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The Awkward Elevator Ride

February 9, 2018

I stepped onto an elevator this morning and there was a guy standing in there with whom I have a passing workplace acquaintance.

“Hi.” He said.

So I’m in the elevator with this guy I sort of know which means – by whatever crazy logic is flowing through my mind – that since he’s not a stranger but someone I sort of know, I have to make conversation with him. Forget that I don’t really know anything more about him than what floor he works on, that he’s a smoker and that he has a faded tattoo on his left arm (and I only know that last little bit of worthless information because he always wears short-sleeved button-down shirts which has always struck me as odd), the rules of ‘Acquaintance Conversation’ are the rules.

Suddenly, I’m thinking, a relaxing 60 second elevator ride is shaping up to be anything but relaxing.

“Hey, how you doin’?” I said. I wonder what his name is?

“I’m good, you?” Faded Tattoo Smoker Guy From the 18th Floor says.

“I’m OK.” I said. “Happy that the Super Bowl is over.”

Faded Tattoo Smoker Guy From the 18th Floor chuckles. Or it could have been a cough, I’m not sure. The cigarette smoke smell is strong on him so I’m sure he’s making his way back upstairs after having a smoke.

Will this ride never end? “And baseball starts next week.” I go on.

“Really? Baseball already?” Faded Tattoo Smoker Guy From the 18th Floor says.

Really? Baseball already? For some of, pal, baseball never ends. “Yeah.”

“Well, go Twins, huh?”

Dear God, help me. “Yeah, go Twins.”

Faded Tattoo Smoker Guy From the 18th Floor looks at me with an expression on his face like ‘Who knows the day that baseball starts?’ and I look at Faded Tattoo Smoker Guy From the 18th Floor with what I hoped wasn’t an expression like ‘Who doesn’t know the day that baseball starts?

I looked up at the floor numbers ticking away too slowly and he looked down at the floor and what followed was one really long 30 seconds.

Awkward.

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Black and White (Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge)

February 4, 2018

The Carrot Ranch Literary Community, hosted by Charli Mills, is HERE.

February 1, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features something black and white. It could be a nun in a zebra monster truck, a rigid way of thinking, a bird in a tuxedo — be imaginative and go where the prompt leads.

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The very first thing that came to mind when I read this prompt were some very old jokes.

Q: What’s black and white and red all over?
A: A newspaper.

Q: What’s black and white and red all over?
A: Am embarrassed zebra.

Q: What’s black and white and black and white and black and white and black and white?
A: A zebra rolling down a hill.

Anyway . . .

In Black and White

I’m apprehensive. Eyes down, I massage the oak table with my thumb, just like I . . .

Stop it.

The door opens, I look up. A man in a grey pinstripe suit enters and sits to my left. I look down again.

“Everyone ready?” he says.

No! There’s another way, I want to scream. But I know there’s nothing left to say.

I look up and meet Sue’s eyes as the lawyer slides copies of the Judgment for Marriage Dissolution toward us both.

Finally real, seeing it in black and white.

No tears, dammit, not until I’m alone.

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Minnesota: The Bold North

January 31, 2018

Minnesota’s motto for the Super Bowl has been, “The Bold North” and the website’s mission statement defines “The Bold North” as using US Bank Stadium to introduce the world to Minnesota’s “Bold North brand” by delivering a Super Bowl experience that delivers and an economic impact and a legacy that…

Zzz….

Oh, sorry, I fell asleep mid-paragraph.

Now I’m not an ad person or copywriter or anything like that (although I’m available!) but when I think about Minneapolis and St. Paul I don’t think about anything bold, I just think about two cool, and until this last month pretty much overlooked cities. I think of diversity, I think of an amazing variety of cultures, I think of arts, I think of music, I think of nature, I think of beauty, I think of blue skies, I think of blue waters, I think of skyways, I think of snow, I think of quality of life, I think of a lot of things but I never think of anything in terms of being ‘bold’. That’s not to say that I think Minnesotans are meek or fearful, quite the opposite, but to me, ‘bold’ speaks of something loud and pretentious, maybe pushy and arrogant, and I don’t think that’s us.

But that’s just me.

No one asked me and the slogan and “The Bold North” is here so I’ll embrace it as best I can and I’ll try and feel as bold as I can.

Like I said, I’m not a copywriter, but I think a better Super Bowl motto – or state slogan for that matter – might have been something like:

The Twin Cities
Like Winterfell only without swords

Come up North and lose your head

Here are some songs in case you want to listen to Minnesota.

Coming to Minnesota?

January 30, 2018

If you’re coming to Minnesota for the Super Bowl then check out this song by the Futureboys & Girls from the Franklin Middle School in Minneapolis. The video is on the Minneapolis Public School System’s (MinneapolisMPS) Youtube channel.

You can watch the video pasted below or click the link below and while you do that I’m gong to go and practice the dance they do and figure out why this isn’t our state’s official anthem.

And don’t forget your coats, hats and gloves!

Youtube click HERE for the video

Credits: Students from Franklin Middle School with their Teacher Michael Bratsch (Mr. B.) decided to put together a “Welcome to Minnesota” song and video with a fun and important message for visitors to our great state; Bring your coats, hats, and gloves when you come to visit. Produced by Roosevelt Band Teacher Adrian Davis, Franklin Middle School Teachers Michael Bratsch, Brandon Tuttle and Mentor Andre Hudson

Crew 52 and a Big Smile

January 30, 2018

Beginning yesterday there have been scores of folks wearing blue (It’s not really “blue” but I don’t know if it’s turquoise or what shade of blue it is so I’m going with blue because it looks like blue to me!) shirts and jackets all over downtown Minneapolis. They’re actually all over the metro area but I’ve only seen them downtown and they’re part of “Crew 52” which is the large group of volunteers helping visitors to the Twin Cities find their way around.

I’ve only seen them in the skyways downtown and they’re everywhere and what I love about them is they smile at everyone. Just look at a “Crew 52” volunteer and they smile, it’s that simple! And they do it for no other reason than to be nice. And even better than that, they make me feel good. It’s kind of like how when you’re waiting in line somewhere and the person in front of you has a little kid with you and when you make a face and smile the kid smiles back. The “Crew 52” folks smile and like that little kid you can’t help but smile back.

One of the reasons this makes me so happy is because not many people smile in public for no reason anymore and certainly hardly ever to strangers walking in the skyways. So seeing a smile at any point during a regular day is rare and I think that’s sad. But for the last two days while walking through the skyways I’ve had people I’ve never seen before, and will more than likely never see again, smile to me. And while I’m not overly excited about the prospect of 150,000 people dropping down onto the city in the next couple of days, I’m happy they’re coming because without then we wouldn’t have the “Crew 52” people and their random smiles. Personally, after the Super Bowl is over, I think the city should hire a group of people to just hang out and smile at other people. Then that person will go and smile at someone else and then that someone else will go and smile at someone else and before you know it, a bunch of someone else’s are smiling at other someone else’s and everyone forgets to be mad and upset at whatever might have been making them mad and upset. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, how about you?

                        

 

 

I Think We’re Alone Now (Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge)

January 29, 2018

The Carrot Ranch Literary Community, hosted by Charli Mills, is HERE.

January 25, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge. Consider what the edge might be and how it informs the story. Go where the prompt leads. 

 I Think We’re Alone Now 

In retrospect Johnny realized that sliding a 45 into Millie Redner’s locker was dumb. The record, a Tommy James single, was fine, but not including a note: dumb. Johnny told himself that anyone thinking about running and tumbling with Millie would have likely made the same mistake. 

So here he is, three weeks later. A Thursday night; Bewitched’s theme playing from the TV in the den, Lisa’s number on a slip of paper on the kitchen counter. Johnny squeezes the telephone receiver in his left hand and watches his right hand shake as reaches up to make the call. 

### 

Rereading this I wondered how many people would think Johnny slid a gun into Lisa’s locker. Sadly, even though I knew what I meant and what Johnnny was doing, that was the foremost thought in my mind. That’s sad. For anyone who doesn’t know, a 45 was a small vinyl record that held two songs, the ‘hit’ on side A and another, usually less well-known song, on side B. Back in those days I had hundreds of 45s but when cassettes gained popularity I started getting rid of them and by the time my CD collection was growing my 45s and albums were all gone. Part of me misses them but I miss the album art and album sleeves and the 45 sleeve art the most.  I know vinyl albums are making a comeback now but I have no idea about 45s. So, if you were thinking Johnny gave Lisa a gun, he didn’t. He gave her a 45 rpm record to try – in some half-assed and awkward way – to let her know he liked her.  

 

Odd News Story (#petpeeves)

January 28, 2018

I saw a story yesterday morning on one of the local Twin Cities news stations and parts of it struck me as odd, or maybe just wrong.

They were covering the beginning of both the Super Bowl week in Minneapolis and the Winter Carnival in St. Paul and they cut to a reporter live in St. Paul where ice sculptors were working on pieces for the Ice Sculpture Garden in Rice Park and the reporter referred first to a “young lady” working on a piece and then to a “gentleman” working on another piece and that struck me as sort of odd. Why is the woman a “young lady” and if she is, then why isn’t the man “young man”? And if the male is a “gentleman“, then why isn’t the female a “woman”? Maybe I wouldn’t have noticed the language choices if not for the recent sexual harassment stories and the #metoo movement, but I did and I didn’t like them.

For the second half of the story they cut to a reporter covering Super Bowl events in downtown Minneapolis and she ended her segment by referring to how we do things in “The Bold North” (which, judging by the number of times the phrase has been used every day for the three months is apparently our new city/state nickname) and the outdoor events on the Nicollet Mall. That last part – talking about the events on the Nicollet Mall would have been OK had she not mispronounced the word “Nicollet” by putting the accent on the last syllable (NicoLLET) rather than using the correct pronunciation with the accent on the first syllable (NICollet). Obviously the reporter isn’t a native so after I welcome her to Minnesota… er, I mean The Bold North, I have to say that I think anyone – indoors or outdoors – covering Minnesota events should at least be someone from the area (translation: from The Bold North), and if that’s not possible, then coached or tutored in how to speak like a native Minnesotan before going on the air, ‘ya know?

That’s it from The Bold North. I’m now going to sit back and see what happens when 1 million people descend on this city in the upcoming days. I’m guessing it’ll be something like this.

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