Tag Archives: Cell Phones

Where Am I?

The question isn’t is this embarrassing. No, the question is one of degree.

Just how embarrassing is it to get lost in your own “hometown?”

Even worse, this isn’t the first time it’s happened to me. I’m beginning to think I might have a problem.

The first time was when I was in junior high school. (For those of you unfamiliar, that was the school between elementary [k-6] and high school [10-12].)

We had some friends come in from out of town. They wanted to go to Six Flags over Texas, which was just outside of the small suburb of Dallas where I grew up.

We managed to make it there all right, with only a few minimal disruptions. The problem came when we headed home and there weren’t any more signs leading us to our destination. This was (way, way, way) before cell phones or the like, so we were on our own. The older kids from out of town didn’t know which way to go and they looked to me for answers.

I turned around to see who they were looking at behind me. I had a vague notion of the direction to go, but it wasn’t all that good of a vague notion. I was asked — repeatedly and forcefully — how I could live in a town and not know my way around it. Mostly it was because I wasn’t driving yet and spent most of my car time with my nose buried in an actual paper book.

We didn’t starve to death. We eventually found our way home (hours and hours after curfew, but the parents had been too busy partying to really worry) and all was good.

Until the last weekend when I got that horrible flashback feeling. My friend, Pitt (who I’ve known since high school and who recently moved here from Pittsburgh) and I were headed to a fundraiser put on by the P Strong Foundation to raise money to support research into rare cancers.

I was in the driving seat, a position with which I was intimately familiar considering I’d been driving for more than three decades. I thought I knew my way around Charlotte. Turns out, I was wrong.

Pitt, who’s been here less than two years, knew where the event was. It was Pitt who knew where to park and how to get from the parking garage to the Bal Masque Gala at the Marriott City Center.

The first one I can blame on youth. The second time? I’m still going to blame that one on youth. Not my own, of course, but my young dudes. See, I’ve been so busy rearing the young dudes since I came to Charlotte fifteen years ago that I never got a chance to really know my way around the city. Unless you counted the areas around the Chuck E Cheese and other young-dude attractions.

That counts, right? You dudes are buying that, yeah? Right?

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Anniversary Time

It didn’t seem like that big of a decision.

Sitting around with a couple of dudes in the Phi Delta Theta fraternity on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, FL, during my original senior year in 1986, I decided it was about time I went to Jacksonville to enjoy my first Florida-Georgia football game.

I wanted to enjoy the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party* and see if a football game did, indeed, break out as had been rumored.**

Besides, I’d had a good time the night before at a fraternity social with the ladies of Kappa Alpha Theta, met some nice gals and laughed a lot.

So my brothers and I headed out to Jacksonville. We got there and decided to hit a bar, have some fun, drink some beer and get into the mood of the party.

Which would have been a good idea if anyone in my group had ever been to Jacksonville before while also also being sober. We got lost. Really, really lost. Which meant we had to drive around for a long time (this was before cell phones) before finally arriving at the bar near closing time.

While there, I ran into one of the ladies I met the night before. She was cute. She was funny. She knew how to have fun. And she wanted to hang out with me. She asked me to go with her to a Theta social in a couple of weeks. I said yes. We agreed to talk more in the meantime and then parted.

Over the course of the weekend, we accidentally saw each other two more times. The second time, we ended up walking on the beach for the night, enjoying the sunrise together. She then put her head in my lap and fell deeply asleep, snoring loud enough to wake the others passed out on the other couches.

We met nearly three decades ago, but today is the day we celebrate our 24th year of marriage. There are times when it seems like 24 seconds and times when it seems like 24 centuries.

A series of coincidences, a nudge from the universe here and there, a helpful bit of directions from a nosy friend and. . . twenty-eight years later, I’m still hearing that snoring every single night. Still seeing that smile. Still hearing that laugh. Still feeling the love.

Today is a good day and I plan on enjoying it.

 

Footnotes & Eratta

* That’s the unofficial nickname for the game and it’s one that both school administrations hate because they are (putting on serious stentorian voice) “serious research institutions.” (voice off) I say unofficial because most of the students don’t call it that. They call it “blargaherhiiaen chiehlhauile.” Apropos of nothing, did you know drinking a lot of alcohol inhibits your ability to enunciate properly?
** It did. Florida won 31-19, but I had no idea. I had to look it up, mostly because more important stuff happened. Not that I was too drunk to remember.

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It Doesn’t Feel Like The Lowest Difficulty Setting, But I Suppose That’s The Point

by Richard

John Scalzi is a writing dude of some renown among the internetti. He’s published a number of science fiction books to good reviews and good sales. He’s also the author of a number of non-fiction works that attempt to explain, among other things, movies and the universe. Not in the same book.

He’s also a relatively deep thinker who’s blessed with a facile pen and can bring obtuse concepts down to a level understandable by the rest of us. As he does in a recent post on privilege.

Basically, his contention is that here in the United States, life is like a video game. If you’re a straight, white male, you get the game set on the easy level. Deviate from any of those descriptors and the level of difficulty goes up and up.

Not a bad way to think about the situation. And he’s even talking the language of the Guide. Wonder if I should hit him up for a charge for using the word “dude?”

Dudes. Imagine life here in the US — or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world — is a massive role playing game, like World of Warcraft except appallingly mundane, where most quests involve the acquisition of money, cell phones and donuts, although not always at the same time. Let’s call it The Real World. You have installed The Real World on your computer and are about to start playing, but first you go to the settings tab to bind your keys, fiddle with your defaults, and choose the difficulty setting for the game. Got it?

Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.

I know some people get hives when we start talking privilege. When it happens, their neck hair rises up, they get all hunched over and the words, “I’m not defensive about this” begins to pop out of their mouths every second sentence.

I’m here to ask you to relax. Go check out this essay by Scalzi. It’s good stuff. And you might even learn something.

 

 

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