After decades of repeatedly and publicly declaring how much I loathe running, I’ve taken it up again.
My dog, and running companion, endorses the running thing. My husband runs, so it’s nice to compare notes on training strategies, and enter races together. Some of the coolest people I know run, and they’re not ultra fit or crazed athletes, or in any way difficult to hang out with. They like to eat and drink and live out loud, which I love.
I like that with very little effort I can get my heart rate up to the most calorie-burning, nausea-inducing rate that it would take almost 40 minutes of spin class to achieve, and then shortly thereafter be done with my whole exercise routine for the day.
There are things I love about social media, not the least of which is the extent to which it feeds my need for attention. Sometimes that same narcissism is the foundation of one of the reasons I DON’T like social media: it occasionally makes me confront the fact that I need to be liked, and come to grips with how much it bugs me when I’m not.
I love the friendships I’ve rekindled on Facebook. I had no idea I’d ever reconnect with so many ex-boyfriends outside of a drunk dialing marathon. There are several acquaintances I’m happy to get to know better, and friends from the past I’ve missed dearly.
I’ll not pretend to be one of those people who doesn’t check her Facebook account several times a day. I don’t have a water cooler at which to hang out and find out what’s going on.
To all of you who like to rave: “ooh, Facebook, who has time for all that nonsense? Who cares what you had for dinner or what your cat threw up?” Whatever. I love it. The pictures of the toll-painted holiday crafts, the announcements of who read what fan-mag article, the restaurant where you enjoyed lunch. the pithy quote from Yogi Berra, the not so pithy quote from your kid. Bring it on. I’ll read it. Maybe twice.
I’ll sometimes block content that I feel is too political (rare) or offensive (even more rare), but for the most part, friends contributing to my news feed provide a refreshingly broad array of perspectives and insights – sometimes droll, sometimes funny, sometimes just a blur of color as I scroll quickly by.
Whitesnake’s David Coverdale
Then there’s Casey. In the 9th grade, Casey and I were briefly an item, but only in the academic sense, meaning there was no kissing, a little hand-holding, and daily notes passed when we walked to fifth period. Casey was tall, with a gigantic Adam’s apple. He played the trumpet, or trombone, or some wind instrument that has a spit valve. He shared my affinity for unicorns and called every evening at exactly 7:00 pm for a 20 minute chat. That is all I remember about our relationship – that and the fact that I broke up with him in one of my pre-5th period notes.
When we reconnected on Facebook some 25 years later, I was happy to learn that he had a successful career as a music professor at a local private college, and had a wife and three children.
He also was a strident evangelical libertarian, and was the most vociferous of all my Facebook friends in his posts. Aside from quoting some of the most gloomy scripture I’d ever read, he didn’t say anything patently offensive. He also appreciated the humor in my status updates – especially those about my habit of sending the kids off to school while covering Barbara Streisand classics in my fuzzy white robe and slippers from our porch. Casey liked Babs, apparently.
Then one day the stream of hell-fire stopped abruptly. Casey had “unfriended” me.
Me: funny, irreverent, careful to screen out anything remotely depressing, negative or political. Me.
Casey: angry, Ron Paul supporting, pro-gun, pro-hell-and-damnation with a gigantic Adam’s apple. Casey.
Casey. Unfriended. Me.
My discovery of this kicked off an afternoon of forensic Facebooking the likes of which I had no time for. What in my funny, trite posts had offended Casey? Was he trying to get back at me for 9th grade? Didn’t I even warrant the courtesy of a note?
Since, as I’ve said, Casey had been kind enough to comment on many of my posts, I could go back through my news feed and more or less find where his feedback had ended abruptly.
Early this summer I posted a picture of a young musician playing on a park stage during an outdoor music festival. He had the kind of long blonde “do” that my friends and I used to swoon over while watching videos of White Snake on MTV. The photo I posted of him I had captioned “yum.”
Classy, huh? But not as much as the photo I was going for, which would have framed him beyond the large micro brew in my hand, with my painted toes on bare feet stretched out in the grass. My little phone wasn’t able to capture that particular scene.
Commenting on this cute musician was something that I thought would illicit comments from friends my age who had either swooned over long-haired hooligans or been swooned over because of the length of their locks. After a couple of beers, this seemed like a fun conversation starter.
A note on drinking and posting: Ever since I’d had the opportunity to rethink one of my more ill-timed and snarky comments about children in the Gifted and Talented Program (which mine aren’t), the morning after I’d made it on Facebook, I resolved to avoid publicly airing grievances after imbibing. My judgement is terrible after a couple of beers, and I hate making public apologies. I’d sworn off drinking and posting, until this incident.
So, here I am. Minus one less Facebook friend. I don’t know if I’m more intrigued by the irony of being shunned by the purveyor of the Prince of Peace, or irked because his threshold for taking offense is so low.
I’m also kind of sad because there is now one less person out there waiting to hear about my latest Funny Girl impression.
I won’t say who started this, but a certain person in my family (alright, it’s my mom) got a bug one year to establish a new tradition. It might have had something to do with my grandmother moving to Boise and our having had kids – four generations for whom new holiday memories must be made every year. I thought that was what the whole presents, parties, celebration of the birth of our savior thing was for, but why not pile something else on?
Among the family traditions that failed to catch on was a visit to the Botanical Garden’s Winter Garden Aglow. This is a lovely event for appreciative older children and adults who can stand and walk for a while and don’t chill easily or burn their tongues on hot chocolate. Didn’t work for grandma or the boys.
Another no-go was dressing up to see Ballet Idaho’s The Nutcracker. I loved it. So did my mom and sister. Big thumbs down from the boys in the family. Grandma fell asleep. Overall approval rating: less than 50 percent.
Another year we decided (or the person who shall go unnamed, who initiated this whole holiday tradition stuff in the first place, decided) on the Holiday Lights Tour. This is an event where one boards a charter bus/trolley vehicle, with benches along the walls. The bus/trolley vehicle makes its way through random neighborhoods so its passengers can gawk at everyone else’s holiday trimmings.
The kids were still young enough that we packed a diaper bag.
We met up and purchased some lukewarm chocolate and loaded the bus/trolley thing, which was full with about a dozen people on board and the heat blasting. The windows immediately steamed up. We drove around some Boise neighborhood that would have been indistinguishable from any other neighborhood except that it was supposed to have a large concentration of homeowners who competed each year for the most awe inspiring lights display. There was an abundance of curvy roads and cul-de-sacs in this particular borough.
Did, um, I mention that several members of my family tend toward severe motion sickness? Jack used to not give us much warning about his urpy tummy, so in self defense our Jedi parent senses became finely tuned to his silent puke-tells.
So we’re in this dark, overheated bus/trolly contraption, and the driver is saying something titillating like: “In 1994, when this neighborhood was under the auspices of the Mid-Boise Bench Neighborhood Association, light up holiday trolls were forbidden. They frightened the kiddos, you see ….”
I heard my sister say “Jack, are you going to look at the lights? Why are you so quiet?”
I whipped the diaper bag from under the bench, drew out a plastic shopping bag, and shoved another one inside that (you DON’T want leaks in the barf bag), and covered the lower half of Jack’s face just in time for him to hurl all the lukewarm hot chocolate up without spilling a drop. Victory.
But that victory was going to be short lived if we didn’t act fast. Neither one of my kids is blessed with the one-and-done strain of motion sickness. We’ve had Jack get sick more than half a dozen times on a 70-mile stretch of highway between McCall and Horseshoe Bend. That’s almost once every ten miles. When the barf train gets rolling, it’s a local, baby. There was going to be more to this show.
Then there was the fact that I was completely humiliated. And the smell in the bus/trolley thing was making me woozy. Some guy in the back said “what happened?” and his wife said “the little boy got sick.” We had to get out of there pronto.
I turned to Mike and said “we’re going,” grabbed the baby, the diaper bag, and Jack’s hand after handing Mike the barf bag, and tromped to the front of the vehicle.
“We’re getting off,” I said.
“It’s just a little bit more, I can’t let you off,” the driver said.
He was going to hold us hostage on the vomit comet against my will? Don’t think so.
“We’re getting off, RIGHT NOW,” I said.
He opened the door and we stepped out into the brightly lit environs of the most award winningest, Christmas lightingest neighborhood ever. The doors closed and the bus/trolley thing drove off. I found out later that it was really distressing for my mom, my sister, grandma and Dad to sit in the bus/trolley and watch the doors close on part of their little family out in the snow. Nobody ever mentioned anything else about how the rest of the tour went.
I grew up in Boise, I guess I should known that at 7 pm on a week night in some random neighborhood it would be difficult to hail a cab. When Mike called a cab company we realized that first we needed to walk to a street corner to find out where in the hell we were, and after that it would take a full 45 minutes for a cab to reach us.
Edited to note: This all happened when we still used flip phones. No map apps or Lyft, so don’t @ me, all you people for whom technology has made throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of winter so much easier.
It was also written back when I used double spaces after periods. Times change. We are old. Carry on…
In retrospect, leaving the bus/trolley thing wasn’t so bright, but at the time it seemed the best thing to salvage my pride and my own stomach. Fortunately for us, Jack’s performance didn’t include an encore that night.
Unfortunately we were in the middle of winter, wandering the streets with a toddler, a baby, and a bag of puke. That was kind of a bummer.
We planned to find the nearest arterial road, follow it to the nearest strip mall, and sit in a coffee shop until the tour was over and someone came to pick us up. We weren’t able to find a coffee shop, or a strip mall or arterial road even. We wandered around that crazy circuitous subdivision until our toes froze. My arms locked up from carrying the baby. Somewhere along the way we lost the puke bag. We didn’t appreciate the Christmas lights.
My dad was eventually able to find us after driving around the neighborhood a few times. We climbed into his truck, not minding that he had the heat cranked up.
“Well,” he said with a smile, “that’s one budding ‘family tradition’ put to rest.”