It’s all downhill from here: Even shorter stories for the attention deficient

By SCOTT ROBERTS,

The website ratjackets.com has free shipping, and I can see why. I’m still waiting on a plaid jacket for Ignatius.

Maybe he doesn’t care that it’s his birthday; maybe no one does. But there are at least fifty people on Facebook that have made the ultimate sacrifice.

They have pointed a sturdy index finger on the touchscreen or have gently clicked their mice to let me know they are at least “interested” in coming to the party I am throwing in my backyard for a now - and still to be -  jacketless rodent.

The fare will be simple, the same diet I feed my favorite boy: peanuts and water, or water and peanuts depending on one’s level of parch.

It will probably be more like 49 people in attendance due to the following incident:

I first want to say that “curb stomping” is a harsh choice of words, a poor choice of words, and above all, an inflammatory choice of words.

First of all, there was no curb within twenty yards of that lady, and “stomping” implies that I was enjoying what happened.

Neither of these things is true.

Due to the title and purpose of this periodical, I’ll keep this brief.

I only hope the judge will do the same after what happened. In my defense I had been drinking french press coffee all morning, the oil of which still greases the rim of my favorite coffee cup (now broken), the coffee cup I can no longer have and can never attempt to put back together because of its confinement in the evidence room at the police station.

Janice (The Officer) told me I could have it back after the case has been closed for six months.

For all I know it might be longer than that; maybe less. Janice is no Arthur, or is she? (See previous column). I know nothing about the criminal justice system except that there are few pretty or rich people confined by it.

That would be strike one and two for yours truly. I called my mother and asked her to come house sit if I get incarcerated, maybe take the rat home with her while I serve my sentence.

She said she’d be glad to let Ignatius stay at her place, settled lifelessly at the bottom of a water bucket. She is also not happy with the fact that I am in trouble with the law over something so trivial as a coffee mug. But she introduced me to Herb Alpert, those mellow horns, happiness abundant in the cool sounds of Southern California Jazz.

So how could she get mad at me if I defend myself when some brazen harlot of Babylon pushes my arm aside and breaks Herb’s porcelain likeness into so many jagged pieces?

I used to love putting puzzles together, but I doubt I’ll be able to reconstruct another without thinking of Herb’s eyes and teeth and horn separated from his token, tight-fitting matador’s jacket. Perhaps I could do nature scene puzzles until things get back to normal.

Take it slow and work my way back.

I could be the Prefontaine of puzzliers. 

But back to the incident.

It’s no secret that certain social media sites know exactly where I am at all times. It is also no secret that they read all of my text messages and emails, hence the reason I get so much spam from Waitr, Home Depot, and Cookie Crisp’s Premium Cereal Killer Club.

Yeah that’s a thing.

But it’s not enough that the medias attempt to persuade me to buy; now they are telling me who my friends should be.

Now I have to admit that there is a certain adrenaline, seratonin, or is it dopamine, that is sent to my brain areas when people say that they “like” something I do, or that they want to be my “friend.”

It makes me feel special, the way I felt when my mother gave me the Herb Alpert mug.

It was as if she said, “Yes your father and I love you, even more than that covey of rescue hummingbirds we took in during the winter of 1999.” (A pun about heart fluttering might go well here). And it makes me feel special when people say they are coming to an event like a graduation, or a Halloween party, or a rodent’s birthday celebration.

“Hey, we should be friends!” She laughingly said as we shared a checkout line at the IGA grocery store.

“What?” I said, confused.

“Here!” She shoved a bright screen into my face. Sure enough, there was me, staring back at myself, a profile picture unchanged since my original signing on.

“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” I told her.

“Why not?” She sounded offended.

“I don’t really want to get into it,” I told her.

“No, please do.” She said.

“I don’t take on social media friends unless I actually know them and would say hello to them in public.”

“Well you just said hello to me,” she said.

“Not by my choice,” I said.

Now I could go on and on with this. We were in line for quite awhile, but basically what happened was a complete breakdown in human communication over what should be something that brings us all together.

Social media, I believe, is at its best a place for those of us narcissists and voyeurs to see and be seen.

At its worst it could be one person asking to be a fake friend in order to inflate a virtual friend count and another (me) using that friending to up the number of attendees to a rat’s birthday party.

It also doesn’t help if the said person has gum in her hair when she reaches down to retrieve a phone from underneath the rolling belted grocery counter at the IGA.

Unintentionally I stepped in her gummy hair and thus the appearance of what two young children called a “curb stomping.” 

Now I’m wondering if it was all for nothing and should I just cancel the whole thing.

In Arthur We Trust.

Scott Roberts is a husband, father, teacher, writer, and electrician, who lives in Hattiesburg via Sandy Hook.

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