Keep Cool, Stay Warm
by Christopher Malone - Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

I get a kick out of roaming around libraries and used book stores…

To kick things off this week, I had another fellow Syracusan and local believer tell me–to paraphrase–he did not give a shit that I ate at LoFo [or any local establishment for that matter].

In similar fashion to a child whose balloon just popped, you cannot imagine the irritation felt at this point with my flu recovery.  However, there will be no serving heads on a platter.  We’re all adults here.

I’m also a firm believer in Karma.

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If you follow my personal blog, a place where anything can happen–think of the Acme Factory in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?– you are familiar with my Sunday segment,  a Fitzgerald-inspired weekly collection of observations, ideas, sketches (in terms of Kerouac), feelings, etc.  There are a few concepts that came up in this week’s post that probably are going to be revisited down the road, and one will be in today’s post.

There was a small interaction that caught me off guard; it was quick and powerful.  Of course, it deals with the inevitable human interaction that we must participate in on a daily basis and even if we are sick–you can’t not notify work that you won’t be coming in (well, you can, it’s simply not ethical)–and even if we “Like” something on Facebook.  You interact.  You’re bringing attention to yourself, and you’re going to generate some kind of conversation whether you like it or not, whether it is verbal or mental.

Keep Cool Stay Warm You “Like” a post on Facebook, which notifies the poster.  The red notification at the top of the page causes stimulation, and it’s eagerly anticipated to click on said notification.  The poster notices that people have liked their post, whether the post was thoroughly read/enjoyed or not.  The poster either says aloud or in their head that [your name here] liked the post, which makes them feel warm and fuzzy.  Interaction, conversation–regardless of which you prefer to designate this as, an exchange happened.

Syracuse is a friendly city, a city that has many activities–intimate and grand–going on all the time.  It is apparent, for the most part and from my personal observations, we enjoy interacting with one another here.  Insert all of the fun activities and festivals that occur in Central New York in this sentence to support the previous and following sentences. One sentence can, in fact, contain all the goodies Syracuse has to offer, but developing that sentence would be quite a process.

The following sentences may come off presumptuous.  Unlike New York City, a place where friendly eye contact and hellos are more common in bars and after a couple drinks, we Central New York residents don’t think twice when it comes to spontaneous conversation and eye contact.  Eye contact can be dodgy, because some people have it and some people do not; it’s okay if eye contact isn’t a strong quality of yours.  We compliment, we smile, we hold doors, we give directions, and we even buy a cup of coffee for a stranger on occasion.  However, we do have a lot to learn about hospitality from the south.  (The last statement is directed toward “The North” in general.)

There are some readers out there saying to themselves and shaking their fist about how they do not do any of these things, which comes with a surprise–and that I’m wrong.  It’s alright.  I’m including you in this, but as long as you are willing to pay something nice forward.  We all have bad days.

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Books

Phoenix Used & Rare Books in Freeville, New York (Photo: Christopher Malone)

On to my story.  I get a kick out of roaming around libraries and used book stores, and especially the latter.  The Book Cellar in Solvay.  Stop and Swap in Westvale.  James Street’s Books & Melodies and Books End.  They are all fun.  How about Phoenix Used & Rare Books in Freeville, New York?  I love that place.  It’s the creepy looking barn on Route 13.  Pulling up, you feel as if you’re walking into a horror movie–one of your hands grips your cellphone–but you’re not; the used book shop/barn is amazing.

At one bookstore, which will remain nameless unless this should happen again, the copy of Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up was almost in my possession.  While admiring the books behind the register, the employee or owner said something to me.  Saving the fact that I was not paying full attention, I replied to what I thought was a statement:  Yes, sir.  This is a good grab.  I pointed at the book, smiling like a child, who got a sticker for doing a great job.

He looked at me with a stern grimace, and said spoke through his teeth, Would you like a bag?!  

As if this was the climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark, specifically watching the demise of Major Toht, my face felt like it was melting off.

toht gif[16]

What was my reaction?

  1. My body twitched slightly; both of my feet took a step back.
  2. I threw the book at him, demanding he read it and take a lesson, and have a good laugh for that matter.
  3. Laughed maniacally while pointing at him.
  4. Slowly cowered into fetal position while sobbing.
  5. I pulled a kitten out of my coat pocket while stating, Ain’t she just the sweetest lil thing?

For all of you who guessed the first answer, you’re right.  Throwing a book at him was a close second.

See what I did there?

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Just because you got shit on during the day doesn’t mean you have to pass it along to someone else.  We all have bad days.  It’s not great to keep the stress in, but there are more productive ways of letting the stress out than being rude to someone.  It’s bad breath; no one wants to smell it, no one wants to kiss you.

My uncle had a piece of paper that he hung in his office; upon that piece of paper, the saying read:  The feet you step on today might be connected to the ass you kiss tomorrow.  Keep that in mind.

Keep Cool Stay Warm

Kindness, courtesy is especially true at restaurants–don’t make your server or cooks angry.  Speaking on behalf of writers and bloggers:  we have the ability to write you in somewhere as well.

No, that isn’t a threat.  I’m just saying we people watch and pick up on detail more often than you think.

For a society that is filled with people who are obsessed with wanting to impress others in order to gain some kind of attention, some opting for the negative and some for positive reasons and intentions, you would think we’d be more mindful of others.  (We all crave attention, by the way.)  By impressing someone, we feel better about ourselves.  This biological high affects you to the nth degree–let’s say Notch 11–as much and in the same fashion as that those red notifications at the top of your Facebook page.

You’ve gotten some attention.

Now, is it better or worse?

Until next week…

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Moment of the Week  

Rep. Dan Maffei/ Michael Davis photo

Rep. Dan Maffei/ Michael Davis photo

March 19, 2014 (2:20 p.m.):  Congressman Dan Maffei spills coffee on himself at Freedom of Espresso in Franklin Square.  If my  phone was ready, a picture would have been taken.  However, a tweet was sent out about it, and that’s why I know the specific details.  It was written as “Our Congressman,” but did not include his handle.  There is a kindness to me.  However, let the lesson be learned that a secure lid is a happy lid.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves by putting me down.  Despite the scenario looking like a toddler carrying a gallon of milk, spilling the container forward as he walked, we have to keep in mind that we are all susceptible to such fallacies and embarrassing moments.  I’m the king of the klutzes, and I’ve done the same exact thing.

 

The Inevitable Coffee Ring

 

 

Christopher MaloneChristopher Malone is the author of The Infinite Abyss(es) and also writes for Kinane Blue.