Friday, July 29, 2011

Rememberies Volume 3: Allergies

For as long as I can remember I have had a bullshit detector. Typically if/when someone is handing me a line of crap I know. Further, I can generally tell when someone is bolstering a story in order to make themselves seem more intelligent or clever than they actually are. On very rare occasions my BS detector rings the alarm incorrectly. It is so rare in fact, that I can't remember it being wrong within the last 15 years. But this isn't a story about how right I am all the time (there will be plenty of those in the future) this is a story about error of nearly the highest order.

Way back in the late 1980's I was in grade school, first grade. I was a shining star of about 7 years old at the top of my class. I had graduated from the fat red pencils that kids in kindergarten had to use. You know the thick kind that children wrap up in their meaty fists before they adequately become aware of the usefulness of their thumbs? Anyway, I was a number 2 pencil kind of guy. I could both read and write. When I coloured, it was in the lines AND I used colours common to the subject matter (i.e. a tree was coloured green and brown not orange and purple).  I was an upper echelon kinda kid, I had words like cyclone and appetite in my lexicon. Further, my teacher had complex math problems posted on a pushpin board and I just so happened to know that 20x20=400.  Yep, I was a child prodigy, a budding genius.  But my meteoric rise to the top almost came to a crashing halt one fateful day.  

Busy (absent) parents were glad to find out that my school allowed kids to stay at school during lunch. Better still, it was a supervised lunch monitored by a staff member who went from classroom to classroom to periodically check to make sure everyone was okay. The older kids either went home for lunch or were relegated to the gymnasium where they could pick any spot on the floor and fill their faces with whatever mess slathered between two pieces of bread that they brought with them. I was a youngster so I was locked within the confines of the classroom to insure I wasn't a danger to myself or others. Thankfully one of my friends was in the same class as me and he too ate lunch at school.

In order to protect the innocent, I'll just call him Chad. Chad was a little black kid and I was a little white boy.  We would later go on to become best friends but at this time in first grade, we did not yet know each other too well. I don't remember what we used to talk about, it was probably something inane like the Socratic method or world politics. 

I had a habit of trading food with people. I never had the greatest currency to trade (fruit rollups, soda licious, cakes or candy of any kind) what I did have however was copious amounts of orange drink. Orange drink as you know, is not quite orange juice and not quite kool-aid, it is some mysterious blend in between. Thankfully, many people who were not me enjoyed orange drink greatly and I was able to Yankee swap it for some more desirable consumables. 

One strange day some poor idiotic sod in my family purchased peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. In order to teach them a lesson a quickly stole a handful and inserted them into my California Raisins backpack and took them to school. When it was finally lunch time I whipped out a soggy peanut butter and jam sandwich and quickly choked a few bites down before slam dunking the soiled mess into the garbage can. After that, I produced the coveted PB and CC cookies. 

I looked over at my friend Chad who was happily munching away on a Little Debbie Swiss Roll. A little prideful I said to him "Hey, look at these!" while pointing at my cookies. "Hmm.." He said. I anticipated a lot more excitement for cookies besides "Hmm.." "Don't you want a cookie?" I said. "They look like peanut butter cookies" He said. "I'm allergic to peanut butter." He said. I thought to myself "What the hell does allergic mean and who the hell is allergic to peanut butter?" He obviously just wanted to reject me and my cookies and he was making up a convenient excuse for not wanting them. The following is what happened:

Me: Are you sure you don't want a cookie?
Him: I'm allergic to peanut butter.
Me: It's just a chocolate chip cookie.
Him: Does it have peanut butter in it?
Me: Nope.
Him: Are you sure?
Me: Yeah.
Him: Okay, I guess I'll try it.
Me: *Hands him a cookie*
Him: *Takes cookie, stares at it cautiously*
Him: *Slowly takes a bite, chews twice*
Me: It's Peanut Butter!!!!

Instantly Chad stopped chewing stood up and began barfing up the cookie, everything Little Debbie had to offer and any other food or drink that he consumed previous to that, in a chocolate brown pile on the floor. Between stomach spasms he looked over at me with his eyes bulging out of his skull. He huffed and puffed and kept saying "Who-AH!" kinda like Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. I began to look around for help but the hall monitor was nowhere to be found. All I saw was about 8 pairs of 7 year old eyes staring at Chad horrified as he continued to heave on top of a massive pile of sick.  I stood there frozen in terror. Was he dying? probably. 

At some point, an adult arrived and told me to get the garbage can. I think by that time most of the barfing had subsided and Chad had begun crying. Thankfully, he wasn't dead and he was feeling good enough to point at me and say "He made me eat a peanut butter cookie." To which I gave the teacher a "What the hell do I know I'm 7 look." To which she gave a "I can't believe I'm going to have to clean up this giant pile of vomit and not be able to scream at someone while I do it look."

The lesson here kids is that every once in a while your BS detector might not function correctly. When this happens make sure that you aren't forcing someone to do something that they don't really want to do THAT MIGHT KILL THEM. For the record Chad survived and he went on to live a happy and healthy life as far as  I know. I never again offered him anything with peanuts. In fact, I don't think I ever brought up any peanut related topic with him ever again. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

5 Fast 5 Furious

Warning: The following is an homage, not a blog post.

The greatest story of the year has already been told and it was doled out a 1/4 mile at a time. Some have said that the Fast and Furious series should have died a terrible death long ago but a reinvigorated Vincent Diesel fresh off the success of  "The Chronicles of Riddick" has a different opinion. As a reviewer giving a positive review you'd expect me to punch up the pros of the movie and hush the cons but I think all that is necessary for this film is a simple recap of the story. Set your eyeballs to sport mode and ready your launch control because you are about to embark on the 
greatest thrill ride of 2011.

The story starts off directly where the last movie stopped. Unfortunately, most of us don't remember where the last one ended but the "writers" assure us within the first 20 seconds of the movie that it doesn't matter. An older, wiser and saggier skinned Vincent Diesel is on a bus ride to prison for his car racing/car stealing/car related  misdeeds of previous films. Suddenly 3 fast and possibly furious cars flank the bus. The drivers choreograph a series of risky manoeuvres in order to scare the bus driver and have him roll the bus thus springing Vinny D from the long arm of the law.

Fade in to Paul Walker with his girlfriend driving through what looks like coastal California if it went ghetto, also known as Rio de Janeiro. Without any real explanation the crew is back on another job of stealing cars. This time however, Paul Walker in a Tour de Force performance is no longer a cop.  Now he's an ex cop with his own interpretation of justice as indicated by his 2 day old beard and sweaty unkempt appearance.

The car stealing crew decide that the best time and place to steal the latest series of cars is while they are on a train that is moving. They Jerry rig a high powered jeep/truck with a flat bed in order to steal the cars quickly and effectively. Without any real introduction our hero Vincent Diesel emerges from the shadows ready to take charge. At this point there is an inference of a double cross and both Vincent Diesel and Paul Walker have to use their wits and kung fu fighting skills in order to escape certain death.

Cut to the train being smashed into by a truck and being turned into a flaming ball of fire. Zoom in on Vincent Diesel pummeling henchman after henchman in a desperate ploy to escape. Suddenly the train is heading for a bridge and it will certainly crash, derail and kill everyone inside. But, Vincent Diesel didn't break out of prison just to die. He gets into what appears to be a silver 1960's corvette convertible. He launches it out of the train car and makes a perfect landing on the desert terrain below. Delicately he feathers the throttle until he is able to drive along side the train where his Puma wearing friend Paul Walker is ready to jump into the back. Just as Paul lands in the backseat the two realize that there isn't enough time to stop the car before the cliff so Vinny punches the gas and sends them sailing over the edge.  Miraculously the men use their gymnast skills to jump out of the car and make a soft landing into the water hundreds of feet below and survive.

What a day right? but! there is more. Just as the boys resurface and catch their breath they are met at gunpoint by a small army of semi automatic carrying soldiers. As it turns out, one of the cars the guys were trying to steal is owned by one of  the most powerful underworld bosses in South America. Smash Cut to Vincent and Paul hanging from the rafters helplessly by chains as a dark voice in the shadows alerts them to the grave mistake they have made by trying to steal the boss man's property. After Mr. Bad gives them a talking to, he leaves the room with the majority of his armed guards and tells the remaining henchmen to kill them. Apparently, the two henchmen do not like guns and decide to finish the job up close and personal. But before they can do anything Vincent Diesel breaks out of the chains that were moments ago unbreakable while Paul Walker breaks another man's neck with just the use of his legs while he is still suspended in the air.

What the guys learn later is that during their train escape three DEA agents were on board the train and were killed in the melee. Pauly and Vinny were appointed blame for their deaths. What does this Mean for Vincent and Mr. Walker? A whole lotta trouble. That trouble comes in the form of Dwayne (don't call me the Rock) Johnson. Dwayne may not drive cars but he is driven to catch bad guys. A ripped rock is a special agent outfitted with Army issue body armor and what appears to be a smattering of black pubic hair hanging from his chin, allegedly called a goatee. Dwayne is out to catch Vincent and his car stealing crew and he will stop at nothing to get them.

Now Vincent and Paul are being hunted by two teams, the good guys who think that Vincent  is a bad guy and the bad guys who want to catch Vincent because they also think he is a bad guy. Without enough time to catch their breath Vinny, Paul and his girlfriend Mia are ambushed by special agents in the hills of their flophouse hideaway. What Paul and Vinny (who is Mia's brother) don't know is that Mia is preggers. What follows next is 15 minutes of Vinny, Paul and Preggers Parkouring their way down a dilapidated Rio de Janiero Hillside. As they roll and somersault their way on top of rooftops they also must dodge occasional machine gun fire. If that wasn't bad enough, Don't call me the Rock Johnson won't let up as he dives full speed ahead through windows and walls in pursuit of the fugitive Vincent Diesel.  In a stroke of luck the other bad guys (the underworld bad guys) show up and start firing bullets at Dywane Johnson which gives Vincent and company enough time to escape the police.........for now. As the three escapees stand near a storm drain Mia drops the bomb to Paul and Vinny that she is pregnant. Vincent convesely is forced to finally drop the facade that he despises Paul and disapproves of their relationship. Like an over protective father he embraces the two in a super lame group hug.

The scene that follows is quite touching and it's the place where Vincent and Pauly reveal their true acting chops. The alpha males engage in nighttime front porch conversation that is semi lubricated by honesty juice (beer). Vincent shows us his sensitive side and talks personally and almost tearfully about a remembrance he has of his father, the man who got him into racing cars in the first place. Paul confides in Vincent that he father was never there but Vinny reassures him that he'll be a great dad. At the end of their conversation they plot to steal all of the money of the Brazilian gangster who tried to kill them. They decide they need a crew and that crew is comprised of some old favorites.

Tyrese and Ludacris are back! I suppose they are taking a break from their serious acting careers to slum it as supporting characters along with some Asians guy who I can only assume was in 3 Fast 3 Furious.  Much to the teams chagrin the money they want to steal has been stowed away securely inside the corrupt police headquarters.Their only way in without being noticed they decide is to have a fast and agile car that can drive faster than  the police station security cameras can move. Vincent and Paul decide that the only way to get a real fast car is to find an underground street racing gang in Rio and race them for pink slips.  Predictably they return minutes later to the safe house with a shiny blue Porsche. Although every team members drives as fast as possible no one can beat the necessary time they need on the mock up track, not even the "hot girl" of the crew who posted the lowest time of them all. They decide that they need to use cop cars instead of fast agile cars. This one simple idea of using cop cars negates 20 minutes of the movie not to mention is an incredible waste of resources for the car thieves. But not to be deterred they move on with their new plan.

Once the police cars have been stolen Tyrese, Asian dude, Vincent and Paul all arrive at a stop light together. With a knowing nod and a rev of the engine they enter into a contract to race to the next set of lights. Paul like a son trying to impress his father wants to beat Vincent, and Vincent like a dad who is trying to teach his son a lesson also wants to win the race. Paul appears to win the race but the other guys put doubt in his head that Vincent let off the gas at the last second thus allowing him to win. Paul like the child he is desperately wants to impress his pseudo dad Vincent but he can never quite get the approval/recognition that he desires.

SUDDENLY, the team are ambushed by the cops again but this time Dwayne and company refuse to leave without a couple of car thieves in the back of their paddy wagon/Hummer/assault vehicle. More truthfully, the Rock is there to capture Vincent and the ambush eventually devolves into a one on one, man to man hand to hand combat situation between Vinny and Dwayne.  In a fight that could only be taken seriously by a wrestlemania crowd the men violently throw haymaker after haymaker in an attempt to knock the other one unconscious. Remarkably Vincent although he seems to stand about 1/2 foot shorter than the rock and is noticeably smaller somehow wins the fight. After winning the fight Vincent immediately surrenders to the cops while the Rock tries to gather his humbled crumbled remains from the bloody warehouse floor.

At this point the movie has come around full circle with Vincent back in handcuffs being transported to prison. But on their way to incarceration the special agents are yet again ambushed by the underworld gang. This time however the bad guys fire an RPG at the lead vehicle in their caravan. Now Vincent and the Rock's team  are trapped together in a desperate bid for survival. The one man army Dwayne tries to take on all the bad guys himself in spite of the pleas of Paul and Vincent to undo their handcuffs. Luckily a more easily persuaded lady cop who has had her eye on Vinnie's Shiny brown head the whole movie let's them go free. Just in time too because this is what happens next: 1) The Rock almost gets blown up by an RPG. 2) Every other special agent is killed 3) 20 gunmen descend down a hillside toward The Rock aiming their guns at him. But, just in time Vincent and Paul come running around a corner with an assault shotgun and machine gun and tear a few bowling ball size holes into the remaining baddies. When the smoke clears a slow motion Vincent is seen standing over Dwayne Johnson offering him a helping hand. Through a hail of gun fire he drags the spent and limping body of the Rock to safety.

The Rock and Vincent have a "Bro" moment and decide to team up just this once in order to hunt down and kill the big bad. What follows is a convoluted series of events whereby Vincent and Paul attach the kingpins safe (that contains all his money) to cables and then attach those cables to two cars and about 800 horsepower of American Dodge Charger Muscle. Amid a squealing of tires the cars tear out the safe and drive around town with it dragging behind them smashing through store windows and nearly crushing hundreds of people. Vincent and company are forced to outsmart and out drive a seemingly unending gang of vehicular henchmen as well as a collection of corrupt cops who are all out for blood. Guess what? They prevail and kill or outrun every last one of them. In the final climax of the final action scene Vincent nearly flings himself off of a bridge whilst catapulting his own car into the big bad's front windshield.......nearly killing him. Who kills the big bad? The Rock of course. He shows up conveniently after all of the near death experiences and quickly puts two bullets into the gangsters face. He then gives Vincent Diesel another "Bro" look before telling him "I can't just let you go." He then informs his car thief compatriot that he has 24 hours to get a head start before he hunts him down. Vincent and Paul drive off into the distance with a promise of more high horsepower antics in the future.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Common Sense

Oprah recently went off the air but in her wake she left a few cancerous nodules on the lower intestine of television programming. The four horsemen of the apocalypse Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Rachel Ray and that dolt who does interior design. These four aren't the entirety of all of the problems on planet earth but they represent a great portion of them.  Worse, they appeal to an ever growing segment of the community known as idiots.

When did common sense become a commodity? When did we as a people need guidance on how to perform the basic and obvious in our lives? Your instinct may be to defend these people but Stop! that is your idiot self talking. The idiot self enjoys the appearance of thinking without actually doing it. The idiot self likes to nod its head in recognition. The idiot likes a happy, moral ending. The idiot is paranoid, frightened and awaiting instruction.  The idiot trusts every nugget of "wisdom" that gets dropped into their ear holes.

You dear reader are not an idiot. In fact, you have made the intelligent choice to read this and you have proved your intelligence by understanding what I am saying.  There is no sane reason to toss your money toward the mediocre. Even Oprah's "Favorite Things" is not an excuse to delve into the sea of stupidity. When was the last time you watched a  t.v. show that taught you how to make instant coffee? When was the last time you took instruction on how to comb your hair, peel an orange or pick up dog excrement from a curbside clump of crab grass?

The continent is being served common sense masquerading as intelligent, useful information.  By stating the obvious people can easily agree with you and feel good about themselves. Stating the obvious helps others feel capable and knowing. It reassures people, it makes them feel like they are making the right decisions about their lives.

The problem that arises from all of this is that it over inflates what our perception of intelligence actually is. Knowing what to do should not be regarded as a skill.  Moreover, the ability to accurately view a situation does not make you a "life expert."  Indulging these people no matter how innocent the indulgence may seem is to elevate them to a position of authority which they clearly have not earned. Once people have the spotlight and begin to make money we start to admire them. We begin to adopt their behaviors and recommendations because we want to be rich and admired too.

This vicious pattern spirals out into a multitude of small claims court shows and swift justice with Nancy Grace. Maury Povich has reignited his career from spouting a few platitudes in between reading DNA results. The entire human experience cannot be rendered down to "Is it working for you?" The ability to recognize yourself in any situation is your primary objective not a level of awareness to aspire to. The subtleties of life and relationships cannot always be solved by taking a "long hard look in the mirror." Sometimes effort is required. Every once in a while a dedicated, conscious attempt to recognize and change your behavior over time is necessary. Everything in life does not have an easy answer  and if you think it does, you probably aren't really living.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shut Up And Eat Your Bugs

When I was a child my grandmother and grandfather lived on the other side of town.  This was an ideal situation for my parents because it allowed them the opportunity to use my grandmother for babysitting purposes, to watch my older brother and I. Grandma as I recall did an alright job babysitting. Often she had her nose buried in a romance novel or was knitting/ dominating the television most of the time. Every day as I came home from school I remember the familiar closing credits song from the Young and the Restless echoing from the living room.

Although my grandmother had raised two kids herself and had a knack for baking, what she would routinely create and call "food" was highly debatable. My grammy and gramps used to live in a farmhouse on a farm (duh) that my grandfather worked for. My grandparents were frugal (cheap) with their cash. Instead of going to the grocery store like normal people and buying a pound of ground or a roast they would buy an entire years worth of beef and stick it in a giant freezer they kept in the basement. Every weekend almost without fail we would go to their house for Sunday dinner. My grandmother routinely whipped out the same kind of dish. It was always a variation of some weird cut of meat, Yorkshire pudding and a medley of mushy vegetables. The meat  itself was never fresh. It had a shoe leather consistency (of course) but the real charm was that each slice contained 60% fat and 35% gristle. Not to mention that every bite was drier than the Sahara and had a mild freezer burn taste. The only way to combat the repulsive roast was to drown it in about a liter of gravy and try to choke it down.

A second instance of a food war that my brother and I had versus my grandmother was the Perch incident. I apologize if you are reading this and you like Perch. I have not eaten it since I was about 8 years old and here is why.  My grandma was old school when it came to dinner. "You can't have your pudding if you don't eat your meat!" was her motto. In this particular instance my grammy had cooked up a hot pile of ass from Highliner. If you don't know, Perch is a type of fish. As far as fish go I'm not a big fan as it is but, if there is a tasty dessert waiting for me on the other end I can generally swallow a few ounces of fish to get to it. 

On this particular occasion my brother and I had met our match. You know how kids usually cram their vegetables in their mashed potatoes to help get them down? well, we were trying to mix the fish in with our vegetables just to stop our gag reflexes from barfing the fish back onto the plate. My grandmother however was a stern one. No matter how much discomfort and disgust showed on our faces she refused to let us leave the table until we ate all of our fish. 

What felt like hours seemed to pass and the fish got colder and colder. Eventually we opened up the fridge to see if there were any condiments available that could mask the awful fish flavor. Alas, no amount of ketchup, Miracle Whip, relish or Cheese Whiz could take down the offensive flavor of the almighty Perch. To this day I can't even remember if we finished the fish or my parents came home first. Either way when it came to eating every scrap of food on your plate my grandmother meant serious business.

The final instance and the family favorite that I can remember of my grandmother's cooking was the following: Way back in the 80's there was a soup made by Lipton called "Alligator Soup" or some variation of that title. The soup contained no real alligators. Instead, it was instant chicken noodle soup with little alligator cutouts made of noodle. It was a soup designed by the masterminds at Lipton to make eating soup "fun!" for kids. Over time our family had accrued a lot of this soup. We had eaten it several times over the years but for a stretch of at least a few months we stopped eating it. 

One day for lunch my grandma decided to cook us up a healthy bowl of Alligator soup. She plunked two bowls down in front of my brother and I and we began gobbling it up. After a few minutes my brother stopped eating and exclaimed "I think that there are bugs in my soup." My grandmother walked over and sternly replied "Those are not bugs, those are alligators." My brother then said "No, not the alligators, those little black things floating in the soup!" My grandmother examined closer and said "Those are not bugs, they are flecks of pepper and spices." To which my brother said "Well, my spices are moving." and then I piped up and said "And my spices have wings!" It was at this point that my grandmother took a harsh and unexpected line and said "I do not believe you, it's clearly pepper!" My grandmother had decided that my brother and I were lying to her were trying to get out of eating alligator soup.

 For the record alligator soup was fairly delicious when compared to the jam and cheese sandwiches she would try to make us eat. We had no reason not to eat the soup save for the fact that it HAD BUGS IN IT!. And it wasn't just one bug either. The soup was probably comprised of 20% bugs but my grandmother got it stuck in her head not to lose the battle of the bugs and instead tried to force us to eat them. She never said directly "Shut up and eat your bugs." but I'm fairly certain she was thinking it.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Warning: The Following is not funny!

I want to see the world 
through an old lens,
when theives and
enemies were trusted friends,
a filter to distort everything new
and soften all the colours put in view.
memory has a way of being kind
to thoughts that we rewind,
it's all film grain and missing frames,
deleted anger and absent names.

Real life car accidents are nothing like they are in the movies. In a movie everything is slowed down so you can experience each moment. Every scream of panic, every tire screech and groan of twisted metal is introduced to your eye in systematic flashes so that you can process the importance and severity of the incident. In real life there is no time for a reaction. In an instant you either instinctively make the right choice and swerve safely out of the way or you don't. In real life, there is not even time to yelp "oh shiiiiittt!" It won't be until several seconds later that you are able to discern whether you are dead. In real life, it will take you  minutes, hours, days or years to fully understand that single moment.

As an observer, other people's lives seem to have divisions. When we are young we watch our elders grow old and die. When we are old we see new babies born into our world and monitor their growth through various rites of passage. What we rarely see however is the evolution and change within our own lives. Every day if we get fatter, thinner, older, balder we don't really notice. Of course we've all had those moments where we look in the mirror and exclaim "holy crap, I'm fat" or "holy crap, I'm old" but this is usually after years of "business as usual." Sometimes When you are too close to something you can't fully see it.

J.D. Salinger the author of Catcher in the Rye died a little while ago. The book was an important part of my adolescent development so after he passed I read several articles about his life from various publications. One article that I found interesting noted that he spent the greater part of his reclusive years watching old black and white movies. It was as though he didn't like the world he was living in so he surrounded himself with the world he grew up in. Perhaps, it was the only world he truly felt alive in.

In many ways (obviously) I feel the same about the feelings that I am foisting upon ol' Mr. Salinger. During my formative years I was obsessed with movies, music and books. I felt energized and inspired by almost everything that I consumed with my eyes. As a youth I was hungry for the things that nurtured my creative spirit but unfortunately that all changed one day. 

At some point in my early 20's I was nearing the zenith of my awareness as a human being. I'm certain that many good books, movies and cd's have been released since that time but none have really grabbed or transformed me since. All of my favorite bands have either sold out, died or become a shadow of their former selves. I have grown through the extent of the lessons that all of their art could teach me but now there exists a hole that cannot be pacified. Science and mathematics are interesting fields but they do not move me on an organic level like art has in the past. Because of this, I never find myself quite connecting with anything new that is being created. 

I'm not suggesting that what was created in the past is superior to what is being created these days. I am not a fan of The Hangover part 1 or 2 yet I think Dumb and Dumber is laugh out loud hilarious. However, if Dumb and Dumber was released today, I probably would not like it very much, if at all. The reason I liked Dumb and Dumber is because it was attached to my youth. All the gags and fart jokes were new to me. As a youngster, I inflated its overall worth because it was in some way subconsciously meaningful to me.

As a child I was aware that other people died every day. It took me a long time however to truly realize that one day I would meet the same fate. Also, that same fate could at anytime be thrust upon me as quickly and as carelessly as it was on the people who came before me. This thought made me take pause and realize that often hugely important parts our lives go by without indication or notice. We get attached to the anger, love, judgement or confusion of a moment for so long that we fail to see the impact and consequences of our actions. We don't learn lessons as quickly and as readily as they do in the movies. 

I once thought that nostalgia was a happy sentimental feeling that was peppered with grief but it isn't. Nostalgia is simply sadness in its purest form. It is your body and soul now dead of feeling trying to claw its way back through a closed door. It is the wisdom that only comes with the loss of never being able to touch something ever again. It is a part of you, or perhaps the whole you that has died and fallen away, while you continue living.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I'm Sorry, Thank you

I was recently sent a card crediting me for being a great human. Between you and me, I appreciated getting a card. The card was from my mother in law. Lately she has not been doing too well and my wife and I have been taking care of her. So, as a thankful gesture my mother in law sent me a card to say thanks and extend additional wishes of happiness.

A day after I got the card my wife got a phone call from her mother and the conversation went something like this:

Mother in Law: Did he get the card?
Wife: Yes
MIL: Did he like it?
Wife: Yes, he did.
MIL: Well, why didn't he say anything?
Wife: Well, he probably thought that since he'd see you in two days he'd thank you then. 
MIL: Well, it seems kind of inconsiderate that he didn't say anything about the card.
Wife: Yeah.
MIL: Don't you think people should say thank you when they receive a card?
Wife: Uh-huh. (sarcastic)

First, I'd like to argue the validity of thanking people for a card. If I sent a birthday card to one of my relatives who lives a great distance away from me, I'd like to hear a thank you back or at least a recognition that the card was received. Also, if I was sent a card from a relative who lives a great distance away I would see it as proper form to send a small note of thanks to recognize that the card/LARGE CASH DONATION was received. However, birthdays and Christmases aside, where distance is not an issue what is the protocol for card sending/receiving and why is it the way it is? At what point do the thank you's logically end if the assumption is that every time a card is sent, a thank you (or thank you card) must be sent in return? 

In the specific case I mentioned above I went from hero to zero simply by receiving someone's kind words who was moved by something nice I had done. Even though the act of giving is not supposed to be filled with expectation, it is. My mother in law is probably at this moment harboring some resentment for me because I did not adequately thank her for thanking me. I'm not even suggesting that I'm above it, in fact I'd probably feel the same. The question I am asking is, is this right? Are we, through our inability to thank without expectation  needlessly creating a never ending cycle of thank you's and thank you cards?

For the record, I'm a little resentful of the whole process where I am concerned. The best possible result for my mother in law would have been this outcome:

Her: Thank you for being so awesome 
Me: Hey, I got your card saying that I was awesome and I appreciated it.
Her: Well, you're quite welcome.

What the fuck? In this scenario I would end up congratulating my mother in law for sending a card  thanking me whereupon I thank her for thanking me and she tells me that I am welcome? That is hardly fair. In this instance it's really just a backhanded way for her to get me to congratulate her isn't it? The whole purpose of the card was to recognize my awesomeness. Anything I do with the card  short of crumpling it up in front of my mother in law and wiping my ass with it should be up to my choosing right? wrong.

So now I am left with a predictable and common problem. One where next time I see my mother in law I have to beat her to the punch and say: "I'm sorry I didn't get back to you sooner but I really appreciated that card you sent me."