Monday, January 4, 2010

Too 20th Century

Now you just can’t take someone as reclusive as I prefer to be, and have been for the last three years, and yank them away from familiar things and redeposit them in the fast lane without some thought, consideration, and re-orientation.

Now Christmas usually gives me a jolt. That’s when small discoveries and new discoveries are revealed to me that can be most puzzling.

The grandchildren come wrapped in tiny wires with little boxes with buttons and sometimes ear phones, maybe heart monitors, for all I know, and yatter at high speed in excited voices about the new gift. But despite all their garbled speech of excitement as they wave it in the air, I have no idea what it is, what it does, or what is so entrancing about it.

They rush past me at the stoop, head straight to my living room, seat themselves in a chair, plant the thing in their laps, and then go into a trancelike state. I can’t help but wonder if what comes up on the screen is nothing more than a hypnotizing silver ball on a string swinging back and forth and a low beep whispering in digitized voice, “You are getting sleepy, very sleepy….”

And there they stay in their trance-like state till dinner call. And when I ask, no one got a doll, no one got a truck, no one got a book, no one got a watercolor set, in fact no one got a thing that looks like anything from the 20th century.

I tell you this just so you realize how out-of-the-loop I really am. But I guess that is to be expected for someone who has avoided public places, shopping malls, and the whir of the city for several years now. It is enough for me to make the dreaded trip to town every two weeks. It is enough for me to stop on that dreaded trip at the one-person post office, the 2-clerk drugstore, and the 3-clerk grocery store.

But on New Year’s Eve, all that changed. Hub and I went to the city to stay with Youngest Daughter (YD) for a few days. Her house was quiet, warm, peaceful, like my own so I was grateful that for the first couple of days YD and Hub left me at home while they went on cruise about, gad about, shopping trips. But they are schemers and behind the façade of quiet submission to my desire to maintain the reclusiveness I am used to, they were scheming to get me out and about.

The sessions of re-orientation to get me back into the swing of modern life and the real world started New Year’s Eve with an introduction to the World of Wii. YD and I played Wii golf, tennis, bowling, and even jazzed for a while with Wii rock band with guitar strapped to my chest.

It was fun at the time, but when our performance wound up, it was a bit discomfiting for me. YD was loudly applauded for her singing, while I was rudely booed off stage. They said it had to do with my guitar playing – it most definitely did NOT!!

They’re a bunch of dummies. The notes I played are important and add depth and a sweet resonance to the music and I played them for that very reason. Though other band members skipped over them. I played Minor chords at mostly appropriate times. And Minor chords are not so 20th Century as the younger crowd may think!

In the Wii World, the Sporting Wii World, I paid little attention to the avatar gawkers watching our games. I was too involved in technique and accuracy to worry about those little people scurrying about me. They probably poked fun at me then as well (because I’m old and less than graceful of movement), but I was oblivious to their disdain.

Then we went to a Wii Village and hung out. I thought that would be nice. In my youth I always liked sitting in a food court in a busy mall and people-watching and that is more or less what we did.

Watching the avatar inhabitants, I noticed that they wore brightly colored clothes (rather out of vogue with fashion in the real world) but none wore lovely plaid or paisley. I noticed they did not cluster with close friends as real-life mall-crawlers do. I also noticed they walked about with determination, like persons of independent will, strong mind, and strong purpose. Clusters only happened by chance when walkways were overcrowded.

I smiled cause I could tell they were happy little villagers. Friendlier, in some oblique way, than people in real life. Though not clustered in gangs, or hand-holding couplets, they happily looked about them for reasons to approach and interact with others.

It was, for me, quite comfortable mingling there. More so than in real life in a crowded mall or airport. I had no underlying dark suspicions of them, or they of me. I fit in so easily. I had no fear of being followed, harassed, or having my open purse rummaged behind my back. It was a nice place to hang out. Really it was. And I had a comfortable feeling that here friendships could be easily formed.

The next day Hub and YD started a marathon of cruise about, gad about, shopping trips and sight-seeing tours. They took the puppies to the park, and came home from their frequent circuits full of gay laughter and adventure.

But then, oh yes, on the third day, having run out of excuses why I should, and could not go, I was compelled to leave the house. So that is when YD and Hub dragged me away for a dreaded shopping trip. I bumbled after them through parking lots and crowded aisles, (where did all these people come from?), with panicky fear that I might get lost. Of course neither would hold my hand – that would be too 20th Century!

Eventually we went to an incredible shop with every nature of kitchen appliance and furniture ever invented. Then as I followed close behind, YD paused by a large black recliner and told me to sit down and relax for a moment or two.

I leaned back in the comfy chair and as I began to unwind, something, or someone gripped both my legs firmly with a warm embrace. And then knuckles crawled up both sides of my spine in a rolling, circular movement.

When they reached the back of my neck, the knuckles unfolded and paddle-hands gave my shoulder blades and neck a patty-pat like those given in family hugs. They caressed the back of my neck at the sides slowly first, then rapidly, but still gently. They patted and circularly stroked my back some more.

Meanwhile my legs were compressed in spurts that put me in mind of a forward making a pass at me under the table skirts in a crowded bar. My feet were elevated gently and then lowered. I felt the warmth of the other body caressing me. No pinch of the thigh, but a gentle rub and firm nudge rather than pinch – and yes, it was located on the fleshy part of my upper, outer thigh.

After a few minutes, the chair released its grip on my legs and pulled away and I knew my lover had left. I wanted him to come back. I wanted to oil my body and sit naked in that chair. (Did I say that out loud?)

Now maybe another day when tempers are worn thin, I might not have reacted as I did. But today was a particularly good day. I was so enjoying the company of both YD and Hub once I realized they were not going to allow me to get lost. They were both so affable. In extreme good humor and so mindful of my comfort that when we exited the shop, I looked sideways at Hub and grinned.

I had no wish to purchase that chair. None at all. And I knew that back home no dogged and unsurpassable niggling yen would rear whispering without abatement, “I want and need that chair.” That isn’t going to happen because I have all the delights of that chair in easy reach – though so 20th Century it may be.

I have the comfort of such caresses without spending in excess of two grand to get a warm hug, a patty-pat and a wee nudge in the fleshy part of my thigh. The chair is good, but somehow it still lacks something in the ambiance, though I have to admit, what it lacks is not easily understood or described. And seems to me, without a strong sense of inner soul, and spiritual intuition, one could too easily supplant the delights of one with the other – and perhaps find warmth and human comfort as much in a chair as in a physical embrace.

But I think you now see what is happening here. Through all these experiences I am getting up to speed. Getting back in the loop of life outside of my own reclusive world of reading, blogging, and weaving in knit stitch, crochet stitch, and tatting stitch, threads of 20th Century nostalgia.

And so then we went to another shop. Here we looked at virtual gardening lamps and plant trays. One growing kit was half-price although there was only one left. We bought it. Hub and I brought it home. Seeded some tomatoes in the magic, dirtless, compounds of nutrition, stabilizer, water, heat, and light. I picked up the empty box to discard it and saw written on the box, "Dirt is so 20th Century”

So despite all that I have done, despite all that I have seen, despite the avatars that sought to draw me in, despite the chair that wanted to love and comfort me, sadly I choose to remain in the 20th Century. I happen to like plaids and paisley, minor chords, flesh to flesh patty-pats, and dirt. But I wouldn’t mind having a few avatar friends if they are as dear to me as my blogging friends are!


Pauline said...

I chuckled my way through this (well, I confess I guffawed at your description of playing on the Wii). I know of no one else who can use so many words and still keep up the pretext of a condensed version. I stand in awe of your verbal dexterity. I also WANT THAT CHAIR.

Roberta S said...

Pauline, despite your good humor, sorry for being so verbose. Can't help it sometimes. I'm 'guffawiing' myself about your request for ONE CHAIR. And so...

One chair coming right up, my dear friend. And where shall I ship it?

Dick said...

What a morality tale for the New Year! I am, of course, pretty much with you all the way here, Roberta. But we're oddities within our generation in having embraced 21st century technology enough to be able to record our sometimes longing for the old ways on a blog. We spend significant periods of time within the new territories, applying IT skills that many folks half our age do not possess in order to declare our resolute allegiance to values and processes past or passing. Which I think makes us rather clever and special!

Happy 2010 to you and yours, Roberta.

Pauline said...

Ah Roberta, never apologize for the way you write. Verbosity implies language that is too long-winded or complicated and is not at all what I meant to imply. Rather, I would say that you use language fully versus my penchant for always doing the condensed version. And send the chair directly to the cottage please - I doubt they'd get much out of me at work if it went there ;)

Cowtown Pattie said...

Great sentiment, Roberta. You know, I kinda feel like a person halved - one half in the 20th, and the remainder in the 21st.


Alan G said...

Upon reaching the end of your post, not to upstage the wonderful story itself of course, the first thing that grabbed my attention was the fact that one of your post ‘tags’ was “romance”. It was at that moment I decided I definitely needed to get one of those chairs. It’s like getting all the perks but no “to do” lists, in-laws, anniversaries or birthdays to worry over. :)

But it was a great piece and I enjoyed it very much. In fact, there were moments when I if the post were about me rather than you. I spent the whole of the New Year’s weekend including the last couple of days creating a map of the old neighborhood where I grew up as a young boy. I was totally engrossed and enveloped in the moment and there is no doubt I am a 20th century man.

Roberta S said...

Hi Dick, thanks for that comment.
Enlightening. I hadn't realized the irony in our use of wonders of the 21st century stuff to review wonders of the 20th century -- the 20th century of course being more wondrous of the two.

Roberta S said...

Hi Cowtown Pattie. Oh, I so understand the analogy of being in the split -- halfway between. I think that is what causes me my anxiety so many days.

Roberta S said...

Alan G., you make me chuckle. Always the so practical man -- no in-laws, birthdays to recall, etc. Yes, perhaps the chair would be the best for you.

Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the long-winded rant.