Barely there for breakfast

Welcome to February 2023. There are about five and a half million more people on the planet than a month ago, and feeding and housing and keeping them healthy is impossible, same as it's impossible for the eight-billion of us who were already here.

With climate destruction well underway, it's rude but not really wrong to say that every birth is a tragedy.

More optimistically, there's seven pounds less of me than there was a month ago. I've become a walking tossed salad.

The family breakfast on Saturday was frustrating. Katrina and Mom arrived a few minutes late, which they usually do, and it's no big deal because it's only a few minutes.



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Feb. 1, 2023

But soon as they arrived, Katrina said that Michael was coming, too, and bringing his two kids. "And," she added, "they're running late."

I hope I didn't visibly sigh or audibly moan. Nothing against Michael or his kids, but do I need to explain again that I'm shitty in social situations? I do better when I know who's coming. Just about the only rule of our Saturday breakfasts is, Please let me know if you're coming to breakfast.

Michael hadn't let me know, and it doesn't take much to nudge the Titanic that is me into an iceberg. I'd been mentally prepared to spend an hour with my mom and sister. Spending an hour with my mom and sister and also with a nephew I don't know very well, and his two little kids I barely know at all, was a last-minute switcheroo that left me awkward all during the meal.

The kids are eight (?) and four (?), cute and clever and well-behaved, and Michael, their father, was also well-behaved. At least he didn't bring his wife. She's an anti-vaxxer, and I don't like her, and she doesn't like me.

You're thinking, this Holland guy is a sourpuss, and you're right. I'm an introvert and a recluse, and when I emerge from my cave to face the world, it's on my terms. My terms had been violated, so I was cranky. 

Furthermore, Michael and his kids showed up 25 minutes late, so the hour I'd expected to spend at breakfast became an hour and a half, making me extra cranky.

I considered deleting the next few paragraphs, but if there's any point to this website, it's being honest with myself, so here goes:

The fact that the children are unvaxxinated — against COVID, against anything — makes me want to keep my distance from them. It's not fear of catching something, but that one or both of them might die young from some completely preventable disease. Their deaths will sadden me more if I know them well, so I don't, and don't plan to. Saturday was, I believe, only the third time I'd seen them.

Am I an asshole? Yes, absolutely. I am interested in the few people I know — my brothers and sisters, my mom, and a very few friends, mostly on the internet. I've made no effort to get to know the children and grandchildren of my brothers and sisters. We've all met, and there's nothing's evil or awful about 'em, but I don't have the energy it would take to become genuine 'family' to the next generations of people who are, legally, my family, but nearly strangers to me.

The older kid, a boy, wasn't entirely sure who I was, so halfway through breakfast he asked, "Are you my grandfather?"

"Good guess," I said, "but no. I'm your grandfather's brother, your father's uncle. That makes me your grand-uncle."

He looked confused, so I stated the obvious. "It's complicated, kid, but I'm a hermit, so you probably won't see enough of me for it to matter."

That same boy was playing in a basketball game after breakfast. Mom and Katrina were going to some school gym to watch, and everyone at the table wanted me to come, too.

My answer was nope, of course. I rarely accept invitations that put me in somebody else's car, at the mercy of whoever's driving, because whoever's driving always wants to stop here and there and two points in between, and introduce me to Aunt Betty and baby Sal.

And also, who gives a rip about a kids' basketball game when the boy said nobody even keeps score? If nobody's keeping score it's not a game, it's practice.

Most of breakfast was a blur, even as it was happening. Usually I can squeeze some personality out of me, crack a joke or two, but with the unexpected people and the late start and everyone insisting I should go to a basketball game, my grumpiness was at peak levels, and it felt like I was barely there.

I don't think I snapped at anyone, but I didn't participate much in the normal humdrum conversations. Same as every Saturday, it was nothing but small talk. Nobody ever broaches politics or religion or anything beyond the soap opera stuff about my brother's bladder issues, and a cousin's recent wedding, and a niece who got laid off by Amazon, and "You really ought to come to the basketball game."

Again, Mom did her famous dawdle at the end, but this time with water instead of coffee. Soon as Katrina said it was time to be leaving, Mom said, "Well, I need to drink my water first, every drop. It's good for me," and then she took one very tiny sip from her glass of water, which was filled to the brim.

We'd already been at the restaurant for an hour and a half, and Mom's dawdling meant we'd be there for another ten minutes at least, so I excised myself from that 'we' and said toodle-doo.

The kids both gave me a hug before I left, though. It was their idea, not their dad's, and that was nice.

To their father I said, "Hope you'll come to breakfast again some time soon," and I meant it, "but we meet here at 9:15, and it's easier if you let me know you're coming," and I meant that, too.

News you need,
whether you know it or not

Unprecedented flooding in Auckland, New Zealand 

Unprecedented profit for Exxon as travel, war heated up 

Lawsuit claims inmates at Texas jail illegally held for weeks, months after posting bail 

Police who "owned the night" cost St Louis $10-million 

Incidents like the death of Tyre Nichols happen because of the 1967 ruling that created "qualified immunity" 

El Paso police officer arrested, facing more than 20 charges of sex abuse against a minor 

Chicago cop falsely reported his car stolen 44 times to beat traffic tickets, prosecutors say 

Mystery links
There's no knowing where you're going




Clicks ahoy

When Spider-Man lived in Forest Hills 

Island for sale, New York views, $13-million 

♫♬  Mix tape of my mind  ♫

A Few Words in Defense of Our Country — Randy Newman 

Casablanca — Max Steiner 

Fanfare for the Common Man — Emerson Lake & Palmer 

If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out — Cat Stevens 

When You Were Mine — Cyndi Lauper 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Juan Carrito 

Dean Daughtry 

J Richard Steadman 

Sylvia Syms 

Milly Thompson 


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 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.
Special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. It's a wonderful song: an odd but tuneful combination of professional wrestling, micro market segmentation and feedback guitar that sounds like a drunk police caravan, all done with the near-illegal vision of the singer from Bow Wow Wow who is now out of a job and isn't happy about it. Nothing lasts forever. This lasts for three minutes, thirty-seven seconds and that's not nearly enough.

    Nice poster.


    1. I wondered if anyone would notice the poster. :)

      Well, this version on YouTube lasts three minutes and 40 seconds, so it's ∼1% longer.


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