The most influential person in the world, surefire questions for your next encounter at a cocktail party, and the rudest of the rude…all bubbling up in my cerebral cortex this week.
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I saw this guy I know with a woman who isn’t his wife and it was clearly a test of my decency. I flunked.
Minding my own business at lunch, I see a car pull up outside the window and an old friend got out. I had to look twice, because he lives so far away and the restaurant wasn’t exactly the kind of place he raves about on social media. Hah, what are the odds of a chance encounter like this?
Then he goes to the passenger door and opens it and this younger woman gets out of the car. Not his wife, not his daughter, maybe a business associate or a potential customer or a cousin or an in-law or…something else.
Because, let’s face it, I’m human and I watch TV and movies and I know what’s what in this world of ours. I jumped immediately to hanky, or panky, or both, because it couldn’t be that he was in a far-off location with a younger woman and it was completely innocent. I kept checking them out, from a distance, as they shared a meal. No hand holding, but there were no tablets and notepads on the table, either. Could be innocent, could be guilty, and I concluded that it 127% had to be the latter.
Which says more about me than him, really, since I have lunch with women who are not my wife and there’s nothing going on when I’m doing it. Of course, I secretly want people to suspect something, because it might mean I’ve got game, but the truth is always much less interesting. Apparently, I’m not exciting enough to be a suspect of any sort.
Actually, that’s not 100% accurate. Last year, my wife took a spill and hit her head. No major damage, luckily, but she ended up with a black eye for a couple of weeks. And every time we went to a restaurant, I could spot people checking out our table and thinking exactly what I would have thought—frequently have thought—when I’ve seen a purple bruise on the woman at a table for two. I’d have taken offense at their presumptions about me, except for that whole pot-and-kettle thing.
So I watched the couple at their table for a while, if they were a couple at all, and decided not to stop by and say hello. Maybe I was being discreet and maybe I was being rude. I’ll probably never know, which is fine. It’s none of my business really and I’m fine with not knowing the things I don’t have reason to know, even if I’m pretty sure I really know all of it.
Still, by the time I left the restaurant, I was feeling just a little bit less comfortable with myself. When did I make the leap from trusting to cynical? When did I conclude that I’m the only guy who can be trusted in this world? Whenever I crossed that line, I’m not completely sure I like the new me.
Of course, we encourage everyone to like the new me, and the next new me, by clicking here to subscribe to Dad Writes.
Okay, that’s it. I need a purse. Not a man pouch or a murse or a fanny pack…an actual, bonafide, any-woman-would-use-it purse.
Because it’s time I face reality. There aren’t enough pockets for all the crap I have to carry around these days.
I can’t leave the apartment without my phone, of course, and my wallet is bulging with must-have entry cards, transit cards, store loyalty cards, credit cards and a few scraps of legal tender in case the system crashes at Dunkin’ Donuts. (Sorry, they just call it Dunkin’ now, because it would be branding heresy to actually mention the product.)
With all the member/loyalty/credit/debit/gift cards loaded in, my wallet is now four inches thick, even after I’ve tossed out the condoms I hid so hopefully in high school.
Then there’s the sunglasses, the comb and the handkerchief, because the mark of a true man is that he carries a hankie, plus the reading glasses I need now to see the text on my phone. And I’m a writer, so I always need to have a pen and some note cards handy, along with a little binder for the note cards and an extra pen, just in case. I live in a Blue State, so I need to carry a mask when I’m out of my apartment, and then there are the keys for the car, the apartment, the storage locker, the list goes on.
When I stuff it all into my pants and shirt pockets, I look like a prickly pear in bloom, or a really bad shoplifter. And it goes without saying that I’m bulging in all the wrong places.
For a while, office dress codes were my salvation. I had to wear a suit, and suits have a ton of extra pockets, so I found a way to spread the lumps so that I looked no more than 40 pounds overweight. On the plus side, I looked less rotund than people expected when I took off my jacket and I was getting great cardio carrying my supplies around all day.
But the days of suits are gone and I’m running out of tricks to get everything into place. Absolutely, I need a purse. Not just any purse, though. I need a manly purse, a leather bag with a bicycle chain for a strap, steel buckles and a clasp that looks like a deadbolt. I need a purse that’s too threatening to get through airport security, the kind that says, “I’m here, I’m cisgender, get used to it.”
Carrying a purse won’t be the toughest part of this adjustment to reality, though. Worse, I’m going to have to apologize to all the women I’ve mocked for carrying ridiculously large, overstuffed purses with enough supplies for a three-hour tour.
All in good fun, ladies, just kidding around, really laughing with you and not at you, you know. Now that I’m joining the sisterhood of traveling apothecaries, all is forgiven, right?
Hmm…maybe I should just buy some cargo shorts and a safari vest. Who knows? I might start a fashion trend.
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Now that we’re starting our third year of this thing, it’s time to revisit our mass delusions…
Way back, I had the enviable job of taking an irrigation company public in the middle of a drought. While farmers across the country were losing their shirts, our team was flooded with interest from professional investors who recognized the long-term appeal of water on demand.
And then, the worst possible thing happened. It rained in New York.
Suddenly, some of the most brilliant minds on Wall Street lost interest in the company because, clearly, the drought was over. We were abandoned by a disturbingly large number of investors who seemed to believe there could not be a drought if it rained on their block.
All news is local, as they say. If it didn’t happen to me, if it didn’t happen to someone I know, it simply didn’t happen. Or, if it did happen, it was no big deal. And if it was a big deal, they probably brought it on themselves through all the bad choices that we would never make.
Whether it’s a pandemic or a flood or a Ponzi scheme, out of sight is out of mind. Or, more specifically, out of sight means nonexistent. It’s almost as if we’re all infants who haven’t mastered object permanence.
Even worse, we seem to be losing our ability to see the humanity in the suffering, the real people whose disasters we avoided through grace or dumb luck, but seldom through merit. Somewhere, in all our isolation and tribalism, we seem to think we’re different, maybe better, more deserving. We aren’t.
Here’s a post mocking someone who died after refusing a vaccination, and here’s one mocking a person who died in spite of their vaccination. Here come the Darwin Awards, mocking people who died doing something stupid, as if stupidity should be a capital offense.
Sometimes, I think all this schadenfreude is a defense mechanism. If we can blame other people for their misfortunes, we can say they deserved their fates. And, if they are poor/homeless/addicted/dead as a result of their own failings, then we are safe. We are, after all, good people, not like them.
Beyond that illusion of invincibility, it’s probably safe to connect the mockery to our isolation over the past couple of years, and to our insularity. The less I associate with people who are not like me, don’t think like me, don’t live where I live, the easier it is to think of them as bloodless memes.
That’s always been the case, of course, but our increasingly decreasing connections are making us even more self-centered than in the past. On the positive side, there’s a quick and simple fix to all of this and that is to make a new connection. Not a social media connection, but a real, human being who can introduce us to a world beyond our straitjacketed confines.
Yeah, it can feel a little bit strange at first, listening to someone else’s story about a life that isn’t ours, but it grows on you after a while. I like to think of it as a free streaming account with 3-D avatars, transporting me to parallel dimensions I’ve never visited before.
Who needs the metaverse when we have entire worlds we can explore on our own?
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Cowards, they are, and they know who we mean. We’re talking about you, lame-stream media, with all your cut-and-paste year-in review stories about all the crappy things we already know from 2021. Only the bravest of the brave, and we are referring to ourselves, of course, have the courage to cut and paste all the news you haven’t heard about, because it hasn’t happened…yet.
Yes, it’s time for our 2022 Year in Review, an incisive look at the lives we’ll all be regretting twelve months from now. Let’s do the time warp yet again as we consider our future past…
January 1: Americans awaken with a sense of déjà vu as they thank Vishnu that the last rotten stinker of a year is finally over, only to realize they thought the same thing at the end of 2020. Number one on the list of New Year’s resolutions is to never, ever, ever again utter the words, “It can’t get worse.”
January 2: Things get worse as a massive cyber-attack shuts down the nation’s electric grid, forcing 340 million people off social media. More than 30 million adults look up from their screens and discover that their spouses moved out six months earlier.
January 10: Things get even worser as Congress gets back into gear with more than 8,200 new measures to be considered in the first week of its session. Actually, “considered” is not quite accurate, since none of the wording in any of the bills will be completed until after the bills are passed. On January 18, Americans are surprised to learn that our new National Anthem is Baby Shark.
January 17: The nation celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by taking time off to reflect on…oh, who are we kidding? They’ll just take the day off. In Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, residents will take time to observe Robert E. Lee’s birthday, as well, while Texas will observe Confederate Heroes Day, because, apparently, we’re still doing this.
January 24: Across the nation, state legislatures shift into high gear to demonstrate their own special skills at commonsense governance. As of February 1, California will require quarantining for anyone who has heard of Covid, while Florida will prohibit masks in operating rooms and theme parks. In New York, all pregnant women will be required to obtain abortions, while Texas will prohibit them from getting pregnant in the first place. (Yeah, we think this is tasteless hyperbole, too, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.)
January 30: In Covid news, more than five million exposures to public service messages finally persuade Eddie Grimple of Lincoln, Nebraska to get vaccinated. Congress immediately passes the Eddie Grimple Act, allocating $423 trillion to convince 92 million other holdouts to take the jab.
February 1: The Chinese zodiac turns to the Year of the Tiger, leading news anchors into a frenzy of regrettable jokes and bad accents they’ll be apologizing for until St. Patrick’s Day arrives and they do it again.
February 2: In a lighthearted break from the news of the day, the entire nation turns its attention to a Pennsylvania rodent that started working from home before it was a trend. Despite the preparations of Punxsutawney leaders, Phil will decide to take part by Zoom because he/she/it/they is/are/am still in quarantine.
February 13: The nation is shocked as a new cyber-attack blacks out the Super Bowl, leaving Americans with nothing to do but sit on their couches and overdose on nachos. Nobody notices the difference.
February 14: Gaps in the supply chain prevent the delivery of more than 74 million diamond necklaces, according to the husbands who claim that’s what they tried to buy their wives for Valentine’s Day. Miraculously, deliveries of oven mitts and edible underwear arrive without a hitch.
February 21: The nation celebrates Presidents Day by taking time off to reflect on…oh, who are we kidding? They’ll just take the day off.
March 1: Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans are interrupted by a shortage of beads and a requirement that all revelers wear masks over their masks. Celebrants overcome these obstacles by throwing frozen peas from their balconies and ignoring all the other rules entirely.
March 17: St. Patrick’s Day arrives, leading news anchors into a frenzy of regrettable jokes and bad accents they’ll be apologizing for until Cinco De Mayo arrives and they do it again.
March 20: As spring arrives and travel surges, airlines brace for new battles with unruly vacationers. In a preemptive move, the FAA announces that all airline passengers must not only wear masks, but also be shrink-wrapped before taking their seats.
March 30: Doctors Day is observed across the nation, but physicians revolt, noting that it falls on a Wednesday this year and they were all going to be off anyway. The American Medical Association adjusts its legislative agenda to move the observance to a Monday in future years.
April 8: In televised hearings shortly before its spring recess, Congress issues its 5,000th warning to Facebook about privacy issues, with a stern assertion that, “This time we mean it.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responds with a sad face emoji and the matter is tabled for the 5,000th time.
April 12: In the most evil cyber-attack ever, hackers reprogram all Apple cell phone tones to an unending repetition of, “Please listen carefully, as our menu options have changed.” Android users are relentless in their mockery, until all their phones begin chirping, “Your call is very important to us.” More than 200 million people drain their retirement accounts to pay the ransom.
April 18: The Internal Revenue Service comes up with a plan to close the federal deficit by inserting a clause in its user agreement, requiring that all e-filers repeat their payments in August. Taxpayers howl that they’ve been tricked, but the Supreme Court rules that nobody forced them to click ‘accept.’
April 25: Various states have observances in honor of Confederate heroes, because we’re still doing this.
April 27: Businesses observe Administrative Professionals Day by sending e-cards to all their employees, recognizing that each of them is now responsible for their own copies and coffee and appointments and expense reports and travel arrangements and anything else that admins did, once, a long time ago. Former administrative professionals spend the day laughing until they wet themselves.
April 28: Millions of Americans take part in Bring Your Daughter or Son or Humanoid or Pet to Work Day by clearing space on one of the couch cushions in their living rooms. The kids say the experience reminds them of the Super Bowl, but with more snacks.
May 5: Cinco de Mayo arrives, leading news anchors into a frenzy of regrettable jokes and bad accents they’ll be apologizing for until Bastille Day dawns and they do it again.
May 8: The supply chain collapses again, making it impossible for grateful children to give their moms the new electronics and jewelry they’ve been hinting about for weeks. Millions of women are forced to pretend they like Popsicle-stick picture frames and macaroni art, even when it comes from their college-age offspring.
May 10: Both North and South Carolina observe Confederate Memorial Day because, yep, we’re still doing this.
May 16: In Covid news, 42 new variants are discovered and scientists panic as they run out of Greek letters to name them. The crisis is averted as WHO leaders opt to name new variants after Doritos flavors.
May 27: In hearings shortly before their Memorial Day recess, Congress issues its 6,000th warning to Facebook about privacy issues, with a stern assertion that, “This time we really, really mean it.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responds with two sad-face emojis and adds a thumbs-up to show he’s really paying attention this time.
May 30: In recognition of the final sacrifice made by so many of our brave military members, Americans observe Memorial Day by taking time to reflect on…oh, who are we kidding? They’ll just take the day off.
June 2: In their most diabolical attack yet, cyber-criminals take down Peloton’s website and millions of Americans discover what it’s like to exercise alone without having buff trainers to gawk at during their rides. The site is restored after customers raise $22 billion in ransom in order to get another look at Andy’s abs.
June 14: Flag Day fizzles as only 32 Americans find the time to hoist Old Glory in recognition of the holiday. The supply chain is blamed for a shortage of flags, which is moderately convincing since almost all of them are made in China.
June 19: Father’s Day arrives with the traditional backyard barbecue as millions of dads show off their culinary skills for the only time this year. Really, it’s Groundhog Day II, followed by another 12 months of mom doing all the cooking.
June 21: Just when the weather was getting really nice, the sun retreats from the Tropic of Cancer and the days start getting shorter. Determined to make the most of summer, Americans begin complaining immediately about the heat.
June 29: In a bold move to reduce the soaring deficit, Congress passes a new law that eliminates taxes for for anyone who allows a senator to fly on their private jet. Although the Congressional Budget office predicts an immediate surge in the deficit, Senate leaders assure the nation it will all be made up by “growth.”
July 4: Tribalism continues to reign as Americans argue about how and whether to celebrate Independence Day. Protestors battle over everything from the environmental impact of charcoal briquettes to the gender identity of Betsy Ross. In the United Kingdom, Parliament decides to change the name of its own observance from Treason Day to Good Riddance Day.
July 14: Giving props to the French, Americans mark the arrival of Bastille Day. As always, news anchors dive into a mosh pit of regrettable jokes and bad accents they’ll be apologizing for until Oktoberfest, when they’ll do it again.
July 20: The nation’s supply chain returns to full operation and shortages subside for all delayed products. Inflation disappears as the average American household receives three tons of back-ordered merchandise and immediately lists all of it on eBay.
July 22: In a final effort to clamp down on passenger violence, airlines announce that they will offer nothing but virtual travel for the remainder of the year. Passengers who come to the airport will watch videos of their destinations, but no actual flights will take off. To make the experience as real as possible, all videos will be delayed two hours for unexplained reasons, and families with young children will not be able to watch the videos together.
August 4: Illinois residents observe Barack Obama Day, celebrating the fact that the Secret Service no longer shuts down the Kennedy Expressway when he flies into town.
August 15: Americans who e-filed their taxes in April are forced to duplicate their payments on the new IRS Tax Deadline. On the plus side, absolutely everyone is afraid to click on the ‘agree’ button to e-file, so everyone mails in their filings and the Post Office registers its first profit in 72 years.
August 20: In Covid news, the CDC announces that a new variant, Doritos Cool Ranch, has been identified in Lithuania. The stock market rises 12% on the news, since everyone likes Cool Ranch Doritos. Analysts get nervous, though, as they realize the next variant will be named for Doritos Candy Corn.
August 26: Before racing home for the Labor Day recess, 259 Congressional committees warn Facebook that this time, really, absolutely, they are serious about warning Facebook that they are serious, really, about privacy issues. Appearing before all the committees simultaneously, Mark Zuckerberg’s avatar responds by displaying private photos of the committee members.
September 5: Americans ignore the incredibly brilliant advice of Dad Writes by observing Labor Day on the first Monday or September. Families spend the time complaining that summer is going by too quickly, that their local baseball team is absolutely not making it into the World Series, and that their local football team has no chance of getting into the Super Bowl. Everyone will think they had the best time ever.
September 12: The Congressional Budget Office announces that the federal budget deficit will be $249 trillion larger than expected for the fiscal year that’s about to end, in spite of heroic trickery by the Internal Revenue Service. The government announces a three-step plan to close the gap, including a Go Fund Me campaign, an ice bucket challenge, and delaying all Social Security payments until the new fiscal year begins on October 1.
September 17: Constitution Day glides into the calendar as millions of Americans swear it’s their favorite reading material. Of course, millions of people say they’ve read that Stephen Hawking book, too, and that they’ve done exhaustive “research” on coronaviruses. Luckily, the geniuseseses at Dad Writes have already provided everything you need to know about the Constitution, so be sure to read all about it before the pop quiz.
September 23: Oktoberfest begins in Munich and in dozens of cities across the United States, prompting news anchors to spew out millions of regrettable jokes and bad accents they’ll be apologizing for until Chinese New Year 2023, when they’ll start the cycle again.
October 1: As the new fiscal year begins, the Congressional Budget Office announces that the federal deficit will balloon yet again, leading to drastic action by the nation’s leaders. The National Security Administration immediately launches a cyber attack to block access to both Netflix and Tik Tok. Locked out of their only sources of joy in life, Americans capitulate immediately, forking over more than $850 trillion in bitcoin and fifty bucks they found in the couch.
October 10: In a remarkable coincidence, Americans observe Columbus Day at exactly the same time as Fraternal Day, Discoverers’ Day, Native American Day, Indigenous People’s Day and American Indian Heritage Day. People across the political spectrum argue incessantly about the holiday, but they all approve of having a three-day weekend.
October 20: In Covid news, the CDC announces that a combination of vaccinations and infections has led to herd immunity in the United States. Politicians and cable news hosts are outraged as they scramble to find some other topic they can use to divide the nation.
October 31: The supply chain collapses again as Covid-19 viruses become the most sought-after costume for Halloween. Parents struggle to convince their children that dressing like a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos is really the same thing.
November 6: Some guy from Kenya wins the New York City Marathon. Given recent history, this doesn’t even count as a fearless forecast.
November 8: Americans assume their most sacred duty as citizens as the nation observes Election Day, also known as the Red Wedding. Legislators express general satisfaction with their intense gerrymandering efforts earlier in the year, but there are hiccups. In King County, Texas, a Democrat receives four votes, prompting an immediate investigation of election fraud.
November 11: Veterans Day, three-day weekend…how many times do we need to flog this joke?
November 24: Families gather for Black Friday Eve as the countdown begins for Christmas 2022. With Covid, supply chain issues, inflation, and political strife in the rear-view mirror, this year’s Black Friday Eve turns out to be the dullest in 20 years.
November 26: Shop Local Saturday turns out to be a disaster as more than 40,000 people try to force their way into the three remaining local stores in Atlanta. After the shelves are bare and the owners have been evacuated to a safe location, news crews arrive to declare it a success.
November 28: Cyber Monday fizzles out as everyone works from home and it’s no fun to spend your day on shopping sites if you’re not in the office. Total Cyber Monday sales fall 92% from 2019 levels and workers plan to return to the office a year from now so they can goof off like they did in the good old days.
November 30: U.S. airlines report that passenger violence on flights reached a new record over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, leading to 27 deaths and more than 420 arrests. Rather than seeking federal help to control the passengers, however, the airlines announce a new streaming service to capitalize on in-flight videos of the mayhem.
December 10: Merriam Webster declares Meta to be the 2022 Word of the Year, but the firm is forced to retract the endorsement after nobody can explain exactly what it means. In its place, the company anoints its first runner-up, Gwaldinare. (Funny story behind that one, as you’ll learn on October third.)
December 14: In the world’s most far-reaching data breach, cyber-criminals expose every Facebook user’s personal information. The company’s stock drops to $1.74 after advertisers analyze the information and decide they don’t want to spend money marketing to any of these people.
December 20: Temperatures hover in the 40s across the northeastern United States, leading 87% of Americans to conclude that the nation is having a mild winter. The next day, winter actually begins.
December 31: Forgetting the pledge they made a year earlier, Americans congratulate themselves on getting through one more challenging year and wish each other the best for 2023. Then, almost as if they were saying Candyman three times, they promise each other, “It can’t get worse.” Foolish mortals.
What’s ahead for 2023 and beyond? Only subscribers to Dad Writes will get the inside dope and the straight skinny, so be sure to click here so you won’t miss out.
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.