Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Test, Part 1

I may soon be working for Obama. That’s right, ridin’ with the federales.

How so, you ask? On Monday, I took the test to be a U.S. Census taker.

It was an interesting day. I had a long overdue visit with my eye doctor scheduled for 9:00 AM on February 23. Unfortunately, they were only giving the Census test once in our area for the foreseeable future, also on February 23 at 1:00PM. Since I no longer have a life, I don’t often have scheduling conflicts, but this was a beaut. I knew the eye doc would be dilating my pupils which causes me difficulty in seeing in general and driving in particular. I wondered if I would be able to read the test, even if I got there.

I wasn’t too concerned since there was a four hour period between the dilation and the exam, more than enough time for the effects to wear off.

Off course, it didn’t go that way. I got to the eye center at 8:45 to find the waiting room chock-a-block with very old ladies. Seems the doctor was running 40 minutes late already. Usually, when you are being dilated, a tech comes out and zaps you while you are in the waiting room, so that you are ready to go when you are called into the office. No one came to do me.

I sat there for 40 minutes. The old gals almost drove me crazy. One regaled everyone about how she was an hour early, but it didn’t matter, she had no place else to go. “I guess I need cataract surgery on my brain,” she quipped. When she checked in, the receptionist informed her that she was not an hour early, but a week late, since she was scheduled for the 16th, not the 23rd. “Today is not the 16th?,” she said. “I guess I need cataract surgery on my brain.” Another was regaling the poor soul next to her about her “deceased pussy,” presumably her cat. Yet another yelled across the room to her daughter on three occasions to inquire if she had change for a $20 bill.

At 9:45 I was rescued by a nurse who led me to the examining room and immediately dilated me. The doctor arrived ten minutes later, checked me out and decided I wasn’t dilating fast enough and added more drops.

When he began the exam, I asked if he thought I would be in shape to take a written exam at 1:00. “It looks iffy to me,” was his professional opinion.

When all was done at 10:30 my exit into the parking lot was like Timothy Leary waking from a bad trip. The world was awash in blinding light and throbbing colors and populated with unidentifiable moving objects I could only assume were autos and pedestrians. Somehow I drove the 15 miles to my house without incident. At least I think so, since I have seen no hit and run fatalities reported in the paper.

I got home at 11:15 and realized that I had just forty five minutes to regain my eyesight before having to drive the ten miles to Clinton to take the census exam.
(to be continued)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Me on Steroids

Move over, A-Rod, Jer-Rod’s on the juice.

That’s right, the roids. No, My Unidentified Dominican Cousin is not shooting it up my arse. I am not a na├»ve multi-million dollar athlete with a legion of trainers, lawyers, and agents who had no idea what he was putting into his body except “it wasn’t Tic-Tacs.” Mine came from my doctor complete with a 27 page list of possible side-effects.

I went to the doctor because I was experiencing a return of some of the symptoms of the Bell ’s palsy I had contracted sixteen years ago. The symptoms were mild, so he could not be sure if what he was seeing was damage from the first event or signs of a new flare-up.

To be cautious, he prescribed steroid tablets to ease any possible inflammation on the left side of my face, and an anti-viral medication, because that is the protocol with Bell’s these days.

I have never taken steroids before and, frankly, I am impressed. By the second full day on the juice my back, shoulders, and other late life hot spots had ceased to hurt. I was able to increase my daily walk from 2.5 miles to 4 with no additional fatigue. I hauled and stacked 10 forty pound sacks of wood pellets from the barn to the front porch in ten minutes; a task that usually takes a half hour with several stops to stretch out my back.

I felt stronger, younger, and more energetic.

And, you will be pleased to hear, my testicles did not shrivel up like prunes in the dehydrator. This cannot be said for Jose Canseco. I recently watched a real life special about him (this was before I was on the roids and could sit through a 2 hour show about a self-indulged jerk). He goes to his doctor who tells him that his body is no longer creating semen. The doctor is not sure if this is a result of years of steroid abuse, or a side-effect of his affair with Madonna. As cruelly Darwinian as this seems, it is good news to those of us who shuddered at the thought of generations of Jose Cansecos coming down the pipe, so to speak……one and done.

No doubt, the list of side-effects is daunting. It includes such things as thinning skin, puffy face, seizures, black stool, unusual hair growth, severe dizziness, trouble breathing, unusual skin growths, trouble sleeping, and the most mysterious, to me anyway, “coffee-ground” vomit. I have made sure to double filter my coffee for the time I am on the drug. Oddly, it does not include back-acne, which is what we are led to believe coaches and trainers look for to spot steroid abusers in the locker room. If back acne was a felony, I would have been incarcerated between the ages of 16 and 25.

It can also cause delusions (of grandure in A-Rod's and Canseco's cases). I only had one experience of this which occured when I sat down at the dinner table and checked to see if I had my seat belt fastened.

Unfortunately, I have to go off. It has sent my blood pressure skyrocketing. I would rather have inflammation in a facial nerve than run the risk of my head exploding. You have to wean yourself gradually though because, according to the directions,“some conditions may become worse when this drug is suddenly stopped.” Depression is also a possibility caused by suddenly waking up back in a crapped out, aching, 64 year old body.

It was fun while it lasted though and I can see why it appeals to the professional athletes. I wish I could have stayed on it until we went to Florida in March. I bet the roids would have added 20 yards to my golf drive.

It might have been worth thinning skin, unusual hair growth and raisin nuts to accomplish that feat.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

George Clooney Doesn't Live Here Anymore

I have had a significant surge in readership lately.

My first thought was that with everyone out of work, people have more time to spend reading inane blogs. I was sure every blogger benefited from this, since a rising tide raises all blogs. However, an analysis of Site Meter revealed that all of the new readers arrived at my site by Googling the words “George Clooney hair”, or some variation thereof.

This took them to my post entitled “George Clooney Stole My Haircut.” Even though I am sure they didn’t stick around, I was glad they stopped by. Still I am puzzled that so many people would be Googling for info on Clooney’s hair with a persistence that would take them through twenty pages of results before they came to my reference.

Then my Inner Cynic weighed in: “Wise up. I am sure every part of Clooney’s anatomy is Googled thousands of times a day.”

He suggested that I test his hypothesis by Googling “George Clooney lower intestine.”
“I am sure you will find a You Tube video of his most recent colonoscopy,” he said.

Wrong, Oh Wise Ass! All that came up were several bloggers who compared sitting through a Clooney movie with getting a colonoscopy. Not that those young twerps would have a clue. Take it from the voice of experience: any Clooney movie is better than a colonoscopy. However, I wouldn’t quibble with anyone who would prefer the procedure to this blog.

Oddly, a sponsored link offered me one free minute to search for George Colon. I almost bit, but decided he couldn’t be that well hidden if it would only take a minute to find him. Besides, I have better things to do than prowl the bowels of the internet in search of Mr. Colon.

Another link high on the page took me to a story about how George was grieving the death of his pet pig; an animal that slept with him for eighteen years at his Hollywood mansion. I didn’t finish the article for fear I might stumble upon the reference to the lower intestine of either Mr. Clooney or his dead pig.

I feel badly for the all the legitimate Cloonian scholars, who while seeking to expand humanity’s understanding of the great man’s hair, have wasted valuable research minutes by becoming entangled in this content deprived blog.

However, I have no sympathy to waste on those who arrived here seeking to copy the coiffeur that George and I apparently share. To those pathetic wretches I say: Get a Howie Mandel and leave us alone!

Of course, the down side of posting this blog is that every low life and sleaze ball seeking the scoop on Clooney’s lower intestine or his relationship with his deceased pig will wind up here. To them I say: welcome, new readers.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Day in Califon

Enough said.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Hustler

Okay, here is the new career plan…..I am going to become a TV pitchman.

If Billy Mays can do it, so can I. He sells everything from toilet bowl cleaner to health insurance by being fat, obnoxious and shrill. I have two out of the three down AND AM ALREADY WORKING ON THE THIRD.

I saw recently that he was voted the most annoying man on television. This is a little bit like being named the toughest guy in Rahway state prison: an amazing accomplishment considering the ferocity of the competition.

Or how about the skinny schlemiel who hawks the Shamoo? This appears to be a chunk of foam that he puts through its paces mopping up spills, drying off bodies, etc. He makes a big deal about the fact that it was invented by the Germans: that’s right, the people who brought you the Third Reich have now revolutionized spill clean up.

There are also several Australians out there pushing a variety of useless products as well. There is something about the abrasiveness of an Aussie accent that seems to lend itself to the hard sell.

One is selling the Point and Paint which is a piece of foam (again) pasted on something that looks like the pointer on a Ouigi board. You dip it in the paint and push it around the wall in whatever way the spirits move you.

Although there seems to be a recent surge in the number of pitchmen working on TV, the profession is as old as the medium itself, and has been parodied for almost as long. Who can forget Johnny Carson’s Art Fern character pushing Dickie the Stick (“It’s a bat, it’s a gun, it’s a light sword. It’s Dickie the Stick. No batteries required.”), or Dan Akroyd’s unscrupulous huckster with his dangerous toy, “Bag O’ Broken Glass”?

The current crop of products is almost as ridiculous. My favorite is the blanket that has sleeves. Is it my imagination or does this thing makes everyone wearing it look a little creepy, like the last survivors of the Hale Bopp comet sect?

If I am going to pursue this, I too will need product.

One thought is to improve upon the gadget that you plug into your wall and via high frequency audio signals drives out vermin. My version would send your in-laws scurrying by broadcasting Billy Mays shouting: “Get out! Get out before I kill you.”
A simple flip of a switch would get your lazy teenagers out of the house by blaring Celine Dion’s greatest hits.

Grapefruit technology is another area that could be a good product niche for me. I recently started eating grapefruit again in another pathetic effort to lose weight. I had forgotten how annoying it is to eat one of these things. By the time you separate one of the little chunks from its mooring, it has disappeared; or you get a mouthful of pulpy white material that separates the chunks, all the while spraying juice all over yourself. All the smart bomb technology we developed while slaughtering thousands of Iraqi’s will seem worth it when folks try my laser guided grapefruit knife.

My “Erecto Detecto Necktie” is another sure fire winner. This product turns blue and let’s your date know when your Viagara has kicked in. All by itself it could revive the sagging fortunes of the necktie industry.

Another innovative product is my designer name tags. Seniors can affix these attractive items to their outerwear and will no longer have to be calling each other Hon and Buddy whenever they meet. A casual glance downward serves as a useful reminder of your own identity, should that be necessary.

So I have the goods, now I have to get the price down to $19.95.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

George Clooney Stole My Haircut

I got a good haircut. I know…stop the presses.

However, it is a big deal because it is the first good haircut I have gotten since I evacuated New York.

I have worn my hair the same way for the last 30 years: short on the sides, long enough on top to lay flat, shoved to the side with no part. The beauty of it is that after stepping out of the shower, a quick squeegee with the palm of my hand is all it takes to put things in order. Same deal when I take my hat off. No comb necessary. No gel or mousse needed.

Mr. C, my barber of thirty years ago suggested it, I think, to save himself from wrestling with my unruly locks, which I wore long at the time. His shop was located on Lexington Avenue about a block from office. I used to get there a half hour before my appointment to catch up on all the fine articles in his enormous stack of Penthouse and Swank magazines.

Unfortunately, he died about twenty years ago leaving me bereft and barberless. After a long string of bad haircuts, I landed in Ana’s chair at Super Cuts. She is from Guiana and may be the only stylist in Manhattan who was eaten by an alligator as a child. I take that back. There probably are many others. She was sitting by the canal near her house when a gator grabbed her leg and pulled her in. Lucky for my hair and I, her dad leaped in and pulled her from its clutches.

She automated my haircut by using her electric shears to do the sides and back and only using her scissors on top. I was either #2 or #3 on her shears depending on the time of year: shorter in summer, longer in winter. I took a haircut with her right before I left New York. By the way, my Dad used to always say he “took” a haircut. Of course, I would always say “who did you take it from?”

Anyway, I hate getting a haircut. It stems from my childhood when my dad would take me to his barber, Mike, who was either inept or a sadist. He would chop my ears with the scissors and scratch the back of my neck with whatever else he was using. When he went to work with his straight razor on the back of my neck, I held my breath in terror. When he was finished mauling me, he would dust me off and say to Dad: “Looks like Jerry has been playing with the kitty cat again. He’s all scratched up.” Of course, my dad knew we didn’t have a cat, but he also knew he was next, so he didn’t say anything. He didn’t do much better. For some reason, his haircut always came out lopsided so that he looked like he was walking on the side of a hill. Sometimes he had sideburns, sometimes not. On one occasion, he had a sideburn on one side and not on the other. His hair was cut short on one side and left long on the other, so that he looked like a completely different person depending on which way he was facing you.

My hair has always been unruly. My mother tried everything known to the science of the time to tame it. She drowned it in Vitalis and slicked it down with Brylcream. Take my word; a little dab didn’t do me. Finally, she found a substance that resembled human nasal excretion in color and consistency. Even my very ladylike mother said "let's get some snot on your hair" as she liberally applied it to my head each morning. This stuff dried as hard, stiff and impervious as varnish. My knitted cap came off my head molded in the shape of my hair, dashing pompadour and all.

It stayed where it was put. All except the cowlick on the back of my head which used to erupt each morning during arithmetic. I could feel it snapping to attention but knew there was nothing I could do to restrain it once it had gained its freedom.

I gave up on my hair as soon as I had anything to say about the matter and wore a crew cut throughout my high school and college years. In the sixties and early seventies, I succumbed to the long hair trend. This was an unfortunate choice for me as the many photos of the era prove. My daughter once asked after looking at our wedding pictures: “Dad, would it have killed you to get a haircut for your own wedding?” I had to explain that it was the style. However, I must admit that it was also a style that played into my distaste for visiting the barber regularly. It was never that long anyway because as soon as it reached the top of my ears it would curl upward in what I think the ladies refer to as a flip. The flip going horizontal and the cowlicks going vertical made my outsize head resemble one of the early mobiles of Alexander Calder: very sculptural,but a few too many moving parts.

The Mr. C fixed everything with the haircut and it has served me very well even as my hair has thinned and grayed.

However, none of the stylists and barbers within a ten mile radius of Califon could duplicate it. One even managed to reactivate my long dormant cowlick much to Kathie’s amusement who commented when it sprang up in all its glory: “My God, I haven’t seen that in years.”

This week I decided to try the shop in Hackettstown. The barber, a brassy blonde woman about my age, listened patiently as I went though my explanations of shears settings, etc. Then she looked at me and said as though belaboring the obvious: “You want a George Clooney.” I could not summon a mental picture of what Clooney’s hair looked like. She produced a photo and sure enough he had my haircut. He pushes his forward rather than to the side, but other than that it’s the same deal.

I was stunned and mortified. All these years’ people have been thinking that I have been trying to look like George Clooney. In my head I could hear their whispered comments: “Look at that old guying trying to look like Clooney. It’s going to take more than a haircut to pull that off.”

Clooney, you bastard, you have everything why do you have to have my haircut?

When you see him on Oprah and he mentions that he took a haircut, you will know who he took it from.