It began in December. With receding silver hair and a large, round head, he looks like he’s in his late sixties. Each day, he enters the coffee shop at around eleven thirty. He buys two cups of coffee to go. Going outside, he finds a seat at one of the patio tables. His location varies by weather. He puts one cup of coffee by one seat, and then sits down at another. Sipping coffee, he gazes at something that he only sees. When he finishes his coffee, he picks up the other cup and empties it on the ground. Both cups are thrown into the trash can, and then he walks down the street, alone.
She’d thought about using a computer but decided that she didn’t want to. That would have been cumbersome to learn, as would changing her phone. The green wall phone with its rotary dial and long cord was sufficient.
She kept her old color console television, bought from Sears in 1969, because it still worked, so why buy a new one? She had to buy new furniture in 1969 because the old stuff fell apart, but once the gold and green brocade stuff she bought started falling apart, she kept it, even though the fabric was torn and worn, stuffing was coming out, and the frames were coming apart.
Her hair-style was unchanged from 1968, which is also when she started dying her hair brown, so she looked much the same in this century as she did the last. She loved Campbell’s tomato soup and had it almost every day for lunch with a grilled cheese sandwich using Kraft American Cheese Singles, along with a Heinz dill pickle. Her breakfast was Quaker Oats followed by two cups of Maxwell House coffee that she made in her old percolator.
Days were spent reading Dick Francis, Nancy Drew mysteries, or Agatha Christie while watching Fox News. In the evenings, she watched The Family Feud and The Price is Right followed by Murder, She Wrote, The Andy Griffith Show, The Big Valley, and Perry Mason. Once in a while, she watched a movie, like The Sound of Music. For treats, she ate Little Debbie Cakes.
Not much had changed in her life, and that made her happy. Being happy, she saw no reason to change.
I totally get this. I’m much more productive in a noisy coffee shop than I am at my quiet home office. Ignoring the noise enhances my focus and concentration.
I presented my Festivus list of grievances to my beer buddies the other night. Although the grievances are supposed to be personal and about the people present, I had a general list, and I took a humorous, provocative approach.
One of my items that generated much discussion was the hacked butt plug. I know that I’m not part of the demographics of people that use butt plugs, so I don’t know much about them. I also didn’t know that they could be hacked, or why others would want to do that. Still, it’s part of a larger world that I don’t get, not because I’m over sixty, but because the shit people do is alien to what I think of as fun. Besides hacking butt plugs and other smart sex toys, a term called screwdriving (hah!), I don’t get people doxxing others, or eating Tide pods, or catfishing. Yes, I understand the intellectual reasons behind people doing things, just like people doing weird shit when I was a kid, but those things didn’t appeal to me then, either. Being a writer, though, is about trying to understand, looking into people, thinking about their motivation and the impact of what they do has on them and their lives. So, I explore…
While mentioning the butt plugs the other night, over half present reacted, “Why would you want to know more about butt plugs?” But others were like me, saying, “How can you not want to know more?”
You see there the sprawl of human differences. Some invent butt plugs. Others use them. Another group hacks them. Someone else shies away from knowing about them. Someone else writes about them, and others read and talk about them.
It’s a wild, wild life that’s teeming with diversity. It makes it a much more interesting world.
At least, to me.
Hey writers, hope you’re all doing well as this calendar year slides to the final days. Hope you remember that no matter what happened this year, you can go on and on and on, even when the days drag you down, people bury you for dead, and the routines become too much to endure. Have a mug of coffee, a cup of tea, a sip of wine, a quaff of beer, a piece of chocolate, meditate, read, exercise, walk, take deep breaths, do whatever you’ve found that helps you pick your ass up and put it down in a chair or bed or wherever you write, so you can stare down the blank space one more time, and let the words out. However you do it, you must do it, you must find the way to keep going, to keep trying, to write like crazy at least one more day. But whatever you do, and however you do it, always remember, if you’re using a computer, ensure you back up your work.
I love dipping. Not snuff. No. Tried it once, didn’t like it. I like dipping cookies, doughnuts, and toast into tea, hot chocolate, or chocolate milk, and coffee. I also dip buffalo wings into sauces, and chips and crackers into dips. I’ve dipped things in beer, like pretzels, but I’ve not been impressed with the results. That’s life. And of course, I’ve skinny-dipped. I really liked doing that, especially the time I did it in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sicily.
Some materials are better for dipping into coffee or tea than others. Doughnuts make for damn fine dipping, IMO. Today’s cookie, a gluten-free, vegan, GMO-free, locally baked chocolate ship affair, is a little dry. Not ideal, because that dryness contributes to the dipping drawback. Dipping a cookie into my coffee, I’m aware that some is crumbling into the coffee. This produces a bottom situation called dipping dredge. That’s the soaked stuff that remains when the beverage is almost gone.
I’m not a fan of the dipping dredge. However, I’m not one to leave coffee behind. Thus, all I can do is suck it up.
I’ve noticed people doing this.
I’ve notice that I do it.
After completely something, say reading a few pages of a book, people take a deep breath, let it out, and say, “Okay.” Based on observations and personal experience, it’s a psychological preparatory step. They and I have been putting something off that we planned to do, something we’re not really happy about doing, I think. We keep telling ourselves that we’re going to do it. We’ve have the conversation with ourselves that we can’t put it off any longer, that we’ve stalled long enough, that we are going to do it, and we’re going to do it now.
I don’t know where this comes from, but I suspect that I’m mimicking someone in the past, or maybe my wife. I’ve heard bosses say it in this same way. I hear myself say it, and I hear my spouse. I hear people in stores say it to themselves while they’re stocking shelves, and I hear it from baristas in coffee shops as they turn away from the counter.
Deep breath. Release. (Sometimes a sigh.) “Okay,” so soft, it’s like they’re talking to themselves.
I’ve heard it from all age groups, including a young girl. She seemed like a six-year old by size and expression. She was standing about six feet from a car. I saw her take the breath. I heard her say, “Okay.” Then she turned and walked back to the car.
Okay seems like a uniquely American expression, even if some claims to its origins begin in Germany, Greek, Scotland, and Haiti, along with Puerto Rico and French Louisiana. I have heard it used in foreign television shows made in exotic places like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. I don’t know if the residents of those lands use okay in this context, as a final acknowledgement to oneself, it is time.
Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.
Where does everyone stand on blessing people when they sneeze? I mean, I say, “Excuse me,” when I sneeze. I notice many people don’t. I tell others, “Bless you,” when I’m near someone who sneezes, even though I’m agnostic, with tendencies that slide toward being an atheist. It’s something mom taught me to do. It was considered polite. That training, though, was almost sixty years ago. She could have been conning me, for all that I know. I was young and just learning the language.
Also, if someone is wearing headphones and can’t hear you, should you still say, “Bless you?”
Should I just drop the whole thing because it’s an outdated custom?