Tuesday, April 24, 2018

For The Love Of A Good Sore

We all remember the story of poor Lazarus in the Bible -- poorer even than me -- dogs came and licked his sores. I heard the old preachers of old expound on this passage at some length. By the time they were done, he'd suffered long and they were terrible sores, with one brutal sore right at the nucleus. Of course it took three or four sore points to finish the soremon. Ah, for the love of a good sore!

One of my favorite jingles in advertising is, "Dog’s don’t know it’s not bacon!" Let's say we have a guy carrying bacon in his back pocket. The dog comes running up and bites his ass. Because, "Dog’s don’t know it’s backend!" Now I got another hole where the good Lord folded me, very holistic. My dog’s never been picky either when it comes to food. If it’s related to the meat family, it’s 10 times better than the world’s finest grain.

You get a sore, the sore has to heal. Dog’s also heel, eh? I have a few little sores. Who doesn't. You scratch too much, there's one, then another. And sometimes I get banged up. A cut. And I always hope the same thing, that the tetanus shot I got in 4th grade is still working its magic.

Other than that, there’s always dogs. Just take your mind off your problems. Watch TV, lay back, relax, and let the dog lick you, like Lazarus. It gets so comforting, you might set an alarm. I had a sore on my leg one time and the dog started licking me. Naturally I went to sleep. I woke up and there it was, all the color out of it, like a bit of ham fat from a can of soup after it’s processed in the soup factory. Hanging there, no substance, no strength, just dead tissue. Two minutes later the dog would’ve been bitten it off and I'd've never known.

Pa, is that dog still licking you? Cover that thing up or it’ll never heal! The dog hears heel and dives to the floor. Dives, of course, being the name of the rich master in the story of Lazarus. He had enough of life here — overdosed, I’d say — and had to go to hell, took a dive, dove right in, to a place where dog’s don’t heel, including Cerberus, the hound of hell. He’ll never heel in hell. I’d rather kneel in heaven than heel in hell, amen? For the love of a good sore.

A sore can be useful. It's nature’s bandage, an organic arrangement of blood and evaporation.

Dogs get so they understand the word sore, depending how accident-prone you are. Especially way back when, when they didn’t get treats like today. It's just like you say ‘You wanna go bye bye?’ They know bye bye means a car ride. You wanna go to the park? They know park. One of my dogs knew the word squirrel. I’d tell her “Squirrel!” Her ears perked up like satellite antennae. She’d look for my finger to point the way, even though if she wasn’t so dependent on me she could’ve just discerned it. Then she was off, blazing speed. Even caught one one time, but I didn’t want her tasting wild blood, so I called her off, letting the squirrel live. There was, however, a time when I came around the bandstand and there was a dead squirrel at her feet. It looked fresh with some fresh sores, and naturally I didn’t let her have it. A squirrel’s a rodent, and rodent’s carry disease. That’s why I don’t allow mice in my home, even if they are good for keeping roaches at a decent level.

Milton, he milt hell for all it was worth. Besides him, mythology has Long Schlong Silver (his distinguished appendage tastefully censored with a dime) with Cerberus appearing on the vast hellscape, that three-headed dog pissing on Satan to help relieve his pain. Or something. 

Sometimes, though, as Kenny Rogers said, the hurting won’t heal. You get a sore, it gets worse, other sores pop up, things run, things get pusy and drip, and the whole thing degenerates into a mass of coagulation, looking a sight. There's purpose in that, too. A good sore sets things right, if you tend to it right. Or not, either way a good sore does its thing. Finally in the end, we fall on our sore and die a noble death.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

No Pure Place On Earth

I’ve been doing some camping lately while they start working on my house (a complete gutting, fumigating, exterminating, re-boarding, paneling, shingling, from the ground up). Being away from the old place — with all the associated illnesses, allergies, and pure phobias that go along with vermin, their foulness and even the thought of them — had cleared my head, to the extent it can be.

Stepping out this morning, for example, I took a deep, very contented breath of morning air. Which, just when I’d done so, was spoiled when I looked over and saw a monster of some sort — perhaps a skunk, otter, or groundhog, etc. — moving its way from the outside air to the confined security of a culvert. Seriously, that’s one culvert I won’t get near! One, I don’t believe in disturbing the peace of another creature; two, yes, it disturbed my peace, but I chalked it up as unintentional.

It made me think what anyone in my position would think: You never know what’s going on around you, not fully. But we definitely share this world with all kinds of things, right under our feet, with no way of escape. As it is, ever since I saw Neil Shuban’s “Your Inner Fish” I know how these creatures and I are intimately related. We could sit in peace and break bread if somehow I could make them watch the same documentary and understand it. My brain, as it turns out, as feeble as it is compared to other human brains, is pretty sophisticated compared to the average creeping rodent.

I promptly put rodent-guy out of my mind as to any fear, let’s say, and thought of the impurity of the grass vis-a-vis piss and animal droppings, including my own dog’s, whom I was just taking for a walk for her morning bathroom break. Sure enough, she arches up and poops. Sure enough, she squats broadly and pees, all in the open, never thinking of it again, never caring.

Right away, though, I — much more self-conscious as to the impurity scale — pictured some irate trailer wife rushing over to complain, “You let your dog pee and poop right there?! Where people spread their blankets for picnics and family affairs?!” This didn’t happen, no one came out. But I had a retort ready, just in case. “Ma’am, may I instruct you in the ways of life? There is no pure place on earth that hasn't been defiled by the droppings of man or beast!” I would've gone on to add that if it wasn’t a defilement from the hind end, I’ve seen countless men and a few women spitting to beat the band.

My grandpa was the classic tobacco chewer and spitter. He even did the spitting-out-the-car-window thing, now something of a cliche, where it returns through the back window. Naturally a lot of his spit made it to the ground. So if you were going to have a picnic nearby you’d probably need not just a blanket but a tarp. I myself spit sunflower seed hulls, which bothers me not just for the unsanitary nature of spit but for DNA purposes. I’d hate to have an evil scientist cloning me, and frankly I'm not sure it hasn't already happened.

Anyway, right here as I camp, I’ve seen every kind of dropping from animals. There can’t be one square inch around here — of course the earth has been here since 4004 BC — that hasn’t been dumped on, drooled over or worse. And that's just the deer! No, you have to figure, this is the New World, and Adam and Eve didn’t travel far, but the animals were running riot. Pee parties on a presidential scale, enough scat to shame a Crothers.

But what about the Himalayas? Well, yes, there too. Since it was essentially the same level before continental drift thought of moving. And more recently, there’s all the backpackers, with plenty packed in their backside, and having to unload it somewhere. You ever seen the top of Everest? It’s so slick with offal that's the source of most fatal accidents. And they say you can’t breathe at those heights, that’s why.

Friends — fellow men and complaining ladies — there is no pure place on earth. Maybe there once was, but it’s long since been hopelessly defiled.

---You can't spell PURE without PU! -- That's Earl, folks!---

Friday, April 13, 2018

Subliminal Messages At The Pizza Place

Our world today is awash in subliminal messages. Are you with me so far? I’m not going to sugarcoat it; I know it’s happening. I want to get into it for a little while, first by throwing out this interesting observation: Why is it so hard to get confirmation from the teenagers and young 20s who work there, at the pizza place? Unless...they are subliminally directed not to expose the works! You're seriously taking your life into your own hands when you go out.

I’ve been thinking along these lines basically forever. Really ever since a friend called me behind the barn to the alley once and showed me his Vance Packard collection, including, of course, The Hidden Persuaders. (About advertising and psychology, how goods are marketed and sold. And the crooked shysters who do it.) Essentially each of us exists as pawns in life in a huge game of “Buy my product or die, you filthy animal! Ve have zo many vays of dealing wid chu.'” Yes, I'd love to wave it off and forget it. Friends, I can’t keep going. I’m old. Let me live out my days and die in peace. I give up! Oh, OK, here's my money, where’s your crappy pizza?

Still, it'd be really nice, if I'm headed for my grave, to get my hands around the scrawny necks of every one of these sleazebags and ring ‘em; who's with me? But I already told you I’m old and helpless; I can't keep up. I’m walking around totally normal, let’s say, when suddenly they start in with the subliminal messages, and it’s like I just had a heart attack. I’m stumbling repeatedly, zigzagging like a pinball, buying whatever it is the Hidden Persuaders are selling. Bastards with the fat cat in his office are watching me on hidden monitors, as well as the kids working for them. It's their job to load the data files, aim the beam, and watch me dance this evil little jig.

There’s a pizza place we go to once in a while. I actually hadn’t been there for probably six months. But I always check the price in the window for the buffet, and, believe it or not, it always goes up. Now, about this pizza place, I'm about 99 percent sure they’ve got a subliminal system up and running. Purring like a cat. Whether it’s actually powerful enough to beam messages from the restaurant all the way to the road adjacent, I wouldn’t swear to that. But that has to be the next step. If they’re doing all the beaming and subliminal manipulation that I claim, they can seriously do anything. If I learned anything in the 1920s and the push toward full rural electrification, it has to be Never doubt the possibilities.

And this post isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned it. I post it and they take it down. But they haven't been able to stop me talking, and when I tell folks my suspicions they about lose their appetite. One dude did unleash an upheaval. Were it not for the subliminal messages aimed at us, he would’ve loosened a complete upsurge. But as it is, somehow — miraculously — folks recover and are again famished and can’t wait to get through the door.

So we’ve established the first step, the reach of the beam. The beam reaches midway from where most cars are parked and the front door. We were there today and I was literally salivating; I was about a quart low before I got to the door. And what did the messages say? They were along the lines of: “Our pizza is mouthwatering good. You simply must come through our doors. You are nearing the heaven of refreshment. Our pizza buffet is heaven on earth. This is the afterlife. Be a sunbeam for God.”

So far so good, we’re through the door. Naturally the price has increased a dollar or two since a few months ago, giving them an extra 75 cents or so per customer with which to tweak the subliminal messages. The random price increase is also meant to confuse the issue. Is this pizza more popular or less? Must maintain status among my peers. The rest of the apparatus is upgraded, new software's running, etc., making it hard to pin 'em down, like apples and oranges.

Let's say now you’ve paid, it’s time to eat. This is the tricky part. Because they don’t want you to eat so much that you cut into their profits. But they do want you to eat enough that you realize you’ve eaten, just not a bite more. (There’s other variables, like if police officers are present. I’m sure they flip most of the apparatus off; the times I’ve been there at the same time as our public heroes, I’ve eaten my fill and have had to be rolled out.)

But here’s how it generally happens. You see the buffet spread out. The messages start in: “It all looks so good, but I must restrain myself so that I’m not rude. Many other customers will be coming in and it wouldn’t be fair to deny them a hot selection.” Some pizza’s older than the other. Naturally I want the freshest and hottest, and always take some, but I suddenly feel “sympathetic” for the older pizza and have to take a couple slices. Why is that? Your sympathetic nervous system. It's always conjuring up sympathetic messages, also telling you not to skip the drink machine, observing how lonely it is, etc. And to choose water, being "good for you." Well, guess what? Water's a cheap hooker, but pizza has to be your wife, worth many rubies. I'm there for the pizza! And the powers that be know that!

So let's say you've now eaten your first slice. Around the beginning of the second slice, they’re already on you with messages about “eating right,” “weight loss,” “looking good for that special someone,” “only thinking you were hungry when you came in,” and so on. See how they’ve changed their tune? You’ve barely eaten a thing and they’re zapping you with “I’m full” or “I shouldn’t eat so much” riffs. It's hard to win. Just writing-down the phrases I feel stuffed!

Maybe I'll get them on the dessert! I try my best to save room for dessert. I approach the desserts, I start to get four or five different things, when suddenly I feel I should concentrate on “Quality vs. Quantity,” and brag later about having had a responsible dessert. Where'd that message come from? I don't think like that. I've been a dessert hog since I was three. Maybe two or younger.

Be that as it may, it's desserts at the pizza place I want now. But where has the time gone? It seems that time's run out. In my mind I'm hearing subliminal messages like crazy. That it’s time to hit the door, because, as everybody knows, “Traffic will intensify in the next five minutes. There were six wrecks within 50 feet of this restaurant a week ago today, all with fatalities.” Could that be true?

I'm thinking it over, then my mood is brightened at the door. As I'm leaving they’re telling me, “You need to hurry back. This was the most delicious and satisfying meal of your life. You rate this quality dining experience a solid 10. You must tell your friends — any that you judge worthy of such a pleasant time out. They'll thank you for it. You're such a good person!"

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Wooden Nickels and Eye Vampirism

One of the more famous wooden nickels,
and rare because the plows are usually broken
or tainted with crusted ear wax

No history of Eye Vampirism is complete
without referring to one of the biggest villains,
John "Suck 'Em Dry" Smith

I had to help a friend in need the other night. A friend in need being a friend indeed, this friend of mine is a huge friend, always being in need. Be that as it may, as needy as you are, you're never too needy for me to swoop in and try to save the day. Or die trying.

But this isn’t about how great I am — I’m modest enough to say I’m only modestly great — but about a moment of sharing I had with a doctor.

It started with my friend calling, saying he needed someone to take him to the emergency room. He didn’t want to call the ambulance — and I took this as a huge compliment — because he’d read my blog post on emergency workers basically being in it for the free pastries. I told him I’d be right over, right after I finished the last three quarters of a cinnamon roll. Seriously, it had nuts like a boar, along with about a ton of cinnamon drizzle!

Anyway, I got there. He was hanging by a thread. And we got to the emergency room, where — wouldn’t you know it? — they let him linger on and on while they helped other folks, and walked by laughing with pastries of their own. So we sat in the room. I kept checking his pulse to make it seem like something was happening.

Finally, a guy presenting himself as a doctor showed up. He held the stethoscope up to the patient's chest and said, "Cough," murmuring over and over to his phone, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, no — scratch that, insert yes.”

Even though I wasn’t on my friend’s HIPAA list — the folks they can legally confide in about the patient’s prognosis, everything from their temperature to their pulse, Dr. Yes-No was forthcoming: “Just as I feared...” “What is it, doc?” I pleaded. "This doesn’t look good...” “What doesn’t look good?” I demanded. “I haven’t seen a case like this in ages.” By now my friend was also interested in his case, which seemed dark and dire. “Just as I feared,” the doctor repeated, “You’ve got Wooden Nickel Syndrome.” Of course my friend repeated the words back to him, being generally clueless about these conditions.

I answered for the doctor: “He means you’ve been taking too many wooden nickels,” which means different things determined on a case by case basis, like interpretive dance. The doctor looked at me as a fellow traveler. Our eyes met with an intensity I hadn’t experienced since the time I was heavily advocating Eye Vampirism in early 2002, a hobby horse I abandoned soon after because of a lack of fellow travelers. It’s damned lonely, a life as the only openly-confessing eye vampire in town.

“Exactly,” the doctor said, “Wooden nickels. And there’s nothing I can do.”

At that point — and I’m not a man given to professional confrontation as you might think — I protested violently, saying, “This, sir, is where I must disagree! There’s lots you can do for Wooden Nickel Syndrome—

“True,” he said, “but I haven’t lost a patient yet and I don’t want to start with him.”

Hearing such a lame excuse, and because I had Eye Vampirism fresh on the brain, I stood up and walked directly toward the doctor. He saw the intensity of my Bela Lugosiesque stare and backed all the way to the corner. I trailed him, staring, staring, staring. At last he buckled, and spoke in the grayest shade of monotone, “Yes, Master, I see and I shall obey.”

I stood aside and watched with pride as that man of medicine — thank God for doctors who can be reasoned with — walked calmly to my needy friend and shared valuable information with him, no doubt going well beyond the Physician’s Desk Reference in scope. It's true what they say, the hidden truths of life are the most interesting.

“If you take wooden nickels...” he said, staring into his eyes as he explained point by point the prognosis, its cause and its cure, the positive steps my friend could take to recover once and for all, and many other truths, well known and daringly arcane, “...in the end you’ll be fine.” I myself have studied the hidden lore of Wooden Nickel Syndrome over the years, of course, but even I didn’t know that its modern revival is attributed to carnival freaks in the late 1800s, originating as a kind of curse against folks who tried to pay them with wooden nickels. I thought it had to do with laughing at them, meaning, if the doctor's right, I can resume going to carnivals.

All the way home, my friend manifested the signs of a swift and sure recovery, seeming in every way his old self. Upon separating for the night, I restrained myself and did not — DID NOT — say, “Don’t take any wooden nickels.” Naturally that would’ve been very harmful. I did, however, use about five seconds of Eye Vampirism on him as we hugged goodbye, knowing I could calm him down without a word and ensure him a good night’s sleep.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Black Helicopters & Jets Are On Me


I’ve recently taken to camping, but now even that looks spoiled for me. If you’ve known me very long, you know I’m a very careful person. I don’t want anyone on my trail, know what I mean? My dad was the same way. When we had to fill out some papers on our family life in 6th grade, he warned me, "Do not fill it out!" if it asked, “Do your parents sleep in the same bed?”

At the time I was unable to see the concern. It wasn’t till I grew up that I realized the school’s basic function was not education, but fitting us as zombies in a totalitarian culture. If they knew who slept where, let’s say, they’d zero in on all our ways, knowing if we were a threat to The Man or The Woman or whoever ruled us now and in the future. Well, I lied and said I didn’t know where anyone in my family slept, including myself. The truth is, I literally slept under the bed, that’s how afraid I was, mostly of the Russians. Now of course they’re our overlords, but I dimly recall — although it’s hazy after the shock treatment and drugs — a time when we as a nation opposed them.

OK, a guy like me does enough “dimly recalling,” then jotting down the scraps of memories, and after a while I can piece together a narrative. And believe me, these bastards have gone beyond who sleeps where. Everything’s computerized now. They can scan your pockets when you walk by the turnstiles and see what you’re carrying, and find out everything about you. It makes a guy paranoid, except naturally for so many citizens who are already zombies. I keep the allowed change in my pockets just like they want, but I’ve hammered out a thin lead jockstrap that keeps my other business undetectable. As far as they can tell, I’m a neutered creature like the rest of the drone class.

How is it I’m able to go camping instead of working in the hives like others? Heh, heh, it pays to be disabled! You know the game toe I’ve got? That slips in and out of place when I need it to? That allowed me to get a special government disability check for the last 20 years? They determined I wasn’t fit to serve the realm. So I have some independence, although of course I still have to be careful. (Please don’t print a copy of this blog, thanks in advance. I have your phone or device set to self-destruct 20 seconds after you read it.) A little computer coating I learned. I know three different kinds of coating: 1) Lead coating on genital shields; 2) Goop coating on clams; and 3) Computer coating. You remember Acey-Deucy? My coat.

Anyway, OK, I’ve been camping. But my crazy paranoia is kicking in again. Mainly because I’ve been absolutely beset with a plethora — another word for coincidences up the yin-yang — of black jets and black helicopters buzzing me. As far as everyone else thinks, they’re just harmless passes, going from one place to another. So why are they always right above me? The scariest helicopter was a couple weeks ago.

I told myself it’s nothing. But its official markings were obliterated by a giant rubber-ducky bandage. Seems innocent enough. Then a voice comes through the speaker, “Enjoy Hell!” That had me worried. However, now — with lots of reflection — it’s hard to know if that’s a positive or negative. “Enjoyment” is typically a positive, “Hell” a negative; therefore, all things being equal, we might just as easily call it a wash.

Then a week ago today, a series of jets started coming over, apparently from the M class of planes, going by their shape. I would categorize them in the stealth group of planes, since they were entirely quiet except for an occasional chirp or beep. I outsmarted them by staying in my camper most of the time. The only downside to which — well, it was twofold — I ran out of groceries the second day — now I’ve got nothing but clams — and since I clean my portable toilet every other day, the bathroom is a complete mess. (I once knew a guy whose bathtub was up to the faucet with backed-up sewage. I console myself with the fact that my faucet is still mostly free and clear.)

One of the jets shot a fearsome bomb of some sort — the shape of it was like a comet, but the substance was more a goo or gel. I called out, mad as hell, “Hey! Hey! Hey!” What else could I say, but of course it was too late to do any good. I collected a wheelbarrow of the stuff, and a science major friend of mine examined it and said it closely resembled Glocoseoxytonicphosphate, which he chose to simply call Goop. Since then I’ve been using it as a sauce over baked clams.

Tell me when this ends! Don’t rat me out to The Man or The Woman! I don’t remember where my parents slept!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

My Huge Dog Is Out Of Control

I’ve always been a person grounded in reality. So it’s not a case of denial here, despite what the veterinarian says. To those clowns, it’s always your fault, never the animal. Which is clearly false. I don’t force feed her, she could refuse. I put the food out there, she eats it. There’s no funnel. There’s no mouth brace under the meat grinder.

Whew, glad I got that off my chest. I have such RAGE against veterinarians, which, I suppose you share. Veterinarians are like psychologists, in a way. Psychologists know people and we are people, so we know if they’re right or not. But dogs aren’t people. So veterinarians read their psychology, then think “You’re not a dog,” so you should take their word for it and pay through the nose.

Well, no more! This dog knows what she’s doing when she eats and drinks. And if she didn’t want it, she wouldn’t browbeat me to give it to her.

Actually, the browbeating began when she was tiny. That look in her little eyes was “You give me what I want or you die.” I didn’t give it much thought then because she was so small; what’s she going to do, nip my heels? But we compromised. I’d go halfway on her demands, a little bacon, a little hamburger, a sip of whiskey; that’s reasonable. Once she put on a little weight the browbeating got worse. Pushing me in my chair to face the pantry. Pushing me to the fridge. Nudging me toward the hutch where I keep the whiskey. Then — and we’re skipping some months, probably a year and a half — the pressure was greater. Picking me up by the scruff of the neck and setting me by the pantry, flipping me on my back and pulling me by the foot to the fridge, and demanding whiskey with bared fangs. Leading me to observe, “Jeez, all that food and no dental hygiene and her fangs white as pearl. Has to be the whiskey.”

OK, now I’m on my own. The vet said don’t come back till I’m ready to “face facts.” I suppose I didn’t help myself when I dressed him down, calling him a dog- and cat-killer for all the old crippled dogs and cats that are put down on a regular basis. I even tinkered with the idea of sending him a card on Hitler’s birthday; I couldn’t find much at the card store that was to the point.

I went home, dedicated to making my dog face facts. The first day went OK. She grumbled but I cut the portions way down, a pound of bacon and a pound of hamburger and a cup of whiskey. She looked at me like “OK,” very tentative. But the next day the look was worse, then worse yet. Until she took matters into her own paws, and that’s when the pushing and dragging started. Now I’m compliant, because, really, she’s so insistent, I might be her next meal if I’m not.

Still, you know, I’m proud of her. She’s a like a body builder, only you have to flip the picture. She’s a body bloater, with my hope that at some point she’ll take up a healthy exercise regimen and keep her size but be so muscular that they take her into the service, exactly what happened to a dog in my hometown that was mean as hell. He went to Vietnam. Whether he got hooked on Vietnamese food and booze, they never said. Doesn’t it have a lot of soy?

So that’s how it stands. But how about the veterinarian? He’s a loser. He gave up without a fight. He “knew better,” but couldn’t convince me or the dog with reason. Therefore he was just a bully. And there’s only one way to handle a bully. Go the other direction, leave him in his misery. Maybe he’ll come around with age or die trying, I don’t know.

Yet I still insist it’s not my fault. The dog’s the one that allowed herself to spiral out of control. She got hungry, and instead of rationally saying, “I don’t need these larger portions, I think I’ll look after myself,” she threatened me. Strike 1. I blame her for even wanting bacon, hamburger, and whiskey. Although they are all delicious, and they make dog food to resemble bacon and hamburger. And there’s a phrase, “You old booze hound;” that had to come from somewhere.

It’s hitting me hard for the simple inconvenience (1) and (2) the money. There’s nowhere to move in the house, almost. And the money’s going down the drain. I only have money from Social Security and the disability checks from my game toe. I can’t be in economic thrall to her appetites forever!

All that said, it’s still something of a source of pride that I have the largest chihuahua mix on the planet. I have to laugh. We were home one day when the Cancer Lady stopped by for her annual check. She goes, “Oh, where’s your dog?” I go, “See that couch in there?” “Yes,” she said. “I don’t have a couch...”

Artwork credit: Tony

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Bunnies -- Get Free Sugar

Money’s been tight chez Slump. But the Good Lord above keeps me in His thoughts. Right in the nick of time He scheduled Easter to occur. You never know when it's going to be, but it's always about the same time as the Easter craft sale at the shopping center. As if by design.

Tossing and turning one night, I had an idea to increase sales of my bunnies, based on something my grandma used to say, “Give Grandma a little sugar.” Kiss her cheek and everything was right with the world. Then there was Grandpa, who always told us sugar was the key to good commerce: “You can sell anything with sugar on it!”

But since they died, the world’s been wracked with diabetic fits; everyone I know except me gets them. The neighbor guy, he has diabetic fits so bad there's a special fence around his yard to set off an alarm if sugar is near. If he even hears of sugar in the neighborhood — picture a kid a mile away with a Kool-Aid stand — he goes to his 1950s fallout shelter. Authentically stocked in every way, old vaccines, canned meat, and pith helmets for his family, who by now are grown and moved away or dead.

Anyway, putting all the pieces together, and not sounding any alarms in the neighborhood, I did what would’ve been unthinkable in the old days — when craft sales were the universal craze and you had to beat the crowds back with threats of arrest and deportation — I sweetened the deal for customers. I bought several five-pound bags of sugar and was prepared to give away a spoonful of sugar with every bunny purchased.

I had to do something, because, face it, craft sales aren't what they used to be. They've more or less fallen into abject desuetude, am I right? While there’s still a few old dinosaurs like me trying to keep them going, basically it's no use. Why? Most of us blame the internet. Look at the evidence: You’d have to be pretty dumb not to realize you can make all the crafts you want right at home for a fraction of the price. The instructions for everything are right there. The only thing they can't fake is the deep love we dedicated crafters put into our product. Not one of my bunnies leaves me without knowing I'd never part with it for anything but money.

So I had the idea early yesterday: I would give away free sugar, a teaspoon of sugar with every sale. I tell you, it went great guns. I’d barely set up and a woman came over and was going nuts over the bunnies: “How cute! Have you named them? Where’d you ever get the idea?!” I figured she was toying with me, rubbing it in just before she set them down and vacated the premises. But, no, she was sincere and bought one! But it turned out she didn’t want the sugar. “Give mine to someone else.” She held her belly as if to say, either, “I’m still full from breakfast” or “This is where my diabetic demon dwells.”

To summarize the course of events. Right away, I sold around 15 bunnies and none of the ladies wanted the sugar! I thought it over: 1) More profits for me; 2) I can use the sugar myself; it’s found money; or, 3) I can use it as a promotion to get more people to my table. How best to do that? KIDS! I usually shoo kids away, since there’s no more natural thief or merchandise-breaker than a crummy kid. “Oh, we’re so innocent, we didn’t know the bunnies were for sale!” Or “They must be very poorly made to break so easily, I’m sure Johnny or Sally didn’t mean it! What have you got in them anyway, a quarter apiece?” Dadcrumb, sonofa buck'n, God! ... bless you...

So a kid gets within 10 feet of my table -- are you with me? -- and I'd call them over and get them admiring the bunnies. “Would you care for a free tablespoon of sugar?” This was like 20-25 kids, amazing since kids are more generally dumped by their parents at the arcade. And every kid wanted sugar! Which got me thinking back to my childhood ... If there was a scuzzy old man in the neighborhood giving away free sugar, we'd be there. We didn't care what he was up to.

The great thing about this is, It was a total success! Not only did moms come over and completely thank me for being such a generous goodhearted person for giving their kids free treats, they were buying bunnies to compensate me. More, more, more! Plus, it seemed that just having sugar at my table gave me a better reputation. You seem sweeter if you're seen with sugar! But what about giving sugar to kids without their mother’s permission? I believe it made them happier, since I assumed it'd be OK. And because I wasn’t putting pressure on them, trying to get them to buy a bunny in return. (I know my own parents would've appreciated all the free food anyone might randomly give us.) Which meant they bought bunnies out of their own free will, not as an expectation.

OK, let’s assume most of the kids will survive the sugar. I'm hoping for at least a 90% survival rate. Next year I’ll be giving away other loss leaders. Not just sugar, but sugary drinks, sugary candies, sugary cereal, whatever I can get my sweet little hands on! With a dish of prunes, let's say, just to be on the safe side, if diabetes rears its ugly head.


Previous Easter Bunny Craft Sales:

Local Man Makes and Sells Easter Bunnies
Selling Easter Bunnies at the Shopping Center
Last Call for Easter Bunnies
Boxing Up My Bunnies

The Easter Craft Sale

I'm Selling Easter Bunnies at the Craft Sale

Easter Bunnies -- Is This The End of Crafts?
The Easter Craft Sale -- Post-Mortem

Shell-Shocked -- The Easter Craft Sale

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Doctors and Bacon

As everyone knows, there's two things you rarely see in public. Doctors and bacon. I believe I've had an interesting experience with both. First, it occurred to me young that this was so, that there was something mysterious about doctors and bacon. I mentioned it to a teacher once, who said, "Hmm," then she excused herself for further research on the subject and never came back.* I keep thinking the same thing might happen to me, but so far, here I am. But I've taken precautions, mostly prayer and supplication. Besides that, I'm damned brazen. And that also carries weight with the powers that be.

This is a true story. I once saw my doctor in public, riding a bike, no less, and I immediately filed with the Board of Doctors and Bacon to have his credentials removed. Now he's senior breakfast cook at Maude's on 8th Street. Good with bacon but still working on a remedy for popped yolks. Going with the assumption, You can cure bacon, why not eggs? But that's that guy, who couldn't do much with me. His big thing was to give me medicine you couldn't take with grapefruit. Another breakfast favorite. Guess what, stupid, I'd rather eat grapefruit than take the sugar pills you're pushin'! Anyone with me?

These days it's not just grapefruit everyone's against, but bacon. Which is also the fightin' side of meat! And I'm up in arms too. Half my grocery budget goes for bacon, although I'm frugal. I check the price of bacon like it's the stock market, and that's why I go to any one grocery store. I love the $2.99 stuff, but lately it's been more on the $3.30 side of things. But everything goes up, including doctor bills. I've got a doctor, but bacon's got my heart. I start off with a pound for breakfast, and if I'm still hungry I keep eating till it's gone. Then spend the afternoon in the store with a wheelbarrow.

Anyway, I love to stick it to doctors. My current doctor knows me inside and out. He's had his finger up me more often than I care to think of. He's even performed a colonoscopy and a related surgical process** on me. And he's never once mentioned bacon, so he's OK. Now, of course, if I ever see him in public, I'll have to reevaluate, but so far so good. So I'm leaving him -- this one doctor -- out of the following remarks. On comparing and contrasting doctors and bacon.

What's something else besides doctors you never see? Dead pigs. That's damned odd. I've seen every manner of roadkill and carrion, just never dead pigs. Once I even hitchhiked with some guys in a pickup truck. And they went around a corner -- they were carrying a lot of baby pigs -- and the back rails of the truck fell off and the pigs followed. (It was also raining). So instead of standing on the side of the road like I was 5 minutes before, I was with them in the mud and ditches catching pigs. Which were all alive. That's never happened with doctors.

One of the most obvious similarities of doctors and pigs, pigs are cured meat and doctors presumably cure sick folk.*** All praise to the Lord above, though, who my grandma said does the true curing. It's just these bastard doctors that stick you with the bill. Taking credit for the Lord above's work.

This is one you have to think about: Doctors are hams, bacon's related to ham. This would be another good place for a religious joke. Shem, Ham, and Japheth. You see ham, you eat it. Bit of a stretch, but nothing like our doctor-ham friends. They're all good cheer when they come in, shaking your ham, -- hand, smiling. Next thing the business office and insurance company's got you on the grill for everything you're worth.

Can't think of much else. You always see bacon in strips. The doctor makes you strip. You separate bacon with greasy hands. The doctor separates hams with greasy fingers. The longest three seconds in history, you're bacon him to stop. Bacon comes in slices. Doctors also have sex.

*There's a penalty for delving too deeply into life's mysteries.
**That reminds me: When you're young, you get Pull-Ups. When you're old, polyps.
***I know, I already used the 'cure' line, but wanted to get the grandma story in.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Enhance Your Marriage With Drudgery

Psychologists today -- the good ones -- tell us the basic problem with society is we're too pampered, which is the same thing as saying we're too lazy. We want more, more, more, but then we're dissatisfied, which leads to all the usual physical/mental/social reactions: despondency, renewed craving, further seeking, then back to despondency.

I suppose it's not hard to see that this is a vicious cycle. As far as I'm concerned, frankly, I don't think I've seen a cycle quite as vicious in many a'year. Meaning, I would personally like to take society as a whole and just beat the living snot out of it, all the while reviling it for not having the brains God gave the teetsy fly, or for that matter the big ones. We as a whole are stupid, dumb, and ignorant, with a side of pigheadedness in the mix to boot.

But I've observed that there's a few (and the number's growing) who've not only diagnosed the situation before us but are doing something about it. Progress on this front has been seen in several marriages I know of. Which have taken this course: The husband's off working all day while the wife's sitting at home watching whatever's-on, essentially a mix of soap operas and game shows. These portray "the good life," leading to disenchantment with her own, then malaise, then laziness, then giving-up entirely. The last cogent thought she has is the vain yearning for a robot maid, which are still very expensive.

Anyway, the most successful reversal of this course that I've seen is by a guy (a successful factory foreman) and his stay-at-home ball and chain. She was very into the whole lifestyle described above, as dried up and desiccated as anyone can mentally and physically can be. Dishes were piled to the ceiling, the laundry looked like a Chinese riot, the toilet like something in a nightclub, the pets had broken loose from their shackles, and the kids, I believe I heard they'd run away, but possibly they'd been sold to a circus so "Mom" could have pin money.

Of course her husband, Mack, was beside himself with worry and regret: "Why'd I ever marry that damned shrew?" and worse questions. He thought he was going crazy, so he went to visit a psychologist. This particular psychologist had a counter-intuitive approach. (I once had a professor who called a lot of things counter-intuitive, everything from dirty firetrucks to war crimes. Dirty firetrucks, if people see dirty firetrucks they'll work harder to prevent fires. If we have more war crimes, whatever whatever, I can't remember what he said. But how about that theory of firetrucks?)

Anyway, the husband, Mack went to a psychologist who also spouted the counter-intuitive line. He said the wife, Sylvia, her problem was she was pampered and therefore bored. She needed a purpose in life, which, according to this psychologist (also named Mack, as in Dr. Mack MacMackleroy) could be attained through drudgery. "Wait, wait, hear me out," Dr. Mack said to our Mack. Then he explained point by point how there are two paths in life, luxury or hard work. The yearning for luxury is interesting, it's the attainment that's boring. The time-tested life of drudgery, apparently aimless, bests them all.

You get rid of time-saving appliances, the frills of modern communications, and even the luxuries we think we can't live without, fancy-schmancy stuff, like solid gold butter trays. Then you live as simply as possible, pouring your sweat into hard work, to the point that drudgery becomes a cause for pride, leading to good feelings in the marriage, leading to hump-a-humpa with feeling, leading to new kids to replace the old, unless the woman is past that age and has to compensate with more pets. I knew a lady in a mobile home with more pet snakes than most of us have flies (teetsies or megas). Clearly she'd embraced the life of drudgery -- along with the counter-intuitive benefits of fear -- because taking care of those slithery bastards would be so horrendous, it'd have to give you a better outlook!

I went by to see Mack and Sylvia over the weekend. Mack gets his own drudgery-quotient governing men on the assembly line with a pistol and horsewhip, so he was taking it easy. Whereas Sylvia couldn't be stopped. She worked the whole time I was there, mostly running from bathroom to bathroom, going by me numerous times with a dirty dripping brush, trying, apparently, to make each toilet equally clean. The look of pride on her face -- and Mack sitting there with a stopwatch timing her and shouting criticism -- did my poor heart good. I left knowing it could be done. Marriage could be happy (1), and (2) Society's got a long ways to go to catch up with these dear friends.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Tuber Flats Bike Race Falls Flat


I was excited when they told me the Tuber Flats bike race was this past weekend. I got my stuff together the night before, a few snacks, then with the break of dawn headed out to the Flats. "USA, USA!" I was chanting in the car, even though as far as I knew none of the competitors would be here from other countries. Well, guess what. Instead of evincing nationalistic pride in me, the race epitomized what's wrong with us: we’re lazy, weak, with the slightest physical exertions made only with difficulty.

But I’ll tell you what I believe in: dedication, conditioning, a plan to win, drive, and sticktoittiveness. Each of those I’ve shown throughout my life. Then should others lack those qualities, some more than others, I’ve been able to charge ahead, generally winning, unless things have somehow been rigged against me. The key thing is I’m not just “out there” shooting for a participation ribbon or being a crybaby because the trophy was too heavy for me or whatever.

You could say, I expect a lot out of myself. This even true when I was a kid. My dad explained the mathematical concept of percentages to me, telling me that 100% is the highest you can go. You physically cannot do more than 100%, he said. But then when everyone else was gone, he confided something that I can’t believe I am now revealing: You can give any effort 150% or more. It blew my mind. You mean I can do more than is possible?! I never forgot that lesson. Mostly because I put in 200% effort to remember it.

One of my first efforts at applying the 150% standard was, I believe, in 4th grade. It was track and field. Kids pole vaulting, doing the 40 yard dash, throwing shot-put, etc. Well, the way it happened — and I’ll swear this on my late mother’s life — I really poured it on in a running race, and came in first but was cheated out of the trophy or ribbon. There was some confusion. This was before instant replay. The other kids said I won, but no amount of bitching about it with the crooked judges made any difference. It’s run through my mind ever since. They knew I had the inside track when they saw me giving 150%, and obviously they judged that an unfair advantage.

OK, today I went to a big bike race in the area, Tuber Flats, full of excitement. There I was, prepared to spend a great day at the track. The first race was coming right up. 11 laps. Very exciting stuff, I thought. The various combatants looked great in their skin tight sports colors, expensive tennis shoes, and on the coolest bikes. Whether they had goggles on, I can’t remember. I was right at the starting line for the first race. “Gentlemen, this is the first race of the day,” an old retired jock told them, “and you get to set the pace. We want a clean race, a fair race, but a hard-fought race.” And so forth. He marched up and down the line of riders and sharply cracked a whip for effect. Then they were off.

How exciting as they scooted around the track! 11 laps, remember. But by the time we were up to 5 laps — a mere 5 laps! — some of the guys were already losing it, drifting back from the pack. I thought, You gotta be kidding! These guys haven’t got the stamina, the conditioning, the drive, the sticktoittiveness to keep up with the pack for even half the race?! That blew it for me, totally violating every standard I have for giving your best, a decent effort.

So as it turned out, for me it was a huge disappointment. I immediately grabbed my cooler, pennants, program, noisemakers, confetti, megaphone, binoculars, video equipment, and flower wreaths (in case I saw some real favorites), and headed for the car. If that’s the standard they have, I’m thinking out loud, they can keep the damned thing! 5 measly laps?! You have to figure the guys they put out there first were among the best. Isn’t it common to put your best foot forward? You don’t send out stinkers the first thing, do you? Hmm, maybe you do. Then the better guys. Then last the champions.

Why waste your time? If you’re not in good enough condition to keep up, why bother? You think a big time guy like me wants to sit there and watch a half-baked effort? What’s the use? All the way home I ran it over in my mind, at times shouting out the window, making fun of those guys. “I’m just in this race because ... I can’t think of why I’m even here ... just to make a sickening display of myself, I guess!” Where’s the drive? Where’s the conditioning? Where’s the dedication to the effort? Is 50% the best you can do? Not even 100? Nothing approaching 150? Sheesh!

I got out of the car at home and flipped the bird in the general direction of Tuber Flats. Next time you have a bike race, count me and my flower wreaths and pennants out!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Chiseling Wives -- What Will She Steal Tonight?

I had to laugh when a dear friend recently told me of his terrible suspicions that his wife was chiseling him out of money. Certainly it’d be pocket change -- I don't know, there might've been bills, if I had to guess I'd say yes. I laughed because this is a problem that goes way back. I'm getting up there in age, and so many times when I was a kid I'd hear guys complaining about their chiseling wives. (I've had more than one offer, as an old man now, to record an oral history of the past. But it's so sad, every time I start in, I break down something fierce. So I restrict myself to articles here -- exposés? -- because if I start crying and it's just me I'm not quite as embarrassed.)

But I'm not embarrassed by what I'm going to call these gals: Damned chiseling women. OK, how you like them berries? Just calling it the way I see it, the way it is. Again, a story as old as the ages and a story as new as tomorrow, when, a'rising from what he thinks was a good night's sleep, there's a poor guy who's going to learn one of life's important lessons: You should definitely have had a vault, somewhere to keep your valuables. Otherwise -- it's sad but true -- you'll be wondering, What happened to X, Y, and Z? Then there she is, still fast asleep. Wonder why she always seems to sleep in? Could it be she was up half the night, chiseling, stealing, creatively nibbling around the edges of things to the point that ... oops, they're gone?

Then there's another case, which I can't vouch for, but I heard it from a friend, who himself heard it from a friend. If you ask me did I see it? No, I didn't. But if you ask me do I believe it? I'd have to say, Yes, I absolutely do. While it's brazen and for that reason barely believable, there's the aspect of performance art to it, and thus it's perhaps (wink wink) taken as a joke, so although it's done in front of a host of witnesses, it's not thrown in the groom's face by witnesses:

A couple was being married. He and she had written their own vows, and as they're repeating them, suddenly he's lightheaded and passes out. Right then, as part of the vows, she was supposed to vow not to chisel money or anything else from him, apparently as his mother had done against his father. So he passes out, that part of the service gets left out, and when he comes to moments later, the minister is pronouncing them husband and wife. Husbands naturally being tough-guys, he didn't say anything about the apparent lapse. (And the video was edited with footage from the rehearsal filling in the blanks.)

Next thing you know, his pockets were being rifled, change from the dresser was missing, and even a few old, very old, 1897 silver dollars his grandfather had given him were gone. Truth be told, his wife used them for bus fare! True story! But he refused to believe the facts, even though they were staring him in the face, until it was too late. One day he woke up and the bed was missing, and suddenly the evidence was unmistakable: She was a chiseler. Stealing everything in sight! Even his clothes. He went to work that day in nothing but a jock strap, and when he came home -- having had to work overtime as punishment for violating the company dress-code -- the house was gone! (To her credit, the wallpaper was neatly rolled up and waiting for him on the curb.)

My personal recommendation would be, Don't jump into a marriage you may regret. Get to know the woman. Listen and observe carefully. Does she seem to be overly materialistic? When she's at your home, is she carrying a clipboard and does she seem to be taking inventory more often and more diligently than would be normal for insurance purposes? Does she seem to have rental agreements lying about for warehouse properties? Does she have an all-consuming interest in online auction sites? Have you overheard her pricing major railroad shipments? The picture she gave you and you kept on your bed stand, does it have both a front and side view? These are telltale signs worth noting.

OK, here's one of my throwback stories from a long time ago, 1970-71, about a guy I knew named Mr. Stanley. I'm withholding his first name. I don't want any trouble from his heirs. Mr. Stanley married, then woke up one night to find that his wife was a chiseler. She was rifling through his pockets. With the worst thing about her habit, sometime along the way she made off with his valuable pocket watch that he had from when he worked on the railroad. Long story short, their marriage was over. Whether he ever got the watch back, I'm just going to say he didn't. Otherwise, why would he have still been so pissed? And why did he lapse from English to complete horseshit gibberish every time he spoke of her?

Be careful, guys. Sleep with your eyes open -- one eye at least -- if you can.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Baby Spat "Stir Will Be Nothing!"

Soon Angelina will be with the angels. How about that? I've been very emotional lately, and probably the last thing I need is a tearjerker story about a lady dying. But life is life, and regardless of my sensitivity, there will always be suffering. Really, my sensitivity numbers are through the roof. I hear a sad story and I about bust out in tears, especially if it has something to do with a lady like Angelina. Let that name roll around on your tongue a while; you'll be in love.

Here's what I know. She was given 30 days to live. I can only imagine! You get severe bodily malfunctions. This is bad, this is barely functioning, this is on the fritz. You're looking at your big toe, holding out hope and sort of daring it to go bad, then reversing yourself completely, saying, "Don't you dare go bad!" I know, you can live without a big toe, even if it takes some mincing around so you're not falling over. I also have a big toe problem, a little numbness in it; it seems like I hit it on something or dropped something on it, but my memory's bad too.

Add to the mix Angelina is married to George. Very crotchety guy. He's apparently been a significant burden to her. He's old, and like most guys, a horn-dog. But even when your wife's very basic life systems are shutting down? George, to put it mildly, can be a bastard. But to a certain extent I can relate. You're a guy, you have needs. And while it's easy to lie, say you're going to the bathroom to clean the sink (or whatever), then actually do whatever, and suddenly you're OK, there's limited satisfaction there. Especially with Angelina that close.

So they got into it. Most of us know she not that into George. I can't imagine why anyone would be into a crotchety guy like him. Forgive me, I know I'm preachin' to the choir, assuming you know George. Essentially it's this: George can be tough. He's not always the most sensitive guy, and there's a certain level of selfishness that characterizes him.

OK, in that highly-charged situation, things escalate. Finally she threatens to kill him. He goes suddenly quiet and throws up hands, answering indignantly, "Yeah, well they'll put you away just like that! I could call the cops right now and they'd put your ass in stir!" Stir!

How'd she take that? She laughed like a maniac. (I know her family, she’s never been 100% stable either.) She laughed, then spat out, “Stir will be nothing! Because I only have a month to live! I’ll send you off ahead of me, and I’ll see you when I get there!” If that idea resonates with you, you might be thinking of streets of gold and mansions or smoldering embers and smoking caverns. It might be like that, but it could also be like it is here, a mixture of the two, life being what you make it. Too bad her doctor couldn't solve her problems...

A month to live, then dead. If any one of us had to deal with that -- and we had a husband on the make, like George -- it'd be tough to handle. For me, I wouldn't want to harm anyone. Strictly live and let live. I want everyone to have a chance to live without interference, although I would defend myself from an aggressor as best I could. Going by the daily news, though, there's a lot of nutzoids who go totally ballistic. I'd like to sit some of these nutzoids down and make them look straight into my eyes and tell them, "Listen, buddy, you get a grip on your damned self or you're going to do something stupid, OK?" Tell them about Stir. Stir means prison. Stir means bad. But what if you had 30 days to live?

That's what Angelina meant by her spitting-mad retort, “Stir will be nothing!” If the doctors couldn’t get her intestines and heart and kidney situation untangled, the guys at the police station won’t be able to fix her so she’d have to suffer the slings and arrows of the system. She could sit there and taunt them, too. Even if they got sick of it and moved her to “The Hole,” time has already passed, what’s 20 days in “The Hole”? Bad I'm sure, but take Angelina's health into account; she might pass out and die early.

The way George handled it, just to tidy up, was to choose retreat in the face of homicidal Angelina with nothing to lose. Wisely, he wheedled and worked hard -- but tenderly -- to get back on her good side. “Oh, let me love you, baby, like we used to do. Let me handle the cooking, the cleaning, getting your soiled porta-panties out to the garbage. You relax and take it easy.” She calmed down as he brushed her hair. He watched her covered breasts heave from the previous excitement, then relax as she dozed off.

Then he threw some Aqua Velva into a duffle bag, some clothes, etc., and got the hell out of there. He came by, explained the situation to me, borrowed my pup tent, and he’ll check in with me in 30-45 days, just to make sure the coast is definitely clear.

What I might do, if she actually passes on, is post it here — maybe explicitly, maybe something between the lines — so George can come back safely, go through the grieving process, etc., then get on with his life as best as he can.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Trash-Talking The Sun

I got on this kick against the sun a few years ago, after a friend and I were airing our grievances about life. He thought he was big and tough because he personally hated nearly everything, asparagus, broccoli, elephants, and pinochle. At that time I had a few of the ordinary grievances to match him -- decks of cards missing the jokers, squash, reruns, and anyone named Lipfshitz. There's something wrong there.

In terms of who hated stuff the most, it was fairly even. Till I pulled out the wildcard, which was, "Despite our many years of deep, warm friendship -- we've been there for each other through thick and thin, good times and bad, trouble and blessing -- I've come to a conclusion that I feel it's safe to announce -- to confess, if you will -- that I think YOU suck, and probably always have. We became 'friends,' of a sort. But there was always something about you that stuck in my craw. Now I've dislodged it and can tell you without further explanation or equivocation, that, as of this moment (and probably at some level for the whole time I've known you), I hate you." He took back his little stack of DVDs, he dropped off my pup tent, and that's been it. Giving me another reason to despise squash, because it's his favorite food -- his mom still makes her old recipe on his birthday, I've heard.

After I lost his friendship, you could say I spiraled out of control. Like a pinball in a pinball machine -- that's an accurate image -- I bounced from one thing to another, never able to settle on any one thing. With a hatred of life in general so vast, so profound, so definitely spelled out that even the sight-deprived could read it clearly. There were interventions, attempted, all of which I rejected, by then acting in complete spite, but digging my own ditch deeper and deeper yet, till I was so deep and alone all I could glimpse was sunlight itself. Showing nothing, illuminating nothing, except the walls of that trench, or ditch, if you will.

There in the ditch, trench, or pit -- it was sort of like the pictures you see from World War I, men in a ditch, trench, pit, or hole. Doing whatever. Well, guess what. Looking at the sunlight, I came to hate it too. It'd pass overhead quickly, but slowly enough that I could shake my fist and essentially tell it it had low marks in my book. I'd see it in the summer months more, in the winter months not as much. It started my thought processes to make sense of it. What's supposedly 'bigger and badder' than the sun?; we've all heard that. But it couldn't hold its own against winter?

Now I had something bigger to hate, the stinking sun. And I let it know. In no uncertain terms. Don't get on my bad side or you'll live to regret it. Everyday I had another complaint. "You're the almighty sun, but you can't dispel a few clouds on earth?" "You're the sun, but what? You feel like burning us to a crisp? Well, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. And you've got a day of judgment a'coming, and we'll deal with you!"

Just think it over. You could probably add your own jibes against the sun. Did it burn you when you were a kid, when you didn't know any better? I remember one of my cousins getting such a sunburn, it was terrible. Then he told his parents that he'd had his shirt on all day. They couldn't figure out what happened, since he never lied, they thought. But his butt wasn't burnt at all. So they thought the cloth on his shirts must have been at fault. So they made all of his clothes out of underpants and threw away the others. He never burnt again. They hated the sun because of all the trouble it put them through. And my cousin was no fan of underpants, so he also hated the sun.

Anyway, back to me in my trench or gutter, whetting my appetite for insults when I perceived the sun was nearly overhead: "Somehow you also give night and day on Pluto, a totally worthless task since scientists tell us the chances of life on Pluto are less than one in a million!" I gave it a left jab, a right hook, insults literally to beat the band, and I kept right on punching -- usually connecting, sometimes flailing and missing -- until the sun got the message: "You no good, buster," and after that it quit coming around (Good!), and I've found I still have all the light I need with light bulbs, candles, and my phone.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Donut Guys -- The True Heroes

First responders, we all love them, as well we should. No one's saying we shouldn't. They took up a very dangerous career, most of them making that very brave choice of doing something dangerous. I guess I've heard some say they don't deserve our respect, which to me is weird, but the argument is if they chose something so dangerous, maybe there's something wrong with them. But the truth is, as I see it, we should always give them the benefit of the doubt, because maybe they chose it out of a desire to help others in need rather than a drive for fame, acclaim, and accolades. Where does the truth lie? -- perhaps somewhere in the middle -- so I'll move on with the oldest line in the editorial-writer's handbook, "We may never know."

Anyway, let us give first responders their due. They are great, period, end of sentence. Only to be out-shown and outdone by those who make treats, snacks, and refreshments for them. These are the guys I want to focus on. Because I know one, and I was there the day he put his life on the line for our first responders. It's not always the case that I can say I was there, but this time ... There I was. The biggest difference being the first responders had the advantage getting there thanks to sirens, flashing lights, honking their horn, in short, raising hell and taking the advantage. We got there shortly afterwards the old-fashioned way, dodging in and out of traffic and speeding like maniacs.

I still think of my experience that day when I see an ambulance going by. Just last night I was headed to Walmart, and here they come, a fire truck, police cars, a couple ambulances, various sergeant's cars or something, lights going willy-nilly crazy, headlights blinking, etc. I did the socially acceptable thing by pulling over. Because I buy into the old line, Every second counts. And the other line, The life you save may be your own, because let's face it, those guys are maniacs.

Anyway, I thought back to the time I was there, with a guy serving baked goods, donuts, pastries, etc., to the first responders on the scene. I'm at the bakery he works at, he gets the call and asks me if I want to tag along. He grabs a bunch of stuff they always have ready for these calls -- around 90 dozen donuts, cookies, and pastries -- and we whip the car into gear and head out. (Full disclosure: I ate about five total things on the way to the accident, so I can honestly say they were completely fit for eatin' on.)

We got there. Everything's a crazy mess, but the chief traffic officer sees us and waves us in. We jumped out and I pitched in where I could. But my buddy was in charge. I watched him something fierce, thinking, "He's so hot, shaking his little tush in such a self-important way as he buzzes from fireman to fireman, police officer to police officer, various EMTs, the sergeants (the biggest donut gluttons, if you want to know the truth), and the hangers-on. Naturally, he knew he was putting on a show for me, but still.

I was aghast listening to a newspaper man chewing the sergeant out about not getting to the scene fast enough. Because one dude died of internal injuries before they even arrived. But once it was too late for the victim -- let's call him Joe Schmo -- the chief was able to eat and enjoy a pastry, one of the ones with pecans. "It's too late for Schmo," Sergeant Schulz said, "but I need to keep my strength up for the others."

My self-important friend -- a good friend to have, someone in the baking business -- came in, announcing to the mass of sweating men, and a few ladies in jeans that fit real nice, "I got you some coffee and sinkers." That was so cool a thing to hear, sinkers being some kind of inside lingo for donuts. I've run it by friends since, and apparently I'm the last guy in the world to hear it. But I still use it, like if friends, family, or cousins are over for snacks.

The suffering at the scene was starting to mount. "Help me, Lord," I silently yet fervently prayed. I was almost overcome by the smell of blood and guts, until I refocused and honed in on the donuts and pastries. That truly had a calming effect on me. I was able to completely clear my head and get it together. I've always had a sweet tooth. That's no sin. "We've got another man down over here!" one officer cried in anguish. I glanced over and thought, More for me. Not that I was particularly that hungry; it's just something you think.

People died that day. The first guy, already mentioned. But others too. But I kept it together, telling myself, "Grandpa died, Grandma died, people die all the time, but today's not my day. This is my day to make myself useful -- checking out the cool first reponders, and getting in on these delicious pecan pastries and stuff. And free at that! "Get out of the way, sir!" one guy holding both ends of a stretcher with three victims on it barked at me. I literally jumped out of the way. Good grief, he about mowed me down with that damned stretcher, and I was holding a jelly-filled cream-puff, no less. But he did call me sir, so it's not like civilization had moved on.

Anyway, let's skim ahead to the end of the story. The various ambulances were loaded, the victims were carted off to Lord-knows-where. Then it came time for the final divvying. A few of the officers and attendants were loading up on baked goods. And because I had more time, I already had a stash started in the ditch, which I picked up just before we left. You gotta love the confusion at these things; it's great if you're naturally sneaky like me.

My hot friend came sashaying by, showing off, bragging how we were the first bakery on the scene, good for us! I gave him the thumbs-up, indicating our pride of place, which might not have happened if I wasn't there to tell him where to turn a couple times. We bonded over three glazed donuts, one and a half for each, over a shared cup of joe.