O BRAVEST OF BRAVE NEW WORLDS

O BRAVEST OF BRAVE NEW WORLDS OR THE VIRTUAL MIRROR-COMPUTER-TEXTING-GAZE OF THE LONG-LOST SOULS

 Are you really there, and am I actually present here?

It’s taken me years to almost adjust to the fact that when somebody seems to be in my presence, they often are not.

I walk into a fast-food restaurant and it comes my turn to order from the menu. The fast-food woman smiles at me, wide-eyed and focused on me…but not really, since I realize that she is staring at a computer screen that is at eye level, she’s reading off her questions, and she hasn’t once seen my face—nor will she.

The computer is me, to her.

I enter the living room to greet and chat with a grandchild, but she only screams in protest when I innocently turn the TV off in order to visit with her. I thought I was doing us both a favor by reducing distractions so that we can actually visit with one another.

She sees only the screen and wouldn’t know it if I were wearing a monkey on my head.

I’m being interviewed on a Cable TV show by an interviewer who never once looks at me, since she’s staring at herself in the monitor and adjusting her hair and angle the whole time.

After recording a number of my stories for broadcast on a Tuscaloosa radio station, I attempt to exchange pleasantries with the station manager, but I suddenly notice that he’s staring at his computer and clicking away the entire time he talks with me—he is responding to my comments with generic quips but doesn’t know what I am saying. I slink away and he doesn’t notice.

The game-play kid looks at his lap as he visits with me, his thumb moving the images around, never once looking at my face.

A texting teen stares enraptured at phone in hand and laughs at what she sees and what she transmits while almost listening to me but never knowing when the conversation has ceased.

The hospital orderly with pods in both ears looks at me but does not hear my question because the music he hears is the thing. I walk away uninformed.

The hospital nurse talks as she enters and reads from the laptop before her, never seeing me but appropriately answering my questions.

The man whose home I’m visiting watches his enormous television screen as we chat. He doesn’t see me at all.

I am the interloper, the real flesh and bone person who is no longer needed in these people’s lives.

In order to have them see me, I will have to become an entity submerged in their virtual world.

I see their flesh, they see my electronic self.

O brave new world.

Uh, were you saying something

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

 jim@jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com/podcast

 Twitter and Facebook

 

WE WHO HAVE WRINKLES AND SAGGIES SALUTE YOU

Listen to Jim’s podcast:

http://redclaydiary.com/mp3/wewhohavewrinklesandsaggies.mp3

or read his tale below:

WE WHO HAVE WRINKLES AND SAGGIES SALUTE YOU

“I don’t like it when old people get skinny ’cause they always get these wrinkles and saggies and things under their chin.”

Everything I write is true, but this is actual.

I just overheard that remark in the diversity isle of a large store, a store teeming with customers of every size, shape, age, proclivity and background.

Yep, one woman delivers her stroke of wisdom to a fellow kinswoman, a kinswoman who nods sagaciously and totally agrees with her, “Uh huh.”

They continue talking and signifying as they troll rows of clothing, their analytical examinations of texture and shape and color and size and appropriateness consuming the time they have, expert observers of the ad hoc world they create for comfort and familiarity.

The stories I tell deliver themselves to me when I least expect it. All I do is weave them together in order to share their import with you. I guess this can be called, Being a Writer. Or something like that.

So, here I am, relating a tidbit moment without the permission or knowledge of these two people. Does this make me an eavesdropper, a spy? Or does this mean that, in the age-old tradition of storytellers, I am simply honoring the importance and meaning of an anecdote that might otherwise disintegrate into the rustling air of an anonymous store, where mysterious and meaningful events might never be noticed and inscribed for future generations?

Think of all the millions of people who will never have their moments archived.

The absent, the missing, the dead, the distant, the invisible, the ignored, all lose their moments when there is no-one present to notice, to appreciate, to stamp approval.

Those who cannot defend themselves against the stories I tell.

As the self-centered writer, I feel that my purpose is somewhat justified. All I am doing is taking a look around me in case I miss something important in the endless aisles of the day-to-day.

Wrinkles and saggies and all

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

 jim@jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com/podcast

 Twitter and Facebook

 

 

THE POPE OF SOUTHTOWN SERVES HIS FLOCK

Listen to Jim’s podcast:

http://redclaydiary.com/mp3/thepopeofsouthtown.mp3

or read his tale below:

THE POPE OF SOUTHTOWN SERVES HIS FLOCK

I’m standing in place at Express Oil, awaiting my audience with the Pope of Southtown.

My burgundy beat-up bookmobile is giving me fits, but I am a person of loyalty—I will nurse and patch and compensate for this old vehicle till one of us rattles one last time.

While Burgundy Bookie and I stand in place, we gaze at the actions and interactions that take place in graceful but purposeful slow motion.

One longtime mechanic, Philip, moves among a flock of customers who depend upon his seasoned abilities. We are at the mercy of Philip and the other specialists who greet us and patiently minister to our mechanical needs.

One petite woman stares up to him for a blessing, “Oh, my car’s still doing that, that thing. Can you fix it?”

He smiles, stares off into the distance as if seriously contemplating the response he will eventually give. Like a good diagnostician, he pays attention to what the customer is saying. He takes his time to consider the correct answer.

At that moment, he receives a cellphone call, which means he is now juggling three cases at once—mine, hers and the tinny-voiced human in his palm. Yet other congregants await his ministrations. Each of us is the most important human on the planet in our own minds.

I arrive at Express Oil just twenty minutes earlier, when the lot is still barren. Now, suddenly, the customers are lined up and Philip is gesticulating, scratching his head, dispensing advice on what he knows and what he does not know and what he will eventually know and what he will never know.

In the long run, these healers of transport are all that stand between us and a broken mass transit system, who save us from random and unpredictable encounters with Uber and Yellow Cab and hitchhiking.

These shadetree sophisticates are part of our family, the family we need to make our clockwork lives run smoothly in spurts.

That’s why now and then I drop off a box of donuts or a fudge pie created by daughter Jeannie. You know, something for the offering plate.

George Carlin nailed it a long time back, “I have as much authority as the Pope. I just don’t have as many people who believe it.”

The mechanics of Southtown have just enough followers to last each day. And that’s always enough and plenty for us true believers

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

 jim@jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com/podcast

 Twitter and Facebook