Learning from Experience

Logged-In Public: “Did you hear the news?”

What?  Are you kidding? The world’s full of news. At times, that’s all that seems to exist. As if we can’t get enough of it. I’d like to know when that notion began, the ruling principle of western civilization. Why should anyone care about what’s going on? Isn’t living our own lives difficult enough? What’s even worse: the 24-hour news cycle! So, when you want to find out something, you hear the same stuff repeated until you wish that you never wanted to know.

L-I P: We were wondering if you had heard that Jennifer Lopez is getting a divorce?

“One of you thinking of marrying her,” remarks Wal-terr.

“She’s already married to someone else,” Frank snorts, as a form of disapproval.

“Isn’t there any morality left in the world?” McNulty says, before taking a sip of Grand Marnier from a snifter. “I’m glad you let up a little on Frank.”

“So what if she’s dating someone younger,” said Wal-terr.

“I’m talking about her dating while she’s still married to whoever she’s married to.”

“Marc Antony,” says Joe.

“He wants Cleopatra,” Wal-terr says, chortling over his apparent witticism.

“He’s the one she’s divorcing,” Frank says.

“That was a while ago,” says McNulty.

L-I P: We just can’t believe they’d break up.

How can you even think that?

L-I P: Like what?”

A celebrity marriage breaking up. What’s newsworthy about it? Not exactly shocking or never happened before?

L-I P: They seemed so much in love.

This is the 50,000th divorce for a Hollywood couple.

“You can’t be so cynical.” 

Not cynical. Not anything.  

L-I P: Some of the marriages last.

If experience teaches us something, it should be that we can save ourselves the anticipation, shock, or surprise that some couple who met on a movie set or a nightclub could not last more than ten years.

L-I P: We like to find out what’s happening in celebrities’ private lives.

The Sardine hesitates bringing up this subject, as he has dedicated this column to avoiding news stories, especially regarding celebrities and the entertainment community. 

L-I P: You’d think people would learn from experience.

That phrase. How often the Sardine heard it, even used it. “Learn from experience.”  This annoys him worse than being dragged into a conversation about celebrities. Learn from experience.  When has that ever happened?

“I never learn,” says Joe.

Life is nothing but one giant screw up after another. Occasionally, accidentally, things go the way we want them. Generally, we’re all useless bystanders to the events happening around us or that we’re involved with. Anything significant goes on behind our backs. As if we’re programmed to ignore all the bad crap that happens in our lives. When we most know that what we do will be the worst thing for us, we still go ahead and do it. We nearly have to kill ourselves to get the message that we’re doing the wrong thing. By then, we’ve wasted the best energy of our lives making those bad decisions and end up living corpses, regretting all the fun we have destroying ourselves.

“I learn by experience.”

That’s why you opened an ice cream stand at a spot where four other businesses failed. Yours was the fifth. And you’d reopen it if someone gave you the money.

“I told him it was a lousy idea,” says Wal-terr.

Aren’t you the same guy that lost three bartender jobs because you dated the owners’ daughters?

“He’d date the Attic’s owner’s,” said McNulty, “except he dhas three sons.”

L-I P: We have to learn something. Don’t we?

The Sardine continues to write his column, speak to the people in the column, even try to convince the Logged-in Public to do something it will never do: Log off. When the column no longer appears here, you’ll know that the Sardine has finally really learned something.

L-I P: When do you think that will be?

When I’m dead.



Bob Castle, a.k.a A Sardine on Vacation has regularly published articles for Bright Lights Film Journal since 2000 and in 2020 his novel, The Hidden Life, was published.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Saturday, February 17, 2024 - 20:44