Wordless Wednesday, Defined

I don’t intend to indulge in a lot of blog gimmicks, but I am fascinated by one: Wordless Wednesday.

Every Wednesday, I’ll post a photo without explanation.
No, this isn’t my idea. Near as I can tell, Wordless Wednesday has been floating around since at least 2008, but I was unable to turn up much history. There is a website, http://www.wordlesswednesday.com, but that appears to be just an aggregator. Also, quite a few people are doing it wrong — many post pics with titles that tell more or less exactly what’s going on, and some go so far as to include captions. *facepalm*
Anyway, whatever its origins, I like the concept. Here’s how it’ll be employed here:
  • I will use my own photos.
  • I will absolutely not use titles, captions, or tags.
  • I will try to avoid photos of obvious subjects (e.g., friends/family/cats) and photos I have posted elsewhere (i.e., Facebook).
  • Comments will be open, but I won’t answer any questions.
Here goes …

Liquid Pro Quo

Today completes an improbable week, one in which I consumed no soda.

When I say “improbable,” understand that, going back to at least my high school days, twentyish years ago, I have rarely gone a DAY without soda.

For most of that time, I didn’t have what you’d call a slight consumption rate, either.

Over the past several years, on a typical work day, I consumed absolutely no less than 48 ounces of high-caffeine diet soda, generally followed up by another 24-48 ounces at home.

On weekends, especially game nights, the numbers frequently went higher.

That’s sort of a lot, no?

I decided it was, and, rather than just stop at the acknowledgement, I chose to drop the stuff.

Altogether.

All at once.

No tapering off.

Boom.

This seemed a more likely route to success, especially when I considered that gradually cutting back would involve some math, maybe even a chart or two. Piled atop the willpower this was going to require, that just sounded like too much work.

So, cold turkey.

Easy enough, except for The Problem, by which I refer in ominous capital letters to my not inconsequential caffeine addiction.

Turns out, you can buy that stuff in pill form: 200 mg tablets, 16 to a box, 93 cents for the store brand.

Nice.

So, during the Sunday shopping run I picked up several boxes of those and one bottle of water.

On Monday, I popped pills and drank the bottle of water.

On Tuesday, I refilled the bottle from the water fountain and continued popping pills.

Same routine through the rest of the work week.

At home, water and more pills.

Aside from last night, when I enjoyed a beer with dinner and a few fingers of rum while writing (alcohol consumption is a whole other topic) I drank nothing aside from water all week.

***

Observations:

• Health impact, part one: Caffeine pills are wonderful. I calculated a dosage equivalent to what I’d been receiving via soda and scheduled taking a pill every few hours, like some kind of medication. My alertness level has gone unchanged.

• Health impact, part two: It takes about half the volume of water to quench my thirst as the volume of soda to which I was accustomed.

• Economic impact: Purchasing caffeine in pill form is far more cost effective than purchasing it suspended in solution.

• Environmental impact: In just one work week, I have eliminated 15-20 plastic bottles (based on my previous consumption of three or four 24-ounce bottles of soda per day.)

• Pain-in-the-ass impact: A few packages of caffeine pills take up negligible space in the grocery cart, the car, and the pantry. The same cannot be said for several packages of soda. Similarly, carrying a packet of pills to work is easier than lugging a couple bottles of soda in my lunch tote.

• Inventory: The few bottles I have left at home may sit around for a while, at least until a soda-drinking friend visits.

• Exclusion: I am going to make one possible exception to my soda-free plan: full-strength regular Coke. For years I have kept my soda consumption almost exclusively to high-caffeine diet sodas, saving only this beverage, which I employ to slightly dilute lesser rums, e.g., Bacardi. (I drink fine rums neat, however.) I am curious whether I might now lose my taste for this concoction; I’ll do some research and report.

The Haircut, or Hair and Back Again

I’ve always hated getting a haircut.

When I was a kid, I had a severe ticklish reaction on my neck. As a haircut involves someone poking around the neck, I was a squirming nightmare for hair-cutting professionals.

Generally, my mother eased this burden by carefully selecting an accommodating salon.

I suspect she also tipped well.

But a boy cannot forever be taken by his mother into the caring, understanding graces of a hair stylist.

The day comes when he must visit the barber.

My experience with the barber — and I say “the barber” in the utter confidence that for me, the man I am about to describe shall remain the only such hair care worker I ever encounter — occurred under the guidance of my father.

Dad didn’t patronize a salon. Not even a barbershop. Rather, Dad, like many of the other firefighters at our local station, was a patron of the services of one of the men, who, for the purposes of anonymity, I shall refer to as “Buzz.”

If I’m remembering correctly, Buzz learned his trade while serving in the army. His tool was a clipper. His style offerings were numbered. The numbers matched the settings on the clipper.

There were no frills in this barber’s “shop,” by which I refer to an otherwise unused corner of the fire station’s hose room wherein Buzz practiced his art with nothing but the aforementioned clippers, a chair — not a barber’s chair, just a chair — a broom, and a dustpan.

Into this place my father escorted me one fine Saturday morning, with the intention that we should both get haircuts.

I had never encountered clippers before, and while a person with scissors nipping around my neck was enough to set off a tickle response, a pair of buzzing clippers … well, today I can bear clippers through willpower and a diminished tickle response; at age 8 I had no willpower and a powerful tickle response.

I came home with half a haircut, and my mother neatened things up with a pair of scissors, no doubt wondering why she hadn’t just done this to start with.

***

I don’t have the severe ticklish reaction anymore. (I don’t get carsick, either, but that’s a whole other tale of childhood turmoil.) Nonetheless, I still hate having a haircut.

I have no moral objection to long hair, but, having spent most of my life in the South, I have always endured a strong, prevailing social pressure to look “respectable.” Often, this has served as reason enough to endure a haircut, especially upon certain sacred official occasions — participating in a wedding, going for a job interview, posing for a formal portrait.

In the absence of social pressure, my hair grows — I don’t enter a salon except under duress.

I adore an absence of duress.

Once upon a time, my hair ran down my back with abandon. College, followed by jobs at a couple of easygoing newspapers, allowed that.

After years with ponytail-length tresses, one day, more or less on a whim, I cut my hair.

Since that day, I have had just enough of the right social demands, spaced at just the right intervals, that my hair has been more or less short for the past few years. Sure, it has been on its way toward unruly hippie proportions a few times, but, on average, “presentable” has been a good descriptor of my hair.

No more.

I last had a proper haircut shortly before the wedding of one of my best friends, approximately a year ago.

Since, nada.

Last night, I had an interesting realization: My choice to go for short hair coincided, roughly, with the time I stopped writing freely.

No doubt it’s coincidental that I am embarking upon blogging as my hair once again ventures into The Land Below The Collar, but the coincidence still amuses me.

Onward, words and hair; may you both flow freely.

Awake

A wind stirs, rustling leaves above me.

I lift my fedora from where it rests, covering my face. Day is here, but the sun is mild, scarcely penetrating this shady abode.

I gaze up at the great stretch of limbs, trying to remember just how long I have lain here. My mind is too fuzzy to think in days, weeks, or years; only “too long” registers as a unit of time.

I rise, and my bones creak, but I am full of energy. I look about me at this, my favorite reposing place, reach a hand toward the rough bark, speak a silent thank you to my arboreal friend.

Then I shrug my shoulders, dust my coat, replace my hat, and wander off …