43

Progress and Potatoes

Sylvia Shawcross
Please note this is a humour piece which is not something people may want to read depending on the state of your country and how demoralized/angry you may be about the state of the world. Seriously.

And so it was that the two old women (who would not admit to being old at all and who had all their wits about them and none of that fading flowers of their youth hanging about haunting them and making people feel sorry for them) decided to go to The Red Lobster restaurant.

This was because the fatter of the two hadn’t been there in seven years and she had fond memories of it all, particularly their buttery biscuits and plump shrimp with coconut sauce and strawberry daiquiris, and it appeared that they were going to be shutting down the whole Red Lobster chain of restaurants one day soon because of the dismal economy and impending depression and who in their right mind goes out to dinner these days what with world war 3 about to happen and food banks on the brink of bankruptcy?

But it was decided that one must always do one’s duty to one of the last hurrahs of a generation raised on Red Lobster and “the seafood lover in you” as the jingle goes. A person can go out once every six months or so can’t they?!! they rationalized to themselves feebly/fiercely. And so off they went somewhat guiltily/happily to this particular last hurrah.

Well, that was the plan. A quick little drive.

Yes—A quick little drive to the outskirts area of the grey city while conversing about how this younger generation was doomed to a technological hellworld of fascist frumduggery and asinine artificial intelligence. There was some argument over whether it was asinine or arsenine but it was finally determined that arsenine was an aromatic heterocyclic compound. This was important to know because they were both addicted to cryptic crosswords and not knowing if AI was asinine or arsenine was of utmost importance.

Yes, it was true they did have to drag out their horrible cellphone to google the matter but they argued that they could just have easily brought the Oxford Dictionary with them so such horrible contraptions “really” weren’t needed. Really.

And they would have also just stopped at the corner and asked someone where they were when the time came when they seem to have gotten lost although there was some discussion as to whether they were lost or not. Asking someone on the street had always been a reasonable time-tested approach but everybody walking down the street was on a contraption and nobody was paying attention so of course it is entirely understandable why they used their contraption’s GPS Siri creature to tell them where they were and how to get to where they were going.

Using GPS was perfectly understandable under the circumstances because nobody printed paper maps anymore and even if they did they were building up the city so dang fast (to convert it into a 15-minute globalist monstrosity aka prison for the mooing herds), that one wouldn’t have enough time to list all the streets anyway. So that need for the contraption was perfectly reasonable.

In a peculiar little way it was most helpful when it screeched at them about Icy Roads ahead in 90 degree sunny weather because that certainly validated their opinion of Siri and her arrogance. Which of course simply fed into their lack of confidence in the contraption when they came to the corner of Belfast and that street named after some saint (which makes no sense because there was indeed nothing saintly about the place or the people along that particular strip of consumerist hell).

The thing about that corner was they both agreed that Siri was emphatically wrong about turning right instead of left. “See! Glitches! Always glitches!” So they turned left and got lost. The fatter one insisted it wasn’t because they were lost, it was more that they had lost their bearings. Well that was the wrong thing to say because neither one of them knew the origin of the expression of losing one’s “bearings”.

So they googled it while sitting in the parking lot of some place they’d never seen before in all their natural lives and never wanted to see again apparently. They were immediately tickled pink to learn that bearings are a “verbal noun from bear (v.). The meaning “direction or point of the compass in which an object is seen or is moving” is from 1630s; to take (one’s) bearings is from 1711. The mechanical sense of “part of a machine that ‘bears’ the friction” is from 1791.”

Now they knew. And that was important. Of course they also knew they’d forget it rather rapidly due to their advanced age which they would never admit to but that was not the point at all. They both agreed that they would have to look it up in the Oxford dictionary when they went home because it would be far far more informative in a book than on a screen. Of course they “say” the entire dictionary is on-line but it isn’t because they proved that when researching nicknames for sailors from Bulgaria just last month. They agreed to look up “bearings” in the big book as they found their way back to Belfast and that street named after some saint. They then turned right. They did not speak again until they wandered through the front door of the Red Lobster.

It was not busy which was quite a relief given they were about 49 minutes and 23 seconds late for their reservation. Or at least that is what Siri told them.

“Did you ever wonder,” said the fat one as they were shown their way to the tiny little cramped booth amid a sea of empty huge booths and open tables. “Did you ever wonder about those lobsters in the tank at the front?”

And the skinnier one said she hadn’t much thought about those lobsters and why on earth would they be in the least bit interesting at all? “Well, it’s not the lobsters now per se,” grumbled the fatter one, “but what it will morph into now. Can’t you see it… They want us all eating crickets. Do you suppose they’ll have restaurants with tanks of crickets at the front one day soon? Or centipedes? Just so we can pick the bug we’re going to munch on? How will they manage that!! Do you know how many bugs it takes to make a lobster!!! Who has that kind of time?!”

“I wouldn’t put it past them,” said the skinnier one while the fatter one eventually found herself looking at the tiniest baked pototo she had ever seen. It was sitting in a white dish with salt on top.

“This potato is making me depressed,” she said.

“What was that word we were going to look up,” asked the skinnier one?

“I don’t know. What does it matter?! What does anything matter?! Just look at this potato! It is just sitting there. Just… sitting… there… in that white dish. The world doesn’t make any sense anymore. We’re sitting here in this cramped little booth with a hundred other empty big tables and no place to put our purses and this potato is just sitting there as if it had some reason to call itself a potato. This isn’t a potato. This is… I don’t know.”

“Bindings? Bandings? Dammit… what was it?”

“Ask Siri, I’m sure she was listening to the conversation,” muttered the fatter one who was still staring at the potato. “It’s because there are two of us and someone was told to put two people at a two people table even if there are a million other empty tables. This! THIS is why the world is going to hell. It is not flexible. Nobody knows how to colour outside the circles anymore. Nobody is adaptable anymore. Nobody freakin’ cares! We’re all going to die horribly because nobody knows that two people can sit at a four person booth just as easily if not more easily than a two person booth. If we can’t even figure that out, how the hell are we going to manage mass immigration, world wars, famines, climate change, complete global financial meltdown and the consumption of crickets?!!!! HOW?”

“Eat your potato. It is just a potato.”

“See, that’s where you’re wrong you know. This is not just a potato. This is a two-person potato given a four-person booth. Why would that be? Why is this pathetic little thing automatically given more room than we are given? Is it more important?”

“It is just a potato in a dish. Maybe they didn’t have little dishes.”

“No. They didn’t have big potatoes. They forgot to turn on the enlarge button on their bio-3D-photocopy machine.”

“That doesn’t exist and you know it.”

“It’s shrinkflation. They think we won’t notice. We’re paying the same price for this shrunken excuse for a potato as we used to pay for a real-sized one. Well I for one notice.”

“It is good that you’ve noticed. Can we go now?” asked the now exasperated and exhausted skinnier one.

“In fact, if you think about it, both the cricket and the lobster are arthropods. It is entirely possible that crickets are just lobster shrinkflation.”

And so it went. Eventually, after all that, they discovered how to get out of the parking lot which helped a little bit to assuage the fatter one’s existential despair and the skinnier one’s frantic search for the word they were going to look up. She made it all the way to banality and was on the way to bannock by the time they got home.

“All I remember is that when you get to Belfast, turn right,” said the fatter one.

Then of course, banality/bannock/belfast didn’t matter. They couldn’t have cared less. They’d forgotten all about it looking for the house keys.

Eventually the skinnier one slept soundly, content to know she at least remembered that she had wanted to look up a word even if she didn’t remember the word and probably never would.

The fatter one however spent a restless night as she dreamed of potatoes in empty snowy fields all night long.

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acd
acd
Jul 7, 2024 3:16 AM

U.S.A. Why would I be demoralized by the state of this place? It is the same old same old. Nothing new. 1675, yes.
John Dryden
1675
When I consider life, ’tis all a cheat;
Yet, fooled with hope, men favour the deceit;
Trust on, and think to-morrow will repay:
To-morrow’s falser than the former day;
Lies worse; and while it says, we shall be blessed
With some new joys, cuts off what we possessed.
Strange cozenage! none would live past years again,
Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain;
And, from the dregs of life, think to receive
What the first sprightly running could not give.
I’m tired with waiting for this chemic gold,
Which fools us young, and beggars us when old. 

Approximately
Approximately
Jun 30, 2024 10:30 AM

Siri is what Catte would call a fake binary.
you sit there thinking Siri is listening whilst your mobile phone is stuck in pants.

If you want to really know what is happening and how deep this goes.;
‘#Sabrina wallace

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7085777/

Sylvia Shawcross
Sylvia Shawcross
Jun 30, 2024 7:16 PM
Reply to  Approximately

yikes. Now I have a deep distrust of all academic research that is couched in “for the good of humanity” because of course, they probably spend more time making up the “rationale” for what they’re doing than researching. It’s all so dystopian.

UncleWalrus
UncleWalrus
Jun 29, 2024 8:42 PM

I actualy quite enjoy your humor and your writeups Sylvia, I’m just going to break your breast-balls or ovaries or whatever it is that ladies have that are like testes about your lame folding on the “smart” phone thing, so I just imagine all the characters and everything they ate etc in this story having an android washing board… oh wait “ask Siri” so they had a more upscale “smart “washing board, for the love of God lady, get yourself a fucking nokia. <3

Sylvia Shawcross
Sylvia Shawcross
Jun 30, 2024 7:17 PM
Reply to  UncleWalrus

hahaha 🙂

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar
Jun 29, 2024 7:31 AM

1 man out of 4 billion opines that this isn’t his kind of humour…..

NixonScraypes
NixonScraypes
Jun 28, 2024 10:49 PM

They didn’t worry about the “don’t believe your eyes” stuff when thay video was made! I wonder what she was really singing. I’ve always enjoyed the laconic,sly humour of Syl’s postings but this one – advertised as humourous – wasn’t. Maybe it’s a girl thing or a Canadian thing, but I didn’t get it. Also it’s the first time I didn’t know it was her by the title.

Sylvia Shawcross
Sylvia Shawcross
Jun 29, 2024 2:56 AM
Reply to  NixonScraypes

Well… I tried. The only form of humour people like these days is when its “attack” humour against the bad guys. Sigh… I get tired of being sarcastically angry sometimes.

ariel
ariel
Jun 29, 2024 11:20 AM

Chin up, Syl. I knew it was you as the first potato past the post flickered by.

Sylvia Shawcross
Sylvia Shawcross
Jun 29, 2024 5:35 PM
Reply to  ariel

Bless ya ariel. 🙂

NixonScraypes
NixonScraypes
Jun 29, 2024 9:41 PM

I wasn’t looking for sarcasic attacks, I like your whimsical, low key approach, it makes me smile rather than laugh. I suppose I just didn’t understand it. On the other tack. Did you notice that Dee Dee’s mouth wasn’t doing what the words were?

Sylvia Shawcross
Sylvia Shawcross
Jun 30, 2024 7:01 PM
Reply to  NixonScraypes

Thank you Nixon. I’m just going on about how attack humour is the sense of humour that is appreciated these days. Not your opinion really. Just flailing about trying to amuse in a time when “we are not amused” these days. Did not notice the Dee Dee thing possibly because I don’t know who Dee Dee is… Or do I?

NixonScraypes
NixonScraypes
Jun 30, 2024 8:09 PM

I’m not sure if I do! Well er um the one in the earworm about er carrots um mashed swede….shuffles off mumbling to himself.

Lulu
Lulu
Jun 29, 2024 3:51 PM
Reply to  NixonScraypes

Well, Nixon, it must indeed be a girl thing and a Canadian thing because, as a Canadian woman of a ‘certain age’ I definitely got it, and enjoyed it! Strangely enough, as soon as I saw the article’s title, I thought “I bet that’s one of Sylvia’s pieces”.

Thanks, Sylvia, for a refreshing, yet wistful take on social commentary. I found it darkly amusing – especially the struggle to remember the particular word!

Sylvia Shawcross
Sylvia Shawcross
Jun 29, 2024 5:36 PM
Reply to  Lulu

Dearest Lulu. Thank you. I was possibly subconsciously shamelessly looking for sympathy in my comment… lol.

Balkydj
Balkydj
Jun 30, 2024 1:32 PM

Dang you, a hussy-mother of invention once said to her 3 boys, I’m gonna’ teach y’all how to Mash Potato whilst mashing potatoes for dinner tonight: & off she went, dancing into the kitchen, grabbing the Kartoffeln and throwing them along the chain gang with commanding gestures, to the sink, washing & peeling & dancing … Many hands make truly light work , on your feet having a laugh, with a pan full of mash, butter & milk, taking a pounding.

Dang: I thought that’s Syl. From the title alone, but I didn’t expect such a sweet potato earworm reminder in such a mashed up world. 3 deaf ole’ gals on a bench…
“Windy today innit’ ”
” Mmm, Thursday surely?”
” So am I, let’s go’ave a cuppa’Tea”.
Thanks for the laugh@myself, Syl.

So, I thought to return the favour, when ‘Nightcalls’.
Balky

https://youtu.be/opklSX3-p88?si=K_QLAdbPCP7Yip3x

Sylvia Shawcross
Sylvia Shawcross
Jun 30, 2024 7:21 PM
Reply to  Balkydj

Magnificent 🙂

Jimmie Joe
Jimmie Joe
Jun 28, 2024 8:24 PM

Mrs. Bachus is an old cold warrior. Therefore, one should not be surprised that since her childhood she has used and mastered well-tried spy methods of disguise, such as fake glasses, a wig and an authentic rubber mask with wrinkles, which convincingly recreates the appearance of a typical left-wing Jewish feminist (who is also always a “sexologist”). Sometimes she even confuses herself with herself or with one of her many literary characters. Then she usually enters into a long intimate Freudian dialog with her multiple personality until she finally finds out exactly where the hell she herself has been for so long. But there is a conclusive explanation for this: “My Upper Me Said No No No!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDgZe4siSNc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eN-RcT3xXtQ Presumably “Bachus” is also just one of her manifold enigmatic undercover camouflage stage names (such as Chameleon/Mimicry). https://charlemagnefiles.com/k-a-bachus https://forebears.io/surnames/bachus Aren’t we all just deceitful spies of our own enemies? After all,… Read more »

Vagabard
Vagabard
Jun 28, 2024 11:22 PM
Reply to  Jimmie Joe

Potentially an original thought in there somewhere. Perhaps sketch out a more coherent thesis…

Jimmie Joe
Jimmie Joe
Jun 29, 2024 1:04 AM
Reply to  Vagabard

No need for a “thesis”: those who want to see will
see. Those who want to remain blind will be blind.

Those who think it is permissible to express them-
selves more directly can be described as half-blind.

To learn who rules over you, simply find
out who you are not allowed to criticize.

Vagabard
Vagabard
Jun 28, 2024 8:17 PM

The skinny one had it right; etymology (plus cryptic crosswords) a better pursuit than the plights of physical food

Edward Bernaysauce
Edward Bernaysauce
Jun 28, 2024 7:14 PM

humor is a welcome respite from the usual repast…;)

wardropper
wardropper
Jun 28, 2024 7:04 PM

In case anybody is tired of the 2-way catastrophe in the US, here’s a 3-way alternative:
https://x.com/RobertKennedyJr/status/1806462171892895808

Approximately
Approximately
Jun 28, 2024 9:48 PM
Reply to  wardropper

Every Country now has a 3-4 way alternative:
and when the 3-4 way alternative gets in….
It is worse than the 2-way catastrophe.

wardropper
wardropper
Jun 29, 2024 12:08 AM
Reply to  Approximately

You should see Iceland…
They had twelve candidates debating for the Presidency a few weeks ago…
But “There can only be one…”

We are indeed living in desperate times.

hotrod31
hotrod31
Jun 29, 2024 2:36 AM
Reply to  wardropper

You want to be in Australia to know what a ‘3-way tragedy really is’ … viz. Federally, Albanese, Buffoon-Head and Barnaby, well if they’re not circus representatives, I’m a phucking monkey’s-uncle. As far as the US pricks are concerned … well the USA deserves them what else is one expecting from the world’s number-one terrorist nation. The saddest part of the whole tragi-comedy is that there are nearly 80M people who we’re told still believe in this US abomination.

el Gallinazo
el Gallinazo
Jun 28, 2024 6:41 PM

When I lived on St. John US Virgin Islands I used to go lobster hunting with scuba gear with buddies. No lobster hunters there ever called them lobsters. We called them “bugs.”

Hemlockfen
Hemlockfen
Jun 28, 2024 6:33 PM

So this is what it was like for my Grandmother and her best friend who lived a 1/2 block over. They frequently walked together to shop with their two wheeled baskets to the strip mall that was 3 blocks away. Neither learned how to drive nor did they want to. Their husbands took their only car to work every day. As they walked they probably noted all the clothing hanging on the clothes lines along the way. Must have been an unwritten rule about not talking about each others underwear. “Got a new wringer last week”. “Why don’t they cut their grass more often?” “Have they ever painted that house?” “I just remembered, I have to hoe the vegetable garden”. Times don’t change just the topics. Insects, that were sunning themselves in the gravel alleyway, leaped for their lives and out of their path. The concept of eating them never… Read more »

Sylvia Shawcross
Sylvia Shawcross
Jun 29, 2024 5:40 PM
Reply to  Hemlockfen

I was sitting there last week looking at the fireflies out there and I “actually” started wondering if fireflies would be edible and if they would taste spicy with the light and what a wonderfully decorative garnish they would make… how weird are we all getting now? Or is that just me? Probably just me.

Hemlockfen
Hemlockfen
Jun 30, 2024 8:28 PM

They have a distinctive odor. On days that I have a sense of smell, it is noticeable. I don’t chase them anymore but they occasionally find their way inside and, as gently as I can, I put them back outside and then it hits me with flashes of memory of chasing them and stuffing them in a gallon sized milk jug.

el Gallinazo
el Gallinazo
Jun 28, 2024 6:26 PM

Thanks for a good laugh this morning Syl. I need that, what with WW III and birdpox or is it monkey flu, and everything. I read that they had to gas Big Bird yesterday. He took one for the team.

BTW I had to look up arsenine which wasn’t easy. I only found one reference and it appears that it was a little used and archaic adjectival form for arsenic compounds or the organism that produces them. 🙂

Sylvia Shawcross
Sylvia Shawcross
Jun 29, 2024 2:58 AM
Reply to  el Gallinazo

Gotta love these archaic ridiculous words.

Jimmie Joe
Jimmie Joe
Jun 28, 2024 5:57 PM

If you are a “potato-saxon”, raise your right hand to swear!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terms_used_for_Germans#Kartoffel_/_Alman_/_Biodeutscher

some fun stuff https://sharetext.me/so15fltagj

Howard
Howard
Jun 28, 2024 4:57 PM

Pure gold – thank you!

LOL
LOL
Jun 28, 2024 4:29 PM

The spud is small because they are a classy gourmet establishment like all of them.

David
David
Jun 28, 2024 3:55 PM

There is no Red Lobster in Belfast. I googled it. The Mourne Seafood Bar restaurant in Bank Street is highly recommand. Reclaimed. Wait a minute. Siri what’s that word again? Recommended ..;though.

James Robertson
James Robertson
Jun 28, 2024 10:15 PM
Reply to  David

“I googled it” spoken like a truly mindless droid.

Johnny
Johnny
Jun 28, 2024 9:49 AM

Spooky synchronicity Sylvia.

I had just posted a comment referring to the US as the ‘US of Asinine’ (after watching some of the Biden-Trump farce), and then up pops your piece.

Two old laddies it was.
Lost in their heads.

ariel
ariel
Jun 28, 2024 4:27 PM
Reply to  Johnny

‘Untied States of Mind.’

Johnny
Johnny
Jun 29, 2024 12:13 AM
Reply to  ariel

Exactly.

Sylvia Shawcross
Sylvia Shawcross
Jun 29, 2024 2:59 AM
Reply to  Johnny

Is there anyone who is actually not lost in their heads these days?

Ann in Oregon
Ann in Oregon
Jun 29, 2024 3:17 AM

NO

Johnny
Johnny
Jun 29, 2024 4:15 AM

Hopefully, most kids under three aren’t. As for the rest of us _ _ _ subsumed, consumed and used.
Putty, in their cold calloused claws.