"...it's like Will Rogers, Jean Shepherd and some grumpy Jewish man all rolled into one."

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Price of Admission

CNN ‎- 2 hours ago

The end of the calendar year is typically a time for reflection and candor (whereas the end of the fiscal year is typically a time for panic and obfuscation). In that spirit, I would like to relieve myself of the following burdens:

  • I am, and have always been, a proud heterosexual man. While this has been known among my closest friends and family for some time (although, upon hearing 28 years ago that I'd fathered a son, one of my brothers-in-law said to me, "Well, now we have proof you're not gay."), it has not been a fact I've chosen to confirm to the world at large. I would like to thank my life-partner, Carol, for her love and support throughout the years, and hope she has never taken umbrage when I shoved her out of the frame anytime someone tried to take our picture together. Not any longer, my darling - now you can come in closer... honey?
  • While this is difficult to admit, I believe society has evolved to the point where I can now proclaim my right-handedness. Years ago, such acknowledgement would have branded me with a stigma that could not be erased. However, during my lifetime there has been a shift in public acceptance of this trait and so I now make this proclamation on behalf of my right-handed brothers and sisters. Science has clearly established that right-handedness is not a "lifestyle choice", but rather something a person is born with. Now I can state I am, as our kind like to say, "right as rain". I feel an immense weight has been lifted from my shoulders; I can finally conduct myself as openly right-handed and join with the rest of my community in an effort to establish "separate but equal" sections in all establishments for the left-handed people, since their presence in our midst leads to awkward seating in restaurants and fights over armrests on airplanes. 
  • Although I have never made a secret of it, I would like to clarify for the record that my feet are not the same size. My left foot is a half-size smaller than my right. I became aware of this around age fifteen, after my final growth spurt during puberty. I learned to accept it as my burden to bear. For many years, I was forced to purchase two pairs of shoes, size 9½ for one foot and size 10 for the other, and discard the remainder from each set. However, in my lifetime came the advent of the "Internet", and through the connectivity (and anonymity) it provided, I learned there were others similarly afflicted. I am making this known today due to the recent charges leveled against me that the authorities, after impounding my computer and examining the contents of its hard drive, found evidence of shoe-sharing, with pictures of loafers, sneakers and boots along with the names and email addresses of other shoe-sharers. This is not evidence of a foot-fetish, as some have been quick to accuse, but instead is indicative of a genetic defect as I am attempting to explain to you now. How pictures of pumps and stilettos got into those folders is a mystery to me.
  • I was profoundly embarrassed by the recent pictures in the National Enquirer, taken surreptitiously and, my attorneys advise, illegally, where I am shown in a hotel room in Seattle wearing men's underwear. However, in an effort to minimize the impact of this revelation, I'd like to share some facts with everyone:
    • The preference among some males to wear men's underwear has been known to the scientific community for decades, was documented as early as the 1950s in the Kinsey Report, and later confirmed by observations from Masters and Johnson. Masters himself expressed such a preference.
    • I have occasionally used surrogates to enter storefronts and purchase men's underwear on my behalf. However, all of the funds used for these purchases came from my own personal account and were for my use and my use alone. These surrogates all volunteered for the task; none were forced against their will to make such purchases and it was never a condition of their employment or further status within our family to perform this task.
    • While not as common, there is a subset among men's underwear-wearers who prefer "tighty-whiteys", and I include myself among them. Contrary to popular belief, the wearing of such garments has no verifiable impact on sperm count. I am authorizing the release of my medical records to establish this fact. I ask only that the public evaluate this information within its proper context and appreciate if they would ignore any unrelated observations regarding my cholesterol level or penis size.
  • Finally, the time has come for me to be forthcoming about a shameful, dark secret; something I have endeavored to keep hidden even from those closest to me: I have never watched Office SpaceCaddyshack or Fight Club. I can offer no defense for these sins of omission and beg your forgiveness.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Reasoned Heedings

I do not like Christmas, don't like it at all.
Won't do any shopping, won't go to the mall.

It's lost what little meaning it had to me
Amidst all the bombast and hyperbole.

White Santas, Black Santas - are any Chinese?
How do kids choose from among all of these?

Pressure to spend precious coin I don't own
Just to get a new juicer, or machine for lawn mowin'.

The rush and the pressure, the crowds and the travel
Cause what little composure I have to unravel.

They say there's a war on, but where is the battle?
I'm tired of hearing the commenters prattle.

Some are so offended if offered wrong greeting
They don't seem to realize the season is fleeting.

The New Year comes quickly, then all's back to normal.
Bonhomie is gone -- all are back to bein' horrible.

The traffic, the parties, the food and the drink
It's all just too much, pushing me to the brink.

I can't stand the music, or anything "jingle".
And yet every year there's a new Christmas single.

They cost more on iTunes than when they were plastic.
The lyrics are dopey, the rhythms are spastic.

I'm tired of Christmas - it's shallow and phony.
And once again no one has brought me a pony.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's Snow Trouble

They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step.

We are stuck in a fucking snowbank in our driveway.

Let me back up; no, wait -- that's what got us into this predicament in the first place. Our driveway at the lake house has something of a steep drop right where you pull in. Entering -- it's a gas (no pun intended). When Carol isn't in the car with me I fly-y-y down the driveway as fast as I can; it's like being on a roller coaster for a few seconds. The turn is so sharp off the dirt road threading through our community that it's easy to miss seeing the driveway altogether, which adds to our sense of privacy and seclusion even though we have neighbors just yards away.

Exiting out of the driveway, however, is a different story. If it's dry, not much of a problem -- but if it's wet from rain, or leaves are covering the entrance, or -- as we just learned -- it has recently snowed almost a foot and the guy we hired to plow the driveway has managed to pack what didn't get pushed to the sides down so tightly that it's slick, that presents a challenge and it's not as much fun, whether Carol is in the car with me or not.

After our snowy weekend visit, with the driveway cleared by the afore-mentioned plow dude, we started the drive home. I put our trusty Highlander into low gear and clicked on the "ECT SNOW" setting which, after I've read the owner's manual, I now know reduces the transmission into an even lower setting and in this case got it down to something in the crawling-on-knees-and-elbows-for-traction range. We headed up the driveway, sliding a bit, and as we reached the precipice we... stopped moving forward. Tires began spinning, so I applied the brakes and backed up a few yards to try again. Up, up, up -- but not all the way. I now thought it would be best to return to the flat area near the house where we park and take a longer, faster run at it. I backed up the car in a straight line -- which was unfortunate since the driveway has a pronounced curve. Before I realized my error, I'd managed to back too close to one edge and into a pile of snow two feet deep. Now the entire driver's side was mired in the snowbank. I tried rocking the car to break it loose - no dice. I decided I needed to shovel out the snow surrounding the tires and side of the car. I went to open my door, which budged all of two inches since I'd also managed to sidle up against a row of saplings, effectively barricading me from exiting. After Carol daintily stepped from the passenger seat, I nimbly slid over the center console, managing to only slightly herniate myself, and gallantly stumbled out of the vehicle.

I walked back toward the house to retrieve the snow shovel and began to clear the area. After 10 minutes' worth of shoveling, rocking, shoveling, rocking, shoveling and finally pushing, Carol drove the car free from its packed-snow confinement (I mean, she didn't do all of that -- I was the source of the shoveling and provided a gonad-popping push). I guided her back down the driveway and wisely opted to leave her behind the wheel as we made our latest attempt to escape. She stomped on the gas like it was my manhood and we accelerated closer and closer to the entrance... flying over that ridge like two people in an SUV in low gear when one of them is a humiliated husband.

Now, it isn't like Carol's never gotten stuck in the snow. In fact, her story is a doozy -- but I won't recount it here out of respect for her. And my remaining testicle.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Carol and I have been married for 32 years, have known each other for 36, and we've finally run out of things to talk about. Mind you, we're not complaining -- there's less arguing and it's opened up a lot of free time for Carol to pursue her new hobby of "felting", where she takes several pieces of woolen fabric and binds them together in layers and patterns by manically stabbing at them with a barbed needle. Every now and then, mid-stab, I catch her stealing a look at me but I'm trying not to read anything into it.

Anyway, we were up in Maine a few weeks ago and spent an afternoon cruising through some shops in downtown Hallowell, a lovely little town on the banks of the Kennebec River, just outside of the state capital of Augusta. lt was cold, started to get dark, and since my tolerance for shopping is limited under the best of conditions we decided it was time to get dinner at a brew pub on the main drag. This is an actual transcript of our conversation after we were seated:

ME: "I'm hungry!"

CAROL: "Me, too."

(We look at the menu for a few minutes.)

CAROL: "What are you going to have?"

ME: "Dunno - you?"

CAROL: "Not sure."

(We look at the menu for a few more minutes. Then the waitress comes over.)

WAITRESS: "Are you ready to order?"

CAROL: "Yes... (pause). Start with him."

ME: "I'll have the fish and chips."

CAROL: "Oh, I was going to order that."

ME: "In that case, I'll have a burger."

CAROL: "I'll have the fish and chips."

WAITRESS: "Good choices! I'll put this in right away and be back with some bread."

Seven minutes later...

CAROL: "Where's that bread? I'm hungry!"

ME: "Me, too."

(A different server then brings a basket of rolls, which we immediately start to eat. There's a couple at the table next to us with a toddler who lets out an ear-shattering shriek. We both flinch, and Carol gives them the stink-eye. The mother picks up the kid and walks with him around the restaurant while the husband stays seated and digs into an appetizer. About the time the mother and child sit back down, our meals arrive.)

WAITRESS: "Who ordered the fish?"

CAROL: "Right here."

(Waitress then places burger in front of me and leaves. We do not see her for the remainder of our meal.)

ME: "How's your fish?"

CAROL: "Good."

ME: "This is a good burger, cooked just right. You want a bite?"

CAROL: "Nuh-uh."

(We eat our dinner. A group of about a dozen people enter the dining room and sit at the long table on our other side. They are celebrating some family occasion, so there's much chatter among them and several toasts are offered. We continue to eat our dinner. 15 or so minutes elapse, and the waitress makes a surprise reappearance.)

WAITRESS: "Are you all set?"

CAROL: "Yes. Can you box the rest of this up?"


(She takes our plates away and returns with Carol's leftovers and the check. I leave cash, and we bundle up and leave for the car.)

As the car is warming up...

ME: "I'm glad that kid quieted down. If he screamed again I was going to ask to be moved to another table."

CAROL: "Yeah, thank GOD that little shit stopped screaming."

(We make the 20-minute drive home listening to the radio.)

Back at the house...

ME: "Back in the same day."

CAROL: "Uh-huh."

(Carol pulls out her felting materials and begins to stab. I read that week's New Yorker on my tablet.)

45 minutes later...

ME: "I'm going to bed."

CAROL: "OK. G'night." (While I give her a kiss, she continues stabbing.)

As I walk up the stairs to the bedroom...

ME: "I'm glad that kid finally shut up."

CAROL: "Oh, I know."

ME: "OK - g'night."

I sleep soundly that night, tired after our lengthy discussion about the snot-nosed brat who nearly ruined our evening out. I wake up the next morning to discover a mysterious series of pin-pricks strewn across my face and neck. I'll have to talk with Carol about that sometime.