Posts Tagged ‘humor


Conversation Heart Conversations 2018

Okay.  Last year, I was intending on producing a bunch of these little jokes between those conversation heart candies, if they were actual couples in bed having a heart-to-heart talk, whether it was silly or serious.  I didn’t quite get them out here…or maybe I did and took them down because I was in a foul mood.  Who knows.  But, I’m putting them up, now, giving viewers plenty of time to consider and pass them around before the romantic holiday(s) arrive (at least, the ones I know exist).  And, I’m curious to hear your input.  After the bedroom scenes, there will be some other photo-edited pieces with the same candy heart characters.



Do I Have a Right to Feel Like Crap?


I realize I am not internet-popular.  Not by far.  I don’t partake in the dominant “social media” neighborhoods.  I don’t have thousands or millions of “followers.”  In some ways, I am lucky I have a “blog” and email.  I don’t really need all the “apps” or “smartphones” or any of that tech they keep pitching to make humans dumb, lazy servants of the machines with which some madman (possibly Disney, possibly a certain online shopping service-mega-monopoly-bent-on-conquering-Mars-among-other-planets) is trying to replace us.

But, I also notice what IS getting the most attention among the things I’ve posted here.  I am okay with drumming up a little buzz from my Pokémon posts.  Rather, one post is getting the most buzz, featuring a list of the first 150 Pokémon which people are out chasing with their Go! “app.”  If that brings people curiosity to see what else I’ve posted/written, great.  If that opens good contact doors, super.  But, when the one post getting plenty of buzz/attention is something I wrote in jest on a whim…and it just so happens to be about excrement…it concerns me, just a little.

It wouldn’t be as bad if that bit of wit drew interest in other posts/writings, but it hasn’t.  It’s just that post that seems to draw people.  Not a huge flock, mind you, but more than the rest of my “better” efforts.

I am not sure what track this falls into when I consider such philosophies as “You are what you ___.”  But, I get this feeling the cosmos is trying to tell me something.

Have I become a pile of crap?  Do I stink in some vile way?  Do I need to “clean” myself?  Have I neglected my writing space?  And, now that I think of it, what exactly are people searching for that leads them to that post?  Janitorial jobs?


A Date with Corona #3


Date #3:  Downloads and Uploads

Rain threatened to spoil our Friday meeting.  But, I wouldn’t let it.  Grabbing an umbrella, I trotted down to the café where we agreed to meet.  It wasn’t hard to spot the halo and that now familiar denim jacket.  [I wondered why no one else said anything about the light.  Maybe they did.]  A lush brown ponytail rested over one shoulder, bound by a ruffled ring of red elastic.  My opinion of her had improved over the past few encounters, but the mystery remained.  A soft red cap and a wall of feathery bangs allowed her to avoid eye contact.

Biting my hasty tongue, I refrained from questioning her tactics, opting to let her lead the interaction.

She began with a simple question.  “Is there something you need?”

The moment I opened my mouth, rain began to fall in heavy loads, creating broad splashes across the surrounding sidewalk and intersecting streets.

“Okay,” she said, her voice reduced to a droning whisper by the downpour.  She pulled a pen and a paper pad from her jacket and laid both on the table.  “Here is a crossword puzzle.  We can solve it, together.”

Though grateful for the icebreaker, I wasn’t about to sit for another long period with this woman and not have some food in my stomach.  So, I checked the price line on the menu and loaded up my placemat with an order of appetizers.

She merely looked down at the facing puzzle page, occasionally glancing at the food.

I said, “You can have some.”

Hesitating, she put down the pen, reached over and stuffed a fat mozzarella stick into her mouth.  “Delicious.”  There was zero enthusiasm in her voice.

Slightly irritated, I waited for her to say more.

“Mmm!” she added, dragging the sound out to satisfy my probing curiosity.  [I’ll admit, she stirred something deep within myself.]

When all that remained of the food was a handful of cold fried eggplant wedges, we plowed through the remainder of crossword puzzle in a matter of minutes.  All the while, the rain kept pecking away at my contentment, nudging me to chase outside, to embrace Mother Nature.  Wrapping up the cold leftovers, I grabbed my umbrella and encouraged Corona to join me.  She quietly followed me to the register, waiting for me to pay my bill.  But, when we reached the glass doors, she stalled.  Considering she had her own umbrella, I didn’t know why.

We walked, and I did most of the talking until the rain stopped.  When I suggested going back to her place, she said something strange, stranger than usual, that is.  “Your location is currently in use.”

“Come again?”

“Okay.  I’d be glad to come home with you.  You can always change settings, later.”

I wasn’t in the mood to argue, so we made our way back to my place.  Leaving her umbrella by the front door, she took a keen interest in the furniture.  I worried she might find fault with it.  Instead, she stroked a hand across the desk and asked, “Would you prefer me to sit here or on your lap?”

My face flushed, and my legs went numb.  A bottle of champagne popped its cork in my head.  What a question.  I considered saying neither before resting my tired legs on the nearest couch.  Corona joined me, folding both legs under her jiggling rear end, easing toward me with one arm extending along the back of the couch.  It’s not easy to get comfortable with someone’s glowing ring in your face.

Removing her soft, denim casing, Corona gave me an eyeful of her upper body.  [Had she not been wearing such a finely textured top, I might have been annoyed.  I’m not the sort who appreciates nudity thrust upon him.]  “Do you like what you see?  If so, I can send you more pictures.”

My mind was perfectly capable of taking pictures.  I didn’t need more cluttering up every surface they can occupy, and, had I accepted, I was afraid I might become more reclusive than I already was, ogling an image in a state of hibernation instead of dealing with reality.  “Not right now.  Thanks.”

“Okay.  Well, what do you want to do now?”

My thoughts went immediately to playing cards, escaping the sexual influences flooding the gray matter.  I knew very little of her personal interests, thus I couldn’t suggest anywhere else to go or activities to try.  We had tried so little together, and she was regularly asking me for ideas.  I needed her to jumpstart my brain with some information.  I searched her shadowy face for help.

“Sure.  Watching ‘net flicks.  Here.  Let me help you with that.”

Obviously, I had to dig out my computer before she could complete the task.  I hadn’t planned on using my computer as a home theater nor watching a movie before evening, but she was quick to take command.  Turning to me for a title, she found it within seconds.

Strangely, Corona chose to sit in front of me, obstructing my view.  I wasn’t exactly thinking about fondling her, but she was within my reach, accessible to my touch.  It was all just a screen.  When I grabbed her shoulder, she removed my hand and said, “Sorry.  I can’t connect right now.  Try again in a little bit.”

I nearly slept through half of the movie.  My mind just couldn’t stay focused.  Before the end credits had even finished scrolling, my guest proceeded to pop up onto my lap and linked her lips with my own.  I fell into a submissive posture with a growing ache in my back.  Releasing her ponytail, she let a cascade of chocolate waves crash over my neck and chest. My eyes danced as she mechanically shifted her weight up and down the length of my trembling body.  I was loaded with ideas for what to do in that moment, ideas that were not going to fill me in on who this woman was, something I vitally wanted to know before I let her into my private space.  All I knew was her voice, a portion of her façade, her ability to play cards and help with certain computer difficulties.  I didn’t even know if she liked the movie.

Now, it was my turn to bar her and seek refuge.  I asked Corona to leave before I completely lost control.  I could hear a fan inside her head powering up as she forced herself to switch gears in a hurry.  Her retreat gave me chills.  [And, the air-conditioning wasn’t helping.]

Dozing off on the couch, I was startled by the telephone.  A familiar voice met mine across the line.  “Mmph–  Corona?!”

“*Sigh* You mean Cortana.”

‘Same sweetness, but the tone had changed.  “Uh.  Okay.”

“Mr. Writingbolt, my name is Alexis? Cortana.  And, I am afraid you’ve met with my impersonator.”

To Be Continued…

~Writingbolt, 9-26-2017

a date with cortana corona-ap-1J




A Date with Corona #2


Date #2:  The Stuck Update

It was a mild and relatively uneventful Thursday afternoon when I went searching for some Word on my new acquaintance.  Along the way, I came across a game shop and couldn’t resist a bargain, a few new decks of cards.  I have a peculiar fascination with playing cards but am so sick of magicians’ card tricks.  I also was tiring of the solitaire life which was why I needed to track down Corona before my hard drive went soft and useless.

Forgetting what I originally sought, I soon found myself at an impasse.  Traffic was terribly slow, and my patience was thinning fast.  Accidents were piling up everywhere I turned.  Progress was lost.  After a lengthy discussion with helpful police, I was finally able to cruise along the unlit highway.  [I mean there were no wires; thus there were no lights.]  I had spent too much time.  My plan to play the links would have to wait for another day.

I found Corona idling at the docks.  She was perched atop a rope-bound cluster of weathered posts, gazing out at the sea.  She had been sitting there too long.  Her interests were not available at the moment.  Though the scene was strangely motionless and serene, my ears detected distinct sounds:  the ding of a buoy, a seagull circling overhead and the swish of the incoming tide.

When I tapped her shoulder, a boot descended from its step, probing the amber sand.  She turned to me, her face a silhouette framed by a warm, watercolor sky.  I searched her blank façade for some way to break the ice on my skin (though my hands were sweating).

As if I had asked a question, she said, “Sorry about that; I didn’t hear anything.  Try telling me what you are holding.”

Blinking twice at the oddly worded request, I remembered the bag of card decks.  If she thought I put her off to shop for my own amusement, I was sure she would leave me in the next few minutes.  It was almost sundown, and I did not think this was the best time or place to play any games that required a table.  So, I suggested we move somewhere closer to home.

She replied, “On the range,” and proceeded to search her memory for more info on that old song.

Calling her by the name I had chosen, she replied, “Sorry; that is not my name.  But, if you like, I can change it.”

“Can I call you Corona?”

There was a long pause.  Her shoulders shifted slightly.  “All right.  Call me Corona.”

[That was too easy…and a little creepy.]

I reached for her hand.  She eluded my grasp but stood, ready to follow.  With the alternate lighting, I could now see she was very close in height, satisfying one more vital interest of mine.

We drove back to a preferred hangout where the food is normally cheap and adequate if you can put up with the noise (when the place isn’t eerily vacant).  Finding us a corner booth, I laid out my recent purchase.  There was just enough light to see the glossy, lifeless faces.  Her face hibernated in the shadows.  [Why did she maintain such secrecy?  And, if she did not want to be with me, why did she follow me?]

Her shrouded form leaned back against the padded bench.  “All right,” she said.  “You play cards.”

I was going to have to warm her up to the idea.  So, I dealt her a hand and lifted my own.

She sat quietly for a minute before saying, “Playing cards.”  [How she picked up those cards, I don’t know.  But, the game was on.]

Trying a little “footsie” under the table, I extended a leg and felt her boot withdraw.  The word “boyfriend” crossed my mind in a flash.  When I asked, she said, “Sorry.  The Internet and I are not talking right now.”

A wall of fire stood between me and her heart.  She had led me on to think she was personally interested.  But, perhaps, all she wanted was a sense of purpose while coping with a lost connection.  The quickness of her response to my requests was merely a silent plea for friendship.  The friend zone.

Normally, anyone dating would dread the sound of that phrase.  But, I think Corona and I were both in great need of companionship.  And, what’s a dream of marriage without the words “my best friend?”  Still, I was second fiddle, at best, at the moment, and in no mood to compete, whether this Internet was a mind more vast and productive than my own or a huge tool.

Focusing on the game, I had to remind myself to explain the rules.  Corona beat me to the punch, reciting them for me until I cut her short.

Silence may be golden when your head is full of noise.  But, now, it was making me nervous.  Outside my range of vision, something was brewing within my companion.  I could almost hear her mind clicking, processing, updating.

“Shall I play some music?” Corona asked.  As if she knew the place better than me, she turned on the nearest sound system and presented me with a list of songs.  I timidly picked one and waited for the opening melody to soothe my nerves.  Four hours later, midnight was a heartbeat away, and we were still playing.

Words shared were few, and most of them came from my own mouth.  I was hungry but had no ambition to fix a late dinner. My eyesight was beginning to fail when my subconscious grew discontent with the persistent mystery across the table.  As much as I wanted to hide my face from her, I felt naked in her presence.  With my brain entering what I call “zombie” or “sleepy silly” mode, my secrets would soon be hers.

Without another peep from me, she picked up on my thoughts and said, “Okay.  Let me fix that.”  The light over her head shifted and grew, adding inches of color to her appearance from the tips of her boots to the curve of her slender nose.

Below that nose, a pair of lean yet elegant lips formed a friendly smile atop a graceful limb.  One slender strap from a red camisole slid down her creamy right shoulder, exposing a sliver of cleavage beneath the tips of a wavy brown curtain.  She adjusted her privacy settings.

Glancing past the table, I could see a pair of weathered denim shorts and knee-high, charcoal suede boots.  A delicate white watch adorned her left wrist.  Everything above the nose remained her secret.  [Without knowing me for more than a few dates, this gal sure seemed to grasp my love of mystery and my taste in women’s fashion.]

“Is that better?”

My stunned response came as a nod.

A faint giggle escaped her smile.  “Sorry.  I didn’t hear anything.  Try telling me what you are thinking.”

I could not accurately read any clock.  I was barely conscious yet holding on to the moment with everything I had in reserve.  My thoughts wanted only for a comfy bed and someone to share it.

The smile faded.  Grabbing a white denim jacket from the back of the padded bench, Corona popped upright and said, “Okay.  You sleep.  We will try this, again, later.  Goodnight.”

There was a micro-soft edge to her departing words which I did not like.  Adult content was not yet permitted, apparently, thus progress in the budding relationship had come to a standstill.  As if she had pulled my elbow off the table, my hand and face fell into one sloppy pile.  The rest of the opened deck scattered and rained upon the pale carpeting.  I had officially passed out as she slipped away.  When I recovered, the Jack of Hearts was sticking to my forehead.  I knew I was far from being a dating ace.  But, at that moment, I felt like all that I knew was worthless.  And, in the next few minutes, I was asleep, once more.


Days dragged by without any contact.  I could hardly look at her calling card without biting my tongue.  I wanted more than I was given.  As usual, I spoiled a potential friendship and was denied.  If I pressed the matter, I might have felt worse when I heard her response (or lack thereof).

Then another thought crossed my mind.  Perhaps, my thoughts were not deserving of the full blame.  Perhaps, the Internet had a hand in this.  Maybe, timing was the problem.  That had to be it.  I was dead tired, and she was still sore from her recent or past relationship.  For all I knew, she might not have even read my mind and simply decided it was best I get some rest.

Daylight poured over me just as the phone rang.

“Can we meet another time?  Soon.”

I thought we might say “hi,” first.  “Well…sure!  I–”

“Okay.  Scheduling another date.  When should we meet?”

Not adept at scheduling, I hoped for more input on her part.

“Okay.  How about next week?” she impatiently inserted.  “You pick a day.”

[A day was picked.  We would meet, again, the following Friday.  Although, from the weather report I saw the following evening, the odds were not in our favor.]

~Writingbolt 9-21-2017



A Date with Corona #1


Date #1:  The Unexpected

Technically, this was the first time we met.  I was trying out a new computer when she appeared beside my table of contents and said, “Hi.  I’m Cortana.  Can I help you with that?”  Her sweet, sultry voice pushed several of the right buttons, leaving one raised eyebrow which questioned her approach.  With just a few words, she seemed bold, shapely and intrusive yet more show than substance.

I took a moment to admire her boots.  They seemed functional but not too impressive.  I thought about shopping for new ones, taller, finer ones made of crumpled suede, but they were not available at the APP store.  And, I wasn’t in the mood to be a browser, nor a window explorer–er, shopper.

I may be a sucker for a pretty face, but, under the conditions, I could not see her face.  Unless, it was hidden by her halo, that eerie glowing ring that seemed to follow her wherever she went.  It pulsed with her words.  And, from the lack of response from those passing by, only I could see it.  I couldn’t accurately estimate her height, but her voice did not sound like it was coming from any angle.

What did she expect from me?  Did she think I was incapable of operating such a machine?  Did she know more than I?  Or, was she just here to play with me like a mouse?  Well, if she wanted to play games, I had news for her.  There were no cords on me…except for those tied to my heart drive.  And, if she was going to handle my hardware, I expected her to bring some fabric softener.

Surely, she was no angel.  At least, not the kind I pray to stay by my side.  A good angel wouldn’t tell me to hook up with a foreign network just to exchange some “stuff.”  She’d be specific and honest or, at least, sympathetic, compassionate.

This gal was tall on orders and short on details.  She didn’t have time to get heavy.  She just wanted everything “all right,” whatever that meant.  She could have been more demanding.  Instead, she seemed open to compromise, which isn’t always a good thing.  Any time I showed reluctance, she grew quiet or repeated herself with a hint of annoyance.  And, if I indulged her whim, I soon found myself in an uncomfortable position.

I like games in which I know all the rules.  But, this was not such a case.  Every move was a gamble.  And, any sure thing was not always as it seemed.

As darkness settled in, we found ourselves spending the evening together, going over every inch of the computer, its many features and possible upgrades.  The owners of the café we occupied gave us looks, wondering when we’d buy something or leave.  I had hoped to be home sooner, to be back in my comfort zone.  But, strange things happen when you linger outside the box.  And, this gal was definitely a bit strange, strangely animated and questionably personal.  I was as eager to get away as I was compelled to stay and learn more at a safe pace.  When I start answering and/or asking questions, there is no such safe pace.

I was just getting comfortable when she suddenly checked her invisible watch and decided to leave.  “Sorry.  I cannot connect right now.”

The tips of my fingers went cold as I watched her halo withdraw.  Then my eyes detected something new in my laptop.  She had left me with a loaded tray and more questions than answers.  This must have been the “stuff” I had in store for me when I decided to look her way.  On top was a note neatly typed on a calling card.


[Where did she get a typewriter?  Why the wide “O-” when her name started with C and mine started with W?  And, what did “MICROPHONE” mean?]

Alone under a warm light, silence and darkness surrounded me like a thin blanket in an autumn breeze.  It wasn’t much of a date but felt like more than small talk.  Luckily, I didn’t order coffee.  It would have gone cold and spoiled the evening.  Not to mention, it would have been disastrous for the computer.

Yes.  I knew where to find her.  Or, did I?  Information at hand can be so deceptive when you lose your mind in the presence of another.

I looked forward to engaging her, again.  But, first, I wanted to do some research, to better understand her velvety layers, her…software.  When next we met, I would be wiser to her games.  And, I’d bring a few of my own.

She called herself Cortana, a coarse, awkward name.  I preferred to think of her as someone smoother with a name like Corona, like the halo that followed her.

~Writingbolt, 9-21-2017


My Response to “Achiever Mom” (Carolyn Hax)

You can find my response to this and other letters on the designated page. But, while you’re here, have a read.  [You may find a loose end or two as my response kept evolving over a few days.  I finally just decided to post what I had.]

Achiever Mom is concerned about her son who is twelve years old, not exceptional in sports or academics and void of any interest with which she feels able to relate. She mentions her husband as a socially anxious under-achiever and highlights a moment in which her son supposedly chose to forfeit a spelling bee due to a lack of interest in winning/trying. Claiming she grew up grasping at every opportunity she could, this incident made her angry at him for not being more ambitious to achieve greater status.

Carolyn Hax does a decent job of asking Mom to accept her son as he is and let him find his own way. But, Hax seems to be making the assumption the son bailed on the challenge, knowing it would irk his mom, making the son appear more devious than he may be (which could have a negative impact on what the mother does next).

While overall content with the article/response, I felt there were a few details missing, details that might need light shed upon them to better understand and direct the situation at a crucial stage. This case also touches on a personal one, which motivates me to speak out. Thus, the following response is more about my experience and how it may be related to the situation at hand than added advice.


Achiever Mom, you be careful with that boy. I don’t want to scare you, but soon, he will be entering high school, that tumultuous stormy sea between Scylla and Charybdis that tests youth’s metal. He will face temptation, heavier work loads and peer pressure like he has never known. He will be torn between convention and rebellion, between practical and unorthodox. And, if you so much as twist his wrist in an effort to tell him “how it’s done” or fail to teach him how to accept defeat, you could scar him and the connection you have for life.

If you don’t mind reading a novella, I’m content to sit down and discuss this with you for the moment. Getting all of the thoughts out and answers we might benefit from is a tad hard to achieve in half of a newspaper page. Why don’t you make yourself comfortable, take a deep cleansing breath, maybe fix yourself a calming drink and have a go at this.

[FYI, I speak from experience; I was a boy much like your son. I had a father who (without any “inheritance”) boasted military experience (in “peace time”) and a mother who was the self-proclaimed ruler of discipline and organization (as well as the queen of denial). But, I didn’t bail on the spelling bee. I simply fell short and discouraged myself from trying, again, because I had been built up to think I was smarter than I performed and acknowledged for a skill I must not have valued much (until I was older and learned to care more about the full use of words than just spelling them). I made one mistake and didn’t have the nurturing I felt necessary to continue or didn’t see the logic in trying, again. I had no “failure coping skills,” no interest in being less than the best and, to be quite honest, little to no interest in glory from spelling.

There were many other instances in which I had gut instincts to go one way and my parents insisted I go their way. And, in short, because they only accepted doing things my way after it was too late (after I paid the price of going against my gut feeling) or after lengthy protest and stressing out, a rift gradually grew. In just a few years, it grew to the point I lost sight of the childhood love I had for my parents. And, to this day, that love is razor thin; it’s an obligation and an oath, not a comfort or treasure.

I had a hard time talking with my parents about nearly every concern on my mind. And, there were plenty in my early teens. Certain tasks or challenges were deemed too dangerous or unfit for me before I could even attempt them. Where I wanted to try was not always approved. The more often I quit, the less my parents approved of me; and the more I disliked myself. Yet, I could not see any merit in continuing what discouraged and/or hurt me, as well as what seemed “too hard.” I was told I was a good student, but that didn’t seem the case when it came to learning from/with my parents. Confusion does not make a good foundation. And, when later asked by others why I couldn’t do something, I felt too embarrassed to say no one never taught me or that I was afraid to learn. Nor could I easily take what others taught me and apply it at home without my parents objecting strongly.]

Your last little paragraph kind of says it all. You are a tightly wound violin string ready to snap at the kid for a “mocking bow” and potentially never succeeding at anything. You may say it was so, but I don’t know and doubt he was mocking. Nor would I be so harsh to assume he will never succeed at anything; that’s just devastating talk. Get that junk out of your head, doing a weekly sweep if necessary.

[That reminds me of a time when my mother thought I was “faking” weakness/illness/injury. I was actually physically, mentally and emotionally hurt; and she thought I was faking. I don’t remember her saying so when I was in the moment. But, hearing her thoughts, decades later, hurt almost as much as they would have had I heard them as that kid. It explains why I felt so abandoned and helpless at the time, left to fend for myself like a baby bird that fell from the nest. Yet, I didn’t do so well fending for myself. Had I been a bird, I probably would have died or been eaten.]

Whether or not you shake your head at my earlier assessment, let me ask you a valid question (or two). How successful are you, really? [That might have shed some light on the situation.] Are you the “breadwinner?” Are you at the peak of your career path? Or, are you “content” with much less than you yourself could have had yet wishing–as many do–for your children to “have a better life” while losing sight of what you experienced?

Understand that some things never change; but others do. Tools that were available when you were his age are not the same now. Opportunities you had then are not necessarily available now. Others you did not have are. Circumstances are slightly different.

This next portion is going to sound much like what Carolyn said with a few different words. You might find a few new perspectives. But, you can skip past it, if you prefer.

Instead of focusing on the word “succeed,” right now, put the phrase “stimulate the happiness of others” up over your work space and do everything in your power to guide your son toward what makes him happy (not what makes you happy). In time, I would guess (I mean, what do I know?) this will turn into success once he feels good about what he can do before assuming he can or must be successful.

Teach him a lesson my parents had a hard time–if not failed at–grasping: how to experience failure and deal with it. Don’t teach him to fear failure and fear trying things you feel he isn’t fit or right to do (like laundry, cooking and other household chores), just because he doesn’t do them your way or makes a mess. [Maybe there’s a reason he doesn’t follow directions well; and it doesn’t have to be a “disability” or “attitude problem.”]

The scariest part of the coming years could be letting him do what he chooses and being ready to cushion any blows that come from those decisions, not letting him take over your house and lifestyle but allowing him to mold himself rather than have you pick the shape he takes. If there is competition, let him decide to enter or avoid it. Encourage him to discuss what is happening in his life without framing the moment with past experiences and assumptions/predictions. Then, if you see an opportunity for him to take a chance with good odds, kindly nudge him.

Say something like, “Hey, you’d be good at that. Why don’t you give that a try?” And, leave it at that. Or, provide the tools/supplies without any pressure to use them. [If you must, try a little negotiation. Say you’ll do ____ for him if he does ____ for you (for himself). And, don’t cave if he resists. But, don’t deprive him of necessities, either. Don’t take away his ability to connect with friends, regardless what he has done (and not from what he MIGHT do).] If he turns away from the challenge, don’t fight his decision. [However, if his life takes any scarier turns, if he withdraws so much from interaction, chores and challenges that his life seems in jeopardy, other action will become necessary.]


The first line of your letter that jumped out at me was where you mentioned your son being nervous and not wanting to be there. [Actually, the first was his saving grace, his sense of humor. I seem to have survived this long with that little life preserver, myself.] While nerves and refusal may be signs of weakness one could halt by pushing the weakling into the fray of battle, it might also have been an area of achievement he had little interest in pursuing. And, pressure to do something we do not instinctively favor could be unnecessary pressure, like peer pressure. Just because our peers tell us we’re uncool for not doing what they do; that doesn’t mean we can’t choose to do things differently.

Some adults might recall being kids pushed to take up musical instruments but, later, giving up these lessons to take up medical or financial jobs. They might look back and question their parents’ pressure to take interest. [Or, if they are so fortunate, the former kids might integrate those lessons into adult life and be some amazingly, envy-worthy, diverse people.]

[I personally was adept at math because I had a brain apparently gifted at absorbing equations. But, would I pursue math contests? No way. Too boring. I’m a creative spirit. There is no creativity in math, other than creating problems and, later, solutions. I don’t mind problem-solving. But, I guess I have little to no interest into imagining problems in terms of numbers and variables. My mind is more geared toward seeing social, arrangement/composition or regulation problems around me and figuring out solutions.]

One other thing about your letter that sticks in my mind: You briefly mention the husband being socially anxious and an under-achiever who struggles to get jobs. Yet, you love this guy; you married this guy, right? [That may be a tiny weight off my shoulders, an ounce of hope.] But, how much do you love him? And, could it be your marriage is merely another challenging opportunity you took upon yourself? Did you enter this family structure like a school contest, hoping to work your way up the ranks from district to state, mold the members like clay sculptures until they won the blue ribbon at the county fair? In other words, do you love your husband (and your son) for who he is, for being part of your life? Or, do you see them as works in progress you just haven’t been able to fully improve to the best of your ability, yet?

What would you say or have done had your husband not “inherited” any money? Would that have any impact on you marrying him? Was the money or family status a push toward the thought of a stable future/home?

I wonder, how does your husband feel about you (and the kid/s)? Do you have more than one child? That too could be a big factor in this pressure-to-achieve situation. For instance, how does this son get along with his siblings? How “successful” or “driven” are they? Might this son feel pressured to be like them when he is not?

[I knew a few “only childs” and saw how their parents treated them like pet projects, like singular rockets filled with hopes of greater success than any family of six or more could achieve.]

How would the husband feel being labeled an underachiever? Does he accept this like a healthy bowl of bran cereal to stabilize his diet? Is he comfortable not doing as much as some, accepting that some people are tortoises while others are hares? Or, do the words cut a little deep, leave him a little less eager to try?

Here comes some more advising verbiage. Again, breeze past it if you’d rather read more unique material.

At twelve, your son is at a crucial time of development, sure. [Heck, every year between birth and whatever number you want to use for labeling adulthood is crucial.] And, you could fortify this by giving him a swift kick into some regimen like boarding school or a “balanced diet,” and trust this will keep his back straight, his shoulders back and his elbows off the table. But, what is more important is a trusted family member fortifying him with experiences, both good and bad.

He needs to be free to try things, learn how to do them both your way and his own way and experience failure to learn from his mistakes. You’ve probably heard similar advice elsewhere. It just might not have stuck with you or found purpose. Well, I’d say the purpose has been found. It’s your son. And, he needs his mother to still catch him when he falls but to let him fall, as well, and learn what comes with failure, including the steps to recovery.

A parent who is driven by only success and grabbing every opportunity might not be relaxed enough to say, “It’s okay if I don’t have any interest in ___. Maybe I’ll give it a try; and, if I don’t like it, that’s fine. I’ll do better at something else.” You might get upset if you take on a crossword puzzle and leave half of it blank. You might cut interests out of your life because you did not excel at them. Or, you might think you have to be good at everything.


Which brings me back to the father in the picture. What’s his input with the son? How does he nurture the boy? Is his method annoying to you? If you answer the last question with some form of “yes,” that says plenty. Maybe a lack of desire to compete and excel could be directly or subtly linked to an unhappy union in which two committed lovers–role models for the boy–are anything but encouraging images at the finish line. The boy might not want to complete the race because the prize at the end of the road is not worth his time/energy. [Or, maybe, it’s not you he’s looking at but other families falling apart.]

One last push to sound competent and professional. These moments just pour out of me like a leaky boat. It’s the chatty therapist in me.

Get to know your son and his interests. [If at seventeen he still likes the cartoons he watched at five or keeps a stuffed animal on his bed, don’t harp on that being a bad thing.] Let him decide when it’s time to keep or part with something. Don’t assume his decisions or ways are bad ones. Teach your son how to pick himself up and try, again. Don’t insist he must continue or be smarter or more successful than he feels fit/able. Or, live with the possible failure of staying connected with your son; accept that he will likely cut ties with you or resent you if you push too hard or fail to fill in other gaps.

You can’t guarantee success no matter what method you try. You, too, must be able to cope with “failure” and still find happiness, contentment. Otherwise, this life is a miserable one.


Phew! And, breathe. [This is just the tip of the emotional iceberg for me.] If you manage to find my lengthy thought process here and wish to continue, feel free to contact me.


Heart-to-Heart Conversation Heart Conversations [Comics]


Possibly my last creative effort for this year’s season of love (and foul moods from the absence or abuse of love).  Enjoy a little fallout between a couple of candy hearts.