• automatic responses •

With Thanksgiving upon us, very often, it’s not just your relatives who ‘come a-visitin’, but your kids’, and your kid’s kid’s girlfriends and/or boyfriends, too, so remember to have your ‘automatic responses’, ‘handy’, friends, and ‘well oiled’, as it were.
So, that, if you hear one, or all, or any of the above, say, begin a sentence with, “Would you think me totally weird, if I told you…?”
You can stop them there – with: “Yes, yes I would.”
Delivery is paramount, for maximum awkwardness. Perfection is attainable, trust me, in this. It’s all in the intention. Don’t be afraid to be ambitious. Practice in the mirror, if you need to.
~ Tim Burchfield
11/24/16

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• thanks and apologies •

Here in the US, today is Veterans Day (Remembrance Day in the UK and Canada), where we, as a nation, honor the service and sacrifice of our servicemen and servicewomen and Veterans. Every year, on this day, I have made it my habit to go to the house of every Veteran I know in my neighborhood, to shake their hand, with, “I just wanted to come by to thank you for your service.”
Most seemed surprised, at first, but eventually came to expect my yearly visits, and generally received me with gracious magnanimity. Some just took my handshake on board, and said, “You’re welcome.” No biggie, or so, by their demeanor, they seemed to say.
One man, (my ‘nemisis’) a Veteran of the ‘Korean Conflict’, who just passed away in September, always gave me a disconcerting look, and pulled my hand to himself in a tight grip and peering rheumily, if steadily, into my eyes, with, “No problemo,” and grinning, maniacally.
Needless to say, this day has long meant, and continues to mean a great deal to me, personally. So.
It is fitting, I feel, in fact, conscience demands it, upon recalling the statement of our president-elect, regarding the service (and captivity as a POW) of Senator John McCain*, “He’s not a war hero,” (said Trump.) “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” (http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/trump-attacks-mccain-i-like-people-who-werent-captured-120317) to every man and woman who gave their all in our time of need, a reiteration of the heartfelt thanks of a grateful nation, is humbly bestowed…and also, which is, I feel, owed: an apology.
So.
Thank you. I’m sorry. (It’s little enough, but I hope that’s okay.)
~ Tim Burchfield
11/11/16

*(John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona and was the Republican presidential nominee for the 2008 United States presidential election.

• difficult to digest •

Well, I think a new word has made it’s way into the history books, if not, for the immediate future, at least, the dictionary: Trumpian. I heard for the first time, this morning on the BBC.
Just trying it on, for the first time, it seems to have been applied to universal shock, but may serve just as well, for dismay. Then, there’s, ‘terms’, ‘regard’ (or, its immediate opposite), ‘showmanship’, and, of course, ‘unpredictability’ – then, ‘foreign policy’, ‘promises’, ‘expectations’, possibly, ‘outreach’, even ‘healing’, and eventually, ‘legacy’. Oh, and, of course, ‘presidency’. (Not the likes of, ‘women’s rights rollbacks’, ‘institutional racism’, ‘violence’, ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’, ‘intolerance’, or ‘misogyny’, hopefully. We shall see, who can say.) I puzzle over, ‘chicanery’. (The truth is, what the truth is, we may never know.)
Just for the moment, at least for my purposes, please allow me to be the first to pair it with, ‘dyspepsia’ (difficult to digest), as it seems to be, for a significant number, the refrain of the day.
~ Tim Burchfield
11/9/16

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• civic duty •

Well, I’ve done my civic duty. It’s not as if I’d hoped to see brandished badges, loads of cheering (and/or, jeering) masses, slogan-calling, fisticuffs, but some eye contact, some enthusiasm, perhaps the odd, celebratory, “fist-pumping” in the air, after polling. Nope. Not a bit of it. We are a community. After all, are we not, relatively speaking, just all friends, neighbors, and potential, if not, actual, babysitters, dog-walkers, the odd ride-down-to-the-shop, for the elderly? Porch conversationalists, weather speculationalists, dog/cat, ‘experts’, confabulators, opinion-givers, which is to say, the normal, ‘odd oddity’? (Even I, I’ve done my bit. I’ve watered plants, the indoor variety. I have. It’s my speciality.) So.
Just got back from voting, five hours ago. The lines weren’t long, and the volunteers at Sanford Elementary, our polling place, were efficient and friendly. I don’t know what I expected, but at the very least, something, ‘saucy’. I sort of expected to see colorful campaign buttons and flat, styro-hats, festooned with ribbons, mayhaps, even exuberance of a sort; or, (heaven forbid!) shouting, and, the odd, pithy obloquy: Shakespearian curses, at the very least: but, no, oddly, except for the kindly monitors, nobody would even make eye contact with me. Nobody wanted to fight, debate, or sway me: they just wanted to have their say, and having had that, then, to get on with their day. It was all so, well, civilized. Ordered. Like a well-oiled machine. Huh… In fact, one could say most appeared to have exercised their right, rather shamefacedly, as if we all were a bit, not disappointed, not relieved, exactly, more…as if we had, well, expected something: as if, ‘what was THAT BLATHER all about?’ was the one thing, we couldn’t say.
(‘All that radio, all that TV. Well, it’s just boxes, blaring at us, isn’t it, really.’)
We are, after all, ‘fast friends’, and I’ve never liked having everybody agreeing with me, anyway.
Mostly, it was just,
“Hey. How’s it goin’? Good, you? Okay.”
That’s how it went, mostly.
((Still, having said all that (am I, terrible?), I hope it all comes out, my way.)) %~}
~ Tim Burchfield
11/8/16

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