Category Archives: Whimsical

Wonder

For all the things in life for which I am grateful, none of them are things.

All are invisible, intangible, and irreplaceable.

A wise man once said that as one’s head aligns with one’s life, happiness is inevitable.

I sit, looking out the window, as the afternoon rain falls on February’s last day.

I sit, I wonder.

I sit in wonder.

A Moment

Of all things blowing through the wide alley as he walked hurriedly past, he found the pages of someone’s hand-written manuscript to be the most beguiling. He could only imagine who might have written the pages, each filled with tiny, perfect cursive lettering. What might be contained in the scrawls also remained a mystery. He enjoyed imagining such things. All the billions of people loose in the world, each trapped in the prism of their mind. He’d witnessed innumerable people with something to say rendered silent by the sheer force of fear; fear of sharing, fear of ridicule, fear of exposing one’s ignorance. For all the reluctance, he also knew that everyone shares the fundamental fear of expression. Silence is the most comfortable choice. As he neared the mouth of the alley and the dirty street beyond it, more pages blew past. An entire universe swirled across the dirty pavement. He didn’t notice the dirt—just the possibility. As the wind picked up, he walked faster. He had places to go.

Another Helping Of Buoyancy

I told the two initially hesitant young people, “Lunch is on me. No, really. No, it’s okay. Just say thanks and have a great day!” The young man said, “Well, okay, thank you!” as a smile almost certainly formed on his face. The young woman with him just widened her eyes in surprise and nodded. She was so demure that she may have spoken – and her voice was so faint it might not have pierced the fabric of her mask. I stepped up to pay for their food and tip and then ordered my food. The cashier got tickled that I tipped on my bill, too. They thanked me again as I walked past to wait for my to-go order. It was a Lemon Moment, one that lightened my beleaguered step.

As I left, even though my right knee still hurt, I hurried down the sidewalk and across the crosswalk, barely recognizing the backdrop of discomfort. The sun was on my back and face and my arm was laden with delicious and healthy food that I would certainly enjoy.

I stopped at the mailbox on the way home. A van was parked in front of the community boxes. As I stepped up to use my key, a voice said, “Hey Pelón!” (He’s Latino and we always speak Spanish as our preferred language. He has much more personality in his native language, too.) I turned to see an old friend smiling at me. We once worked together. The job was often grueling and thankless but many friendships were forged there. He lives in the same neighborhood. In fact, the day he came to see about buying a house, it was me who introduced him to the overall pros and cons of choosing a house here – before he had to suffer the presence of a salesman who didn’t speak Spanish and had no discernible sense of humor. My old friend is moving for a variety of reasons, some of which don’t reflect well on the area. We traded several laughs. Out of left field, he casually told me he has a specific type of cancer. He caught it early and he’s stoic about that sort of thing anyway. Through the laughter, I felt terrible for him. He is a hard worker and left his other job so he could enjoy life more, something I mentioned to him often when we worked together. In the middle of simplifying his life, cancer knocked on his door. Still, we laughed.

I forgot all about my knee for a moment and whispered a word of thanks to the universe. Not because the fickle finger of circumstance chose another, but because in this instance, the person afflicted did not take his selection as an indictment about life. He still laughs. Undoubtedly today – and always.

The food was indeed delicious. The moments, though? Sublime.

I’ll take another helping of those.

Right In The Eye

“Humor is in the eye of the beholder but in the craw of the begrudging.”

Underestimating the distance chasm between intent and receipt is one of my greatest weaknesses. But also one of my strengths. How much love, mirth, and creativity fail to shine because we suffer the illusion that we have any control over the manner in which anything is interpreted.

“That which can be adequately explained by stupidity should not be attributed to malice.” It’s a wise cliché for a reason. My version is better: “That which can be adequately explained by humor, stupidity, or simple oversight should not be attributed to malice unless the other guy is a real asshole; in which case, fire away.”

It’s not that we can’t spout malice with frequency.

The reality is that most of the people we allow in our lives just don’t behave that way, not really. And if they do, it’s our fault, not theirs, that we gave them room in our sumo ring.

For every angry word, a laugh is displaced. For every frown, a smile withers.
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“It’s always funny until someone gets hurt. Then it’s just hilarious.” -Bill Hicks
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“Keep your sense of humor. As General Joe Stillwell said, ‘The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind’.” -Donald Rumsfeld
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“I am as bad as the worst, but, thank God, I am as good as the best.” -Walt Whitman
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Here’s an old one: “I, for one, like Roman Numerals.”
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For The New Year

“Time seldom approaches with a wild machete. It creeps from behind with a small, concealed knife.” – X

But Mel Brooks said, “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

Someone more creative than me pointed out that the sand in an hourglass imprisons itself, as glass is made from sand. Don’t you wonder if we aren’t the same, becoming our own prisoners? There’s no emotion or problem that we can’t complicate, escalate, or initiate.

Noted philosopher Coco Chanel said, “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” She obviously never worked a real job or dealt with people who have few laughs in their hearts.

My scars insist that time is real, but in the quiet moments, I wonder. I used to assume that most people had these thoughts. It was disappointing to discover that many people can’t imagine that Aslan or tesseracts are real – or walk in an imagined world where they might be the figments of a greater creature’s imagination.

“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” – Bill Watterson. I was equally surprised in later life to find people who deny that sitting in a quiet room can sometimes be better than a vacation. All good lives start with a quiet room. Add your preferred levels of crazy for a great life. Subtract what takes you further from the quiet room. It might be that simple for many of us.

“Why is that I never heard these words: ‘Let’s gather by the river, drink moonshine, and tell jokes and the stories of our lives.’ But I always hear stories of obligation and things that don’t linger in the minds of others.” – X

If you’ve never read “The Time Traveller’s Wife,” you missed this quote by Audrey Niffenegger: “It’s dark now and I am very tired. I love you, always. Time is nothing.”

Haruki Murakami said, either comically or seriously, “For a while” is a phrase whose length can’t be measured. At least by the person who’s waiting.”

Hippocrates (assuming it was the father of medicine and not the hockey player of the same name), said: “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”

We all wonder about 2020, which ends in about a month. We look forward. Where were we a month ago? The difference between comparing now to then is a question of knowing what lies in the interim. It requires no faith. With what lies ahead, our imaginations seize us. Whether that imagination is fueled by the dread of what will come or the expectation that we will find a way to be who we need to be is our choice.

This is my New Year’s post, written a month early.

If you can’t feel time slipping up behind you with that knife, that is okay. There is no defense against it except to live a good life. You only win by yielding.

One last wise quote: “Time is a great healer, but a poor beautician.” -Lucille S. Harper

Prank Cards, Even For Xmas

For many, the tradition of holiday cards is a dying custom. I don’t envy people for their interests or habits. It’s not a good recipe for living to feel obligated to follow the old ways. For me, though, there are times when the opportunity to send cards brings out the part of me that lives in a vast world full of billions of souls, each wanting a little bit of spectacle and magic. Oddly, even those who’ve scorned social media are as likely to have given up writing letters or sending a holiday card to friends and family. It’s a dying custom.

It’s hard for me to send a simple card. I have to make it complicated and personal! 

I don’t send out cards in expectation of reciprocity. That, too, is a poor way to live one’s life. There are times when I put in a little bit of effort and then am surprised when I hear nothing in response, though. That’s part of the bittersweetness of sending unsolicited bits of fun and zaniness out in the world. People don’t have the time – or always make it – to let you know they liked it or hated it. Static sometimes fills the air. It’s a gift to be able to tune it out when you put out some creativity in the world. A good response is to keep sending them cards regardless of their interaction. 

A couple of years ago, I created a complex and custom birthday card online and sent it to an acquaintance. I made the card from social media pictures. It was a work of art, if I do say so myself. I used another return address to conceal my identity further. Since the company which printed and mailed my creation sent it, there was no postal marking to identify its origin. My acquaintance was genuinely perplexed and spent DAYS vainly trying to discern who might have created the artwork cards. So great was her interest that she finally posted on her social media page to beg for help figuring out ‘who.’ I was surprised that no one immediately connected the dots to me, given the work’s detail.

In a tradition I don’t always follow or do in the same manner, I send several personalized Christmas cards to people and families that I’ll never meet. In a few cases, I found pictures of LinkedIn, yearbooks from long ago, or social media. I downloaded them, and in some instances, photoshopped them before creating the custom cards that went to each of them. I chose a person at random from a yearbook for one of the lucky recipients I’d never seen before and researched them sufficiently to discover their new life. I also used ancestry to find a distant cousin and pieced together clues to figure out their real identity from the anonymous one used on the ancestry website. Using an inmate website, I found a person’s name and I.D. number and then sent him a glorious card and words of encouragement.

Though it might paint me as a bit of a weirdo, I find it challenging to explain to others how much fun I derive from sending total strangers a holiday card, especially when I personalize each with their pictures.

In each of these cases, I enjoyed each recipient’s imagined scenarios in my head, as they puzzled the personalized card from someone they didn’t know. In some cases, I used fake identities and addresses. In others, I used my real name, which might not necessarily allay concerns. “X” seems more like an accusation in some cases.

Of course, I also sent a few cards to people I do know, without using my real name and address, hoping to give them a bit of yuletide joy as they vainly attempted to figure out who had sent them a card. All those cards were customized and were a pleasure to create. I also sent a few to people using other friends and family members as the sender. I love living in a world wherein it is possible to convince people that someone else sent them a card, no matter how they might deny it.

Likely, I’ll never hear any of the stories that resulted from most of these custom cards. That’s how it works, though. Not knowing is often more rewarding than discovering the mundane answers.

Many people received Xmas cards over the years without knowing the person they thought sent it had nothing to do with it. Also? People don’t always look closely at the pictures. You wouldn’t believe the people and things I’ve edited into images without anyone noticing. 

I can imagine several of the recipients scratching their heads in bewilderment, wondering who, what, when, and where – all without an answer. They may half-expect a repeat this year. Because I used an online address book for most of them, I could go back and send them another card this year. That would get them thinking.

Because much of our modern lives are now redirected by technology, the old ways provide another road to have a bit of fun.

P.S. If you are not familiar with Postable, it’s a great way to have some of the fun without needing to do the actual creation by hand. Postable – Create and Send Custom Cards  You can upload pictures and design custom cards. They’ll also put it in an envelope and mail it for you – using any return address you might dream up. If you want to do Christmas or holiday cards, I highly recommend that you give Postable a try.

Once Upon A Time

I waved hello to the girl standing at the end of the trailer. Though the trailer had probably seen its last tenant, the little girl would grow up to touch thousands of people. She didn’t understand that the voice in her head was incapable of silence. As happens in so many similar places, the cauldron’s circumstance made it difficult for her to talk above a whisper. She would leave the place. Such places and the people who inhabit them touch us deeply and rob us of our ability to flourish.

I waved again, though decades of intervening history lie like a chasm between us.

Because no good act goes unheard in a just world, my small voice and gesture caught her attention. Time became diaphanous.

She looked up inquisitively. I felt her as she saw me wave.

Impossibly, she began to shout. The silence was no longer her prison.

When Life Hands You a Lemon, Embrace It

This is a non-traditional post. I started with a different idea. Instead of discarding it, I’m posting it.

“Y el amor nunca es amor si no es idiota…” Ricardo Arjona.
(From “El Amor Que Me Tenía)
Loosely translated: “…and love is never love if it is not idiocy…”

“Love is the thing that compels you to do something stupid before you do something even stupider.” – X

“Love is the thing that compels you to do something stupid before being able to do something reasonable.” – X (alternate)

As Steven Wright said: “I bought one of those tapes to teach you Spanish in your sleep. During the night, the tape skipped. Now I can only stutter in Spanish.”

Likewise, I find myself stuttering in other regards, wondering where people find the confidence and ease to live the life they know they should be living. I’m increasingly sure most of them are winging it.

“My wife said to me last night, “You treat our relationship like some kind of game!” Which unfortunately cost her 12 points and a bonus chance.” – Unknown

“X, stupidity isn’t a crime, so you are free to go.” – Several people.

“Without a doubt, my favorite Robin Williams movie is Mrs. Fire.” – Internet

I was voted Most Humorous in Mortuary School. I need to use that more.

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“Thank you for all your support,” I shouted to my work pants, acknowledging they had been tasked with the impossible.

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The Family Dinner Rule: If it ain’t been said at least four times, then it ain’t been said.

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My sister-in-law Darla’s bathroom had water all over the floor!

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My director told me I could no longer dramatically do a puff of magic smoke every time I left the work area, so I switched to glitter capsules. He’s pissed. But kind of cute with his face covered in glitter.

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My neighbors installed security cameras yesterday. I’m obsessed with doing puppet or character shows above the fenceline now. I’m letting you know in case they don’t find my idea as funny and brilliant as it seems to be to me.

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“You’re running for President – not Sheriff of Cracker Barrel.” – X

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IF YOU SEE A LINK THAT SAYS “DONALD TRUMP NUDE,” DON’T CLICK ON IT. IT’S A VIRUS AND MAKES EVERYTHING YOU TYPE APPEAR IN ALL CAPS. – X

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Springdale is having its Demolition Derby at the end of the month. Good news: AAF and Car-Mart, as always, are selling cars perfect for just such an event. #satire

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I wonder if anyone doing genealogy found out they had a great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather who was a Sheriff – and then found out they lost their job for failing to fire a warning arrow at a suspect.

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If I were in a gang, I wouldn’t carry a traditional weapon. I’d carry a violin. No one would see that coming until it splintered all over their head. Also, the police would have to start frisking people for violins.

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This Joke Works For Any Profession

Verne and Fern were sitting in the living room talking.

Fern said, “I’d like to win the lottery!”

Verne replied, “Why do you want to win the lottery? “Well,” Fern said, “I’d like to do nothing all day.”

Verne frowned. “You don’t need to win the lottery to do nothing all day! All you need to do is become a Maintenance Person.”

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Springdale experienced a massively thick fog last night, one that made the trees sound like a slowly running creek as they became drenched and heavy, highlighted the work of the surrounding spiders, and gave me an opportunity to make an unedited gif from the moisture blanketing the air.

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Untested truth: you COULD be bulletproof.

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In the way that so often happens to all of us, I had leftover Pitchfork Creeper pictures from my last birthday wrapping gift surprise. Because it’s been too long since I’ve done so, I took my extras with me to the grocery store and strategically placed them around the store.As always, I find myself laughing and wondering what people think as they encounter them in their mundane shopping experiences.*

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If you find yourself in a situation in which you are driving around behind random trucks to evaluate the scent and desirability of each vehicle’s exhaust, the truth is that there is someone out there who is thinking the same thing. That thought either liberates or confines.

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No one can convince me that flipping the overhead lights off as you exit a bathroom, knowing that someone is seated in a stall, isn’t funny. Not even the shrieks of my last victim dissuade me from this laughter.

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“I left nothing unsaid” can be either a reflection of personal authenticity or a sign you’re talking so much that the O2 masks may drop at any moment.

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The psychic I want to see is one who can tell me what lies are ahead. – x

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Though I am reluctant to admit it, I watched the new Borat movie. The movie? Terrible. Some of the jokes? Both surreal and hilarious. I’m informing you so that you can remind me of this when I try to use words such as “style” or “wit” without looking like a hypocrite. This movie is unintentionally a cross-section of so much that we imagine ourselves to be in the world, using satire and cringe so viciously that I wanted to file a police report.

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Any horror movie with the soundtrack sped up becomes a comedy. Any life remembered with nostalgia becomes too bittersweet to narrate.

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Masks are the minimum cost all of us should pay in public to acknowledge that we’re connected and reciprocally responsible for one another. – X

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My sister-in-law recently got diagnosed as a kleptomaniac. We were relieved to hear it. It explained why she took things literally.

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“Today is a full tomorrow, if you know what I mean!”

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Several hundred full-size candy bars doesn’t look like much now. Will there be little ghouls to rescue us from this hoard? *

The answer was “Yes!”

So many kids danced. laughed, and were incredulous to see me shoving handfuls of full-size candy into their hands and bags. I did my best to get the chaperones and adults to choose something, too.

At the end, I walked down the block with a full bin of bars. I gave the bin to the children at the door. Screaming and fits of joy ensued. I have to say it was one of those moments that I’ll probably remember forever.

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“Perfume as marinade” is a terrible way to get ready in the morning.

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I tried contactless delivery but the driver ended up in the backyard.

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For reasons I’ll explain in more detail if you need it, you should never mumble when ordering at a Taqueria.

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He didn’t just look a gift horse in the mouth but always took a long piercing look at the other end too.

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“X, I see that you’ve noted ‘Z’ in the blank for blood. That’s supposed to be your blood type.” The nurse looked at me expectantly. “It’s my blood typo, yes.” I smiled.”What does that mean?” She said.”Well, I wasn’t planned,” I said and looked away to give her a minute to figure out my humor.

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This is some of the weirdest, nastiest, and most delicious plant-based meat alternative I’ve ever tried. The texture is akin to alien epidermis. But I LOVE it!

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My voting anecdote squashes all others. For several elections, the Rodeo Grounds was my nirvana. I thought it couldn’t get any better. For this election, I of course voted in person. Having a stupid name amplifies the possibility of shenanigans, both giving and receiving. I waited zero seconds to get in. Zero to be identified. Zero to get to the kiosk to vote. And zero seconds to put the ballot in the final collection slot. My apologies to everyone who didn’t wait zero seconds, like me.

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Get To Know Me

I still buy an entirely new set of socks each time I need them. For me, they are like new tires. Buying a few is tomfoolery. As comedian Steven Wright does, I wear and sort my socks based on thickness rather than color. Colorblind people everywhere are in my corner.

If that joke doesn’t work for you, try this one by Steve Martin: “I like a woman with a head on her shoulders. I hate necks.”

Since you’re already a fan of mine as evidenced by the fact that you still somehow find the nerve to read what I write, you also know that I do not fold socks. It’s not that the mechanics of it escape me. It’s the folly of the days of one’s life spent doing it. Before you attack me, NO, I do not know what I’ve otherwise done with this amazing bunch of time I’ve saved by not folding socks.

Often, I of course use the old laundered socks as packaging material. Years ago, I accumulated them and packed them into my mom’s surprise packages I sent her. I sometimes wear the socks the last time when I’m on a trip and discard them once worn. There have been times I’m certain that housekeeping wonders what kind of lunatic discards his socks.

Not that y’all care to know, but I do the same with my underwear – except I don’t use those in my mailings, unless you ask me to. People tend to react unexpectedly upon opening a surprise box and discover underwear in various stages of decomposition. The idea of having underwear with different birthdays amuses me.

Before you mock me, I’ll admit that I CAN intermittently replace my socks and underwear without a total replenishment. But what else would I do with this obvious wealth I’ve accumulated in life? If one cannot splurge and buy a new set of underwear in its entirety, that is when life gets truly oppressive. You won’t find that written anywhere unless you inherited the diary of a madman.

For all the above reasons, perhaps you can now see why I am a liberal.