Tuesday, May 26th15.4°C
Old as dirt. Twice as gritty.

Greenway wars

A treat - this week you get an entire column crammed into a video meme.
Long live the Greenway, and all the combatants within.


A real mother of a day

Mother’s Day is such a nice sort of day, a lovely little Sunday in May, set aside for people to give their mums appropriate adoration, heartfelt appreciation, and material goods. Love, kindnesses,  memories shared, laughter and smiles, oh what a nice day, what a dear sweet day. 
Or is it? As with most things in life, Mother’s Day isn’t really that simple. There are unspoken Mother’s Day rules, rules that can be extremely complicated and tough, and they change, sometimes within the hour. It pays to observe those rules, even though you stand no possible chance of getting it right since they are invisible and unpredictable. Yes, Mother’s Day is a minefield, fraught with the danger of easily-taken missteps. Mother’s Day, to put it bluntly, is a mother of a day.
Scenario: Imagine a pleasant and happily married man, a man with a handful of kids and a mother and a wife. He lives his pleasant and happy life in a pleasant and happy sort of way. He is fairly clueless about some things, but he gets by. That is, until Mother’s Day rolls around. On Mother’s Day, this man is in a spot, he needs to sort through the unspoken rules to find what applies to him in terms of giving. He will fail at this, because, as has been mentioned, the rules are unspoken. And invisible. 
He will almost certainly need to remember his wife as well as his mother on this day, at least if he wants to survive to see his children grow. He will need to find a special gift and card, something that says, “I’m really really sorry I did that to you, but sooner or later, with any luck, they’ll grow up and move away.” If he should fail to honour his wife, he runs the risk of being seen as a mother himself. A mother with a suffix.
On the other hand, his wife may have made it very clear that she is not his mother, thank you very much, and she most emphatically does not want to be getting some sorry #@*$(#@&* excuse of a token gift from him. Now the point here is, she either means this, or she doesn’t. It is highly advisable that he guesses which it is.
Of course, the man must also give his mother a gift and card, and this can be tricky, because most Mother’s Day cards say something along the line of, ‘You’re the best mother in the world’. So, he’s calling two women ‘the best mother in the world’. Two women who might compare notes. He’d better be ready with a plausible explanation, and good luck with that, because he’s going to fail.
If he also has a daughter who is a mother, he has a riddle on his hands. Does the father of the daughter give the daughter of his wife a gift if the daughter is a mother of a kid? (How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?) This man might find it best to play it safe, i.e. if female, give a gift. His list might read as follows:
Mother’s Day Gift Guide:
  • Mother - Reason: She is my mother.
  • Wife - Reason: She is the mother of my children.
  • Daughter with children - Reason: She is the mother of my grandchildren.
  • Grandmother - Reason: She is the mother of my mother.
  • Mother-In-Law - Reason: She is the mother of my wife. And vicious when crossed.
  • Sister - Reason: She is the mother of my nieces and nephews.
  • Toddler daughter - Reason: She is the mother of a doll. Play it safe.
  • Total stranger walking down the street who just made 2-second eye-contact - Reason: She may be a mother. Play it safe. 

What of mothers and daughters, though? Should a mother give her adult daughter something as a way to say, “Thank you so very much for being the kind of daughter who would give birth to a little holy terror that breaks my good china.” Sure she could, but it can get messy, “Thank you for being my daughter.” “Gosh no, thank you for being my mother.” “No, no, thank you for being my daughter.” “No, really, thank you for being my mother, I’m serious.” “No, I must insist, thank you for being my daughter. Really. I am so much more thankful than you.” “No, actually, you’re not. I am many times more thankful than you, so much so that I feel sick, physically sick by it.” “Ha, that’s the chocolate making you sick, the chocolate I bought for you because I am just that much more thankful than you will ever be.” This conversation can go on for a very very long time.

Mother’s Day is, and should be, mainly for the darling little children who are given this day to pay penance to the mothers they have driven completely insane for the 364 other days of the year. Their gift of dead dandelions says the words they cannot express, “Mum, not only have I driven you nuts all year, but I am now going to fill your house with dead dandelions. And you will have to keep them around for a very, very, very, long time or I will cry.”
Being small and helpless, they can even get away with nothing more than a scribbled card, one that reads, “hapy mothher day can yu bye me a new firetruck todayu?” In fact, they can get away with doing and giving absolutely nothing at all if they want, because if that happens, it is their father who will suffer for it, not them. 
Speaking of fathers, it’s different with men. On Father’s Day, they have completely forgotten that such a day exists, and are therefore pleasantly surprised by the mysterious appearance of gifts and niceness. They don’t care who gives them anything or if they’re given anything at all, they’re just grateful that they’re not in trouble for forgetting to buy a gift for someone. This proves one thing: Men are pushovers who have no clue about societal niceties.
But the question remains, who really qualifies for the royal treatment on Mother’s Day? We have established that mothers do, but is it meant for all mothers or just the good ones? And if it’s just for the good ones, what do we give to the bad mothers, more time with their kids?

The letter

When you want to get a message to a friend or foe these days, you sure have lots of choices. However, today, being International Standard Letter vs Email Day, we will focus on standard letter vs email. 

I mean, I already know you’re just going to send the email, but a day may come when your granny demands the real deal, a handwritten letter, something that will prove to her that you love her. When that day arrives, I want you to be ready. Besides, a standard letter has other applications, an important one being that after reading it the recipient can make a paper airplane. You just can’t do that with email.
Now, I’m going to guess that some of you have no idea what a ‘letter’ is nor how to go about building one. It’s pretty easy, all you need is a pen, paper, envelope and stamp and you’re done, except for throwing a bunch of words on the paper. It’s like a ridiculously long email, although there are key differences in style between a letter and an email.
A standard letter contains:
1. The header (in which you remind the person of their name and their address on the off-chance that they have somehow forgotten, plus the date).
2. The salutation (the ‘hey there’).
3. The body (where you go on and on about yourself until the recipient tears your letter into a million pieces and flushes it down the toilet).
4. The closing (the kiss-off).
5. The PS (a bonus component, the PS, the PPS, the PPPS, the PPPPS, ad nauseam, adds emphasis). A retro-classic: “PS I love you.”
Email makes short work of the above. It generally ditches the header, salutation and closing, and the vast majority of the body itself. The PS still thrives, though. PSs are hard to kill.
To compare, here is a letter:
John Doe
1234 Skid Row
Somewhere, USA
May 4, 2015
Dear John,
It has come to my attention that you have been playing with my rubber ducky when I am not around to guard it. This is unacceptable on so many levels, I hardly know where to begin.
Suffice to say, your behaviour is highly objectionable, and really, it strikes me as kind of shady. Who plays with someone else’s rubber ducky without permission? Someone who quacks like a duck? Aside from which, my rubber ducky does not like strangers playing with it, and despite your assurances that you are no stranger, my ducky says otherwise. 
Further, it is clear that you do not use the correct bubble bath, because my rubber ducky has had an allergic reaction, one so severe that its little ducky beak fell clean off. 
I am truly disappointed that you fail to respect rubber ducky boundaries. Please be more respectful in future, or it will be necessary for me to sic my invisible rabbit on you.
Yours truly,
Jo Slade
PS You are a loser.
The email version goes like this:
You suck, ducky pervert. :-(
They say essentially the same thing, except that with the email version I can bomb John’s email account so that he gets 1,000,000 repeats of the message plus a bonus message from a Nigerian prince who is trying to get his money out of the country.
The standard letter takes longer and can’t be bombed, but is more satisfying by far. It has significantly more impact. For example, it arrives in the recipient’s mailbox. Email from you probably goes straight to the email program’s spam filter because of that email bomb you sent.
Tip: For a standard letter, the salutation always includes the word ‘dear’, even if the recipient is your worst enemy. 
‘Dear sir’
‘Dear beloved friend’
‘Dear monster who ran over my dog’
‘Dear prospective employer who will probably just throw this away anyway’
‘Dear whom it may concern’
‘Dear nosy parker who is reading this because you steamed open the envelope’
The ‘dear’ has to be there. Nobody knows why. It’s a rule. 
The closer, on the other hand, has far more options:
Regards is your basic food-at-end-of-fork closer. It is also conveniently ambiguous. You can use this whether you ‘regard’ the person as a friend or respected person or ‘regard’ them as the twit that they are.
Warm regards
Things are heating up. You like this person enough to toss in the word ‘warm’, which is significantly more than ‘regards’ but it sure isn’t love.
Warmest regards
Usable when a) you need to suck up to this person, or b) really like them, or c) it’s warm outside.
Fond regards
Now you’re just being coy.
Kind regards
You have a good heart, and feel either ‘kind’ and want to show it or ‘vicious’ but don’t want to show it.
Kindest regards
You feel sorry for the recipient because you just told them something terrible.
“Dear John, It’s over, pack your bags and be out before I get home. And leave the rubber ducky, it’s not yours. Yes, I know you have nowhere to live. Sucks to be you. Kindest regards, Jo”
Best regards
This is something you use when you are writing to your favourite columnist and want to make her happy, although ‘large cheque is in the mail’ is even better. 
‘Sincerely’ sounds phony and mildly sneering, at least in my mind it does, so never ever use it again. Thank you.
Yours truly
A classic. Pairs well with red wine, and lots of it.
Take care
A good one for people you like: ‘take care (of yourself, you dear old thing you)’. Or people you don’t: ‘take care (because I’m armed, and you’re ‘it’)’.
For granny.
Lots of love
For granny if she has just sent you money.
Oodles of love
No no no, that is what she writes to you. You can’t write ‘oodles of love’ with a straight face, trust me I’ve tried.
Eat my shorts
An all-purpose good choice for everybody, and is versatile because you can use it in email as well.
Dear reader,
What are you waiting for? Go write that letter. If you don’t, you can . . .
Eat my shorts,
Jo Slade


Dear Old As Dirt readers

The following letter has been provided by Dr. Fingelsnit of the world famous Fingelsnit Research and BioStuff Group, a renowned and highly questionable medical establishment that specializes in almost everything except maybe the kitchen sink.
Please excuse Jo Slade’s absence from her column this week. 
The column scheduled to be here today was as close to perfection as anything I have ever seen. It provided a scientifically formulated solution to world peace and personal happiness, as well as a cure for most if not all ailments, except zits, because nobody really gives much of a damn about zits. It’s a zit, get over it. 
At any rate, each word was a carefully crafted masterpiece guaranteed to create a soul-searching (or gut-churning, if the reader was prone to squeamishness) reaction. Each sentence was complete with a locally-crafted full-stop period, each paragraph followed by white space of such unusual brilliance that sunglasses were required for reading.
Unfortunately, Jo Slade was in a hurry to get the column to Castanet. While running down the road, she tripped and fell down, which is pathetic when you think about it. Who trips that easily, except a klutz? As she fell, the the air turned blue and the column flew out of her hand, one word at a time, until there was nothing left except the word:
which would have made sense if the words before it and after it were in place, but they weren’t. 
As she crawled around picking up the fragmented sentences, grabbing the run-on sentences before they escaped, and covering the indecent improper nouns, I arrived onto the scene. Assuming that I was, in fact, a nice person who just wanted to help, she handed the bag of words to me. I took the words, kicked her to the curb, and went straight to an American publisher who declared the scrambled words to be ‘genius’. I was given an advance of one million dollars and have since retired to a South Pacific island to meditate over the meaning of life, and to pen this excuse note.
Where is Jo Slade now? Well, following her fall, she was rushed to hospital where, upon examination (coincidentally by me), she was declared ridiculously insane. She has yet to argue her way out of that one.

Read more Old as dirt. Twice as gritty. articles


About the Author

This bio was written by Jo Slade. As you can see she has written about herself in the third person. What normal person would do that? They just wouldn't. Who knows how many other persons might be involved in this thing, a second person? Another third? I worry about it. I - she - we - can't even keep it straight, this paragraph is a damn mess, there are persons all over the place. Round 'em up and shoot 'em. That's what I'd do, and by golly I think that's what Jo Slade would do as well.

Biographic nutshell: Jo has been messing around with words for a long time. Sometimes she'll just say words instead of writing them, it saves on paper.

This column: The columns that appear here are of a highly serious and scholarly nature, therefore it is advised that you keep a dictionary and ponderous thoughts nearby.

If, after reading the column, you find yourself tossing and turning at night, burning with the need to email me, just do it. I answer to [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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