Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Second Hand Christmas Tree and Other Coniferous Musings

We have a second hand Christmas tree this year.

It’s a little smaller than the ones we usually get, but is very nicely shaped. We purchased it from the Boro of Califon. It had been used at the Nellie Hoffman House, the restoration project with which we are involved, for a Christmas reception two weeks ago.

Kathie and I thought it was a shame for it to sit there and go to waste, so we bought it back from the town. However, since it has some miles on it, we fear that it might not make it to Christmas. I have this vision of waking Christmas morn to a brown stick and a pile of needles in the living room.

This was not the official town tree, however, which is a scrawny little thing next to the funeral parlor parking lot. This has only served for the past two years. Before that the tree was a rather splendid, large pine in front of the Historic Society Headquarters at the old train station. Unfortunately, it was planted on the right-of-way for a long distance gas transmission line.

The gas company said that the tree had to go because its roots were threatening to compromise the pipeline. This is a lot of hooey because the line, after it leaves Califon, runs through miles of heavy forest where enormous oaks and maples grow right up to the edge of the right-of-way and whose roots must surely “compromise” it.

But what town father wants to see a headline that reads: “Town Citizens Die in Fire Ball Caused by Village Christmas Tree”? So they caved-in and the funeral parlor tree became the official conifer. To me, the proximity of the parlor casts a pall over the tree lighting festivities and caroling that takes place in its very shadow. Lord only knows what mourners think when they see Santa has shown up on a fire truck at their loved one’s wake.

Many years ago, when our kids were young, I was Chairman of the Town Recreation Committee and in charge of the Christmas tree lighting. Unfortunately, I created a controversy with my music selections. At the time we were struggling financially and only owned one Christmas album. It was Walt Disney characters singing carols.

Well, there was outrage and I was forced to appoint a music director who had a more extensive and traditional collection.

I don’t know what the fuss was about. I liked the Disney album and my kids loved it. How could you not admire Goofy’s “five onion ring” riff on the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” or the way he artistically adlibbed a series of “dootey, dootey, doo, doos” through various other standards? And it’s all low brow, secular stuff like “Frosty”, “Here Comes Santa,” etc.

It’s not as if Donald Duck had a go at the “Ave Maria.”

And frankly, I’d rather listen to a duck with a speech impediment do “It’s a Marshmallow World in the Winter” than Johnny Mathis. If I hear him simper “it’s a yum,yummy world made for sweethearts,” one more time, I’ll toss my Christmas cookies.

Kathie and I are down-sizing. Several weeks ago, our son, Kris, and grandson, Owen, came down to go through his childhood possessions and to bring back home those he wanted to keep.

One of the things that went back was the Disney album. And so, another generation of kids will chime in and bellow “FIVE ONION RINGS” whenever they hear the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Hark! Do you hear what I hear? Pine needles falling everywhere….

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Bad Idea

I fell off the ladder today.

I fell off the ladder because I don’t have a car.

I don’t have a car today because it is in the shop.

Since I don’t have a car today and the wind chill outside is in the single digits, I am house-bound.

When I am house-bound bad ideas come hatching out of me like the aliens in the movies of the same name.

Of course, I was only house-bound for an hour or so. This morning I took a four mile walk in the frigid wind. It was lovely. My new down coat was up to the task and I saw a flock of bluebirds.

As soon as I got back and finished my lunch, the bored, guilty feeling came over me. I had to find something to do.

Of course, it’s all my mother’s fault. When we were kids we could not be in the house during the daytime reading or watching TV. She insisted we be out in the fresh air, despite the fact that we lived in Jersey City in the 1950’s, a time when chemical production was in full swing and the air actually tasted worse than it smelled.

This rule even applied when she took us for afternoon visits to our grandmother’s house which was up the block from a gentian violet factory and where the fresh air literally turned our clothing blue. My mother said this was okay because gentian violet was a “medicine.”

As I sat in the empty, quiet kitchen trying to think of something to do that would take me out of the house, I thought first of raking the leaves. Since I had raked most of them and the survivors were being whipped about in a 20 mile per hour wind, this was a weak option. I briefly considered chasing them down with the pool skimmer, but decided this was desperate even by my standards.

I recalled an observation Kathie had made a week or so ago about our outside Christmas decorations. We have a pine tree at the corner of our house that our son planted as sprig when he was a sprig some thirty years ago. Each year I would string it with lights and, along with a wreath here and there, that was our Christmas display.

I gave that up when the tree developed Rockefeller Center Syndrome, perhaps picturing itself being aahed at by Al Roker and sung to by Josh Grobin, and suddenly shot up at an alarming rate. Or maybe, I just got older.

Kathie said that she thought that, since the tree was located facing our driveway and our lane, it was a shame that people approaching the house would not see any festive seasonal décor. This was not presented as a criticism or a challenge, and I did not take it as such at the time. It was just an observation.

Still, as I sat at the kitchen table, it formed the seed of the evil alien that would soon burst out of me as a fully developed bad idea.

“Yes,” I thought, “It is a shame that people approaching our house will think that the Andersens don’t know how to keep Christmas.” The fact that this sounded like something Clark Griswold would say, did not deter me.

By Jove, I would string lights on that tree! Since the tree had grown, I thought surely it would hold my 20 foot ladder extended to its limit. This still would not enable me to get lights to the top of the tree. However, by duck taping two brooms together and balancing the lights on the end, I would create a device that would enable me to place them at the top of the tree from the top of the 20 foot ladder. This was the bad idea.

I extended the ladder and leaned it against the tree. Carrying my placement device with the end of the light string cleverly gripped by the bristles of the broom, I ascended the ladder. When I got to the top and full extended myself to place the beginning of the string, I felt the ladder slowly sliding to my left.

I knew something bad was about to happen. The soft pine branches were gradually sagging away from the ladder carrying it away and downward in the direction of the living room window.

On the other side of that window is my comfy chair where I have spent many pleasant evenings reading in front of the fire. I wondered if my glass-shredded corpse carrying the ducked taped brooms landed in the chair, whether anyone would solve the mystery of how I perished.

Just then, the ladder snagged long enough for me to leap off with just a sore knee to show for my misadventure.

From where I am sitting in my comfy chair I can see the cursed evergreen. If I can cut it with my chain saw, I just might to able to drop it between the two power lines that come into the house on either side of the tree.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Interview

The moths ate my crotch.

Kathie says its my own damn fault because I hung the suit up without sending it to the cleaners first.

I put it in the closet two years ago at the end of my last day of work, and apparently the moths fell upon it like the Greeks and Trojans struggling over the armor of Achilles at the death of Patroklos.

(I am sure you “regular” readers of this blog are stunned to see a classical reference. Rest assured, I don’t plan to make a habit of it. It’s just that I recently finished a book titled “The War That Killed Achilles.” No, I haven’t read everything else.)

The reason I am down to one moth eaten suit is that I tossed all the others when I stopped working, but kept one all-season and one summer model in case I needed a suit for a wedding or a funeral.

Now I have a dilemma because I have an honest-to-God job interview tomorrow and can either wear Mothra or my Big Daddy seersucker model.

I am leaning toward the pre-chewed version, since nothing says clueless and out of work like some schmuck wearing a seersucker suit in December.

I will just keep my legs crossed. On second thought, this might send the wrong message body language-wise. It might indicate I am uptight and not open to new ideas and directions. And besides, since real men spread their legs and sprawl, it might be a sign of passiveness or submissiveness on my part to be sitting there like one of the stenos in Mad Men waiting to take dictation.

Maybe I will just face it out and dare the interviewer to gape at my tattered nether region. If he is worth his Blackberry, he will realize that doing so would create a hostile work environment for me and subject him to onerous penalties. Neither can he ask what’s up with my crotch without breaking many State and Federal codes.

Still, I wonder why the moths went for my crotch? If it was salty sweat they were after they might have struck the armpits as well, but they did not. I suppose I will never know what was oozing from down there that was like a dinner bell for moths. Here’s an even creepier thought: I wonder if the larva was already down there squirming and oozing while my family jewels were in residence.

I won’t go there. I have an interview to prepare for. It’s a shame this thing took the direction that it did because I intended to write a blog about how morale building it is to have a real interview and how great it feels to be in the hunt for something…..anything! Instead, I wrote about bugs in my britches.

Maybe my pants weren’t the only thing that got moth eaten.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Jurist

On December 6, I report to the County Court to serve my jury duty.

I am looking forward to it. This wasn’t always so. Back in my working days, I would moan and groan and wiggle liked a hooked fish to get out of it. I never did.

However, though I have been called four or five times in the last twenty years, I have never actually been on a jury and have only been empanelled once, which shows the system is fairly efficient at keeping crack pots off of juries.

The one time I got empanelled I was frantic to avoid getting picked. Someone told me that if you told the judge and lawyers that you believed in the death penalty, you wouldn’t get selected. From what I was hearing from the interviews with the other panelists, it seemed like the case involved the theft of car radios. My mind was racing to find a way to work my views on the death penalty into a radio pilfering case. Even for a hardliner, it seemed a touch severe to execute someone for depriving a motorist of Howard Stern.

Neither did I want to waste two weeks of my life pondering the fate of a radio thief.

With a heavy heart I took the chair to be interviewed by the lawyers and judge. After several preliminary questions, however, one of them asked if I had cause to be incredulous of police testimony.

Suddenly, I saw a shaft of sunlight breaking through the clouds. As someone who grew up in the city, I firmly believe no one in his right mind would ever believe a thing a cop said. I also feel the same about lawyers, but if everyone who thought cops and lawyers were liars was disqualified from jury duty, our criminal justice system would grind to a halt.

However, I pointed out that, as a member of the borough council in my town, I was involved in a law suit with our police chief whom we were trying to discharge for sexual harassment of a crossing guard

This was the infamous case of the Pissing Police Chief.

Before I even got to the pissing part, the judge dismissed me.

Now that I am retired, however, I hope I get a case and it is a juicy one. Nothing violent with gory crime scene photos and splatter analysis though; and definitely not anything where retaliation against the jury is even a remote possibility. Something involving a high class escort service with lots of yummy young ladies vamping to the jury would be ideal.

Or something involving malfeasance in the county Republican Party. I’d love to send those guys to the chair.

I don’t think I’d want me on my jury though. Kathie says I never listen and form my opinions before any of the facts are in. Guilty. If some goon shows up without a necktie, I’ll send him up the river before he can open his mouth.

I also can’t remember anything I have heard or read for more than fifteen minutes, so it is totally possible that I could completely forget someone’s alibi: “Oh, he was out of town? Oops, I forgot. We can straighten it out on appeal.”

That brave juror in “Twelve Angry Men” who steadfastly holds on to his belief in the defendant’s innocence against the 11 others is not me. I am more the if-you-want-to-fry-this-guy’s-ass-that’s-fine-with-me-where-are-we-going-to-lunch sort.

Also, I don’t see well or hear well, have to go to the bathroom every half hour, get antsy if I have to sit in one place for too long, and always doze off after lunch. Sounds like it might not go well. I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


You must be worried about me.

I know what you are thinking: “If they rescind the tax breaks for the top one per cent of earners, will this hurt Jerry?”

Well, put your minds at rest, I am firmly ensconced in the lower 99%. In fact, as a struggling writer (lower 5 %) and artist (lower 2.5 %) who is also unemployed, I am dropping in the rankings faster than the N.Y. Mets in September. I have a very comfortable cushion between me and tax cut rescindination, thank you very much.

I don’t feel too sorry for those one-per-centers, either. I had to cough up my unemployment, so let them kick in a few zillion to keep the Polarized Express rolling on the tracks.

I am not a mathematician (upper 20 %), but it strikes me that 99 per cent is clearly a majority. Why do we keep electing people who just want to help the top tier?

Supposedly, because it helps us. I am not an economist (top 10 %), but theoretically, some of the money they save is supposed to trickle down to the masses. Let me tell you, I am an old guy and have been waiting since the Reagan administration for some of that gravy to reach me, but my drip-pan is still dry.

There are other reasons that many of us think that it helps us to help rich people: a.) we are not smart; in fact, many of us watch Fox News; b) we really don’t want to see Oprah get screwed; c) we don’t want to screw ourselves, since it would be just our luck to hit the lottery AFTER the tax breaks have been rescinded.

This exposes an inherent flaw in the Trickle Down Theory: rich people ARE smart. Unlike us, they don’t run off to Wal-Mart to buy a hot tub and a new shotgun as soon as they get a few extra bucks. No, they invest. And what do they invest in? Hedge funds. And who runs hedge funds? The top one per cent of wage earners. I rest my case (lawyers: top 5%)

Also, the rich can afford the best. Who produces the best? You guessed it, the top one per cent of earners. Let’s personalize this by focusing on writing. A rich person couldn’t buy this crap if he wanted to because I can’t sell it to anybody who would sell it to him. So if he wants something to read, he has to buy a book by James Patterson.

According to the N.Y. Times Magazine, this guy is like a digitized Dickens who works on 12 novels at once, all sure-fire best sellers. While texting one with his toes, he tweets another on his iphone, dictates a third and has a legion of minions working on the others. In other words, he is in the top one per cent of earners. No gravy for moi.

So as you tuck yourself in tonight, say a prayer for Rush, shed a tear for Cheney, but don’t worry about me: I’m good. Oh, and a goodnight thought for my children: don’t lose any sleep about that whole estate tax thing. You don’t have a dog in that fight.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sneaking Up

I just got an email asking me to rate and review my new sneakers.

The vendor said that, if I did this, I could not only then Twitter and Facebook my review to my legion of friends, but would also be automatically entered in a drawing with a cash prize of $1,000.

In the first place, I am an Old Writer and actually remember the days when writers and reviewers, rather than being “eligible” for a cash prize,actually got paid for their services. In the second place, it takes more than a long shot at a thousand bucks to get me off the couch.

That’s pretty chintzy, I must say, in a day when a grand won’t even buy a pair of sunglasses or a half hour with one of Elliott Spitzer’s companions.

In fact, every time I purchase Aleve at the pharmacy the clerk tells me that, as the 3,632nd customer of the day, I have just been entered in drawing with a cash prize of $10,000. Let me tell you, it is a lot easier to pop pain killers than it is to write reviews.

Raise the stakes to twenty Gs, however, and I am ready to support the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

In the third place, most of my friends and acquaintances don’t give a rat’s ass if I live or die, never mind concerning themselves with my state of well-being footwear-wise.

All of that being said, however, I like my new puppy palaces. They are still new with that wonderful new sneaker smell, and not the rancid odor of a decomposing swamp creature they take on later.

I don’t buy new sneaks often, but one sign that the time has come is when I have to look for them on the front porch rather than their usual parking place in the middle of the living room floor. Another is when, as we are leaving on an auto trip, my wife suggests that, rather than packing or wearing my sneakers, I might want to bungee them to the roof of the car.

It is also time to re-shoe when walking in them feels like riding in a car with four flat tires. These new guys have so much bounce that I can’t resist breaking out in a few choruses of “The Happy Wanderer” as I schlep to the post office.

I usually only buy new sneakers in the fall or winter because in the spring or summer I quickly forget I have on the new ones and mow the grass in them. Grass stains are a sure fire sneaker killer for me and once they are thus sullied they are never allowed out in public again. A man wearing grass stained sneakers is saying three things: a.) I am too poor to own more than one pair; b.) I mow my own grass because I can’t afford to hire illegal aliens to do it for me; c.) I use a walk behind mower because my yard isn’t big enough to use a tractor. All of these things, if nothing else, brand you as a Democrat at a time when it probably isn’t safe to be one.

So, I am not going to take the vendor up on his offer to review my shoes. I have better things to do than write about sneakers.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Autumn Song, Redux

As you sit at your desks and do what you do,
I am raking leaves and stepping in pooh.
As through the leaves I gamely do slog,
No time for Facebook, Twitter or blog.
If bad poesy’s your bag, here’s an oldie for you.
If it offends, just scrape from your shoe.

The last leaves have fallen from their perches on high,
And litter the ground right up to his thigh.
In their legions and armies they boldly stack.
Small children and dogs have to turn back.
As he thinks of his wife it gives him the lumps
She can't go to work with leaves on her pumps!

He rattles the heavens with a mighty cry.
“If you weren’t already dead, now you would die!”
He straps on his vacuum, the dreaded El Toro.
(Which he had to buy since he couldn’t borrow.)
He falls upon them from hillock to gulch
And grinds the quivering foe to a powdery mulch.

Like the heroes of old he absorbs all his licks,
Leaf dust up the nose and bites from the ticks.
As he lays about him, he considers his shoe.
Oh, no! He’s stepped in the neighbor’s dog’s pooh.
He stops for a sec to consider this scandal.
He wonders if noble Caesar,as he slaughtered the Vandal,
Had to stop to clean dog shit off of his sandal.

For weeks and weeks the grim battle roils
On and on the suburban Hercules toils.
At missing his football and baseball, he curses.
He is caught in an epic with too many verses.
As the Aeolian blast delivers the neighbors' pile,
“I’ll bet they’ll miss their cat,” he says with a smile.

The bags of the fallen line the drive.
Oak, maple, cherry, none made it alive.
He shoulders El Toro and surveys the field.
He is glad he fought on and never did yield.
His chest swells with pride like mighty El Cid
Then his wife whispers: “Next year, hire a kid.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Confucious Say, Deux

If you are like me, each time you open that fortune cookie and read that little nugget of wisdom, you ask: “Hey is that Confucius or Shecky Greene?”

After dinner speakers, Borsht Belt comics, and shaving cream companies have been inventing Chinese proverbs for generations to the point where it’s hard to tell “Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think” (real) from “Passionate kiss like spiders web. Soon lead to undoing of fly” (false).

A year ago, in a feeble effort to generate reader interest, I ran a quiz that allowed you to test your knowledge of Chinese proverbs. Generous prizes were offered (false). Due to the enthusiastic response (false) and demands for more of same (false), here is the next installment.

So, pencils ready. The answers appear below the questions. Remember the words of Confucius: “Anyone who cheat on dumb quiz is real lame-o.”

1. When you hold a big Tea Party, old Shitz will always show up.
2. A deer in the road is beef in the wok.
3. If you can’t think of a lie, just say something stupid.
4. Fail to steal a chicken when it ate up your grain bait
5. Never bet against the eunuch in the Who Can Go Longest Without Sex contest.
6. A clear conscience never fears midnight knocking.
7. Fight a wolf with flex stalk.
8. Even a comb of purest gold cannot remove unsightly back hair.
9. Donkey’s lips do not fit into a horse’s mouth
10. One never needs humor as much as when one argues with a fool.

1. False. Although, old Shitz and his annoying little dog, Tzu, were not welcome in too many places.
2. False, but it could be real because a Chinese restaurant near here was closed down for serving road kill.
3. False. Actually, advise to candidates from the Republican National Committee.
4. Real. And obviously translated by the same guy who translates user manuals for Chinese made electronic devices.
5. False. The size of the Chinese population makes it apparent they never invented the Who Can Go Longest Without Sex contest.
6. Real, but Jerry say ALWAYS fear midnight knocking.
7. Real, but probably a little too deep for our shallow western minds.
8. False, but oh so true.
9. Real. Why do I keep getting a mental picture of Ann Coulter?
10. Real. And advise to candidates from the Democratic National Committee.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lord Googoo

A publisher friend of mine recently told me that it was unlikely I would find employment at my age, and that I needed to “re-invent myself” and do something on my own.

Coincidentally, I read in the paper how Lady Gaga had been a semi-successful cabaret singer named Stefani Germanotta before she “re-invented” herself by taking off her clothes and imitating Madonna.

Say hello to Lord Googoo!

Show biz, here we come. I can already picture the first GOOGOO,GAGA TOUR. The name of the act says it all: one member in her first childhood, the other in his second; she strutting around the stage nekkid, and he trying to remember why he used to find that interesting.

I know what you are thinking: Jerry, in show business you need a shtick.

I’ve always been a big fan of Old Blue Eyes, so I am going to do a Sinatra act. I’ve already purchased one of those itty bitty Fedoras he used to wear.

I know what you are thinking: Jerry, you can’t sing. Well, neither could Frank in his last years, but that didn’t stop him from making a public spectacle of himself.

Just picture Gaga wiggling and caterwauling “I want your disease,” while I croak “that’s why the lady is a tramp.” Talk about your point/counterpoint, that’s it right there!

I am aware, however, that here in the 21st century, over-stimulated audiences need a strong visual component. While the sight of a tiny hat perched at a cocky angle on my enormous noodle is very cool, it isn’t enough, because as Frank once observed: “A funny hat can't upstage a naked lady.”

I was stuck for a shtick.

Then one day last week, while I was sitting in the Starbuck’s in Chester, NJ, a man about my age entered wearing clear plastic pants with little or nothing underneath.

This made such a profound impression on the four women sitting at the adjacent table that they successfully executed the rarely attempted quadruple frapuccino spit take.

When the coffee mist cleared, I realized he was onto something and I had solved my visual problem.

Picture this: at the end of our last encore, I, wearing my tuxedo with the clear plastic trousers, get up from the piano and walk to center stage where, with my back to the audience, I take Gaga’s hand and perform such a deep, gentlemanly bow that, if he didn’t have chronic post-mortem dry eye, would surely have brought a tear to Old Blue Eyes’ blue eyes.

Music fans, there are not enough defibrillator paddles on the planet to handle the ensuing pandemonium.

So the GOOGOO,GAGA TOUR is good to go-go!

I don’t know why I am SO excited.

It must be the plastic pants.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Irritable Old Man's Facebook Rant

The irritable old man is an alter ego who takes the helm once in awhile after I have had a few too many glasses of wine the night before or attended a funeral. His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of my, er, regular ego.

I don’t get Facebook.

Two snot nose Harvard twerps come-up with a “social network” web site, undoubtedly to help them get laid, and now 500 million people are on board.

And they made a movie about these jerks’ lives. They’re twenty three freaking years old. Twenty three years! I’ve spent more time than that on the can and nobody’s making a movie about me.

Kathie suggested I sign up because our children were using Facebook to share pictures. Of course, it would kill them to actually send or email us a picture, so we have to go on an Easter egg hunt to find photos of what’s going on in their lives. And now that they suspect their parents are lurking about, they have stopped posting altogether

In the year or so I have been on, I have accumulated 38 friends, which is 37 more than I have in real life. I have another five hanging in limbo because I know they will annoy me.

One friend request was from a woman whose profile picture was a snap of her vagina. It might not be hers, but I am not going to do the research. I reported her to the twerps who are probably trying to date her as we speak. By the way, I’ve been out of circulation for awhile, but when did women start shaving down there?

Many of my friends are guys who were signed up by their wives and, hence, never go on. From time to time I am asked by the twerps to find friends for these lost souls. I have thought of brightening their lives by suggesting Lady Vagina.

Some other friends really started to annoy me so I blocked them. Send me a hug and you got blocked; ask me to join your Mafia Wars crew, you got blocked; tell me what you had for breakfast, you got blocked. My page was a pretty quiet place. Then they made it harder to block and I still haven’t figured out how to do it. Now my page is like a cocktail party full of people I don’t know all talking at once. And just like a real party, when I finally go to chime in,everyone has moved on. And I can’t even find the damn bar.

In the old pre-blocked blocking days, if I made a pithy, cogent comment it would stay on my page for weeks for me to revisit and enjoy. Now, in a heart beat, it is bundled in blather and shipped off to No-More-Posts-to-Show land.

I guess they made it hard because if everyone blocked everyone else ,no one would be talking to anyone.

And enough with the demographic based ads. I get it, I’m old; but I’m not ready to buy a cemetery plot and my prostate works just fine, thank you very much. And I am not voting for Sara Palin or “liking” Rush Limbaugh, so stop asking. Where on my profile does it say “stupid”?

Still, they say everything is going over to Facebook. For example, supposedly no one emails anymore. Gee, somebody forgot to tell that to all the Nigerians trying to con me out of my money.

Oh, speaking of money, those snot nosed twerps have made a ton of it from this. I have news for them though: if they skateboard on my sidewalk their moola won’t save them from a whup-ass.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

315 Elephants

As I was logging into my account at the gym the other day, a note appeared on the screen informing me that since I had been using the weight machines, I had lifted 2.5 million pounds, or the equivalent of 315 elephants.

I was thrilled and stunned. I quickly found Daryl, the trainer, and asked if this was based on Asian or African elephants. He gave me a look I am sure he reserves for one of his third grade students who has just asked if dinosaurs had boobs.

I, naturally, wondered what 2.5 million pounds would equal in chipmunks. As soon as I got home I Googled and found out that it would come to 20 million of the cuddly creatures. That’s the entire populations of Los Angeles and New York if those populations happened to be chipmunks!! And probably half the amount our cat dispatched in our front yard during her life time. Not that I would know this from personal experience but it is also equal to the weight of hoisting 20,000 Snuggie clad barmaids.

I know the trainers were just trying to boost my morale, but I wondered why they didn’t use a machinery analogy. I also learned that, since the curb weight of a Chevy Camarro is 3,769 pounds, I had hoisted the equivalent of 663 of the sporty coupes or three fully loaded 747’s.

Incidentally, 2.5 million is also the number of pounds I have lost and regained since beginning my exercise program and an underestimate of the number of peanuts I can consume when I really get on a roll.

However, I guess they went with an imposing beast analogy because they understand it appeals to something primitive in the male gym goer’s nature. In a hunter/gatherer culture, I would now qualify for membership in the Elephant Cult giving me the right to wear an elongated gourd on my penis and to lie around in a drunken stupor with the other cult members while the women gather food to feed the clan.

Some guys would be strutting around gym going “Is that the best you have, you lop-eared lummoxes?” I, however, remain humble in my pachyderm dominance. Though I have hoisted many a one, and while I toss them about like so many Snuggie-clad barmaids, I respect the gentle giants.

Though I am your master, Descendants of Dumbo, I raise my elongated gourd to you in a timeless salute of hunter to prey.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Calling All Geniuses

October 16 is National Testing Day for Mensa, the society of geniuses.

For a mere $40, you can take the test and find out whether you qualify to hang out with all the other self-important types who think they are smarter than other people.

I know this because I saw it on a banner ad at a web site I was visiting. The hook was that if you are smart enough to be here you might, therefore, be smart enough for Mensa membership. I don’t remember the site but know for sure it wasn’t or Ron Paul for President.

I have often thought that I might be a genius. I know what you are thinking: “If you are a genius, you wouldn’t be writing this crap.” Touché, but I am not basing my suspicion on my paltry life achievements, but rather on the size of my cranium.

Headwise, I am a XXL in a one size fits most world. I just put a tape measure around my noggin, and that puppy measures 25” inches around. (It’s a rainy day and there’s not much else to do, so give it a try yourself.) This is an approximation because I couldn’t find the cloth tape, so had to use my metal carpenters tape. That equals two linear feet of noodle! That must count for something. I would compute the cubic volume, but I am not smart enough to do that.

Scientists tell us, however, that there is no correlation between head size and intelligence. Really. Go ahead and name one pin-headed genius. I think they call that an oxymoron.

Being the callow, superficial type, I checked the benefits of Mensa membership and the kinds of goodies you can buy. Basically, you get to hang out with other smarty pants and purchase lots of stuff that proclaims your braininess: tee shirts, tote bags, bumper stickers and the like.

You would think that, instead of putting on a $12.95 tee shirt, winning the Nobel Prize would be a better way to declare your genius.

I wanted to see if they had hats; convinced that Mensa, of all people, would offer a XXL lid. No hats. I think they are missing the boat. I’m sure that a cap with a light bulb on top that went off whenever the wearer had a Big Idea would be a winner for them.

Just picture hundreds of Mensians (?) seated in a darkened auditorium listening to a lecture on the beauty of Euclidian geometry with their headlights twinkling like camera flashes at a Bon Jovi concert…..a stirring sight indeed!

Still, I decided against taking the test. While not unexpected, I would still be disappointed to learn I am not a genius. Also, you have to be a joiner to join.

Some people are joiners and others are the sorts who sit around measuring their heads on a rainy day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chicken Coup

A chicken controversy has hatched in Califon.

Some residents have taken to keeping chickens in their yards, and their neighbors are getting their feathers ruffled about it.

It seems that one family blew the whistle on their chicken keeping neighbors. Both parties and their supporters showed up at a town council meeting to make their cases. The anti-poultry crowd pointed out that the borough has an ordinance against keeping farm animals on town-size lots.

The pro-poultry group countered that the chickens were pets, not farm animals, and held that the ordinance should be changed, since many people in town keep chickens. The difference between a farm animal and a pet is that one you get to kill and eat, and the other you get to spend a fortune on at the vet to keep alive.

We had a rabbit once, which I guess counts as a pet farm animal. I hated the damn thing. All it did was eat and shit, which, come to think of it, is pretty much the story of me since retirement.

The mayor, upon advice from the borough attorney, had to recuse himself from the discussion because, lo and behold, he also keeps chickens. The council passed the matter along to the Planning Board to consider changing the ordinance.

At the Planning Board meeting the pro-poultry group presented a petition signed by 83 residents in favor of revising the ordinances to permit chickens. One proponent said that backyard egg farming was “sweeping the nation.” Kathie and I missed this memo. We are still working on the one that said eggs are bad for you.

They came armed with facts, such as the sound of chickens does not travel beyond ten feet, and backyard chicken keeping doesn’t affect property values. One supporter quoted a study, probably funded by the Economic Recovery Act, that found that five chickens generate less waste in a day than one medium sized dog. Our rabbit, on the other hand, could shit like a damned St. Bernard.

Another pro-position is that chicken keeping is a “great way to teach children to grow something and get something back from it.” I think a tomato plant would accomplish the same thing, but agree that it puts the young ones closer to the food chain: “Hey kids,chicken for dinner! Go throttle Cluckie!”

I like chickens and do think they teach valuable life lessons like don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If the boys at Lehman Brothers had learned that one, my IRA wouldn’t look like a plucked hen.

The anti-position is pretty much the old slippery slope argument: If you allow chickens, what next? …oxen? Another concern is that if people are allowed to break the farm animal ordinance and are then rewarded by having the ordinance changed, that would set a precedent and encourage residents to break any borough law they disliked, something Califon citizens have been happily doing for over 100 years.

According to the antis, chickens also attract predators. I know this is true because a friend of mine once saw a German porno film of a man having non-consensual sex with a chicken.

All hands, however, agree that the number of chickens should be limited and that roosters should not be permitted.

If the chickens get too numerous they can always hold an event like the one we had some years back. The mayor at the time decided there were too many ducks on the river and scheduled a Duck Round-Up; for one day anyone who wanted a duck could come and get one. The actual event proved disturbing to some residents as many of the participants seemed to be Chinese restaurant owners.

The chairman of the Planning Board said that he would have a few chicken experts on hand for the next meeting. In order to qualify, I have been doing some boning up on the topic and have come up with some very relevant chicken facts.

In a group of chickens with no rooster, female members will assume the role and even start crowing. Sort of like “The View.”

It also seems that chickens are not as harmless as we thought in that they are the closest living relative to a tyrannosaurus rex. It would be just like some wise-acre in Califon to reverse engineer a chicken to get a dinosaur. Just watch your property values tank when old T-rex goes pecking at a school bus for his lunch.

I plan to start a petition to allow pigs. I always wanted to have a pig farm. What the hell, I already have the wardrobe.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Slum Dog on My Counter

“Slum Dog Millionaire” has been sitting on our kitchen counter for three months.

It was next up on our NetFlix queue, and duly arrived after we sent back our last viewed flick, “The Pink Panther, II.” I think we watched that one, but I can’t say for sure since I have no recollection of anything that happened in the film. The only thing I recall for certain is that I was disappointed to see that Peter Sellers was not in it.

Many of our NetFlix selections go unviewed because we have lost interest in them by the time they arrive, or we can’t recall why we selected them in the first place, or which of us was the guilty party. “Did you request ‘Charlie Chan in Honolulu’?” Kathie asked with the same expression she wears when I have whipped up something unsavory in the kitchen. I take ownership of that one because I thought it would be an interesting period piece with pre-war glimpses of old Oahu. Of course, it never occurred to me that such a low budget flick would be filmed on some dismal sound stage on the outskirts of LA.

However, I take no responsibility for ordering up “Hobson’s Choice” a 1940s British comedy starring Charles Laughton about an alcoholic shoe store owner and his family. Some fun, huh?

We watched both of those, but Slum Dog lingers. I think it is because we have achieved some kind of cosmic balance: we don’t want to see the movie badly enough to actually put it in the DVD; and we don’t NOT want to see it enough to actually send it back.

Appropriately, the envelope is starting to look a little slummish as it lies on the counter gathering a patina of spaghetti sauce and coffee. At $9 per month, “Slum Dog” has cost us 27 bucks to not watch. I have begun referring to it as my “rent-a-coaster.”

It isn’t an incentive either that the next movie in our queue is “Land of the Lost” starring Will Ferrell which carries a hefty one and a half star rating. This was also my pick. I don’t know what I was thinking but the combination of Will Ferrell and dinosaurs seemed like a good idea at the time.

With like 60,000 movies to choose from why would two relatively intelligent people wind up with “Charlie Chan in Honolulu”, “Land of the Lost” and “Moon Over Miami”? That’s a good question.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

An Irritable Old Man's Theory of Humanity

(The author disclaims all responsibility for the crack-pot opinions expressed below)

With all of the intolerance on display surrounding the issues of the downtown New York Islamic Center and illegal immigration, I decided it was time for an irritable old man to weigh in.

After working and living for 65 years in the most diverse city on the planet, I have come to a conclusion about the human species: all people regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender, etc. are the same. Wait, it is not all good news.

Ninety percent of them are honest, hard working folks making their way in the world and trying to do the right thing. However, ten per cent of them are no-good-sons-of -bitches. The kind of people who would cut across your lawn to save a few steps on the sidewalk. Sons of bitches!! In a village of 50 people this is no big deal, i.e. five SOBs. Everyone knows who they are and acts accordingly (“Uh,Oh, here comes Yahudi. Lock up the chickens!)

In a planet of 6 billion people, however, this ratio yields 600 million of them. No wonder we are in trouble. This is more than the entire global population in the 18th century, and more than enough to populate every terrorist cell, law office, and executive suite in the world.

It gets worse, because you now have to add in the Village Idiot (VI) Factor. My theory posits that another 10 per cent of humanity is too stupid to get out of its own way. Once again, in a small village this is a manageable problem. (“Let’s not make Golub the town sanitation officer again. The last time, he emptied the commodes down the well.”)

But it is all about the numbers and over a 6 billion population this yields 600 million VI’s, more than enough to keep Oprah’s guest couch full, staff every DMV office in the world, and keep BP in employees for a generation.

So, VIs + SOBs = 1.2 billion people who are either stupid or nasty. And no, I don’t know why they all seem to be on the Long Island Expressway at the same time.

I know what you are thinking: Jerry, the number is probably a lot less because of those people who are both stupid and nasty. Well, excuse me, but to calculate that I would have to come up with some sort of like algebra formula and I flunked that in freshman year. On a spectrum, as they say in education, I am more toward the VI end than the SOB.

Still, I agree with the premise that there are large numbers of people who are both stupid and nasty.

That’s why they get such big turnouts at Tea Party rallies.

Monday, April 26, 2010

International Food Festival

This past Saturday was Elisabeth’s bridal shower.

As father of the bride, I was told, one of my duties was to entertain the male guests who were not invited to the shower. The party, in addition to me, would consist of Alex, the groom, his brother, Anthony, and Charlie, husband of the shower hostess.

There were two problems with this mission: we live in the Land of Nothing to Do; and my idea of a good time is to pull my aluminum lawn chair curbside and wave at passing motorists.

I took to the local papers and internet in search of anything other than a Gentleman’s Club that would occupy four males of disparate ages for several hours. Bingo! I saw in the paper that the nearby town of Washington, NJ was having an “international food festival.” Kathie was skeptical. “Washington?”, she said. “It has to be lame.” I had to admit that locally Washington is known more as a tattoo destination, than a hub of fine dining.

She advised Alex and Anthony who had visions of sampling exotic cuisines and maybe even some beers to “put the whole Feast of San Gennaro thing out of your head” and to think more of a hot dog vendor and few kids selling Girl Scout cookies.

With high hopes and appetites, we headed for Washington. The first hint that things might not be too festive food-wise after all was the total lack of drool inducing aromas wafting toward us as we approached the blocks on the main street that had been designated for the event.

We walked the first block and did not encounter a morsel of any description amid the vendors of junk jewelry and cheap craft items. Suddenly, I was approached by an enormous young woman on roller skates with purple hair and wearing a tutu that made her look like one of the dancing hippos in Fantasia. “Can I interest you in roller derby?”, she inquired. I feared that if I said yes, she would hip check me through the antique store window. "I can't skate," I replied and kept moving.

Things started to look up when we passed a little shop that was having a “Pierogi tasting.” We decided not to waste precious stomach space on this, but to hold out for better fixings which were sure to come.

On the next block, we came to a booth manned by an angry looking old gent that was selling militia apparel (“Maybe this is where the Tea Partiers gear up,” I suggested.), several tattoo artists and some young women selling cats. I feared for the poor kitties, since it seemed that most of our fellow gourmets had pit bulls in tow who would definitely consider a plump Persian international food.

Still no food vendors. I began to think that Kathie was overly optimistic about that hot dog wagon.

Soon we were done. Aside from the Pierogi place, there was not one thing to eat at the “international food festival.” What were the organizers thinking? “ I thought I saw a pizza place a few blocks back. Does that count?”, Alex inquired. “I suppose so,” I said. “There was also a Subway back there and I guess you could always get Swiss cheese on your Italian sub.” “Maybe it was a typo and they meant to say ‘international foodless festival’”, Anthony ventured.

Disappointed and starving we went to the Brew Pub on the way home which was as advertised.

Friday, April 16, 2010

On Assignment

A week or so ago, I responded to a listing on seeking free-lance writers.

I was required to submit a writing sample which, according to the listing, would be reviewed by the editors. I would be contacted if I was accepted. Despite the fact that I submitted one of these essays, I was hired.

I was sent to a web site where I was required to provide bio info, etc., and instructed that I should browse through the thousands of assignments available, claim the ones in which I was interested, begin writing and commence raking in the bucks.

The client list on the site included some well-known and heavily trafficked web sites. The downside is my new employer pays a whopping $7.50-$15 per article. Undeterred by this paltry pay, I decided the best strategy was to plow through the assignment list and select topics that I could write about without wasting a lot of not-so-precious time on research.

I have now struggled through 38 pages of assignments and learned that, despite being a resident alien on this planet for 65 years, I know nothing about anything.

I didn’t know where to begin with “What is a Flaring Block for Through Hall Transducers?”

The only thing I could contribute to “How to Open a Snowball Business” was to suggest refrigerated delivery trucks.

I spent and hour with scissors and paper trying to figure out “How to make a 3D Paper Reindeer” only to come a cropper on the goddamned antlers every time.

If I could write a learned essay on “How to Get Rich in the Stock Market”, would I really need the $7.50?

I will venture a guess on “What is a Crotch Cricket”: A rare sex disorder that causes your sex organ to chirp when you rub your legs together?

Do I really want to go down in history as the author of “The History of the Wrestling Mat?

It’s a sobering thought that much of the “content” that we all depend on when we Google some important question in our lives is written by desperate, under-paid writers trying to research and crank out three articles an hour so they can earn the same hourly wage as plumber’s assistant.

Oh, boy. At last one I can handle: “How do Bread Boards Work?”

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Screw

There it sat somewhat to the left of center on the wooden living room floor: one 2 ½ inch sheet rock screw standing straight up on its head. I didn’t put it there or drop it there.

I spotted it from the dining room where I was mixing plaster in a bucket on the floor standing all by itself at attention. It got mine.

The site is an early nineteenth century farmhouse owned by the borough of Califon. Kathie is chairman of the committee charged with raising funds and restoring the property as a town museum. As is true of our marriage, she is management and I am labor. I go down there for an hour or two at a time when I get the chance and have been working to get the place in shape. Currently I am repairing the plaster in the old kitchen. At this point I am the only one who goes in there on a regular basis.

I purchased the screws and a piece of sheet rock with the idea that I could use them to span some of the larger holes in the wall before re-plastering them.

I went into the living room and looked at the screw. There were no other fasteners in the vicinity and the box sat on the window sill six feet away exactly where I had placed it. It is entirely likely that I dropped it there since I am whatever the opposite of anal is in my work habits.

Still, I did not understand how a screw with a very narrow head and a long body could randomly drop in this position. As an experiment, I dropped a few handfuls on the floor and, not surprisingly, they landed on their sides. Some fasteners, like roofing nails, with heads that are wide in relation to the length of their shaft will often land in this position. Take this as a fact from someone who gave himself two flat tires and a punctured foot while re-roofing the garage.

I am not a believer in ghosts, but I am a fan of the Ghost Hunters show on SyFi. I don’t know why, perhaps it's an older person’s longing for any proof of life after this one. They would have a field day with this evidence.

There are reports that this house is haunted. According to the story, an elderly woman who lived in it had a son who was a “little bit off” or disabled, depending on the source. One Thanksgiving the woman went to dinner at a friend’s and left the middle age son a plate of turkey and fixings. Supposedly, he choked to death while trying to eat the goodies in bed.

Confronted with the “evidence” of the screw, the Ghost Hunters would have read the spook the riot act for placing an object in a position where it could do someone some harm. I didn’t have the heart for that. After all, the poor guy choked to death on a turkey bone by himself on Thanksgiving Day. He has a right to be pissed off.

Well, I told myself, as unlikely as it is that a screw could land in this position by itself, it is still more likely than the notion that someone from the next dimension placed it there in my path.

I go back to work, but not without the occasional look over my shoulder.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Well, dear reader, we made it.

This is our 100th posting.

When we started on this journey we call Wry Bother in March of 2008 with high hopes and boundless naiveté, I had a job and the United States had an economy.

Who knew? I am sorry I didn’t give you a heads up on the economy, but what do you expect from someone who doesn’t have a job?

Think of all you HAVE learned from these columns. (Pause) Okay, think of something else.

In my defense, I never promised you knowledge, information or any of that content stuff. And many of you responded by going elsewhere.

Not all of you, however. According to my little counter gizmo at the bottom of this page, over 4,000 of you have visited here since we began. Of course, 3,000 of you were me checking to see if you had stopped by.

I have accumulated one Follower. I don’t know if you can refer to one Follower as an accumulation, but thank you anyway Mary Lois for bravely putting your face on this disreputable undertaking.

I could ask my wife and children why they have not become my Followers, but I think I learned the answer to that question many years ago.

Oh, I had high expectations of being the next David Sedaris and having my own show on National Public Radio. But I would have run out of things to say very quickly and then there would have been that whole silence thing that upsets the radio execs so much. The fact is I never have had anything to say and Wry Bother has been the perfect vehicle to say it.

Where else could you read a whole column about this being the 100th column?

Anyway, I have run out of nothing to say on this subject and will go and lift a frothy glass to you brave souls who have made the journey along with me.

I hope you have had a few laughs at least.

To be continued.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Snowy Thoughts

Here we go again: Snowmageddon, Deux.

Luckily, most of us survived the first one two weeks ago, but we are not likely to make it this time. Here we are supposed to get twenty inches with gale force winds. Run for your lives.

Housebound once again, I am more likely to die of boredom. Kathie is home today and cleaning closets and making to-do lists, so eventually I will be dragged from my hiding place and put to work.

If you are getting the impression that the only time I write to this page is when I am bored and have nothing else to do, you may be right.

So for now, in an effort to look busy and dodge hanging pictures in the living room, I am scanning the news on my AOL browser. You learn things here that you never see in the New York Times. At least you could learn them if you could just click on the headlines before they disappear. I, of course, cannot, so what information I can mine comes from the teasers. Here is a sampling

. TIGER WOODS IS A “SEX ADDICT.” Really? If I knew this was an option, I never would have settled for becoming an alcoholic.


. THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR FLAKY LIPS. I can only think of two: don’t make strange remarks and don’t use the tube of lip balm your spouse cleaned the bathroom with. I’m stumped for a third.

. Speaking of stumps: WOMAN CAN’T STAND HER SHORT LEGS. The up side: she can apply lip balm to her floor without bending down.


. WOMAN SACRIFICES SWEETS FOR LENT. What is it about you women? It’s always about YOU. My legs are so short my jowls drag on the ground, but I’m not whining to AOL about it.

. NEWLY DISCOVERED DINOSAUR SWALLOWED FOOD WHOLE. I gave up swallowing my food whole for lent.

. JOHN MAYER RESUSCITATES REP WITH HELP FROM TWEEN. Huh? Someone named Mayer either saved his congressman with help from a twelve year old, or his under-age sweetheart dropped the statutory rape charge.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowy Thoughts

It is really snowing hard now. According to Weather Channel, and other hysterical news outlets, we are all about to die. Snowmaggedon is what they are calling it.

Washington, DC, is buried in the white stuff and the government has come to a virtual halt. I wonder at what point we average angry voters will notice that the government has come to a grinding halt? I thought the Party of No had accomplished that mission a long time ago.

Around here they are calling for 3 inches to a foot. That’s a lot of wiggle room. In the guy world that is the difference between stuffing your crotch with a sock and being a highly paid porn star.

Here’s a bulletin: they are just trying to scare us and keep us glued to our TV sets. I am not afraid of snow. I commuted through some doozies in my 35 years going into New York and got stranded more than once. Never as disastrously as a friend who was stuck on a bus in the Lincoln Tunnel with a gospel group that sang for 9 hours straight. He had a Castro Convertible put in his office the very next day.

It’s the same thing with Sarah Palin. She is all over the TV (not that I see her anymore since I blocked her with my parental controls) and the media is buzzing about the millions she is getting from Fox News to mount a serious presidential bid in 2012.

Now they have really succeeded in scaring me. Freezing to death in a snow drift sounds like a refreshing treat compared with being slowly rogued to death for 8 years. The plus side is maybe my future autobiographical memoir, “Goin’ ExPat”, will finally bump her's off the best seller list.

I just looked out the window and, if anything, it is snowing harder. Kathie’s school closed today so I know she is hiding somewhere here in the house. She knows that sooner or later I will find her and begin whining about how we wouldn’t have to put up with this if we moved to Florida. She doesn’t like Florida, and I do.

As I put on my hat, coat and gloves and shoulder my snow shovel on my way to reconnect us with civilization, I tip my tam to those elderly shovelers who gave their lives to keep their sidewalks safe for meter maids, defecating dogs, and skateboarders.

If I make it back alive, I will have a toddy. If I don’t, what the hell, at least I will never have to sit through President Palin’s State of the Union Address.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Soiled Sneaker

It rained in torrents on Monday, my regular gym day.

Usually, I wear my sneakers and change into my shorts and tee shirt when I get there. The YMCA is a 15 minute drive from my house.

I decided, in a rare flash of consideration for my fellow gymnasts, to pack my sneakers in a plastic bag because the shoes I was wearing were bound to get soaked and muddy up the Nautilus machines. Kathie was stunned to hear this, since my usual modus operandi is to come into the house from the rain and head right for the living room carpet. It always annoys me that my neighbor requires that we remove our shoes before entering her house. Where does she think she lives? Tokyo?

However, as the old cliché goes, no good deed goes unpunished. When I arrived at the locker room, I removed my shoes and took my sneakers from the bag. To my dismay, I discovered a generous helping of dog poop ground into the sole of my left sneaker. Now I was faced with a perplexing quandary: wet shoes or poopy shoes.

The trainer already had his eye on me from a previous encounter. We nautili are required to spray down each machine we have completed with disinfectant and finish with a wipe with a paper towel. I approach this in the same manner as washing my car: a good soaking always gets the job done. I gather he had some complaints from some gym prima donnas who took umbrage at sitting in a puddle and completing their work out with soggy bums. He felt compelled to take me by the ear and demonstrate proper clean-up technique.

He completed the demonstration by saying that he thought it a trifle OCD-ish to spray down the computer screens. Guys tap on those screens with their stinky fingers (yuck!) I was about to inform him but decided that, since he was one bulked up dude, I would let it slide.

I opted to have a go at cleaning up the poop. Anyone who has ever gotten dog dropping ground into the grooves of their sneakers knows how daunting a task it is to remove it. At home my usual technique is to take the sneakers out to the driveway, wedge them soles outward against the garage door, and blast away with my power washer. Voila, like new. (Those of you who have arrived at this blog by googling “cleaning dog poop from sneakers” have hit pay dirt (as it were) because this really works.)

The next best thing is to give them a hearty scrub with a tooth brush. I briefly thought of rifling through the unlocked lockers in search of same, but instead went to work with water and paper towel. I turned the tap on as high as it would go and scrubbed away with the towels. I kept one eye on the door for the trainer because the sight of me washing the soles of my sneakers would only confirm his OCD diagnosis.

At last I was relatively confident that the shoe was clean enough not to soil the machines. To be on the safe side, I decided to do all of my exercises on my heels with toes and insole pointed in the air.

“That’s NOT how I showed you how to do it,” the trainer harshly observed.
No good deed goes unpunished.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Old People Go Shopping

I turned 65 on January 6.

I know. It’s taken me this long to face up to it.

I went grocery shopping at our local Shop Rite recently, not on my usual day, and found the store awash with other old people. I started to cheer up since most of them seemed to be older and further gone than I. Maybe it was shopping day at the managed care facility.

I stood there and watched them drift aimlessly about the aisles like those colorful fish on the early screen savers clearly having forgotten what they were looking for or why they were there. It takes a little doing to navigate the store around old people. They park there carts in the middle of the aisle and wander off; they walk out from aisles into the main corridors without so much as a glance; they check every potato.

The PA system fairly crackles with updates on their doings: “Someone has left a pair of glasses in aisle six”; “clean-up in the dairy aisle.”

I pull into a check out lane with just one very elderly couple ahead of me. The clerk on duty is a pro and clearly passed the Old Person Management course. “Dear, are you sure you want seven loaves of pound cake,” she asks the old woman.

Just then an announcement comes over the PA: “Someone has taken the wrong cart. If you have a chocolate cake, and didn’t intend to buy a chocolate cake, you have the wrong cart.” I look down the row of shoppers waiting behind me and all are checking for the incriminating chocolate cake. I don’t look in my cart. I have decided to face it out even if I am the offending cake purloiner: “Yes, I meant to buy the chocolate cake. And yes, I MEANT to buy 5 bottles of stool softener.”

The clerk finishes up the pair ahead of me and in one fluid motion snatches the credit card from the old gent’s hand, spins the input screen around to face her, swipes his card, and hands it back to him. A real pro.

As she starts checking me out, she notices a bag left by the aged duo and hollers toward them as they lumber through the doors. There is no response. I snatch the bag and with a relative burst of speed race toward the glacially moving couple and deposit the bag in their cart. They don’t seem to notice and continue on their way. When I return to the check out the clerk says: “You’re probably the only person in the store right now who could have made that move.” I am feeling younger by the minute. I compliment her on her deft credit card snatch and swipe. “NEVER let them swipe their own cards,” she replies.

I pass the last check out station as I leave. Suddenly, bells start sounding and a light over the station starts blinking frantically. An old chap stands there with his credit card in his hand and with a stunned expression on his face. “Now what do I do?,” he asks. A rookie clerk, I assume.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I Broke My

The letter “ " on my computer just stopped working.

I don’t know why. It could be some English Muffin or Swiss cheese got in there. Seems like I’ll need to get in touch with the geek group. It’ll be over $150 to blow out some crumbs, I’m sure.

There goes the piece I’m editing on the epic outfielder Hnk Ron titled “Hnk Ron: Plyer's Plyer.” Also, sunk is the one I’m doing on NY’s Rodriguez cold shouldering of the big time rock singer: “Rigid Rod Won’t Bend on Mdonn.” Nd who will know what my piece “Scndl Stlks Brrck Obm” is even bout?

There goes my expose of the huge uto club and the help group for drinkers.

Seems like only yesterdy tht I hd n endless supply of them. Oh, those were the dys! Just tp on the key issued stedy strem of the little buggers. Mybe tht’s wht hppned. Mybe I just rn out.

Someone told me Microsoft only issues you so mny " " ‘s nd then you hve to buy more, like toner crtridges.

You, der reder, should cherish your little friends while you’ve got them. Who mong us hsn’t portryed frustrtion or delight with long string of " " ‘s, n "h", nd n exclmtion point? Like in not hving n " " is enough to mke you go h!

Still, writing perfectly solid English is possible without the previously mentioned letter. There I just did it. I just did it once more.

I know wht you’re thinking: “He hs lwys been short of content, now he is short of letters.” To which I say, H!,H!,H! Isn’t it better I should run out of " " ‘s thn the folks writing up the helth cre legisltion? Though it would shorten it by hundreds of pges.

Elisbeth, my dughter, is big on texting, so she doesn’t use ll her letters nywy. Perhps she will spot me some " " 's until pydy. She thinks I might get new followers mong the tweeters.

I like the way this pge is looking, though. There is very Christmsy feel to it in Word with ll the red nd green spelling and grmmr flgs decorting the pge. h!, I miss Christms.

Oh, joy! My “a” just came back! Perhaps I smashed that offending crumb. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jerry and Me

A friend of mind, purportedly a reader of this column, says he likes it because it reminds him of the Seinfeld show: it isn't about anything.

It has been a point of pride with me that this blog is content free, so I decided to take his comment to heart, and to its logical conclusion, by simply not writing anything about anything. This explains my absence from these pages over the past few weeks.

However, I have been thinking Deep Thoughts and pursuing inquiries that might actually lead to substantive columns in the future.

One thought that I have been wrestling with is this: why do librarians all look like librarians? I began my investigation by visiting all the branches of our county library and, sure enough, all the librarians look like librarians.

Apparently, this is also a source of concern within the trade since an internet search turned up a web site called “You Don’t Look Like a Librarian.” This site is dedicated to "shattering librarian stereotypes" and “building new images in the internet age.” Here we are introduced to the Belly-Dancing Librarian, the Lipstick Librarian, and, God save us, the Butt-Kicking Librarian. We even sample what’s new in stylish librarian tattoos. A book by the same name is also being purveyed on the page (available at your local library, I hope).

I don’t think there is anything wrong with librarians looking like librarians. I would rather have the person handing me my copy of “How to Improve Your Sexual Performance” look like a librarian rather than a motorcycle mama or someone who is about to kick my butt.

At the bottom of the page, the author of the site and book writes about herself and concludes: “No, I don’t look like a librarian………wait, yes I do!” I rest my case.

The other thought came to me while driving around our local roads: How do people with “Hidden Drives” find their houses? I decided to pursue this by interviewing these people, but sadly I could not find them.

I think both of these topics should add to my readership by snaring in those folks googling for information about librarians and hidden drives. They can join the legion of fans googling on for the latest on George Clooney’s hair, “black poop”, and “what makes my storm door squeak.” A reader from Iraq actually arrived looking for info on Clooney’s do. I wondered if I should report this to Homeland Security as I feared he may be designing a hair bomb by piling up layers of mousse and gel and igniting his noggin on an airplane. I rejected this because I decided that if this were the case he would be seeking information on Weird Al Yankovich’s hair. (note to all CIA and FBI agents scanning this page: it is a joke.)

Anyway, I am getting off the subject and have to get back to writing nothing about anything.