All posts by X Teri

Nonsense, Listed

 

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1:
I have a friend who plays fast and loose with the language when it suits her, but jumps at any opportunity to express her language superiority.

So, I waited for her to say something provocative, like “Hello.”

“It’s a nonstop flight,” she said, talking to someone else nearby.

“How do you get off the plane?” I asked, smirking.

“What do you mean? Like I always do!” She snarled back at me.

“Oh, the plane is still flying when you get off? How is that nonstop, then?”

“You know what I mean, X. Don’t be ridiculous. It flies from one destination to another.”

“You literally don’t see the irony in your comments, do you?” I asked. “Never mind, I have to go look for stray bullets – I think they’re lost. But I couldn’t care less.”

“DiGiorno!” I shouted my goodbye as I walked away.
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2:
Today, I learned another thing NOT to say to people.

I headed for the restroom. I opened the door and stepped inside. It’s designed for one person. The last user was still in there and had neglected to lock the door.

“Do you have a close personal relationship with Jesus?” I asked in a loud, strange voice.

He was both startled and confused, attempting to gauge what I meant by my question as I laughed, leaving the bathroom.
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3:
If the item you ordered fails to arrive, I suggest you send a picture of your empty front porch to customer service, letting them know that your box arrived in an unacceptable condition. They’ll reply, “Sir, we don’t see a box.” Reply: “I’m pretty sure that non-existent is an unacceptable condition.”
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4:
Have you heard ABC is making a revival of the 70s show about a singing family? It’s set in a Staples store and titled “The Cartridge Family.”
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5:
One of the cleverest things I’ve read in a long time: “Farts are food ghosts.”
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6:
It seems dumb that we haven’t thought of it before, like onion-flavored toothpaste.

If you need a phone number, the best thing we can do as a society to become better friends with each other is to dial a random number.

When someone picks up, we should introduce ourselves and ask them to look up the number for us. If they hang up, they’ll at least have a good story to tell their friends. If they look it up for us, we’ll have a minute to share small talk.

It will work like the “I’m feeling lucky” button on Google, with the chance of shouting.

Reach out and randomly touch someone today.*

*Celebrities accused of sexual misconduct are exempted, as are all
adult white males. And Adam Levine.
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7:
The mask people suffering from sleep apnea wear should immediately be renamed to “Sleep Snorkel.”
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8:
I was excited until I discovered that the corn maze was constructed with creamed corn.
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9:
Rejected comic book plotline: Catwoman has feline leukemia.
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10:
“Can I arrange an order of 500 axes?” is one of the best possible questions to ask Home Depot if you call them when you’re bored.
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11:
I find it hard to understand how I live in a world where Chris Brown can post positivity posts on social media.
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12:
Trump: *Redacted
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13:
The traffic policeman didn’t buy my argument about parking where I wasn’t supposed to.

I told him I should be given a non-speeding ticket, instead.
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14:
If I ever win a big lottery, I’m going to hang out by one of those prison signs indicating “Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers.” About a 1/4 mile down the road, I’m going to pay John Quiñones to stop drivers and tell them that if they had stopped to give me a ride, I would have given them a million dollars.
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15:
Speaking of lotteries, I should win. Unlike most people, I plan to reward people who’ve been advocates of mine and make many people’s lives better. If I win, so too do many others. If you don’t believe me, you should see the disgruntled look on my wife’s face as she reads this segment of the post.
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16:
“People are more likely to return a wallet if there’s a picture of a baby in it.”
That might be true, but it’s also true that a list of serial killers is probably just as effective.
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Avara Rising: A Story of Beginnings

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Eleanor’s hands trembled slightly as she flicked the end of her cigarette on the edge of the porcelain ashtray. Her other hand nervously clutched the locket around her neck. Ashes from her cigarette fell from the overflowing ashtray onto the expensive table. Her eyes followed mine as I watched the ashes fall. She laughed nervously and waved dismissively at them. “No one knows I smoke. It’s the same brand my mother once smoked. There’s a lot people don’t know. I think you know that now, don’t you?”

We were both dancing around the central question of her life: how did she survive and flourish in the midst of such chaos. My editor wanted me to lob softball questions for the 6000-word piece I had been assigned. To my surprise, I had immediately felt a kinship with Eleanor. Her features reminded me of princesses from the Disney stories of my childhood. I wanted nothing more than to simply sit and talk to her for a lifetime of minutes. Her celebrity status seemed to fit awkwardly on her.

I’d followed her career for the last fifteen years and watched all of her movies. When my editor initially asked me to work on a special story about Eleanor, I had to conceal my enthusiasm. Seeing her first movie evoked something inquisitive in me. I noticed that Eleanor had a small diagonal scar on her neck, below her left ear. Later, I heard her tell an interviewer that the scar was a reminder of her childhood. When she said the words, I watched almost imperceptible clouds pass over her face. I recognized those clouds of trauma. Like me, she had survived a violent childhood, one seemingly hidden from her public life.

On a whim, I turned off the digital recorder on the table in front of me.

Pushing aside my misgivings, I laid a photo on the table. I heard an audible gasp as Eleanor took in the photo. I looked to her face and noted that her expression retreated into itself. I knew the look well from my countless interviews. The photo had pushed her to retreat far past her public veneer. Eleanor was once again the wistful girl in the photo. I wasn’t sure if she’d seen the photo in the 50 years since it was taken.

Eleanor looked up at me, locking my gaze. Tears formed in her eyes as she attempted to blink them into submission.

“So, you know? That day and my story?” Her voice trailed off in a sigh. “Where did you get the photo?”

I sat quietly, out of respect. I nodded. “Yes,” I said, needlessly. “One of the children of your neighbor had a box of keepsakes. I found it there. Finding things and people is what I do. It’s unquestionably you in the photo.”

Both of Eleanor’s hands reached for her locket as the tears poured from her eyes. I could see that her white blouse caught the droplets as they rolled down her wrinkled face. Strangely, she said, “It’s almost me, that’s true.”

“Can I see the picture, Eleanor?” I whispered. “The one inside the locket? I’ve noticed you wear the locket anytime you’re not working.”

She shook her head, a little violently.

I waited.

After a minute, Eleanor reached behind her head and fumbled with the clasp of her locket. She managed to unclasp it and pulled the gold necklace away.

She gracefully piled the necklace on the table near the ashtray, waiting. I noticed that her hand returned briefly and touched the small scar there.

I reached over and touched the locket. I lifted it and brought it closer to my gaze and opened it. Inside, I discovered the face of a beautiful, smiling little girl, one who shared the features of young Eleanor.

“Her name was Avara, a name my mother saw on a tin of cooking oil. She was my twin. As you may have guessed, she left me on the day that picture was taken.” She pointed to the picture of young Eleanor that I had placed face up on the table. “The other picture is of my maternal grandmother.”

“Tell me more, Eleanor, in any way you can express it.” I had forgotten all professional pretense at this point.

Eleanor adopted the faraway look once more as she began to speak:

“It was the early 1980s. My mother had found herself in a life she’d never have imagined, one defined by the birth of two twin girls she hadn’t planned. She shared the lives of these two girls with the most unlikely of husbands, one unlike any she had imagined. She was born in a very small town on the fringes of the state. He had courted her with the most gentlemanly manners. Once she was pregnant, my mother had to accompany my father to the place we called home, away from everything and everyone she’d known. He ruled their lives with a range of abuse. He had studied human psychology through the prism of violence and artfully applied its domesticating techniques with curled fists and cloistered shouts. Day after day of fierce application resulted in my mother surrendering all of her abilities to the whims of this man dedicated to anger.

Each time my mother attempted to put life in its proper place, her husband would remind her of her diminished value. The taste and stain of blood served as a reminder that escape was an illusion. As her twin girls aged, she noted that her husband realized that no greater bargaining chip or amulet of fear existed.

It was on one of my father’s good days that he gave me the scar. My mother was outside talking to one of the neighbors who needed someone to watch his two kids on Saturday. My father overheard voices and exited our trailer. Without taking a moment to listen, he grabbed my mother by the neck and hauled her inside the trailer. He told the neighbor, “Mind your own g-damned business, Robert!” Once inside, he had us all sit on the couch in the tiny living room. Once his rant started, his jealous words became louder and more incoherent. He grabbed one of the four framed pictures on the paneled wall to break it. My mom raised her hand to ask him to please stop. He threw the frame with as much force as he could manage. It flew sideways and shattered on the side of my face. A piece of the glass stuck in my throat. Blood went everywhere. Even as I thought I might die, I welcomed it. My mother was forbidden to take me anywhere to be treated. She used a decorative towel to stop the blood until my father fell asleep in his recliner. Another neighbor, Sheila, put three stitches in my neck using a sewing needle.

For the day in question, my mother awoke on Easter with the idea that if Jesus could sacrifice himself to save mankind, she could at least do something to save her girls. I’m not sure what convinced her that particular day was the day, so to speak. Nevertheless, she rose early enough to use the eggs from the fridge to make colored Easter eggs for her precious girls. She ignored the possibility that her husband might exact his vengeance upon her for wasting the eggs. She carefully placed each dyed eggs back in the egg carton. Before anyone awoke, she crept around the perimeter of the trailer to hide the eggs where her two daughters could find them. No one else was outside that morning. Most of her neighbors had burned the midnight oil. Saturday night was the one night they could all forget their mundane, repetitive lives for the week.

When everyone woke up, my mother dodged the verbal barbs of her husband as she coaxed him to drink his coffee and eat biscuits and sausage. He didn’t seem to notice the absence of eggs on his cracked plate.

While he begrudgingly ate his breakfast, my mother helped us get dressed in our dresses and brushed our hair. We assumed we were dressing to wait for the church bus that made its way around the trailer park each Sunday morning.

“Let’s go outside, girls, and find the Easter eggs!”

My mother camouflaged the fright in her voice. No one except her knew that either she or her husband would not survive the day. She hoped in her secret heart that Jesus and his message of forgiveness would absolve of her of the harsh necessity of that day’s choices. Only she knew that her husband’s pistol, the one he’d held against her head several times, would finally help her.

Avara and I stepped carefully down the old iron and wood-plank steps onto the sparse grass surrounding the trailer. I held the empty egg carton and Avara clutched the single basket we owned. Both of us were dressed in our finest summer church dresses.

As I began to gather the eggs, my mother took a picture of me as I searched the ground with my eyes. She was proud of the camera, even though it was used.  My mother took pictures as if they were made of gold.

Immediately after she snapped the picture, the back door of the trailer flew open. There were no steps there. Anyone wanting to exit had to double back to the front or simply jump the three feet to the ground.

My father chose the second option. His anger propelled him. He jumped the distance without hesitating. He balanced the pistol in his right hand as he landed. Somehow, he found it under my mother’s clothes in the dresser where she’d hid it last night. How he had come to the conclusion that his wife was planning something nefarious is still a mystery. Avara came up behind me as I looked up. My father lifted the pistol to fire it at my mother. Instead, the bullet hit my precious Avara and killed her instantly. My mother screamed in agony and anger and hurled herself at my father. They struggled for a few moments. I think my father was shocked to find himself needing to defend himself against his wife. That hadn’t happened since the second time he had beaten her. My mom seemed to have found new strength as she fought him. Moments later, another shot reverberated between the row of trailers. Since it was a Sunday morning, the deafening roar once again filled the air. My mother froze in shock as my father’s face shattered and a bullet passed from under his chin through the top of his head. He fell to the ground. My mother laughed, a high-pitched and untethered scream of laughter.

My mother grabbed me and pulled me close. She slumped against the underskirt of the trailer, next to Avara. I don’t know how long we sat there. We both watched as my father gurgled blood, trying to speak. Finally, he felt still and silent. At some point, my mother had taken off her locket and put it in my hand. After a long minute, a curious neighbor poked his head around the trailer’s edge to find us. We heard a shout, followed later by more shouts. Much later, a police car slowly pulled up over the curb with its lights flashing. I remember that it didn’t arrive in a hurry. I think the officer knew that being in a hurry in our neighborhood was a waste. The police had come by several times in the last year. They’d note the broken furniture, the beer cans, the bloody faces, said a few words, and depart. It was a story all too common in the South. Even on the night my mother had the courage to tell one of the officers, “Please don’t leave me with him,” the officer took my father aside and asked him to take it easy.

I don’t remember looking at my dear sister. I recall a neighbor picking me up like a doll and talking to me in a low voice. I saw Avara’s Easter basket on the ground, holding four or five dyed eggs. My mother was taken away in a patrol car. Though she was defending herself when she killed my father, the police decided that because she admitted she was planning to kill him, it wasn’t self-defense. I lived the rest of my childhood with my neighbors. That’s how it came to pass that my mother spent the rest of her short life in prison for murder. She convinced herself that prison was appropriate for staying too long within the reach of her violent husband. She missed Avara’s funeral. I never saw her again after the police shoved her in the back of the patrol car.”

Eleanor finished talking and simply sat in her chair. Her regal features seemed to be resigned to the sadness that the story held for her. “I’ve never spoken the names of my parents since that day, either. My mother’s name was Kimber and my father was named Gerald. I took the last name of the kind neighbors who raised me as their own. My real last name was Holloway.”

She leaned in and whispered to me. “Gabriel, do you know the real secret, the one that no one alive knows?” She hesitated.

I couldn’t believe that she held more secrets. It felt like she was in a confessional and I was her confessor. I nodded.

“That day? It wasn’t Avara who was killed. It was Eleanor. When my neighbor pulled me away, I told him that my name was Eleanor, my dear sister’s name. I don’t know why I blurted out my sister’s name. I’ve lived my entire life and career using her name. I’m Avara. I think the only reason I survived was by adopting her name and promising that I’d rise above the thing that killed her.” Once again, tears rolled down her face.

I stood up and walked around the table. Eleanor didn’t resist as I pulled her close and we both cried until time slowed. I knew that Eleanor, or Avara, was transported back to the trailer park all those years ago. In some ways, despite people not knowing it, Eleanor had spent a great deal of her life buried in the past.

Three weeks later, my editor demanded the 6000-word piece for the magazine. Instead, I handed him a full draft of the book that Eleanor had authorized: “Avara Rising.” She had decided to finally come out to the world and reveal the story of the crucible which had formed her. Her sister’s name had found fame in the world. It was time for the other little girl to find her real voice and speak to the world. Like her mother, she’d find the courage to plant her feet and insist that the reckoning commence.

It all started with a picture, an oath given freely by a mother, and a young life consumed by violence. Gabriel could only hope that the little girl picking up her Easter eggs was still frolicking in a nondescript yard somewhere, with her sister laughing joyfully behind her.

Amen, Avara. Godspeed, Eleanor.

 

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Some Fascinating Music History I Wrote About For Billboard Magazine

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The following story is of historical note, especially for music fans. Some of the lore has been forgotten in the intervening years. I wasn’t always an Eagles fan, but hearing this story when I was younger made me appreciate them much more. I wrote a polished version of this bit of musical history for Billboard magazine in 2008.The 1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. For many fans, it was the culmination of years of hard work to get the band The Eagles recognized for its influential body of work. The band member’s infighting had delayed their induction. Fleetwood Mac and The Mamas and the Papas were also inducted with The Eagles. The Eagles had several hits which were going to be covered during the ceremony: Hotel California, Life In the Fast Lane, Take It Easy, New Kid in Town, and a couple of others.

The ceremony itself is quite the spectacle. Many of the artists spent several days in New York before the event. The record labels and the Hall of Fame made an effort to ensure that the paparazzi and the artists alike enjoyed themselves and treated it like a vacation.

During the 1998 trip, Andy Griffith and Don Knotts attended the festivities. Both were huge fans of not only The Eagles but also The Mama and The Papas. Don Knotts also enjoyed Santana. They had arranged to attend the ceremony and the pre-induction activities in costume from their roles on The Andy Griffith Show. Don Henley and Glenn Frey were both huge fans of the popular show. They had even unofficially re-recorded the theme song for Don and Andy and planned to give it to them as a surprise.

Due to the complexities of keeping some of the members of The Eagles separated, there were times in which Don Henley and Glenn Frey were the only members accepting the offers of being tourists in New York. Santana arranged to have an entire bowling alley available to anyone interested in knocking over some pins the night before the induction ceremony. Naturally, Don Knotts and Andry Griffith accepted. With a little prodding, Don Henley and Glenn Frey agreed to go, provided that the old-timers agreed to don their television costumes for the event. Surprisingly, Andy and Don good-naturedly agreed.

On the night of the event, a huge party bus arrived at the service entrance of the Waldorf. Santana, Don, Glenn, Andy, and a couple of other honorees climbed aboard the bus. They opened a bottle of champagne in celebration. Don Knotts was having a little trouble with his new hearing aid. Santana kept teasing him about shouting.

They arrived at the bowling alley, laughing and singing old melodies. After they went inside, they were surprised to discover that all 36 lanes were theirs. Only one member of the press was allowed to be there, and she had agreed that it was entirely off the record. Don Knotts, in his role as Barney Fife, pretended to wave his fake pistol in the air each time someone teased him about his hearing problem.

To warm up, Don Henley suggested that they throw a few balls randomly down the lanes to get a feel for throwing the ball. Glenn Frey laughed at this, as he was a renowned bowler and loved playing for money. Don Knotts was a little embarrassed about how badly he would throw the ball, so he walked the entire length of the cavernous bowling alley to use the last lane. “Holler when you all are ready to get down to business,” he told them. Glenn, always a quick wit, replied, “Just fire a warning shot when you’re ready.” Everyone laughed.

Glenn and Don took turns hurling the ball down the alley. Both were competitively eyeing one another. Santana stepped up and asked them, “Do you hear that?” They listened for a second. After hearing nothing, they continued throwing the ball. As they continued throwing the balls down the lane, they heard a couple of shouts.

All of them froze, certain they could hear someone shouting.

Andy stood up, smiling his huge smile that everyone loved.

“Ignore him. It’s Barney. I mean, Don.”

He paused, taking a moment to look directly at Don Henley and then Glenn Fry, his smile growing even wider.

“That’s just Fife In The Last Lane.”
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No Bull

 

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If someone is being a jerk, just start calling them Monday without explanation.

I think this could totally become a ‘thing.’

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I got dragged to another budget meeting.

“I need ideas about why upper management didn’t take my proposed budget seriously,” my CFO said.

“First, you omitted the words ‘Once upon a time’ from the title,” I replied.

Bonus: no more budget meetings for me.

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The day started like a sauerkraut French kiss.

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Post-Truth Stipulation

Contrary to what teachers might say, the most impractical and useless command in today’s society is “Cite your sources!”

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A friend asked me if I was interested in going horseback riding. I replied, “No, but I might be interested in horsehead riding.” Did anybody ask the horse where he’d prefer I sit?

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For 20 minutes I mistakenly believed I was in a room full of deaf adults. It finally dawned on me that they were all politicians.

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How To Malign Three Careers In One Joke

My friend Jake started as a lawyer, a fact that confused many of his contemporaries.

For the last 5 years, he’s been a used car salesman.

I asked him why he transitioned from being a lawyer to selling used cars.

“Well, X, it’s like this. Being a lawyer was rock bottom and I had to do something to get off the bottom. At least I’m not a lawyer anymore.”

I was a little surprised. “Many people look down on used car salesmen though, Jake.”

“Yes, that’s true, but at least I didn’t become an insurance salesman!” Jake said with great enthusiasm.

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A noted co-worker and efficiency expert April Pennington: ” We’re Scrubbing Bubbles. We work hard so you don’t have to.”

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Each time I see a sappy, uplifting meme about positivity, I go outside and set fire to a magnolia tree. I do my part.

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I bought a book about the power of failing. I failed to read it.

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The Secrecy Ricochet Certainty

 

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Several days ago I wrote about vagueposting.

This isn’t a polished post. It’s just what is running through my mind. Do not take the time to read it if you might get triggered by my stupidity or errant abuse of words and ideas. This post is going to make a few people uncomfortable. Because I suffered the effects of it directly when I was younger, I feel competent to blather about it.

A couple of days later after my vaguepost commentary, a relevant enigma emerged, one involving a tertiary acquaintance and an unexpected death. Instead of just stating what happened, people involved circumspectly concealed the details, which of course is their right. That’s a tough sell in the era of social media. They tried, though. They stepped on toes, left ominous overtones by what was omitted, and generally made many who initially heard of the untimely passing say the worst about ‘how.’ I cringed to read what was missing by implication. As a bona fide lout and perennial foot-in-mouth sufferer, I learned more by what was NOT said.

That’s what people always do. If you think they don’t, you’re fooling yourself. Humans fill in the gaps with whatever information they have and preconceptions they possess. You have the absolute right to live your life in the manner you see fit and to not share things with those you choose not to. You also have the right to remain silent, but as Ron White paraphrased, “That ain’t happening.” Part of the damnable compact with social media is that people are going to ask “What happened?” Some will be tactful and some will not.

I had another one of ‘those’ conversations with my wife: if I get a DWI, shot and killed while impersonating a bank robber, or die in a horrible misunderstanding involving a case of stolen pepperoni, I want her to tell everyone. Publicly. On Facebook. Text blast, too – and even email, if the five people who still use it for personal communication are interested. She can just tell a couple of friends who are worse than a 1950s telephone switchboard operator. She can simply add the don’t-tell-anyone clause, thereby guaranteeing immediate repeat and publication on the hidden channels we all use when we find out anything interesting or salacious. I have one family who is so gossipy that people allege she knew about a family member’s death before the family member even kicked the bucket.

Everyone is going to find out, anyway. Worse, they’ll write, DM, private message, text, call, Skype, or ask 3,587 people what happened until they find out. We all have that one acquaintance who will resort to kidnapping and extortion to find out what we know. It’s easier to spill the beans before the water-boarding commences. Death is a resounding knock on everyone’s door. It is one of the two unifying life experiences we are all guaranteed to share. It is hard-wired into our genetic makeup to ask and inquire.

I’m already going to be hurt, dead, or otherwise encumbered by whatever it is that people want to know about. That people know immediately in no way worsens the situation. In many circumstances, it will improve the sanity of those around me. If whatever happens to me isn’t my fault, there shouldn’t be any embarrassment about it. If whatever happens to me is my fault, it still happened – and everyone is going to find out about it. I just hope I’m wearing clean underwear.

If no one is sure why someone passed, then simply say that. I experienced this same horrific uncertainty myself years ago. Even after getting some answers, all my questions weren’t addressed. It’s okay to say, “We don’t know” if the reasons and details aren’t clear. You can of course also say, “It’s none of your business,” which is the equivalent of throwing gasoline on a fire and ensuring that the person will not rest under the ‘why’ of it is uncovered.

Watching this particular incident unfold once again proves to me a LOT of people were seeking answers behind the scenes. One group was working to find out what happened. The other, of course, was working to keep the details secret, which means that about 1/2 of those whispering were finding out through informal sources. In short, everyone is going to know.

I knew that if I used my particular skills and punched away at it, that I would find someone who knew and had posted on social media. I did so, because I was asked to. Using the most arcane and plodding system you can imagine, I found a post from two days after the incident involving the acquaintance. The route I used to find it resembled a map hand-drawn by a cocaine addict after nine days without sleep. The person posting knew the family by acquaintance. She had been given a minimal explanation, probably in hopes of dissuading further questions. It didn’t, of course. She passed along what she knew. The family of the deceased didn’t overlap much with the person sharing the information so the Control Headquarters For Family Information couldn’t stifle the sharing.

Before you launch into a weird ‘privacy’ argument, it’s important that you remember that the word you’re using doesn’t mean what you think it does. The same holds true for etiquette, manners, or decorum. In the same way that the first question following death is, “What did he or she die from?” attempting to conceal details is only going to make it look like you’ve got something to hide or that an element of shame is involved. Again, yes, of course, it is your right to say nothing. Saying nothing, though, brings consequences too.

It’s true that it is considered bad manners to ask about someone’s death if you are not directly connected. Our brains, though, continue to seek an answer even when etiquette tells us to shut up.

Equally important for you to understand is that I earned this viewpoint in the most horrific manner possible. It’s one of the reasons I’m so hardcore about it. It’s not that people have a right to know your business. I’m not making that argument. People will know your business, though, even if you miss the whispers and back channel communications. I am, however, shouting at you that trying to keep anything quiet is the equivalent of having a picnic and bbq in the trunk of your car during rush hour.

I didn’t come by my opinion lightly.

Got a DWI? Yes, everyone’s talking about it.

Sick? People will feel immense sympathy and many will reach out to help. But they still want to know.

Talk? Yes, of course. Every single time. About everything and anything.

When our social groups were smaller, concealment of the particulars was impossible. In our larger world, one fueled by communication, people still feel that need to know.

You don’t have to like it or embrace it.

Ignore it, though? At your peril.

If I die unexpectedly and the people around me are being coy about it, you can be sure that I died horrifically, as if I suddenly started liking Donald Trump or became a fan of milk as a beverage, watching sports, or testing high voltage wires with my tongue.

You are welcome to make up any story you want to.

Because you’re going to anyway.

And you should – if the people left behind when I sprint off into the unknown won’t tell you what stupid thing I did to hasten my demise.
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The Secrecy Ricochet Certainty
Divulging private information immediately invariably lessens the quantity and intensity of the inquiries which otherwise result in an avalanche.

One of My Earliest Memories

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One of my earliest memories is of me standing upright in the back seat of a black sedan. I looked up front to see my dad Bobby Dean driving and Elizabeth in the passenger seat. Dad was having an affair with Elizabeth. I didn’t know that or what it meant while I was experiencing it. Because of the fog of my memory, for the longest time, I convinced myself it was near Marianna. My mom insisted that there was no way for me to have remembered being in the car. She was angry that I had any such memories at all. I can only recall peering through the windshield ahead of me, toward an outcropping of rock. I sometimes strain to recall more of that day and where we went and to be able to observe the adults in the natural course of that day. Though it may be both a wishful and wistful thought, I know that my dad was happy on that day.
I’m not sure that a return to that moment would maintain its veneer of happiness. I only know that being unable to recall the nuances of the trip elusively frustrates me. One of the other witnesses to the moment is still alive. I’m not sure whether circumstances would allow an honest recollection of our shared moment all those years ago.
And so, it remains a milestone memory, a singular and almost solitary slice of my life.
Of all the sublime moments in life, many of them fall under the umbrella of “Somewhere In Time” moments. Whether you’re a fan of the movie, or of the book on which it was based, “Bid Time Return,” the sensation of wishing to propel back and witness the world around a picture is bittersweet.
I loathe the mechanics of photography, yet you’ll find no greater fan of pictures.
While no fan of staged photography or still photos, I find that the exceptions are always exceptional in depth.
Often, even when perusing the photos of strangers, my imagination overlays the essential ‘me’ into their captured moments.
Observing. Remembering. We’re all traveling in time now, leaving behind a gathering accumulation of pictures for those who follow to scrutinize. If we are lucky, they’ll take the necessary time to struggle to remember the feelings we shared when the pictures were taken.
The picture seen through the windshield of this photo is of my dad, standing shirtless on horseback.
When you gaze back onto the past, it gazes back without accusation. I cannot, however, say the same for myself.
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When We Went To Boston

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Boston gets fairly rowdy around St. Patrick’s Day. My wife Dawn accompanied me as I attended an event there three years ago. While we’re not drinkers like so many others who attended the conference held around the holiday, we tried to socialize and give our contemporaries a run for their money. It was likely it would be our only trip to Boston as adults.

The first night, we went to the House of Blues near Fenway Park. It was loud, raucous, and phenomenal. We left before the Dropkick Murphys made their annual appearance mainly because I wanted to get up early the next morning and see the start of the Southie Road Race.

The race was impressive. As is the case most other years, many of the runners dressed in bright green costumes, complete with wigs and shoes to match. People had warned us to be careful around the fringes, given the occasional idiot who might want to start a fight, ‘borrow’ $100 or just cause a problem.

It wasn’t until Sunday night that we had any problems. I wanted to hear some live music at Lansdowne Pub. My wife was a little reluctant. She knew I was going to want to walk the strip toward Fenway. Cities can only be really enjoyed by walking them. By 7 p.m. we were walking along and watching people and admiring the array of brick buildings lining the streets. To knock some time off the walk, we cut through a parking garage near Lansdowne Street.

As we traversed the garage, we heard shouting somewhere above us, and then a ‘boom.’ The squeal of tires punctuated the ‘boom’ sound. My wife looked at me in alarm. We decided to move along up against the inside wall of the garage. A few seconds later, a car raced around the corner nearest to us. Simultaneously, a man wearing a green jersey and green top hat stepped from the street outside into the parking garage. A man inside the racing car leaned out the window, pointing a pistol at the top hat-wearing pedestrian.

The pedestrian didn’t move out of the way. The man leaning from the window began shooting toward the pedestrian. At least 5 shots rang out. The pedestrian didn’t flinch. He stood his ground as the shots were fired. The car swerved around him at the last second and popped out of the garage to escape.

My wife and I ran over to the man in the top hat. Our adrenaline was pumping. “Oh my god! Are you okay?” we shouted as we neared him.

“Thanks, mates. Yes, I’m fine. Bullets can’t hurt me.” He seemed to be completely calm. Surprisingly, I don’t think he had been drinking.

He held out his right hand as if to shake mine.

My wife, as always, had a million questions.

“What do you mean, ‘Bullets can’t hurt you.'” she asked.

“My name is Rick O’Shea,” he said, as I shook his hand, and answering my wife’s question.
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¿Capers: Nature’s Prank of Deliciousness?

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My wife noticed that the market offered Great Value capers as we scavenged the aisles. We use a shopping system consisting of two parts: meticulously-compiled lists using a digital system, followed by an uncontrolled bout of consumerism and selecting one of everything which strikes our fancy. To outsiders, we sound and look like we have been on a deserted island for fifteen years.

I controlled myself and bought only two jars of capers, even as I silently wept at my sin of leaving some capers on the shelf, sentencing them to a solitary life. Capers are one of those things which I will consume until the last one on Earth is in my belly. I work hard to temporarily forget about them. Despite my efforts, they sometimes summon me in my slumbers. I love capers so much that I even eat them on air-popped popcorn, in soup, and straight from the jar.

Note: If you rinse your capers prior to ingestion, you are not the type of person who will be reading anything I write. It’s a fact that rinsing anything conveys the wrong message to your loved ones.

Technically, capers are either flower buds or cleverly-disguised rabbit droppings. I’ve learned that the answer depends on whom you ask. Many argue that they aren’t actually edible at all. This is a specious argument: anything is “edible” with enough will power and enthusiasm.

My mom’s onion-laden “cooking” proved this thesis decades ago. I was forced to try many dishes and foods almost at literal gunpoint. Unfortunately for me, capers were nowhere to be found anywhere among my parent’s choices for food. It would have been easier for me to request a lit cigarette at twelve years of age than ask for something as exotic as a caper. Instead of capers, I ate boatloads of onions and cigarette ash.

Years ago, I discovered that the Romans used capers to treat paralysis. This confused me, as many people who’ve tried capers in my presence immediately freeze with a horrific grimace of disgust on their face. That sort of person cannot be trusted, so take note. For some, capers taste exceedingly lemony. The taste is so pronouncedly lemony that some who eat them report seeing nothing but Ford motor products for an hour after eating.

If you’re interested in using capers in your meals, the single most important note is this: whatever amount you think is reasonable, quadruple that and sit back and enjoy the puzzled looks of your soon-to-be former friends and alienated family members as they share your culinary gift of capers. As far as you know, it’s impossible to have a caper allergy. If you inadvertently discover that someone does have such an allergy, you should rest easy, knowing that you found a way for them to live a moment of intense joy as they tried this treat.

Among other health benefits, capers will prevent you from getting a cold or the flu. This isn’t due to their medicinal properties; rather, the odor tends to keep normal human beings at an adequate distance, one which precludes airborne germs and viruses from reaching you.

Joking aside, capers are purported to have many health benefits. If I owned an MLM pyramid scheme (aren’t they all, though), I might list the benefits here. I will take the time to admonish you, though. If you eat capers for any reason other than the divine flavor of this briny foodstuff, you should be forced to march half-naked in the Alaskan tundra. Capers are their own reward. However, if you’re a real human being and appreciate fried food, fried capers are your answer to a long, happy life. I don’t ever fry food, so I can only imagine enjoying them this way again.

Note: don’t take health or eating advice from anyone unless you can see everything they themselves eat. Regardless of what they might say, they’re eating pork rinds and mayonnaise, like the rest of us.

Today, I made spaghetti squash with a tomato alfredo sauce. On my portion, I lovingly carpeted my squash with over half a jar of capers. My wife, on the other hand, savagely refused my generous offer to do the same justice to her plate.

Last week, I was deprived of both spaghetti squash and capers. Some villainous fiend had circumspectly placed a couple of bright-yellow honeydew melons in the spaghetti squash bin. Noting the pronounced color, I chose one without further review. It wasn’t until I used a hacksaw to cut the alleged squash lengthwise and noted the incredible ease with which I cut the object, followed by the pungently sweet scent of honeydew melon, that I realized my idiocy had once again prevailed.

Well played, Walmart Produce Villain. We’ll meet at some future point. If I catch you as you laughingly switch lookalike produce, I shall grab your pants and yank them down to your ankles in full view of our fellow Walmart shoppers. It’s not like we haven’t witnessed that before, many times, shopping there.

Which reminds me to add buns to my Alexa shopping list.

As I sit here writing this, my caper addiction calls my name. I’m probably going to use one of the online grocers and surprise them with a 128-bottle order of capers.

Pictured: capers with a side of capers, garnished with capers. The pistol is in anticipation of all the interlopers who will attempt to separate you from your plate of capers. The lemon slices are to squirt in said assailant’s eyes if your gun is taken.

P.S. I can’t understand why you’re still reading this. Have you learned nothing? You should be either eating or shopping for capers right now.