Mibes: I could say the same. I will say the same. Great to see you, too. What's the happy occasion?
Me: I just read or heard that engaging in creative pursuits is a proven stress reliever in the age of COVID.
Mibes: So you think having breakfast with me is an act of stress relief?
Me: That makes this sound more like a restroom than a restaurant.
Mibes: Ah Ned, it is good to see you. I'm glad you're here again. What's on your mind?
Me: Well it will sound like food, but it's really just a metaphor for putting the ordinary and everyday into perspective.
Mibes: As I said at yesterday's breakfast, tell me more.
Me: I do like to tell you more. Thanks! Well...
Mibes: So go ahead. What's got you hesitating?
Me: Well it seems strange to talk about vanilla ice cream while we're eating breakfast.
Mibes: No stranger than many other things we've discussed here.
Me: That's true. So here goes. I read a blog last night in the Moho Blogosphere with one of our brothers complaining about his ordinary, plain vanilla life. He sounded so discouraged that he was so ordinary.
Mibes: Did you respond to the blog? Give him some encouragement like you've often done for me?
Me: Nope. But I thought about how I see vanilla. Specifically vanilla ice cream.
Mibes: That you see it as a canvas?
Me: Yes! Exactly! How did you know?
Mibes: I read the title of this blog entry.
Me: There you go again, breaking through the fourth wall.
Mibes: We haven't discussed the fourth wall, have we?
Me: No, but back to the vanilla ice cream, I like it because it can serve as the base for so many other things. Chocolate syrup, root beer, strawberries, blueberries.
Mibes: But how does that relate to this guy's lament about his life?
Me: He wasn't seeing all the possibilities of plain vanilla.
Mibes: And you didn't take the time to tell him.
Me: I wanted to discuss it with you, first.
Mibes: I don't think so. I think you just wanted to have an excuse to have breakfast.
Me: I don't need to have an excuse to see you.
Mibes: You don't think you do.
Me: I know I don't.
Me: Just you being you is all I need. No excuses. No ulterior motives.
Mibes: Did I hear a little whisp of Fred Rogers there?
Me: Yes, Mibes, it's you I like. It's not the things you wear.
Mibes: It's not the way I do my hair, but it's me you like.
Me: ha ha ha! The way you are right now. The way down deep inside you.
Mibes: Rogers was amazing.
Me: Is amazing. His life's work is still very much alive.
Mibes: I suppose in a way, he's an example of what you're talking about. At least on the surface and perhaps as a young man in college he might have seemed ordinary or just plain vanilla.
Me: But look what he did. He went from being a music major and a page at NBC to nurturing millions of children, composing music, writing operas, becoming an ordained minister.
Mibes: He only appeared to be plain vanilla. When you look at his life from his childhood through to his final days, he was extraordinary.
Me: And that's kinda what I wanted to say to that blogger.
Mibes: That his so-called vanilla life is extraordinary.
Me: Yes! Exactly!
Mibes: You need to work on your empathy, Ned.
Me: Empathy? Where did that come from?
Mibes: You said he was lamenting his plight.
Me: He was. He seemed so unhappy with his home and his career.
Mibes: And you want to tell him he's extraordinary? How's that going to make him feel?
Me: Maybe that I'm lecturing him? That I don't really understand how hard it really is for him?
Mibes: And he's a moho blogger, so he's a Mormon man in a mixed orientation marriage and you want to tell him how good he's got it?
Me: Good point, Mibes. I'm glad I could talk this through with you.
Mibes: I'm glad too.
Me: So what's the rest of you day look like?
Mibes: I want to make a gift for a friend.
Me: That sounds fun. What are you going to make?
Mibes: Maybe something that's both artistic and practical. Like the wallets that David Rakoff made for his friends.
Me: David Rakoff? I haven't heard that name in a while. The guy that used to be on This American Life.
Mibes: Yes, that David Rakoff. Died in 2012 at age 47.
Me: He was so funny, such a good writer.
Mibes: And a good model for you. The way he embraced his homosexuality.
Me: He did embrace it. But I don't know that I do.
Mibes: Thus my point. He did. You can too.
Me: I see. But probably not a topic for today.
Mibes: I know what you want to do.
Me: What's that?
Mibes: Get one of his audio books so you can hear his voice again.
Me: You cheated again. You saw that I googled him. And read his Wikipedia entry. And looked at his books on Amazon.
Mibes: It's OK. But I'd better get on with my day.
Me: Thanks for breakfast.
Mibes: Don't thank me. You're the one who's buying this morning.
(Breakfast in the Castro is an ongoing conversation between the fictional Mibes and the real me. Mibes, which rhymes with bribes, sprouted out of MBS or My Better Self, but has since developed a personality of his own.)