I’ve mentioned a number of times in the past that The Confusing Middle is not my first attempt at blogging. For 10 years I wrote a blog called Carp Dime. Some people may look at those two words and wonder what they could mean. If you think they’re a misspelling of the Latin, carpe diem, you’d be right.
It all happened back in the college years, when I was just some kid in Bluefield, Virginia. One fateful day, three college students had a craving for Chinese buffet. Mark, Andy, and myself piled into my little green Escort (we’ll call her Jade) and headed to the Mercer Mall. On the road, we noticed our friend Cassie in her car behind us. We met up in the mall parking lot and invited Cassie to join us for some sweet and sour chicken, but she was jonesing for some Chick-Fil-a. So we just told her to sneak her food into the restaurant and hang out with us anyway.
We took a booth in the Chinese restaurant and were greeted by a strange sight. This is something that I had never experienced, and have never again witnessed, in a Chinese restaurant. Our waitress was a crazy, old white woman. Is it racist to go into a Chinese restaurant and not expect to be greeted by a crazy caucasian? I mean, kudos to the Golden Palace for equal hiring practices. Anyway, this lady’s hair was an odd mass that looked like it could have housed any number of rodents. She had a long scar that stretched from her left ear down her neck, then disappeared behind her shirt. She had one of those creepy cackles that you might imagine old cat ladies having. The only thing that would make this image complete for me is if she lived in one of those houses that kids cross the street to avoid. The kind of house with a front door that the bad kids dare the good kids to run up and knock on. Happily, I have no idea where this woman lived.Our little group here had recently returned from a Baptist Student Union retreat in Lynchburg. While there, Mark had interacted with a cute girl from the James Madison University. Naturally, our dinner conversation drifted toward Mark’s thoughts on this young lady and what he planned to do about it. For a while, he considered driving up to see her during an upcoming break. Being the supportive friends that we were, we tried to encourage him to do so.
Our crazy, old cat lady overheard our conversation and decided to throw in her two cents. Eventually she turned her attention solely to Mark, while the rest of us continued on our own. Mark is the kind of guy that’s too nice to stop someone when they’re rambling, so she kept on for some time. When she wrapped things up, she said something that caught everyone’s attention. “Carp dime!”
At this point we were all confused. We decided that she was attempting to say carpe diem, but carp dime was what came out. That crazy, old cat lady had just given us a catchphrase that would stay with us through college and beyond. Those two words hold no meaning to anyone who didn’t finish their days at Bluefield College. But to people like me, they mean so much.
If she, in fact, meant to say carpe diem, then it means to seize the day. But it could very well mean 10 cent fish. Perhaps she was trying to sell a special on the menu at the Chinese buffet.
Whatever its meaning, it became the title for my blog. Much like this blog, it was just a bunch of posts about what a guy observes as he’s out there attempting to seize the fish.