Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sally died

The Complete and Total Loser reads the death notices in his local paper every day. Today, he learned that a woman who was a year behind him in college died. Her name was Sally.
The Loser was stunned. 
He went to her house in 1976 because her parents were holding an event for area high school seniors to learn more about the college, which is in Ohio, far from the Loser's suburban Philadelphia town. Sally's father went to the college and Sally would have been there but the Loser doesn't recall meeting her at that time.
He met her when he was a sophomore and she a freshman. The college was (and is still) a small one and kids from the same regions tended to find one another quickly even if they'd never met in high school. Sally was pretty, funny, smart and talented. She sang in the school's female a Capella group.

The Loser went to an all-boys school, Sally to an all-girls one. A clear memory the Loser has is of talking to Sally about his senior year prom (only seniors at these small private school had proms), which he did not attend because being a loser, he knew no girls, and never went to social events in high school. Sally told him she'd gone with a classmate of the Loser's named Frank.
Frank and the Loser had been childhood friends, largely because they lived in easy walking distance from one another. The boys were very different, though, and Frank and the Loser were merely acquaintances from third grade on. 
Sally said she found Frank terribly dull and didn't enjoy the evening.
"Then why did you go with him?" the Loser said.
Sally looked puzzled by the question. 
"He asked me," she said. "I'd have gone with you if you'd asked me."
The Loser was taken aback. He imagined himself at the prom, with Sally. He couldn't dance, but he'd sit around and talk with her, they'd make jokes, tell her how nice she looked. He'd introduce her to teachers and feel almost like a normal boy. 
She moved back and settled in the area after college. The Loser lived elsewhere for the next nine years. After he'd returned, he'd heard from a mutual friend that Sally hadn't married even though she'd wanted to very much. She kept her looks; the Loser saw her on television once as she was participating in a fund drive. She knew how to talk to men and had boyfriends in college who were invariably handsome, nice young men the Loser thought well of.
Although he never felt well enough about himself to get in touch with her, somehow the Loser always thought he'd see Sally again and perhaps even become friends.
It's too late now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

To his anonymous friend

The Complete and Total Loser got something his uninteresting and poorly written blog seldom gets: A comment. 
Here it is:

Dear B.,
I am young but like you. How are you certain that god does not exist?

The Loser answers with this:
Dear Young Anonymous person,
Thank you very much for your kind words. The Loser rarely hears others say they like him. Usually, people tolerate him but of course no one says that. (Have you ever put a recording device in a room with people you know in it, left the room, come back later and listened to it? The Loser has and he found it quite the learning experience. He ended up sorry that he did it. There are some things you're better off not knowing.)
The Loser is hesitant to discuss religious matters with you. We all reach our own conclusions in our own way, and the way the Loser decided there was no deity involved in the affairs of humans, animals, snowflake design or anything else are likely different in many ways from the way an estimated one billion other atheists drew their own conclusions. 
A saying you'll hear when methods of investigation are discussed is "Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence." That's a wise rule, but in some cases it doesn't pass muster. If, for example, you spend a lot of time trying to determine whether or not the Loser has ever been in Moscow and find sound explanations for every instance of his whereabouts and not one of them indicates a trip to Moscow, you can be ninety-nine percent sure that the Loser has never been to Moscow. (You can never be one hundred percent sure of anything, including that you and everyone you know are not merely figments of a remarkable being's dream, but the sane among us behave as though we are.)
The Loser is old and he envies you. You have access to a wealth of information at your fingertips to gather information on this topic with. Take advantage of that. But be sure to talk to real people, both believers and nonbelievers. A member of the clergy, teachers, your parents and relatives, friends. Listen to both sides. Do your own thinking, make up your own mind. One argument in favor you may hear is that without belief in a higher power that has a grand design and we participate in it, life is purposeless and subsequently meaningless. Don't fall for that one! The one doesn't follow the other.
A young person who hears the Loser's opinions on this may think his mind is closed on this matter. It's not. However, as the Loser is now in the end of his sixth decade on Earth and nothing has convinced him to date, it would take a good argument to convince him. 
The Loser wishes you well in your search.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The New Year, 2017

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II.
The Complete and Total Loser spent the holidays feeling alone and useless, as always. He got out of all but one family gathering, one on Christmas Day, during which he drank too much and said a few things he later wished he hadn't, but nothing damaging.
The Loser finds that as he ages and extends holiday greetings and New Year's wishes to people his age, he tells them he hopes the coming year will be a good one for them. He's always said a variation of that but now he's increasing aware that these new years for him and his peers—people in their fifties nearing their sixties—may well be full of little more than the death of elderly loved ones and increasing health problems for them.
Meanwhile, the Loser waits for the newsflash that will tell him that England's queen has died. While no fan of the Royal Family, the Loser nonetheless has always liked her and it will be sad to see someone who has always been there wave her final goodbye.
The new year, 2017, will be a bad one. The question is only, how bad?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher 10/21/1956 — 12/27/2016

Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher.
If she hadn't been born into Hollywood royalty, if she'd been born in a mid-sized city in Massachusetts or Ohio, Carrie Fisher's death would likely have been marked by a relative few. 
But the Complete and Total Loser thinks she would have probably been a stellar citizen and good parent. A local leader active in her community. At this point of her life she may have headed up her book club, and would choose challenging novels and have insights into them that would benefit her fellow members.
This sounds like faint praise, but the Loser means it to be the opposite.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The last to die

mother and baby in doctor's office
A mother and her baby wait in doctor's office.
The Complete and Total Loser's aunt died yesterday. It was not a surprise: she turned one hundred years old in September. She was the oldest of five siblings, the Loser's mother being the youngest, and the last to die.
Her death solidifies the Loser's standing as the older generation in his family, even though just one cousin is younger than he is. He thinks of the thoughts and speculations he had of his mother and father's generation when he was young (What was it like to be twenty when the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor? What did they think the year 2000 would be like? What diseases did they worry about? What was it like to have only radio and print to tell you about the world?) and wonders what his nieces and nephews think of his own generation. 
Actually, is unlikely they think much of him at all. He never married, had children or even had a long-term relationship and never had an interesting job. There are more interesting and successful people in the Loser's family tree for them to contemplate.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Not here, not now

red fox hunting red squirrel
A red fox hunts a red squirrel in a suburban back yard.
The red fox in this photo is going for a red squirrel, which you can see on the tree. The photo sucks because it was shot through the glass of two doors with a telephoto lens by the Complete and Total Loser.
If the fox had caught the squirrel he'd have enjoyed a warm, tasty, raw bit of meat for his Thanksgiving Day dinner. But no. As expertly as he hunted, the squirrel decided—for reasons known only to him—to climb up the tree, out of reach of the fox which, after waiting fifteen seconds or so for the squirrel to descend closer to ground level, sauntered off.
red fox
A red fox learns what it's like to be a Complete and Total Loser.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Volvo with pro Trump bumper stickers
In the Loser's day, you wouldn't have thought you'd see a Volvo with pro Trump bumper stickers.
The Complete and Total Loser has had a falling out with a friend over the recent election of Trump. The friend seems to think Nazi Germany is due a little over two months from now. The Loser disagrees, though he agrees that it will be a bad four years and he still has trouble with the phrase "President Trump."
He's already backed down on Obamacare, The Wall, the Muslim ban, and prosecuting Hillary Clinton. 
That was all in less than a week. 
By all means, fight the power, but calm down a little.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Buy lottery tickets

man buying lottery tickets from machine
A man buys lottery tickets from a machine in a Pennsylvania convenience store.
Buy lottery tickets. Not so many that you go broke, but buy them. You won't win, but buying them makes you think of winning. The Complete and Total Loser's guess is that anyone buying them these days will think of moving if he or she wins big. New Zealand's nice and their social structure is progressive. Also, it's about the healthiest country on earth—lots of people go to gyms and exercise regularly. They need more obese people like us Americans there to round things off. Maybe if there were more heavy people there they wouldn't have so many earthquakes. We fatties could weigh things down a bit.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

All his fault

The National Enquirer used to fun. It was the original weekly tabloid for dumb people who believed in UFOs and Bigfoot. It'd have articles in it about people with tumors the size of Volkswagen Bugs, reunions of long-lost relatives and friends, what wholesome movie and TV stars said and did when intoxicated. Smart people would buy it for yuks.
National Enquirer cover
Most people who buy it can't even pronounce the word "Enquirer."

Now look at it. Catering to its base: Uneducated morons with no critical reasoning skills. It's not fun anymore, it's just mean-spirited and stupid.
The Complete and Total Loser voted for Clinton, by the way, which is probably why she lost.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dull happenings

The Complete and Total Loser has been in a long-term funk since mid summer. Blame the loss of the bird. Blame the constant physical pain. He sleeps too much and does nothing productive when awake. 
Boring notes on the past six weeks:
  • The Loser went to his aunt's 100th birthday party. The party was in Connecticut. She seemed well, considering, but as the Loser's brother put it, he's not making plans for her 101st.
  • The Loser had his annual physical in late August. His PSA number has risen substantially, up to 5.2. The Loser is all for doing nothing about it, should it turn out to be cancer, even though he's two years shy of turning sixty. Let it kill him. Two decades of no orgasms and incontinence? No. Not interested. He goes back in November for a retest.
  • On the last day of August, the Loser had a cortisone injection in his bad knee. His doctor referred him, saying that his wife goes to the same guy and gets an injection that lasts a year. The knee doctor said it would take 48 hours to take effect and sure enough, two days later the Loser's knee felt great. He thought he'd start swimming again, perhaps even bicycle. On the third day, however, it started to hurt again and now it feels as bad as ever.
  • The Loser will quit his crappy part-time retail job soon. He'll be dead of cancer in a few years anyway and he can't imagine working the upcoming full-time holiday schedule like he did last year.
  • Two nights ago after work, the Loser was standing around with a half dozen coworkers. The topic of snoring came up. "I have no idea if I snore or not because I've always lived alone," the Loser said. Everyone seemed sad.
  • Today, the trash haulers threw out the Loser's trashcan. He is baffled about this. It was a perfectly functional trashcan. Also, it had as much sentimental value to the Loser as a trashcan can; he'd bought it for his father, who died five years ago, because it had wheels and his father was wearing out the trashcans that didn't by dragging them up and down the driveway. Despite the wheels, the Loser's father dragged this one too and there was a hole in the bottom of it. This made the Loser love his father. This morning, as he took out the trash, the Loser used the wheels because it was very full and he thought about his father. Now the can is gone and there is one less thing around to make the Loser think of his father.
  • The Loser is reading the book Grit, by Angela Duckworth. There's a test by which you can measure your level of grit in the book, also easily accessible online. The Loser took the test and, unsurprisingly, learned that he has close to zero grit.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A code reinforced

juvenile catbird
It died, of course, the bird. 
The Complete and Total Loser thought it was going well. It had spent a night out successfully and flew to the Loser the next morning, chirping for a morning meal. It was staying out all day, hunting its beloved insects and spiders. The Loser took it in the night after its first full night out due to heavy rain, though the bird had spent a day during a rainstorm remaining dry. The next night it was out again.
The next morning, no bird.
The Loser had a bad feeling about it as the day went on. It wouldn't have left that completely and abruptly—it still looked to the Loser for food and protection. The Loser went outside his back door often, clapping and calling and getting no response. He knew.
Friends, of course, put nice faces on bad things and said he may have joined his family or others of his species or, at worst, been chased from its territory by bigger birds, bluejays perhaps.
Yesterday, the Loser found its body, well eaten by ants but still clearly the bird's. It was right by the small single step that leads to the backdoor. How he hadn't seen it for the eight days since the bird vanished is baffling. His only comfort is that the bird had died before he could have saved it. The Loser was often at that door the day after the bird left and if it had been alive at all a sound or movement would have surely caught the Loser's ear or eye. His open bedroom window is directly above that step.
It's probable that the bird was injured or ill and got to that location, closest to the only companion and protector it had ever known, and died waiting for the Loser's help.
Birds are small and dumb, the Loser tells himself, and incapable of forming an intimate relationship with a human. True of all pets; we anthropomorphize the rest. But there were times in the final days when the Loser was sitting outside with the bird and it had eaten when it wouldn't fly off into a bush or tree. Instead, it would stand on the Loser's hand and then sit, and just look at the Loser. It was simply hanging out with a friend.
The Loser forgot his code for a few weeks, but he remembers it now and will keep it with renewed vigor: Never love anything.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Gone bird

young catbird
A young catbird.
The bird the Complete and Total Loser took in a month ago spent a night outside with great success. The Loser took it in the next two nights because of the rain, and left it out the night after that. It never returned. To be kind, the Loser's few friends have suggested that the creature bonded with its own and has made a break with its human friend, but the Loser knows it is dead.
No animal would give up a safe and reliable source of sound nutrition that suddenly. 
The Loser knew the bird's survival was iffy in the long run and told himself that if it met its end it would at least have had more life—in this case, about a month—than it would have had the Loser not taken it in. 
Still, the creature was a bright spark in the Loser's dull life, his heart felt more elastic, and now its loss has thrown him into a funk.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Weaning the bird

young catbird sitting on book
The Loser's temporary ward, a young catbird, sits on The Heart of Henry Quantum, a novel by Pepper Harding.
He admits that it has been rewarding, taking care of the bird he found nearly three weeks ago. It has grown into a tiny wild animal with insistent demands. The large cardboard box the Complete and Total Loser formed into a passable home for it after it survived the first few days is too small for it now, and it hurls itself against its newspaper roof with surprising force when put in it for the night, hard enough once to undo the piece of packing tape sealing the paper. It escaped into the kitchen. Not that the Loser minded that; the confinement is more for the bird's safety than anything else. It hasn't caught on to the difference between windows and open space and is saved from a broken neck by the lack of momentum it manages when flying in the house. 
It's been outside for nearly the entire day. The Loser sat outside wearing earplugs and reading as the bird kept up its litany of reasons on why it should be fed on demand instead of catch insects and worms for sustenance. With each day, the Loser grows more firm in his resolve to cut the apron strings. Yet he always relents. Today, the bird and his niece's cat—which the Loser will tend for the next three weeks, are the only beings he spoke to. 
female housecat on carpet
A female house cat lies on a carpet.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A week of bird

young bird on stick inside house
The Loser's bird sits on a stick.
The young bird the Complete and Total Loser found outside a week ago is thriving. The Loser feeds it regularly, but the creature is strong enough to survive the long hours (to it) the Loser is away at his stupid, low-paying, meaningless job. He is working on getting it to fly and soon he will catch bugs and put them in its box for it to try to catch. 
If it's the species the Loser thinks it might be, it will live on a diet of insects, never weigh more than four-tenths of an ounce, and somehow fly from its birthplace in Pennsylvania to Central America and back again.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Nothing to say

An orphaned baby bird sits on the Loser's hand.
The Complete and Total Loser hasn't written about anything because he hasn't cared about anything at all for over a month now. He just watches comforting shows he's seen before, goes to work, and feels sorry for himself and his permanently aching knee.
Yesterday, a frantic young bird was tweeting outside the Loser's front door. He has taken it in and it's survived an entire day, which is a record in the over half-century of the Loser's bird-rescue attempts. At first, the Loser thought it might be a fledgling on its first day of learning to fly, but it's weeks away from that. It's nest was nowhere in sight. 
The Loser seems to be feeding it correctly. (Do orphaned animals know how many of the owe their lives to YouTube videos?) 
The bird is a pain in the ass. It chirps, the Loser feeds it, it craps then chirps for more food. Still ... imagine if it lives and the Loser teaches it to fly and it takes off to flit through trees, a part of the wild word that we all forget still surrounds us, however corrupt its form? That would please the Loser.
(Note: If you know what kind of bird this is, please leave a message informing the Loser who is, being a loser, too stupid to know.)