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.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Me and Two Strippers

For personal reasons, finally I feel comfortable revealing a little more about myself. Which includes many visits to watch strippers ply their trade. And believe me, I saw the best in the business. Those who had worked their way up from Amateur Night to at long last be Headliners.

One of my observations in all those forays, on hindsight, was keen. They didn't start out stripped, but stripped methodically, one key piece of clothing shed per song. The rest of the act was very sensual gyrations, extremely distracting to someone (then) of my exceedingly boisterous hormones.

But this post isn't about how worked up I became, nor what an easy challenge it was for them to leave me gasping on the floor for air. This is about the time I almost lost out on a free steak dinner, just because, indeed, I was very easy to distract. You might learn something from my troubles, mostly how easy it is to go hungry if you let strippers get your goat!

OK, the lounge had a farewell dinner lined up for one of the bartenders. This guy also used to mess with my head. One of his things was to pretend like he didn't know me, then he'd card me repeatedly just to piss me off and get his jollies. I can't remember his name, but for some reason I want to say Tex.

So the place was packed for his farewell dinner. Because I was a regular, and this is a great honor, I was invited. Like I said above, they had steaks, with baked beans, potatoes, homemade rolls, various pies, etc. You would've thought you died and went to Heaven, that's the only way to describe the scene. Plus the full roster of dancers was on duty. We called them girls in those days, but with my consciousness since raised, they were full-fledged women. They were so full-fledged they spilled out everywhere. And even though I'd literally seen them nude a hundred times, there was something even sexier about them just barely spilling out.

This part, following, is where I lost several key elements of my free steak dinner, which was Tex's farewell. (It might've even been actual Texas beef, which if true would've been a nice touch. Regardless, it all tastes the same, depending on how it's fixed.)

Be all that as it may, a couple of the girls -- now women -- came out strutting their stuff for Tex. Fully clothed. But I happened to be toward the front and they had decided to mess with me. Supposedly my libido was a topic of conversation in those days, since I no doubt resembled a hayseed from the country who'd never seen strippers, etc. True, but I had a close brush with them even at the age of 12, and was given some details on their show by older guys, whose description still haunts my imagination. I can't tell the whole story, but it included some late high schoolers, a wrestling coach, and some seductively dropped pubic hairs... 'Nough said!

Anyway, back to the steak dinner. These girls came out, one on my left and one on my right. I thought, "How can I avoid appearing to be full of lust for them without looking like an idiot who's more interested in his food than them?" See that? Caught in a flummoxing situation! Which turned out to be the exact conundrum they had counted on! Because as I'm gazing at Sally over here, Florentine on the other side is stealing my salad. Then as I bend forward to appraise Florentine's midriff, Sally's busy making off with my pie. (I learned this minutes later.)

I'm completely distracted! You can't imagine how embarrassing this turned out to be. And it's actually because I'm such a nice guy; I didn't want either chick to get the wrong idea, again, that I was more into food than ogling them. The song switches, and by now Sally's draping one out (use your imagination), and perking it up something fierce -- about the size of a shot glass. I'm thinking that has to be a world's record, and all the while Florentine's doing a vanishing act with my potato! Then Florentine, to top that, has somehow procured a spray can of whipped cream -- I found out later it came from the kitchen -- and was leaned up against the stage, panties around her knees, spraying the whipped cream to beat the band. That's when Sally relieved me of my steak!

By now everyone's laughing and whooping it up, and they come over, waving their hands over my table, and I can see that somehow I've been deprived of my entire meal! What can I do? I turned red, but with the stripper lights no one could tell. Folks, I know better than to act pissed off. No one likes a bad sport. When people you know go to all that trouble to make you look like a complete fool -- even a lecherous horndog -- you simply take your lumps and laugh it off. You can live anything down if you're a good sport. But if you're a bad sport, no one will ever fully respect you again.

They're going "Speech! Speech!" like you'd imagine they would. And I thanked everyone for coming out, called Tex a member of the family, a crotchety uncle, said to laughs, and told them they were the greatest gang of folks anywhere, the regular patrons there, who then applauded me. Lastly, I had Florentine and Sally stand next to me, and I pretend-scolded them for being very very bad girls. Then, naturally, as any sentimental guy like me would do, I let them kiss me on the cheeks and told them none of us would have it any other way!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Let's Sleep Till Spring Gets Here

It's a bad news and good news story. The bad news is it's Christmas Eve, with lots of bad winter weather threatening our happiness for the foreseeable future. The good news is I have a plan to deal with it. With safe, wonderful, beautiful sleep being the answer.

Recently I've come into an abundance of time, with official retirement. So obviously I have the inside track. But even if you're not retired, you can do your part to get rid of winter ... quicker. Yes, I'm the first to admit it, we can't get rid of winter just like that. But if each of us does our little part -- none shirking -- we can overcome this bastard winter weather much more speedily.

Of course winter weather is not an enemy to everyone. To those folks, I lift my thumb to my nose and make a rude noise. Including guys who plow the roads, folks who run ski resorts, winter tire dealers, snow removers, etc. It's people like you that make things harder for people like me, who'd just as soon winter didn't even happen. If it were in my power, yes, I would obliterate winter, damning the consequences. If it meant the calendar was screwed up, the atmosphere were half lost to outer space, the ice caps were transformed into a few trays of ice in a museum, I'd do it. Remember a few years back, when I proposed mirrors in space to increase global warming -- strictly for comfort's sake? It didn't go anywhere because I'm just a guy, with no connections to speak of. I have indeed met politicians, some of the strongest men (and a woman or two) in the world, but they were more or less only interested in me as a hand to shake so they could claim to care about the average joe. They exploited me.

Today's idea to get rid of winter -- or drastically curtail its reach -- doesn't have anything to do with mirrors or species-decimation. It's more a scheme of individual initiative, involving something each of us already does, SLEEP. It's an indisputable, provable phenomenon that sleep speeds up time. I've said it since I was a kid. When we were learning about the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and later the Civil War, I not only held forth on the subject of Sleep and Time, but demonstrated it (many teachers had disputed it) by sleeping through everyone else's presentations. "It's disruptive," the teacher told my parents, but Mom and Dad were happy I took the initiative to stand up -- or sit down -- for my beliefs. I put my head on the desk, dosed off, and when I woke up a minute or so later, the class was over. True story. The most regrettable consequence is I'm a complete moron when Jeopardy's on.

That's my plan to get rid of winter. We sleep through it as much as we can. Hey, if you have an argument about it, take it up with the bears. The bears know! They crawl into their cave, plug in an electric blanket, and sleep. The cubs are nestled in their little cribs, each with a nipple and a 20 gallon bottle of milk, and the parents doze off. The only time they wake up, as I understand it, is every other week for a few minutes to change the babies, then back to dreamland. Before they know it -- and the perception bears have of time has never been sufficiently explained -- it's 20 minutes later and winter's over.

As soon as I get done writing this -- and I'm typing so fast, it'll only take another 3 minutes tops -- I'm headed straight to bed. And I don't plan to wake up until next week at this time. Just to check my Super XL Adult Briefs and take care of any hygienic needs there might be, maybe eat some Chex Mix and have some eggnog, and I'll be back to sleep. Oh yeah, and the dog. Probably change her diaper, take her out, refill her bowls, and wish her a Happy Rest-of-Winter till next we meet.

For this project I actually bought one of those super thermal sleeping bags. The kind that has so much innate heat you'd swear it was a living creature. They're awesome. You crawl in and it's like being at the Center of Existence. Nothing but heat and darkness, like in your mother's arms, or better yet, her womb. That's when we were all happiest, after all. These sleeping bags have everything mom had, except an off switch. You crawl in, set your Inner Man to wake at such and such a time, and doze off. I love the sensation of tumbling down and down and down to my own safe secure place. I haven't exactly worked up the ability to realize everything about it, but a few more years -- let's say when I die -- it's going to be blithe consciousness the whole way, baby!

This is much more limited than that, obviously, but still very useful. I'll sleep, I'll wake -- likely to face the unpleasantness of a dirty diaper -- then sleep, with the cycle going on and on, but seeming to be a couple days tops, and weeks and months will have passed. Winter will be wonderfully over! No more snow. It'll be Spring! The greatest time of year. There's only two seasons I like, Spring and Fall. If I successfully obliterate Winter, you know what this means for Summer.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Have A Mercy Mild Christmas To All

Hope you're having the best-ever Christmas season, etc., etc., that your Yule is bright, and all your wishes come true, and Santa doesn't have any trouble reading his list in a snow-laden sleigh that very well could ruin his computer system.

It's a great one for me so far, except I'm getting sick and tired of the Salvation Army bells everywhere I go. That coming from a guy who actually rang the bell one Christmas, now fairly far back, in the 2000s some time. I look at the current crop of Salvation Army ringers and wonder if they feel as uncomfortable as I did doing it, but none of them betrays the slightest reticence about it. And I'm one of the world's best readers of body language; if anyone feels remotely uncomfortable, my consciousness swoops in like a hawk and picks up on it. I saw a bell-ringer, I believe it was yesterday, who was even singing "White Christmas." It gave me the chills to think she'd put herself out like that, as though the bell itself isn't annoying enough. But of course it does a lot of good, presumably, that's what they say, but who can really tell? There's probably an annual report at the website.

The family has basically given up Christmas as a thing. Mom and Dad are of course passed on, which definitely saves money on gift-giving. I always had a hard time trying to think of something to give them every year. Then they died and that challenge was gone. Yes, I miss them something awful. There was a picture of them on the table today, how it got there I don't know. (I've been cleaning out boxes and it might've fluttered to the floor, then I picked it up -- let's say -- and didn't realize what it was.) Anyway, they're in their later teens. Dad's got glasses on, which he didn't usually wear. Mom's in a fancy dress, like maybe they were on their way to get married. I stared at it. Dad's staring at the camera, so I'm looking right into his eyes. Mom's looking to the side. I wouldn't know what to get them if they were alive. Maybe a tin of Topsy's popcorn.

I could go to church for Christmas. But don't think I will. It's almost better to celebrate the Blessed Story on your own and in your own way. When I read it and meditate by myself it doesn't sound as trite, not as much of a rerun. And really I am into it. I've got a whole system going of getting to the nub of everything in a holistic way. I'll keep the details to myself. The more I publicly explain it the worse it sounds. In which case I may as well go to church. (I love church, usually, but sometimes I don't as much.) I wouldn't mind going to a Catholic thing. Even though I'm not Catholic. The only reason I don't go to the Catholic church is because I'm not Catholic. Otherwise, I think it's cool, exciting, and profound. But probably one look at the priest thinking "This guy ain't Catholic" would do me in, and that'd be it. Last thing I'm ever going to do is take any kind of initiation. Am I right? Screw it. And I don't especially want to go to my own church. I've been through all the possibilities there, and for personal reasons I've been a lot on edge there. Yes, I know the objections to that kind of attitude.

About the picture above, that's my hand. I can't remember what I was doing, but it involved the camera on my phone. I somehow accidentally snapped a picture of my hand when I was taking a blue wastebasket out. I looked at it and thought it was inscrutable enough, it ought to be a Christmas-greeting picture. Something Hallmark would pay big bucks for, if I were money-grubbing enough to sell it. Let 'em take their own pictures, and leave me the heck alone.

OK, friends -- far and wide -- people who read this blog, people who used to read it but got sick of it and moved on -- Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Other holidays that may exist, I respect your various greetings, too. And would say them to you if I knew them. Seems like there's something called Kwanzaa, which is something. Happy that. And Hanukkah, that means something very great. Happy that. If you're a native of somewhere and you have a tribal greeting, Merry that, Happy the other thing. Happy Holidays to those who are politically invested in exploiting the holiday bullshit ... I have no respect for that at all. Live and let live, leave well enough alone, eh? Happy Solstice, which was a few days ago, maybe ... I didn't hear a word about it this year. Hasn't the moon been dark lately? I don't usually look at the sky, but made the mistake of looking at it recently when there wasn't much to see. Merry Meet to all my Merry Meet friends. I recently bought a Porta-Potti, so Happy Holidays to other Thetford toilet owners. All the best to Catholics, those who go and love it and those like me who would love to go but hate to give priests the heeby-jeebies (See above).

I hate to bring this post to an end. But what else can I say to keep you dangling on the line? Most of you dropped off already. I'm happy, though. You be happy! OK? I'd love to be like Santa Claus, and come down your chimney and give you a big happy hug, or talk you into happiness, peace and harmony. But obviously that's not going to happen. Me out!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Great Caesar's Ghost

PROLOGUE: Lend me your eyes. Look at that picture, man. Isn't that a thing of beauty? I'll say it is, since I worked on it and am in some degree responsible for it. (I didn't make the original, of course, since I can't draw flies.) Looks like Julius Caesar, too, doesn't it? In a chariot being pulled by a couple brute animals, bred back then for that purpose. I really like the trees, how they stand out, evocative of entire trees but only a few random limbs or trunks.

NON-PROLOGUE: I'm making my way through The Adventures of Superman TV show again. And as I already well know from childhood, Daily Planet editor Perry White's go-to expression of outburst -- astonishment or disbelief -- is "Great Caesar's Ghost!" At some point in the first 8 or 10 episodes, he says it a time or two. It stands out more for me now as an old man than it did years ago when I was a kid. Because people just don't say things like that anymore. No more than we'd say a similar phrase that old people (on TV anyway) used to use, "Land of Goshen!" Now they just say "What the hell" or worse.

Later in the series there's even an episode in which some guys gaslight Perry White, with one guy dressing as Caesar and showing up at Perry's home, etc. He's got the weird helmet they used in Roman times, a kind of mini-skirt of mail, the strap-em laces and boots, legs a'showin', the whole bit. Perry is of course taken in and doesn't know what to think, how to overcome the nauseating effects of the whole scheme. Superman flies in and tidies it up, sending the faux Caesar down the Appian Way to the closest clink.

Perry White and the '50s aren't so terribly far away. Kind of a while back. I was born then -- how about that? -- so even though I'm getting older all the time, I'm not exactly ancient history. Yet when's the last time you heard someone use the expression "Great Caesar's Ghost"? It has to have been a while. Anything else sounds better. What the hell? What the fuck? What in Sam Hell? Goddammit to a Christless Hell is one I use from time to time, which is very interesting, isn't it? I am very invested in the Lord, let me put it that way ... He's building for me a cabin in the corner of Gloryland, and some glad morning I'll wake up there, arrange my things, take a shower, and go out to see what it's all about. Now, if there were a Hell in the traditional sense of the word, isn't it damned awful that it would somehow be entirely apart from Christ, Logos, and even an ounce of good or light? I shudder... I used to dream of it as a kid, brought up in the church when Hell was the main attraction week after week.

But no one in the show ever offers up (in my memory) surprise at "Great Caesar's Ghost!" Not Jimmy, Lois, Clark, or even Superman. They put up with Perry's brusqueness and just chalk up the expression to "Everyone's gotta say something, we guess." It's a personality device, his catchphrase, and that's all there is to it. It makes me wonder when they were doing the writing that someone actually pitched the "Great Caesar's Ghost" episode, since it assumes a guy who says a phrase would be especially susceptible to it being literally true. I don't see that. We're usually able to separate blank expressions from daily reality very easily.

I should read up on Julius Caesar a little more. Maybe I'd dream of him. Maybe I will now, having written this. "You summoned me, here I am! None of those other people can see me, only you." Etcetera, etc., and so forth... I know I'll be terrified -- maybe that's true. It could be one of my patron saints, George Reeves, will swoop in and save me. Let's hope, shall we? that George Reeves, whatever happened to him long ago, also has a corner in Gloryland. And that he and I get to be fast friends. My so-called friends from long ago used to (not often) taunt me that Superman killed himself, etc.

That's it! I get to Heaven, I immediately find George Reeves. Then we get together with the whole Superman gang, and go find John Hamilton (Perry White), and Julius Caesar -- say he somehow makes it -- and we have a damned ball? How about that?! I'll take that over a Christless Hell any day of the week.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

This Is Thanksgiving, Not Mother's Day

Friends, it's Thanksgiving! Raise a glass with me, and let us propose a toast ... to Mama, the Dearest on Earth to Us. You may be a perfect stranger to me every other day of the year. But please join in, for on Thanksgiving we're all family. Eh? Are you raising your glass? Raise it! And let us toast Dear Mama, just like we did way back when, on the very day they told us, "This is Thanksgiving, not Mother's Day."

It was actually a revelation -- however unwelcome it seemed at the time -- since we were admittedly a bit carried away honoring Mama. And ignoring the bird spread naked and golden brown on the ritzy dining table of that deservedly expensive hotel. They had a spread loaded with thighs, breasts, and drumsticks, and they charged an arm and a leg for it. What money? Money means nothing on Thanksgiving!

The real problem started with toasts. Most of us don't make toasts on a regular basis. Everything we know about toasts we learned from movies and TV. Which so often specialize in fictional happenings, goings-on, stories with a plot, a conflict, working through the conflict, and resolving itself in a happy ending. Meaning, if a toast doesn't sound like it sounds on TV, there's something wrong.

We went out for Thanksgiving, the whole family. Daughter, sons, their kids, Papa and of course Mama. Mama's the center of the family in most families, especially if your family is anything like ours. She makes our heart melt. We have memories of her tenderness when Papa was gruff, or whatever. We nursed off her, literally, giving us the step-up in life we needed when other kids were bottle-feeding or seeking nutritional refuge in the arms of a goat or something worse.

So when we went out for Thanksgiving at the best place in town -- Expensive! So expensive it's like throwing money down the drain -- it really meant something. We were very sensitive about the experience. Usually we pinched pennies, now we were living it up, like the Rockefellers or the Gettys. Papa had his money withdrawn, it was big-bucks time at Thanksgiving! Every plate was expensive, crazy expensive. So much you could've eaten five times somewhere else and had money leftovers.

It's the same feeling you get at other holidays when the expectation is to go beyond your ordinary means. Christmas is the biggest example, but each person's individual birthday is a mini version of the same thing. Or New Year's, when Papa came home with eggnog and salami and chocolates and candles. You're wondering if it's the same guy who's always so tight. Papa's family went through the Depression. They had to scrape for everything they could scrape together.

OK, so there we were at this hugely expensive place. And naturally, with the money buying us the biggest, best Thanksgiving meal, our tender thoughts turned to Mama. Who was spared cooking the big meal for a change. But would've gladly done it if we hadn't gone out. She would've come up with a turkey, cooked it, carved it, made dressing, made pies, all the fixins, bread by the bushel, and drinks.

I took my drink and lifted it by way of a toast, and the rest of the family immediately joined in. "To Mama, the center of our family, our life, our common love, our heart, our soul." "Here, here," the others said. Then my next brother, not to be outdone, lifted a glass and cleared his throat: "To Mama, who binds us together as one, not just our life but our everything, the best Mama we could've ever hoped for." Then my next brother (3), who of all the siblings saw Mama over the years more than those of us who'd moved away, had a tear in his eye. He lifted a glass and toasted her: "We should probably be toasting Papa," he started to chuckles, "because Papa is the one who found Mama. She was a natural beauty, although, as we've all heard, she was 'a diamond in the rough.' But she had the upbringing in her own family and saw the example of her own parents, and now has exceeded them, which I say not to question the merits of Grandma... Family, raise a glass to Mama!" The fourth brother had a decent toast, and the daughter (5) and the last son, last but not least. His toast was a tearjerker, because when you're Number 6 you're just happy to be alive. Statistically, Number 6s are rare, and reflection on that gives you a keen ability to make good toasts.

When all was said and done, I led the way for everyone, including Papa -- barely able to walk even with a cane -- to get up and go over to pat Mama on the back and give her his own personal plaudits. She was trying to wave us off -- her wonderful modesty and self-effacing nature, further reasons to love her so much. But we went on anyway, patting her, giving her kisses, hugging her. True, the food was getting cold, but that's OK. Thanksgiving comes but once a year, whether or not you have a Mama, and we knew someday we'd lose her. But it wasn't that day! That day she felt the fullness of our love. Even though she tried to wave us off, that was her day!

We were laughing, praising Mama, and outdoing one another something fierce. "This turkey is probably the most expensive turkey in the world, since the meal is so outrageously expensive at this fancy-schmancy place, but it's nothing compared to the turkey Mama could've made!" Similar sentiments were shared. Praising the different aspects of the meal, but discounting it compared to what Mama could've done. When the waiter, obviously at the beck and call of the head cook -- who probably should've been demoted to assistant chief bottle-washer for the remark -- came out and scolded us, saying, "Folks, we'd like to remind you, This is Thanksgiving, not Mother's Day," our table became stone quiet. I looked at my brother like, "What the fu-?"

We might've rioted -- I was personally that close to gutting that particular waiter, and Brother 3, with his greater familiarity with Mama and the over-protective nature he'd nurtured, looked like he was daydreaming of a noose for the head cook. We would've hung him high right there over that very table had Mama not stepped in, saying, "The waiter is only doing his job, beloved family. And he's right. You started in praising me, your Mama, and of course I appreciate and love each one of you always, but in the sentiment of the moment we were all carried away. So let us get back to our meal, dear ones, because as he said, and he was right, "This is Thanksgiving, not Mother's Day."

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Empty Sorghum Jars

It is beyond all debate, there is nothing more beautiful in all creation than the sight of a full sorghum jar. You see it, jam-packed with delicious, shining, brown sorghum. God bless anyone who agrees with me thus far. And shame on you, if -- the very thought of it is unimaginable -- you happen to disagree. Shame! Shame! Shame!

That is to say, I like it. And perhaps I've gone beyond liking sorghum, to the point of loving it. One night a guy I know who works at the store called me, prefacing his remarks with, "You didn't hear it from me," then he proceeded to tell me the new sorghum would be in around 10:00 a.m. I was glad to get the heads up, and -- this is important -- managed to be in line before nearly every other sorghum hawk in town. Somehow there was a couple who obviously knew higher-ups in the system, if not the delivery guy's family. Because there they were, looking like the cat that ate the canary. Foiled me again, scourges of the earth.

OK, the flip side of the argument -- that there's nothing more beautiful in all creation than the sight of a full sorghum jar -- is the exact opposite: There's nothing less beautiful, or more ugly, uglier, than the sight of a sorghum jar that's spent, empty, down to the nubbins, stripped bare of its payload. Snuff films paint a prettier picture. (For the above photo I tried to downplay the hideousness of it all with an attractive background.)

What good are empty sorghum jars? This is a true fact: I save each and every used sorghum jar. I have a theory, and I've heard from friends that "It's not a bad theory," that the essence of sorghum is still present in empties. And that someday, perhaps, hopefully, scientists will be able to produce a full jar of sorghum from nothing more than its microscopic essence. When that happens, if indeed it turns out to be true, one entire wall of my cellar's going to be well-stocked with sorghum!

I'm about done, but I want to get a jab in on the other sorghum hawks. (Most of them already know what I did, but I'm going to brag on myself for the few of you out there who still haven't heard it.) It was the year 2000. With me so far? When an inside source gave me the incredible scoop, that the Maasdam Sorghum Mills was going to open its gates and barns for a rare tour. This gets good! I didn't say a word to anyone till I nearly reached rural Lynnville, Iowa. Then I told my dad. We were riding together, him and mom and me. Dad was all like, "Where we going?" And finally I told him.

The bad thing here is that Dad had just found out he had cancer. But when I told him we were going to the sorghum plant, he was happy as a kid. That was a bright spot in an otherwise devastating time. He perked right up, and my mom was happy too just looking at the two of us laughing. He couldn't believe it. But it was true! We found the place, out in the country, and headed for the barn, pumping fists. He wasn't thinking of cancer for that day anyway! They showed us around, showed us how they bring the sorghum plants in, how they stack it, etc., etc., and with an old huffing/puffing machine with conveyor belts and all the rest, are able to put out big containers of sorghum.

One of the real treats was we got to see alive the guy who started the place! He's no doubt since passed on, like my mom and dad have, since he was practically 100 at the time. He was sitting in a chair, looking around, a nice looking guy. That's enough. I'm getting emotional. It's terrible to recall my dad's failing health and that whole terrible time. And the fact that that tour had to come to an end, and the founder being passed on, etc. If I had a jar of sorghum right this minute, I know I'd overdose and I'm not going to say what would probably happen to me, except I'd no doubt go to Heaven.

Monday, October 30, 2017

My Dogs In Heaven


Every once in a while I like to publicly profess my love for dogs. You know how it goes, nothing softens your image and puts you in the good graces of others than your love for dogs and showing a soft spot for their cute antics.

Which I don't say cynically; it's just a side benefit deriving from My True Feelings about those great, human-like (without all the bad parts) creatures. Do I love every dog there is? I haven't met every dog and I know there are some that aren't great. There used to be a dog in my neighborhood named Sarge. He was so mean they sent him to Vietnam. He was tough to like, one of the reasons he went to war.

OK, as old as I'm getting, nearly 65(!), of course I'm thinking more and more about my future. Which is relatively limited in this life. I could do a whole thing just on that subject. I'm forever figuring up what percentage is left based on ideal factors. 100 is reasonable, but not likely. Some of my male forebears didn't do so well. Anyway, today I want to write about dogs AND the afterlife. In Heaven.

I enter the Glorious Gates, and my dogs from the years come walking in a group toward me, greeting me. I won't mention each one. Just one representative from my childhood and one from adulthood. From childhood is my first dog, Eggard. And from adulthood is Fritz. Eggard I had probably under three years, and Fritz died a week after I got him.

Here they come! Eggard I can barely remember what he looked like. His mom was a Collie and his dad was something else. Fritz had generally a German Shepherd look without being precisely a G.S. So here they come! Welcoming me to my heavenly home, eternal life. They're joyous as they watch the look of amazement on my face at all the beauty in that great place. I haven't seen anything this impressive since the home shows of the '60s, when they showed us the All Electric Homes of the Future!

I can barely take in the glory. I've been overwhelmed before, but this is the entire panoply of wonders. If you can picture the amazement and activity of the State Fair but it's made of glass and diamonds, you'll have a good idea of the beauty. But the true glory is to bend down and become reacquainted with Eggard. Eggard! What a great name for a great dog! "You were so little when Poohie had you! And look at you now!" Even though my memories are limited, they come flooding back in my mind's expansion.

Eggard knows it's me, even though of course I've grown. Was I too rough with him in life? I don't think so. I surely was gentle. I was very proud of his name, Eggard. My brother and I used to laugh. His dog's name was a plain old name, Rats. But mine had an elegant name, Eggard! What a pair of brothers we were. Then Rats ran away. And Eggard at some point died and I personally buried him by the fence. I can't drive by that old house without thinking of his grave somewhere down there.

Here comes another dog in glory, the already-mentioned Fritz. They say there's no tears in heaven, but I'm crying when I see Fritz. I was crying when we parted. I had gotten Fritz at a pound, a rescue place where they had unwanted dogs. And it turned out his health was bad. I had Fritz only a week, when he crawled under the back stairs and died. I brought him out and carried him across my arms to a grave, like a hero in an opera. I was crying like a baby.

In the years since Fritz, I've used his story lots of times to express my own philosophy that death ought to be like that. When you sense it's time for your death -- and with humans it'd mean you know in your core that this is it, say you had late stage cancer -- you simply crawl under something and die. It's admirable. Whether I could actually do it, that is the question.

Fritz jumps up on me (back in Heaven here), as if to say he also remembers that day. How do dogs say goodbye? With Fritz, it was like in the song, "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye! I'm late." Such an admirable act at the end -- instinct is beautiful -- to crawl under the stairs and simply die! I've never gotten over the act of that. It impressed me beyond anything any other dog's ever done.

So we have a nice reunion in Glory. His worms are all gone, his heart is good, he's shaken off the dirt of the grave, he's radiant. And he was an unwanted dog at the time, too!

OK, beyond that, the other dogs showed up, though I won't mention each by name. Eggard said, "I was his first." My current dog said, "I was his last." Which got old, since they were repeating it over and over. I finally get fed up with it and say, "There's room and time for all at my glorious table!"

"Gather with me, my fantastic dogs, and let us sup!" So there we are, like in the Last Supper, me in the middle, surrounded by dogs. As all this is going on, my great relatives (humans) start filing in. They welcome me, and I'm friendly, but I have to ask them to come back later. "As you can see, my dear family, I'm still dealing with my dogs."

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Crumpled Bird -- No One Shows Up

Anyone remember The Crumpled Bird? And how I so wonderfully vowed to Take the Plunge and do it, appear to those who were waiting and faithful. Well, it's still a thing. I had a little secret strategy in not mentioning it much, trying to sift the gold from the chaff. Not expecting, frankly, everyone to be chaff and no one gold.

The promise was, I would put up the Sign of the Crumpled Bird. Then overcome my general introversion and even disdain for being with people all-that-much. I would appear in public, to greet those who were faithful, watching the Sign for my appearing. And when I said I would "Take the Plunge," that's exactly what I intended to do, barring any change of mind or outright psychological refusal -- a complete shutdown -- that would prevent me.

Well, I had a plan. I would put the Sign of the Crumpled Bird up, then test everyone's resolve -- sifting, sifting, ever sifting -- I've been there more than a few times without revealing myself as the crowds looked at the Sign and wondered aloud about it. "Will he appear?" they asked, even asking me personally. Thinking, apparently, that I was a wise person who might know. I had a scarf up and covering the lower half of my face, looking very mysterious. Not a disguise, I should say, since no one knows what I look like. I've been careful to keep pictures of myself off the blog; I'm so mysterious, when I look in the mirror to comb my hair, I have to look twice to make sure it's me!

OK, so one day a few weeks ago, I put up the Sign, then got the hell out of there. I went around a couple blocks and came up as the crowds were looking at it. "Will he appear?" "He said he would." "I'd love to see the guy," one adoring hippie-chick said, a little young for me by about four decades. Still, my heart fluttered and I felt 18 for a couple seconds, before fainting and falling into a huge planter. They gathered around to see if I was OK. I waved them off. I pointed to the distance, and asked loudly, "Is that him!?" A guy was moving behind a car, and if I didn't know better, it could've been me. They took off that way and I ducked out the other way.

As days went on, the crowds thinned and interest seemed to wane; it definitely waned. We had a cold spell, and that kept them away. Then it rained, and no one wanted to come out. Then it actually got hot again, and more people were out, but by now the Sign of the Crumpled Bird was very weathered. Torn at the edges from the wind, holes in it from repeated flapping, the ink was fading from the rain and the sun, really looking like hell. Not the pristine poster I first printed on my printer, wasting, as it turned out, about $8 of precious toner.

I decided to leave it up. By now, though, it was simply out of defiance. You all haven't got the patience to wait for me, to gather around my sign and wait a few stinking weeks!? What's the world coming to? When I was a kid we used to wait forever; it was like a hobby, waiting, tarrying, abiding, watching the signs, watching the skies, really looking desperately for any sign that something somewhere might happen, which it never did. But did I give up? Not for a second!

Seriously, friends, it's no skin off my ass -- either cheek -- if you wait or don't wait. And I really blame modern conveniences like Google and whatnot. If you google "signs obscure writers heroes demigods," it seems like guys like me are a dime-a-dozen. We think we're Big Shit for having influential blogs and that anyone really cares. Well, a few do care. Like that hippie chick, whom I never saw again, although the whiff of patchouli I got from her hair that night sustains me. Yeah, we think we're Das Shitz, Megaturd, but the public is fickle.

Another week went by. They had hurricanes throughout the world, but none where I live. And the Sign remained up, although it had flapped in the breeze so much, it was hopelessly tattered, as you see in the photo. No one anywhere by then had confidence that I would show up. That old guy in the heavy coat, shifting from foot to foot in the cold, having to pee, that wasn't him, they thought. Just a guy waiting for him, when it was me. Awesome phenomenon, huh? The waitress across the road could be Christ and to us all she's good for is scooping pie.

I was bemused by the indignity I was suffering from lack of interest, then it rolled over into an actual angry fit. The town had some old wooden posts that held up a decaying shed behind one particular building. It was 4 in the morning one night and I went back there and kicked the posts so the shed collapsed, then I got the hell out of there. I came back the next day and the posts were cleaned up and everyone had moved on.

The Sign of the Crumpled Bird remained, very very crumpled, sad and sorry. And none of these bastard ingrates came out to see me! How you like that?