223. The Most Popular Post Ever: Fuchsia

One time out I am going to go big, viral, exponentially crazy in the blogosphere, which, if you have noticed, is log jammed worse than L.A. traffic. Over 15 million bloggers on WordPress alone. It’s very easy to get on this highway, but the question is–how to break out in the EZ Pass lane?  My biggest post to date was called August Snow, that’s the one about my daughter trying to cut the grass with our snow blower. It was funny, but I think the hits number spike was due to her universe of friends not any celebrity writer breakthrough on my part. Writing can’t be driven by the blogarazzis, however; it has to come from the truth of the writer. So that’s what I’m attempting to put together, though I do imagine a familiar person or two reading my words over my shoulder. I like that imagined intimacy as I imagine entertaining a friend with something comical or sentimental or just stupid sputtering out behind my blinking cursor like diesel bus exhaust. Yeah, just be true to your self, Mr. B. Special, Esq. I’ll have a name tag made up with that on it, fuchsia background with white letters etched in the plastic rectangle plate.

When I was a middle school teacher, I often had little pet names for some of my students. Usually there was some tangential evidence supporting the name choice. One lovely girl, Meredith, was just so put together and perky. Her mom taught down the hall from me. Meredith was her only child. It’s usually safe to pick on teachers’ kids because they have lived a similar experience and trust is easily attained. Anyway, Meredith was just about perfect. Every day she was prepared, and well groomed and coiffed, lovely teeth, and designer clothes. She did not flaunt her many advantages; she just quietly enjoyed them. I began by calling her “Murdith”,  a combination of “murder” and “Judith”. She corrected me every time. “My name is Meredith.”

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“Yes, thank you, Murdith.” We played this game for a while until she began wearing Aeropostle shirts every day. I could not pronounce the word, so I simply called her by the color.

“Good morning, Miss Teal.”

“Oh, no. I thought I was Murdith.”

The next day it was aquamarine. Then lemon. Lime.  Then peach. Finally she wore an intense fuchsia shirt and the name fit. “Good morning, Fuchsia.”

“What’s that, Mr. Burrito?”

“It’s the color of your shirt. It’s you.”

“Did you take your medication today?”

“Yes, I always comply with doctors orders. Fyoosh.”

It was hard to make Murdith smile, but this day she could not help but laugh and smile her beautiful toothy smile.

“Oh my word!”

It stuck about as well as those peel and stick metallic parking stickers. You need a razor blade to peel them off. Likewise I have to strain my memory bank to recall her actual birth name. Fuchsia  just seemed so right, and she answered to it.

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What possessed me to explain to Fyoosh the alternate story of her birth, I don’t know. I suppose it was simply that I had the opportunity and a few beta waves washed over  my cerebral cortex, if I have one. Anyway, it went something like this.

“Fuchsia, it’s time you learned the truth of your birth story.”

“Oh here we go!”

“You know I only tell the truth, Fyoosh.”

“Of course. What’s my REAL birth story?”

“Well a very long time ago, let’s see, how old are you?”

“Thirteen.”

“Yes, it was thirteen years ago that your parents were walking together through the alley behind the American Legion.”

“Uh huh. Sure they were.”

“They heard what they thought was a baby crying inside a green steel dumpster at the back of the restaurant.”

“Yeah, my parents did. They never walk anywhere. Sure.”

“Your mom told your dad to look inside. Maybe it was a cat, she thought. She held his foot and he stepped up and over the side of the dumpster, only to see a newborn baby with a banana peel on its adorably cute head.”

“And that was me, right?”

“Yes, so your dad wrapped you up in bubble wrap and newspaper to hold your warmth in. He gently handed you over to your new mom who instantly fell in love with this little alien baby.”

“So now I’m an alien?”

“Yes, after the formal adoption was done, they listed your birth parents as unknown aliens, possibly from another galaxy.”

“Oh my word! Where do you come up with this stuff?”

“It’s all true, Fyoosh. You can ask your parents.”

“Oh I will tell them about this alright. You’re crazy.”

“Yes, I’m sure this is hard for you, but one day you’ll thank me for this truth.”

The funny thing is that she did tell her parents every bit of the saga and any additional details that I added later. In fact, whenever I see her parents, which is a rare occurrence, they usually tell me how Fuchsia the dumpster baby is doing. “Not bad for an alien baby with a banana peel on her head”, says her mom with a smile and a sparkle in both eyes. Beautiful Fyoosh grew up to be a physician’s assistant. If I should ever need her services, I’ll be sure to address her formally as “Doctor Fuchsia”. It’s only proper. She earned that respect.

It is funny how little conversations and word play can become attached to an otherwise mundane existence. I like to think there is value added by jokes and stories and verbal silliness. It’s even ironic that 15 and 20 years later, this is what is easily recalled while the dull entrées of daily life are digested and long forgotten.

So there you go. Now blow up.

 

 

12. timelessly

Days like these are harried– run, run, run so that you can sprint later on. Faster and faster we hurtle forward into the faster and faster life of breaking bonds– speed, gravity, religion, family, friendships. All my life, records have been broken… man in space, man on the moon, man with a heart transplant, faster internet speeds, faster computers, faster news reporting, faster wealth, faster wars. And where is the counterbalance? Has anything become slower or calmer? Nope.

I can recall being a kid and lying on my back watching clouds go by. Occasionally a prop plane would drone overhead. I’d walk between cool sheets drying on a laundry line on a hot summer’s day and think ‘Wouldn’t it be neat to go fast?’ Things going fast were desirable then. No one could have imagined the frenzied pace of life fifty years later. Well, maybe New Yorkers could have, but freckled suburban kids digging in the dirt with their mothers’ sterling silver spoons did not. They (I actually) just marveled at the black oxidization on the shiny spoon as I dug in the orange clay.

In the early 60’s Television had three or four channels; black and white! horrors!!!  and then really blurry color came later. No remote controllers either.And it was free, no monthy cable or dish payments. Baseball was the nation’s past time. It moved slowly and went into extra innings often enough. There was no sudden death rule, but games were often carried over to the next day when a double header would be necessary to finish the previous day’s game.  (Life was leaner and simpler like Johnny Cash songs. He was the white man who called himself “the man in black”, just like black and white t.v. Like a modern John the Baptist.) People were not so rushed. Sleek airports and superhighways were being built to hurtle us along, but they were novel then. Now they are expected to be all that and the awe has been replaced with impatience. We have become a nation of speed junkies.

Back in the day stores gave stamps as rewards for doing business with them. Housewives (they went extinct in the late 60’s) would collect these and turn in completely filled up books for electric toasters or can openers. Do you know how long it would take the average housewife to gather 800 yellow or green stamps when groceries cost a fraction of what they do today? A year maybe. And all throughout that year she’d look longingly at the many other things she could redeem with her stamps. Oh delayed gratification!

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And there were other slow payback deals in grocery stores. You could collect the greatest classical music ever recorded for $.99 per lp if you bought your groceries at certain stores. (LP stood for long playing record album, by the way.) There were other methodical programs where you could buy encyclopedias each week or collect plates or glasses. All these programs were tedious exercises in delayed gratification from this modern perspective, but they were awesome marketing tricks then.

If you try to pour a 2 liter bottle of soda into a shot glass, you will spill all but 2 ounces. Maybe that’s cool to do once for giggles, but it is an insane proposition– pouring too much into too little, and yet this is what we do daily. Plug 26 hours into 24. Shave sleep. “Hey, sleep when you’re dead.” Multitask. Smoke, talk on the phone, do your make up, drive. I saw a bread delivery truck driver this morning eating a bowl of cereal as he drove through town. He balanced the bowl with the spoon in it in his left hand as he drove the big truck over a hump with his right hand and knees. He did it with such skill that it was clear to me that this was not his maiden milk management voyage.Image result for overflowing shot glass pictures

Like entitlement programs, fossil fuels, carbon emissions, and bad marriages, speedy lifestyles become unsustainable. And not just for old geezers like me, but for the young and spry among the population. Mindlessly run, run, run into timelessness. Don’t mind if I do.Image result for grave pictures