Can of War

There I was, just a kid, but I was in the middle of a war. Coke? Pepsi? I took part in the taste-tests. Look, you weren’t there! We had to pick a side! There I was, unmarked cups in front of me. I didn’t want to look greedy so I took just a small sip of each, I could barely taste the warm sweet liquid as the proctor stared impatiently. My pick was essentially random. I think I picked Coke? In some ways it didn’t matter. In some ways I suppose I lost some of myself that day. It was the Cola Wars.

Coke, the classic conservative, choice of the old generation versus Pepsi the progressive, the choice of a new generation. The new kid on the block challenging the champ. Being the age I was, I wanted Pepsi. I was that new generation. But we were lied to, man! Over some sugar water!? The things I did. The things I saw. There were even times when I had cola for breakfast, right alongside my Cap’n Crunch cereal. It was a different time back then, life was cheap, soda was cheaper.

I’ve got the battle scars to prove it. Brittle bones, yellowed teeth, war is hell. And the indoctrination, oh the mind-control we were under. Our eyes were glued to the tele-screens as they beamed in ad after ad telling us what to drink in every insidious way they could. You think he was called the King of Pop solely because of his domination over pop-music? Pop is also another name for cola. I saw the footage of that tragic Pepsi commercial, and the King of Pop was changed after that. The war affected us all.

No, I don’t touch the stuff anymore. Well maybe a sip for old-times sake every few years, but I don’t enjoy it. The taste no longer suits me. I guess without the stream of ads flowing into my brain, the flavor can’t stand on its own. Or maybe I’m just bitter. We were so young, man. Caught in the middle of a fight we didn’t want. We had no choice. What were we gonna drink? Ginger Ale? Dr Pepper? Tab? Water? That sh*t wouldn’t fly.

We did what we had to, and when it came down to it, we drank whatever cola the restaurant had on tap. None of it mattered. The war wasn’t one cola versus another, it was cola versus us — and we lost.


Ho No

“So Matt, what would you like for Christmas this year?”
“Matt, you’re a ten-year-old boy, you have to want something!”
“It’s a Christian holiday and I’m an atheist.”
“What?! Well then what are you going to open on Christmas morning?”
“I’ll be live-streaming all day.”

That’s an excerpt from an actual conversation my mother had with one of her grandsons. When I was but a boy, I didn’t relate to the Christian aspects of X-Mas either — but Santa and presents sure made a whole lotta sense.

Frankly, I blame the lack of television for this kind of staunch anti-X-Mas stance. When I was young, we were forced to choose from a total of THREE television channels every night. Come holiday time, at least one of those channels was showing a Christmas-themed special in which it wasn’t too late to find out the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas Miracles were around every corner. Nowadays kids don’t even watch TV. Instead of the picture-tube, they’re glued to the YouTube.

And have you even tried shopping for kids today? When I was young, there were large toy-stores in every mall — EVERY aisle was filled with goodies. They’re gone. You have a few aisles in Target or Walmart now. What can a child reasonably put on his Christmas List this year? What? A bike? Scooter? Legos? Classic board games? Action-figures? Remote-control-vehicle? Xbox? TV? iPad/iPhone? Toy robot? Gift-cards? Movie-streaming/gaming-subscription service? Hmm never-mind.

But it’s like they don’t even care. They’re not inundated with commercial after commercial for hours everyday after school like I was when I was a kid. Frankly, most of the shows I watched were 22-minute long ads anyway (Transformers, G.I. Joe, He-Man). I knew all the latest toys and NEEDED every single one of them because all those ads convinced me. The same with cereal. I wanted every sugar-laden box they sold in the cereal-aisle and I made sure my mom knew it! But kids today? Psh, not even a peep, they don’t even want to go down and check out all the cool characters on the boxes — I always went cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

I don’t know what to say, I guess it’s a rudderless generation — simply lost without the guiding hand of television. Every day and night I knelt before its glow and received without question the words it spoke. And I turned out fine. Well, I mean there was the anxiety, depression, sugar-addiction… whatever! It wasn’t TV’s fault, heck they had those World Wars before TV ever became popular. In conclusion, it’s never too late to learn the true meaning of Christmas: rampant unapologetic commercialism ushered in by a jolly old elf. Kids today need to get their act together and get their butts in front of the TV.

Donning Red

An excerpt from the fictional series Wokest Tales of Truth.

We all know Little Red Riding Hood as an old-timey European folk tale, but what if it took place in modern-day America? Now, sit back and enjoy our presentation of Little Red Riding Hood as told from a hyper-Americanized perspective. For the comfort of others, please no smoking.

Red hon, I just got off the phone with your grandma. She’s stuck in bed with gout because she refuses to go to the doctor. Can you deliver some food to her house?

Why doesn’t she just go to the doctor?

Well, honey, she refuses to participate in socialized medicine. She believes the last president was a secret Muslim hell-bent on destroying America. She rejects anything his administration implemented. She thinks the previous president hated her freedoms — and she’ll do anything to stand up for the America she so dearly loves.

Is that why she’s on Facebook complaining everyday?

Now, Red, can you please just deliver this basket of canned goods to your grandma?

Okay mom.

As she left the house, Red put on her red-white-and-blue hoodie. It was her favorite. Her dad gave it to her right before his deployment. He was a Navy Seal that served his country proudly.

Being a Millennial, Red always sought the easy path through life, so today she decided to take the shortcut through the woods despite what her mom told her about going the longer more secure route.

As Red walked through the woods, a wolf spotted her coming.

Hello dear, don’t you look every bit of delectable today?

Red just kept walking, she couldn’t hear him anyway because she had her wireless Apple AirPods in her ears while listening to a Spotify playlist.

Being of the wiser baby-boomer generation, the wolf knew he could easily take advantage of this clueless child that walked right by him. He guessed her destination because there was only one house at the end of the road and he jogged as fast as he could.

Upon arriving at the house, out of shape and out of breath, the wolf heard the sounds of FOX NEWS blaring through the windows. He banged on the door yelling “Open up! The liberals are coming to take your guns!”

Granny yelled back, “I never lock my front door! Come in and hide my guns!”

The wolf entered and gathered up all of Granny’s guns and threw them out the window, leaving the poor woman defenseless. Granny was too busy mailing out checks to Republican politicians and coal-mining CEOs to notice. She knew they’d use the money to create jobs and would manage her Social Security funds better than anyone.

The wolf sat by the front door waiting for Red while Granny remained distracted in the kitchen, yelling about liberals.

When Red finally arrived, she popped out her AirPods and knocked on the door. The wolf quickly answered and told her to come in. He had a college loan application ready and waiting, all Red had to do was sign it and she’d be on the hook for $50,000. When she wouldn’t sign, the wolf got angry and approached Red menacingly.

All she could think about was what her dad told her before he left, “the only thing that can stop rampaging evil is a good-guy with a gun.” After the initial pop, Red’s ringing ears heard nothing as she emptied a magazine of Black Talon hollow-points into the savage beast. When the body hit the floor she re-holstered her concealed-carry firearm.

Granny! It’s me, Red! Are you okay!?

As Granny emerged from the kitchen carrying an apple pie, she and Red turned to the American flag that flew majestically in the front-yard. With right hands over hearts, they recited the Pledge of Allegiance. America had become great again.

Life at Driftwood

Some would say a pauper’s existence must, by its very nature, be a miserable one, but not life at Driftwood. Although a single-wide mobile-home in a trailer-park sitting atop an old landfill, Driftwood is near the beach and surrounded primarily by serene retirees. And being a newish home, maintenance is minimal, save for summers with weekly landscaping.

Days are spent in a typical fashion: browsing the day’s news upon waking — tea at ten, served with a small loaf of bread (fiber-rich whole-wheat recipe), accompanied by a plate of oil for dipping — the afternoon varies, perhaps a bit of writing, some research, maybe woodworking, or possibly an outing — supper at Driftwood is an early one, with the sun still shining brightly in the late afternoon sky. Evenings are a time of peaceful solitude, sitting on a foam-filled sack, viewing some entertainment, contemplating, and often times a bit more writing.

And of course there are the other residents at Driftwood, those whose presence turn a simple structure into something grand. The laughter and love, the conversation and cooking, this simple life shared — it would seem selfish to ask for more. Of course not everyday is a joy-filled extravaganza, but smiles appear more than they ever did — such is life at Driftwood, the carefree life (or a least an attempt).

To The Top

You know, not everyone can be on top, there will always be a class system of some sort, if only implied — the cream rises to the top, as they say. And everyone has to get on with their own lives, what can you really do for others anyway? People end up how they deserve to end up, if they’re poor, then they should work hard and make better choices. If people want more, it’s simple, just work harder — perhaps even saving some money for once. To think they’re owed what you’ve earned, is a sign of their sickening greed. Is it any wonder they occupy the position they do? They’re lucky to even have what they have. And instead of having their hands out, perhaps they could try gratitude for once. To think of the money you’ve given to charity and the taxes you pay, it’s sad how they demonize you. Being in a relatable position, I know it’s tough to be criticized for being successful. Well, see you soon, the Devil.

Hard-boiled Soup

I woke up today and went to the beach. The sky was still cloudy from the overnight rain. It wasn’t dreary though, there was a beauty to it. In the distance, in the water, I could see ducks bobbing in the subtle waves. There was little wind so the water was calm, too calm.

In the distance, down the beach, I spied two walkers. They were mechanized. I knew I was in for some trouble when I saw them speeding up. But I was sitting in my beach chair, trying to enjoy the morning. It wasn’t going to turn out as relaxing as I thought. As they approached, I could feel my heart-rate quicken. They stopped in front of me and asked for my papers.

“Papers you say?”, I asked sarcastically, but they weren’t having any of that. In its monotone, one replied “Comply and display your papers, human”. Ha, human, like there’s even a distinction nowadays. Boom! Boom! I lit them up with my one-handed plasma cannon. They disintegrated immediately. Oh well, now where were those ducks again, I need something pleasant to look at.

Who knows if those patrol droids radioed in before they were annihilated — could be a storm-a-brewin’. Better pack up my beach chair and head out. Time for lunch I suppose. Some chicken and lentil soup is going to hit the spot perfectly. I’m going to May-Mes, my favorite Chinese/French fusion restaurant, I really enjoy their cuisine. I’ll have to drive, let’s hope I don’t get into trouble along the way.

Oh no! What’s that? I see that there’s no parking, and I’m outraged, not the kind of outrage you might experience after seeing your loved-ones murdered by droids, but just the simple kind that’s experienced during mild frustration. Should I circle around and wait, or should I park further down the road? It’s these simple questions that add anxiety to my life. I’ll circle, although, if I go further… hmm.

I’m in. This soup is fantastic, it was worth the mild frustration and the walk. “Tres bon!”, I say to the chef. I know she always appreciates the compliment. And damn, she’s fine as hell. I wonder why such a hot lady works all day slavin’ over soup pots. She needs a man to remove her from all this. Maybe I’m that man, although, if I’m not… hmm.

“Excuse me, I was just wondering if you’d like a shining prince to take you away from all this?” And it was after this innocent question that she went on a diatribe, explaining that her life’s dream was to open a soup restaurant and cook and serve all day, and how dare I think she needed ‘rescuing’. Okay, fair point.

I mean, I’m glad she’s happy with her work and all, but damn, she is fine. And I think her protests only spur my interest in her personality as well. And you know women only argue with the ones they like, dismissing the rest, so I’m thinking this is an opportunity. I invite her to dinner, she tells me to leave. I’m not sure how to interpret this, but I leave.

It’s been two weeks since the incident at the beach, and there have been no signs of droids, but my nights are restless. All I can think about is her, the lady from the soup place. It’s breakfast time, so I prepare my breakfast in a way that only skilled chefs can appreciate. But when I eat it, I partake like a savage.

What drives a man to dwell upon the unfathomable? How does love manifest within those ignorant of its ways? How can I recognize something I’ve never seen? But if I am to know it, I must pursue it, although blindly. To look at her, is to catch a glimpse of love, and if all is darkness, should I not seek the light? To be blind no more, is to have her ignite the flame within me — I see only her.

“Hi, can I have a bowl of soup please.”, I say as if I’ve never been in here before. She asks me which kind, and I’m at a loss for words, I had just walked in as if in a trance, I wasn’t even hungry, for soup. “Today’s special”, I state hesitantly, but it’s a valid response, she turns to prepare it. I hope it’s something I like.

It wasn’t. I bring the bowl back, just expecting to place it and leave. She notices the fullness of the bowl and asks what’s the matter with it. I told her I don’t prefer yogurt-based soups. She asked why I ordered it then. I said I don’t know. She smiled! She actually smiled! I panic and leave abruptly.

Her smile haunts my thoughts for the rest of the day. But not in a creepy poltergeist way, more as a pleasant memory that injects itself within my thought stream. But thoughts can only sustain for so long, at some point you need nourishment. So I seek out supper, I’m hungry.