Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Visit to the Other Side

As the little old lady and I stood next to each other at the sinks washing our hands and avoiding eye contact in the mirror, I wondered when she would start to scream. Instead, there was just an awkward silence that seemed to last forever.

Of course, the absence of a urinal should have clued me in that this was the lady’s room. However, it was a Chinese restaurant and I thought I read somewhere that the Chinese hadn’t invented the urinal yet.

What really threw me off was that, as I was heading for the facility, the door was wide open and a middle age man with two male children was leaving. He even held the door for me, thus preventing me from seeing the handsome bronze plaque that announced “Women.” One of the children was screaming his head off complaining of an injured finger.

Why the male delegation was using the lady’s room when in fact there was a men’s room next door, we will never know. Why the dad didn’t give me a heads-up, so to speak, also remains a mystery. I can only think the old lady was part of their group and was forgotten about in the injured finger ruckus. Who coldly offers up granny to a stranger of the opposite sex?

After I noted the absence of a urinal, I proceeded to the first of the two stalls. I attempted to enter but the door did not yield. Assuming it was stuck, I pushed a little harder. Suddenly, the occupant cried out: “go away!” I assumed it was another of the children who was still finishing his business, when in fact it was the little old woman.

She must have been terrified to see my large sneaker clad feet looming under her stall door. And since they are overly conscientious about refilling your water glass at Chinese restaurants, her worst fears must have been confirmed when she heard me strafing the toilet with a loud and long leak from the stall next door.

Of course, her fear was nothing compared to my chagrin when she suddenly appeared beside me at the sinks. It instantly became obvious where I was. I am thinking arrest and public humiliation. I am thinking front page of the New York Post, but I am also thinking nonchalanting it out. I decide that if she asks why I am here, I will respond with the punch line from the old Myron Cohen joke about a cuckolded husband who discovers his wife’s naked lover in the closet: Everybody’s gotta be someplace.

But she slowly and quietly scrubs away seemingly unconcerned about her proximity to a potential sex fiend. I get a terrifying vision that she might not be a little old lady after all, but a homicidal transvestite dwarf like the one in the Daphne DuMaurier movie who wanders around Venice slaughtering innocent men with a butcher knife.

In the end, nothing was said and we both silently left the room.

When I got back to our table, I told Kathie what had happened. Without looking up from her menu she said: “I’m sure you left the seat up.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

Toning It Down

In case you missed it, there is a national conversation going on about whether violent language leads to violent acts.

Take it from me, it does.

Here’s my personal experience..

I was typing away on my much hated Dell PC with the witticisms flowing like fine wine when up pops an ad smack in the middle of my work warning me of the dangers of “getting hacked.” “I’ll hack you, you cookie-crammed piece of crap,” I cried in a pique of interrupted genius and raised my Wolfgang Puck meat cleaver to put the wretched computer out of my misery. Only the pitiful bleating of its terrified mother board snapped me to my senses.

If even a master wordsmith like me can be pushed to the brink by violent language, just think of the effect on ordinary people?

When I considered all the violent language we casually use in our everyday conversation and the potentially tragic outcomes if any of it was acted on, I decided I would do the patriotic thing and tone it down. I suggest you do the same.

No longer will I take a stab at something, neither will I take a shot at it, or give it a crack.

I won’t have a blast, get bombed, wasted, or hammered.

I will not gun my motor, kill my engine, or stomp the pedal because, technically, the car still belongs to the bank.

If I am on target with something, I will try not to picture some hard projectile I have launched striking something soft and squishy. I will consider the store of the same name just a name and not an invitation to mayhem.

I won’t knock my socks off because I’ll hurt myself. I won’t whack off for the same reason.

I won’t shoot the breeze, fire off a letter, punch in or punch out, blow it, kick the habit, bite the bullet, shoot from the hip, go in with guns blazing, or aim to please.

Where have you gone, George Carlin, when we need you?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

On Turning Sixty Six

Today is my birthday, and time for some kicks.
Today is the day I turn sixty-six.
Please send best wishes, oodles and oodles,
But no greeting cards that speak of limp noodles.

To say sixty’s the new forty is all the rage.
Even with the discount, I’m late middle age.
It’s not a big landmark like sixty five.
But, nevertheless, I made it alive.

Seventy's the big one looming ahead,
But I hope to make sixty nine before I am dead.
I can’t help but find it an amusing condition;
It's the one time one's age is a sexual position.

Social Security had some good news.
I can earn all I want with nothing to lose.
To learn of this I'm quite overjoyed,
Despite the fact I am unemployed.

It’s time to reflect on friends who have passed.
I hope they won't mind if I go last.
Maybe it’s my movie, I say with delight,
And the good guy will be standing when they turn on the light.

Tho long in the tooth, I think with no smirk,
All my moving parts continue to work.
All runs smoothly, no bumps or no hicks.
Nothing wrong with me that prune juice can’t fix.

To celebrate life I head to the fridge.
Oh hell, where did I leave my damn bridge?