Issue 9 - 02/04/19
- A Guide to Greetings
- Fossils: That Shit Dope
- Where Did the Ice Cream Man Go?
- How Okay is Pretending? Genuinely Asking
- Horoscopes: Cat
- Office Chart
A Guide to Greetings
Ascendant-level contributor Matt Spradling
It's 2019 and nobody taught us how to greet each other. I don't know if that's something you can teach. Maybe greetings are something kids learn on the playground if they're not the kids getting beat up. Or maybe beating somebody up is technically a greeting. I'm here as a scientist, not to make value judgements.
Meanwhile I made my one friend by merit of wearing a star wars backpack first day of preschool and never really looked back, and like I know how to dance the fine steps involved in letting newcomers into the blocks section during playtime but that hasn't really come up in twenty-odd years.
Ever meet that former coworker at the post office and wonder handshake or hug? Boss's boss: handshake or bow? He-niece at a wedding: high-five or fist-bump or playful piledriver? Here's a handy guide! Write it on several napkins and keep them in your pockets, or write it on your wrists and catch the eye of that cute TSA agent you keep running into but don't know how to greet.
Repair men and women - You really have to be on your toes for this one. A lot of it has to do with judging based on age and demeanor. Actually those things go for all of these probably so let's dig deeper - these are men and women who are coming into your house because they are significantly better at houses than you are. You couldn't house your house and they are here to dig you out of your pathetic hole. You owe them fear and respect. A bow would not be inappropriate but try to get a handshake out of it. You'll probably get dirty but you're not allowed to wash your hands.
Mugger - You definitely have to be on your toes for this one. My strategy when it comes to people being mean to me (an umbrella that this situation stretches but definitely fits under) is to be very nice and apologetic and kind of laughing and saying yeah a lot when you can't decipher their dark mutterings. Maybe throw your hands up in a joking you-got-me way that's not really joking. I have no real advice here but if my mugger stuck out his hand to shake mine after taking my wallet I'd probably just roll with it.
Server - A similar dynamic as the first two. They really have the upper ground. A good waiter or waitress knows how to make you into a stupid stuttering asshole in many different ways. Alternatively, being too short with a server can be tantamount to kicking a puppy, the worst of greetings. I do not know if you are supposed to also ask how they are doing when they ask you. Like it's polite but I don't enjoy answering that question 300 times a day. One's dynamic with their server is not unlike that of a new sexual partner: It's good to be deferent, but if nobody takes the reins at some point, the garlic bread gets soggy.
Mugging victim - The last one really got away from me so let's keep this one tight. I think this one is all about having done your due diligent research beforehand, so you should be able to get through the whole interaction with common-sense respect, and, I imagine for some reason, a handshake afterwards. As for the initial greeting, I recommend "Hey friendo" and one of those handshakes you don't let go of.
Klan Member - Curveball! You don't actually owe this one anything, but feel free to throw in a cool dismissal like "no thanks, I'm not a dork!" or "the Klan is for klutzes!" or "what the fuck I knew this was still a thing but what the fuck do I call the police or just walk casually away while keeping an eye out for a big stick or pipe"
Therapist - If in the office for an appointment, start it off high-energy with a high five and maybe some stretching depending on how intense of a session you plan for it to be. If out in public, maybe something subtle and knowing like an elbow nudge and "we'll have to stretch a lot come Wednesday" while gesturing towards the club table where you've just hoovered up some left-behind unfinished drinks and a surly friend sits staring intensely at nothing in particular.
God - This one's actually going to require some careful tact. On the off-chance you do encounter God in some sort of manifestation, be very patient, because he actually fell asleep when he took a break on the sixth day and only just now woke back up. He'll probably ask how long he's been sleeping, and you'll have to inform him that that's somehow a point of contention. He'll be looking around bleary eyed and asking where the hell the dinosaurs are, to which you'll have to break him the bad news very gently. He may get upset and yell that the dinosaurs were the whole fucking point, Steven, and you'll need to sympathize and agree which should be a pretty genuine sentiment anyway. If it's any consolation, you get to be the one to show him Jurassic Park for the first time, though.
Fossils: That Shit Dope
Brewmaster-level contributor Alex Speed
When I was a kid we had a secret (it was full of trash and maybe a homeless camp) creek that we would go to and run around and do kid stuff like shoot each other with air soft guns and lie about kissing girls. The creek was an oasis (not a literal oasis technically speaking - it was neither surrounded by desert nor spring-fed) from the weird cramped suburban living of North Texas. I was too fat to do parkour, but I sure could flail around and make excuses about not being able to jump very high.
One day my friend Paxton brought his grandpa to the creek with us. His name was Scooter, but in retrospect there's no way a 65 year old grown ass man's name is Scooter. Scooter was a photographer, so I think he was trying to take some nature shots or something when he stopped very suddenly to inspect the ground we had ignorantly trampled for months. He got very excited as he pointed to the dirt and explained that there were fossils next to the creek. He started rambling about history and dinosaurs and monetary value - it was all pretty exciting. Looking back, it makes me think about history and evolution and how the Earth is really only 6,000 years old.
The thing about fossils is that no one was trying to make them, but they seem to be our most tangible connection to solid life forms long before the human race existed. We as people care so much about legacy, but historically speaking, it seems the most memorable thing you can do is accidentally die next to something that will preserve the outline of your corpse for some group of kids trying to convince each other that they've smoked a cigarette out of their uncle's glove-box before. No one remembers which trilobite had the most bitcoin, but I do remember seeing the outline of a once-living creature and feeling generally uncomfortable about it. Time is too great a departure from presence for us to really understand what goes into making a fossil. So I found this silly diagram to help out:
Pretty crazy, huh? We're all running around supported by ground fertilized through life we neglect to realize came before us. I think there's a passive comfort in acknowledging the cyclical nature of life. We are born to experience the earth, and many of us obsess over our legacy. However, what if our most lasting legacy is a reminder to future you's and me's that we were meant to rejoin the dirt and one day, millions of years from now, have the outline of our bodies discovered by little cyborg kids panting from their first actual run in five months?
Matador-level contributor Amber Ahmed,
Ricardo-level contributor Ricardo Ricardo
Acute square: Being in denial about your "shape" blaming the lighting and the angle. Acute square.
Amomymous: Being in 3rd grade and not receiving any Valentine's day cards at school and then when you get home there's an amomymous Valentine's day card from your mom. Amomymous.
Mominous: Receiving 5 text messages and 3 missed called from mother. Mominous.
Ceriously: A monarchly promise to destroy you and your bloodline through any means necessary. Ceriously.
Sdink: The act of drinking from the opposite side of the cup. Mistakingly associated with a cure for diaphragm spasms. Sdink.
Purplepinky: (For medical condition, please refer to Purplepinkytoe) The coloration of skin that occurs after dipping one's pinky in purple icing. Purplepinky.
Purplepinkytoe: Medical condition affecting 4 out of 5 Americans in which the pinky toe is slammed into a piece of furniture (that someone obviously moved) resulting in Purplepinkytoe. Purplepinkytoe.
Where Did the Ice Cream Man Go?
Resplendent-level contributor Autumn Scott
Lately I've been noticing the lack of children playing on the street. It first came to my attention when I noticed the absence of the ice cream trucks slowly making their way through the neighborhood. I remember the giddiness, anticipation bubbling inside me the moment I heard that truck calling out. Every set of eyes watching from the windows quickly turned into little legs racing into the street. Squealing for no reason but the promise of sugar. I know every generation looks at the next with pity every now and then because of something the young'ins didn't get to experience, but children seem to be skipping an important part of childhood: the adventures of the outdoors, and everything that comes with it, like friends, social skills, and the emotional growth that comes with it. This is when kids learn key things about each other, themselves, and how we affect one another. I imagine being inside all day plugged in can inhibit some of that growth. Or maybe just introduce a different route. Instead of being raised by parents and a social group, some children now are raised by their parents and the internet.
Then when you think about it - how much did your parents' intentional parenting (lectures, rules, scolding etc.) influence you? Whose opinion did you care more about in those developmental years? Most likely people around your age. Not your parents. So maybe we can cross that out. That leaves the internet as a single parent, feeding the child everything it knows into a mind with a filter still under construction. Anything google has to offer along with memes about being antisocial and never leaving the house. This can have a huge impact on a child. Their identity can easily be influenced by and molded into whatever they have been consuming - since no one else is going outside to play, why should I? My friends aren't making mud pies or rollerblading down the sidewalks, they are finding the natural light inside, taking great selfies. Maybe the ice cream man is adjusting to trends.
Editor's note: this is a good starting point on a significant issue but I do also need to point out that what's far scarier than a sudden absence of ice cream trucks is hearing an ice cream truck in the middle of the night.
How Okay is Pretending? Genuinely Asking
Ascendant-level contributor Matt Spradling
There was a fair stint yonder four-foot tall or so when I believed in Santa only because my first grade teacher told us all a detailed story about him being real. There was magical glimmering light and apparating bikes and special effects and the works. My sweet, caramel-filled logic center figured that, while not all of this quite makes intuitive sense, she would certainly never lie to us. That'd be illegal probably. Teacher law. That's a long train of dominoes to topple all at once, y'know? But at the same time, even after I figured out Santa was about as real as my reasons why it'd be a good idea to wear a leather jacket in 6th grade, I still knew my parents cared about me a lot, and I still owned a Nintendo 64 regardless of origin, and even after I realized adults weren't always straightforward, I still knew they generally had my best interest in mind and my teachers were still pretty great except for you Mrs. Vandever that wasn't graffiti it was an imaginative and stimulating and easily erasable game and you took away recess as a punishment far too lightly and also you told me to clean the marks off of everyone's desks but you gave me disinfectant wipes which do fuck-all on pencil lead so that was pretty dumb.
Is it hypocritical to be a realist but still have heroes? I mean, no, because the answer is to change your definition of a hero to whatever ideals you do, in all your realism, hold as important. Also pardon me for claiming the class of realist when I'm pretty sure everyone thinks they're a realist. What does that even mean? I guess what I'm wondering is more about art - why is that I, who am not spiritual in the slightest, am still a sucker for seemingly transcendental experiences? Not in a doing-shrooms-and-letting-a-tree-whisper-sweet-nothings-as-you-sweat-out-your-cargo-pants-face-down-in-the-brush kind of way, more like when you feel music or a movie touch on something profound, but even more so, tap into something bigger than you completely understand. Rationally I know that Radiohead consists of five utterly plain English men who are dads and just happen to be good at music, and the mysterious, rich air about their work is just kind of a combination of privacy, eccentricities, and Thom Yorke's personal abstract and eerie aesthetic tastes, not to mention the reputation and meaning that their fans heap onto the top of everything. I know the music is just music, but it's still so easy to slip away into it and interpret it as some otherwordly, arcane trip where secrets are being hinted at but not revealed and where there is some master plan behind every decision that might just come to fruition and blow your mind occasionally. I swear I don't do drugs.
Maybe for some people these sorts of things are spiritual or metaphysical or religious or whatever. For me, maybe it's just a fun fantasy, or maybe it's trying to recreate those feelings you had when you were little and the world was unknowably vast and everything we discovered was so new and novel and game-changing. It's exciting and comforting for there to be some sort of master plan that's bigger than you. I think that's why I like sci-fi but haven't been able to get into Stephen King: part of the reason sci-fi is great is because it stokes that little part of your brain that believes that story maybe could actually happen, that those other worlds exist out there now, far away, or merely in our future; on the other hand, I've read Stephen King talk about his process a little too much and can't immerse myself in his writing because I can't shake the notion that this is just made up and wasn't even necessarily planned from the outset and isn't real. That is dumb, because all stories are made up, and in a theoretical sense I value and appreciate the cultural importance of storytelling and that the power of a story is not necessarily imbued by its author. Still, I find myself craving that what if, even if I know I don't actually believe it, like a floater in your eye that you can't ever actually look directly at.
I guess it's a matter of seeing the sausage being made spoiling your appetite. It's like I want to pretend, and I want to be fooled, even though rationally I consider that to be unhealthy.
My dad said that when he was at UT, he didn't really care about the football team because the players were his classmates and he generally thought they were jerks. It wasn't until after graduating and gaining some separation and a different kind of connection that he got really into following and supporting UT sports. Is it true that players today are generally the same as players yesterday? Probably. Is it also possible to support the institution and endeavor despite that? Sure. Are there some realities that are fine, even better, to just ignore, even if it takes some time and distance to do so? I don't know. It's certainly easier. But then if you're not careful doing that you get confederate flags all over the place.
I'm having trouble taking this out of rambling diary territory and into remotely worthwhile reading territory. I guess the main point is that once when I was 13 I ate two chicken fried steaks to impress a waitress and I'm still not sure how I feel about that.
I do things like use social media and go to concerts and write weird stories and I wouldn't be able to explain, if asked, what exactly it is that I want out of those things. At some point experiencing life becomes less sensible and streamlined and more of a big mash and you just learn how to tread through it a little more carefully and thoughtfully which I guess is what wisdom is supposed to be. I think serious realism is important but I'm also a connoisseur of escapism. I think we don't completely understand just how easy it is for the things we live with and consume to seep inside us and plant seeds, and if you don't rake those leaves every once in a while you get some weird mold and bugs and in reality you can't do the whimsical Calvin and Hobbes thing where you go and jump into a pile of leaves and read because leaf piles are gross and uncomfortable. Indulging in fantasy amongst the rigors of cold, hard reality is fine, you just have to be able to tell the two apart. Not in a creepy abhor-the-desires-of-the-worldly-flesh kind of way, just try not to become a delusional asshole or you'll end up hurting people. Happy Monday.
Samrājñī-level contributor Myshka
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I know this kind of stops in the middle of a sentence but she was starting to scratch my keyboard and also do that thing with her ears that says I'm gonna hurt you real bad. Also she's only two, what were you writing when you were two?
Seneschal-level contributor Sam Strohmeyer
CAPRICORN - Have you seen my cat, Capricorn? Her name is Myshka. It's Russian for "little mouse." She's a Russian Blue so it makes sense, okay? She's never going to learn it because we call her "kitter" or "kibber" or "baby" constantly.
AQUARIUS - Yeah, we were gonna get a kitten, Aquarius, but we met her at the shelter and decided she was the cat for us. She's two but she's pretty small.
PISCES - Pisces, have you seen her little face? She's goddamn gorgeous. She's entirely dark grey with a black nose. I'll email you a picture when I'm done writing these.
ARIES - She had a pretty rough life, Aries. We figure she must have lived with people at some point because she's so friendly but she came in to the shelter malnourished and with a huge gash on her leg. Doesn't that make you just want to cry, Aries?!
TAURUS - Taurus, she was depressed in the shelter and wouldn't eat. They had to put a feeding tube in her. A FEEDING TUBE. My poor baby. That's why her neck is shaved.
GEMINI - She's adjusting wonderfully, Gemini. She immediately ate when we got her home! She gets scared easily by sounds but she gets more comfortable every day.
CANCER - Cancer, she sometimes growls at sounds outside. Is it normal for cats to growl? It's pretty cute. She also sniffs really loud. It's even cuter somehow.
LEO - She's not much of a lap kitty yet, Leo, but she's super affectionate. She's always bonking her head into our faces and rubbing on us. She needs pets pretty much 24/7.
VIRGO - Virgo, you can pet her belly. You can hold her paws. She's super tolerant of pretty much everything. And she purrs the whole time.
LIBRA - She likes to play, Libra, but sometimes she would rather nap. We can't get her to use the cat tree we bought her but she loves the feather stick thing and her little mouse. She likes to fetch with it and toss it in the air. It's adorable.
SCORPIO - I love this cat so much. I can't believe it. I would die for this little furball. She's the light of my life. She refuses to eat the fancy wet food so I spend 10 minutes a day mixing it with some Friskies crap and her medication and she still barely touches it. She is pure goodness.
SAGITTARIUS - She licks on it and the laser goes onto the bag but she is gone. If the feather is purple and the cord tastes bad. Beans are light and run on the bedroom but whisper back. Like!
Bright Eyes - Lime Tree
Tarkio - Devil's Elbow
Radiohead - 2 + 2 = 5
Parquet Courts - Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience
Soccer Mommy - Your Dog
Toro y Moi - Ordinary Pleasure
Elliott Smith - Angeles
American Football - Never Meant
Bill Watterson - Illustration for Calving and Hobbes
Fossils - I don't know where Alex scrounges this stuff up but I'm not looking for it in order to source a second-grade science textbook picture on a newsletter that current estimates say either 50 people read or like 10 people read a whole bunch