PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Recalibration

Isn’t it good just to press the reset button sometimes? Maybe work is stressful, or you’re having trouble with that old jalopy of a vehicle that’s been held together with rope and duct tape for years. Or maybe there is suddenly a pandemic and the globe is awash in disease, except in places where it’s not an actual disease but a concept made-up to wreck the economy and many people’s lives (wait – who does that?!).

Perhaps people are having massive eating and drinking orgies during the economy-wrecking hoax, and that unnerves you. “Why aren’t you guys wearing masks while eating and drinking?” you call out to a crowd of people you encounter at a pop-up restaurant, and then realize how stupid you have made your cause sound.

This is when it’s time to pick up your beer grain scale in such a way as to be holding the “units” and “on/off” button at the same time, inadvertently causing the device to enter “calibration mode," from which there is no return. No “exit” button. No “back.” From here until you can find an “accurate 10 Kg weight” to properly calibrate the device, you cannot use it.

OK, no problem. A guy like me who has paddled the Allagash Wilderness Waterway can figure out how to obtain a 10 Kg weight. Those must be everywhere!

What about at the university gym you belong to? Never mind!

Maybe a neighbor has purchased used barbell weights via a Craigslist posting in a country that once hosted the Olympics, and you could borrow a couple.

Heck! You might as well buy a new scale. It costs twice as much to purchase a 10 kg. weight and have it delivered to your home.

Now what are you supposed to do when your wife asks you to weigh the zucchini? You’ve had too many defeats already this week to find yourself unable to determine if the little piglet sized vegetables she has pulled from the garden weigh 1 pound or 10.

Another option is to visit Tim’s kitchen, where there is a mini scale, and where Lily the cat can watch you weigh beer grains into a plastic food storage container until Tim’s mini scale reads 451 grams, which, when added to 2 10 lb. sacks of grain plus a few hundred grams to account for the weight of the bucket, results in a weight of, more or less, 10 Kg.

Grain scale now recalibrated, life can get back to (relative) normal.

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Keynote

When the godforsaken un-American virus that everyone is all up in arms about is finally conquered by American ingenuity (or just disappears), it will be time to invite back to our hallowed halls the great thinkers and talkers of our time. And even people who just babble endlessly. Anyone who’s willing to get into an airplane and stand up before a live audience of eager listeners would suffice. We need them to come to our conferences and take questions at our seminars; we need them to give keynote addresses.

In my case, I’m going to invite them to “events” and not even require them to speak. I’ll find leading thinkers and tell them about my organization, ask if they’d mind saying a few words. But once they arrive they’ll find that they’ve been invited to a social gathering, not a conference, and that I haven’t provided a stage or any kind of infrastructure for them use in peddling their messages. Tipsy friends of mine will greet my guest speaker warmly, freaking her out. “When am I called upon to speak?” she wonders.

Never. You’ve been invited to a party. And here comes the band!

In the future, bands will be allowed to yell into microphones again, scaring the hell out of everyone just like they have done for decades. That’s how much the future is going to look like the past. Not the recent past, which has been a real drag in case you didn’t notice, but the pre-2020 past, which admittedly wasn’t great between, like, November 3rd 2016 right up until things somehow got worse this calendar year.

And we’ll have keynote speakers again, I’m pretty sure. Can’t wait to sip glasses of cheap red wine whilst listening to the intellectual jibba-jabba.

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Mr. Wrinkly

I was thinking the other day that in the not-too-distant-future, geologically speaking, people will come think of me as old. Like really old.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and think, dude, what’s with all the wrinkles? Next time someone tells you to smile for the camera, don’t. Those goddam creases are so deep you could lose your keys in there.

However, I’m not yet ancient, despite my skin folds, and before you know it it’ll be 2164 and there I am at 200 years and still alive, in a manner of speaking. Part my own flesh and blood. Part reclaimed organs. Part robotics. Meanwhile, you’re dead. Ha! How la like me now?!

And the younger set – people barely past 100 – start tooling on me because I’m so ancient: “Look at that old wrinkly bastard!” Because by then my wrinkles will really be something to marvel at. The hurtful names would run the gamut:

  • Wrinkles McVay
  • Old Wrinkleface
  • Mr. Wrinklepuss
  • The wrinkly old bat who lives down the road
  • Herr Wrinklehausen
  • Sir Wrinklot
  • That a-hole with all the wrinkles
  • Senor Muchas Arrugas.
  • McVay that wrinkled sonuvabitch!
  • Old Fuzzy Wrinkleball
  • Lieutenant McWrinkle

You can imagine that the list is practically endless. I will have learned to deal with it by the time I’m 200, attributing the ribbing from people literally half my age to sheer jealousy. Plus, I may not notice all the name-calling, since I’ll be sleeping a lot, I’m told. That’s what happens when you’re 200, which I will be in a little less than a century and a half.

Hard to imagine it’s going to happen so soon.

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The Zincman Cometh

Is this the year when I break out of my landlocked state and start boating seriously? It could be. I look like a boater, when I’m at the helm with a big grin on my face and zinc oxide on my nose, like it’s 1969 and I’m a lifeguard at Green Lakes State Park.

Maybe it was more like ’72, but it sounds better to say ‘69, which was a year of upheaval during which humans set foot on the moon and half of the world’s musicians died of drug overdoses. I was 5 in 1969; it seems reasonable to assume that I probably visited the beach at Green Lakes State Park, where I first saw the white, zinc-slathered noses of yesteryear.

Meanwhile, people in other states weren’t bothering with zinc oxide. “Zinc Oxide is for Pussies,” was their slogan. They would gather together without masks or a pocketful of zinc and give the finger to the sun. They believed the sun was full of shit, the jerky central orb of our solar system, around which everything circles. A pitiful and angry little glowing ball of burning gases, ticked off because it is relatively insignificant in our universe.  

Most of those maskless and zinc oxide-less folks are now dead from getting cancer of the nose, and their ashes are scattered all over creation. The rest of us are still alive, enjoying the pandemic.

Maybe we should have skipped the zinc oxide.

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