Out of talk

The problem is me. Everyone else's actions were reasonable, or nearly reasonable, in this matter. I'm the weird one, and I know that.

May 3, 2022

For several years now, living thousands of miles apart, once a month my brother Clay and I have gotten together online to watch a movie. We exchange typed comments about the flick and whatever else comes up. Sometimes his wife joins us, and sometimes my other brother Dick or old friend Leon have been part of the conversation. It's a low key, enjoyable way to keep in touch.

Now that I've moved to Seattle, Clay wanted us to watch our monthly movie in person, at his house. I accepted the invitation, but without much enthusiasm.

His house... it's a fine house, but it's so very, very far from Seattle there's no access to transit. The only way to get there is in a car, but I mostly get around the city on transit, specifically to avoid the highways and traffic and jams.

I have no sense of distance but Clay's house feels like it's fifty miles from Seattle, and every trip there is a traffic jam on the freeway, and then you merge onto another freeway and into another traffic jam, and then a third. No way was I driving to Clay's house.

Dick and Young-sook were going to be there for the movie, though, so Dick offered to give me a lift to Clay's house. I took transit to the distant suburb where Dick lives, and Dick and Young-sook picked me up there.

The drive from transit to Clay's house took an hour, in a car with Dick and Young-sook, talking. The talking was nice.

With only one traffic jam on the way, we got to Clay's house earlier than expected, and spent half an hour chatting with Clay and Karen before the movie. The talking was nice.

My nephew George had said he'd be there for the movie, but he called and said he'd gotten lost trying to find Clay's place, so we waited for him to find his way. Another 45 minutes of talking, and still the talking was nice, mostly.

By then, though, I'd been talking to people for two hours and fifteen minutes. For me, that is a lot of talking.

We finally started watching the movie — Superman, with Christopher Reeve — but factor in pauses and pee breaks, and it was almost three hours before the movie finished. All through it, George wisecracked back to the screen, and despite being asked several times he wouldn't shut up, so the movie itself was more frustrating than fun.

Afterward, there was half an hour of small talk, and by this point I was exhausted. I say this on the website often, and also say it to my family: I am a hermit, and that's not a joke. After socially interacting with people for more than five hours, I was completely "out of talk."

Then Dick and Young-sook said goodbye and left — wait, what? They were supposed to be my ride back to the transit station, where a bus would take me home, but instead they'd handed me off to Clay. Clay was going to drive me — and not to the transit station, but to my sister and mother's house to pick up my mail, and then all the way to my house in south Seattle. That's two hell of a long drives, and lots more talking.

I hadn't asked for a ride home.

Hadn't asked for a detour to see Mom.

I asked three times to be taken to the transit station instead, but when Clay's decided something it ain't easy talking him out of it. And I had no other way home. Arguing is talking, and like I said, I was out of talk — so fuck all, I gave up and got into Clay's car and rode.

We were soon stuck in traffic going nowhere on the freeway, and Clay talked, and I said less and less, and then we visited Mom at her house for 45 minutes, and Clay and Mom talked, and I said almost nothing, and then we got stuck in freeway traffic again, and then Clay got lost trying to find my house.

He got me home two and a half hours after we'd left his house. Transit would've gotten me home more than an hour quicker, and I wouldn't have had to talk or listen to anyone along the way.

Altogether it was eight hours of human interaction, and even with people I love, that's about twice as long as I can stand without serious psychological depletion. I needed most of Monday to recover from that long Sunday afternoon with all those people.

And again and of course I know, that's not normal. I'm not normal. Did I ever claim to be normal? I am me. I am an introverted loner, and I can't survive without solitude.

As I climbed out of Clay's car and sincerely didn't thank him for the ride, I recited a zero-energy version of the above. Apparently, though, the message was not received, because now it's a week later, and Clay has emailed me his plans for our movie afternoon in May.

Instead of me riding a bus 2/3 of the way and then someone giving me a lift to his house, Clay wants to meet me at a restaurant here in my neighborhood, where we'd have lunch.

Then, he says, he'll drive us to his house, which is at least an hour and a half of talk time.

Then we'll watch a movie, with six other people already planning to attend, and maybe more by movie day.

Then he'll drive me to our mom's house for another visit with her.

Then he'll drive me home.

My answer to this invitation was emphatically no, and included another explanation of who I am.

I've been away for a long time, but how can my family, my brother, so completely not know me? His proposed agenda for our May movie would have me shriveled in a ball of existential despair before the opening credits.

You want to meet me at that restaurant, Bro, and take me to lunch? Sounds swell, let's do it — but it can't be on the same day as the movie. And I can't be in someone's car being sociable for fifty miles in heavy traffic before and after spending hours being sociable.

I'm not even sure I'm attending the movie in person, at Clay's house. By May's movie day I'll have internet access, so why can't we do it all online, same as when I was in Wisconsin?

On Sunday, I spent the afternoon with my other brother Dick, and his wife, Young-sook. I won't write about it at length, as there's no way to make it a story worth reading, but these few paragraphs are necessary for my own mental health.

I've been away from the family for more than thirty years. In that time, I've seen Dick three times, maybe four. Now I'm back, and Dick says he's delighted about it, and he was insistent that we get together as soon as possible. I've missed him, so we got together.

Over the course of the afternoon, he asked two questions about me: What kind of job are you looking for? And, how's your health? This Q & A took perhaps ninety seconds, total.

For the rest of our three and a half hours together, Dick talked about himself — his condo, his job, his upcoming vacation, his cat, his wife, his daughter, his grandchildren, his job again, his church, the house he thought about buying but didn't, the specials at Dairy Queen, his job again, his car, his big-screen TV, his cable, a little of his Republican politics, and his job again. Et cetera. And Young-sook speaks so little English, she's basically out of the conversations.

Did we have a good time? Well, yeah. It was nice seeing Dick. He's my brother and I love him, and now I know absolutely everything that's going on in his life. I don't understand him, though, understand her even less, and it felt like I was hardly there. 

It was the third time I've met Young-sook. She barely speaks English and I don't speak Korean, so I don't understand their marriage, and she and I are never going to be friends. Unlike the other two times I've seen her, though, she didn't seem to be intentionally crazy or creepy — and we made a minor breakthrough! 

Dick mentioned that they'd had a ferret, but the ferret had died, and then he excused himself and stepped into the bathroom. To Young-sook I said, "How did the ferret die?"

Behind her very, very Korean accent, she said, "I don't know! Don't know!"

It was our first and so far only conversation.

And now, my internet trail of bread crumbs… 

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Roe v. Wade is to be overturned but media seems to care more about the "leak" violating "norms" 

For all practical purposes, Roe v Wade was aborted months ago, when the Supreme Court decided not to stop Texas from banning abortion.

The new reality: If a woman has the funds to get to a Democratic-controlled state, she can get an abortion. If she can't, she gets to birth and raise a child. To me, that's disgusting, but that's America in 2022. Now Republicans will be working on ways to stop pregnant women from leaving Republican territory, and they'll try to unravel legal access to contraception, gay marriage, and all other forms of progress since the 1920s.

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You can now ask Google to remove your phone number, email or address from search results 

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And now... a rebuttal to Ken Levine's new and improved baseball rules 

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When Mary Jane kissed Spider-Man upside-down 

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Inflatable bras. 

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The End
Kathy Boudin (better than the obit from a few days ago) 

Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to All Hat No Cattle, Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S., and always Stephanie...


  1. Damn Doug, you're prolific. I find your expositions and ejaculations oddly addictive and haven't been able to drag myself away from your on-going narratives to prep this chicken, but I will after sending this comment. I read most of it but skimmed through the movie reviews and may have missed a turd plop here or there. So to join the party here is something I wrote today about yesterday:

    I don't get that woman who I just drove by in Eureka wearing a mask alone in her car, well people have their ways and reasons. I put mine on, went into Costco, and started estimating masked vs mask-less: at first it seemed like about 25% masked, then I realized it was more like 10% and then seemed less than that.
    I wondered how people might relate to each other per mask status: I figured I'd have a better chance with a woman wearing one--maybe we could kiss like Eskimos rubbing noses, or so goes the legend. Unmasked women might think I was a scared weenie, unadventurous and useless in bed. It made me want to rip off my shirt and shout, “No! I'll do anything! Lick your ass, no problem! You got the wrong idea!” But no, I would be lying and they would have the right idea.
    By the time I checked out I didn't see a single mask-wearer around save some clueless checker who hadn't gotten the memo that it was over and probably wouldn't kiss me anyway.
    At night resting my head on the pillow to go to sleep I smiled to myself: I had no worries or concerns, no pain or discomfort. Putting my hand below my waist I checked, yup still there, all is right in my little world.
    Yes these are the good old days, how many more good years until the terror of decline and dis-ease become the uncomfortable everyday reality from which there is no exit but one?

    1. There's no such thing as safe sex with someone who walks around in public spaces maskless in a pandemic. And it's still a pandemic. So you done good just reaching southward to see what's there. Glad it's still there, man.

      Mine, too, and I expect to be the only person to reach southward for the rest of my life.

      No worries about skimming my articles. I skim too, even while writing 'em.


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