Real, live conversation

I’m not quite sure how to infuse my life with more real, human interactions – as opposed to the facile, day-to-day stuff.

FaceToFaceIt happened twice in May: lengthy face-to-face talking with friends of mine who don’t live that far away, but with whom I never get a chance to talk anymore.

The first was with my friend Norm, the best man at my marriage to Carol. For over twenty years, we played racquetball together at the YMCA, sometimes with a group of other guys, sometimes just ourselves.

We talked about families. I remember his son as a baby, and now he is spouting facial hair. Both of his kids are in college. And that group of guys went for a time went to Siena College after the Y closed, but it was much less convenient for some of us, and we drifted away.

I’ve long noticed that, even though one may not be best of friends, I learn about how other people think when I’ve played racquetball, volleyball, backgammon, or hearts, or being in a book group, with them. One sees how they think.

It has long been difficult for me to have male friends or even good male acquaintances, and that group met that need I didn’t even know I was seeking.

I had hoped that a couple of groups in the church might have been that collective I guess I had subconsciously been seeking but it didn’t work out. A men’s Bible study just fell apart a few years back from guys being busy. More recently, a book group I left for reasons that are too complicated to go into here; I might go back in the fall, maybe.

Oh, the other person I spoke with was my friend Lynne, who I’ve known since December 1980. She was coming home from a meeting about the shortsightedness of building a casino in, or near, Albany. We talked for quite a long time – two of the same bus number passed by – about social justice issues, environmental concerns, and the like. She lives less than three miles from my house, but I “see” her only on Facebook.

I’m not quite sure how to infuse my life with more real, human interactions – as opposed to the facile, day-to-day stuff – but surely I am needing it badly.

Almost as good: in early June, a lengthy telephone conversation with Alan David Doane.

And because I can: Face the Face by Pete Townsend.

Embarrassing childhood; am I awesome now?

My ears. Use them a lot.

Jaquandor does a quiz-thing. So I do one because I’m lazy. Or lack self-control. Or both.

1: What eye color do you find sexiest?

Brown, for sure. Which is odd, since my wife has blue eyes.

2: White, milk, or dark chocolate mocha?

No idea.

3: If you could get a Sharpie tattoo on your back, what would it be?

A map of Europe. In color.

4: Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it?

Small city. I liked it at the time. It’s been slowly dying away, and it makes me sad.

5: Your favorite adult as a child? (and not your parents, if they were your favorite)

My great aunt Deana, who played Scrabble, and cards with me, and protected me from her overbearing sister, my maternal grandmother.

6: What kind of smoothie sounds really good right now?

Strawberry. Failing that, blueberry, or other berries. I like mango. Hate banana, though, and I like bananas.

7: Most embarrassing moment from your elementary school years?

Hitting Carol Bakic in the head with a slush ball. She was a friend, and there was no malice, just having fun, and I had a lousy aim. (Aiming for the body.)

8: Most embarrassing moment from your middle school years?

I broke my glasses and I had to give a report in front of a class, utilizing the outline on the back blackboard. I simply couldn’t read it, so I took out my binoculars. I didn’t realize how silly that must have looked.

9: Most embarrassing moment from your high school years?

Getting caught with a forged note of my favorite teacher, Miss Foley, so my girlfriend and I could get out of study hall. We didn’t write the note, but nevertheless, I was mortified by her disapproval.

10: Pirates or ninjas? Why?

Pirates. Ninjas wear pajamas outside.

11: Have you ever climbed a tree more than twenty feet off the ground?

No, I was terrible at it.

12: Did you like swinging as a child? Do you still get excited when you see a swing set?

As J wrote: “Oh yeah, I loved swinging. In fact, it’s still fun, if the swing is big enough.”

13: If you could have any pet in the world, illegal or not, what would you get?

A Persian kitten. Fluffy.

14: What’s your most favorite part of your body?

My ears. Use them a lot.

15: What’s your most favorite part of your personality?

My ability to listen well.

16: Madonna or Lady Gaga? Neither? Both? Who cares?

Madonna, though I must say, I haven’t paid much attention to either of them this century.

17: Have you ever watched the Super Bowl all the way through?

Most years, barring interruptions by someone. The funny thing about Janet Jackson’s Nipplegate; missed that, and I was watching the game on a 30-foot screen.

18: Have you ever watched any major sporting event drunk?

Not that I can recall. Well, I had a few during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series when the Mets were losing to the Red Sox. Fortunately, that had a good outcome.

19: What’s the most delicious food you’ve ever eaten in your life?

It was some pastry at a party, which made my jaw drop.

20: Margarine or butter? Which did you grow up with?

Now, Olivio, an olive oil-based spread. I grew up on margarine.

21: Whole, skim, 1%, or 2% milk? (Did you know they make 1 1/2% milk?)

Skim is what we have; I prefer 1%, but it’s all about the calories.

22: Which continents have you been on?

North America. That’s it, though Barbados is MUCH closer to South America.

23: Do you get motion sickness? Any horror stories?

Last summer, I rode a roller coaster for the first time in a long while; HATED it. Awful headache for hours afterward. Used to LOVE them as a kid, too.

24: Backpacks or satchels?

Backpack, always. Easier to ride a bike, and I know where my bus pass is all the time.

25: Would you wear a rainbow jacket? A neon yellow sweater? Checkered pants?

Yes, yes, and I actually did in college, hand-me-downs from my grandfather; photos exist, but I’m not telling where.

26: What was your favorite cartoon growing up?

Rocky and Bullwinkle.

27: If you had to have a cow or a pig, which would you take? Why?

I’d milk the cow. I’ve done it, though not in a very long time.

28: If you had to look at one city skyline for the rest of your life, which would it be?

New York City, though I liked Chicago’s the one time I was there.

29: Longest plane ride you’ve ever been on?

New York City to Barbados. It was longer than Barbados to NYC, because we got bumped up to first class. Five hours in coach is WAY longer than five hours in first class.

30: The latest you’ve ever slept?

3 p.m. – I was REALLY sick.

31: Would you buy a sweater covered in kitten pictures? Would you wear it if someone gave it to you for free?

Wouldn’t buy it. Might wear it on the weekend.

32: Do you pick at scabs?

Generally not, but I put Band-Aids on them to make sure.

33: Favorite kind of bean? Kidney? Black? Pinto?

Black is beautiful.

34: How far can you throw a baseball?

From mid right field, where I was always stationed, to the infield dirt.

35: If you had to move to another country, where would you move?

I told my wife a couple years ago that I’d move to Toronto, after I’d been there a day. Good mass transit, educated populace, lots to do.

36: Have you ever eaten Ethiopian food? Vietnamese? Korean? Nepalese? How was it?

Maybe, yes (Albany restaurants), yes (my wife had students who invited us over), no.

37: Small, liberal arts school or public university? Why?

I went to a small liberal arts public college, and it was fine. Not sure I’d want to go to a place with 50,000 students.

38: A relationship with love or one with sex?

I can’t have both? Well, OK, love.

39: Do you eat enough vegetables?

“No, but I’m getting better at it.”

40: Do you like horror movies? How about thrillers?

Horror, no; there’s enough gore in real life. Thrillers depend on the director, writer, and actors; some are so inane.

41: Would you scratch a crotch itch in public?


42: Do you swear in front of your parents?

Would never do that.

43: Coolest thing you’ve ever been for Halloween?

It was a white skull, a wizard’s hat, and my college graduation gown. Trust me, WAY cool.

44: If you could change your natural hair color, would you? To what?

It’s practically all white. Don’t care.

45: Do you want to get married? Have kids?

I like being married. I’m better married. I love my kid, but at my age couldn’t keep up with another.

46: Do you use a reusable water bottle? If not, you should.

No. Maybe it’s psychological, but plastic water bottles make the water taste plasticy.

47: City or nature person?

City. I’ve done nature stuff, but it’s not my strength.

48: Have you ever used something other than “makeup” as makeup? (Like paint? Markers?)

Marker mustache as a kid.

49: Can you walk well in high heels? Even if you’re a guy?

Almost no one walks WELL in high heels. I wasn’t bad the last time I tried, which was at least 30 years ago, but I feared turning my ankle.

50: Post 5 awesome things about yourself. BRAG AWAY!

I think I am a very compassionate being.

I got stuck, so I asked a co-worker and friend, who said:
I have an incredible singing voice; (I think it’s adequate).
My laugh is infectious.
I have an amazing wealth of info in my mind. (I always fret over what I can’t remember anymore, but I suppose this is still true.)
I have the ability to have a conversation with anyone. (Well, not ANYONE, but I can usually hold my own in most discussions.)

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