Friday, May 31, 2013

There's No Question

The ubiquity of therapy-speak is a side effect of something, I don’t know what, probably the 1980s or 90s. In any case, we all know that “passive aggressive” is an insult of a category that usually includes one’s mother.

Passive-aggressive is bad. We capisce. We grok. But do we stop? Hell no.

Today’s example comes from the gym, of course, as so many of my examples do. As I mentioned two posts ago, I had slacked for a month. My return this week led to the following conversation:

Them: “I haven’t seen you for a while.”

Me, smiling: “Nope, I guess not.”

Them: (waits)

Me: (smiles again)

Them: “There’s no need to take offense, I was just interested.”

Obviously no question had been asked. Nor had any offense been taken, but that’s beside the point. It’s also beside the point that no question had been asked because we all know that a question was implied, as was a judgment.

The problem is I don’t play passive-aggression when I can help it.

Had the person come out and asked where I’ve been, I would have either turned it with a small joke or made some polite abstraction that conveyed nothing. Asking a question doesn’t necessarily entitle someone to an answer.

Privacy is still socially acceptable.

(Go ahead and comment on the irony of my blogging that particular sentiment.)

Only courtesy is a requirement, and I made damned sure that I was courteous and even cordial. It wasn’t enough. In the end, I had to be more friendly than sincere in order to not come off like a bitch. I kinda resent that, but it’s done.

No wonder “passive aggressive” is an insult. It’s a pain in the ass for all concerned.

I really grok that now.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this on Monday, or if it’s later in the week and you’re back at work. Please take a minute to respect and appreciate everyone who ever stepped forward to face danger and hardship in order to protect someone else.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Not A Bird, Not A Plane

Okay, I admit it. I hadn’t been to the gym in a few weeks. A month is sort of a few weeks, right?

So now I’m back. I used to go at least 5 or 6 times a week. They know me there. Of course when I walked past a muscle-type I know fairly well, I said hello. He’s treated me with respect for years, ever since he found out my history.

Not this time. This time he totally brushed me off.

His lip even curled a little bit.

I figured he disapproved of my month-long absence. That’s fine. Muscle guys are mercurial even when they’re not juicing. You get used to it pretty fast, and I’ve been hanging around them for decades. Besides, in hard-core gym terms, slacking is venal, and easily lived down by just showing up.

This was nothing... or so I thought.

A while later I had to ask him if he was using a space I wanted to use. He said no, almost angrily.

Then he did a double take. Then he smiled real big.

“Hey, I didn’t recognize you. You’re wearing glasses!”

That’s a quote, sweeties. Trust me, it was sincere and true.

Someone who has known me for at least five years really, honestly, didn’t recognize me because I was wearing glasses instead of contact lenses.

Puts a new spin on the whole Clark Kent/Superman thing, doesn’t it?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Draft Dodging

If you could see into my computer (that’s not a challenge, don’t bother) you’d be able to read the drafts of all the posts that should have gone up since the last one, which was more than a week ago.

None of them work.

It’s probably happened to you. You put time and effort into something. You craft it with care. It doesn’t come out.

What do you do?

My first thought is how much I like this bit or that bit. I may excise the bit and try to shoehorn it into something else. That never works, but what the hell, it was a really good bit, right?

Maybe not so much.

For example, I have a bit about a Dutch novel I read recently. It was published in 1961, but is set in Amsterdam just before World War II. The story is about a young lesbian whose estranged father is Jewish and whose mother is an ardent Nazi. The ending is not a surprise.

I don’t know if it was a particularly good bit, or if I just wanted brownie points for finishing the novel.

Another bit was about a sweet and young friend who was singing along to “Killer Queen” but left out the line about Khrushchev and Kennedy because of course she doesn’t know who Nikita Khrushchev was. Why should she?

That bit was a set-up for the line: If you lived through it, it ain’t history.

(I’m sure somebody else said that before, probably many somebodies. It’s too true.)

The problem is that both those bits were in the same post. No, I didn’t live through World War II, though my parents did. Auntie may be old, but I’m not that old. I had written a lame segue that made no sense when read it this morning.

See what I mean about something not working? I was afraid to delve further into the draft files, and wrote this instead, thus shoehorning in the bits I liked which I said above I shouldn’t do.

Don’t worry, Auntie will avoid all those partially written failures (get it? I’ll dodge those drafts. Har har) and start fresh.

Check back later.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

(Ask Auntie)

A great big hug to all of you sweetie-pies!

So many of you have been going through the archives for the "Ask Auntie" features that Auntie has just done the same. I marked each title with (Ask Auntie) so you can find them more easily if you're so inclined.

Just go to that nice little search box on the top left and enter Ask Auntie.

You are all darlings, and I appreciate each and every one of you.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

"Rhubarb, Rhubarb"

It all started with two pieces of rhubarb.

No, I’ve never bought rhubarb in my life. Why would I? This was a gift.

You remember that one time you had a piece of strawberry-rhubarb pie and it didn’t suck, right? Me too. Besides, not too long ago, rhubarb was the secret ingredient on “Iron Chef”.

How bad could it be?

Ha! Ha. Ha hahahaha…! Sorry. I’m okay. Where was I?

Oh yeah. There they were, two extremely nice pieces of rhubarb. Fresh, organic, local and all that good stuff.

So I emailed a very good cook I know and asked what she’d do with two pieces of rhubarb. She said she’d throw them away. She doesn’t like rhubarb.

Auntie couldn’t just throw them away. See above about fresh, organic etc.

Next, of course, I went online. I found a recipe for balsamic rhubarb compote. Now, class, what does one do with fruit compote, hmm?

Actually, that’s not rhetorical. I have no idea. I know I’ve eaten compote, though not rhubarb, I’d remember that. But I have no idea what to do with it.

Still, I had all the ingredients, and the directions were simple enough. I went to work.

For those of you not on Twitter, it burned.

I threw it away.

The moral of this story is: Sometimes advice should be taken, and taken quickly.

If I had listened to my friend the very good cook, I’d’ve ended up in the exact same place without having to wash all those dishes.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bow Wow Arf Aunt Scary

Dear Aunt Scary,

My dog has really horrible gas, and I mean REALLY horrible -- like paint stripping bad. I feed him the same things as my other dogs (who don't have the problem) so I don't think it's his diet...

Anyway, what can I do? Please help, I love my dog.


The Gas Whisperer

Dear Gas,

I love your dog too, because he’s my dog too.

That’ll teach you to cackle and say “Hey I wrote an Aunt Scary but you can’t use it” at breakfast while I see you feeding all three dogs bits of your garlic sausage.

For you darlings who don’t live here, we are dog-sitting two of the cutest, sweetest, most adorable and fartiest basset hounds you ever saw. We love them. You would love them. They’re incredibly lovable.

But I don’t give them garlic sausage – and not just because Auntie is a vegetarian.

For the record: There is no such thing as an unprintable Aunt Scary letter. Go find the one from the furry, or the Nigerian scam, if you doubt me. Auntie may edit first, sometimes even ruthlessly, but it all goes in.

This is proof.

Bring it, to:

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Or, Don’t Talk To Strangers

Have you ever had carpal tunnel? I have. It’s an ache in whichever forearm you use most, that runs from mildly annoying to Very Serious Indeed. Knock wood, I’ve been lucky so far. I hope you have too.

In today’s mouse-driven culture, those carpal tunnel braces are as ubiquitous as parking meters. So when I was in line at the grocery store the other day and the cashier had a really cool-looking brace, it seemed safe to comment on it.

Yes, yes, I know. “Never talk to strangers.”

But her brace was much nicer than the one I wear when my wrist hurts and I have to hold a big camera for hours at Danger Room. I wanted one like it. Besides, you break the “Don’t talk to strangers” rule all the time too.

Well, we shouldn’t.

Here’s why:

The cashier told me it wasn’t a brace at all. It was just a sport glove. She unfastened it to show me a fresh surgical scar. Chapter two was about how the surgeon severed the nerve to her good fingers and permanently damaged the fingers he was supposed to be fixing. The dénouement was that because of his mistake, she now has stage one systemic CPRS, for which there is no treatment and no cure.

Prognosis: pain and death.

Then she told me I saved $2.79 by using my store card, and wished me a nice day.

What would you have done?

Don’t tell me that even though the scar was recent and real, the story might be fake. I know that. The point is to respond appropriately given the context.

This wasn’t anything like when the very nice elderly lady told me about her husband’s chronic constipation. You can make a joke about constipation. I couldn’t make a joke about pain and death. Oh, it can be done, but I couldn’t do it, not right then and not there.

Instead, I wished her luck. No matter what, if it was true or if she's just bored with her job, I do indeed wish her luck.

As I tweeted from the parking lot, I am never talking to anybody about anything other than the weather ever again.