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Friday, February 26, 2016

Get Cracking: A Cautionary Tale

As you may have noticed if you've been paying attention to my blog over the years, I have a, shall we say, staggered posting schedule. You may be tempted to chalk this up to laziness, but the narrative that I'm going with is that I'm not the type to just toss a few sentences about my lunch up online and call it a day. I want to make sure that every single one of my posts is fully realized and interesting, so I space them out and give each one a lot of thought. Quality over quantity, as it were. Trust me, I've made nearly $5 off my blog's ad revenue. Clearly I know what I'm doing.
This sort of thoughtfulness goes into my social media posts as well. To wit, the subject of the day: my Instagram. Or more specifically, a set of circumstances surrounding an Instagram post that taught me a valuable lesson using one of the most effective educational tools of them all: crushing disappointment.
Our story begins on a little avenue near my apartment that links a main street to the freeway. It's an unassuming road that I have traveled down and back again with pals and/or confidants on many occasions, without much of interest other than a smog check shop, a couple storage facilities, and a Motel 6 that I think someone got stabbed at once. There is one thing, though, that caught my attention. Someone living on that road has a four foot-tall nutcracker standing guard in in their front yard. Now, it is common knowledge that nutcrackers are generally pretty creepy, with their amphetamine eyes, gaping mouths and penchant for shattering hard objects with their jaws. Their military garb insinuates some sort of cannibalistic super solder program and no amount of Christmas ballet can cover up their wantonly destructive nature. This inherent creepiness only get ratcheted up when said nutcracker is the height of a child with a mouth big enough to crack skulls like so many filberts.
But the icing on the creep cake is what piqued my interest in this particular nutcracker. Someone had gone ahead and carved words into his forehead. Was this was the home of a retired Aldo Raine? It made no difference. It was the words themselves that mattered. Specifically, the 'cracker's wooden forehead was adorned with one simple phrase: "Bring on the nuts." And when I beheld this phrase, my eyes lit up. Inspiration shook me to the deepest recesses of my corpuscles, and I squealed with glee. I had a dynamite idea for an Instagram post.
The idea was as simple as it was ingenious. I was to take a photo of the nutcracker, making sure that the "Bring on the nuts" phrase showed up clearly on camera. Then, after choosing the optimal filter to emphasize my subject's aesthetic qualities, I would post it with the following caption:

Looks like this guy's ready for election season. #politicalhumor #nailedit

I don't think I need to tell you what an incredible, next-level Instagram post that would have been. To be frank, I fully expected it to eventually establish a precedent for awarding an individual the Nobel prize based largely on their Instagram posts. It was as slam-dunk-can't-miss-brains-exploding-out-of-the-back-of-your-skull-but-not-in-a-way-that-makes-children-cry-unless-those-tears-happen-to-be-tears-of-joy-at-the-beauty-unfolding-before-them as it gets. All that stood between me and certain rapturous acclaim was a short walk down a sidewalkless street to snap the photo. No problem.
OR WAS THERE? Here's the problem with any idea, even a great one: until it is actually acted upon, it remains just that-an idea. An intangible thing that only exists as part of a neurological process that can be altered or halted at any moment. In order to give an idea value, it has to be put into action, and in the case of an artistic idea (and the nutcracker Instagram post is unquestionably artistry with a capital ART), it must be created in order to mean anything, to bring it to life. Otherwise it's just hilarious hot air.
But hey, that's fine. I had the utmost confidence in my concept. And the execution was so simple that there was really no rush. I had important things to do, after all, like try to get a gold trophy in every single Grand Prix in Mario Kart 8. Besides, the location was so close that I could walk there from home, getting my daily exercise and exemplifying 21st century efficiency. And so the weeks flew by, as every day I would drive past the nutcracker and every day I would think about my prospective post of astounding hilarity and every day I would put it off until later. No big deal; procrastinating is one of the hallmarks of a true savant, after all. I didn't attain my coveted position of Prime Minister of the Nation of Procrastination by just sitting on my laurels. Wait no, that's exactly what I did.
Anyway, one fateful morning, I traveled down the road expecting to see my wooden friend, mentally tinkering with my planned hashtags. Was "#nailedit" too overused? If not, then what would replace it? Oh, wait, look! There was old N.C. in the distance, standing guard as always, waiting for his photo op. But today something seemed off, and as I approached closer, I laid eyes upon the true face of horror. There the nutcracker stood as usual, with one macabre difference: the top portion of his head had been chopped off and was laying on the ground beside him. Someone had pulled an O-Ren Ishii on the poor guy! And consequently, the coveted phrase that served as the basis for my earth-shattering joke was gone, uselessly residing on the lopped off chunk at the nutcracker's feet. Somewhere out there in the great beyond, the souls of millions of laughs yet to be had were snuffed out in an instant.
Instantly I chastised myself for my perpetual inaction. Though I could hardly have predicted some scoundrel scalping the subject of my japes, the fact is that I could have, and should have, taken the photo I needed some time during the many months prior wherein the nutcracker still had a complete cranium. My lethargy had screwed up a sure thing and deprived so many from the side-splitting humor I had been aiming to provide. This was far beyond mere egg on my face. This was nut on my face.
Actually, let's not go with that.
I tell you this story not to inspire pity nor sadness, and certainly not laughter. I tell you this story to just plain old INSPIRE. Inspire you, whomsoever you may be, to not take things for granted. To not simply assume that things will always remain the same. For you never know when life, perhaps in the form of a psychotic lumberjack, might snatch away the forehead you need in order to make an awesome joke online. I definitely should have known better, since at that very same home months before, I had missed the opportunity to see a haunted house that had been set up by the homeowners by putting it off until November. How was I to know they would take it down after Halloween? And don't even get me started on the falafel restaurant that closed before I got one last pita pocket of chickpea goodness from there.
But I digress. In summary, if an idea or goal is important to you, act on it before it's too late. Instead of putting it off until next year, put it off until next month! Instead of waiting until August to do something, wait until halfway through July! Reach for the stars, or at least put reaching for them in your calendar and try not to create any scheduling conflicts. Otherwise, you'll end up like me, devastated as you witness a beautiful dream reduced to whatever the evil version of fairy dust is, stuck forever in your brain as the means to bring it to life ceases to be.
Heh heh, election season. Hoo boy, that was really a good one!

ADDENDUM: After writing this post, I went out to go take a picture of the partially decapitated nutcracker to add to it, only to find that he has now been removed completely. There's probably a lesson to be learned in this, but I'm not sure what it is.

Joey Marsilio will eventually get around to providing links to his Instagram and his novel Henry Garrison: St. Dante's Savior.

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