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?  😉

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It All Comes Down To The Music

Rock group

The son commented the other day that he was doing some research about The Drowning Pool.

“Oh, I liked that book. I read several of Ross MacDonald’s books when I was young. They were gritty, like Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. I also liked the 1975 movie with Paul Newman, and his wife/actress, Joanne Woodward….”

No, no, he says! I’m talking about a rock group.

Well, of course you are! It all comes down to names for musical groups. (I’d write ‘rock groups’, but there hasn’t been any real ROCK, since about ’85.) Names for groups are like internet domain names. There’s more looking for them, than are available. To get one, especially the one you want, can be difficult – and expensive.

That may explain groups like Finger Eleven, (Is that the one you use to communicate with other drivers?) and Maroon Five. (I can still hear Bugs Bunny cackling, “What a maroon.”, and here’s five of them)

Once upon a time, there was a band called Bush. They went nowhere fast, then quietly disbanded. Many years later, another group of musical young men who had never heard of the original Bush, named their band that. Soon they got a cease and desist order. For over a year they had to operate as Bush-X, till somebody’s palm got greased, or their ego salved.

I suspect the same type of thing is happening with a band named X-Ambassadors, whose tune ‘Renegade’, is being used by Chrysler Motors to promote their Jeep. The band may have to pay Chrysler for promotional consideration, because the commercial has made them nationally famous, and their song is all over every radio station.

Bands are named just about everything you can imagine – and, I imagine, things you can’t imagine. Whenever I check a tag on my WordPress Reader, to ‘see what others are writing’, every one of my usual tags leads to a band. There’s a band called Knives. There’s a band called Sword. There’s also a small city in Ireland called Sword. There’s a band called Handguns. There’s a band called Archon. There’s a band called Kings.

When I was a teenager, there was a group of five young men from the next town over. They had all been friends since before kindergarten. They were all children of merchants, lawyers and real estate agents who could afford to pay for music lessons and new, decent-quality instruments. They studied music, and they practiced, first alone, then together. They garage band-ed for almost ten years.

They would never have made the big time back then, although, nowadays, Justin Bieber proves that anything’s possible. They were good enough to play Thursday nights during the high school summers, at a dance hall on the waterfront in Sauble Beach. They also played Friday and Saturday nights at a smaller dance hall on the Port Elgin beach. It didn’t hurt that the rhythm guitar player’s dad owned it.

Five of my known associates decided that, if the other guys could do it, they could too. Three of them had never taken a lesson. Two of them had never picked up an instrument. Lead guitar, rhythm guitar, trumpet (?), violin (?) and drums – this was before ELO or Chicago. The only song they performed that sounded barely acceptable, was Surfin’ Bird. Check out the original on YouTube.

They practiced/jammed a couple of hours a week for six months. The town paid them ten bucks a head to perform at a summer teen dance in the arena – and they never got another paying gig.

When visions of sugarplums were still dancing through their heads, it was realized that the group would need a name. None of them was creative enough, or egotistical enough to come up with one, so groupies like me were asked for suggestions.

I asked my father, who was just barely into the entertainment industry. Having come through the Big Band Era, he suggested The Kingsmen, or The Coachmen. These weren’t sufficiently ‘with it’ for the swingin’ early ‘60s. The next-town band called themselves “The Comets”, bright, brilliant, showy, unusual, memorable.

Plagiarizing the scientific theme, I never did ask which one of ‘my’ group of geniuses decided to name the band “The Atoms”, tiny, invisible, insignificant, and more common than grass. We’re all lucky that they put their thick glasses, repaired with tape, back on, oiled up their slide rules, and were never heard again.

What are some of the groups, ‘unusually’ named or not, that you    listen(ed) to?

Ish Kabibble

Queen

During one of my many trips to London, I became
friends with a very wealthy, yet very modest,
Jewish chap named Hyman Goldfarb. On one visit,
Hy told me that because of his large donations to
charities through the years, the queen wanted to
knight him, but he was going to turn it down.

“That’s a great honor,” I said. “Why would you
turn it down?”

“Because during the ceremony you have to say
something in Latin,” he said. “And I don’t wish
to bother studying Latin just for that.”

“So say something in Hebrew. The queen wouldn’t
know the difference.”

“Brilliant,” Hy complimented me, “but what should
I say?”

“Remember that question the son asks the father
on the first night of Passover? … ‘Why is this
night different from all other nights?’ Can you
say that in Hebrew?”

“Of course,” he said. “Ma nishtana ha leila
hazeh. Thank you, old sport, I shall become a
knight.”

At the ceremony Hy waited his turn while several
of the other honorees went before the queen.
Finally they called his name. He knelt before
Her Majesty, she placed her sword on one shoulder
and then on the other, and motioned for Hy to speak.

Out came “Ma nishtana ha leila hazeh.”

The queen turned to her husband and said, “Why is
this knight different from all other knights?”

***

Did you ever stop to think – and forget to start again?

***

Why do men fart more than women?
Because women don’t shut up long enough to build up pressure.

***

A customer walks into a pharmacy and asks an
assistant for an anal deodorant. The assistant
explains that they don’t stock them. The man
insists that he bought his last one from this
store. The assistant refers the man to the
pharmacist, who explains that store has never
stocked such an item. The man explains he bought
his last one from this store only weeks ago and
has done for several years. The pharmacist asks
man to bring in his last purchase and he will try
to match the product.

The following day, the man returns to the
pharmacy and shows the deodorant to the
pharmacist. The pharmacist asks why the customer
thinks this is an anal deodorant, when it is
obviously of the underarm stick variety.

The customer explains that instructions on
the back state, “Push up bottom to use.”

***

I often wonder: What do people mean when they say,
“The computer went down on me?”  😯