Friday, March 29, 2013

Could I still...

(I posted this earlier today at Poetry Wrecks. Then after a bit, I decided I kinda liked it, which is rare. So I'm cross-posting it here. I haven't been finding time to write as much as I would like. Perhaps I need to look harder. Here's wishing you all a Happy Easter.)

Hello, friend
Could I still call you friend
It's been so long now
Days melded
Into a blur
Of weeks and half-years
Ofttimes I have thought of you
Fondly, always
Heartbreakingly, sometimes
We are bonded
By our humanness
And divided by the same
There are reasons I know
And others I never
Why this must be the way

Oh, friend
Would you still call me friend
On fitful days I go
To the one place
I know I can find you
And when I see you there
A smile breaks
Across my tired face
Silent and still
In virtual shadows
I remain unseen
To know you are well
Soothes the scar
And tempers the void
A lonesome raindrop
On dry, forsaken ground
Sweet, but short-lived
And never enough
But it is all I have

Goodbye, friend
Could I still call you friend

"And if you think that I could be forgiven, wish you would..."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Letting my emoticons out

My weekend could best be summed up by that wise old proverb.  Lemme see if I can get this right... Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Make a man put together a push mower, and he'll never buy anything that reads "some assembly required" again.

But alas, all's well that ends with only two or three pieces left over.  I would tell you more about my productive weekend, except that I've just been reading a provocative news blurb about how the thing people find most annoying about social media is those who brag about their fitness routine or latest diet.

They were followed by those who post pictures of every single meal they're about to eat, people who "check-in" at every place they go to, online game players (Farmville. Holla!), smug couples (dislike!), and excessively proud parents.

Wow, that really puts a crimp in my plans for today's post.  However, there are a couple of things that crossed my mind Sunday afternoon which I am able to share with you today.  After all, a man has a lot of time to think while mowing the lawn with a mower which mysteriously seems to be missing a critical part.

Firstly, it struck me that in all the years we've known each other, I've yet to share with you my extensive mental collection of emoticons.  And at my age, I feel that is important to do because, well, at some point it may become socially unacceptable for men of a certain age to still be using winky faces.

Let's start with the least famous, most underrated, underutilized emoticon of them all.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the high-five:


Also known as the Eiffel Tower.  And occasionally mistaken for an anteater.  Or, a rather stubby phallus.

That's right, I'm bringing the high-five back.  Those other emoticons don't know how to act.  Why this emoticon is not more widely used is beyond me.  Truly one of the great mysteries of our time, right behind D.B. Cooper, and National Treasure.

Let's look at a few others:

:-/  Mister Empathy/Dismayed

:-(  Mister Frownie  (I use this one a lot.  I'm not as happy as you might think I am.)

:'(  Shedding a tear 

:''''''''''''(   Bawling  (Notice how the more tears you shed, the longer your face becomes.  Thus the expression "Why the long face?")

:'-)  Tears of happiness  (Never use this.  It only confuses people.)

>:(  Angry  (Or an unhappy king, though I've yet to find a use for an unhappy king.)

(_|_)  You've just been mooned.

<><  Fish

><  Kiss  (Or the slightly less popular, fish with its head cut off.)
:-P  Tongue sticking out/joking/flirting

:-P*  Tongue sticking out to catch a snowflake

*o)  Snowflake in eye  (And the other eye... apparently missing?  May you never have cause to use this one.)

:*)  Snowflake on cheek  (Do I have too many snowflake ones?)

* ≠ *  No two snowflakes are alike  (Obvs.)

@--->---  Rose  (Doesn't really get you out of as many virtual jams/doghouses as you might hope.)

(|)  Sideways hamburger  (Or, flat-head screw.  Again, somewhat difficult to find a practical use for this one.)

Well, I think it's pretty clear I could go on forever.  Unfortunately, there's not enough internet.

I would only leave you with one thought for the day:  If we can't communicate with a cleverly-arranged series of dots and symbols, we're no better than the cavemen...

Hmm, actually didn't they draw pictures on the cave walls?  Therefore, we're exactly like the cavemen.  So that example really doesn't work.

OK, so let's change that to "Even the cavemen (and cavewomen, although I don't see how they could be expected to draw after being drug around by that bone in their hair all day) realized the easiest and clearest way to communicate was through a series of pictures and symbols."

There.  Much better.

o/ ?

Oh, there was one other thing I wanted to share with you.  Remember when I did that Music Monday post?  No?  It was only five months ago, I don't see how you could have forgotten.  Well, in my mind it was going to become a semi-regular feature.  In reality, suffice it to say, it did not.

Anyhow, here's a band one or two of you might tolerate.  You know, kinda like you do me.  They're called The Hold Steady. It's hard to believe I've not shared them with you before now.  But when you only do a Music Monday post once every five months... well, suddenly it becomes easier to believe.  (And yes, I'm vaguely aware this is Tuesday.)

"She was a really good kisser / But she wasn't all that strict of a Christian / She was a damn good dancer / But she wasn't all that great of a girlfriend..."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring hopes

Sunday was spring.

There was hope in the air, so I breathed some in.  It felt good for my soul, so I breathed in some more.

I walked in the park.  People were stirring.  I guess they wanted some hope, too.

Suddenly, it seemed like this winter had lasted forever.

Wanting to take full advantage of the new weather, I fired up the grill for ribs, mushrooms, peppers, and potatoes.  After supper, we roasted marshmallows over the fire pit, then gathered around it for warmth as the night air grew chilly once again.

No matter how many years I file away, that first burst of spring always feels fresh and new all over again.  I think it always will.  I hope that it always does.

How does one describe that feeling?  How do you write a spring day?  For it is nothing you can hold in your hand.  It's something far better lived than imagined, breathed in than read, experienced than not.  But better it be written, than forgotten.

Just as September has that one day every year where fall announces its arrival with the first hint of a chill in the air, March has its own day, and spring, its own news to declare -- tidings of warmth, and yes, hope.

Sunday was that day.

Winter's cold had returned by Monday morn, but it was a different cold.  A sunny and bright crispness, rather than the usual gray and drear.

And there was hope.  The hope of spring.  The hope of something better.

And I knew that winter wouldn't be long.

"You only need the light when it's burning low / Only miss the sun when it starts to snow / Only know you love her when you let her go..."

Friday, March 08, 2013

Lost souls

Once upon a blog, I began a writing prompt which came to be known as Three Word Wednesday.  It feels like a lifetime ago now.  The premise was simple: I would post three words, and people would write something -- a poem, short story, whatever -- including the three words in their piece.  After a few years, with forty or fifty people participating each week, it became a bit more than I could handle, trying to read and comment on each post every week.  But as I was thinking of ending Three Word Wednesday, another blogger, who I knew as Thom G, offered to take it over.  That was a few years ago.  Today I checked to see if it was still going on, and was happy to find it alive and well.  So I decided to participate, if only for old time's sake.  If you're looking for a writing prompt, I encourage you to check it out here.

This week's words were: brutal, grope, transfer.


I say it with a tone of disbelief.  All along I had taken her to be thirty-ish.  I tell her as much, I think.  Oh God, was my tone offensive?  I mean, thirty-six isn't old.  It's just, in a place like this...

Ah yes, I can see it now.  A little age in her face.  The lipstick slathered on a bit too thick.  I had been too preoccupied with her body to notice.  It's not hard to imagine she knocked them dead back in her day.  Not that her day has passed.  What am I doing?  Is any of this out loud?

"You want a beer?"  She saves me from my over-thinking.  Damn, I probably should be the one asking her, right?

"Uh, sure."

"What do you drink?"

Um, chocolate milk?  Mountain Dew?  What's a popular beer?  Name a beer, any beer.  I look over at the bar.  There must be twenty beer signs.  I pick one.

"Uh, Guinness?"

"Wow, a real man."  Uh oh, I don't like the sound of that.

She orders the drinks.  She knows the bartender.  I surmise she comes out to a place not all that different from this every weekend.  Maybe more.

Thirty-six and single.  I want to save her.  I want to tell her it's gonna be hard.  But who I am to say?  I'm certainly no expert on the topic.

The beers come.  I take a healthy gulp of mine.  Holy S-word!  That tastes like used motor oil!  Who drinks this?  Vikings? 

I feel like I'm gonna throw up.  I manage to hold it down.

"Um, I don't have any cash for the beer, but I could transfer some money into your account?"

What am I saying?  Who says that!  She giggles.  Is she laughing with me or at me?  "It's fine, really.  You have a card, don't you?"  I nod.  "You can buy the next round."

And I do.  I buy her drinks all night.  It's clear she can out-drink me, especially with me pretending to sip on my Quaker State 10W-40.  I want to drink.  I want to forget about life for a few hours.  Or a few days.  I wonder what she wants to forget.  Or who.

She's at ease here.  Alive.  In the dives and the bars.  Places that used to be smoky.  But for me, this is brutal.  I don't like the crowd and the noise.  But mostly the crowd.

Whenever I catch myself leering at her chest, I immediately divert my gaze to a nearby table.  There's a kid in a backwards baseball cap who looks to be about fifteen groping a blonde.  He's wearing a shirt that says "I never sleep 'cause sleep is the cousin of death."  And all I can think is I could so go for a nap right now.

I glance at my phone.  It's 11:35.  It feels like 3 AM to me! 

I'm beginning to survey the crowd and decide to myself who I could take and who I couldn't if a fight broke out.  I decide I probably have an unhealthy sense of how tough I am.  Once again, she rescues me from myself.

"You wanna get outta here?"

And once again, I'm thinking I should have been the one to say that.

It's the perfect situation.  She's at that point of being just drunk enough to be fun but still sober enough to be fairly lucid.  

And why shouldn't I?  I've never had a one-night stand.  The closest I came was making out with some girl in the gazebo at the park when I was sixteen.  She was hot, but I forgot to get her number and never heard from her again.

But I know me.  I'll get too attached too soon.  That's why I can't have a one-night stand.  It's not some ethical, gentlemanly choice.  It's that I can never leave it at one night.  I'll be in love before the sun comes up.

But my God, that body.  And it will not quit.  The things I could do to her...

"Did you hear me?  Do you wanna go to my place or something?"

I want her.

I want to save her.  But I'm no savior.

"Yeah, let's get outta here."

Hell, I can't even save myself.

"Suddenly between sheets and eyelids / I am reminded why I don't do this / I fall in love far too quickly / I never want her to forget me..."

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Curse of the grasshopper

This is the story of a boy who had no friends.  We'll call him... Cone.

Cone lived with his mother.  He was smart.  And even in those early years showed glimpses of the cleverness and impeccable timing that would someday make him one of the most hilarious people he knew.

Cone had but two flaws: An abnormal fear of grasshoppers, to the point where he would not come inside if one was on the screen door.  And he was highly competitive.  Sometimes winning backyard games by such a large margin and in such a dominating fashion that some of the kids would cry.  Especially those who were like five years younger than him.

Some called him a cheater.  Some said he shouldn't take the games so seriously.  Eventually, all of the other neighborhood kids wouldn't let Bone, er, Cone, join in any childhood games.

That's one sad story, eh?  Well, I have a confession:  It's not entirely true.

First of all, the boy's name wasn't Cone.  It's Bone.  And he wasn't a kid.  Well, OK, so that's debatable to some extent.  Also, they weren't childhood games.  They're iPhone games.  And lastly, he doesn't live with his mother.  And hasn't for a few years now, thank you very much!

But the grasshopper part, that's all too true.  I don't trust anything that can jump twenty times its length.  Big-eyed scary hopping freakazoids!

Am I making any sense?  The boy in this story is me!  And I'm running out of friends.

No, not real-life friends.  I never had very many of those in the first place.  But virtual friends, who are willing to play against me in Words With Friends, Scramble With Friends, Matching With Friends, Trivie, Ruzzle, etc.

Just last week, I challenged a friend's wife in Ruzzle.  It's basically the same thing as Boggle.  After one game -- a 2144 to 897 beat down -- she was all like, "You're cheating.  I'm not playing with you anymore.  I'm never gonna win, so what fun is that?"

Is that where this world is headed -- if we don't win, we just throw up our hands and quit?  If the Detroit Lions had that attitude, they'd have given up football thirty years ago.  OK, so that might not have been the worst idea ever.  Bad example.

Nevertheless, I'm mostly down to using the "Find a random opponent" option for new Ruzzle games.  Which is kind of the iPhone game equivalent of signing up for  You're basically admitting to the world, I can't find anyone to play Ruzzle with me on my own, I need help. 

I'm currently 72-1 in Ruzzle.  The one girl who beat me was a random opponent I'd beaten before.  She's probably one of those people who has nothing to do but play games on their phone, so they get abnormally good at them.

It's sad, really.

Words With Friends isn't quite as bad.  It doesn't keep up with your record, but I do lose a bit more often there.  (Though a cursory glance at my last ten games shows no losses.)  Still, I've seen my number of opponents dwindle over time.  What do I do if they all eventually quit playing me?  I mean, "friends," it's in the name of the game.  There's no Words Without Friends. 

I think we all know what happens to people with no virtual friends.  And it's not a pretty sight.  Turned back out into the real world, I could be forced to do unseemly things, like go out in public, make plans with people, and stop pretending I don't hear when someone speaks to me at the grocery store.

Oh no, I'm not ready for that.

But what am I supposed to do, not try?  Just completely ignore when someone leaves a triple word score wide open for me and play somewhere else on the board?  Pretend this is just a casual game for "fun?"

I can't do it, I tell you.  I can't!  It's against who I am.

Scared of grasshoppers, and slightly competitive in games and competitions that provide no real gain, financial or otherwise.

I'm Cone.  Nice to meet ya!

"And the games you'd play / You would always win / Always win..."