Cynical? Naw – Don’t Trust Myself That Much…

I have been accused of cynicism and irony.

The persons who said this were probably hoping I’d offer them a bribe to change their minds. I would be happy to send them a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates for their opinion – It has opened my eyes to the value of mistrust and suspicion.

Of course there are others who see this philosophy as detrimental – who cry that all men are brothers and all women are sisters. Take a look at a family that is composed of brothers and sisters and count the bruises, scars, and other souvenirs. You don’t get that as an only child. if you want to be savage you have to go away from the cozy hearth and the bosom of the family. Strangers are your only legitimate targets and the world only has 9 billion of them left.

As far as the irony, I do think I may have been a little indiscrete with that. I have laughed where I should have cried and pointed out follies that others wished to be hidden. It has made me enemies, though not the sort of quality fiends that I really want. Mostly just people who snarl at me in passing. Some, of course, adopt the sensible course of putting on stern disapproving looks or blank RBF looks. There is little one can say to them, though there is a great deal that can be written about them. I tend to do this on the doors of lavatory stalls. With pictures.

Cynicism has saved me a great deal of money in the past, and as internet promotions ramp up, I’m looking to it as a real shield. Of course I disbelieve anything that comes over the telephone these days, particularly if it is spoken in a Peter Sellers accent…but I am also binning any number of contacts that urge me to do things on email or Facebook. When you close down the latter the air clears remarkably.

 

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The Childhood Friend

Are you a child? Do you have friends? Are you aware that one of them will become a famous scientist, one a renowned entertainer, and one a serial killer? That’ll dispose of three, and all the rest will be insurance salesmen, cocktail waitresses, and dry-goods clerks. In your case you’ll be lucky to get out of the neighbourhood ahead of the mob armed with the torches and pitchforks.

Childhood friends are a little like childhood cousins. You get to interact with them and have a sort of a family connection for awhile without being required to save them when they fall down the old well. That’s Lassie’s job. You can watch with interest their future progress and you never have to claim any debit for it – only credit. If they make good, you knew ’em when…if not, you didn’t. And you need not worry about what they think of you because chances are they don’t.

Childhood enemies are similar – but you are not required to be pleased for them when they make good nor grieve for them when they finally end up just like you said they would. Being from the long past, anything they do wrong cannot be sheeted home to you – unlike present work colleagues or acquaintances. There is a bigger circle of blast around people you have interacted with as an adult compared to the ones of childhood.

If you meet an old childhood friend on the road take the Buddha advice. If they claim friendship, run away from them. Remember that when you were young it was no great honour to know you and it hasn’t gotten any better.

Adopt A Granny

Or adopt a Mum. Or a Wife. Or a Girlfriend. And none of them need to be your own, either.

What you are looking for is skill and talent. Cooking, sewing, gardening…whatever you lack in your life right now that someone else knows how to do is the thing to aim for. You are looking for the best.

It may be a long and difficult search, but you can make it a little easier by making it more scientific. To start with, identify what it is you need. If your icebox contains nothing but an empty pizza box and a carton of green and black spotted yoghurt, it is a cook you need. If your sock drawer has more holes than socks, you need a clothing specialist. Look at the garden critically – if it stares back, it’s the gardening enthusiast for you.

Trial the candidates with a standard test – if you are a spaghetti fan, get all the possibles for adoption to cook spaghetti. If it is curry – have them submit pots of vindaloo then compare and contrast. Note: calls for spaghetti may attract Italian grannies and they are fierce. Be careful.

Do not be ashamed to admit your faults. All the rest of us see them and we’ll admit them for you at the drop of a hat. And do not feel that you are doing a bad thing – you will be filling out formal adoption papers and lodging them with the Department, so it will all be legal. After all, there is a lot of responsibility to adopting a child, and they are small, so how much more will there be if you go for a full-sized grandmother.

Of course this is not the Ivory Coast. There’ll be no kidnapping or chains. You will be providing a granny flat to whomever you adopt and as much food, coal, and candles as they need throughout the year. You’ll have to provide a full wardrobe, though if it’s a cooking granny  that you get, a lot of this will consist of aprons and oven mittens. There will be a salary, days off, and remember that grannies can drink a lot more rum than you’d think. It don’t all go into the fruitcakes…

Will this make you a better person? No, but it will make you a better-fed one and that is a start. Once you have gotten past the hangry stage you may find that you are holding skeins of wool for knitting and taking her out to tea shoppes on Sunday afternoon.

 

The Unspeakable Joy Of Satiety

You’ve all seen the tee shirt that says  ” Been there, Done that. Got this tee shirt. “.

It’s funny and sad on several levels, but mightily encouraging in the end. It frees us from the need to:

a. Go back there and do it again. At least as long as the tee shirt lasts.

b. Go there and do it in the first place. If we really don’t want to travel, compete, shop, or whatever the thing is, we can pretend that it is old hat and that we’re weary of it all.

If we were honest we would wear a tee shirt that said ” Never been there. Don’t fancy going “. Then we could emblazon this slogan over all sorts of images; Paris, Disneyland, Bali, Gold Coast. The reaction on the faces of others would be much more satisfying than with the first version.

c. Envy those who do go and do things.

Again we ought to be honest inside ourselves if we really do not fancy any of it…but instead of emblazoning this contempt on our chests we could settle for a nice silkscreen print of a Messerschmitt or Bullwinkle the moose. Why shit people off over your own tastes and desires?

For myself, I try to avoid any writing on the externals of my clothing – whether that be a brand name of running shoes or the state prison farm. If people want to know where I’ve been or what I like to wear they can ask me.

 

A Pot To Pee In

I see that one of our local theatres has put up a sign that identifies their toilet as one that can be welcoming and friendly to people of all sexes. This us as it should be, but opens the door to a new question…who left the seat up?

I’m sometimes amused by the business of mens and women’s toilets in public venues. Not laughing out loud amused, but slightly puzzled as to why they should be such a battleground. The ones here at home aren’t – if you discount the anguished cries when someone sits down without determining whether there is enough paper. We are a mixed group in this house and so far no-one has fenced off either of the loos or put up pictograms to define who gets to use them.

There is the occasional bout of door-hammering and demands for a speeding-up of the process. But it is a religious time and shows that we really care for each other: ” Jesus Christ, are you dead in there? Hurry up! ”

But we are not in the midst of gender wars here at home. And I don’t participate in them when I go out – though there are those who would try to lure me into the traps of the meme-field and the shambush. I try to have an unkind word for all I meet and that seems to satisfy …well, if not them, at least it satisfies me. The sexists are sometimes very eager to be virtuous and angry but often nonplussed when their virtue is laughed at.

They sometimes stomp off  to the restroom mad – let us hope if they do that the facilities are clean and the seat is warm and down. Or up.

 

The Fast Life In The Slow Lane

I try to hit all the stops. And then I really do stop.

Like last Sunday – I was jerked bolt upright at 8:30 AM by the realisation that I did not have to go to work in the cotton fields. Of course we don’t live in Mississippi and I’m retired anyway, but there was still that feeling. And once up, you can’t go back to sleep. The cat will make sure of that.

Then it was off to the shower, the shaver, and the sh….umm..let’s change the subject.

Breakfast. They say we must start the day with a substantial breakfast. Toast is substantial. So is oatmeal. So is rum and motor oil, for that matter. Don’t get near me when I burp.

Out to the Little Workshop. On with the radio. Olde Tyme Wireless from Wireless Hill. So you can avoid the horrid music of millenials by listening to equally vacuous stuff from  baby boomers. And it is true that we pluggers can identify a piece of music from the first two notes – if it is one of the only three that the station owns and plays repeatedly. Anyone fancy a Walk In The Black Forest?

Lunch? Don’t mind if I do. The chicken and celery soup is attractive, seeing as it is left over and doesn’t need any effort to heat up. No-one else in the family will eat it, so I get as much as I want.

Shall I work or shall I nap?

And dinner. I must prepare dinner. Fortunately there is an electric oven and as long as you let things cook over a slow heat they will be fine. Too many people think that an fan-forced oven run at welding temperature will be more efficient, but they are eaters for efficiency, and are welcome to it. I cook for flavour, and if this takes 3 hours rather than a blowtorch, so be it.

And the dinner need not be hurried when it is ready. It’s Sunday night and the family is home and there is nothing more important to do than the roast and three veggies. And the glass of red wine. And of course one must not drive or operate machinery after this. Safety in all things.

 

Nice Cake…For Store Bought…

If ever there was damnation with faint praise…

But we cannot help it. Even if we are not bakers ourselves, we can always look askance at other’s cooking. And we do it for the best reasons – we do it to honour our mothers.

Every mother makes three memorable classes of food; the stuff that isn’t as good as that made by our mate’s mother – the stuff that we don’t like to eat – and the recipes that are the correct standard of the world.

It might be sauerkraut, it might be banana bread, it might be oatmeal with gravel…but whatever it is, there will be one dish that we remember our mother cooking that was the correct way to do it. All others are pale imitations, no matter how well done. And we resist any suggestion that we are biased.

Our wives do something that is correct, as well – or we might do it if we are the cooks of the house. Our children will remember this. The difficult part is when our wives do a version of what their mother did, which is a version of what our mother did…and the three dishes are remarkably different, even if the ingredients are the same. Three women cooking the same dish in three correct fashions whilst eyeing each other off over the sharp knives is a daunting prospect.

When they present you with three different tasting tablespoons  to tell which is the right recipe…run.