I saw a familiar rusty old pick-up truck in the coffee shop parking lot as I drove by. It was the ’50-something Studebaker driven by my grumpy old pal, Eb Griper.
Having not seen Eb in quite a well, I made a quick turn into the parking lot. Eb was sitting in a booth by himself, looking like he had lost his last friend. And he has few to spare.
“Good morning, Mr. Griper,” I said cheerily as I slid into the other side of the booth.
“Mr. Griper is my old man,” Eb said sourly.
“Just trying to show some respect to an older gentleman,” I kidded. “And you’re definitely an older gentleman.”
Eb said nothing; he just looked down at his coffee.
“What’s wrong, Eb? Bad day? You look even grumpier than normal.”
Eb remained silent.
“I saw a meme on Facebook the other day,” I said. “It read, ‘Sometimes you need those bad days, because it helps you appreciate the good ones.’”
Eb raised his head and looked at me with incredulity. “What in the heck are you talking about? What is a facebook and what is a meme? Speak plain English.”
Now I was incredulous. “You don’t know what Facebook is?”
“No, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”
“I’d be happy to enlighten you,” I said. “Facebook is an online social networking service founded 10 years ago to serve students at Harvard University. Once Facebook was opened to the entire world it grew quickly and now it has more than 1.2 billion users.” “Your about as exciting as a comatose sloth,” Eb grumbled.
Undaunted, I continued. “Facebook allows me to connect with friends, relatives, old school mates, former co-workers. People share family photos, update us on what’s going on in their lives. Some share funny photos or illustrations. That’s what you call a meme.”
“Fascinating,” Eb said sarcastically. “And how will Facebook improve my life?”
“Well, like I said, you can reconnect with old friends.”
“I don’t want to reconnect with anybody. Then the next thing you know they’ll expect a Christmas card or will want to visit.” Eb paused for a second and then added, “I don’t like house guests. Hilda won’t let me belch in the house when we have company.”
I thought for a second and then said, “You know, I think Facebook has something you’d like. Some folks post venomous attacks on political candidates. There’s a lot of hate out there on the far right and far left fringes.”
“Now you’ve got my interest,” Eb said with slight smile spreading across his unshaven face. “Tell me more.”
“Well, there are people who post nothing but political attacks. They are usually short on facts and long on hyperbole.”
“Hyper what? English, boy, English!”
“Hyperbole. It’s an exaggeration or overstatement.”
“Well then say that.” Eb said. “I think I’d enjoy some of that hyper stuff about politics. You know we haven’t had a decent president since Harry Truman.”
“Harry was one of a kind,” I agreed.
“So how do I get involved in this Facebook thing? I’d be good at the hyper stuff.”
“Well, you just type ‘facebook.com’ in your browser…”
“In your what?”
“Your browser. You know, your computer’s search engine.”
Eb scowled. “You’re talking weird again boy. I didn’t know computers had engines. Besides I don’t even have a computer.”
“Eb,” I volunteered, “I’d be happy to get you going on a computer. You’d really enjoy exploring the web.”
“Don’t want one,” Eb insisted. “These days about all the exploring I get done is at Walmart or at a flea market. “Wow,” I said. “You really don’t like change, do you?”
Eb stroked his whiskers. “Here’s the deal,” he said. “I read something the other day. Some guy wrote, ‘Life was so simple when apples and blackberries were fruit.’ I’m with him.”