I first met Charles online years ago when he left a thoughtful comment on my blog about our mutual disdain for texting. I thought, who is this guy? He immediately struck me as sincere, intelligent and funny. Sure enough, so was his blog,
Mostly Bright Ideas.
Whether he’s pondering the current lack of face-to-face social interaction or detailing what it was like to grow up in 1960s Bronx when kick-the-can and bubblegum cards were the norm, his brilliant writing never fails to spark feelings of pure nostalgia and wonderment. After reading his posts, I always come away feeling like I had learned a thing or two. I’d even venture to say all of his ideas are bright.
He’s also a WordPress Recommended Humor blogger, and has been Freshly Pressed multiple times. His most recent FP was Gone, and Pretty Much Forgotten. No doubt, every single one of his posts should be — his writing’s that good. And I’m not just saying this because he bought me a grande Frappuccino at Starbucks when we finally met for real last summer. (Yes, he is as polite, charming and funny in person as he is on his blog!)
Without further ado, please enjoy my Firsts and Lasts Interview with my September blogger of the month:
Charles from Mostly Bright Ideas
Blog Post: It was May 11, 2010, and was called “Things I Can’t Do (A Partial List).” There were several militant positive thinkers in my life then, and I’d grown tired of hearing about how we’re all capable of doing absolutely anything. It’s a meaningless idea. And if it were true, wouldn’t the world be pretty boring? I love seeing all the amazing things other people can do – things that I can’t do.
Kiss: You won’t believe this, but I don’t remember. I know who she was, but I have no memory of the actual kiss.
Love: This is more difficult than I imagined it would be. What I thought love was when I was sixteen is completely different from how I see it now. If I were feeling now what I felt then, I don’t even think I would call it love. It was more like, I’m with somebody! Maybe I won’t be alone for the rest of my life! Pathetic, I know.
Childhood Memory: I climbed out of my crib, went into my parents’ bedroom, and told my mother there were ants crawling on me. She told me to go back to sleep. How old could I have been if I were still sleeping in a crib? Two? I still blame my mother for her apparent lack of concern, and I’m sure it’s the cause of my pathetic first-love experience.
Moment I met my significant other: Her daughter was nine and my daughter was about to turn eight. We lived in the same apartment building, and the girls had become friends. One day, they decided that she and I should go out on a date. Sixty-two days later, we were married. And just like that, our daughters went from being friends to being sisters, sharing a bedroom and losing that valuable only-child status. I think that’s when they learned to mind their own business.
Possession I would take if my house were on fire: Assuming everyone was out safely, I would take my car keys. If I couldn’t find my keys, I would go for my wallet. But I usually leave my wallet with my keys, so I wouldn’t be able to find either one. Then I’d probably panic and grab the nine-gallon jar of peanut butter we just bought at Costco.
Job I had: I was a stock clerk at the A&P. I think minimum wage then was $1.65. My first paycheck had deductions for taxes and union dues, and my take-home pay was eighteen dollars. It was four decades ago, yet that feeling of disappointment is as vivid as ever. But I still can’t remember my first kiss.
Time I got pulled over by a cop: I was doing forty in a thirty. It was a main road and everyone would always go about fifty, or even faster. I went to court and the judge reduced the fine, which made me feel as though I had righted an injustice. Later I found out that the judge reduced everyone’s fine if they just showed up in court.
Thing I think God will say to me at the pearly gates: “Did you make a reservation? Because we don’t seem to have any record of it.”
Blog Post: Literally Confused [editor’s note: a funny post revisiting childhood sayings. Find out if his mom really did have “eyes in the back of her head” and the real reason he didn’t take French in junior high]
Thing I cooked: Pizza, with homemade dough and sauce. I even used garlic, basil, and onions we grew in the backyard. Only the cheese was store-bought, and that’s because our cow was away on a business trip.
Movie I saw: Simply Irresistible. It’s one of those feel-good romantic comedies. It made me want to drown myself.
Book I read: The Joy of x. It’s about math. I like reading books about math, which I guess makes me a nerd. I also like thinking of myself as a nerd, because it’s the same as being a weirdo, but makes it sound as though I’m doing it on purpose.
Reality TV show I watched: I don’t watch television. I don’t have any regular shows, and never seem to even like the ones everyone else loves. When I do turn on the TV, they always seem to be in the middle of an endless commercial break, and after six or seven, I turn it off.
Person I kissed: My wife. I could go for a laugh here, but I’m not completely stupid.
Time I cried: A year ago, at my daughter’s wedding. They’d been dating for ten years, and now they had those rings on their fingers. I’d known all along that she’d found the right guy – somebody who treated her with love and respect. That’s one of the things we hope for, as parents, and there it was.
Time I told a little white lie: Some well-dressed Jehovah’s Witnesses came to the door, now for the ninth time in the past year. I told them I was contagious.
Time I did something really scary: I cut down a dead tree in the backyard. It was about sixty feet tall. I wasn’t scared so much for myself, but our neighbors are really neurotic about things crashing through their roof.
Indulgence: I bought myself a graphics tablet, because I thought I was going to start doing animation. I try to dust it off at least a couple of times a month.
Embarrassing moment: See my Good Deed, below:
Good deed I did: Just the other day, I helped a lady at the supermarket by getting something she couldn’t reach on the top shelf. She thanked me, and I said, “Well, it helps to be incredibly tall.” She looked at me and without a moment of hesitation, said “Yes, you are tall – for a short little man.” See what happens when you try to be nice?
Thanks for humoring us with this in-depth interview, Charles. I owe you a Frappuccino!
Do yourself a favor and visit him at Mostly Bright Ideas.
And be sure to check out all my other bloggers of the month.
**Up next: Steve from The Brown Road Chronicles**