His cell phone has a hinge. He’s been driving the same minivan for 15 years. His dinner is water and a bologna sandwich. He has a twenty inch TV without cable. Every dime scrutinized, every penny saved. Never uses credit. Nothing wasted. He checks his savings and 401K every month. Each year he analyses his Social Security payout statement. His sacrifice will pay off in retirement. It’s going to be done right. Travel anywhere he wants, eat anything he pleases. He won’t be dependent on anyone. For his 64th birthday his doctor gave him a surprise gift of six months.
Old people complain nowadays about how social media takes away a person’s privacy. They say that nothing is sacred or secret anymore. It’s too easy for anybody to voice their opinions by simply touching their finger to the glass screens of their artificial lives. As my mother would always tell us, “You don’t air your dirty laundry in public.”
But back in the day, if I farted on one side of town, she knew about it before the smell had faded away. And what is less secret than having your underwear flapping around in the wind for everybody to see.
The smell of popcorn, burned hot dogs and sweat invaded his nostrils as Jason pushed his way down Fuller Street, past vegetable carts, homemade pie stands and the booth with carved wooden bears holding ‘Welcome signs’. He weaved around baby strollers and people who thought it a good idea to bring their dogs for a walk through the shoulder to shoulder traffic. He entered through the back of the jewelry stand and sat down at the table.
“How’d we do?” Sheila asked.
“Pretty good shopping day” he told his girlfriend as he emptied the wallets and watches from his pockets.
“Let me tell you when God created boredom he was thinking about this dinky ass podunk. It’s August the 15th and it must be a 100 degrees in the shade. There’s nothing to do but sweat, cuss and spit. I guess I can hope for a car to drive by, crash into the grain elevator and explode into flames. That might liven things up a bit. Maybe someone will make a wrong turn off the highway. Who am I kidding, there’s no reason for anybody to even drive by. “
Now – Boredom means something different in this new century. If there’s not a new PlayStation game, a blockbuster movie, high speed internet, 300 channels on cable, or whatever technological shit our kids covet, then they’ll just go cry to us mommies or daddies and we’ll run right out and buy something just to shut them up.
A whisper into my mother’s ear by my fifteen year old brother Lawrence ‘Dean’ and she proclaimed me Jerry Wayne Brotherton. Old English in origin; a diminutive form of Gerald (The Ruling Spear).
In 1941, 1.3 percent of the population held the prestigious name. But for some reason, with World War II came the nickname for German soldiers…Jerries. Starting a downward slide that nearly drove the name to extinction and it’s never recovered.
I was born 16 years after the name peaked in popularity. Setting the tone for what would become my life’s motto…a day late and a dollar short.