A Holiday That Evolves With Time (and Hormones)

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Easter has always been a complex and inconsistent holiday for me. When I was a relatively wee lad, the day was filled with baskets of fine chocolates, books, and ensembles perhaps better befitting a young dandy. We would attend church service and return home to a celebratory meal and a day of family bonding.

The imagery and explanations confounded me, however, as I struggled to link the Resurrection with a rabbit in a dinner jacket. Upon over-ponderance, I’d face the weary truths of kickball, grass-stains, and parental over-compensation.

As I approached the twitch of pubescent hormones, the treats were offered, naturally, far less frequently. We did, however, still go to Easter service which was always joyous and offered triumphant music. I realized at a young age that this day was the only one that, being Catholic, the hymns would be upbeat and melodic.

We’d return home to again share a special lunch and to reminisce about relatives I had never met. I would soon-after rush outside to join-up with my neighborhood cronies. I could always frolic until dark, since North Carolina was yet the only state that honored Easter Monday. The next day was another holiday!

As I became a young man, Easter became less of a special day, except that stores were closed. Many folks either went to the beach or spent the day with visiting relatives. Or savored moody independence, like I did.

I usually slept late, stayed in my robe, and spent the day either fervently reading or watching some Easter classic film that was hopefully neither “The Ten Commandments” nor some cloying Jeff Chandler chestnut!

Then as I started my journey of drifting toward and away from serious romantic relationships, the day always meant some spectacular meal: a festive brunch or elegant dinner party with perhaps a dozen guests. Certainly it was a festive day but no one really thought of Easter, its history, or its intent.

We made merry and indulged, and nursed a wretched aftermath.

Of course now I am in my reflective dotage and the day has further evolved. Like all my peers, I am prone to embrace nostalgia and share tales. Jon and I usually fix a special meal, nothing extravagant, but something out of the ordinary. 


This year, perhaps the hospital kitchen staff will make good on their vow to prepare something indeed special. If not, we can enjoy the richly and serene imaginary from equally imaginary open windows. And dine separately together.

We both have such fickle appetites and limitations, that “n’er the twain doth meet!”

Jon will play his sacred music most of the day as he swoons with the swell of the chords and the organ. We will savor a few treats. And we will reminisce about friends and lovers who have passed away and relatives that the other has never met or probably even heard mention.

It’s just the two of us, the cats, and of course the Easter bunny. I doubt I ever stopped believing in her. Yes, I learned long ago that the bearer of such sweet sentiment, gentle nostalgia, and special delicacies had to be a woman: a gentle, patient, and motherly type.

But alas and alack. I will sadly not be playing kickball this year, although it is not for lack of want.

Happy Easter, my friends. 
The Easter bunny is an angel; it’s an unwritten law of nature and divine order, at least at Marklewood and in #3702.

Personified Personas

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Historically, my alter-egos have always teetered on a mucky brink. That 60’s “Sybil” of 70’s Sally fame had no idea just how simple her life was. True, her ratings were always better.

Add to the mix a few moody ids and restless egos.
Hmmm. That sounds like a psychiatric country tune, eh Lillian?

Not to fear, these potential, but perhaps dismissed profile pictures all result from too vivid episodes of wishful thinking and subconscious projection.

Okay. Okay. I’ll admit it now. While in Sr Edward Patricia’s class at St Thomas More Elementary School in Chapel Hill (1964-65, “She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”), my self image was derived from Saturday morning images of Mighty Mouse, Johnny Quest, and Natasha Fatale (Boris Badenov’s paramour).

That was countered with an equal part 2nd grade dysfunction in Mrs Greene’s decidedly UN-Catholic class at Glenwood Elementary. When asked to raise our hands if any characteristics or circumstances apply to “us”, I once too often scanned the room to find I was the only 7-year old with a raised hand. (“Who here isn’t Protestant?” “Who has heard Foreign languages at home?” ETC. ETC. ETC.)

Hal and Margy found no resistance when they presented me with the notion of transferring. They surely underestimated my relief.

Neighborhood buddies (Damian, Mark, Carol) helped assuage my blossoming neuroses and need for control.

I also met who would become my first girlfriend while seated in the third row. For two years she encouraged my primary school bravado. We alternated spending weekday afternoons at each other’s house. She complimented my first pair of glasses, round tortoise shell.

And I learned firsthand the joys of distraction that schoolyard drama can have.

I cried when we moved away during the summer before fifth grade. My pen is raised to “J”, whom I never saw again until a chance moment in an elevator in DC fifteen years later. We recognized each other immediately.

(Image: “Caricature No. 61, Albert Clev” by Benjamin Roubaud, Panthéon Charivarique.)

Long Ago and Beyond the Blarney Stone


Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations have never come without mixed feelings or odd associations.

That was true when I was wrestling with my staunch German heritage as I grew up in the Post-Camelot sixties. Holiday celebrations involved very little that was either festive or libationary.

That was true when I questioned my maternal grandmother Dorothy about her supposed Irish ancestry. Even in grade school, I was certain that one doesn’t inherit one’s spouse’s nationality, even with Rights of Survivorship benefits.

She was born in Michigan in 1904 to a couple who was decidedly Anglican. By the fifties, however, she had taken Cavanaugh as both her maiden and married names … at least by my deduction.

That was of course true during my years spent with the anti-Christ who was indeed unabashedly Irish. One year, we spent the evening of the 17th enjoying the West End production of “Chess”. Afterwards, we embarked on a tour of good ole “Ugly American” bar-hopping.

As we later rounded the corner to our hotel, we were drawn into and argued at what turned out to be a drag bar. I should’ve never commented that extra dry Martinis didn’t seem particularly appropriate.

I best forego the seedier details that followed. Leave it with this veiled note: I was awake and stirring by 7am while the A.C. slept into noon and then dressed a little too leisurely and haphazardly.

Lastly, there was the benchmark trip to Ireland that followed five years later. George (Ooops. I broke confidentiality.) and I had bid on a two week all-inclusive holiday at a charity event. We scheduled it for mid-March not knowing that, as of the week before we’d be uncoupling.

He ended up spending the trip with an until-then neutral third party. I immersed myself in the NCAA tourney from home. I was guilt-free when I charged his credit card with a lavish dinner for six to L’Auberge Chez Francois. The night of his return, we each confessed disdain for the other.

I immediately planned my move back to Greensboro via an extended and healing vacation to Fort Lauderdale. (My employer had dissolved my division. At age 37, I was left with a severance package and a meager retirement match.)

And now we come to today. Although awake by six, the realization that it was St Patrick’s Day wasn’t fully realized until after lunch.

Since then, I have pondered: Spatzele, that oh-so green Windy City river, the anti-Christ’s damned Green Book obsession, my grandmother’s unanswered sighs, and all things “Magically Delicious!”

Erin Go Bra-less!

Yes, Sr Edward Patricia, I said it. Just please don’t tell Sr Mary Fitzpatrick.

(These are a few of my miscellaneous “green man” images from my iPod archives.)

The Night Before the Morning After

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A half century of habit is never easily booted. Friday nights still prompt me to emote with both internal squeals and sighs. And on Sunday nights, I still get that awful tightness in my stomach.

You probably know what I mean. You almost certainly experienced the same undeniable feelings. Sunday night always preceded Monday’s return to school. And I was always the odd sort who even loved school.

Saturdays just ended far too quickly.

Of course, I am on the short side of 60 and have been out of high school since Mr Ford was President. And I finished college before Mr Reagan ever moved East.

Like most adults, that anxiety continued into my working years, even when I worked on weekends.

It magnified once my schedule allowed me to maintain a more conventional schedule. Moments later, or so it seemed, I was on permanent disability. I no longer need experience any Sunday sinking feelings.

It has been five years and I still get that feeling. I still remind myself of my silliness and smile politely to my Id. The games we sometimes play are governed by odd rules, at least in the humble opinion of this odd sort.

Yes, tonight was no exception. I did, however, go into Downton Abbey knowing that I could dance until dawn. That is, that might be true if I were neither without inclination nor energy.

Ah, I allowed this post to spill into February, thus tainting the celebration of Black History Month and the birthdays of Mr Lincoln and Mr Washington.

I best dock my pay right now, Lillian.

(This 1962 painting, “Lincoln for the Defense” by Norman Rockwell, made me smile earlier. Initially, the oh-so-subtle colors aroused me in less than subtle ways. However, on second thought, it might’ve been the suspenders.)

Bowie Memories : Aurally-Speaking

The week’s unfold was certainly unexpected. The world recklessly flew by. The future, however, still has yet to play any cards. And iconic David Bowie passed away. He died. In an instant.

Most of us had no warning. We probably wouldn’t have listened anyway. On Monday, from our mental replays to internet videos, images, commentary, and his often-pioneering, often landmark music, our world became a forum for all things Bowie.

“All the Young Dudes” “A Space Oddity” “Young Americans” “Blue Jean”

My post-puberty life was sound-tracked with Bowie gems.

Henry earlier reminded me of a lighter reference he and I shared in our most respectful of master-pet whispers. Like Robert Palmer and Bryan Ferry, he also aged into a distinguished, elegant, and almost “matinée” music idol. Unlike those two, however, Bowie consistently always reinvented himself and pushed his relevance.

He transcended any mortal discourse on sexuality and predilections. David Bowie became “Every Man” to so many, many people throughout the past half-century of music-listening history.

We will all miss him. And shed a tear.

Rest in Peace and Beauty, Mr Bowie.

He left us when we weren’t looking. We’re never looking.

The Saturday Morning Mirth Makers

12274561_1066983530012330_7503053877539959490_nBy age seven and a relatively new and mature Big Brother, I had tired of most Halloween traditions. The circus always bored me. And those silly physical comedies such as “The Three Stooges”, “Little Rascals”, and “Laurel & Hardy” seemed excruciatingly foreign.

I barely even appreciated any Saturday morning cartoons, except for perhaps a random “Mighty Mouse” and “Fractured Fairy Tales”, which I interpreted as cautionary, allegorical, and rife with symbolism. Of course, I had yet to learn those terms from Sr Edward Patricia. That never stopped me, though, from explaining, deconstructing, and interpreting to/for my cousin Dennis

Yes, I was the epitome of a mid-century nerd, a bookworm, and surely the last one in my class to understand the importance and power of humor.

Of course, now that I am in my fifties (and forever tempted to look back in both regret and resolve), I have finally and safely discovered the types of humor and their forums that “stir both my loins and imagination”.

And while I would fail miserably if charged with the mission, I respect those whose calling it is to entertain, rouse, cheer, and distract.

God bless the mirth makers who, in these difficult times, help us to insulate our hopes. On certain gloomy and desolate Thursday evenings, I am convinced that the impact of the noble clown can be quite profound.

“As I stumble through this life,
help me to create more laughter than tears,
dispense more cheer than gloom,
spread more cheer than despair.

“Never let me become so indifferent,
that I will fail to see the wonders in the eyes of a child,
or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged.

“Never let me forget that my total effort is to cheer people,
make them happy, and forget momentarily,
all the unpleasantness in their lives.

“And in my final moment,
may I hear You whisper:
“When you made My people smile,
you made Me smile.”
(Anonymous)

(Image: Poster by Beppo Lotti, 1925.)

Forbidden and Low-Hanging Fruit

When I was in primary school at St Thomas More Elementary, in Chapel Hill, I loved fruit. As with many third graders back in those Camelot days, an “old school” snack was always waiting when I got home: a plate with both a cookie and either a pear, banana, or apple.

Its intent was essentially a parental “loss leader” to encourage me to do my homework before going outside to play. My friends all went to public school, except my friend Damian, so we usually hurried so we could catch-up and trade tales of nuns and “other teacher” types.

That routine continued until we moved to Greensboro. I was ten years old and couldn’t fathom why exactly Hal, Margy, Polly, and I had to relocate. Why were the nuns at St Pius X so strict and serious? I avoid using the word “unfriendly” as I have memory of that “pointer” stick punishment that Sr Mary Patrick relished dispensing.

It was also about this time that Polly started kindergarten. The same snack routine fell into place, except for the new choice of oranges, Polly’s favorite. Naturally, being older, I was more flexible and able to understand the concept of compromise. Hal and Margy would later discover that I was also well-versed in the art of “choosing my own battles!”

My sister loved oranges of all types: Valencias, Navel oranges, Clementines, Tangerines, and a few years yet, “Blood” oranges. After one year of my quiet acquiescence, I discovered the beauty and thrill of the deliciously sour and oh-so-mixable grapefruit. Grapefruit became my favorite choice of both fruit and juice, remaining so until my 30’s.

About that time, it was pointed out to me that the ultimate sour “nectar” conflicted with my medication. Disappointed, I basically experimented for the next two decades. Blackberries, Carambola, plums, Kiwi, and peaches, they all gave me joy. On the other hand, citrus fruits essentially piggy-backed with the grapefruit and left my daily regimen. I neither appreciated nor understood the exotic pineapple until a few years ago after I retired.

Now it seems that I have become so set in my eccentric ways I rarely veer from habit. Usually, watermelon, blueberries, and pineapple are the only fruits that can be found in the Marklewood refrigerator save juices.

“Who ever saw that one coming?” It was similar to most “change” in daily life these days: it just occurred without either my knowledge or approval.

Did I mention that I dislike any cooked fruit? That includes: jams, jellies, and pies. And I detest and have never understood the creation of raisons, enjoying them only in animated form..

Yes, I realize this musing may be stretching its relevance to accompany the interesting anthropomorphic Au Bon Marché trade cards above. Let’s just say that I appreciated those past fruits of choice … surreptitiously, quietly, or vicariously.

Vegetables? I have actually enjoyed them all since my toddler years, even the oft maligned broccoli, cauliflower, and okra. However, I passionately dislike rutabagas, snow peas, and beets.

I digress. Actually, that was true before I even began to scribble these humble words.

(Images: “Fruits Animé”, six of eight, Series #28, Bon Marché c.1900-1905.)

Cold Cream (The ‘D’ is M.I.A.)

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Henry has been sleeping under my chin as I lay in bed imagining an improbable but increasingly craved beach romp. He usually has a fresh scent with a hint of lavender. Tonight, though, was different. Weirdly so.

He smelled just like my grandmother Dorothy always did. But that puzzled me and left me theorizing: Henry hasn’t used cold cream in years. And it so defined “Dodie” who incidentally had graduated from Oberlin in the early 20’s and later worked for the Smithsonian Institute. That perhaps was where she learned to neatly archive her secrets.

She was arguably the moistest person I have ever known. I used to mumble to my sister: “Quick! Secure the paper towels. Get the loofahs to a secured location.” I often thought that she could definitely befuddle the Brawny spokesman.

My mother called my grandmother only as Dodie. Just to bug her. Ah the tales of dysfunction always simmer this time of year.

It may just be time to get out the very dusty Pressure Cooker. I shall name it Dorothy Helen in memoriam.

With Neither Maize Nor Wattle

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I was reminiscing this afternoon and sharing with Henry my most memorable Thanksgivings. It was a broad task for sure. But I tried.

Best Food? 2001 at my sister’s. No one can best her Prime Rib and Brisket. And that year, we also had turkey and oysters and a lot of people.
I was extremely emotional because Michael died just a month earlier.

Most Fun Thanksgiving? 1989 at the house I shared with the anti-Christ. The day stands out because everybody was happy and mingled well. We had moved in two days earlier and I was up all night organizing all our new kitchen. The weather was perfect.

We danced, listened to music, hung out on the deck, and threw a frisbee with our sheepdog.
After folks started to leave, three particular friends, my sister and her husband each fixed a cocktail and secured a seat for ROUND 2.

Most Forgettable?  1974 at my mother’s. My Father insisted on coming over. They had divorced 8 months earlier and he was living in Dallas and in a relationship that he rekindled from 1951. He showed no interest in my sister’s first year in Middle School or my freshman year at UNC. As soon as our utensils were gathered on plates, Polly and I left. It was all just so wrong

Most exotic Thanksgiving? 1958 in DC, but my mother was in Minnesota where she worked for Eugene McCarthy.

Legend has it that my father invited all of his friends who were from Germany, Italy, Kenya, and other points in between. After cocktails, everyone went into the dining room to eat. I was sound asleep on the sofa in the livingroom.

I woke up at some point … and crawled and toddled all around the room. As I advanced I looked into each glass and ate the garnishes. I happily dined on mainly cherries from Manhattans and olives from Martinis. I also finished each drink.

When dinner was over, my father and guests returned to the livingroom and found me sound asleep. Okay. Okay. I had passed out on the previously mentioned sofa.

The rest of the day unfolded as one would expect. Yes, my mother was livid when my Father confessed about a month later.

Finally, my most earnest and better prioritized Thanksgiving? 2011. Jon was recovering from a life threatening illness and I had recently had yet another heart attack.

Life had quickly become fragile. Nonetheless, we celebrated our union and found that, yes, we actually could afford a leg of lamb.

It is now four years later. Jon is much better but ridden with ailments of being almost 70. I’m still waiting for a heart. Henry is almost 13. He is your typically lazy tom but would even “turn pussy tricks” if it meant an entire turkey slice might fall to the floor. Since I am “projecting” with this post, we’ll just say He hopes that the turkey slice cascade to the floor. And that Claudja and Hermione are watching some football game.

We will share Thanksgiving with: my sister and her gentleman suitor, my niece Sara and her husband, my niece Sophie and her husband, and my niece Aubrey. My sister’s ex-husband, his wife, and young son will join us.

I will not try to understand the unfortunate inclusion of the latter nor will I let it interfere with the joyous part of the day. It may very well be the last time we are all together.

I am confidant to assume that we’ve each already endured a questionable, perhaps grossly dysfunctional Thanksgiving.

“Receive” will thus be Thursday’s Groucho Marxist “Word of the Day”. (К сожалению об этом.) I intend the word “receive” to invoke that 70’s and 80’s serendipitous suggestion for welcoming a positive karma.  We’re nonetheless surely due for a Cohen-esque Perfect Day.

And if not? Groovy. Bring it on, My Friend. Bring it on.

(Image: “The Small Village Torzhok” by Konstantin Ivanovich Gorbatov, 1917.)

Astro-Boy Abandons Red Carpet for Hooked Rug

Not all nostalgia warms one’s cockles or demands a quick sob. Some, sadly fills us with regret, loss, perhaps anger, and naturally frustration. Such is the Sad Case of Our Dear Astro-Boy.

Born in Tokyo in 1952, Ab was very active in the late sixties and seventies. However, while Reagan was President, his thoughts turned to the eventual joys of retirement. He was a still strapping young man. He had already made his fortune. And he would yet excitedly receive royalties ad infinitem.

Astro was ready to either visit his elderly parents, Chad and Debbi Atomi,  and their extended family in Tokyo. Or they’d, perhaps, travel by  souped-up Winnebago to a yet unidentified exotic location.

Or, as Astro-Girl reminded him, the pair could actually relocate to Aruba, a favorite vacation spot. She vowed to apply his sun screen every morning. In the end, though, it was his decision.

Astro and his common-law mistress agreed on one requisite: they had to leave Hollywood. The hooplah, chaos, invasion of privacy, and the sadness of his celebrity sucked the joy right out of them.

The phone was constantly humming for his attention to attend galas or fundraisers. Astro, however, no longer enjoyed the late hours. He no longer wanted to wear a tuxedo. He hated the “bump and shove” of it all. He loathed crowds and long lines.

He and Astrid enjoyed each other and their amenities at home. Their estate was grand and beautifully drawn. The incredible creative team at Hanna-Barbera was responsible for the upfitting and outfitting. Remember: the original designs were supervised by the same crew that had originally built Disneyland.

The mansion was constructed with Quick Draw McGraw’s Wright-inspired showplace to them on the left. To the right was the fabulous 6,800 sq foot bungalow shared by the first true Bel Air power couple, expatriates Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. Boo-Boo Bear lived across the street with daddy bear Yogi. Yes. You got it right, Irma.

All of his neighbors and the other animated superstars now seemed superficial if not plastic. They all must’ve augmented their appearance with digital makeovers and the much more expensive hand jobs. They didn’t really have much in common with the Quests, the Jetsons, the Addams, or the unfortunate Rubbles, who had died in a tragic and uninsured auto accident back in 1992.

Astro and Astrid today smile whenever they hear of Madonna or Cher. He knew bigger one-named superstars: Josie, Shaggy, his wife and second cousin Velma, Shazam Sr., and that sometimes a-little-too-slutty trollop, Miss Dora. Don’t forget Dora’s scandalous longterm liaison with the slightly older Miss Jane. Theirs was the first “mixed medium” marriage. It was their estate, remember, to which both Portia Rossi and Anne Heche had retreated in the last decade.

Professionally, their was little to keep him from collecting his watch and moving to Florida. Disney had purchased their production company and Oprah had acquired the Astro-Boy merchandising rights. Donald Trump had seized his beloved Atlantic City casino. The mogul spearheaded a hostile takeover two decades ago and elected himself the grand poohbah of “Astro-Boy’s Golden Nugget Celluloid Casino” and its’ Starbucks-by-the-Slots.

These days, the studios looked for someone younger or, at least, redrawn. Producers had tarnished Astro’s powerful name power with gaudy remakes of his classic and pioneering television show and films. Younge wannabes were cast in leading roles in successful light porno fare such as: “I Know Why Your Feet Stick to the Floor!” And Disney’s new Broadway musical “Do Me In the Next Frame”, the Astro-Boynow in try-outs in Branson, Missouri.

As I conclude, I urge you to keep his fire alive and his name remembered. Just think Tetsuwan Atomi, or Mighty Atom.  In Tokyo, volunteers pasted 138,000 metro tickets into a collage of Astro in his iconic flying mode. “Astro-Boy 4.0” has debuted to critical success on the new Pat Sajak Network. And finally, there are several websites now dedicated to all things Astro-boy!

Henry and I have included a few photographs of the early anime star, including a rare baby picture. We both wish the couple a relaxing and fulfilling retirement wherever and whatever they do.

I am nearing sixty and will always remember Astro-boy fondly.

It’s a wrap, Irma. Oh, just watch Mighty Mouse okay?

 

Starfish on the Beach

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It is just past three in the morning and I am a few steps away from taking a final preoccupation to bed.

Do guilty pleasures phase out of our lives, finally become acceptable, OR ultimately dismissed as silly?

Or from years of Catholic brow-beating and shaming, does the Pleasure amass even more guilt? Is it more embarrassing, as you likely lied to yourself about such an inevitability? The wells of both guilt and embarrassment are surely bottomless

Does admitting that you enjoy and even sing along to “Seasons in the Sun” become easier or more difficult with time?

“But the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time.” Is it even more difficult to admit that you know the lyrics by heart?

I wonder.

Three in the morning! My beloved is certainly pacing and counting cats, in the the most overlooked co-dependent talents. He finds it best to suppress any desire to nag, bother, or seem needy.

Shalom, shalom. Forgive my whisper. Let me quickly tiptoe to the bedroom.

Damn. I did it again! He will once again be cross about my dawdling into the wee hours.

Shalom.

My September Shaming by Sister Ed

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Pondering these late September misstepped days of repair and salve, I have experienced a flashing of good Old-Fashioned Psychic Kodachromes. The half-century throwbacks left me thrown back fer sure. My heart was instantly charged with memories, as well as myriad questions concerning my Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Grade classes.

I have no memories at all of any first grade and second grade experiences at Lenox Elementary in Chapel Hill. None whatsoever! It’s as if I went from Kindergarten directly to Catholic School. Rather than spend years of therapy, I prefer dream that I skipped those grades, cherry-picked by Dorothy Maguire as an extra for some outrageous film parts.

Well, it could’ve happened … until the nuns censured me at age nine. “I was visualing your inspiring words. I would never daydream, Sister Edward.” I wanted to call her Sister Ed. Finally doing so at age 59 gives me no joy. She did, however, amuse me in other ways and anecdotes.

Sr. Edward Patricia had hidden a lockbox in her healthily pumping heart. The well-known warm and grabbable gorgeous girth protects and doles tools as we need them. And she guided fourth graders away from damnation.

That Sr Ed, formerly Pat and once Edward Patricia, sure was a doozie. She left her hormonal days as Pegeen Riley far, far behind her. Years later, she would pace the classroom, protecting her reluctant students from the world’s evil. She would guard the soul only to devoir it on a moist Saturday. While I’m sure mine wasn’t very innocent, my soul and I fit the remaining criteria quite amply.

I’m now like a bird. It suits the era’s tone. Ignorance keeps me safe and buys me time and a full set of dangling keys and pen-knives.

Please note: Details of the horrific peanut butter and jelly sandwich (c1965) have been held back for fine-tuning. Seriously.

(Image:  “Midnight Lullaby” by Dilka Bear, 2013.)

Before We Had Friend Lists and Since

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I have four Facebook friends that date back to my elementary school years at St Pius X Elementary School.

Then with neither intent nor effort, my recall harkens back to junior and senior high school. There were about twenty students with whom I attended every class. Every one. Except, of course, Physical Education. We even all shared “les cours de Français” with the sad Monsieur Bright and the perky Mmes. Norris and Grady.

Of those, I have reconnected with maybe ten and, sadly, disconnected with another two or three.

And then there’s today. I can’t even fathom the number of folks who entered my life in the past forty years. Nor can I guess as to those who, just as quickly, left. I am just thankful that I was never lonely. I had good friends. I had good lovers. I had good partners, except for the anti-Christ.

Thank God, though, that my compulsion for statistics, data, and trivia orts has disappeared into a blur of age, medications, and ever-evolving and ever-dwindling priorities.

Today, on this very Tuesday, however, I can only think about kind and compassionate people. That’s all I have the energy for: in both my painfully ironic surreal “real” life and my social networking.

Further analysis scares me. It’s difficult to believe that I share the very same being with the fifth grader who read Statistical Abstracts before bed each night. Or read U.S. Census reports, for fun, the following year.

Conceptually, I keep coming back to those two grades and the few remaining relationships that I have from the Sixties. Henry suggests that, what once seemed infinite, now can only be readily managed at a meager count of four.

As an aside and on a terrifying level of social network mania, I have a Facebook buddy from my crayon days at Chapel Hill’s Little Red Schoolhouse.

When we were only five.

Look at Me. I’m Bobby Vee!

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My father used to always chime: “The more a thing changes, the more it is the same.” It enfuriated me.

I was your typical Euclidean Spenserian Jungian teenager. To a wide-eyed dreamer, such a comment struck me as dismissive. A conversation stopper. And impossible to visualize.

That led me to talk less and dream more, at least when my father and I were both at home. Fortunately, our ships passed each other less and less, until we were charting altogether different waters. Hal had meetings and affairs. I had a ridiculous amount of ridiculous extracurricular activities.

Eventually, my father might’ve had ten minutes on Sundays to proselytize and hold his Germanic, stoic, and expressionless court of one. I’d grab my car keys and leave: frenzied, frustrated, and embracing my teenage angst. Hal would never convert, convince me.

Today, on this breezy Sunday, I am reminiscing about those green years in Greensboro. I smile. But then I switch channels to dream-bites of the modern Obama/Boehner world:

There is warfare, of the terrifying sort, in at least four locations. Such horrific conflict is eroding the mid-East.

There is a growing racial tension between under-educated, if not ignorant police departments and righteous, enflamed African American community. It seems to exist in all fifty states, although such hatred is often hidden behind enthusiastic Greek festivals, art gallery shows, and professional football.

I question my values, actions, and secreted thoughts almost daily … except on Sundays. I still have hope for a better tomorrow. My idealism is somewhat innocent but not forced, hollow, or disallowed.

My hair is thinning, graying, and falls past my shoulders, but I never, ever gather it into a ponytail or man-bun.

Any visions of the doe-eyed, hippie-fied Sixties start to blur with those in this new millennium. In fact, I might fixate on Franklin Street and the endless parade of Mustangs, T-birds, Falcons, Valiants, and the occasional Studebaker. I trade those black, red, or white SVUs for wood-paneled station wagons.

Damn. The more a thing changes, the more it remains the same. I’ll give that one to Hal. Nonetheless, his crushing and dismissive undertones linger.

On the other hand, my mother simply let me dream of garden fairies and universal aliens and, now and then, those strapping, brooding Heathcliffe types.

I’ll give that one to Margy.

Shalom.

(Images: from the wonderfully and obsessively detailed “Samplerman” series by Lvang, and first seen on a perusal of the wonderful and quirky “50 Watts”.)