Flash Fiction #131

University

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

WASN’T THAT A PARTY?

They say that university is a place to learn things. Well, he certainly had!  He’d learned that, next school year, he and his friend Henry would share a little, one-bedroom apartment, instead of living dorm-style, with 8 guys stuffed into a three-bedroom.

The increased individual cost would still work out to less than their share of the damage deposit that they would never get back on this one. No sir, the pizzas were on the ceiling when we moved in.

It had been an epic St. Patrick’s Day bash.  Not many Irish, although there had been some really green faces.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

***

Click on the YouTube title link, to hear the Irish Rovers tell just what the party was like.

 

The Evolution Of Religion

Prayer Beads

Finally, an eminent scientist is setting out to prove that the rise of religion was caused by evolution.

In humans’ mysterious journey to become intelligent, socializing creatures like no other in the animal world, religion was the innovation which played an essential role. We needed something to literally stop everyone from killing everyone else, just out of grumpiness.

How did we manage it? Did humor help? Exercise?  Storytelling?  Singing?  Dance?

CAUTION, CONFORMITY CONFIRMATION

Religion is a complex, multi-tentacled Hydra, which draws from many psychological inputs, to ensure the survival of (most of) the race. It creates an US and a THEM.  Anything we recognize as US, we deem safe and acceptable.  THEM, on the other hand, are not family, clan or village, fit to be driven out.

Each species of primate can manage to keep up a special bond with a certain number of others of the same species. This goes up as brain size increases, from monkeys to apes.  Humans can maintain significantly more social ties than brain size alone, seems to explain.  Most of us keep a surprisingly large number of social ties, including 5 with intimate friends, 50 with good friends, 150 with friends, and 1500 with people we can recognize by name.

Reading this, I immediately knew that I was well below the standard. Of my 5 most intimate friends, I’ve only physically met two of them.  I am friendly with 50 to 150 people, but they are store clerks, Osteopaths, etc.  While they may like me, or put up with me and my silliness, I doubt that they regard themselves as my ‘friend,’ and I barely remember the names of the people who reside in the same house with me. 1500??!

It is well known that repetitive actions like pacing the floor, or twiddling thumbs, lower anxiety. The Jews and Muslims have prayer beads, and Catholics have their rosary – the same thing, with a cross attached, although most Protestants have given it up.  Buddhist monks spin prayer wheels, and all of these focus the mind to help achieve a calm, Zen-like state.

Religions have taken all the calming practices, and made them into group activities. If everyone bows, kneels (in the same direction), waves their hands, etc, at the same time, each person feels less aggressive and more accepting, and everybody feels part of the group.

A couple of other calming activities are singing – think hymns – and dancing, although Christianity has largely got away from that. It smacks too much of ‘having fun.’  Anyone forced to observe me singing or dancing, would not be calm or friendly.

Another couple of aggression/tension reducers surprised me. Not ‘group’ actions, because not everyone performs them simultaneously, they are humor and story-telling.  Presenting funny or spell-binding tales to a rapt group, especially youngsters, binds them into a less war-like group.

My singing and dancing may be banned in some States, and I can’t remember who my friends are, but apparently, my blog-posts and jokes make others less likely to assault me.  Hey!  I’m religious, and I didn’t even know it.   😯

To Post, Or Not To Post

To post or not to post….

It’s New Year’s Eve….
We have friends coming over….
I have food to help prepare….
I’m fighting a nasty head cold….
I have nothing in the bank, ready to publish….

What shall I do??! What shall I do?

procrastinate-no

Thank you to all who have stopped by to read my posts this past year (and all years before).  I hope you’ve had a Merry Christmas, and that you have a Happy and Prosperous New Year.  Drop in again on Monday, and I’ll try to be sober and inspired enough to have something for you.   😀

ICEBREAKER

ice

Recently, it seems that there’s a lot of people, who want to know a lot, about a lot of other people. A while ago, I published a post in two parts – 31 Facts In 31 Days.  Scarcely had I put it up, than I found another, apparently compiled by the neighborhood pervert voyeur.  It contained questions like, “What do you wear to bed?” There’s not enough vodka or trained psychiatrists in the world, for me to get into that.

This one is called Icebreaker, and can also be used at large meetings and seminars where people don’t know each other. Although, by the time you fill yours out, and read everybody else’s, I don’t know how much time would be left to actually get anything productive done.  I guess that’s what big meetings are like anyway.  It’s probably better than Angry Birds, Candy Crush, or Words With Friends.

This old Iceberg broke off the parent glacier about five years ago. It has been drifting down and blocking the blog-lanes ever since – a publishing hazard to sanity and good taste.  I thought in that time that I had pretty much revealed all, perhaps not though.  If you have the guts and the stamina, read on MacDuff.

Are you named after someone?
My paternal grandfather was Howard. My father was Cyril Howard.  There was a whiny kid in my town who everyone called ‘Howie’, and I grew to hate the name, so I never admit that my second name is Howard.
When is the last time you cried?

Guys cry??  Okay, okay – the last time I heard a real feel-good, beat-the-odds story, my eyes leaked – a little.
Do you like your handwriting?
Dear Lord no! With my tremor, my writing looks like a chicken on meth walked across an ink pad.
What is your favorite lunch meat?

Spicy Tokay or Mexican, salami
How many kids do you have?
Three, one of each….no, wait, just daughter, LadyRyl, and son Shimoniac.
If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
I’d have to be a member of a select group, because of my take-no-prisoners attitude and opinions, but, yes!
Do you use sarcasm?
Are you F**king kidding??  Hell yes!
Do you still have your tonsils?
No. Back when it was all the rage (1950), a surgeon cut my throat.
Would you bungee jump?
I have to take care of an increasingly fragile old body, but I would say yes – maybe till I got to the edge.  I’d like to skydive, into my bucket list.
What is your favorite cereal?
Spoon Sized Shredded Wheat, with strawberries
Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
I wear (cowboy) boots – no laces. When I don’t, I do.
Do you think you are strong? Physically?  More so than most men my age.  Mentally?  Emotionally?  Probably the same answer
What is your favorite ice cream?
In a bowl, or cone – Black Cherry.  With cake or pie – French Vanilla
What is the first thing you notice about people?
Often, how they inter-react with others, including me
Red or pink? I am seldom understated.  Intense blue, purple or green.  If I must – red.  It makes a statement.
What is the least favorite thing you like about yourself?
My increasingly failing memory, thank (insert your favorite deity) for search engines
What color pants and shoes are you wearing right now?
In the privacy of my own computer room??  You should be reading this with your eyes closed.  Dark blue track shorts and slippers.
What was the last thing you ate?
A small slab of white cake with some 10% cream and diced peaches
What are you listening to right now?
The sounds of both my allergic cat, and dog, snoring, as they lie guarding me
If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Plaid?  Probably Royal Blue
What are your favorite smells?
Oh, so many….wood smoke, rustling dry leaves, frying bacon
Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?

Some Paki named ‘Kevin’, who wanted to clean my ducts.  I told him to….
Favorite sport to watch?
Pretty much stopped watching TV.  Almost watch no sports.  Maybe American Pro Football
Real hair color?
I’d like to say black, but that was then, and this, is now mostly white.
Eye color?
Brown.
Do you wear contacts?

It’s all the wife can do to get me to wear my glasses.  Frightened as a child by the Three Stooges, I don’t poke my own finger in my eyes.
Favorite food to eat?
Yes please.  Probably tonight’s supper – potato pancakes
Scary movies or happy endings?
Some big explosions, car chases, gun fights, a little Punch and Judo, people hanging off tall buildings – that can be scary.  Then the bad guys are defeated, and it’s all a happy ending.
Last movie you watched?
Star Trek Into Darkness….see above
What color shirt are you wearing?
Maker claims it’s ‘Dusty Blue’.  I say it’s Steel Blue (greyish-blue), one of my more subdued shades.
Summer or winter?
Autumn!  If I must choose….Summer.  I don’t have to shovel rain.
Hugs or kisses?
Depends on the time, place and person….and if anybody’s watching
What book are you reading?
John Brunner – Wrong End of Time, Tom Clancy (actually, Mark Greaney) – Support And Defend, James Rollins – Devil Colony
What is on your mousepad?
Cat hair
What is the last TV program you watched?
Bones
What is the best sound?
One or more of my cats purring, preferably in my lap
Rolling Stones or The Beatles?
Different strokes for different folks – a bit, but not too much, of both, liberally mixed with many others.
What is the farthest you have traveled?
Since all trips have to be by car, I drove to Key West, Florida – 2765 Km = 1730 mi.
Do you have a special talent?
Yes!
Where were you born?
In the front bedroom of the family home, in Southampton, Ontario, Canada.

 

April A to Zed Challenge – C? Si, si!

April Challenge

Dashing through the dictionary, I see that we’ve reached the letter C.  Wanna make something of it?

Letter C

Courage; the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. From Old French – coeur = ‘heart’

***

“Go ahead.  Don’t be such a wuss.”
“I don’t know.  We never had anything like this in our house when I was a kid.”
“Don’t be afraid of it.  It won’t hurt you.”
“Does it glow in the dark?”
“Don’t be silly.  Make it your new friend.  Get a little closer.”
“It looks like something skimmed off the top of a sewage pond.”
“I will give you a swat with this wooden spoon.  Show a little courage.  Take a spoonful or two of my homemade Cream of Broccoli soup.  I boiled chicken carcasses to make my own rich broth, and added pureed broccoli, a cup of Half and Half creamer, a pat of butter and two cups of grated goats-milk Kashkaval cheese.  It’s good, and good for you.”
“Give it to Mikey!  He’ll eat anything.”
Try or die!”
“Mmmm!….   Hey, he likes it.  He really likes it!  Why haven’t we had this before??”
mumble, grumble $%&<* men! &#@)% husbands!!?”  (Translation available upon request)

 

HELP!

Spring

Help, I need somebody!
Help, not just anybody.
Help, you know I need someone.
Help!

I could have used some help with this week’s Flash Fiction. I went to Rochelle’s site and examined the photo prompt.  It looked like a couple of beef leg bones in a clear plastic public garbage bag.  The only thought I had was about some greasy-spoon diner that served overly large chicken wings.  You’re better off without that story.

I decided instead, to request aid and succor from my readers. This week, in several different places, I have seen a post of 15 questions given to 8 to 10-year-old children to find out if they are geniuses (genii).  I took the test myself.  I got the right answers to 13 out of the 15 questions, so I can probably outwit some students, before they enter Middle School.

For most of the questions, when the correct answer is revealed, it’s obvious. For three of the remaining four, when the answer is shown, a note pops up to explain why and how.  I got two of these right, and two of them wrong.  One of my errors was explained, but the other one wasn’t.

I was going to leave a comment/question, asking for clarification, but found that the test is based on Facebook, and I don’t have a Facebook account to access it. Have any of my readers seen this test?  Do you know what I’m referring to?  Do you know the answer?  Do you have a Facebook account?

Here’s the question that stumped me. I guess I’ll never grow up to be an insightful genius.

Bing is to Ding
as Hug is to….
Hit/Bug/Enemy/Friend

Transposing initial letters, and answering ‘Bug’, seemed a bit too simplistic for a question searching for geniuses, but it’s the one I eventually settled for.

The correct answer is ‘Friend!’  I see how the word Hug relates to Friend, but now I can’t divine a similar relationship between Bing and Ding.

A little help – please!   😳

Memorably Invisible

Ghost

My belief, which I have occasionally stated, is that I am a loner with few friends, because I don’t reach out to make them. My view of the arc of my working life, especially the final 20 years, spent at the auto-parts plant, is a tapestry of – keep my head down, my mouth shut, do the job, don’t make waves, be quiet, small, and unnoticed.  I may have to revisit and re-evaluate that.

Three times, in as many months, I’ve been with the wife in a store, and someone with less seniority, who got laid off before me, someone who hasn’t seen me in over ten years, has recognized and remembered me, and approached, just to pass the time. The last time, a man saw me, and not-quite-jogged across half a Wal-Mart to engage in small talk – no “Remember when you taught me the easy way to do that hard job?” or, “Remember that asshole supervisor?” just….conversation.  I had to insist on continuing our errands after 10 minutes.

When we got home, the wife said, “You know, those people really like and respect you. They’re happy to be in your presence, and proud that you take the time just to talk to them.  It’s as if you emit a soft, warm glow of benediction.”  Who knew you could get friends just by not being an asshole??  Apparently I had ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ even before I had a blog.

Neither she nor I is a Trump, or a Kardashian, but I guess we’re not timid wallflowers either. Our new Osteopath is forever shaking his head and chuckling at our strange humor, our oblique viewpoints, and our widely based social and political opinions.  Plus, I take him strange shit to look at – a sword, a legal two-headed coin, an American 2-dollar bill.  He says he has no other couple anything like us, especially at our age.

The staff at the nearby Staples store is happy, friendly and helpful to us, willing to kid around, as they professionally solve our problems. Of course, as a service industry, they have to be like that with everyone, but with a PC, a laptop, a 7 in. tablet, a 5 in. tablet, two Kobos, a Kindle and a cell phone, they are exposed to us more than I really want.  (As I typed this, the wife’s cordless mouse died.)

We have joked with the female assistant manager for more than ten years. As a good retailer, she knows her customers.  The wife’s last laptop fried its graphics card.  We had to go in and choose another laptop.  We left it with them for formatting and setup – Windows 10 was released that day – and came back later to pick it up.

The wait, both times, at the Electronics Desk, was 10 to 15 minutes. The wife’s arthritis makes just standing quite painful.  Our gal quickly slipped back to the office chairs section, grabbed the expensive new OBUSFORME support model, wheeled it up and slid it under the wife.  Then she realized that the wife wasn’t using the ironwood cane she normally has, and wanted to know why it had been replaced by a forearm crutch.

The wife told her that it takes more weight off her feet; it reminds her not to overextend her right knee, and permits less stumbling. The manageress swooped her arm up, and said, “At the end of the year, can you throw it in the air, and shout ‘Happy Christmas, and God bless us every one’!”?  If the wife hadn’t been sitting down, she’d have been on the floor with me.  The gal says, we’re the only couple she knows who would get that joke – in July – think it was funny, and not be offended by it.

The day we went back, she was on break, so I got the good chair for the wife. When she came out, the wife yelled, “Hey, Sandy!” and pretended to throw the crutch.  We all howled, except the young tech, who didn’t get the joke.  Suddenly she rushed over, solicitously.  Since she hadn’t got the office chair, she was afraid the wife was in a wheelchair.  “Are you all right?  Did you fall?”

I guess, unlike many people, we don’t have flocks of folks we just have to be connected to.  We don’t have BFFs.  They say a friend will help you move.  A good friend will help you move – a body.  I should keep that in mind.   It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  Mister Rogers won’t be in the neighborhood for five to ten years.  Would you be my friend?  😉