Pokeback Mountain

School’s out. Summer is here. We all wanted it – we all said we “couldn’t wait.” Then, faster than Gloria Allred chasing a naughty politician, all of us moms out there posted retractions on Facebook. “Oh no, wasn’t me.” “When does school start?”

On the second full day after school let out, my two were already screaming at each other over something stupid… at ten o’clock in the morning. So, I drove to the community pool, slapped down my checkbook and demanded a membership. The first day at the pool we seated ourselves on a small patch of grass next to another mom whose two children were in the pool a few yards away, bickering. I smiled at the mom as my two gingerly entered the water. She smiled back at me and said, “I brought them here to stop the fighting.” Oh no. It’s going to be a long summer.

So last weekend we’re driving home from my dad’s, where we enjoyed swimming in his pool for several hours. The kids started a game of I-Spy.

A – “I spy… with my little eye… something…YELLOW.”

O – “My water bottle.”

A – “No.”

O – “A sign.”

A – “A car?”

O – “What is it?”

A – “I’m not telling. You HAVE to guess.”

O – “I give up. My turn. I spy…Gabe’s Auto Service.” Owen, you’re supposed to give a clue, not the answer.

A – “What the heck is THAT?!”

O – “It’s a new version of the game.”

A – “That is IT!! I quit! You’re cheating!” Silence follows, then… “Okay, it’s sharp, it picks up dirt and…it smells like potato soup.”

O – “WHAT?!?!” Laughter erupts from the back seat.

A – “Look!! It’s Dave Keene!!….. And he smells soooooo good!!” This time I cracked up, and the two in the back amped it up in stereo.

So, this is how my summer was shaping up. Loads of boredom hovering like rain clouds on a hot day… threatening to open up but never quite making it. The kids, when they’re not fighting or playing nicely together, are marvelously entertaining.

Meanwhile, I decided to create my own entertainment recently with a “Poke Fest” on Facebook. I’d actually been planning this for months, this fun and – I must say – funny experiment. I have about 160 friends on Facebook. I wondered what would happen if I poked them all on the same day. Would they all poke back? Who would poke first? Who wouldn’t poke? Who would get pissed off and “unfriend” me? Who would wonder if I was “making a pass” at them? Because, after all, what does a Facebook poke really mean?

This has apparently been a subject of debate around a water cooler or two. I’ve had people ask ME what it means. Well? What does it mean?? Like I told my mom, who enjoys poking me almost weekly, that I think it really depends on who one is poking. She pokes me, I poke her… we’re just a mother and daughter having fun with each other. I poke a female friend, it’s like an elbow in the ribs, or a “hey, what’s up?” I poke a male friend, it gets tricky. How well do I know him? How do I know him? Is he my girlfriend’s husband? Will he wonder what I was doing? Would she get pissed off at me? Is he an old boyfriend? Truthfully, there’s only two on Facebook, one of whom is again my significant other and for whom the meaning of the poke would not be a question and the other, while no longer a close friend, has recently married his longtime love and – being a fun-loving guy – would have been, had Facebook existed in high school, voted “most likely to initiate a Poke Fest.” However, the other large contingency of male friends out there presented a bit of a challenge: what would they do?

So it all started on a Monday afternoon. I told my significant other about my intentions, both because he appreciates my little quirks and silliness and because I didn’t want him to keep poking me all day and throwing off my numbers. So I started the poking. And I was cackling like Long Duck Dong all the way through. After about the first 20, I realized two things: how labor intensive it is to Poke 160 people, and how I just might want to offer an explanation on my wall as the Fest is getting started. I did provide some teasers in the weeks and days leading up to it. “It’s coming folks, brace yourselves.” “It’s not the cool breeze of a Peppermint Patty. But it’s guaranteed to add some spark to your day…and I’m no sharpshooter but my aim is pretty good… brace yourselves… it’s coming…” “And here it comes! Let’s see how many of you can take it!!”

So my explanation looked like this: “In honor of my grandfather’s birthday (Daniel Joseph Keene), who loved a good prank as much as a good joke, I have initiated PokeFest today!! So, by now you know you’ve been poked and I’m anxious to see how many will poke me back! ♥” And the fun began! People were already poking me back before I finished poking all the rest. One of my friends, who saw my explanation and unfortunately (for whom, I’m not really sure) falls at the end of the alphabet, poke ME before I poked HIM. Cheater! I called him out on it and poked him anyway.

The first “Pokeback” winner is my cousin, Alisha. Thank you Alisha! She was on it. The next two Poke-back honors go to my “sister in Sigma” Anne, and my most tolerant and easygoing bff Erikah. The next 30 came in rapidly, mostly girls. I have my Blackberry linked to my Facebook, so over the next two hours the thing was “dinging” off the hook while I was making dinner and I expressed no small concern over whether the phone might actually implode. It did eventually slow down and I felt the need to once again offer an explanation, just in case…

“Just in case you’re coming in late…in honor of my late grandfather’s birthday, I am celebrating with a little PokeFest! Join in! Get poked, get even, get mad… it’s all in good fun!” Initially I had been concerned that I would actually annoy someone enough to unfriend me, and then it occurred to me that if they were that uptight, I wouldn’t miss them. So I poked with wild abandon.

So what are the final stats? Well, no one unfriended me. A few came in days later, as if they were just logging on to Facebook and were unaware of my game. I do realize, you know, that not everybody uses Facebook every day. More came in after I thanked “everyone” for participating. These, by the way, were by the majority men-friends, so I might assume my theory of them being perplexed by my intentions prevented them from poking back. One did NOT poke back, but only posted on my wall to “keep sticking me.” Perhaps he didn’t get the previous explanations. Another acknowledged, but didn’t poke back. A couple of friends admitted to never having been “poked,” and so to that end, I am honored to be their first. The final count, as of today – nearly two weeks after it began – is 70. Not bad, almost half. I had so much fun with this, just hearing the notifications come through on my phone, and I thank everyone for making my days brighter. I hope I did the same for you.

Next up: Get a job!

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