Close friends are not unlike diamonds; they are rare and precious and should be treated accordingly.
Only after you have cemented that close bond called friendship, are you entitled to some degree of familiarity with kindred spirits, but absolutely never before!
I am against the forced intimacy that some individuals are trying to foist upon others. Calling a waitress “honey” or “sweetheart” at the first encounter is absolutely distasteful. It is patronizing and demeaning; if I were the waitress, I would certainly have a few chosen words with those behaving that way.

Instant intimacy! This is definitely one of my “bêtes noires”.
Generally speaking I am not fond of anything instantaneous.
I do not like to be called by my first name by somebody I just met. My last name is a different story; it’s my outer shell and everybody can have a whack at it.

A long time ago a Highway Patrolman stopped me for some trivial matter. He demanded to see my driver’s license and then proceeded to write me a ticket. Once he was done he said “Goodbye Alain. Please be more careful.”
Goodbye Alain? Whatever happened to “Sir” or “Mister”? Did we become instant buddies because I let him peek at my driver’s license?
Nobody should have the right to call me by my first name unless I say so.

And that’s why I prefer by far romance languages over English.  In French (Spanish and Italian) for instance, you have two ways of addressing people: the formal way (vous) for strangers, and the familiar way (tu) for friends, lovers and relatives.
Nobody with a bit of “savoir-vivre” would be gauche enough to use “tutoiement” with a total stranger. It would be considered extremely rude and offensive.

Not so in American society where everybody professes to be your pal.
Call me old fashioned, but I prefer a slow progression toward intimacy rather than the “instant familiarity” favored by Americans. I’d rather spend ten years building up and nurturing a true friendship rather than rushing into an artificial comradeship based on beer, pretzels and television commercials.

Call me quaint but I am not your friend until our friendship have been tested and validated.
Then, and only then, are you allowed to call me by my first name and use the familiar way exclusively reserved for friends or lovers.
Not being your friend by the way, doesn’t preclude me from being friendly, but I am not your friend until we have shared some common joys and sorrows together.

I am not everybody’s friend, nor do I want to be.

Let me have five close mates and I’ll gladly let you keep all the rest of your Facebook-style “friends”.


Hi Alain: (may I call you Alain?) It was not always this way in the US.. when I was young (40s and 50s) everyone called other persons by their last names, as in my mother “Mrs Gilman”, me..”Mrs. Toulon”, and all children were taught to say this always, and if they didn’t know the last name, they had to say “Sir” or “M’aam”.. I remember that somewhere near the early 70s it changed, and I was upset when a nurse in the hospital called me “Jan”.. my children’s friends still call me Mrs.Toulon ! I love it in France when I can say “Monsieur” or Madame, or “Mademoiselle” without the last name, as I can never remember everyone’s names!
I miss the formality too….
Jan Toulon 



Help! I am drowning in hype.
I don’t know if you realize it, but today we are drowning in “hype” and like the sea its level and toxicity is rising every year.
Hype I should remind you, is the extravagant promotion of mediocre people, products or events that are supposed to be life altering.

Visual and audio pollution is already extremely annoying, but hype is advertising’s super bug. It is exceedingly virulent and so far the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) have not come up with any effective vaccine against it.
As a temporary fix, it recommends the wearing of earplugs and gas masks, but there is no guarantee.

Not so long, it was the elections. If Obama (that Negro Muslim not born in America) were elected, we would turn into a Socialist hellhole like Cuba. We would have no choice but pack the car, grab the kids and run for Canada!

With elections thankfully behind us, we now have to cope with Thanksgiving and (ta-tah) BLACK FRIDAY. Hype is trumpeting that it will be smart to spend the night camping outside the store to save a few bucks.

Then Christmas (buy, buy, buy) and (drum roll) the FISCAL CLIFF.
If the Republicans and the Democrats don’t agree on fiscal reforms, America will certainly fall off the surface of the earth.
Then as an after-Christmas bonus, we have the SUPER BOWL (canon salvo). If you don’t buy tickets, you are un-American and deserve to die.

Before that contemporary baloney, we had YK, Year 1000 (Final Judgment Day). Since the end of the world is coming, give all your stuff to the Church to secure a spot in Paradise, or be ready to suffer the torments of HELL.

What about Y2K? Remember that one? In 2000, computers were supposed to go berserk and create panic throughout the civilized world.

Let’s not forget the unrelenting promotion of that insufferable Bieber kid (the new Golden Calf), and the semi-literate bimbo “Spooky Snooki”.

To paraphrase Groucho Marx, I am sending the following Tweet to Hype:
“Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like those as members”.

But hype seldom delivers what it promises. So, starting from now, disregard most of what you hear on radio and television, and to buck the commercial trend, indulge in complimentary, random acts of kindness.



Bible thumpers

I have access to at least a hundred TV channels, and some nights when I cannot sleep, I flip from channel to channel to find something to watch or to anesthetize me.
Invariably I come across the preachers; they are legions and judging by the crowds they minister to, they seem to be doing very well, thank you.

The preachers, (who, I don’t know why are mainly Southerners) endlessly quote the Bible and rhapsodize about Jesus. It always seems that they all knew him personally and are very familiar with his most inner thoughts.
Personally, I was never close to Jesus, but I understand that he was some kind of a do-gooder.

I have always been suspicious of do-gooders and I am not the only one. George Orwell said it better than I could when he wrote “Saints should always be judged guilty, until they are proved innocent”.
Saints make me uncomfortable. They are too… perfect. When I venture to compare myself to a saint, the gap if so frighteningly wide that I get dizzy just thinking about it.

But preachers feel comfortable with saints and have a very good and close relationship with Jesus. It seems that they were schoolmates or something like that. They know all about his life, where he was born, the kind of parents he had, the kind of pranks he used to play on his teachers, and most of all what he did and what he said.

I couldn’t be a preacher, because I have a bad memory and because I am so damn skeptical. Preachers casually mention that Jesus fed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread. Nobody in the audience blinks an eye. But myself, I feel a little dubious…
Preachers have written proof of what they say and two thousand years of history to fall back on. Me, what do I have?  A few copies of National Geographic. What they say and what they show in this magazine is closer to my line of thinking.

I think that it’s great that so many people find salvation listening to preachers, but as I said before, they (being so close to sainthood) make me feel uncomfortable and I quickly switch to “Everybody loves Raymond”, something I can relate to.


PS: I have found that preachers are very good at inducing sleep. So if you occasionally battle insomnia, put away those nasty little pills and tune in instead to those wonderful fellows who are such marvelous hypnotizers and storytellers.