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“Oh, honey!” Laura boasted to Rob.
“It’s amazing how far mankind has come in the past two thousand years!”
“Don’t you remember, only until fairly recently, it was impossible to get back in touch with old friends from so long ago?”
“Now we can spend so much of our free time enjoying their company and seeing how they’ve turned out.”
Rob politely humored her as she gazed, mesmerized, at all the Facebook status updates.
Finally he admitted, “I’m so happy I have such an easy time finding out that my sixth grade teacher dreads standing on line at Dunkin’ Donuts.”
This week’s photo prompt is from Marie Gail Stratford. Rochelle Wisoff Fields leads us weekly in our Friday Fictioneers, in which each of us writes a hundred word story.
Having gone, a few hours ago, to the Coffee Nut Cafe on Park Avenue, I’m now sitting down on an unseasonably warm Saturday, listening to the radio. The coffee they sell in that establishment is most delightful. I especially like the distinctive flavors, featuring ingredients like cinnamon, vanilla and icing. They have tea with lemon too, but so far I haven’t gotten any of their tea. I usually walk there since it’s so close to my neighborhood. If I’m going to spend a significant amount of money on something at least it’s good to know that it’s a fine product. I often walk at least twice a day, and say hello to each neighbor as he passes by. One of the ladies behind the counter is dressed in yellow. Sam, Bridget and I just recently ate bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches for lunch. Sam and I drank Costa Rican coffee with ours. I frequently walk down to the beach too, and enjoy all the water. Bridget has been complaining lately about problems with her telephone. It’s an Apple. Over the course of the past few weeks the weather outside has been so ugly but today’s is perfect. Nice weather always makes me happy. My Facebook friend list includes a lot of people from my past, like Brother Edmond from St. Gabriel’s, and other teachers, classmates and friends of mine. Facebook is a land where fantasy meets reality. It’s a world where everyone takes for granted a green light to ramble on about anything that interests him. The Irish advocate the wearing of green. The monarchists advocate a country ruled by a king and queen. Thanks to the internet, I’m now quite lazy about reading the paper. There are quite a lot of things I haven’t seen in Long Beach, but, of course, I’ve never seen an X ray of a zebra either.
One day recently I wandered, as usual, into a time warp and met 2004 me for coffee. He was happy to see that I still drink coffee so compulsively. He reminded me of what life was like back then, with all its good and bad news. I told him about what was up ahead of him. He was happy to see that I’m still a lay Carmelite. I tried to explain to him that I still have all the same staunchly conservative ideas now as then, but that by now, they’re more fully developed. I gave him the impression that turning fifty didn’t seem to carry with it any major milestones, that the passage of time would, in many ways, leave me neither in better nor worse shape. I explained to him that both my parents died last year and that that left me with quite a few major irrevocable changes in my circumstances. Having lived for much of the past decade in northeastern Pennsylvania gave me some insights into what life in a radically different environment was like. The internet, of course, was quite a major topic of conversation. My younger persona was quite happy to hear of all the advances that were to transpire during the time between then and now. He got a kick out of all the things people have been doing with sites like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and all the others. He was so happy to know that I’ve been able to keep in touch with all my oldest friends from school for so long. Most certainly, he was quite disgusted when I told him about everyone’s having a cell phone these days. He reminded me of the days when my cousins and I were on the Knights of Columbus’ bowling league, with the Wantagh council and recommended that I get involved in something like that again. He also reminded me that since my anxiety, temper and migraines have mostly subsided into virtual obsolescence, I should by now be hepper than ever.
I don’t know whether there’s any one specific individual who can be described as the most different from me. The main thing that makes it possible for me to get along at least reasonably well with most of the people who are drastically different from me is, as far as I know, the fact that we’re not that pushy. I try to avoid any unnecessarily volatile arguments with anyone I see in person regularly. That’s one of the really good things about the internet. It’s a good way for someone to express his opinions in a free and uncontrolled way, without having to deal with anyone’s emotions, unlike an in-person confrontation. I have lots of ideas that are quite controversial these days. I have to deal with a large number of people who, because of their drastically liberal ideas, are quite significantly different from me. I’m most certainly not the kind of character who can be described as the least bit willing even to think of accepting their points of view. By now I’ve learned to hold my tongue politely and to avoid an aggressive approach to things. Those things can lead to a lot more trouble than the mere fact that, in a world of sports fans, I’m one of the few people who don’t like sports.
After an exceptionally long overwhelming drive, or any other prolonged source of aggravation, exhaustion and stress, I just like to hang around and to rest. Conveniently there isn’t any one and only thing that gets me relaxed. I don’t necessarily have to go directly to bed but I at least have to make sure that I don’t have anything extra on my schedule. Coffee always helps too. Unfortunately I don’t ever get to have any before a significant trip because it always drives me crazy. I have certain extremely seriously annoying problems under those circumstances. If I have no place else to go, though, I can have some and it makes me feel so especially nice. I often read too, or spend time online. These days I spend a lot of time reading online anyway. Another thing that keeps me relaxed is practicing my guitar. Conveniently with all my distinctive interests, there are several sources of rest and relaxation I can resort to. There’s one last thing i simply must explain quite clearly: I’ve absolutely never been able to stand the telephone so I make sure I avoid it entirely no matter what.
Unlike having to deal with things on an in person basis, the internet makes it a bit easier to come up with the confidence that’s required to contribute to a debate. The lack of accountability, although that’s generally a bad thing, encourages each of us to take a stand he would otherwise not be willing to risk. I quite often take part in all kinds of arguments online, though I should inevitably be much more careful about doing the same thing if the relevant parties were standing right in front of me. One of the major advantages of social networking sites is that people of all sorts of differing viewpoints can have a common forum by way of which to argue. Although people with drastically different ideas can drive each other crazy I find it quite enjoyable to butt into things and to defend the party who has been wronged. It’s not only a good idea, but it’s also quite frequently an exceptionally interesting enjoyable kind of thing. When someone presumes to get abusive, though, I invariably back down because there’s never any point in even bothering to give a trouble maker like that the satisfaction of a reaction. Unfortunately many people on my Facebook friend list can tend to be very abrasive. It’s only fair that if someone is in the right, he should at all times be entitled to count on other people’s being willing to come to his defense. As with something that happens in person, an internet fight should be dealt with intelligently and politely. Especially in the online world there’s frequently no way to find out conclusively just exactly who’s the victim and who’s the perpetrator. It’s a strange mixed up set of circumstances. All I can say is that I enjoy keeping people on their toes.