Lost Habits

The seed of our futures.

During the afternoon, some friends and I, all of us now edging on 30 or over the line, discussed the masturbation materials of our adolescence. I told the story of a pal who, at age 12, wearing only a sweatshirt, had been caught by his dad while sitting bare-assed on the living room floor at midnight, watching the video of Madonna in a peepshow.

“'Open Your Heart To Me,'” said Sam. “That video made me a man.”

“That was before anyone had cable. You had to stay up, wait for Friday Night Videos to come on,” I said.

“And it taught you to wait, because you sat through Huey Lewis and Flock of Seagulls, and then you had those three golden minutes to build a relationship.”

“They should put all those videos on a DVD, and call it 'The Ejaculate Collection,'”

“You ever get caught, Ford?”

Later that night I repeated the conversation to my girlfriend.

“And?” she asked. “Did you ever get caught?”

“Looking back, I guess I did. My dad just ducked out of the room, right in and out. He didn't usually duck in and out of rooms. He would come into a room for a reason, get a newspaper, then maybe leave the room. But that time he just put his head in, made a noise, like, 'unh-oh, unk' and was gone. I never really thought it all through before.”

“What were you doing?”

“I was looking at a Swatch ad.”

I waited for her to finish laughing at me.

“It was in Rolling Stone,“ I explained. “It was this woman, it said, 'I feel naked without my Swatch'. And she was naked. Except for her Swatch.”

“Did it have that little rubber band on the top?”

“The Swatch? I don't remember.” More silence. I said, “The cat is really having fun with the laser pointer right now. Going crazy for it. And now he's trying to eat some lint. Now he's back to the laser pointer.”

“Swatch,” she said.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

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Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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