Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the category “Teenagers”

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “I Spy Something”

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “I Spy Something”

 

I Spy Something…

watching-bush-babyDESPITE THE UPSETS AND WOES OF EVERYDAY LIFE there is one thing that can still be enjoyed no matter where or when you find yourself: People Watching.

Unless you are in the middle of nowhere or alone on a deserted island it is likely that there are people about – and they are free for the watching. Of course, if you don’t do it properly and be discreet, it can get costly in black eyes and those pesky restraining orders.

watching

People Watching can be done almost anywhere. I say “almost,” because there are those places where folks expect to be, and want to be, unobserved. Violating that expectation is often called “Invasion of Privacy,” or “Stalking.” You don’t want that tag following you around.

The beauty of People Watching is that there is an unlimited variety of subjects walking past. On most days it is like watching the better dressed escapees from some Monkey Island. I say that making no pretense of being the best dressed guy in town – on most days I’m dressed like the insides of a Honolulu Goodwill Box.

Just this morning, sitting in my pew at St. Arbucks, I have seen a bunch of High School students stopping off to get a serious sugar high before heading off to class. The boys all tried to look somewhat tough and mildly rebellious. The girls? Well – I saw 17 versions of Marcia Brady (I guess that ironing one’s long hair is back in fashion.) and a few Joan Jett wannabees. Maybe they’ll be able to draft a few of the boys into being their “Blackhearts.”

Don’cha just love Rock ‘n Roll?

Being the first day of school I can understand all of the extra effort to look their best – or at least their best according to their chosen image and budget. Within a week or so the 1470489173223importance of “The Look” will dissipate and the reality of having to get up early to catch the school bus will set in. After a few days standing on the corner waiting for the bus and they will all start looking like their laundry hamper.

People Watching is a two-way street and I know that. I look at them. They look at me. It’s only fair, I suppose – but I have a “Look” that lasts past Opening Day. In Summer I wear Hawaiian shirts (even to church) and the rest of the year I am in sweatshirts.

Either choice is always accented by a San Francisco Giants baseball cap. On occasion I change hats, just to keep things fresh. My alternate might be a cap from a Minor League team, or from the Trinity College of Dublin – a reminder of our Ireland trips.

stalking

NOT People Watching!

My alternate cap that gets the most commentary is my “Thinking Cap” cap. On days I wear that I can count on having at least 2 or 3 people coming up to me wanting to know where I bought it. Truthfully, I don’t know where it came from. It was a gift from Dawn, so it could be from anywhere this side of Neptune. She has her sources.

So, I heartily recommend People Watching as a pastime. It is fun, inexpensive (barring the need for legal defense), no equipment is needed, and a great way to troll for characters if you are a writer. You don’t thing Stephen King comes up with the people in his novels by sitting alone in a room staring at the wall, do you?

Go out, find a seat somewhere, and park your carcass down. Look around and enjoy what will, inevitably, pass by. There will be a parade of humanity to enjoy as it saunters by.

Refreshments are optional.

watching drinking-starbucks

Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking”

Throwback Thursday 3

Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking

tree aloneTHIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE TIMES of the year at the Chapel of St. Arbucks here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Why did I buy more onion dip?”).

At this time every year we have a Scholastic Solstice of a sort. For about ten days this place is quiet. The Public Schools have resumed classes while the colleges and universities don’t kick into gear for another week or so. As a result, the usually busy St. Arbucks is an oasis of relative quiet. The decibel level drops from “Karakatoa on the Wabash” loud down to “My headache has disappeared” manageable. The difference is both thrilling and humbling.

During the summertime when the schools are out, St Arbucks becomes a favorite haunt of the pubescent masses who come in, order a “Strawberry and Cream Frappuccino,” and think they’re drinking coffee – Oh, so grown-up. All they are really doing is getting a fortified sugar rush and turning into nonstop chatterboxes. The giggling alone from a table with 10 high school girls is enough to make my Curmudgeon Lobe work overtime.

It is different with the obligatory teenage boys who are also here, following the girls and trying to look macho. At least they are much quieter as they practice looking both sullen and somewhat dangerous or James Dean emotionally lost and in need of a cuddle.

These two factions are in St. Arbucks all summer, minus the two weeks when their parents drag them to visit the Grandparents in some version of Iowa. When they return though, they have two weeks of giggling and posing to catch up on. It is during those two weeks that we try to get out of town.

When the colleges and universities shovel their students into town they show up by the study-group load, monopolizing tables and power outlets for their computers and cell phone chargers.

As a rule the college age crowd isn’t as noisy as the younger chair-fillers. They just fill the sonic landscape with keyboard clicks, textbook page turning and low frequency murmuring about the validity of the scientific method and the real meaning of “The Fight Club.”

Whatever happened to the days when college freshmen argued philosophy in on-campus student lounges and not out in public where the rest of us can hear them and are thrown into fits of despair for the future?

It is during this all too short respite when the younger students are back learning how to cheat on tests from their underpaid teachers and the older students are still trying to figure out how to smuggle microwave ovens into their dorm rooms that the Chapel of St. Arbucks becomes a place for contemplation, reasonable discussions about unreasonable things and, on occasion, a venue for impromptu middle-aged performance art. Things that could never happen if the students were here sounding like a billion hormone driven cicadas.

At this moment I am one of four customers/worshippers here at St. Arbucks. Two of them are women in their thirties who are chatting and sipping quietly. The fourth person is seated at the table behind me and I haven’t heard a sound out of her. Perhaps someone should check to make sure that she is still alive. If she isn’t, let her be for a while – it’s nice in here right now.

Root Beer Floats On The Road To Tomorrow

 

LOOK AROUND. WHAT CAN YOU SEE? Kids are finishing their classes and… and… Looking for summer jobs!

AAAAIEEEEE!!!!!

The time for the dreaded “Summer Job” has reared its ugly head once again! God, I am glad I don’t have to get involved with that insanity any longer.

My teenage summer jobs were back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and we were paid in shiny stones. Times have changed in many ways, but today’s kids still have to go through the same job searching rigamarole for the same lousy equivalent in today’s currency.

“But it will look so good on your resume!”

No it won’t.

Read more…

Aaron’s Lego-cy

 

TODAY I AM GOING TO ASK YOU TO DO SOMETHING – to act in the real world in the memory of a young man named Aaron.

Aaron was born with congenital heart disease and spent much of his life in the hospital. He had a heart transplant when he was fifteen. That gave him a few good years, but when he was nineteen his body suddenly rejected his new heart and he passed away.

Read more…

“No Shirt, No Shoes, No Plastic – No Service.”

 

FOLLOWING UP ON THAT BLOGPOST OF A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO…

I heard an interesting bit of semi-news, semi-advertising this morning. On the morning news it was awkwardly disguised as a Business Report.

The heavily caffeinated executives in Seattle have announced that Starbucks (St. Arbucks to you and me) is going to convert one of its stores in the Great Northwest into a “Cashless Store.” What they mean by that is that all transactions will be handled by credits and debits – no green pieces of paper will change hands –unless they are advertisements or Hold Up Notes.

When I was growing up a “Cashless Store” was one that was going out of business.

Read more…

Throwback Thursday from Jan. 2016 – “What Is That Thing On His Head?”

Throwback Thursday from Jan. 2016 – “What Is That Thing On His Head?”

Lump1

As far back as I can remember I have had a lump on the back of my head. Not a lump like you might get from whacking your head on the door of a kitchen cabinet or from a high and inside fastball. No. My lump is more like a Crab Rangoon stuck under my skin.

“IT’S NAHT A TOOMAH.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Kindergarten Cop”

Lump2

What it is, is – a collection of fat and some obligatory blood vessels. So, I guess you could say that I am a medically certifiable Fathead. I’ve been called worse, today even.

Read more…

Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Throwback Thursday from August 2015

 

Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking

tree aloneTHIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE TIMES of the year at the Chapel of St. Arbucks here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Why did I buy more onion dip?”).

At this time every year we have a Scholastic Solstice of a sort. For about ten days this place is quiet. The Public Schools have resumed classes while the colleges and universities don’t kick into gear for another week or so. As a result, the usually busy St. Arbucks is an oasis of relative quiet. The decibel level drops from “Karakatoa on the Wabash” loud down to “My headache has disappeared” manageable. The difference is both thrilling and humbling.

During the summertime when the schools are out, St. Arbucks becomes a favorite haunt of the pubescent masses who come in, order a “Strawberry and Cream Frappuccino,” and think they’re drinking coffee – Oh, so grown-up. All they are really doing is getting a fortified sugar rush and turning into nonstop chatterboxes. The giggling alone from a table with 10 high school girls is enough to make my Curmudgeon Lobe work overtime.

It is different with the obligatory teenage boys who are also here, following the girls and trying to look macho. At least they are much quieter as they practice looking both sullen and somewhat dangerous or James Dean emotionally lost and in need of a cuddle.

These two factions are in St. Arbucks all summer, minus the two weeks when their parents drag them to visit the Grandparents in some version of Iowa. When they return though, they have two weeks of giggling and posing to catch up on. It is during those two weeks that we try to get out of town.

When the colleges and universities shovel their students into town they show up by the study-group load, monopolizing tables and power outlets for their computers and cell phone chargers.

As a rule the college age crowd isn’t as noisy as the younger chair-fillers. They just fill the sonic landscape with keyboard clicks, textbook page turning and low frequency murmuring about the validity of the scientific method and the real meaning of “The Fight Club.”

Whatever happened to the days when college freshmen argued philosophy in on-campus student lounges and not out in public where the rest of us can hear them and are thrown into fits of despair for the future?

It is during this all too short respite when the younger students are back learning how to cheat on tests from their underpaid teachers and the older students are still trying to figure out how to smuggle microwave ovens into their dorm rooms that the Chapel of St. Arbucks becomes a place for contemplation, reasonable discussions about unreasonable things and, on occasion, a venue for impromptu middle-aged performance art. Things that could never happen if the students were here sounding like a billion hormone driven cicadas.

At this moment I am one of four customers/worshippers here at St. Arbucks. Two of them are women in their thirties who are chatting and sipping quietly. The fourth person is seated at the table behind me and I haven’t heard a sound out of her. Perhaps someone should check to make sure that she is still alive. If she isn’t, let her be for a while – it’s nice in here right now.

I’m Only Following Orders 

ADDITIONALLY HAPPY, ADDITIONALLY HAPPY, MODERATE JOY, MODERATE JOY.

A little piece of the jigsaw of my everyday life has fallen into place once more. About a month ago the Little Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood reopened and yesterday the Dollar Store right next to it has returned to active duty. Both places were hit by a pair of teenage arsonists last August. The little intestinal orifices were caught, but I was in Pot Sticker and Won Ton withdrawal for a long time. Now, praise to heaven above, both commercial spots are open again.

Read more…

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

joy1HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!

The sun is back rising in the east. Up is up. Down is down and Baseball is soon to reappear and…

My favorite little hole in the wall Chinese restaurant is open again. It was closed last August when two “youths” decided to burn down the Dollar Store next door. A brilliant move it was not. Not only did the fire gut the Dollar Store, but smoke and water damage destroyed my favorite little family run restaurant. All of this just a bagel’s thrown from St. Arbucks. But now…

Read more…

I Think I’m Going To Be Stuffed

christmas-1TODAY IS THE LAST WORKING DAY IN OCTOBER. November starts tomorrow and that means it is Unofficially the Official start of the Holiday Season.

It always seemed to me that Thanksgiving used to be the kickoff for all of the holiday madness, but over time, and with aggressive retail marketing, everything has pushed up so far that ads for Christmas toys and such are now rubbing shoulders with the Fourth of July.

Read more…

A Loss

 

SOMEONE I KNOW WAS MURDERED.

I can’t say that we had been close friends, but I knew him well enough to say that he was a good man who would go out of his way to help others – and he was murdered.

There aren’t a lot of details available yet, but four people have been arrested. They had his car and were caught after trying to use his I.D. and bank card at a local Wal-Mart. Their combination of cruelty and stupidity led to their speedy arrest. They were caught within an hour of being turned away at the store.

Good

These people decided that a car and a bank card were worth a man’s life. And now they will have to further decide if those things were worth their own lives as well.

The man they killed was well known in this area for his work with several local radio stations and the Chamber of Commerce. He and I had first interacted about 7 – 8 years ago when I was still working. I had several young clients who had expressed an interest in possibly pursuing a career in broadcasting. I contacted one of the local radio stations and they were very receptive to allowing me to bring one of the teens to the station. That was when this gentleman entered the picture.

He greeted us and took us into the studio where he was “On The Air,” Between songs and other announcements, he talked with and listened to my client. For at least an hour we all talked about the business and what it took to be a success. He was a Radio DJ, but he was also a teacher.

Several other times he allowed me to come back to the station with other kids where he lifted their eyes to goals higher than what they had thought possible.

He made a difference.

And now these stupid and heartless people have ended that – all for a trip to Wal-Mart.

Right now I don’t have anything more to say.

You And Me, Version 1.0

me1WHAT MUST IT BE LIKE TO BE SOMEONE ELSE – ANYONE ELSE? All of my life I have only been me. You have been you and, Thank God, They have always been them.

Despite the daily trials, tribulations, and just plain old pains in the tuchus, I would not want to be anyone else. Oh, sure, there have been those moments when becoming someone else seemed like an attractive option – like when you see flashing lights approaching in your rear view mirror.

The 7 year old me wanted to be Buck Rogers and the 10 year old me wanted to be Mickey Mantle. At 17 becoming Paul McCartney looked really cool – and it had nothing to do with music.

Read more…

I Spy Something…

watching-bush-babyDESPITE THE UPSETS AND WOES OF EVERYDAY LIFE there is one thing that can still be enjoyed no matter where or when you find yourself: People Watching.

Unless you are in the middle of nowhere or alone on a deserted island it is likely that there are people about – and they are free for the watching. Of course, if you don’t do it properly and be discreet, it can get costly in black eyes and those pesky restraining orders.

Read more…

How Hip Can One Man Be?

Matt1I ADMIT IT – I’M GETTING OLD. No, check that – I am old, but I’m not dead. I am still mildly aware of the world around me even if the world doesn’t always return the favor.

This morning I find myself in Dearborn, Michigan. My wife, the lovely and semi-vertical somnambulist, Dawn, and I are here for an annual church convention. Because things are kicking off early, convention-wise, we are both up early slouching toward consciousness.

Read more…

Can We Send This Back Where It Came From?

IT MAY BE WEDNESDAY IN THE REAL WORLD, but in the blogosphere, where I live, it is Saturday morning20151121_111237 and we are having our first snow of the season. That picture is the view out of our back door. I didn’t even open it to take the picture. I’m in denial.

If you have followed this blog for a while you have probably picked up that I am not a fan of cold weather, winter, snow, and all of the associated bullcrap that goes with it.

Read more…

Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking

tree aloneTHIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE TIMES of the year at the Chapel of St. Arbucks here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Why did I buy more onion dip?”).

At this time every year we have a Scholastic Solstice of a sort. For about ten days this place is quiet. The Public Schools have resumed classes while the colleges and universities don’t kick into gear for another week or so. As a result, the usually busy St. Arbucks is an oasis of relative quiet. The decibel level drops from “Karakatoa on the Wabash” loud down to “My headache has disappeared” manageable. The difference is both thrilling and humbling.

Read more…

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