Flannery Correspondence

June 19, 2010


Filed under: Funny or Odd, Good News for a Change, Human Gold — BrianOFlan @ 13:04

In line for the RedBox, a carefully dressed black man approached me. He was not well dressed — his button-up collared shirt was worn, plaid and maybe flannel but it was tucked in and every button done. His baseball cap was old but his haircut tight. Everything about him was old but careful, especially his perfect posture. What struck me was how lively his movements were for being an antique.

I started talking to him because he started talking to himself. Extra loud, almost belligerent.  I thought having a conversation would be better than watching him rave on to nobody and everybody.  The whole time “The Ballad of Curtis Lowe” played in my mind.

They should have those RedBoxes outside so people won’t line up and get in the way.  But, oh no, it’s all about the dollar.  No concern for customer safety or convenience.

America isn’t here anymore; it’s lost.  I’m 76 years old and I remember when America was real… then it all started to change.  Used to be, a little girl could walk down the sidewalk at 9PM at night, six blocks or more without anything terrible happening to her.

Everything’s for sale, from Obama on down — anything you want, no problem, just hand over the money and tell us where you want it, you got it — and all the people you need to work it.  We have slavery every day.

Child molesters don’t get killed.  They stay alive in prisons with murderers and rapists.  I tip my hat to policemen.  They have a hard job because America’s not the same.  If you want to clean up this country you’d have to round up and kill men.  You’d have to lynch 200 men a day, from the time the sun comes up until it goes down.  Heh heh, that sounds bad but that’s what it’d take.

I wish there was a way to change the system, restore some good name for America.

It’ll never happen.  You try to change politics or clean up this corruption, people will kill you.  They like the corruption.  Everybody’s in on it.  Nobody wants to see anything true.

So you’re 76, how have you spent your time?

Well, my wife and I raised three children.  Now they’re grown up but they say, “Dad, you were hard on us.  You were strict.”  I put them in private school because I wasn’t about to send them to public school where the teachers weren’t allowed to whip them with a belt.

Grandchildren?  (Yes.)  Good.  Everyone healthy?

Yes, everybody’s healthy but they got an education, you know.  I worked two jobs my whole life to make sure to pay for their schooling.

Where’d you work?

I worked at the same company for over thirty years — a good union job doing industrial deliveries.  I got into the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Wow!  Few people can say they spent a solid three decades with one company.  Do you still work?

Working that long is the only way to draw a good pension.  I retired in 2005 but the IBEW still sends me letters saying they’ll put me to work if I ever want it.  They take care of their own.

It’s nice to be able to retire.

Sure… but I still want to work.  If you go home and just sit around then you die.

It was time for him to order his food so I shook his hands and we parted.  I wish I could figure out a way to get his name.  I’d look him up and invite him to Sunday picnics in the front yard.  (I have a hard time asking total strangers who they are.)

I don’t agree with everything he said.  Advocating lynchings, for example.  He thinks America is a lost cause:  “Nobody wants to see the right thing happen.  Well, maybe a few individuals here and there but not enough.  Everyone’s for sale.”  I hope we’ll turn to make one last stand for civilization.

It did my heart good to see an old timer so determined to avoid death-by-retirement.  I hope I’m so capable when I’m in my fourth quarter.

Moral of the story:  Talk to strangers.  Offer them your name.  Find out how they’ve spent they’re decades.  What’s more important than people?

Polyamory and the limits of monogamy

Filed under: Family and Friends, Funny or Odd, Good News for a Change — BrianOFlan @ 06:27

I love my wife. I promise the following paragraphs have nothing to do with marital alternatives or freaky stuff.

Lana’s fourth birthday party is tomorrow. While preparing for the big day tomorrow, Christa somehow kept me in mind. As early Fathers Day presents, she dumped three treats on me:

  1. Raspberry sherbet instead of ice cream. Dairy undermines any hope of my enjoying a sulfurous-methane-free evening.
  2. Mashed potatoes with cheese and bacon. Do you want to live forever?
  3. Honey Bunches of Oats (awww). Actually, the generic equivalent cereal — the kind that comes in a bag, not a box.

I love consumable gifts. It’s an important reminder that life is fleeting so don’t miss a drop.

I spent ten minutes talking to a 76-year-old black man in our neighborhood McDonald’s. I was in line for a Red Box but he just wanted something to eat and a public forum for loud conversation. I can’t believe how many people fail to take advantage of RedBox’s internet interface: Reserve your movie online! Walk up, press one button, swipe your credit card and you’ve got your movie. Instead people spend fifteen minutes complaining about the line and then — when they have the RedBox to themselves — spend twenty minutes reading every single blurb about every single movie before finally settling on the evening’s entertainment.

Talking to that guy was like watching three movies at once. I should just hang out in that McDonald’s and document other people’s amazing lives. More about him soon.

We rented a dumb romantic comedy. It thoroughly surprised and delighted us. When in Rome features Napoleon Dynamite as Lance, a magician (“don’t you want to be dazzled?”). Spoiler alert/hint: Thought you’d seen the last of Pedro?

One protagonist’s actor, named Josh Duhamel, appeared in 2004’s Picture of Dorian Gray. You might remember that Prince Caspian played Dorian in 2009’s Dorian Gray. That one kid from 7th Heaven was 2007’s PoDG. Two adaptations of the Oscar Wilde story are expected this year, followed by three in 2011 and probably a Fibonacci sequence in subsequent years.

Another When in Rome surprise:  The most poignant lines come from Danny DeVito, who has never played Dorian Gray.

The music was hot, climaxing in a trumpeted Paolo Nutini number. Watch it with subtitles on — they cite every song by title and artist, even traditional and classical background music (eg. Ave Maria, Tarantella, Wagner’s Bridal Chorus). The rare kind of movie we sat through the credits until it went black just to hear every song.

It’s a clean movie unless you consider art as obscenity: One painting bears human breasts in the adult female fashion. No foul or offensive language. (Why did we waste time watching this while the kids were asleep?) It’s not a thinker but it is light and fun with a twist ending, besides Pedro.

Next movie is my pick: Zombieland.

Please don’t search the internet for “polyamory”.

June 6, 2010

Then how does it work?

Filed under: Ever Wonder, Funny or Odd — BrianOFlan @ 00:58

Somewhere in the middle of a long, boring summer, a child will resort to rummaging through a dusty old attic and discover a secret but timeless boredom cure.

Speed Bump


June 5, 2010

Where to Find Chocolate

Filed under: Funny or Odd, Surviving Parenthood — Tags: , , , , , — BrianOFlan @ 19:08

Zella, our neat-freak child, has as much gross-out potential as the rest of them.

Our minivan is falling apart. Christa noticed that yesterday, driving from south Denver to Thornton in the noon heat. First the AC stopped feeling cool. Max AC ought to fix that, right? No? Still blowing hot air? Why is the engine revving up and down like that? The transmission is surging, shifting down too low for the speed, revving high, then shifting back up. What do all those gauges and dials on the dashboard have to say?

Well, the thermometer isn’t at the bottom of the “Normal” band anymore. It’s all the way at the top by that big capital “H”. Let’s turn the AC off and roll the windows down. Only five minutes away from the destination, van full of kids, the only thing worse than stopping on the side of the road would be blowing up in traffic. Think we can make it?

They made it. The 1996 Mercury Villager survived. Christa has two hours to kill while Jude does a foster care visit with his biological parents. She checks the coolant reservoir. It’s boiling and bubbling above the max full line up to the top cap. She’s smart enough not to mess with the radiator cap. She leaves the hood up and hauls the four girls into the social services waiting room for two hours.

By then the engine has cooled. The coolant reservoir has stopped boiling and is now empty. Refill with water to the max full line and risk the 45 minute drive home. (Loading all five kids up for these visits is a first. She usually has someone else take Jude to the visit or a babysitter watch the girls while she takes them.)

As she transfers them out of the stroller into the van, some stray. Barefoot and loosely dressed, they are already too hot. They want to stay in the shade of the minivan without actually going back in the hot vehicle. She finally gets them in their car seats and buckled in time to pick up Jude from the social worker and drive home with nothing but open windows and hot highway air to cool them.

They scream the whole drive home. I’m too hot! I want out of my seat! Unbuckle me! Incoherent yodels of outrage! While all her sisters cry, Zella cries a little but something distracts her. From the mirror, Christa watches in horror as Zella contorts her own foot up to her face and licks it for at least ten minutes.

What could possibly taste good about the bottom of her foot? Then it dawns on her: Near the van in the social services parking lot there was a melted fudge bar — only the wrapper and the stick and the inedible residue of chocolate remained. Zella’s naked Indian soles must have picked up enough of that sweet, sticky germ culture to look and taste just right for that long, hot ride home.

I don’t care how cute she smiles with those cheek dimples. I will never kiss her again.

PS. Let me know if you have any Penicillin lying around or maybe a 12 passenger van you’re not using.
Zella and the offending foot

Lana’s recitation of Narnia

Filed under: Ever Wonder, Family and Friends, Good News for a Change — Tags: , , — BrianOFlan @ 03:19

“In Narnia, there was a boy who was very, very … English! And angry. And then he was really big. And there was a little guy who helped him. And one of the boys says, “Hiya!”, and they fought and just won.”

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