Words of Wisdom — Not!

There are three kinds of people in the world: realists, cynics and idiots — and it’s very easy to tell them apart.  Realists see a glass half full of water and, if they’re thirsty, drink it.  Cynics see a glass half full of water and race for Social Media to tell the world somebody peed in it.  And idiots don’t even see the water.  All they see is an opportunity to create some metaphorical homily that’s supposed to enlighten the rest of us who haven’t noticed life’s intrinsic meaning.  Crap like, “It’s always darkest before the dawn” (a physical impossibility) or “Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.”  (Tell that to Mary Ann Nichols who met Jack the Ripper for the first time in 1888.)  Here are some other examples of this dumbass bumper sticker philosophy:

There’s Honour Among Thieves — No, thieves are not honourable.  They’re THIEVES.  They steal things; that’s their job.  And when they run out of regular people to steal from, they steal from each other.  (Hasn’t anybody seen The Sting?)

Money Isn’t Everything — Yeah, but it’s sure as hell ahead of whatever’s in second place.

The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth — Maybe, but I’m willing to bet there’s going to be at least one 300 lb. biker, swinging a metal pipe, who wants to contest the will.

All’s Well That Ends Well — This one’s actually true.

Misery Loves Company — Gimme a break!  The last thing I want to see when I’m feeling crappy is somebody who has it worse off than I do.  That defeats the whole purpose of being depressed.

Laughter Is The Best Medicine — If I even touch this one, I’m going to get emails.

Love Conquers All — I’ve only got one word to say about this:  Romeo and Juliet.

Live And Learn/Older And Wiser — Not even close.  We all know somebody who’s made a career out of figuring out stupider ways to make the same mistakes.

Opposites Attract — This makes a mockery of all those birds of a feather who are flocking together.

Never Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth — This one doesn’t even make sense.  What the hell is a “gift horse?”  And, BTW, when was the last time you actually saw a real horse –“gift” or otherwise?  We’re not Trojans, for God’s sake!

And finally, my favourite:

The Early Bird Gets The Worm — What about the early worm?

Originally written in 2017 but oddly still relevant.

Fiction — Istanbul

Like every vibrant city in the world, Istanbul has its own sound, its own smell, its own rhythm — and if you close your eyes you can feel it.  Emily and Dreyfus, sitting at a table for two on a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Bosporus, had their eyes open.  They were looking across at the late night lights, hearing the drifting shadow sounds of baglamas and davul drums and thinking — whatever that chocolate dessert thing was, they wanted another slice.  And another glass of wine and another hour or so under the stars.

But we don’t always get what we want, do we?  And Dreyfus Sinclair was known in this part of the world.  And more than one organization keeps track of who gets their passports stamped at Ataturk Airport.  And Emily knew the heavy man talking to the head waiter was trouble the minute he gestured toward their table.  And by the time he straightened his tie and started walking towards them, she was already reaching for her enameled cigarette case.  And she was right, and there he was — looming.

“Mr. Sinclair,” the man wasn’t asking, “My apologies.  I’m very sorry to disturb your meal.  My name is Taavi, and I have a matter of some urgency to make a discussion with you.”

“Nothing is that urgent, Taavi,” Dreyfus said evenly, without looking up. 

Taavi leaned forward slightly and Dreyfus casually moved his right hand to the stem of his wine glass and wrapped his fingers around it like a fist.

Taavi lowered his voice and leaned a little closer. “My father.is sometimes called Karga.  He says you are a friend of ours.  And he would be very pleased if you would speak with me.”

Dreyfus turned to look at the man.

“My father also says you have a scar on your arm because you don’t know how to … uh …” he searched for the word, “… put down your head.”

Emily could see the shift in Sinclair’s eyes.  She knew the look.  This was work.  She held her cigarette case up like a prize and pointed to the far end of the roof.  “I’m going over there by the rail on a completely unrelated matter.”  Emily stood up and pushed her handbag across the table.  “Guard the credit cards.”  And she turned and walked away.

Emily didn’t like this part.  It didn’t happen often enough for her to hate it, but even as an occasional side effect of Dreyfus Sinclair, it was a pain in the ass.  She never knew when he was going to get dragged away on business.  But right now, she knew she wasn’t going to get another slice of cake, or any more minutes under the stars, or … she wondered vaguely if Turkish TV had subtitles.  She opened her cigarette case.

A waiter appeared at her elbow and flicked open a flame. “Thank you,” Emily said in passable Turkish, then continued in English. “Who is that man?”

There was no hesitation.  “That is Taavi Bey.  He is the son of Ertan Bey.  They are a family of some importance in our city.” There was a touch of pride in his voice and deference.

“Thank you,” Emily said again, in Turkish, turned and leaned on the rail towards the water.  It didn’t help that Sinclair had talked her into this trip.  She should have stayed home with her trees.  The pears were growing and the bottles needed to be kept dry or there’d be blight.  “There’s always something,” she thought and exhaled a drift of smoke into the night sky.  And now, a family of some importance wanted to talk to Dreyfus Sinclair and that was something else to worry about.

A few minutes later, as the man Taavi left, Emily went back to the table and nearly collided with two waiters hurrying to bring more dessert and more wine and little cups of coffee and ice cream that smelled like orchids.  Emily sat down and looked around.

“You’re doing some serious sucking up here, Sinclair.”

“Nothing to do with me,” he shrugged, and finished one glass of wine.  “Compliments of the house.”

Emily made an approving face.

“But I have to go out later.”

“I knew there was a catch.”

“No catch.  An old friend just asked me to do him a favour.”

“And you owe him, right?”

“No, that’s the beauty of it: he’s going to owe me.”  Dreyfus chuckled and reached the new glass of wine across the table as a toast.

Emily hesitated.

“Karga’s a business man, Emily.  He does a lot of import, export, and he might be interested in importing pear brandy.  Maybe you should talk to him while we’re here.”

Emily’s eyes brightened.  She reached for her glass.

—————

The further adventures of Emily and Dreyfus are available now.  Take a look at Dreyfus and the Duchess here

Facebook Desperado

I’ve always known that, despite outward appearances, I was a badass. Now I can prove it.

But you need a little background.

First, I’m on Facebook.  I use it to keep track of my friends and family without harassing them with “old man” telephone calls.  I scroll through, see what everybody’s doing, click “like” if I actually like something (weird, huh?) and move on to real life.  Handy as a hip pocket!

Second.  I live in Canada.  But I live in the one part of Canada (Vancouver) where it doesn’t really get cold and we hardly ever get snow.  When we do get snow, it’s an event — kinda like Carnival in Rio except with winter coats, a lot more swearing and traffic accidents.

Okay?  Stay with me.

This year, it snowed in Vangroovy – a bunch.  We had a White Christmas.  It was an event.  I posted it on Facebook.  Here’s the picture and here’s the caption.

 “Okay, Mother Nature.  Enough is enough.  Go Home.  You’re drunk.”

Then, a couple of days later, when there was more snow, I posted another picture – again with a caption.

“HEY, Mother Nature! Again with the snow? That’s it. I’ve had it. One more time and I’m taking legal action. How would you like a big fat Restraining Order, you bi … bad person?”

Me and my Facebook friends had a good laugh, and all was well with the world.

Then the snow went away.  And I posted this picture …

AND ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!

My post was deleted because … wait for it … the Zuckerberg Police said, “Your post goes against our Community Standards on hate speech.”  Not only that, but I was warned that if I continued to flout these Community Standards, my account would come under review and my Facebook privileges could and probably would be taken away.  (No more “Thumbs Up” for you – ya Nazi!)    

To be fair, it wasn’t the picture that pissed them off; it was the caption.  I can’t write the caption here just in case the Algorithms are still watching me (they probably are) but here’s the gist of it:

First word – D** — cease to exist.
Second word – Y** — not me but …
Third word — W**** — the colour of snow
Fourth word – D***** — residents of Hell

Apparently, if you’re going to criticize snow, you have to play nice or – uh – the snow? — will be offended?  I think?  (The Zuckerberg militia didn’t actually explain.)

Now, I could go on and on about the mindless, senseless, cyber monopoly called Facebook and how it has slithered its soulless tentacles into every aspect of our daily lives.  I could mention that “the Big F” answers to no-one, and that Biden, Putin and the Pope combined don’t have the kind power Zuckerberg’s minions do.  (Don’t they wish they did!)  Or I could suggest that — of all the bizarre, stupid, ridiculous, hateful and downright harmful things I’ve seen on Facebook — controlling hate speech against snow doesn’t strike me as a top priority.

I could do all those things.  But I’m not gonna.  Cuz I’m a badass now.  I’m walking tall.  I’m talking tough.  I’d drink my juice out of the carton if my wife would let me.  Maybe I’ll just get a neck tattoo: “Born to flout Community Standards.”  Yeah!  And I’ll misspell “flout,” cuz that’s the way guys like me roll!