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…let the hole in their heads grow shut

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In every head resides a hole. In fits of lunacy, the hole is permitted to grow shut. We can’t quite explain what comes over us in those moments. “The hole in my head grew shut, and… and, …  …” we lament, searching frantically for a rationale that could explain the tomfoolery in which we so haplessly find ourselves entangled.

Such is the case with the ‘neighborhood garage sale.’

One would think that mere consideration of the garage sale as a viable option to current circumstances would be insulting enough. One would be wrong. Add injury to the insult, and while you’re at it, shake some salt on it. Rub it in a little. I’ll wait…

Burns a little, doesn’t it? You’re forced to acknowledge that while you’ve been accusing your husband of being a closet hoarder lo, these many years, you, yourself wear the brand equally well. Maybe better:


And those treasures stashed away in the basement for the eventual ‘someday, the kids might want this…’




Nobody wants your Longaberger baskets. Your handbags and wallets are too yesterday. And the antiques? Sure, mid-century modern is a thing now. But the thing is, the current crop of buyers wants reproduction numbers, not items from the actual mid-20th century. A bed from the late 1930s or early ’40s??? A kitchen table and chairs circa 1950??!?! Pffff. “Crate & Barrel for $2000, Alex.”

Even worse is the mere fact that friends aren’t supposed to let friends hang on to this stuff. Or buy it in such massive quantities in the first place. Or keep it for nearly twenty years, stored for the someday that never dawns. I’m beginning to realize that having a good friend who sold the dang baskets, and other friends who offered sympathy over our loss of a grandmother rather than advice about her stuff, or friends who always say ‘yes!’ to a ‘let’s go shopping’ invitation have aided and abetted me in my crime of accumulation. Still. The crowded closets and the rabbit trails winding through the basement warehouse have driven me nearly mad. And then, the Homeowners Association secretary sends the damnable email, announcing the dates for the neighborhood garage sale. And the hole in my head gets a wee bit smaller as I say to myself, “Self, this might be the year to go ahead and try a garage sale again.”

See. Right there, the crucial mistake was made. The hole in my head was already too small. No rational thoughts could get through. The baskets. The closets. The drawers and cabinets and crap crammed everywhere!!!!!

And what did my friends (so-called!!!) do?!?!?!?!

I can tell you what they didn’t do. They didn’t jam a crowbar in that teeny-weeny hole in my head and pry it back to its usual size, I can tell you that much. Nope. They merely shook their heads in that tut-tut’ mode of condescension — you know the one —  that inevitably moves otherwise sane individuals into an “I’ll show you!” attitude of ‘do, or die trying.’

Next thing you know, I’m having a garage sale, exhausted from the hauling out, the pricing of items, the haggling over every single price tag.


Now, now. Friends don’t let friends judge. (maybe there’s another post lurking in that advice, hmmm?) There was a time when teal was quite “in.” Sure, that time was in a galaxy far, far away. We called it the ’90s. In any event, the leather loveseat is now someone else’s has-been, I am delighted to report. And the $30 price tag? She wore me down. I took $25. Honestly. Garage sales. The worst.

I’m two weeks post-garage sale now. Sane enough to talk about it with a laugh. Glad enough to have done it, I guess, given the fact that I sold every single handbag and wallet, the loveseat, the flotsam and jetsam, and, even found buyers for the forty-five or so Longaberger baskets. (I know, I know! It was a dark time, okay? Again with the ’90s…)

But I am not, I repeat, NOT doing it again. I’m done with collecting. I’m so over keeping stuff ‘for the kids.’ If ‘essential oils’ are the new Longaberger basket, I’m all booked up.

And then, the hole in my head crusted over…IMG_9290

Friends. Send help………..

…Trust the Weather App

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Before my hubby left for work this morning, he said, “The weather looks a little sketchy later today. You might want to get your walk done a little early.”

But I had coffee and reading on my morning to-do list. And then, just one more cup of coffee. And a few more pages of reading.  You know how it goes. Plus, it was “foggy withal” — like the Dickensian London in every story he ever told. I had plenty of time. The weather apps on my phone concurred. Really. PLENTY of time.

I watched a few early walkers as they passed by the window, one, with a pesky terrier-beagle mix who has never liked our dog. Why, I have no idea. I figured I’d give those two the chance to get ahead of us so that we wouldn’t cross paths and end up making her pup cross. I checked the radar and hourly forecast no less than three times. Consistently, the details indicated that ‘rain would begin’ around 10:45a.m. and THEN it would continue for the next few hours. The green blob was miles and miles away. We were in great shape. Well. My shape needs some work, though Jack is trimming up nicely. But I digress…

10:45 they said. Plenty of time, then, to set out at 9:50a.m. for a forty-minute walk. NO PROBLEM.

Then, when we were about as far away from the house as we’d be on said forty-minute walk, a “rain alert” pops up on my watch: “Rain will begin about 10:37, continuing over the next few hours. See what’s coming.” It’s 10:25 at that moment. I figured it would be close, but we’d get home before we’d get wet.

“Rain starting at 10:37” became rain starting immediately.  Drop.    Drop.    Drop.   Drop. Drop drop drop drop….dropdropdropdropdrop…..

We started to trot. The raindrops quickened their pace too. Jack paused frequently to give himself an all-over shake while I continued to mutter, “10:45 they said,” wishing I’d postponed the extra cup of coffee and the final pages of that chapter…

By the time we passed the neighborhood pond, we were so wet it wouldn’t make us any more so if I tried to snap a pic.


I know it looks harmless enough. You can hardly see the raindrops pinging the surface of the water. Captured this at 10:28a.m.

I felt a little Yosemite Sam moment coming on — “Sassin rassin’ frassin,'” cursing weather reporters everywhere.

By the time we made it to the driveway at 10:40 a.m., Jack and I were a bit of a mess. As I’d like to hold on to the last remnants of my vanity, I’ll just say I was as drippy as this guy:


Aaaaahhhhh……there’s nothing like the smell of wet dog…

Let me review. In all Caps: TEN:FORTY-FIVE THEY SAID!!!!!!!!

I had plenty of time! Yep. I sure did. Plenty of time to get soaked. What I didn’t have was a friend to say, “Hey. You can’t trust that weather app.”


…Retell the Same, Tired Ol’ Stories

You know exactly what I’m saying here. Picture it:

There y’all are — gathered wherever you and yours share space and time and food and drink together. For some it’s the local watering hole that you’ve gone to for years. For others it’s the trendy new pub that’s just opened across town. Or maybe you just like to hang out around someone’s kitchen table or patio. For sure you’ll flock to the annual Thanksgiving table or Independence Day Bar-B-Q. No matter the location or time of year, there you are, sharing laughs and swapping stories about the pets, the kids, the jobs, the in-laws, the pesky neighbor and the potholes. (Listen, I live in Indiana. Our state made the NYT because of potholes. Literal face palm, right there.) Some memory-making always mixes in with the memory-sharing — a mostly good time had by all. Until, inevitably, it happens.

Like you haven’t heard it before, there She-la goes, telling the same story you (and everyone else at the table) have heard before. AD NAUSEUM. Can I get an ‘amen!’??? Blah, blah, blah… yada yada… and so forth. What’s a friend supposed to do? Because She-la is really going to town right now — adding in extra, never-before-heard-because-now-they’re-entirely-FABRICATED-details to garner a few extra laughs when all you really want to add is an eye-roll of gargantuan proportion…

These are the days of our lives, right? We work at our personal version of ‘The Office,’ and we live in our spaces and attend to the needs of significant others, be they human, canine or both. We shop for stuff, and cook sometimes and clean when we must. We pay bills and watch Netflix and cheer for our favorite sports teams. And then, on top of all that, we have to endure a stunningly repetitive short-list of stories that sums up the days of our lives!?!?!??!

Can’t we do better than this?

After all, we are actually living in exciting times! We muddle through own lives while simultaneously accessing all manner of news about celebs, politicians, animal-rights activists, the environment and the ubiquitous AOC that may or may not actually be fake! We can discuss climate change, the housing shortage, the stock market, which is booming, or the crime in Chicago, which is also booming. If none of that appeals, we could chat about recipes, vacation plans, or potty-training. Why, then, do we have to recycle the old ‘days of our lives’ when we could talk about avocado toast????

Incidentally, avocado toast is again in the news, this time as an incentive for home buyers. I’m not making this up, or embellishing in any way. This is a hot-off-the-press story that deserves an eye roll after the first time you hear it. Go ahead. I’ll wait…

You can see it now, can’t you, that this is the kind of story that’s going to show up again. And again and again if we’re not careful. And this is why friends don’t let friends keep telling the same ol’ story. No, they do not. They find a way to say, kindly of course, that they’ve heard that one before. Or maybe they add a detail of their own to the tale, thereby proving that they already know it by heart. Or maybe, they simply say: “She-la. You’ve told this one before, sweetie. Here. Let me pour you another glass of Pinót, and, hey — did y’all see that avocados are on sale at Trader Joe’s?”

That’s what friends do.


…Go with Their Feelings on Social Media

Before your feelings kick in and you start yelling at me, albeit virtually, or worse, before you click the little ‘x’ and log out — hear me on this:


You need some evidence? Stroll down your own memory lane while I do the same.

Remember that time when your heart said “yes” and every girlfriend within a hundred miles said, “Run. Run fast. Run far. Dude is a douchebag!” — and you just had to prove them wrong and then a few weeks later they were the ones surrounding you while you cried for days after he stomped all over your wishes and dreams and… well, you know, shattered your heart and all your feelings?

Remember the days in Jr Hi when you were up one minute, down the next — when you had friends at lunchtime but no one called you to include you in weekend plans — when your mother, who you adored when she took you shopping and was your worst enemy when she said “you’re not wearing that!” — when you were laughing hysterically over nothing at all and then crying over pretty much the same thing an hour later? Ah, those were the days, weren’t they? When your nose didn’t fit your face, when your uncertainties and insecurities threatened to overpower you and often succeeded, when your mind, desperately seeking reason, couldn’t find it because the clouds of fear, anger, or even elation made it impossible to see…

Remember when you didn’t feel like being nice anymore, and let your ‘real’ self out of the bag?

Remember mouthing off to your parents over some perceived injustice?

Remember flipping someone the bird on the highway and then worrying over whether that driver might have more road rage than you?

Remember when infatuation ebbed and you were left with the daily act of choosing love when you didn’t really feel like it?

Remember the other day when you lost sight of reason — AGAIN! — and posted a comment on social media? Remember the firestorm you started!?!?!

Feelings. Nothing more than feelings...” (oh, man. this song is so bad…)

“Nothing more than feelings” is an insult to all the emotions. Emotions are powerful. Wonderful. Enjoyable. Necessary, in fact. Where would we be without them?

Sure, sure, we need to think things through. I know that full well. I like a logical conclusion to a matter as much as the next guy. Well, not as much as my engineer husband does. Not even close…

Confession: I love a good cry. My self-righteous anger satisfies like none other – at least for the moments I’m sitting atop my high horse. And giddy, glorious joy? Give me all of that, please. Where would we be without emotions? While participating in a writing cohort a few years ago, I was described this way: “Becky Fields feels all of the feelings. At the same time.” Truth.

No doubt about it, we have emotions, and most of us are not afraid to use them. But these days, it seems that our emotions rule the day. Rule the airwaves. Rule the twitters, the facebooks, and even the dingdang instagrams, which was supposed to be about photos, and has unfortunately morphed into including lengthy commentaries full of emotion-based opinions that frankly ruin the photo that I was all set to ‘heart.’

It’s ridiculously easy to sit in front of a screen and let ‘er fly, isn’t it? Opine with impunity. Give this comment a ‘like’ — give that post a ‘smiley face’ — give that person a “piece of your mind to feast upon” when what you’re really offering is an emotional tirade intended to stir others up into never before seen fits of faux rage. Is this any way to be friends? Real OR Virtual?????

And that’s why I’ve said it before, and I’ll say again — FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS GO WITH THEIR FEELINGS on Social Media!!!

Nope. Friends sit down with each other face-to-face, instead of pretending to be relational and meaningful on Facebook. Friends go to the mattresses if they need to and battle out the hard stuff together, rather than stirring divisiveness in 280 characters or less. Sure, friends disagree sometimes. And yeah, it might get loud and intense. There may be a few tears; voices might be raised; there could be some raucous laughter, a few hugs or high fives; for certain there’ll be nostalgic reminiscence and plans for tomorrow — the gamut of friendship, played out in shared space and time. Emotions and feelings where they belong — strengthening relationships and balancing reason. 

Sometimes our reasoning is flawed, and sometimes our feelings go berserk. But friends… Well, friends steer us clear of the pitfalls and landmines. Friends pry our eyes open and help us see more clearly. Friends keep us grounded, or fly with us to the moon. Friends might even ‘like’ the pictures we post of the trip! But they don’t let us lose our S#!t on social media.

What kind of ‘friend’ would do that?







…be Closet Hoarders

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Yeah, yeah. I know it’s been ages since I’ve had any advice to give. But nearly everyone — even, or ESPECIALLY perceived ‘enemies’ — has been sharing opinions since the 2016 election cycle, and I couldn’t jump on that wagon, even if I’d wanted to. Honestly?


(I’ve been wanting to say that for such a long time that I ended up shouting. oops)

Well, when it mattered most I managed to keep my fingers off the keyboard, proving this blog’s main contention: ‘friends don’t let friends… make utter asses out of themselves during an election cycle (or after). Glory be and pass the gravy, I must have friends!! Whew!!!!  I dodged so many Facebook and Twitter bullets, I’m smiling like a Cheshire cat with all her nine lives…

I’ve avoided confrontation socially. Big deal. On the domestic front, things have gotten a little dicey. My sometimes covert attempts to move us toward selling the current real estate for a downsized version have recently included some interior changes. We’ve acquired upgraded furniture, shopped for new flooring, tried a more neutral color palette. We’ve rearranged some cabinets, rifled through the closets, wandered around the storage unit masquerading as a basement, and, if I may borrow a phrase from the Southerners of yesteryear who managed to keep a genteel grasp on the Civil War by referring to it as “the recent unpleasantness,” I have uncovered some ‘unpleasantness’ of my own.

Friends, I am married to a hoarder.

He keeps EVERYTHING. He suggests that old check stubs or tax return statements from the 1980s might be ‘interesting’ to our kids some day. He hangs onto a stereo receiver that he had in college. A closet in the laundry room is filled with coats that he never wears, but can’t get rid of. “They’re great coats!” he declares. “It’s good to have a coat like that when it’s really cold,” he argues.

“Fine!” I retort. “Keep ONE! Not EIGHT.”

But no. He must keep them all. All the coats. All the papers. Even all the pens, for cryin’ out loud. He never gets rid of wood — partial 2x4s, half- or quarter- sheets of plywood, bits of 2x8s — gotta keep them all. You never know. Small pieces of drywall, the old island countertop from the kitchen remodel, old socks and t-shirts that make good rags, owners manuals for things we don’t even own anymore — you can find any of these treasures in our garage. In the basement you can find an old dresser or two. Leftover tables and chairs and dishes and light fixtures and a baby crib, circa 1986. The kids’ toys. Okay, I admit I’m good with hanging on to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle collection. And the Tonka trucks and Hotwheels and even the Beanie Babies (embarrassed sigh). I mean, grandkids! RIGHT?? But the guy can’t even let loose of an old digital camera that cannot compete with the quality of our current phones, for cryin’ out loud. And he played the ‘grandkids’ card to get me to let him keep it. Shameful.

He won’t even throw away these:


Now, to be fair, I did win on the boxes. I salvaged the ‘original equipment’ and threw the containers in the trash. The closet, though. No win there. AARGH.

To my kids, who will eventually deal with this mess, I can only whimper, “I’m so, so sorry.”

And to my friends — both the real ones I grapple close and the virtual ones who might stumble across this post, I can only implore you to remember that friends don’t let friends be closet hoarders. Or basement, cabinet, garage, shed or any other damn storage place hoarders!!!!

Please. In these cases, it really is ‘for the kids.’

Don’t let friends hoard. Their spouses, their kids, their eventual grandkids, their friends and relatives and neighbors will thank you.

I would thank you too, if only I had a friend who would keep my husband from hoarding…

Don’t let it happen to you.


…Jump on the Groupon Bandwagon

Before you dismiss this sound advice, hear me out. Groupon offers great deals. I get it. I know. Who doesn’t want to pay less for more stuff? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been clamoring for a new cable adapter for all of my iStuff. I fall into raptures over the chance to hone my rock climbing skills on an indoor, man-made rock-climbing wall. And I, for one, love good food. As far as stuff goes, I’m all in favor of stuffing my face with lobster, or steak, or heck, even cheap Italian. (Got a Bucca di Beppo offer earlier today) If I keep searching, I know I’ll find deals on artwork, unique gifts, travel excursions, massages, beauty treatments… Ah, more stuff for all of us. Who can resist?

But we must draw a line somewhere, mustn’t we? Maybe we draw it in the sand. (If we’re fortunate enough to live on the beach, that is.) Maybe we draw it more figuratively — in the air, right in front of our noses, whilst our voices take on that special shriek reserved for mothers: “NO, you will NOT stay out past midnight, young lady! THIS is where I draw the line!! One more word out of you and you’ll be home at 10!!!! Do you understand me???” (you know. Figurative.)

Or maybe, in the wild excesses of our youth, we decided to let a special artist draw the line in our actual skin.

We probably found the deal on Groupon, and 700 of our closest friends hurriedly ponied up the cash for the same amazing deal, and we became an instant ‘community,’ thanks to the interwebs.

And then, one morning we wake up and realize, “OMG! There’s a very colorful peacock tattooed on my ribcage!” And we don’t quite feel the same as we used to about it. His lovely tail feathers look a bit more like a dust mop these days, what with the inevitable stretch marks from multiple pregnancies, and the ravages of time and gravity (read: Our skin has sagged. Considerably.). We pull on that scruffy sweatshirt (and yoga pants!), trudge to the kitchen and pour a gigantic mug of coffee, marveling at what our lives have become. We seek the solace of social media. Lo!! and behold!!!!!! Groupon’s deal of the day sits in our inbox:


Not only did we find a Groupon to get the tattoo in the first place; now there’s a Groupon for getting the dang thing removed. And this is why friends don’t let friends jump on the Groupon bandwagon. Peacocks one day. Dust mops the next. And all because we couldn’t resist being part of the group. Come ON… (you see what I sort of did, there)

Don’t let it happen to you.

…Run Out of Friendship Tea

Something about the November rain fills me with the certainty of change. Leaves relinquish their tenuous hold on branches trembling in the wind, tumble across yards mown for a final time weeks ago, and gather in soggy corners. The sun rises and sets with a shorter span between those hours. Blustery winds drive us to the closet for warm jackets and gloves. The year hastens to its close, with a burst of holidays to keep us from minding the weather too much.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking, ‘Where’s the sass?!’ You’re thinking, ‘I read this blog for the humor!’ You’re thinking, ‘I thought these posts were about the foibles and fun of friendship!’

Yeah, yeah, yeah. ‘Hold yer horses!’ I’ll get there.

As I was waxing nostalgic about the season’s change and my advancing age and the grey November that leads, as it always does, to the sparkle of December, I realized, ‘dang!’ it’s cold in this house!’ I’ve already donned slippers and an extra sweater, and the damp chill lingers. What’s a girl to do? Make more coffee? Mmmm – tempting as that may be, it just didn’t feel right.

Then I remembered. ‘Friendship tea.’ The spicy, citrusy, warm-your-hands-around-a-mug of wonderfulness that never tastes right in July, but warms

friendship tea

friendship tea


you from noes to toes in the midst of the Autumn drear.

You’ll note, I trust, that the jar is nearly empty. This is unacceptable. Friends don’t let friends run out of friendship tea. It simply isn’t done.


Because. Because friends don’t let friends go through crises alone.

Friends get us through the summer crisis of buying a swimsuit that we can wear outside the dressing room, reminding us that we can’t see ourselves when we’re at the beach, so who cares what it looks like, really?!

Friends get us through the crisis of making the Thanksgiving gravy, bringing a jar of already made ‘just in case.’

Friends get us through the crisis of raising kids, commiserating, cajoling, comforting us by turns as we slog through the toughest job we love more than anything.

Friends get us through the crisis of the empty nest, bringing a jar of freshly made ‘Friendship Tea’ and filling up the empty rooms with warm laughter, shared stories, and reminders of how good it is to embrace another season of change, together.

A nearly empty jar of ‘Friendship Tea’ hardly qualifies as a crisis. Still, the jar reminds me — friends don’t let friends run out. Not out of the dressing room scantily clad in an ill-fitting swimsuit. Not out of the kitchen when the gravy doesn’t ‘get.’ Not out of the nest it’s taken a lifetime to feather. And friends don’t let friends run out of ‘Friendship Tea.’ The tea merely symbolizes the friendship. And these days, with change we can hardly believe, much less believe in, well… we need our friends to help us weather that.

So, put the kettle on. Don’t let your friends run out…


…Buy Imaginary Friends on eBay

Concession: All of us, at one time and another, suffer from mild to severe cases of lunacy. At the local pub or around the kitchen table, we drink far more than we should, say. Or, caught up in the shopping frenzy of Christmas-time, perhaps we buy our husbands fancy and expensive computers that they never said they wanted in the first place. Bah! Humbug. We try to wear skinny jeans when a flowing caftan would be a wiser choice. We decide to give up covering that grey hair. Maybe we succumb to the lingo of the younger generation, and instead of ‘suffering from a mild case of lunacy,’ we say ‘totally cray cray.’ I, myself, draw the line right there. I don’t even need a friend to tell me that such verbiage is likely a sign of the looming apocalypse. I know crazy when I hear it.

But when other signs of delirium show up? Friends don’t let friends. They pay the tab and say, ‘Really. You’ve had enough of the blue stuff.’ They protect your feelings and urge caution during gift buying binges, pointing out the likelihood that your husband will end up returning your thoughtful gift, thereby sending you into a major pout. They invite you to the gym, and remind you that your caftans aren’t fooling anyone. They accidentally buy 2 boxes of Clairol, and share. That’s what friends are for!

Except this guy, who apparently didn’t have any real friends as a child:

Imaginary Friend Sold on eBay by ‘Real’ Friend

In 2007, this guy decided to sell his imaginary friend, Jon Malipieman, because he was “growing out of him.” The seller offered to include a ‘personal self portrait’ of Mr Malipieman, along with his likes and dislikes. OH! And  ‘postage’ would be free. (really, that’s my favorite part)

Well, as it happens, the seller successfully auctioned off his IMAGINARY FRIEND for $2750!!!!!!!! And others are now trying to auction off their imaginary friends too.

You know, I thought my ‘red line’ at “cray cray” served me well. I thought the nadir of nuts had surely been reached.

Turns out, I drew the line way, way, way too soon. There’s no end of crazy in sight when folks are actually buying imaginary friends. Friends, don’t let your friends buy imaginary friends on eBay. THAT is not just ‘cray cray.’ Paying actual dollars for imaginary friends qualifies as batshit crazy. Honestly. And friends don’t let friends get that far out on the ledge.

…Commit Horse’s Assery

I’m not sure, exactly, what it is about the equine hind quarters that invariably links them to the especial idiocy that brands us the occasional fool, but as Charles Dickens so aptly penned, “the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for.” Ol’ Charles had a penchant for hyperbole — Marley being “dead as a door-nail” was the actual simile, and I’ve just committed an outrageous “DIGRESSION!” but, you know, sometimes literary greats help me make my point (‘and I do have one.’)

Friends, be they the literary (and therefore fictitious) or actual kind, are useful for so many of life’s big and little moments. As this blog continually points out, we simply cannot do without our friends, right? We need them for big and small favors. We need them for laughing and for crying and for letting us vent. We need them to lend us stuff we don’t have. We need them for sharing secrets, recipes, and a bottle of wine. And we especially need friends to keep us from making utter fools of ourselves.

Consider Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer. What would Huck Finn do without Tom Sawyer as a cohort in boyhood adventure?

Consider Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway. Who else recognized Gatsby’s capacity for hope? Who else admired the man for his potential and scorned the superficiality of the East Eggers?

Consider Hamlet & Horatio. Without Horatio, Hamlet would endure the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” entirely alone, and no one to tell his story after…

The thing is, Huck never told Tom that he wasn’t doing it right. Huck lit out for the Territory instead, and left us to ponder the tomfoolery (ha!) of overdone adventure and the hypocrisy of being ‘sivilized.’

Nick Carraway never bothered to point out that Gatsby had anchored his hope to an insubstantial dream. Carraway merely tells us what happened – he doesn’t protect, intervene, or help. GAH!

Even Horatio, who cautioned Hamlet again and again, could only witness the final ‘cracking of a noble heart,’ and the Prince of Norway gets the final word.

You can learn a lot from literary friends. See, Huck knew that Tom Sawyer was making a mess of freeing Jim, and Nick most assuredly knew that Daisy wasn’t worth the the shirt on Gatsby’s back. Did they keep their friends from misadventure? Did they keep their friends from looking the fool? The answer, my friends, is no. No they most assuredly did not.

And that’s the lesson we take from Hamlet, and the words that ought to guide our friendships:


Of course, the Bard said if far more eloquently:

What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,

Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff

That beetles o’er his base into the sea,

And there assume some other horrible form,

Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason

And draw you into madness?

One moment you’re simply a horse’s ass; the next you’re a madman, listening to the words of your father’s ghost. Next thing you know you’re being slain by a poisoned rapier, and your best friend is left telling your story, but the Prince of Norway has bigger political fish to fry than letting you blather on about being and not being.

It always starts with ignoring your friends’ horse’s assery.

And you thought literature couldn’t teach you anything, didn’t you?

Don’t be a — er, you know…

…Off the Hook

The other day, I remembered that I was a teacher. Er, university instructor. For awhile there, I was just going through the motions — showing up for class, saying a few things — okay, a LOT of things, because there is nothing I like quite so much as the sound of my own voice (pretty sure there’s another post about that waiting in the wings), and God knows the students are disinclined to participate much in the opening weeks of a required class. So there we all were, going though the required class motions when it hit me: TEACH them.

The thing is (there’s always a thing with me), classrooms these days are crowded, and the best teaching tends to happen one-on-one. The one-on-group method means someone — maybe everyone — can hide. Such behavior is generally contra-productive to actual learning.When the instructor meets the pupil face-to-face, by golly, something worthwhile has a great chance of making not just an appearance, but a lasting impression.

Picture it: One instructor. One student. There’s no prevaricating. There’s no sea of downcast faces (undoubtedly something fascinating daily transpires on classroom floor, am I right?). There’s no gaping silence as the ‘teacher’ waits longingly for a lucid, on-target answer to an open-ended question. And there’s no harping to the masses, no preaching to the choir, no reliance on exhausted adages that fail to hit the mark. There’s only dialogue. Questions. Answers. Discussion. You know. LEARNING.

But, the classroom filled with students is far more cost-effective than a day-long series of tutorials. What’s an instructor to do?

Well. Instruct! Adapt! Overcome! Send emails of extra instruction! Hold office hours! Stay after class! DO THE WORK!!!!!

Friends don’t let friends off the hook just because the environment isn’t ideal. Friends don’t let friends off the hook because they simply don’t want to do the harder task. Friends don’t let friends off the hook, even when they offer a list of excuses (and trust me, I have not just good, but STELLAR excuses for why I don’t want to do the hard thing, and I bet you do too) for why the thing just isn’t working.

Listen to me, now. Friends who have friends who are teachers:  Don’t let them off the hook. The future depends on those students presently in the classroom, you know. Somebody’s got to TEACH them.

I’m glad I remembered I’m a teacher. Friends? Don’t let me off the hook.