Monday, March 31, 2008

Talking to Myself

I talk to myself.

I didn’t always do this but in recent years I seem to have found quite a bit to say to myself. Most of it is very harsh like “nitwit where did you leave your damn glasses.” Of course, like most people, I used to have these conversations inside my head. Now they are leaking out. It is sort of inaccurate to call them conversations though, because I rarely answer myself.

I should explain though that I am alone in my office, so there is no one to say “there’s that idiot talking to himself again.”

Some people think you are nutty if you talk to yourself. And while I personally draw the line at talking to myself in public, I think it is perfectly rational. In fact, I call it Oral Blogging. After all what is the difference between saying something no one else is listening to, and writing something no one will ever read? When I see some guy standing on the corner ranting away, I say “oops, there’s another Oral Blogger.”

And no one is listening. They are either talking to some distant, distracted person on their Blue Tooth, or watching re-runs of The Office on their IPod and probably think that you, babbling away, are doing the same.

I also talk to inanimate objects. I guess it would be more accurate to say I swear at inanimate objects. I suppose this is some form of displacement since I don’t have the guts to swear at the animate objects that really piss me off. My computer is the chief recipient of this form of abuse; although I am not convinced it is inanimate.
The other day, I was really giving it to the damn thing because it froze up while sending a four page order form I had spent the last half hour filling out.

My wife walked in at this awkward moment, and said “when you’re retired and we are sharing this space, you can’t yell at your computer like that, it makes me think you are mad at me.” I guess she subscribes to the displacement theory.

She should be used to this though. I have always sworn at inanimate objects particularly those that refuse to bend to my will while I am trying to execute some household chore.
Years ago, when my son was little, he used to “help me” on projects with his little Fisher Price hammer and electric drill. I knew it was time to zip my lip when I observed him one day hammering away while saying “shit,shit,shit” with each stroke.

Right now though I am going for the trifecta….I am blogging, talking to myself and swearing at the computer..all at the same time. Maybe I am losing my marbles.

Friday, March 28, 2008


“Empty your pockets”, my wife says while holding a pair of my crusty jeans at arms length.

Kathie does the wash in the family. I used to do it, but was discharged when my everything-into-the-same-load-with-the-same-cleaning stuff policy rearranged the color combinations of her wardrobe in a manner she found unpleasant.

She won’t empty my pockets though for fear of what might be lurking within.
From the time I was a kid, I have always shoved things in my pockets. Never anything organic though. I learned early on that putting dead stuff in your pants was not a good idea. But any unusual rock, potential Indian artifact, unusual bottle cap, rusted piece of metal, or other object of interest I came across, into the pockets it went. Obviously, I spent a lot of time looking at the ground.

Maybe I shouldn’t admit it, but I still do this. I am a walker and it is rare that I don’t comeback with treasures found on the trail. And since I submit my jeans for washing once a trimester, this stuff accumulates. I also mix in screws and nails from various household projects. Although, take it from me putting anything larger that a 6 penny nail next to your groin is hazardous.

So I don’t blame Kathie for not emptying my pockets. When I do actually download this material most of it goes into the trash. Objects that might require further examination go into one of my two top dresser drawers where they reside until doomsday. This is also territory where Kathie will not venture.

Maybe it’s just me. I would be interested in hearing if there are any other pocket packrats out there.

I have a feeling though that putting things in your pockets is mainly a guy thing. Feel free to disagree, but I believe that women don’t put things in their pockets because they don’t want bulges. For guys, having bulges in certain areas is a good thing (“Is that a roll of quarters in your pocket, or are you happy to see me,” as Mae West remarked.)

I also think that walking with your hands in your pockets is a guy thing. At the moment, I can’t recall ever seeing a woman walking along with here hands in her pockets. Most guys do it though. Father Kelly, the disciplinarian at the parochial school I attended, knew what we were up to and strictly banned the practice. He knew we were all indulging in a deviant practice he called “pocket pool.” You get the picture.

So the next time you see one of those iconic images of Marlon Brando or James Dean scowling at the camera with hands thrust in their jeans pockets, you will know what they are up to as well.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Grandparent names

“What do you want to be called?” our son asked.

Good question. My wife and I had never considered that with the arrival of our grandson — and first grandchild — came a major identity crisis…for us.

I was easy, however. After learning that Grandpa had been already claimed by my son’s father-in-law, I opted for Pop — a good choice as my paternal grandfather had always been called Pop. Since many people refer to their own father by this name, it also provided me with some cover about facing the realities of where I stand in the cycle of life.

No such luck for my wife. The question sent her into a paroxysm of anxiety, self-doubt, and ruing her lost youth. It also launched the name-game in earnest.

To sum up, the mission here was to find a cute but dignified, easily pronounceable name that distinguished her from other senior members of the family, but did not betray the fact that she was a grandmother. Naturally all of the gran-something options were instantly eliminated.

She first consulted her friends, many of whom had also steered clear of the G-word.
One of Italian extraction is Nonna. My wife briefly considered this but decided that a bus tour of the country 4 years ago did not entitle her to tap into 2,000 year’s of its cultural heritage.

She then turned to her own Irish background for guidance only to find that the Gaelic word for grandmother is seanmhathair, a tongue twister for an adult never mind a toddler. Maimeo (pronounced MAMo) is also frequently used, but my wife feared this would become mommy-o in the mouth of a child. Pretty cool, I think, but she wasn’t comfortable with it.

Some of her aging, in-denial friends are using versions of their first names to hide behind. For example, her friend Lucy is LuLu. However, this strategy doesn’t work when your name is Kathie. KaKa has unfortunate connotations in kiddie speak.

Next stop was the internet. If you ever need confirmation that American society has taken leave of its collective senses, just type “grandparent names” into your browser. It is amazing the strange and belittling names that people will allow themselves to be called in the cause of doting grandparentage. Big Mama, Bucket Head, Butter Butt, Chicken Nana, Grumpy, Chippy, and Peaches and Pitts are just a sampling of some the more unfortunate. As my wife observed, “Any child who calls me Butter Butt is out of the will.”

Like most journeys, this one came full circle. She finally decided to accept that her son producing an offspring does, in fact, make her a grandmother.

So she embraced the G-word and finally opted for Gramzi. Note: my wife has a fondness for creative misspelling. However, our son’s comment, “Gramzi? As in Nazi?” caused her to change to the more conventional form.

Of course, my veteran grandparent friends point out that all of this is building castles in the air, whistling in the wind, etc., because it is the child who is the Decider of what you will be called.

How this comes about, I gather, is something like the imprinting that takes place with birds. The child will associate you with something, and this will be the label you carry into your dotage. So in the early years of your grandchild’s life it is advisable to be on your best behavior. Burp and you may be Burpie for the rest of your days. Poor, poor Butter Butt.

Still these new monikers take some getting used. At the christening when our daughter-in-law asked if Gramsy and Pop would now come forward for some pictures, I looked over my shoulder to see what was taking the old folks so long to get moving.

What to Expect

I am 63 years old and either between gigs or retired, depending on how you look at it.
What can you expect to find on these pages? Hopefully, there won’t be too much whining about being 63 and out of work, but rather humorous musings on life and the world from where I sit.

Getting older has been on my mind (not to mention my body) lately, so there will ruminations galore on this topic. In addition to being put out to pasture, I have also become a grandfather for the first time, both of which are reminders that life is moving along.

One of my hobbies is wood carving. I will show you some of my work once I figure out how to put pictures up on this damn thing. Anyway, I was completing one of my works, a mirror, with my eyeglasses off when I notice my reflection gazing back at me. My God, I am turning into a Shar Pei. The generous dew laps, sagging ears, and wet nose were all straight out of the AKC breed standard.

What really got my attention, and something I hadn’t noticed before because my glasses are usually on, was the apparent melting of my eyebrows. Like wax exposed to flame they are beginning to droop down over my eye sockets.

I rushed into the house to show my wife and to hear her usual comforting reassurances.
Instead, she looked, tilted her head, and said: "Oh, they are. I never noticed that before.”

Maybe one’s eyebrows don’t gradually sag, but reach a state of critical mass like snow on a mountain top and collapse suddenly in a twisted pile of flesh and hair blocking one’s view of the world. A frightening possibility especially if it happens while you are driving.

I have in the past 24 hours taken to tugging at them hoping to bend them back into their original jaunty position. I fear I struggle in vain and will soon be using tooth picks to hold the damn things up.

Anyway this is off to a bad start. I didn’t intend to devote my first blog ever to my eyebrows. But I guess it lets you know what you are in for.