t have to be. But it most certainly is ninety minutes of streamlined sea battle that’s worthy of your viewing time.
Tins were a wonderful thing to me. They were a depository where the things a boy kept precious could be secreted away and tucked into the backs of closets or under loose floorboards. Mostly the contents of tins included stamps, coins, marbles, smooth and colorful stones and the bits of refuse that could viewed as treasure to the furtive imagination of a young mind.
I collected snow.
Not just any snow, mind you—-I wasn’t some type of frozen vapor hoarding lunatic—-I collected the flakes from the first snowfall and packed little rectangular bricks in the back of the freezer. Why? Because of Frosty the Snowman, who came to life after being imbued with the magical properties of first fall snow. But I wasn’t going to build some ratty old snowman, no sir, not me. My goals were slightly loftier than that.
I was going to build a griffin. Agrippa the Griffin.
I’d be the envy of my neighborhood when Agrippa and I went for a walk, and since I read somewhere how griffins have the ability to sense and dig gold up from the earth, I knew we’d be financially sorted for life. And we would totally rule the airways. That went without saying.
Yup. I saw it all clear as day and my plan was foolproof. I traced pictures from books in the New York Public Library so I’d know how to sculpt Agrippa accurately, and knowing he’d be curious about his heritage, I constructed a fascinating family history that would have made any newly birthed mythological creature proud.
As I collected tins of first snow and carefully hid them in the freezer, I knew the world was finally mine and I was destined to live the most incredibly awesome life ever imagined, and nothing could have prevented it…
Until I discovered the hard way that refrigerators came equipped with a thaw feature. All my carefully stacked magically imbued briquettes had been reduced to not-so-magical freezer run-off that dripped impotently into a catch tray.
Needless to say, I have yet to bring Agrippa into existence. And life, well, it hasn’t quite reached that most incredibly awesome high watermark yet.
So this happened the other day…well, before I get into that let me paint the picture: the label on the tin of the place where I earn a paycheck reads, artisanal bakery but let’s call a spade a spade, it’s a bread factory, a business open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year that churns out bread daily and nightly.
Every flu season, the recent strain cuts a wide swath through employee attendance and the company needs to bring in agency temps who usually do the grunt work, schlepping and dividing containers of dough, shifting racks of shaped bread dough to the proofer for fermentation or refrigerator to slow the activity of the yeast, etc. The guy they paired me with was from Peru who spoke absolutely no English while I am equipped with the ghost memories of 7th-grade Spanish.
To give you an idea of how long ago that was, the US was in the midst of a Cold War, a Space Race, the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, an oil crisis and energy crisis, and Marvin Gaye’s single “Let’s Get It On” was the top of the charts.
I passed Spanish class by the seat of my pants. To say I half-assed it would have been generous, more like I 8th-assed it or better still 16th-assed it. The reason for refusing to embrace a new language was pure and simple childhood rebellion. Our 6th-grade teacher gave us a choice of learning French or Spanish when we returned after the summer recess and I chose the language of love. When I didn’t get the language of my choice I did the bare minimum to pass the class and quickly forgot it the moment school ended for summer vacation. That’ll show them! It’s funny how you never realize how childhood petty actions rob you, limit you, in so many ways.
But I digress.
My temp coworker for the day, despite the language barrier between us, was in a talkative mood so he asked me if I believed in vampiros. I tried to explain to him in my pidgin Spanish (assisted by hand signals and crude pictograms traced in rice flour on the tabletop) that I don’t believe in vampires, werewolves, ghosts, or even God for that matter but I wasn’t one of those radical hardcore atheists who gets in people’s faces about there being no transcendent will. I simply think we’re not smart enough to know our origins, arrogant enough to justify our existence, most certainly, but smart enough to know the truth? Sorry, not buying it. But, if your faith leads you to live a better existence and do no harm…good on you. I hope you’re right and in the end get the reward you deserve, because who knows? To quote the lyrical prophet, Billy Joel, “You may be correcto, I may be loco.”
Now, I’m not sure if he got all that but he smiled and nodded and when I was done, he kept repeating a word to me that I didn’t understand. Again and again he said it, more patiently than I would have been in his situation until the word began to make sense. It was a name: Lilith. Once I clued in, he proceeded to tell me about the primera esposa of Adán in the jardín del Edén.
When Adam lamented on his loneliness in Eden, Dios made for him a mujer like himself, from the tierra. God named her Lilith and presented her to Adam but they began to quarrel about everything, including sexo. Lilith, creado from the earth the same as Adam said, “We are both equal,” and would not give in to his demands.
Shortly after, Lilith deserted Adam, who immediately began to orar to his Creator, saying: “Maestrodel universo, the woman that you gave me has fled.” God sent three UFOs (no, that’s not some atheistic typo, my coworker did not believe in angels) and said to them, “Bring back Lilith.”
The three UFOs found her in the sea at the place where the Egyptians were destined to drown. They said to her, “If you will not go with us, we will drown you in the sea.”
Lilith replied, “God created me to weaken infants from the moment of their birth until the eighth day in boys and the twelfth day in girls. After that, I have no dominion over them. I know my purpose, so I know you will not drown me.”
The UFOs told her that if she didn’t return with them, she will be filled with the desire to mate and bare a legion of children and each day one hundred of her children would die. As she couldn’t bring herself to return to Adam, she accepted her fate. And as the UFOs who turned against God’s grace crashed to earth, Lilith mated with them and bore many demons, one hundred of which died as the sun set each day.
When Adam and his new mate, Eva, began propagating the human species, Lilith turned her attention away from the UFOs and began seducing both men and woman alike, becoming the world’s first vampire. But she wasn’t driven by a constant hunger for sangre, she was fuel by a constant need of sex. She didn’t have to bite her victims to gain their compliance, the feromonas she secreted any living thing equipped with a sex drive.
My coworker traced “666” in the rice flour and asked me what it was. I asked, “The mark of the beast,” to which he shook his head. He explained that “666” was really “www” as in the world wide web. The internet was evil and was created by Lilith to lead humans astray. Also, “Satan” wasn’t a being, it was an office run by Lilith, and the serpent in the garden was none other than Lilith, who instead of tempting Eve with fruit, seduced Adam’s second wife into an asunto lesbico that opened her eyes to the truth.
My coworker swore that this was all true. The original Hebrew writings were revealed to him when he became a member of the Freemasons in Peru, writings that were subsequently changed by the Greeks to cover up the terrifying truth that Lilith still walks among us claiming victims each day.
And I could tell it was a topic he was extremely interested and invested in because he talked about it for the entirety of our shift. Definitely a twist in the sobriety of my normal working day.
I wonder what surprises are in store for me next flu season?
In the year when Kosovo declared its independence, China cracked down on protesting Tibetan Monks, Beijing hosted the Olympic Games and Barack Obama was busy running for President, I was calculating the odds of my dying alone.
Not that I mind being alone, hell, I’m about the only person on the planet that actually enjoys my company after the bloom has fallen from the rose. But there was this odd, hollow feeling in the center of my chest, something I had never experienced before. I believe you humans call it loneliness.
The cure was obvious, I’d have to make an effort to meet another living being on purpose, but because I am me and I have never ever ever been known to do things the easy way—ha! like there’s an easy way—I decided to turn the process into a social experiment to find out if women were actually attracted to intellect—yes, I’m presuming to possess an adequate level of intelligence—or if they were just as shallow as they claimed men to be. So, I joined a free online dating site.
I began a campaign I called BABASIOTAAM, which was short for Blogging About Befriending Absolute Strangers In Order To Attract A Mate, where I posted outrageous and fictitious stories as bait to reel in enquiring minds and open up a line of communication. This might sound a bit odd to you but it actually worked, the problem was my stories (all presented as facts) attracted both women and men who would then debate my postings until they erupted into flame wars, so I eventually abandoned the project.
But in the midst of my botched brilliant idea to attract a mate, I did actually manage to go on a few dates—or at least meet up with a few women in the flesh. The first was SxxQit10 who responded to my initial post on how sometimes the media can implant racist notions unbeknownst to consumers:
SxxQit10: Credit given for recognizing the thoughts as irrational and wrong. There are an awful lot of people with the same thoughts who think they’re perfectly rational and acceptable. Sad world we live in. Wanna chat? PM me.
Since that post, we had exchanged a few emails, nothing steamy, no cybering or anything of that nature, mostly icebreaker chitchat. Then she stepped up her game by IMing me.
SxxQit10: Hi! Do you have time to chat?
Me: Sure, I was just
answering your email.
SxxQit10: Great. Thanks for
writing by the way. You’re bold. 🙂 I like that.
Me: What’s the sense in
joining the site if you don’t attempt to make a new connection?
SxxQit10: Oh you might be
surprised! Are you new to this?
Me: The online thing? Yeah, pretty new to it. The worst you could have said was “Get lost!” I’m thick-skinned
SxxQit10: 🙂 I’m one of the polite ones. I believe in responding politely and staying human. Sorry if you’ve recently been through something unpleasant.
Me: Nothing recent.
SxxQit10: Oh good for you! Most guys jump on here within days of the end of their relationship. You were smart to wait. To me, that’s a real indication of character. If you can’t be alone, you’ll become too dependent and that’s not healthy for a relationship. Anyway, I’m not going to preach! 😉 You’re a smart guy and know all this stuff I’m sure.
Me: Fortunately, I enjoy my
own company. So, has this online worked out for you?
SxxQit10: Well it has worked
and not worked. It’s been ok. I’ve met some wonderful men on here who have
become friends. I’m also on several others and they’re all about the same.
Me: Don’t knock friends,
they’re a rare commodity these days.
SxxQit10: Oh gosh, I never
do! There’s a guy I met on here who I have to say is one of my best friends.
Me: So, what stops these
guys from being “the right one” I mean, if you believe in that sort
SxxQit10: I do believe in
it. Geeze… let’s see. Where do I begin? Duncan lives in South Carolina. That
about sums that up! LOL Jerry is a bit new to the dating scene and is more
interested in sowing some oats (my humble opinion). His wife cheated on him and
he’s really enjoying being the single bachelor. We had the option of being “friends
with benefits” I suppose, but I can’t do that. I get too emotionally
involved and that’s a big set up for heartache.
Me: I didn’t mean to get too
personal, I’m just inquisitive by nature. Please feel free to tell me to mind
my own business at any time.
SxxQit10: That’s funny. I
was just going to apologize for going too deep. I have a tendency to do that. I
ask LOTS of questions too but I’m an open book. No secrets and if I didn’t want
to talk about something I’d be honest about it. You can ask me anything you
Me: Good, we share that. If I ever cross a line, just let me know. Guaranteed, it was unintentional.
SxxQit10: I promise and
Me: So, since you only seem
to find friends online, do you venture out into the real world dating scene?
SxxQit10: Real world dating scene? Is there one? Ha. I only know of bars I guess but I’m not a bar-going type per se. Then there’s the workplace, but at this point, it’s a dry well.
Me: While I can appreciate a
good pub with friends, it isn’t the ideal place to find a mate. So, what do you
do with your time when you’re not out finding peace in massage therapy or
busting a gut at a Marx Brother flick?
SxxQit10: Hmmmmm… I do
love movies. I read, I write, I play with my son, I belong to a theatre
workshop in NYC and we’re trying to get something going. I love to walk in the
woods, take photos, live music and theater when I can. I’m currently up for a
new job in NYC. If I land that, I’ll be moving a tad bit closer for commuting
purposes and upgrading my life a bit.
Me: I was about to ask you
about the theatre group. Good luck with the job. If you do produce something
and if it’s local, let me know. I support the arts, naturally.
SxxQit10: I sure will and
thanks! You know I have to say 95% match is unheard of. I don’t know what it
means (after all I agree with you about those awards, complete bs). Have you
filled out a lot of tests or something?
Me: No, I haven’t done the
tests yet (still new to this) but I plan on it.
SxxQit10: You can look at my tests and click on a link to any of those if you fancy them.
Me: I guess if I’m going to
do this, might as well go whole hog. Tests, journals and the like.
SxxQit10: I’ve stayed away
from the journal for some reason. Not sure why.
Me: I’m surprised, open book
SxxQit10: I guess I don’t
want random people in my head. It’s crowded enough in there already!!! And most
men probably wouldn’t like what I said on there and that would ruin my already
Me: Not even room for one more?
SxxQit10: There’s always
room for one more! LOL
Me: Good. The sound of
knocking you hear is me. Open the door at your convenience.
SxxQit10: Enter! That
reminds me of The Sunshine Boys. Come in, and ENTER!
Me: Sunshine Boys? You
really do like movies!
SxxQit10: Like you have NO
Me: You and I are going to
be friends for life, as long as movies exist.
SxxQit10: Fantastic! I’ve
been desperate for a good movie-buddy! Where are you from originally?
Me: Manhattan born and bred.
Lived in all five boroughs, currently residing in Staten Island. Ick.
SxxQit10: Why there then.
BTW – grew up in Hell’s Kitchen myself. Been in NJ since 1989.
Me: Moved to Staten Island
because that’s where the job is. Ferry commuting was a pain.
SxxQit10: Ah. I believe it.
What’s the job?
Me: I work for a tattoo
company, creating and licensing tattoo artwork.
SxxQit10: How many do you
Me: Not a one. It’s my job,
not my lifestyle.
SxxQit10: Whoa. Would you
care if I had one?
Me: Not at all. Do you?
SxxQit10: Yes, a map of
postwar Europe across my entire back… just kidding…
Me: Awww, that would have
SxxQit10: ROFL You are
Me: Nope, you’re just an
SxxQit10: I have two. A
Celtic heart about the size of a plum at the base of my neck and a small
dragonfly on my shoulder.
Me: You also referenced
dragonflies in your profile. Any significance?
SxxQit10: The dragonfly is
very important to me. It was my spiritual totem during the hardest part of my
life. My divorce. If you believe in that sort of thing. I’m a very spiritual
but don’t subscribe to any religion. I’m very open to all things. There’s a
cool story to all that, but I’ll save it for another time.
Me: Sigh. Typical woman.
Always holding out on the good stuff.
SxxQit10: Oh no!
Me: Oh yes
SxxQit10: Gosh, I’d hoped
you’d never say those words about me! Nothing typical about me. But I guess I’m
wrong… sigh… sob…
Me: Dry your tears,
youngling. You can still grow from this…
SxxQit10: The story is
better in person anyway.
Me: Sounds like an
SxxQit10: I guess it is.
SxxQit10: Ok then. I have to
ask this… please don’t be a freak. Not sure I can take another unsuspected
hmmm. No, not a freak. But like yourself, not typical. And it doesn’t have to
be immediate. You can suss me out a bit before a real-life meeting.
SxxQit10: That’s OK. We can’t be expected to tolerate the typical in a friendship or potential relationship. And that’s very cool of you to say. Already tells me you’re not a freak.
Me: Ask me all those
questions that the Feds use to flush out lunatics.
SxxQit10: I don’t know any
of them? What are they? Do you floss? LOL Do you wear your underwear on your
Me: Did you ever pull the
wings off flies as a kid?
SxxQit10: Oh right!
Me: Only when I’m drunk,
does that count?
SxxQit10: Ha. No. It doesn’t
count. I don’t think I ever did that. But… I might have held a magnifying
glass on an ant or two.
Me: Whew! Good…I’m still
in the running. You burned ants? Murderer!
SxxQit10: : ( I know. Why
are kids so cruel? To animals, each other… I don’t get it. Just pushing the
boundaries of right and wrong I suppose.
Me: Actually, I rolled ants
into my Silly Putty ball thinking I could open it up and retrieve them later.
SxxQit10: I love it! Silly
Putty! Wasn’t that the best?
Me: I loved Silly Putty.
SxxQit10: I have an 8-year-old son.
Me: I was just about to ask.
SxxQit10: He lives primarily
with his Dad and Stepmom about 5 miles from me. I have him 2 days a week and
Me: Is he happy?
SxxQit10: He seems extremely
happy and well adjusted.
Me: It’s a sign. Good. Are
you happy? With the arrangement, I mean.
SxxQit10: I was separated
almost 6 years ago. There’s a big story, well, not big but emotional story
about how things fell out, but all in all I am happy with things. As long as
Charlie (my son) is thriving and happy. That’s all that matters. He’s a bright,
beautiful child. I think he may be a writer someday.
Me: Excellent. The world
needs more writers. Well, you seem very fortunate. I’m happy for you. Thanks. I
SxxQit10: Have you noticed
we’ve answered most all of our questions with the same answer?
Me: I’m sure that once I
start answering more questions, the algorithm is going to affect my Match
percentages, but yes, our basic questions are on track with one another. And
I’m glad. It convinced you to chat with me this afternoon.
SxxQit10: I don’t think it
convinced me, but I’m pretty amazed. It’s unusual.
Me: Hopefully, I’ve made a
SxxQit10: You definitely
have! : )
Me: Even though you’re probably one of those freaks you mentioned earlier (which is fine, but please don’t be a 65-year-old man toying with people on the internet). Ick, that thought gives me the chills
SxxQit10: Hysterical. Just
FYI. My pics are current (the one with my hair in my hands is about a year old)
and my information is perfectly honest. I could never lead with a lie. So my
advice to you (to assist you on this online dating roller coaster) is to get a
couple more pictures up (a full length or close) and complete the rest of your
description. It will help you land lots of chicks! 😉 and… Call me Irving.
Me: Yeah, that’s me the
SxxQit10: Well, why wouldn’t
Me: I knew it! Irv the perv! Ha! That’s going to be your pet name from now on. No one will know why!
Me: Oh, you know it! I am Irv for as long as I know you!
SxxQit10: So why don’t you
think you’re a chick magnet?
Me: I grow on people. I’m
the type you have to get to know.
SxxQit10: Like fungus?
SxxQit10: : ) Damn. I have a mold allergy. Are you shy? You
don’t seem so.
Me: You’ll get a little sneezy at first but it’ll run its course and you’ll adapt to me in time. I’m an ok kind of fungus.
SxxQit10: Cool. Do you have
a spiritual practice of any kind? Meditation, etc. I’m just curious, reading
your profile again. Your talk of “ego” made me ask.
Me: Sometimes I’m shy,
sometimes I’m not.
SxxQit10: I understand. Do
you get out a lot?
Me: I am not religious by
any stretch of the imagination. I do love theology, though, especially the
apocypha and psuedepigrapha… as far as spirituality… I am open to there
being a force in the Universe.
SxxQit10: Same here.
Me: I’ve started going out
socially last year.
SxxQit10: How was it?
Me: Interesting, but nothing
to write home about. Mostly wine-tastings (I’m a beer guy) and movies, a few dinners
here and there.
SxxQit10: Well, we’re going
to change that. I don’t mean me necessarily, but I can help you. I’m almost an
expert on women and relationships… after all, I’m a woman and have been in a
few relationships! What’s your favorite beer?
Me: Dogfish Head IPA 120
SxxQit10: I’m a wine-chick.
Wine and tequila, but I stay away from tequila now…
SxxQit10: Ah Dogfish Head,
Me: Oh, tequilla bad…I
SxxQit10: Yeah, Tequila…
makes me do things…
Me: Underwear on the head!
SxxQit10: More like no shirt
in the street…
Me: You absolutely rock.
SxxQit10: It was a long time
ago. It was very late and there wasn’t anyone else around… REALLY!!! And yes,
I do absolutely rock.
Me: Shirtless Irv!
SxxQit10: That’s great!
Me: Irvs Gone Wild! I’d buy
SxxQit10: I’m in the editing room now. Oh, did I mention I used to edit video for a living?
Me: Really? Why’d you give
SxxQit10: I gave it up to be
a full-time Mom, but that got sidetracked. It’s another long story for a face
to face. There’s a lot to you isn’t there? You’re complex and deep aren’t you?
Me: Deep as a puddle
SxxQit10: Pish Tosh, I don’t
Me: I’m humble and lovable.
SxxQit10: That’s ok, you’re
not boasting but I was asking. Why are you lovable? Your opinion matters!
Me: I don’t know. Can you
find yourself lovable?
SxxQit10: Maybe after too
many long nights alone in the woods…
Me: with tequilla
SxxQit10: Ha Ha!
Me: Shirtless With The
SxxQit10: I’m cracking up.
Me: So, what keeps you in on
a Saturday afternoon? Why aren’t you out breaking hearts?
SxxQit10: I am, but I can do
it remotely. Or remotely do it? Ummmm. I’m writing. I rarely get a free
Saturday and I’ve been trying to get this play past my block/wall/stuck-point.
I’m never on this site for more than 5 mins at a time and how long have we been
at this today?
Me: An hour at least. Am I
keeping you from writing?
SxxQit10: Actually no. I
signed on here to take a break but never expected it to last this long!
Me: Well, I’m flattered.
SxxQit10: Are you a sports
fan at all?
Me: Fan? No. I watch a bit
of boxing and UFC and the occasional rugby match, but not a diehard fan. You?
SxxQit10: I go back and forth. Rugby, now that I would watch. You seem to have a more than average European sensibility. Is that true? I grew up a diehard Yankee fan but watching baseball bores me unless you’re at the game. I like watching football, but I never seem to have the time. I’d rather play sports than watch them.
Me: Last time I was at a baseball game, I was 4, rooting for the Mets. I am a bit of an Anglophile (I devour a lot of Brit telly and film)
SxxQit10: I like that about
Me: A friend has a British
ISP so I get to watch a great deal of Telly when the BBC posts them.
SxxQit10: BBC is the best. I
knew that when I was twelve or was it 8?
Me: There was a Scottish
sitcom called “Still Game” that was hilarious. Developing an ear for
the language was fun.
SxxQit10: Yay, Scots!
Me: Yay, Scots, indeed!
Every year I watch the Hogmanay celebration
SxxQit10: I love my Scottish
heritage. I’ve always wanted to go. I got close, made it to London and Dublin,
but couldn’t get to Scotland! : (
Me: So, Miss
Play-Writer’s-Block, what’s your play about?
SxxQit10: Sad people,
alcoholics, judgment, facades, you know… it’s children’s theatre.
Me: Alcoholic kids? I’m in!
One ticket, please!
SxxQit10: It’s about a bar in Clifton, NJ and the regulars who are well… regular. It’s an examination of that lifestyle and the relationships that extend from that.
Me: Sounds simple enough.
Where are you stuck at?
SxxQit10: Um… I always get stuck at the end of the “first act” not literally separated by acts, but more the first large chunk. And last night or recently…? I came up with a plan to scale that wall. A big decision about the dynamic that takes the piece in a new direction, but a good one.
Me: Need help? I don’t
profess to be great, but I could offer assistance… maybe. Or not. Your call
SxxQit10: That’s OK. I’m
really shy about my writing. I appreciate the offer tho!
Me: Fine. Didn’t mean to
SxxQit10: You didn’t!
Me: Rejected. Unloved.
SxxQit10: I really am shy
about my writing. I didn’t even show anyone for 10 years!
Me: Fine, offer up whatever
excuse you have to.
SxxQit10: Question: everybody on this site lies about their weight, so how much weight would you like to lose. I’ve got about 20 to lose.
Me: 20’s a good target for
me. 30 and I’d be a Greek God!
SxxQit10: Which Greek God?
Me: The fat one. Porkulus.
SxxQit10: ROFL! That is
funny. Good one. Man, I like your humor.
Me: Nope, you’re an easy
SxxQit10: No but see, I’m
Me: Then thank you for
lowering your standards for the sake of this chat. Humble! That’s me.
SxxQit10: More like Humbug!
Me: Used to pluck the wings off humbugs when I was a kid. Callback!
SxxQit10: I thought that was
handbags? or handsaw? Anyway, now I’m on a real tangent~
Me: I don’t do handbags,
sweetie…I carry a murse.
Hahahahah! I need some tea.
Me: I fellow tea
SxxQit10: Would you mind if
I excused myself for a min or two? You can tell me more about your life story
if you like. At least tell me what kind of writing you do?
Me: Sure, go do your thing.
SxxQit10: Thanks, back!
Me: Well, about the only
things I haven’t written (read as:
Completed) are a play and a novel.
SxxQit10: So what are you
Me: I used to write and
publish my own comic books (don’t laugh, it’s a mode of storytelling)
SxxQit10: Don’t they call
them graphic novels?
Me: Yeah, now they’re
graphic novels, when I did them they were comics.
SxxQit10: OK, so comic
books, writer, shy, loves the BBC, movies… I’m painting a picture here.
Me: I also write short
stories, some of which have been published
SxxQit10: Are these science
fiction stories perhaps????
Me: Now I write screenplays,
some of which I self-direct and other that I submit into competitions.
SxxQit10: Very cool!
Me: Some are science
fiction. most are speculative fiction.
Fiction? Like Neal Stephenson? Is that what you’d call him? Dunno.
Me: Yes, and Harlan Ellison
and the like.
SxxQit10: So… are you
Me: By you? When I first
read your profile. Stop fishing for compliments.
SxxQit10: You already know
me so well! So you must know who Eddie Izzard is, right?
Me: Yes, I know Eddie
Izzard, in fact, he was recently in the BBC TV remake of Day of the Triffids.
SxxQit10: Really? I’m a big
fan of EI. How often do you get into the city?
Me: Usually whenever there’s
an event, but I’m always open for traveling. I don’t hang in Staten Island.
SxxQit10: Would you be up
for meeting for tea on Sunday?
Me: Sure, why not?
Me: Wait, are you sure I’m
not a freak?
SxxQit10: No, I’m not, but
this is the only way I’ll know for sure.
Me: Risk taker… nice.
SxxQit10: My theatre group
starts at 5: 30. I can come in anytime before that. Not so much risk taker as
incurable curious nature.
Me: Name a time and place
that’s convenient for you.
SxxQit10: tea… tea…
um… how is The Russian Tea Room? Just kidding. Are you a Starbucks hater?
Me: No love, no hate. We can
SxxQit10: I think there’s
one around times square (huh, ya think?) that would be good for me and easy for
you to get to.
Me: Don’t worry about me.
What’s good for you?
SxxQit10: That is good for
me. (see above) What time is good for you?
Me: I’m open. You’re the one
with time constraints.
SxxQit10: Let’s say 1? Does
that work for you?
Me: Sure. 1:00pm in the
general vicinity of Times Square
SxxQit10: I know there is one on 42nd closer to 8th than 7th and on the north side of the street, but I think there is also one on 43rd and 8th. Either one is fine. Wow – that’s tomorrow, isn’t it?
Me: It doesn’t have to be
tomorrow, Missy Rushy-Pants
SxxQit10: Yes it does.
Monday my carriage turns back into a pumpkin
Me: I’ll help you roll the
pumpkin back to your house, Cinders.
SxxQit10: No. I’d much
rather it be sooner than later. Am I rushing you? We don’t have to if you’re at
Me: I understand. Inspect
the goods, see if it’s worth your time.
SxxQit10: No. That’s not it
Me: You writers are all
SxxQit10: I think it might
dictate the direction of our friendship, but you already are worth my time,
Me: That’s what they all
Me: Them. You. You know.
SxxQit10: The infamous them.
Me: The rest of the planet.
SxxQit10: Well, that’s not
Me: So Irv, in order to
facilitate this brush-off meeting, do you want my phone number or is that too
forward? I don’t want to send you screaming.
SxxQit10: Oh you’re funny.
Yes, let’s exchange phone numbers in case the train breaks down or some other
thing. I don’t scream usually. I’m human.
SxxQit10: You always have
the option of screaming and running yourself.
Me: I’m far too polite for
SxxQit10: OK then we’ll both
be stuck there desperately wanting to run, but not being able to because we’re
both so damned polite! Nice. Funny.
Me: Nah, it’ll be fine. We
can walk and chat and it’ll be fine.
SxxQit10: I think we’ve been
chatting for almost 3 hours. That’s crazy. I could continue but I should get
back to the play.
Me: Not a problem. I don’t
want to keep you from work.
SxxQit10: Can I call you
Me: Sure, anytime.
SxxQit10: OK. Maybe after
Me: Fine. I’ll be looking
forward to it.
SxxQit10: Me too. Talk to
you later then?
Me: Sounds like a plan. Now go write your play so you can show me the completed first act, shy writer.
Sure enough, ‘round about dinner time, the young lady calls and we proceed to engage in another three-plus hour conversation about absolutely nothing. She was a bit more skilled in the game than I was. For every two bits of useless topics or jokes, she’d ask a question to size me up. Did I have hair? How many children by how many different women? How much do you drink? Do you have a temper? Can you solve Goldbach’s conjecture? Okay, maybe not the last one, but she had her list prepared, and I didn’t call her on it. I suppose a woman meeting an internet stranger has to be cautious.
the day of the flesh meet and long story short… there was no chemistry.
Politeness. Light conversation. And that was all she wrote. Guess algorithms
can’t match everything, huh?
Other uneventful dates included an actual rocket scientist obsessed with blueberries and the Frazier TV show, a nature hiker who loved squirrels just a bit too much and a Mensa member who constantly tried to downplay her intelligence because of her mother’s deep-rooted conditioning.
Unlucky at blogging, unlucky at love, as the saying goes.
Four years ago, when I was volunteering to man telephones for a listener-sponsored radio station during one of their pledge drives, I met a man who, in the course of the conversation, admitted that he was a homesteader.
I wasn’t familiar with the modern usage of the term, so he explained that he would break into abandoned buildings, run extension cords to the street lamps for electricity and arrange to receive mail at the address for at least a month to prove residency.
He claimed that he faced ongoing battles with the owners of the abandoned properties—throwing his possessions out on the street, re-padlocking the property, sending “muscle” to physically evict him, etc.—but this is not the true issue of the post.
This homesteader had no income and he couldn’t rig the pipes in the abandoned buildings to run water, so he cased houses and when he was sure that the owners were either away at work or on vacation, he broke into their houses (curiosity, always my master, I asked him how but he wouldn’t say) took showers and made a meal for himself before he left. He claimed he never took anything besides food.
I told this story to a group of online friends (screen names changed to protect the innocent, naturally) and asked, “Besides the obvious breaking and entering charges, how severe a crime did they think the use of a shower and the fixing of a meal was?”
This was the conversation that resulted:
Its_Me_Mario: The obvious charges are the only ones that matter.
No_Drama_Mama: He is taking a person’s sense of security in their own home away. That is not easily replaced. As a society, we have chosen to not address the marginal citizens, so this is what happens. “There is nothing more dangerous than someone who has nothing to lose.”
ComicGrrl: Still a crime, yes, but not a severe one. Drama, the sense of security is a rather tenuous one. We’ve all seen how fragile glass is, yet we make much of the borders of our secure area out of it. That should be symbolic enough in itself.
CatLover: Considering the unfortunate homeowners would probably realize their home had been invaded, it’s a very serious crime. i believe the residents would be seriously emotionally affected; feeling that they were no longer safe and protected in their own homes. Also, what would a “homesteader” do if there indeed was someone in the home? How quickly that could become a violent situation.
FromTheHip:The presumptions of this kind of situation are that the person in the home is a violent felon and has asked to be exterminated, for posing potentially lethal risks to the homeowner and other residents. It’s pretty much impossible to act that way without sending the message of being a severe threat and causing distress and other damages far beyond the value of a meal.
This points to a need for society to have more workable means of survival for people living outside the presumptions of economic system participation. In urban areas, that’s very difficult, due to land and infrastructure costs, and an inability for people to live self-sufficiently without relying on many money-driven pieces of urban systems. In rural areas, it’s difficult because of transportation and access to things not usually practical to make or farm oneself.
There are large numbers of people living in Intentional Communities on far lower budgets than most people realize is possible, often with better quality of life than others with 10-20 times the personal cash flow, but those communities try to screen for compatible goals and adequate mental health as to be a functional community member. At present the only real place our society has for people outside all those options is prison, a very costly and dehumanizing approach to situations like this one.
Deedelit:Madd_Fictional noted that these initial selections were abandoned buildings, where security is less of an issue and therefore to me, the “punishment” should be somewhat limited to something along the lines of what was taken and how much it cost.
But that seems to have changed as this person likes the finer things that the rest of us work for. And while there are many unfortunates in our society, there is no reason to automatically assume this is one of them. Further, we don’t need to assume the person is a violent felon, the bottom line is that he is in someone’s home. Generally speaking, home is the place of retreat for us, the last place to go. If someone were to break into my home with me in it, I would feel justified in killing him. It is not my job to decipher his motives. It is my job to protect myself.
ComicGrrl:CatLover, what if the homeowners never suspected burglary? They might have all thought the food disappeared because someone else in the family ate it. No harm, no foul?
DudeBro: It’s burglary.
PlatinumCard: What part of abandoned did you people not get?
DudeBro: It’s not a crime of extreme malice, but certainly extreme stupidity. That’s the kind of situation where someone comes homes, walks in on a guy, freaks out, and someone, invader or homeowner, ends up dead as a result.
PlatinumCard: Homesteading would help recover both subprime and Alt-A housing markets in relatively little time. By ensuring that there are people tending to the walk-aways, they are less likely to be stripped for scrap metal. This would in turn help prevent banks from going under by restoring some value to the homes (which were overvalued, to begin with) instead of “totaling” them. This prevents more federal market intervention: fewer FDIC bailouts of depositors, fewer FDIC takeovers of financials, lesser federal spending pressure on debt. These (gasp) victimized “owners” of abandoned buildings are banks, towns, cities. they don’t go “on vacation” and “come home” to an intruder
Career_Driven: The homesteader is breaking into regular houses owned by people who live there to bathe/eat, then returning to his abandoned home to live. Breaking into someone’s home is a serious crime and I would want him to do serious jail time if caught and convicted.
Silicious: It’s wrong because burglary has become his occupation. The same effort he put into squatting in abandoned buildings and breaking into homes, he can apply toward getting his life in order and being a part of society rather than leeching off of it.
Jack_the_lad: In Britain, we call this squatting. Squatting is a valid response to the lack of affordable housing and homes left deliberately vacant by absentee landlords, frequently foreign financiers, whereby they can make more money by waiting for a property’s value to rise than by taking the risk and having the hassle of renting it out. Propaganda frequently suggests that squatters move into peoples homes while they are on holiday. This is rarely the case. Normally squatters move into abandoned buildings. Sometimes the squatters repair and save buildings which are of historic and architectural value which property developers would prefer to rot so that they can sell the land. Repairing historic buildings costs money. In the UK there is a law under which if someone occupies continuously a property or piece of land for 12 years, it becomes theirs legally.
About A Meal And A Hot Shower: I know, this post is not a short story that delves into the genres of science or speculative fiction but it is a true story and the responses are genuine and aside for the names have not been altered. I find it fascinating to open these types of topics up for debate as it clearly illustrates that no subject matter is as black and white an issue as we’d like to believe.
Next week, hopefully, I’ll have a story to throw up here, but no promises, though. I’m still wrestling with the novel that I did not finish for Nanowrimo 2018 (stop snickering, I gave it my best shot!)