On Saturday morning, 05 September 2009, I posted, "REMEMBERING JOEL." My Special Commentary was a tribute to one on my high school classmates, Joel Ray Scoggins, who succumbed to cancer three days earlier. Wednesday evening of this week I received a completely unexpected, touching letter (email) from Joel's mother--whom I have never had the pleasure of meeting. I hope to correct that one day.
Amidst her grief, having outlived another child, Mrs. Scoggins found the time, energy, and strength to tell me how appreciative she was that I had taken time to remember her son. In my words, she pointed out, I had made an observation she had not considered--that though Joel died, he had actually won his battle against cancer. She found some peace in my point of view. She went on to say my Commentary has helped her and her family and Joel's friends continue healing.
I had no idea the impact of my Commentary and that Joel's mother, of all people, would find comfort in the words of a stranger. But, as I learned in her note, I really am not a stranger to her. Her son, Mike, still living, earned the eagle, globe, and anchor and title "Marine." That makes the Scoggins family a Marine Corps family--a rare breed. Knowing Joel, why am I not surprised?! Mrs. Scoggins does indeed know all she needs to know about me--I am no "stranger." Nor is she a "stranger" to me--she raised a Marine. And Joel. I too know all I need to know.
As I replied to Mrs. Scoggins, Joel was a friend. The Commentary--Tribute--was my pleasure. My pleasure, indeed. We'll all miss Joel.
Semper Fidelis, Scoggins family.
Now, a brief Preface for today's Commentary...
I had several politics-related topics in draft for today but something about each did not seem quite right, and not one of them was coming together as suitable for publication. I know, I know, much fodder these days and it should be easy for critical analysis, satire, and humor. But, my mind is not in that mode these days. So, I went to bed Wednesday night frustrated and not quite sure what to do about pulling something together for this week.
As I dozed off the last thought on my mind was the kind letter from Mrs. Scoggins. At 0100 Thursday morning my eyes popped open--a subconscious thought--an "ah ha" moment for today's topic. Without delay, I rose from bed and starting writing. It did not take long to rough out. And not long at all to polish.
A letter from out-of-the blue my inspiration for crafting something entertaining--and maybe cause some to initially blush--for this morning. No politics today. It's time to laugh, so something light!
Mrs. Scoggins, I think Joel, in some crazy way was the impetus behind resolving my frustrations for this week--the timing of your letter and my awakening awful early; even for a Marine--cannot possibly be coincidental. Some things are just meant to be--so goes today's Commentary. I doubt you'll blush but smile and laugh I hope you do!
MY, THERE'S A WHOLE LOT OF POKING GOING ON
By Andy Weddington
Friday, 25 September 2009
"Stef, I don't remember, was it Monday or Tuesday I gave you a "poke?" "Both?--and, twice on Wednesday?! How could I have forgotten?," you ask. "Uh...yikes, I don't know, will get back to you. Sorry."
"How about you, Jo, good "poke" last week? I know it was our first time, tried to be gentle."
"Ladies, I can't remember who else received a "poke" the past few weeks? I hope good for you?!"
And, I just remembered, forgot to "poke" my wife this week--that's not good--but we did "chat;" several times. I know it's not quite the same but soon approaching 24 years of marriage we at least talk a good game.
Sorry gents, no "pokes" for you! Never. Never, ever. Ever. Search elsewhere.
About now my Mom is gasping and probably reaching for something to fan herself and making the sign of the cross and praying for me (like a good Catholic Mom). My Dad--I can picture clearly, is sitting back in his computer chair, big sheepish grin on his face and wondering what in the world his oldest son is up to; thinking--some example he's setting for his brothers. Geez!
Sitting in the same room but at different computers, Mom is probably more than a little red, Dad's trying not to laugh too loud, and both are wondering what the heck I am talking about much less doing out in Southern California--they've likely concluded, "Oh no, after seven years in the desert he's now one of the nuts."
My brothers are likely thinking and saying, "Damn, Andy is the oldest and keeping that "busy"--how is he doing it? 'Retired' life is sure treating him right. Make a note to give him a call this weekend--and ask about real estate."
And, my little sister, she's so busy with family and work--it's not likely she'll even read this for another week--so it will be old news. Yet, I hope, it still makes her laugh when she does get around to reading. She does not spend much time on the computer, so a "poke" is not likely in her future--from me or anyone else. Yet, I know her teenage daughter is on the receiving end of many a "poke" and is certainly quick to "poke" back. She is a delightful, well-mannered young lady.
All of my nephews and nieces, at least the ones old enough to appreciate innuendo and humor, are now giggling and laughing because most of them, if not all, within the past six weeks or so have gotten at least a "poke" or two from their dashing Uncle Andy. They well know, this Commentary is right up my alley--finding a way to twist even the most innocent of things into something funny; if only a bit suggestive. "Kids, some things are not going to change--regardless how old I get. I promise. Your Aunt will attest to that. Ready to play 'the quiet game'? No! Well, feel free to "poke" your Uncle--anytime--it's always nice to hear from you. I will always "poke" back."
In fact, folks, if you are not aware these days, forget HallMark greeting cards, a "poke" shows someone just how much you really care--and it may make their day or night less all the "complications." Yes sir, there' a whole lot "poking" going on out there and the great thing about it is there is nary a worry in the world. You can "poke" for free and go as fast or slow and as often as your little heart desires. And, quickies are not frowned upon.
Just last week, I was having a couple of hotdogs (Hebrew Nationals with mustard and fresh chopped onions) for lunch at CostCo in Palm Desert, California, and overheard a conversation about, what else, a "poke."
Pardon while I wander off topic for a moment...as other than a good "poke," there is nothing better than a great hotdog. CostCo's are good. But, North Carolina hotdogs--they are exceptional. "Zack's" in downtown Burlington; "Yum Yum's" across from the UNC-G campus in Greensboro; "Wink's BBQ" just off I-85 in Salisbury; and "Ashworth Drugs" in downtown Cary, immediately come to mind. If ever in the area(s), stop in and tell them I sent you. Wash the dogs down with an ice-cold Cheerwine or Sun Drop--best damn colas ever bottled. You will not be disappointed. Promise.
Anyway, back to the conversation I overheard. Two older couples--well into their eighties (snowbirds but affectionately referred to as "blue-hairs" by younger desert rats)--take a seat next to my table. The men--they have one thing on their minds; hotdogs. Not a peep out of them. The women, on the other hand, are chattering away--laughing--and every once in a while take a nibble from their hotdog or a sip of lemonade. Theirs is a lively conversation. They seem much younger than their men.
One says to the other, "Myrtle, believe it or not, this morning I learned how to upload a photo on my computer." Myrtle was impressed and wanted to know how long it took and asked if she could get a lesson. Her friend assured her it was simple and she'd be happy to show her how. Then she offered the comment that got my immediate attention, "And you know what else," she giggled, "I gave ol' Fred a "poke" this morning." They both started snickering and laughing. Their husbands--clueless--expressionless--both with a mouth full of hotdog and nary a word between them could have cared less. I eavesdropped a few more minutes on the ladies conversation and then went about my business. They were like two school girls. They know what's going on in the world--good for them.
Folks, and some of you know it, there is a whole of lot of "poking" going on these days and I am not talking about in the biblical sense. And age is not a factor--young, middle-aged, and senior citizens alike are "poking" away. As they say in New Orleans, "Laissez les bon temps rouler!" or "Let the good times roll!"
If you are on the social-networking phenomenon, FaceBook, then you know exactly what I am talking about. A "poke" is one means of getting someone's attention. And unlike in the biblical way, if "poked," you can choose to either ignore, remove, or "poke" back. But, that said, if you get a "poke," it's only common courtesy to "poke" back. You just don't want to leave a "poke" hanging out there! After all, one good "poke" really does deserve another.
A "poke" stands alone. Drinks, dinner and a movie, and a post "poke" cigarette--are all optional! "Elle" and Stef (from your posted comment to last week's Commentary, "OH, ANDY"), I know you are laughing. I know it!
Last I heard FaceBook was sky-rocketing toward 400 million users. For perspective, if FaceBook were a country, its user base makes it the 4th largest country on the planet. Let's see traditional "pokes" match that rate of population growth. And interestingly enough it is not the youth of the world that is the fastest growing segment in the FaceBook nation. No, that distinction belongs to the women age 60 and over. Proof that a "poke" gets better with age. So, quite fitting and, as it turns out, not surprising that I overheard the conversation I did at CostCo.
What's the point in all this? Well, think about it. Computing changed how we--the world--does "business." With "business" spanning the spectrum from schoolwork, to retail, to entertainment, to waging war. New models continue to be built to exploit computing technology.
Now computer-based social networks, like FaceBook, are transforming human relationships. Literally, anyone can "poke" anyone. What is happening, and at an incredible speeds, is a constant--and essentially lifetime, if you want--chaotic 'interconnectedness" with family, friends, acquaintances, and even "strangers" to a depth and breadth few could have possibly ever imagined possible. There are literally no boundaries. New models of human relationships are evolving.
And the "connections" go much further than a simple, innocent "poke" here and there. FaceBook's instant "chat" (voice is coming) and "Notes," allow for more private conversations, and the "Wall" posting area--a venue fair game for public comment, banter, and witty repartee doubles as a forum for making new friends--the first step toward establishing "poking" privileges.
What will be the long-term impact on human society/culture of FaceBook and all this "poking" nonsense? Who knows. But one thing is for certain--everyone on a social-network is no more than a "friend request" then a "poke" away.
If you are among the populace that is not on FaceBook, I appreciate the reluctance to climb aboard. I (and my wife) resisted invitations to join for several years. Less than a couple of months ago we finally came to our senses and realized if we were going to keep up with family (and friends)--particularly the younger generations--we had better rethink our abstaining position (like that one?!). We did and are now engaged FaceBook members, and having a great time with it. I can't speak for my wife, but I enjoy a regular "poke."
To parody an old AT&T (at least I think it was AT&T) promotion back in the early 1980's and to encourage the hesitant at least try FaceBook--"Reach out...reach out...reach out and 'poke' (vice "touch") someone." If after trying, it's not for you--quit.
Oh, I did not forget, now back to Stef. "Yes, Stef, now I remember! Good grief, how could I forget?! Good, very good for me--you are quite the little "poker."
To all FaceBookers, have you gotten a "poke" in today? ;-) It's not too late!