Monday, January 25, 2016


  Let me admit the truth of it up front, dear reader. I am here today to ask for your help. Actually, before I am through I’ll be daring you to step up and lend a hand. I promise that I’m not selling anything and it won’t cost your a cent. The fifteen-second favor I am asking can be accomplished without ever leaving this page. I hope you will bear with me as I explain why I am asking.
  To begin with, it had been a long time since someone looked me straight in the eye and said, “I dare you.” If anything, it had the sound of kids’ stuff---a grade-school play ground bluff. That was certainly my first reaction. What else could I do but laugh it off---at least until my friend repeated his challenge? By then I could tell that he was as serious as could be.
  A few minutes earlier our conversation had veered off course to settle on my October Years blog, specifically my quiet declaration that I was probably nearing the end of that involvement. As I have mentioned before on these pages, it felt like I had said about all I had to say on the matter. Absent some new insight, or until I finish a new story that lent itself to a blog conversation, what reason was there to keep going?
  I wasn’t particularly disappointed when he accepted the possibility of my blogging retirement without objection. Though I knew he was not a regular follower, he had admitted to reading a few of my posts. Dwelling on what he considered the unfortunate reality of October was not his cup of tea. 
  “So you’re putting your blog to bed,” he nodded. “Will anyone even know it’s gone? Will anyone care?”
  “Will anyone care?” I repeated to myself. What the hell gave him the right to ask a question like that? What did he know about anything?
  “Oh yeah, I'm pretty sure there will be folks who know it’s gone,” I replied. “And probably a few who will even care.” 
  “Not many, I’m guessing,” he answered. “Young folks don’t read stuff like that. Hell, they can’t imagine being that old. And most of us old ones don’t like to be reminded. So who does that leave to read your October Years stuff?”
  By then I was not ready to meekly submit to his blunt critique, though of course he might have been right. I had invested too much in my blog to go quietly--especially when I had hard facts that refuted his dubious doubts. By the time I returned to our conversation I was ready for a little tasteful bragging.
  “I can’t tell you if those readers are young or old,” I explained. “But I do know that they show up four or five hundred times each month. That may not be much as blogs go, but the number keeps growing---so there are some folks out there who stop by to check it out.”
  “But do they like what they find there?” he asked. “The parts I’ve read don’t strike me as all that entertaining.”
  “Entertaining?” I protested. “What’s that got to do with anything.” 
  By then I was reminding myself that a fellow has to be careful about his bragging. True, I had a couple numbers to throw at him, details the blog-master keeps track of. They were enough to impress me, but even with those facts on my side there were some seriously awkward holes in my blog logic.
  “Truth is,” I continued. “I don’t know what those folks think about the stuff I post. I know how many “hits” we get---how many times the site is visited. Do all those folks read it from beginning to end? I doubt it. And if they did, I have no way of knowing if they like it or not.”
 “They don’t leave comments or anything?" he asked.
  “Nah. Seems like my readers are not the “commenting” kind.”
  “But you were saying earlier that they check in from all over the world. How many of those foreigners are apt to read the whole thing?”
   Again, he was testing my logic. “I don’t know,” I confessed. “Every week I hear from places all over the world---Russia, China, the UK, South Korea, and a bunch of other countries. The blog software keeps track of that. Chances are some of those folks arrive by mistake, and move on without reading anything. I hope most of them stick around long enough to read it. But I’ll never know for sure.”
   He was warming to his task, ready to dig a little deeper. “You say you’re about to close up your October Years tent---and become an ex-blogger. Right?”
   “I think so.”
 “You think you’ve pretty well said everything you have to say. True?”
   “Yeah. That’s right.”
  “But you don’t know how many of the folks who find your blog even bother to read it. I’m guessing you’d like to know that, wouldn’t you? Whether I liked or not my friend was on to something, and not ready to let go. 
  “So here’s the deal,” he continued. “Before you close the door behind you, why don’t you try to answer those two questions---do people read your blog, and where are they checking in from?”
    Where the heck was he going with this, I wondered. I didn’t know, so I asked. “What do you mean? How would I do that? There's nobody out there who even has those answers.”
  “How about them---your readers? Or maybe I should say, the ones you hope are your readers, though you don’t really know that for sure.”
    His grin had turned a bit snarky, even sinister, or so it looked to me. “They have those answers, don’t they. If you want to know---and I think you do---sounds like they are the ones you’ll have to ask.”
   And that, dear reader, is where things stood when we parted company that afternoon. Though our conversation had ended, the seeds he had planted were already taking root. True, I was preparing to wind down my active involvement as an October Years blogger. And true, I would be leaving with a couple questions that have the feel of unfinished business.
   Of the 16,000+ times someone has landed on the October Years blog site, how many times was it a purposeful visit? What did the visitors who actually took the time to read a given post think of what they found there? And just as intriguing, where were those folks logging in from?
  Most hits, of course, come from the US. But beyond that, are there really October seniors in Slovakia and South Korea and the UK who are following what I post? Dozens of hits from those places and many others continue to show up each week. Why is that? It took a few days for me to settle on what came next. In the end I suppose it was his parting shot that nudged me over the edge.
  “Maybe you don’t want to know the truth,” he had suggested. “Chances are you’ll be disappointed if you know how few really pay attention to what you're saying. But if you really do want to know, the only way to find out for sure is to ask those readers---the ones who actually read your stuff. I think you should do that.”
   He paused at that point, with a smirky little grin, ready to play his trump card. “Actually, I dare you---hell, I double dare you---to give those so-called readers of yours a chance answer, or not answer, those questions.”
    And that brings me to the favor, and the dare, I mentioned earlier. Just below these lines, at the end of this post, is a prompt that reads---”Post a Comment.” When you click on that you will be asked whether you want to comment under your own online name or anonymously. If you want to keep it simple just scroll down and click on the “Anonymous” line. With that your reply will be absolutely faceless.
    By simply offering your comment you are confirming that you have actually read the post. That is one of the things I want to know. Beyond that, the only information I am asking for is---where are you located? Just fill in a city and state, a country, or anything else that tells me where you are. That’s it. I hope you will take me up one that. In fact, I’m daring you to do that.
    Once you’ve entered your location click on the “I am not a robot” box, and then “Publish.” Without divulging any personal information you have provided the details I want to know. If you feel called on to add anything else to your comment that is up to you.
  Finally, for those of you who are interested in such things, clicking on the “Comment” tag will take you to all the responses we have received. Hopefully, there will be a least a few.
    I will thank you in advance for your reply. FYI---in the old days there would have been a six-pack riding on my friend’s dare. This time around we’ve settled on a glass of modestly cheap wine.

    Thanks for your help,


  1. Salem, Oregon You have done a great deal of work to reestablish communications among our classmates, Gil.......and your efforts are very much appreciated! Thanks!

  2. I am currently in Florida, instead of Vancouver, and read your stories when you post them on facebook, and/or e-mail them to me. Cousin Jackie (So much for being anonymous.)

  3. Salem, Oregon. Gil, I continue to appreciate your ability at writing and the fact that you are very knowledgeable about people. Your encouragement to your old classmates is much appreciated. I now sit at my computer after a significant happening and write an account so that I can go back and follow up.

    Saturday afternoon I came back from a visit with my sister who is in a care facility in McMinnville totally dependent on caregivers who feed her and take care of her personal needs. I decided I was too tired to face my stove so I stopped at a restaurant in West Salem for a quiet late lunch. There were very few patrons in the restaurant. I picked a table by a window. There was a single woman having lunch. I said hello and asked what she was having. We talked back and forth about how much we liked the restaurant and how the atmosphere made it easy for the single diner. She mentioned that her husband was in a memory care facility and had been for the last four years. by now I had finished my lunch and I asked if I could join her. She was so eager and she cried. It was then that I realized she was on her third glass of wine. I sort of caught my breath but didn't say anything. She said this was her once a week party for herself. I ordered a glass of wine for myself. This lady is so despondent as well as exhausted and depleted. She said she slept all day and didn't eat well because she is too tired to cook. They had to sell their lovely home in order to pay for his care and she moved in to a small apartment.
    We exchanged phone numbers and I told her I would try to meet her for lunch.

    1. Wow. You met one of those Elder Orphans---the ones who need a caring listener most of all---and you knew what to do. The lady was very lucky to find you, and I'll bet she know it.

      Keep making those notes to yourself. There's no telling where they can lead.