April 21, 2018

Al Martinez...On Everything Else As Facebook Walks the Streets of America


I was sitting outdoors at the Canyon Bistro having a glass of wine and waiting for Cinelli when a woman walked up and said, “Hello. My name is Emily and I would like to be friends with you.”

She looked familiar but after almost 40 years in Topanga everyone looks familiar. I’m even beginning to recognize the dogs.

I said hello and went on sipping my Pinot Noir figuring she was either a hooker or a scientologist on the make for new members. Either way, I wasn’t interested, but I am almost always pleasant to strangers unless they walk up and tell me I am short, old, grouchy, homely and can’t write humor, at which point I rise up roaring in defense of my ability to make people laugh.

Scares the hell out of them.

Emily remained standing next to my table. I was about to tell her to go away when she said, “I was born in Oroville, California, on Wednesday, August 14, 1979. My father was a lawyer and my mother a teacher.”

It was beginning to get a little, you know, weird, her standing there reciting her life’s history.

“I had two brothers, Sam and Clark. Sam is a real estate salesman in Woodland Hills. Clark passed away in his teens from an infection caused by contaminated paper in a marijuana cigarette. I am married to Jake…”

“Wait!” I said, “Stop!”

Her voice was beginning to trail off from the abrupt nature of my command. She had lost her place.

“What’s with you?” I said. “Are you crazy or just a Mitt Romney Republican?”

She continued in a monotone, staring at me for a moment and then, as though suddenly finding her place again, began aloud, “I will tell you what’s on my mind today. I had corn flakes for breakfast after preparing eggs and sausages for Jake, then cleaned the kitchen, hand-washed my thong panties…”

And then it hit me. She was speaking, God help us, Facebook.

She was, in fact, a perfect example of the zombies who spill out minute details of their wretched, boring lives each day at the top of their page or my page, as though if they did not, they would melt like the Wicked Witch of the West into little puddles on the floor.

“…After feeding our dog Cesar, I changed sheets even though it was only Tuesday because Jake made love to me last night and they were unclean. I usually wait until Saturday when I don’t allow him to touch my breasts or other important parts of my body because he comes home drunk after bowling with the guys and I don’t like the smell of alcohol on his breath or the stench of sweat in his underwear.”

This is what social media has brought to us: Americans walking the streets reciting their lives when no one really gives a damn. Facebookers from all over the country and beyond reaching out to no one in particular, crying along with strangers because a cat died in New Sand, Texas, and twitching with envy over a truly happy family in Sleepy Willow, Tennessee, sitting down to a Sunday roast.

Emily was still chattering away when Cinelli came and wanted to know who she was. I said she was a robot sent by aliens from the future in an attempt to sedate the population of Earth with boring monologues for the eventual takeover by (shudder) Them.

She laughed and said, “You have never lost your sense of humor.”

Right. But this time I wasn’t kidding.