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Iíve got it all, yíall.
Iíve got the good job, the big house, the loving family (cough, cough), an office, a Prius in the garage, and a dormant case of herpes.
Itís a tad later in my life than I would have liked it to be. I was supposed to have the Great American Novel written by now. I should at least be work-shopping the manuscript.
I let some time slip by. I drove kids to piano lessons and scout meetings. I cleaned the basement a couple dozen times. I shoveled the walks and hung shelves.
The writing muscle atrophies.
Sally knew I was lying.
I felt sick.
Clinging to a hope that she wasn't sure that I lied, I maintained the charade.
I couldn't maintain eye contact.
I added too many details.
My mouth went dry.
I wanted to go back to life before the lie.
I hadn't needed the lie in the first place.
It was an innocent, chance encounter.
"I haven't seen Bridgit in years," I blurted.
I could have so easily said, "Yeah, I just ran into her at Borders. She was holding a book signing. We had a drink afterward. It was forgettable."
My grandmother is 91 and beset by dementia. Right after my grandfather died, she did a lot of ranting. She had delusions about grandpa, some of which were disturbing (he ran a whorehouse through a secret door in his room at the nursing home) and others that were enigmatic (he did some terrible things).
She also screamed at me about wanting her money. She hated the fact that I had control of it.
I admit to this sorely tempting situation.
Back to the Psych 101 thing. Is this projecting?Ö
I read a lot into the way she stares at me.
Wow, this new Vista machine is really something, with 4 gig of RAM just for starters, and the rest of the components of equal caliber. It only took me about a half an hour to go from sitting down at my desk to typing my first word.
I contemplated stone tablet and chisel. Would I have finished my hundred words by now?
Granted, I synced my PDA and put 33GB of music on shuffle play (Alvin and the Chipmunks are singing ďLove Shack.Ē Where the heck did that come from?).
Okay, Iím ready for a great idea.
97 words already?
I manage people. It's my job. I wasn't trained for it, and perhaps I'm the embodiment of the Peter Principle, but I seem to be stumbling through the project fairly well. My philosophy has evolved into "exert only the amount of discipline necessary to get the job done, and be as much of a Mensch as possible the rest of the time." It's because I'm a manager who happens to be the type of person that just wants people to like him. In this job, it's more likely that you'll get yourself in deep shit by being nice to people.
You wouldn't want this guy on the boards when your mother's on the airplane. Ernie can't separate the cheeks of his ass.
Three miles and a thousand feet. Who knows if it's enough? It's the standard. You spend twenty or thirty years trying to keep the airplanes from getting closer than that, you just assume that it's enough.
Frankly, you come to consider it excessive.
A miss is as good as a mile.
It's a big sky.
Then you think about Ernie, and you admit that three and a thousand might not be enough.
Not for my mom.
Jerry got his hair cut, and I am astounded by how my opinion of him instantly changed.
He went from a shaggy-hair radical to an ordinary Joe.
He's just as scraggly, though, as this shorter haircut seems to protest its new home. It's an apparent effort on his hair's part to return to its former state of defiance.
He seems less dangerous. His words have lost gravity.
When a guy is fifty and his hair is long, it conveys a life-long devotion to the counter-culture.
When you look in the mirror, is what you see what you want to say?
Itís incumbent on each new modern generation to make a social statement that sets it apart from the previous generation.
When I was young, it was long hair. At the time, having long hair evoked a powerful response from the over thirty crowd, and Iím not talking about a positive response.
I find it amusing that so many generals and admirals in todayís military sport longish hair. Itís the influence of seventies that gradually eased the standards of military coiffure, so that the brass of today look just as out of date as the brass of the seventies did then.
I really enjoy word games. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve playing games like Password and Scrabble with my family. My wife says that I'm too competitive. I see it more as getting jazzed when there's some real competition out there. Mostly I win too easily, and that leaves me feeling empty, unsatisfied. Like when we play Boggle. I kick ass at Boggle, but I'm always jogging across the finish line.
Four days ago I discovered Weboggle. I placed my fingers confidently on the keyboard and on my first try I came in 124th out of 142.
Okay, so hair was the thing in the seventies. These days, it seems that anything goes with hair. Iím okay with that, which must mean that itís not serving the purpose of shocking the out crowd.
I have to say that piercings are still evoking enough revulsion in me to qualify as a generational separator.
My friendís daughter is quite comely, and Iím not about to violate that taboo, but her tattoos and her piercings serve quite nicely to put an exclamation point to it.
She just got her cheek pierced - I canít quite figure how itís anchored.
Iím freezing in here. I work hard to keep trim
(I grew up a fat kid, so I have the advantage of obsession when it comes to controlling my weight), but less fat definitely affects my protection from cold. My extra-low pulse rate, which is supposedly a good thing, exacerbates the problem by not getting a fresh supply of warm blood to my extremities. My fingers and toes complain raucously throughout the winter, and here it is spring and the air conditioning in my office is stuck on hyper-drive.
I look old enough without having to wear this silly Cardigan.
I keep wearing the same shoes.
I know that Iím no hipster. No piercings, unable to identify popular music, invisible to nineteen year-old girls.
I donít want to be one of those old guys, though, who is so tragically unhip that you can instantly identify my decade. I want to keep up, but with some dignity.
I know a few guys who go overboard trying to keep up, despite their age. Itís sad, and Iíd rather accept my years than make my denial so flagrant.
So I think of updating my shoes, but the popular styles
turn me off.
I want a beautiful girl.
I see these other older guys and am frankly incredulous that they can keep their disinterested air around these foxy babes. Iím sure that everyone sees my eyes lingering too long on the dťcolletage, the spittle on my lips, the crooked boner in my pants.
Iím just waiting for a sign. One irrefutable come-hither look, one unequivocal invitation.
It ainít happening. I attribute my stable (if loveless) marriage to my spinelessness. I was never the forward type. I never displayed that daring that it took to get the chicks.
ďFaint heart never won fair maiden.Ē
It's been a long time since I took Psych 101, but I think this is projectingÖ
I'm feeling gross about having wasted my time at work in aimless internet surfing, so when I go home I yell at my kids for sitting around in front of the TV when there's so many constructive things that they could be doing.
I have watched my weight slowly creep up for the past two weeks, and this morning the scale barked at me, so this evening I can hardly stand watching my chubby son stuff another piece of pizza in his mouth.
Gerry has sown bitter seeds for twenty-five years (at least), and everywhere he turns he reaps the bountiful yield.
None of his co-workers can stand to be around him.
His finest hours are spent alone in his clean garage with his shiny cars.
He fancies himself an expert in his field, but heís a widely acknowledge incompetent.
He deals with others in a disinterested and dismissive tone.
He comes to work sometimes neatly trimmed and tidily dressed, but sometimes he is disheveled and frumpy. His actions, however, are consistent (arrogant, impolite) despite his appearance.
His wife is dying of cancer.
Iím a reincarnation of a previous 100words maven.
This time I wonít share with people I know what I write here.
I tried that last time. I regret it because I wrote some things that I wish those people hadnít read. Itís not so much that I think that they shared that private knowledge (though I think they did), but that once I had revealed my 100words identity to them, it turned on my internal censors. I want to write without inhibition. Even now, I find myself cringing at what I write, and imagining that I will eventually be discovered.
I look at some of the prices on a menu, and I canít help but think that I would rather be at home eating forty-five cents worth of something more delicious.
To me, nothing on a menu beats a bowl of cereal with strawberries and half-and-half. Well, maybe. Until you add some chunks of freshly buttered toast on top of the cereal, and push them with your spoon down into the now pink half-and-half in the bottom of the cereal bowl.
Thirty dollars for veal scallopini? Itís good, but it leaves me with that awful empty feeling in my wallet.
I spend a dollar seven at McDonaldís every day for a hot fudge sundae (my step-sister from St. Louis pronounces that as ďsun-duhĒ, which just kills me).
I eat fruit and veggies and whole grains the rest of the day, but for ten minutes or so each day, I am slurping up this sweet and indefensible food item like it was the finest food on the planet. I take my plastic spoon and I root around in the little nooks of the fluted plastic cup for the last little bits of hot fudge.
I could lose a few pounds Ö
All year long there are plenty of cars on the road, and the grocery stores are crowded, but you never truly get a sense for how many people live around you until the first really nice day of spring.
Itís like you just dropped a cherry bomb in an anthill. There are people everywhere.
All excuses for remaining indoors must finally sound hollow to even the most indolent of couch-potatoes (That episode of
wasnít that good the last time I watched it, and I can see that neb-shit from across the street looking over here judging meÖ ).
All of my dreams are built on what I will accomplish, but I'm oppressed by my inactivity. Perhaps inertia. Yeah, that's closer. I'm just not getting the ball rolling. There are times that I do - get the ball rolling, that is. I can become a whirling dervish, writing volumes, creating art, cleaning the basement, building a tree house. But it only seems to come if I'm under a time pressure. If I've got too much time, I'll take a desultory stroll through the web from which I return four wasted hours later.
The self-loathing tastes like dust in my mouth.
I used to see fat people and wonder how they got anything done. I would struggle with conflicting data.
Here's a man who seems to have a good job, but he's fat. Maybe he's faking his way through.
They just introduced someone of impressive pedigree and reputation, but when he comes up to the podium, I see this incredible mass of jiggling goo, and I just can't reconcile the two.
Us fat people are lazy. We don't have the get-up-and-go that it takes to achieveÖwell, anything, really. We feel a deadline looming and we eat. Comfort food. Warm and sweet.
Iím tough on my kids.
I was raised that way, so I come by it rightly, but I also look to break the legacy of poor parenting where appropriate. To weed out the poor practices where I can discern them. I might be mistaken occasionally as to which practices work.
Thatís where a recent generation of parents went astray and erred on the side of permissiveness. It looked good on paper.
So I donít know where Iím making shrewd parenting decisions or overcompensating for that societal blunder.
Dad was harsh, but I recall being a happy kid, despite the despot.
Some of my sonís friends are the embodiment of the failure of permissive parenting.
I sometimes get to watch the parents engaging the kids in what Iím sure they see as a sensitive and thoughtful manner, their reluctance to employ the iron hand obvious in their strategy.
This one boy is a sullen little shit who wonít smile for a photograph. Worse, he intentionally puts on the most miserable face that he can manage (the kid must practice in the mirror). Class pictures, pictures from scout camp, candid shots, heís a sourpuss in every shot of him Iíve ever seen.
My son has another friend we call Eddie Haskell behind his back. I know itís insensitive considering that the kid is only nine years old, but the description is just too good to pass on.
For my younger readers, Eddie Haskell was a character on
Leave It To Beaver
, which you may have seen thanks to the likes of TV Land channel.
Eddie was over-the-top polite to parents (ďYou look very nice today, Mrs. CleaverĒ) while he was a nasty schemer when the adults werenít around.
I see this little guy as the worst of all influences on my son.
I have lost my desire to become a pilot.
I know that age is a big part of that, but itís something else. Iím thinking Google Earth did it.
When I was a kid, I had this tremendous desire to attach a camera to a kite or a remote controlled airplane so that I could get aerial shots.
I wanted to see what my world looked like from above. I knew just enough from the few times that I flew to appreciate the way that being a few thousand feet in the air radically alters your view of your surroundings.
When I think about sex these days, Iím actually speaking to myself in code. Itís like two halves of myself that have this unacknowledged agreement about what sex means.
So if I fantasize about sex with Tommyís mommy, I imagine some missionary position rendezvous in one of our master bedrooms, and all of the danger and guilt that goes with it, and I talk myself out of it pretty quickly.
The truth is, I just want to bury my face in her tits while she tells me what a great guy she and all the other moms think I am.
I want to retire and write. So what's stopping me?
Money. I can't really count on any income from writing, so I have to reconcile the effects of my reduced income.
Self discipline. I love to write, but there's a real possibility that I'll fritter away time on the internet or putzing at my work bench.
I'm on the path of least resistance. It's just too easy to keep working. It's like having the opportunity to move to a new house. You know you'd like to live there, but the task of the move evokes fatigue just thinking about it.
I was on Slate.com, as always concerned that it's a halfway house to the conservative right, and I couldn't resist the click on the Eiffel Tower pix.
Silhouettes of embracing couples used to be just so much background noise. Innocuous design. Like flower shapes or seashells or landscapes.
Now they have a certain bite.
Accusatory when they tell me that if I were a better person, I'd still be making some loving silhouettes of my own.
Nostalgic when I indulge in the embraces of my memory.
Bittersweet when I contemplate the possibility of ever enjoying another lusty and loving relationship.
When trying to decide what to write, I am consistently discounting the here and now. I consider it to be too mundane, self-absorbed, dry and uninteresting. Some small voice tells me that I should make it my goal to glean the interesting from the apparently dull, to discern the finer brush strokes of any given day, any given moment.
It's especially poignant, then, when I see some successful bit of writing that has portrayed, in compelling allegory, the very episode of my life that I had only the day before dismissed with extreme prejudice.
But it's such a gray dayÖ
I can't open my window for the helicopter noise. They come and go throughout the day, medical and TV choppers mostly, on their dramatic missions to automobile accidents or structure fires or traffic jams or who knows what else.
It's a fantastic way to get around quickly, but the violence they commit to the air molecules and the inner ear subtracts from their appeal.
And the ducking. The implications of the ducking is that you could get your head chopped off.
Imagine the popularity of an aircraft that could fly like a helicopter, but quietly, and without those horrific blades.
I'll be at the funeral home today to navigate the impossible path of consoling a mother who has lost her adult daughter to a drug overdose. Attempts at rehearsing this task have left me blank, so I will probably limit my part to mute hugs and sober nods.
On my worst day, I held tenaciously to life. Sure, I've challenged death, but it was likely because life held so much value that the thrill held a corresponding and occasionally compelling intensity.
This girl must have been residing in a place where she recalled the value of life in intermittent whispers.
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