Thursday, December 14, 2023


I've been searching for pictures to use in the C.S. Advent Calendar, and I've come to realize that in pictures, I am never smiling, so all the cards I make look like Unhappy Santa.  What's up with that?  In my 'hood, I think that smiling was a sign of weakness, and smiley kids got a beating.  I didn't like beatings, so I guess I learned to use the old resting bastard face.  All the girls I've ever liked had that prom queen smile when the camera was turned onto them.  No. . . all but one.  But even she, I think, finally caved.  I'll need to try some smiley pics for my next series of Advent Calendar images.  But I swear I'll look like a cross between Howdy Doody and Alfred E. Neuman.  Or Dave Letterman.  He never looked comfortable smiling, either.  

Yesterday went swell.  I went to my mother's house before noon with a card, flowers, and a couple presents.  Mom got Moon Drops.  We sat and chatted for a bit, then I drove her to the Olive Garden for lunch.  A couple gals joined us.  Endless soup and salad and breadsticks.  You can't help yourself.  You load up on breadsticks before the food comes out.  Then, eyes a poppin', you dig in.  And soon, you are bloated.  Is it the breadsticks or do they put some bloating chemical in their "endless" food?  You do, however, order the second bowl of pasta fagioli and a second bowl of salad, neither of which get(s) eaten.  Then you waddle out to the car patting your belly and saying you won't be having dinner that night.  

After lunch, I took my mother to get a new iPhone 15 Pro.  We both got them.  You get them as an upgrade for "free."  They are not free, though.  They just add money to your monthly bill.  My mother didn't realize this, and she asked to see the receipt.  She, a consummate  hillbilly, began questioning, i.e. arguing, the charges.  

"Mom, nothing in life is 'free.'  I've been paying for your phone for years."

She folded up the bill and put it into the bag.  Disconsolately.  

It took over an hour to transfer all the data from the old phones to the new.  As I did at lunch, I kept the awkward silence at bay.  Just as I had the girls at lunch smiling and laughing, so the boys at the telephone store.  Even the dour one.  I was back in work mode, reading the room, performing.  And it paid off.  They worked to lower my monthly bill considerably.  Two new phones and a lower bill.  It must be the holidays.  

Back home for cake.  The girls joined us on the deck outside where the muggy December mosquitoes hit ankles like Japanese kamikazes.  Mom had the lung capacity to blow out the 92 candles.  

I am ashamed to say that this is the only picture I took all day.  I am NOT an event photographer.  I can never take pictures at the "required" times.  The camera is simply too heavy to lift in those circumstances.  But some people ONLY make photos at those time, sort of Instagram influenced, I guess.  

"Here we are having fun!"

So. . .mom at 92 with a half eaten cake and my jacket to keep her warm.  

As the sun was sinking, I drove my mother home.  I needed her Apple ID to complete the phone's setup, but she doesn't know it, and I went through every password she has written down and none of them worked.  

"I'll have to figure this out later," I told her.  I'm going to need to set up a new password, I think.  Fucking passwords will be the end of me.  

"That was a long day," she said.

"Yea, I'm exhausted.  I feel like I've been performing all day."

"You sure can talk," she said.  

"I just talked more today than I have all month," I said.  "I'm beat." 

And so I hugged her and told her I loved her and walked to my car.  I turned and waved to her, feeling guilty at leaving her alone for the rest of the night.  That's what it's like to be an only child.  

At home, I poured a whiskey and lit a cheroot.  I sat on the deck and just let go.  The day ran through my head like a recent dream.  I was a good son, I thought.  A really good son.  But I could sense a gloom coming.  

"It's just seasonal," I said.  Just then, the cats showed up like ghosts in the dusk.  The pretty domestic cat gave my little feral a real good licking all over her head.  She melted into him gently, emotionally.  

"There you go," I spoke softly.  "So sweet."

Then they disappeared into the night.  I sat a while longer.  Then, whiskey gone, I stepped back into the house.  

Remembering my night of terror after watching the Camus thing, and recalling my decision to watch something sweet before bedtime so that I might have better dreams, I called up some Rick Steves shows.  If you have never watched Rick Steves, they are the nerdiest travel shows imaginable.  But they are gentle and sweet and take you away on his mid-life travel journeys.  I used to watch them with a girlfriend snuggled on the couch and say that we would go.  I was done with all my adventure travel, I felt, sleeping on mountainsides in mummy bags and in crummy old hotels in 3rd world countries.  I was ready for pretty, gentle travel with my own true love.  I felt like joining in with what seemed to me the "human race."  

The first one that popped up was a Christmas show, so I put it on.  I'll link it here, but I warn you, it is pure cornpone.  If you want to sit with your own true love with a cup of eggnog, though, and pretend to be semi-normal, holding hands and going "awww," then you might have fun.  It filled me with something last night, but it was not quite like that.  Maybe I need to go a step further in joining the rest of "you people," you "loving couples."  I imagined all the fun.  

I must say, though, that I slept like a champ last night and had lovely dreams.  I will end each night with something similar, I think, so that I may sleep the sleep of the happy and content.  

It is another grey day here in the Sunny South.  If this continues, I'm sure our meth use will be as high as the midwest's.  But I have a full calendar of events to tend to these next few weeks.  Ho-ho-ho.  Christmas is a'coming.  

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