Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Lame Duck Can Collecting

I’ve been out of Grandma’s house for a while now, while the construction guys work on the mold, mildew, and anything else that may have sprung up and festered. So to keep my life interesting -- I have to start somewhere -- I moved to a major metro area, and I’m getting a taste of the concrete jungle. It's going OK so far, as long as I keep my group dynamics edge. Without group dynamics, I'd be sunk.

You know I don’t toot my own horn much about group dynamics. But it’s always been a thing with me, running seminars, disclosing the techniques to lucky petitioners, etc. BTW, I'm always available for company functions, as long as you're severely stressed and in the need of an expert with a nice personality. My mind is a wickedly adept computer for a few things. I can tell you immediately when I need to go to the bathroom, for one. Then there's the field of group dynamics. It was a huge talent in school. I could always sense when I wasn’t welcome in a group, which was more often than I liked.

So I’m in the metro area... Here I met a guy who turned me on to the possibilities of collecting beer/soda cans and taking them to a metal recycling place, where they pay 40 cents a pound! Sweet! If you walked the city all day you might net $3.00! And one of the principles of can collecting is, You have to go look for them, they don’t come to you. That means lots of walking, getting your feet wet in ditches; and with a lot of walking, you’re visible to a lot of people. “There’s that guy again," or, "What’s that guy doing on my turf?” I see other can collectors coming at me and I go the other way.

Anyway, group dynamics comes in handy for interpersonal interactions I can't avoid. And who better for it, since I'm the guy who formulated the “Three R’s Of Group Dynamics,” which, to review, are: 1) aRrange, 2) Reconnoiter, and 3) Ruminate. These have been mentioned in some (now out of print) textbooks on the subject, and it’s not rare to hear group dynamics guys mention them in passing. That’s the way they choose to do it, but I do it differently. The three points are uppermost in my mind!

Now to the cans. One of the best places to get cans is smaller parks where lots of guys hang out. They and others have drunk beer and littered the cans. With complications. What if they don’t leave? How do I know who the cans belong to? And since I don’t want to keep coming back, I have to go right in among them. The “aRranging” vis-a-vis them is already set, so I have to aRrange myself. I look for the least intrusive way to move among them. Example, if there’s 4 of them over here and 2 at the other end, I take the point of least resistance, the 2. I keep whatever distance I can without being too obviously fearful. I have to express some boldness or I’m a sitting duck. But I can’t be too close without encroaching. So far I haven’t been beaten up. And of course I’m friendly by strict policy. 

The last couple of times I’ve actually avoided that area of the park, because the aRranging can easily be out of my hands. I’m aRranging for the future, by approaching areas where one or two guys are, being very friendly with them, and hoping that I gain a good reputation through their unsolicited testimonies when I’m gone. It's a constant concern as to what's too much or too little.

The second point, Reconnoitering, has basically been touched on in my tact. But it’s a knowledge that has to continually build on itself. Some group dynamics sessions are in a more controlled setting, a seminar, a class, Sunday School. I did major research on the old retirees' table at McDonald’s that meets every morning, but so far haven’t published it. That’s a great one for Reconnoitering, because the aRrangement is essentially set. Besides calm tact, Reconnoitering among groups while collecting cans is tilted toward keeping your cool, remembering basic survival techniques, following your gut/instincts, and being willing to drop even the cans you’ve got and run like hell. Needless to say, that little rubber band twisting in my head, it's in good repair!

Ruminating — the third postulate — is what I do at home certainly, but since the situation with an unpredictable group is so fluid and rife with potential disaster, it's also done on the fly. The point is to build on what you’ve got, increasing in knowledge, wisdom, etc. But if you’re dead three minutes from now, there’s little gain. So I’m Ruminating continually, while the aRranging and Reconnoitering necessarily continue apace. “Is it worth .33 cents to ask that guy with the snarl on his face and crushing a can against his skull if I can have it?” Of course I generally pass, giving me so far the ability to walk in, walk out, and live to tell.

But because the situation is so volatile, I've taken to identifying with the lame duck. There's a lot of variables! I have to intuit more than I want! (Intuition is a division of Ruminating). So I’ve been avoiding that particular spot. Normally I’m walking, 99% of the time, but a couple days ago I drove by, and there they were, just waiting for that foolish guy with the plastic bag to show his squirrely face. The group dynamics gods speak otherwise, my friends! You're not going to beat the crap out of me so easily!

HOT LINK -- You might be interested in one of my group dynamics posts, when a home economics class vied to win a date with me.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Long Live Trucking

The last few days I’ve been looking at the interstate and wishing I’d been a truck driver. You have the open road everyday and you’re alone with your thoughts. The boss you have, he’s not breathing down your neck like some the ones I’ve known. You pick up a load, you take it somewhere, then move on.

I’ve been thinking about it since last weekend, when I went to a retirement party for three brothers, three truckers who recently retired, all the same time. They started out young, put their time in, and now someone else gets to haul the shipments, while they sit at home and tend the garden or whatever.

It was cute the way their kids had the place decorated, strictly a truck motif, with gas signs, rest stops, etc. I asked one of the guys, Frank, what he was going to miss the most about trucking. At first he said “Nothing!”, which got a good laugh, then he was serious for a moment about missing the open road everyday and being alone with his thoughts.

Ted also got some laughs when he said you don’t have the boss breathing down your neck all the time, with his boss sitting there at the retirement party, wagging a finger and laughing.

And Pete, basically zen, said, “You get your load, you move on, you arrive.” The way he put it really stuck with me.

We gathered around the cake and the daughters were slicing it and putting it on plates for the well-wishers. There were three sons of these guys, too, but only two of them were in town, with Frank Jr. himself being on the road, trucking. The two sons stuck close to their dads, like they were extra happy to have them home permanently. Probably because you can never be sure you’re going to see your dad again when he goes on a trip; our lives are always at risk; you could be driving along, suddenly come upon a stalled car over the next hill, and end up buying the farm. There’s always that, but you have to make a living, so on you go...

Before we dug into the cake, each of them took his turn to thank their families for putting up with them. Most of us had a hard time holding back tears. Frank brought us back to the fun when he told some of the blessings of trucking: “They had trucks when I started trucking, and there’s still trucks when I ended. Not every job can say that. Long live the truck!”

Ted had a few more things to say, then echoed Frank somewhat. “If I was starting out today, I wouldn’t do it any different. Not much has changed. We had trucks then, we have trucks now. Long live the truck.”

And Pete, a rough cut guy with tattoos, and that whole zen thing going, also echoed his beloved brothers, “Trucking is its own magic. Trucking is all-inclusive, with no opposite. It is filled with life and power and the ability to get goods where they need to be. Trucking will live a really, really long time.”

Amen! He ended on an optimistic note. And here's to all you guys on the open road today. As Aunt Alice used to say, "Cheers, dears!"

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Impregnate Enough Women, You'll Pay

A guy told me the other day I was old, true story. It hit me hard, since I can’t see it in a mirror. And the guy’s a friend, whom I’ve backed up a bunch of times in the past, so I don’t think he’s lying. But he’s old, too.

His history’s an interesting one, which is coming out increasingly now that we have genetic testing and Facebook. A bunch of people looking for their roots with DNA have zeroed in on him as their actual father, and now they're trying to connect with him on Facebook. All this was a big surprise to his wife of 40+ years!

As for me, I’ve essentially been chaste over the years, so there’s zero kids showing up, and any that ever would would have to be frauds. In his case — I don’t know if his basic problem is the roving eye or simply the way his conscience shuts off after a couple beers — his claimants are not frauds. DNA’s a calling card you can’t deny.

So far he knows he has 56 secret kids. Several of these he’s known of for years, since a bunch of the women were from this area. Others aren’t known at all. But he's had hookups at Silage City for years. He and I used to camp at Silage Lake, and he was always going out for "midnight walks," leaving me alone in the tent with room to spread out.

“Why don't you use a rubber?” I'd ask when he confessed his walk had an amorous end. “It cramps my style,” he’d say, along with a bunch of other excuses about passion at its highest can’t be ruined. I have to say — brag a little about myself — my Sunday School upbringing saved me a lot, both on rubbers at the time and on newfound relatives of the engendered sort showing up unexpectedly. There aren’t any!

OK, as for his wife, naturally she’s pissed. If this doesn’t kill her, nothing will. So far she’s still alive, so now he’s stuck with her and her fabled bad temper forever. She might take the house if they split. But I don’t see an old guy and an old woman splitting up. They have too many accounts, Social Security, various insurance payments coming in in common to screw with it.

If she asks my opinion, I’m not going to back off my condemnation of Ralph for living a completely profligate way. Is he a nice guy? Yes. Is he a bastard? He can be, and more so than most. But should the wife be surprised? I don’t think so. She knows how horny he is and how he’d come home from a camping trip totally sated. Can’t tell me she wasn’t putting 2 + 2 together. Not suspecting me, of course; my morals are widely known throughout the Midwest. You see my license plate CHASTE and you know I'm much better than most.

I might have a talk with her. The best way to put big numbers in context and minimize them is to use bigger numbers. Yes, he fathered 56 children, but it wasn’t 156 or 256 or even 356. If he had 356 kids with other women, imagine how so completely horrendous that’d be compared to a minuscule 56. You have 356 kids, you may as well just go for 400. Or a complete ream, 500. That’d be sinful in anyone’s opinion. But impressive in terms of world records.

I’m glad his problems aren’t mine. The wife's always on his case, and all these kids are reaching out to him, even making a Facebook group, "The Known Children of Ralph B—". Chastity’s the best policy, if you can manage it.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Do I Want Some More Whiskey?

I’m currently on a three-day bender, woo hoo! Didn’t know it’d go this long. Figured a day or two and I’d be sated. Turns out I was wrong. I don’t see an end in sight, unless it’s tomorrow; that’s likely; it can’t go on forever, can it?

Look at my typing. You tell me, is this making any sense? To my eyes, it’s a chicken scratching on the computer. I’ve got the font blown way up, compensating for the blurriness. And there's hallucinations. I hope that’s what they are. My flat white bedroom walls are an outrageous exaggeration of their normal selves. Settle down! I can’t tell if they’re coming at me or trying to get away. We haven’t discussed it, nothing beyond me telling them yesterday about this time, “You stay on your side of the room and I’ll stay on mine. I don’t want any trouble, and I don’t think you do either. But you tangle with me, I can't be responsible. I will stab the life out of you; I’ve done worse!” I’m fairly sure the walls are OK. We’re at an impasse.

Wow, my head is spinning. But it’s a good spinning, good ha ha, not bad boo hoo. “I’m Loretta Young!” I heard myself screaming like a maniac. Then I toyed with the name Loretta. Try it next time you’re faced. “Loretta!” It’s hard to get it slurred out. It’s a very guttural name when you’re temporarily under the weather. But conversationally still interesting: “So you’re Loretta Young. THE Loretta Young.” “Yes, sir,” I think I heard her say at the usual pauses in any conversation. The Loretta Young who used to be on that old TV out in the garage, back when it worked, our first TV? “Yes, sir.” She elaborates “I was simultaneously on millions of sets, coming out in a lovely dress, spinning for the audience.” I took a drink and exclaimed, “I thought I knew you from somewhere! You’re Loretta Young!” The TV broke again and she was gone.

This is damned good whiskey. And, yes, that's whiskey with an E. I’ve seen it both ways, and there’s some explanation for that, albeit lame, something to keep dictionaries busy. I remember when I was first “turned on” to whiskey; it’s been a while. I was in my 20s and given to massive misbehavior not in keeping with the values the den of wolves raised me with. Mostly blowing off steam, much like I’m doing here. Woo hoo! But, thinking back, it was whiskey, along with all the other stuff they serve, that first loosened my talk tapes. Considerably!

I remember one old boy. This was 45 years ago. He was in his late 60s or mid 70s then, so he’s got to be dead today. Just like 45 years from today, I.... I’ll return to this point later if I think of it. Anyway, the guy was ancient. And what did he happen to have, a baggie of something. Even now I’m reluctant to tell anyone precisely what happened, so let me gloss it over with a sincere, Nothing happened. I said, “No, sir, I’m drinking whiskey! Along with other draws and mixed drinks. Boilermakers, which is whiskey followed by a draw. Back then I was a gulper, get it down fast as possible. Now I’m a sipper. Do I ever pick up steam? Of course. Till Loretta Young shows up. Which, it could be Loretta anybody, I wouldn’t mind. Loretta Lynn. Isn’t there a famous Loretta Luperca? No, it's Luperca Latouche, Finnegans Wake. Another sip of whiskey!

Think I’ll have one for my health! Pour it, pour pour pour, perfect, 1 tablespoon. Here's mud in your eye, slowly sipping it. To my health. I’ve always thought I was in great health. I've never had much wrong. But lately I’ve noticed in the mirror that I look thinner. I usually can't see myself as I am. In the mirror, I’m one thing. In photos, another. But it has come to my attention, somehow, that I look thinner than ever in the mirror. So, like the old boy above, the guy in the bar with the baggie, 45 years from now, I will have crossed over the rainbow bridge, which I’ve learned is what modern dying pets cross over too.

I’ll thin down to the point that I’m like one of those long green stick bugs. Then keep myself from breaking till I get to the destination, where the rainbow bridge is. I’ll stand there, waiting my turn. Kids are off in the bushes watching their pets set foot on the bridge. I’ll wait and wait and wait, thinking, “Good God, why are there so many dying pets?” It’s because there’s an endless population of them. Every dog has 14 puppies. And cats. They have nine lives, which means nine deaths each, so they’re clogging up the bridge worse than anyone. Just when the coast is clear, I try to get up and one of my thin legs snaps. That hurts. But thankfully I have a little whiskey to pour on the wound. Suddenly the bridge is clogged with a nursing home that just happened to burn down 10 minutes ago. Everyone died. Again, I wait my turn, dousing the leg and alternating with a drink.

Sounds like I’m in no hurry to die. I have reasons to live. This blog’s a big one. I haven’t found anyone to take it over. Everyone that comes to me wants to load it up with ads, but I refuse. Online advertising on blogs is one of the sickest sights I've seen. Then you have to be churning out little blurbs. A paragraph, an ad. A paragraph, another clump of ads. So you stick to two paragraph posts because you need to have many posts, so you’ll have lots of ads going all the time, popping up everywhere, “You’ve won this or that bullshit.” Anyway, don’t get me started on that subject. “No, sir!” I cry out. Then I settle back in my chair, have a drink of whiskey, and the rainbow bridge comes again into view.

Back at the rainbow bridge: A turtle I had in the 1980s just died and swam by. How about that? I found a turtle and took it home in the 1980s. I was living in a town. Then it came time to move and I took it back and released it with a word of blessing. And now I catch sight of it after all these years on the rainbow bridge. “Hey, whatever your name was!” And another sip of whiskey.

These little measuring cups you can buy to drink whiskey out of, they have a disclaimer in the store, “This measuring cup is intended for use in cooking, not for the serving of alcoholic beverages.” “Hey, baby,” I say — fingering in the general direction of the measuring cup company — “this IS cooking!"

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Comfort Schmomfort

Comfort, Schmomfort. Schmomfort isch my teasching. Eschew Comfort, Choose Schmomfort.

Where hasch Comfort gotten usch? We're lazschy, clinging, never schatisfied, deep in debt, peeking out the blinds, the schades. That's the firscht thing I do, schurely every morning.

Yesch, it'sch scho! When all the time -- in plain schight, no lessch, and open to all -- Schmomfort opens wide thosche schmomforting arms, schaying, pleading, "Schmomfort, Schmomfort my people. Lischten to Schmomfort and rescheive Schmomfort in rische abundance." All the schmomforting Schmomfort you need and more. Schmomfort, scho musch that no one can schmomfortly take it from you. Let 'em try, huh?

Friends, let me schmestify: As I write thisch schmestimony I'm schitting in a broken chair. It'sch wobbly, appears to be on itsch last legs, and it isch. The armreschts, they're schtill a place to rescht my arms -- but there'sch scho much brokennesch that the rescht is schistory. I'm honeschtly nearly provoked to throw thisch chair away and get a new one. Only one thing schtands in my way: Schmomfort!

That's juscht me. What about you? And, no, I'm no one schpecial, just another schmo. But I can't schmomfortably let you go! I would tossch and turn and barely schleep if I tried. Maybe I schould let you go, and schettle myschelf schmomfortably in my own Schmomfort. Who wouldn't, if you know what I know? I'd have it all to myschelf! Can you guessch what'sch holding me back? Schmomfort itschelf, yes, the schame. That's Schmomfort, brother, schister.

Because Schmomfort isch without end. Comfort, too, of coursche, but Comfort takes us to a falls schend. True, huh? You go for Comfort, you getsch a falsche end. A big fat falls schend that you'll be schitting on forever. It's scho true! I've scheen the ravages of Comfort. Schtarts off with schitting a schpell, then on and on. Butt time fails me to schow and tell the whole teasching. Schuffice to schay, when you need a bigger schair, by then it'sch too late, butt time fails you two...

Have you already schlipped away? Are you scho far away you're outta schight? Have you drifted scho far, then hit the rusches of Comfort? Perhaps crasched on the schoals? If scho, what can I schay, go on, take your rescht. Don't let me dischturb you.

Schtill, friends, I have to believe there are schome here today -- schurly many -- who would be able to agree and schay: "Yesch, I hear the voisch of Schmomfort!" And you're ready to take the firscht schtep. Until it'sch schtep after schoothing schtep, all the blessched way on the scherene path to meet for yourschelf and know Schmomfort and Schmomfort's perfect peasche.

Pleasche, schtep out now.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

A Mosquito Tent O'er My Grave

NOTE: The following is an imaginary scenario, assuming that I will buried in a grave after my decease, and that I have a wife, children, and loved ones.

Who likes mosquitoes? I don’t. They’re the bane of summer. They prove the point I've believed from childhood, that there’s nothing in nature completely good. Summer looks like it'd be fantastic, known for warm temperatures, beautiful weather, and summer vacation. Then come mosquitoes! Along with their cousin bugs, ticks and the entire sad messy disgusting crew, evolution's Trump-like jab at existence.

I have a mosquito tent. But I hardly ever put it up. One, I’m not that tempted to be out in the summer. Two, they’ll bite me while I’m putting it up. The only good way to do it would be to put it up in the garage and walk it out to the yard, but by the time I got there the wind would kick up and blow both me and it away.

Still, whatever inconvenience I face has to do with me being alive and present in the world. I firmly believe that I didn’t face any of these issues before I was born, which was billions of years. It follows then that I won’t face them when I’m gone, regardless of how long that will be. Still, it’d be at least symbolically a good thing — forever preaching my doctrine to the world that mosquitoes suck — if I had a mosquito tent o’er my grave.

OK, let me make a few keystrokes on my Last Will and Testament.doc and it’s done! It’s now in my will, which is inviolate. No matter how inconvenient anything is — burdensome, uncomfortable, or outlandish — the heirs have to do it. Enter my two sons and daughter. Along with the wife, if I should predecease her. And the way she raises that rolling pin when I’m the slightest bit late after a pleasant evening at Joe’s Place tipping back a few cold ones, then getting home before the mosquitoes are thick, she might truly outlive me.

The big day comes. I croak. Now the fun begins. They argue, they fight. “We have to get a mosquito tent for Dummy's grave?! But only in the summer. Which, knowing him, means strictly the first day of summer and not to exceed the last.” Yes, along with other complications. It needs to be o’er my grave, which can be tricky, since no one’s there to guard it. Kids are always stealing stuff on graves, or messing with it in some way. My estate might need to buy several tents in a season, which could get pricey.

Then there’s the optics. The cemetery board will obviously have a problem if it’s blowing across the field, or not staked down properly, or not secured from the other elements. The last thing the board wants is an eyesore. Which I get. A cemetery is a place of solemn dignity, remembering everyone from town. There’s some guys out there I remember as a kid. Guys who dug sewers, ran gas stations, sat in lawn chairs across the road, and others. All good memories. If they were to speak up and say “We knew that kid would grow up to be a nuisance. Now he has a tent encroaching on our mound," that'd make me feel bad.

Anyway, the kids and wife will have to really devote themselves to the task! Like in the old song, “See That My Grave’s Kept Clean and My Mosquito Tent's Presentable.” So there it is. But then indeed it does blow around a few times. The board complains. The family tries to comply. But the wife dies, the kids have other problems. The board relents, the wind after all is an act of God. Then the family argues, “You were supposed to do it!” "No, no, it was your year to handle it!" Suddenly the kids aren't speaking to one another. And no one’s watching out for anything. Then the kids are on the road, get hit, and now graves are popping up all around me.

Finally, the groundskeeper takes it upon himself — and he’s not reprimanded in any way, in fact applauded — to haul my ratty mosquito tent to the dump. My grave is now unprotected and ignored. The Lord returns. I’m resurrected. It just happens to be June 21, at which point my spiritual body is immediately attacked by resentful hungry mosquitoes. With me itching through the entire last thousand years judgment. Sad ending, but every word true.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Little Bit Of Both

When's the last time you had a decent conversation with a dog? It's probably been a while. I know, because I've had dogs. Either they're barking at squirrels, people, other dogs, or the mailman, and that gets old fast. All they know is barking.

I have some experience, though, with training dogs. Over the years it's been remarkable, some of the things I've managed with dogs. I've taught them to roll over and play dead, how to bark for their supper, and how to beg for food or whatever folks are willing to give us. One of the best tricks is rolling over and playing dead. Since it gets tiresome having a dog, if they play dead long enough that's a break for you. Barking for their supper's not as good, because they're always hungry and don't know supper from breakfast, so they're always barking. If you can teach your dog to beg for whatever people are willing to give, you can set her at the Walmart entrance and make a decent living. I'd sit there and beg myself but I'm too proud. But imagine the sweet coin!

A few years ago I think I was involved in teaching a dog to talk somewhat. I say "I think," because I've had a bout of something one of my doctors calls memory loss with a side of aphasia. I'm always remembering things that never happened. Including perhaps my doctor even saying that. I'm hoping to join a "Discerning Reality" group, but it's hard to know for sure that the others are really there, wherever it may or may not be. But I have an application in, and hope to hear from them if indeed they exist. For the sake of argument and this post, let's say the dog talked.

OK, we're saying it's true. I remember I taught one of my dogs to say "A little bit of both." Then I might ask her, "Do you want pizza or stew for dinner?" And she'd say, "A little bit of both." I'd rather she had a choice. It seems healthier, pizza or stew. Normally I think of dogs as completely ravenous for whatever you set before them. I've seen dogs eat hardened, decades-old food that's been preserved as a cinder in a campground fire-pit. I remember one that actually looked like a dead rat, till you looked at it up close. Up close it looked like something from a volcano, sort of a cinder, sort of a glossy artifact of the earth's molten core. The dog would pull it out and gnaw at it, never making progress but never complaining either.

How about this question, "Would you rather have this week-old TV dinner or that volcanic cinder, rat-thing? "A little bit of both." OK, I didn't approve of her eating the cinder, so I threw it away and split the TV dinner in two. She ate half of it and assumed the other half was the cinder. Had she truly wanted the cinder, I might've said, "Are you crazy or merely stupid?" Then when she answered, "A little bit of both," we'd be on to something. I'd definitely have to agree!

That dog, she always wanted to go on walks. But my own preference naturally was to tie her to a post and go shopping. Walking, walking, walking. The only reason a dog wants to walk is to find something to bark about. Or something to eat in the neighbor's yard. That used to be OK, but now with hidden cameras and porch-pirates, I'd be totally worried I'd be busted and end up on the news. "Man's dog eats Amazon shipment of premium steaks for dogs." We both go running, I break a leg, the dog breaks two legs, and we end up on a viral video with people laughing and saying, "Serves the bastard and his dog right!" So I would want to walk her only where no one lives. That way if she found something to eat -- and she once found a dead deer, which we both ate for a month -- there's very little shame in it. But having taught her to talk, she didn't overeat. "Do you want to eat some of the deer we found or fast-and-pray?" She'd say, "A little bit of both," so we whet our grinders on the deer for an hour and also prayed the Lord for future dead animals.

Somewhere in the course of time I started slipping in things to confuse her. Dogs, remember, as smart as they are are still not smart. Not like me, who could sit upright all day and tell you what 2 + 2 is. It's 4, duh. Whereas my dog's answer would've been "A little bit of both." 2 + 2 is a little bit of both? I guess so, that's the plus sign but that's not the answer. You have the entire 2 the first one and the entire 2 the other one. So it's 4, not a little bit of both. That's a tangle. I would've hated to get her started on tougher problems, mostly because I don't know math for crap and would've had a hard time criticizing her answer. I can see situations where the answer might be a little bit of both, with her then showing me up.

Anyway, to confuse her, I started slipping in the word "ONLY." Like this, "Do you want to play in the backyard ONLY or do you want to go to the park?" When she said "A little bit of both," I had her in a mental Chinese finger-trap! Ha ha, how smart I am, but devious! I said the backyard ONLY, so there's no little bit of both. It's a logical problem that I can take in at a glance, in a second, and yet one that makes even my head spin. Because the question is couched as an OR question and she was hopelessly trapped! She couldn't say, "The backyard only" or "The park only." Just a little bit of both. That could've given her a brain hemorrhage that second if she had the wherewithal to contemplate it!

As it is, at this distant remove, with me 20 years older and more easily confused -- I fell down the stairs last night because my mind drifted and I forgot where I was -- it's giving me a brain hemorrhage too! Ever had one? There's a pleasant buzz to it, but if you don't take care of right away, you die. The positive side of which is, Everything else you suffer, you escape. But if I could only say "A little bit of both" I'd be insane within the week. Try it. Take the "Little Bit of Both" challenge. Video yourself in the backyard answering everything with "A Little Bit of Both" and post the results. You'll go crazy.

The way it ended, that dog died and I'm worried about her afterlife. I remember asking her at the end if she was going to heaven or hell, and she said, "A little bit of both." OK, bone voyage, don't forget to write if you have anything else to say!

Terri Torial

It probably goes without saying -- since many of you know the kind of guy I am -- that I've had lots of girlfriends, and, for that matter, boyfriends. In relationships, I'm always faithful, but sometimes things just don't work out, through no fault of anyone, but never mine.

One particularly ravenous specimen I briefly loved, and virtually gave my reputation for, was a certain Terri Torial. Heard of her? I've never heard of any other, so don't Google her, because I can't guarantee you won't find her. Let me warn you if you find her, she will track you down, and that won't be the end of it. Far from it. As the name suggests, she has a way of glomming on to what's in her path, and you'll be lucky if she doesn't suck you dry.

It's funny sometimes about names, when the names are funny. You could have a Miss Dour, and she'll be perennially in a funk, for example. I actually had a teacher named Miss Crabby. Then she married a Mr. Grouch, so it was a wash. She didn't marry above her station. Then in sixth grade I had a huge crush on a Jeanine Syphilis, but I kept thinking "What kind of name for a girlfriend is Jeanine?"

As for Terri, as the name suggests, she's had an overwhelming covetousness for territory, real estate and beyond. What's for sale, she wanted. What's yours is hers. If it's not for sale, name your price. The price is right, and really truly it is if she has a boyfriend willing to keep her happy. If this guy won't, the next one will!

Anyway, we traveled the country together for a while, and in the years since I've worked like a dog to restore my credit. Like this: I take out a loan for ten thousand bucks. I sit on the money and pay it back the next week. You do that enough -- a ten thousand or a million -- no matter how many bad real estate deals you had with your idiot girlfriend, you get back in their good graces, the creditors.

Among the properties I was personally involved in with Terri, just off the top of my head I'm thinking of northwest territories, southern plantations, oil fields (dry and wet), wheat fields, corn fields, fields ripe for the harvest but we had no tractor, huge swaths of desert, tons of disparate far-flung forests, enormous square footages of miscellaneous nothingvilles, ocean-side properties with and without beaches, farms, small countries, various sinkholes, Klondikes, and land so inaccessible the foot of man has never laid eyes on it and may never. We put a bid on China that time it was up for auction online, but were beat out at the last second by a guy who bid a dollar more.

For a while -- it was in the papers -- Terri even had me helping her buy up cemetery land. Prospective cemeteries and actual ones. You have lots of options. One of her worst ideas -- I'll call it a scam -- was to buy up all the vacant plots, then complain to the seller so persistently -- "This one has no view" or "This one has too good a view" -- that they got sick and died. Then as the main property holder, she had more votes than the rest of board, and we ended up shipping caskets/bodies to the Klondike property. People just can't be bothered these days to care about their deceased loved ones. And true, face it, it's a pain in the ass to have dead relatives. So out of sight, out of mind. For a ten dollar settlement your relatives will agree to anything!

OK, now the cemetery's been cleared, it's divided into lots and sold for big money. You plant a garden in what used to be a cemetery, the food's delicious. Grandma and Grandpa left behind the potency of their heart and soul, the best soil, loamy, so good. It's great for potting flowers, growing radishes, you name it. We had half a warehouse of the soil and actually sold it to another cemetery, whose north side collapsed in a sinkhole. More land for China.

Time fails me to tell the full story of how Terri came "this close" from buying the entire state of Texas. I was telling her that I read a good book on Lyndon Johnson. And how the land in Texas was either really good or totally piss poor. She didn't believe me, so she made an offer to the governor, and he came this close to selling the state. We promised to relocate him to the Klondike too, to live out his days counting his money. At the last second, though, he realized how corrupt that'd make him. He was the governor after all, not the president, so he had the sense to back out.

Eventually Terri and I broke up. But anytime there's a FOR SALE sign in the neighborhood I keep a close watch out the window. Or just any old plot of land, really, whether for sale or not. Sooner or later, I'm sure she'll show up at my place again ... or perhaps yours!

P.S. Terri Territorial is not to be confused with another ravenous woman I knew, gifted with similar flair, Kitty Westwardho. Kitty and I never dated. A one-night stand you pay for isn't a date, is it?

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Little Lady

I barely know how to tell the story of Reginald. You've heard about him all your life; I can say almost all my life, since I'm older, and even though it seems like he's been around forever, he's still mortal like us all.

Somewhere in the world right this minute someone's in need of Reginald. History's shown that. And he's answered the call over and over. He's may not always be the first on the scene -- that's the province of attention-seekers and the vain -- but sooner rather than later, he comes calling. To soothe ruffled feathers, if that's what it takes, but more generally to act as oil on troubled waters. And more than once he's laid down his life for the world, only to take it up again. He's the first among his peers.

There's been a few times, myself, when I've been in the right place at the right time. It's then I have to pinch myself; 'Am I really here?' Life is sometimes like a dream. I pinch myself, and, yes, I'm really here! That happened at the latest awards ceremony for Reginald. With Izora, The Little Lady, at his side.

It was a grand affair. If you've never been, you really must. The decorations were extensive. Various banners and flags of the grateful nations. I kept pinching myself; that's just my way. I expect good things to come my way and I've never been disappointed. But I'm not always so optimistic that I can take anything for granted. Which I'd also expect to be the outlook of any well-rounded person, and here I'm thinking of Reginald and The Little Lady. They're realistic folk.

Anyway, enough about me. I could go on and on, but... A raft of speakers preceded Reginald, each singing his praises in a higher key. Until he was finally introduced to applause that rang out like the thunder. No one saw it happen, but it must've been right about here that The Little Lady disappeared. I hadn't noticed. All eyes were on Reginald making his way to the podium. What confidence, what a stride; cocks of the walk are only half as grand.

Reginald shared how honored he was for such a grand reception. He took his sweet time to speak of his company, his friends' companies, as well as the various governments and their good administrations paving the way for good. These are essential stepping stones in the work of diplomacy, whether on a grand scale or in the intricate and meticulous dealings that also have to take place. It's all important. Like cogs and gears and things operating smoothly.

As Reginald spoke, I thought what a stunning profile he makes. Others were no doubt studying him too as an example of inspiration. Certainly any naysayers kept it to themselves. As they should, anyone whose heart would be that dark. There couldn't have been anyone that far gone, but these days you never know.

This evening was an evening of evenings, an event to be sure. When the massive piles of awards, ribbons, trophies, and what-not Reginald had accrued over the years would be traded in for "The Simple Star" award. You don't get any simpler than The Simple Star. But equally, you don't get any higher honors than The Simple Star. If it's ever been passed out before in our time, I've never heard of it. The Lord himself had one over his crib, but that's the only precedent I know of. Until Reginald.

The man spoke simply and elegantly of the honor he felt. And how he would continue on, to the extent we would allow. He thanked all the guests for coming. And reserved his last words for The Little Lady, Izora. Every eye scanned the dais to pick her out, but she wasn't there! Reginald himself looked about, a little confused, until a smile played across his face. I nearly snapped a picture but my phone was down to 10% and giving me fits.

Reginald called to Jimmy, an aide at the door, and had him step out and see if he could find The Little Lady. For she had already slipped away and was in the kitchen, supervising and helping the clean-up crew! In her own wonderful way, like always, showing modesty and service going beyond the call of duty. She's seen enough awards given out, to her this was just more of the same. For her, service to the world, that's also her calling.

They nearly had to drag The Little Lady out; that's how reluctant she was to stop her work. But out she finally came, to the greatest ovation. She tossed her apron to Jimmy at the door and made her way to the dais. Reginald lifted her arm, pointing to The Little Lady, as if to say, "Huh? Huh? Am I right? Isn't she the greatest?"

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Going Stag

I used to always hear about going to things stag. One guy. I don't hear that much anymore. Maybe we forgot what a stag is, which would be the root of the idea. The way I remember it, a stag is some kind of deer or super antelope, standing at a river pass, alone, drinking, while the other animals keep a respectful distance, waiting their turn.

With just that definition it's easy to see how they got the phrase "going stag," which often applied to bachelors. Then one would be about to get married and the others had a stag party for him. His last night of complete freedom, hanging out with the other stags, drinking himself sick. Some kind of entertainment. That's when the stags got together, but usually they went to things alone. Not that I'm up on it or in any position to get clinical; I never did research on it.

Do I ever go stag? Afraid so, more times than I like really. Like out to eat, but I don't like the look of it or the feel of it. And that's the way with most stags. They sit in their car with their bag of tacos and eat them as fast as possible. It takes me a little longer because I have to put hot sauce on each one as I go. I was out the other day and another guy I know was also stag. I motioned back and forth between us, two guys doing the same thing, whatever it was, independent, alone, but briefly together and witnesses to the thing. He waved and looked down.

Childhood was better. Like when my mom or grandma would go with me to the doctor's office, or all the kids had to go. Now mom and grandma are gone and I'm old, so I'm at the doctor's stag. The nurses watch me come in. And give me the computer interface to type my info in. Someone they can contact? I have relatives, who no doubt have their thing going on somewhere, ducking in, ducking out. I put the funeral home. They appreciate the business.

Really, it's nearly everything I go stag for. The library, church. I don't go on vacations that much, but I know guys who do. Taking selfies of themselves in front of the the world's largest steam shovel, stag. I personally hate tourist sites: "It's all been done before!" Who cares? I've thought about going to Mt. Rushmore, but I'm iffy. I read the book by John (Fire) Lame Deer and he's dead-set against Mt. Rushmore. And from his perspective it's obvious, we should never have messed up that mountain! So who wants to see that? Especially stag. Although I wouldn't want to go with friends either, because no doubt they've missed Lame Deer's great book and would love seeing it. Guess I'd rather go stag, but I'd rather not go at all.

I hate to make going stag sound pathetic. It's just a fact of life. Most people go stag to the post office regularly. I'm at the post office a few times a week and it's a parade of one-person at a time. The dentist, I'm always stag there. In that case, I'm very breezy about it. I breeze in, greet everyone in a bubbly way. It's sophisticated enough there they've got your basic paperwork taken care of on the computer. There's nothing to it. They get me in, there's room in the chair for one, so stag is the only way to fly.

Wouldn't it be crazy to rent someone to go with you? As in professional daters; I can't remember what that's called. Escorts was what it used to be called. Probably personal assistant now. You go to a massage parlor. They see another stag coming in. And you offer to pay them up front just to go to the zoo with you. Where there might be some captive stags -- the real deal -- looking for a way out. Follow me!

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Shrine of St. Cecilia

O! how many times I've listened to "The Shrine of St. Cecilia," the song! A bunch of times, so many. I wake up with the tune in mind. I'm out walking the dog and humming the tune or singing. It's inspiring. Musing over how there's trouble everywhere, devastation on a large scale in the area, storm clouds and winds on the march, but the Shrine of St. Cecilia remains standing, inviolate!

I love that song, but sometimes I get it mixed up with a couple other songs I have about St. Theresa of the Roses. So I think I'm singing St. Cecilia and it turns out to be St. Theresa! But they're inspiring too, one by Billy Ward and the Dominos and the other by the DeJohn Sisters. I honestly like about any saint I ever hear of, including St. Charbel of Lebanon and St. Rita of Cascia, who was a recurring character in a series of blog posts I wrote for Paranoia Week in 2014 (links below). I try not to hear about any other saints, because I know I'll like them and life will get complicated.

Today, though, we're thinking of St. Cecilia, also famous in song, with several versions of "The Shrine of St. Cecilia" available on YouTube. Her shrine withstands the various disasters that come around, giving hope and moral support to the people who weren't so fortunate. My life might be the pits -- and my house is actually right now undergoing major renovation because it neglected itself and became a shambles -- but as long as I know Cecilia's shrine yet stands, I too can make it through.

But where her shrine is is a thing I'm confused about. I thought it was in South America, since I've always heard about the Five Peruvian Shriners visiting it, having "traversed not far." But according to online sources, it's in Rome. Which is far from Peru, and allowing for continental drift, getting farther all the time. The confusion probably comes more from what is a shrine and what isn't. And whether the various locales in South America where St. Cecilia is honored are shrines per se. Regardless, we would also commend the Five Peruvian Shriners for going all the way to Rome and yet considering that, because of the saint's sanctity, "not far."

Still, the song of the Peruvians -- We Five Peruvians of Peru Are -- gives a great deal of encouragement to a lot of folks, though for me it's a love-hate thing as well. One of my family heritage things, which I wrote of a few years ago as well, involved Peruvians coming to America and being involved in abusing horses by having them kick their enemies to death. This was an immediate threat to me, having not been conceived yet, and not something I can imagine St. Cecila sanctioning. But every people group has their good apples and their bad, and I can't judge the whole crop by a few especially notorious bruises. Still, I'm watching Peru closely, because according to Grandpa, the Peruvians are among the baddest hombres ever to live. He said they have long memories and aren't given to an easy forgiving nature. The fact that it's all out-of-sight now, and a thing of the distant past involving previous generations, makes it tough for me to judge decisively.

Anyway, it's great to have saints; we can agree on that. They show the possibilities of genuine sanctity even in our usual sinful world. They're the cream of the crop, which is beyond dispute. The typical person is mostly good or mostly bad or some other combination. Then there's some that are mostly bad through and through, usually through some fault of their own. Maybe their parents were bad, so they picked it up. Or their parents were good, but they still turned out bad. For the most part I wish bad people would fall off the edge of the earth, or let's say the earth opened up and swallowed them. Followed by reopening and emitting a burp and maybe allowing for one final scream from the victim for good measure. Bad people make me sick. Then there's saints, better than me by far in their intensity of devotion and allowing devotion to characterize them.

Of course we would want to erect a shrine to them, telling the world, "Here's what our actual ideals look like," despite our own inability (generally) to live the same sanctity. I'm forgiven daily and nightly for my many sins, going back to my childhood. I've already seen the judgment room of God, and let me tell you this much, there's no place to hide. There's literally not even one broom closet in the entire Throne Complex to hide in, not one.

Paranoia Week links from 2014 involving St. Rita of Cascia:
1. Paranoia - I Hit Rock Bottom
2. Paranoia - This Dark Is Huge
3. Paranoia - I Know Where You Go
4. Paranoia - What Maniac Arranged All This?
5. Paranoia - One Slip, I'm A Goner
6. Paranoia - The Microscopic Level
7. Paranoia - My Fortunes Change

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Purple-Breasted Yellow-Eyed Split-Tailed Swallow

Ho, boyd! You’ll never guess what I saw today! In a flighting moment, there it was, The Illusive Purple-Breasted Yellow-Eyed Split-Tailed Swallow, up from the ditch, as big as life! Meaning — purple as in the color of kings! — I’m in for great treasure, a kingly reward, or, since king’s also mete out harsh punishments, maybe I’m just in for it... A bounteous wind lifts the Swallow, but could I swallow a harsh fate?

This lovely bird flies freely, without a thought, but I have to remain grounded and testify of the significance of such a sight. Because you never can tell in these modern times, there’s many a youngster without the lore, know-nothings unfamiliar with the facts of life beyond their own narrow rutting habitat. As I think back, yes, there was a time when I myself, callow and barely cowled, was unfamiliar with basic life facts. Then my nearest of kin stepped in and brought me up to speed.

When your eyes are opened, that’s when you can see. As I did that gladsome day when I saw my first Purple-Breasted Yellow-Eyed Split-Tailed Swallow. They filled me in on the significance, which I never fore got till then. But till today I hadn’t seen one in so many years, I haven’t even been thinking of it. Of course sometimes I wish for it, but hoping isn’t happening, till, up it jumps, it dashes, it turns tail and impresses me deeply. You know I’m forever a seeker, seeking omens, checking my Tarot, watching the chakras in spin, and even looking at life cross-eyed — or with one eye closed — I buy reading glasses and immediately take one lens out — I’ve found it the best way to narrow my gaze to truly see. Then it happens and I have to wonder, are Purple-Breasted Yellow-Eyed Split-Tailed Swallows everywhere, but I only see them when they’re definitely out of mind?

Like today! I wasn’t thinking of them, and there it was, jumping up from the ditch, managing to keep its place on the driver’s side, where I could see it so clearly. Indicating 100 percent, the vision was for me! The beauty of this omniscient little creature waiting till just that precise second to bound out, when I was a mere 20 feet from it, is significant beyond anything else that’s happened lately. My heart’s racing, my breath is elevated. I haven’t had my innards tickled so dramatically since my first taste of Mountain Dew, then later when losing my virginity. I’ve seen the promised land in this brief flight of the spirit bird, being gypped thus phar but no more.

Watch for them! They’re always there when a major life change is coming! That’s what I’ve heard. I remember seeing one when I was a kid, without the faintest idea of any of this, and we later moved. So hard, but it led to good things. I was a third grade dropout! True. But when we moved I joined a different third grade. In that case, though, the Purple-Breasted Yellow-Eyed Split-Tailed Swallow sighting was just a few months before.

The next time I saw the Purple-Breasted Yellow-Eyed Split-Tailed Swallow was about the time of puberty, when it’s supposed to start. I was a late bloomer, OK? I’m not ashamed to admit it now, but back then I tried my best to shrink from sight around other boys and girls in the dressing room. O for those days of innocence now! I would’ve proudly strutted my stuff, but till the Swallow reappeared, I felt shame. Then I saw it and POOF! Just that fast, I had the pubic bush like everyone else! Not overnight, folks, the same damned day! My dad was glad, but said to be careful not to catch that tangle in a zipper. Man to man, he said it hurts like hell.

I mentioned losing my virginity. Please understand, my prospects weren’t great. I looked at the girlie magazines they had back then like everyone else. My cousins informed me of the various goings-on down there, I clipped photos, etc. I got in major trouble in 9th grade when I had some of the innocent girlie pictures — back then you didn’t know if they’d experienced a POOF like me; those things couldn’t be shown. I asked my cousins why that was, and the true answer we came up with was, “Must be something wrong with ‘em down there.” Anyway, I had the pictures and this nasty teacher came up behind me and busted me. My mother had to come in the next day and vouch for me, “He’s a growing boy, has a natural curiosity,” etc. The only thing she was mad about was I didn’t tell her about seeing the bird the day before. I never wanted to disappoint her, so her words were a bitter pill to swallow.

Then came the virginity thing a while later; sorry I got ahead of myself. Up popped the Purple-Breasted Yellow-Eyed Split-Tailed Swallow, and that same day I was in the hardware store and told the guy I needed a good screw. He fixed me up with his sister, also. She had one of the local shabby apartments, top floor. The floors were weak, the walls were mildewed, parts of the ceiling were literally hanging down. I looked pretty good to her and she to me. I didn’t tell her what we owed the tryst to — having read the bird’s omen — she just laid back and enjoyed that beautiful minute of paradise, once I became fully aware of the geography of the female physique. It reminded me of the slip n’ slide mat the other kids had, very smooth. My mom wouldn’t let me have one because of her fear of discarded razor blades possibly on the lawn. The rest of my time with Monique was without dreadful consequences, despite the Freudian possibilities of her haven of best becoming life’s worst gaping maw.

Those were such major times, I’ll leave it at that. The other times can be summarized by various moves, job changes, and starting this blog.

Now, though, today — literally within the last 20 minutes — the Purple-Breasted, Yellow-Eyed Split-Tail Swallow jumped up again, one of the closest I’ve ever seen. Meaning....? What DID it mean? I’m 65, in excellent health... Do you suppose — I hate to think about it — that I’m going to die? What else comes next? I don’t know what comes next for me. The other times I saw the birds it was generally for good. But there’s no telling what it could be, except it’ll be something. It could be I’ll be leaving soon, although I’m supposed to live till 85...

But whether 65 or 85, there’s no real difference. I was perfectly content not being present for the first 15 billion years of the Universe, I’ll probably be fine whatever the afterlife is or isn’t. I’ll just enjoy my days here, however many there are. Which might be the message of the bird for me this time. Nothing major happening till I see the off ramp. And there it’ll be, The Purple-Breasted, Yellow-Eyed Split-Tail Swallow, jumping up from the weeds! So enjoy yourself, read, write, listen to music, walk, talk, go half-crazy now and then. Be happy and die with contentment.

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Graffiti of Quick Draw McFiti

What would you think if I turned out to be local graffiti sensation (or to some spoilsports and haters of the arts, scourge) Quick Draw McFiti? What a surprise that’d be!

Interesting question, huh? You’re probably wondering why I asked. No reason, heh heh, just throwing it out there as a rhetorical question to muse on, let’s say. But, really, what would you think? I can well imagine how the run of the mill folks would take it. For the non-artistic among us, I’m sure so many of them would curse my name and feel that I should be brought to justice at long last. Then we'd have the other end of the spectrum, art lovers and fellow artists, who would be either very happy that the mystery was at long last solved or happy the authorities were getting me off the street, out of jealousy, or even because they're sticks in the mud.

It’s the last crowd that makes me sickest, frankly. To be the object of envy, or to put it more charitably, misunderstood in whatever artistic pursuit you choose, then vilified, is no good. It totally brings me down to contemplate that response, but of course everyone knows there’s lots of crumbs in life. Then there's the artsy-fartsies who think art isn't for the various walls around town, but for the museum. To them, I have a few things to say. The cleanliness of a wall is not worth stifling the artistic sensibilities of a person like Quick Draw McFiti -- Let's hear it for him! I’m not sure I can even forgive them, and people who know me always see in me a very forgiving person. I forgave that kid that sprayed "CRANK" on my outhouse.

But let’s set the naysayers aside; it’s dragging down my spirit. It’s the artistic-minded, the lovers of art, those who celebrate the spirit of the artist, that I celebrate. Whoever McFiti is, they may not care about that little detail as much, because they’re not looking to nab him or give him his comeuppance. Their thing, like I said, is to celebrate. You see a blank wall and you’re like, “Yeah, a blank wall.” But you see an artistic tour de force — and Quick Draw’s works are so often described with that term, if I do say so myself — you quickly shake off the doldrums and come alive.

I’m alive today and happy! Happy to see this arms-open-wide piece in the light of day. It looks better than I remember or even expected. For such a quick drawing. You just shake the can and cock it toward the wall and whisper a little prayer for guidance; there’s no UNDO button. It actually might be that detail alone that gives such quick abandon to McFiti’s stuff. Which I thoroughly resonate with. My thinking's precisely the same. Whatever you have in your heart and mind, put it down quickly, then let it be. The truest art simply flows.

Anyway, as to the details of this particular piece: It’s exactly something that’s in my own heart, continually. The prophet appears, like Isaiah or Jeremiah or Elijah*. They’re known for extended prophecies that welled up and overflowed from their heart. But the key to their power was their giving-over to the Spirit. Few edits, little self-consciousness; this was something bigger than themselves, and quicker. Like Quick Draw McFiti! Who has a similar message: The prophet throws his hands up and proclaims, “THOU SHALT.” A great positive message!

I’ve had that very thought in my own heart for a while, and how good it is to see it finally on full display. You don’t know how proud I am, and yet I’m only the conduit for a greater power; if we don’t personify it, we could merely call it The Power of Life! Elan, Energy, Elixir!

Draw on, mysterious Quick Draw McFiti, you’re doing our sad old world a great deal of good.

*Time would fail me to tell of Anna Phanuel.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

An Impotent Man

I remember a good joke from when I was a kid: “Were there any impotent men born in your town?” And the answer, “No, just little babies.” That puzzled me at the time, not knowing words and what they meant. So I ran it by my mom, who was always good at sugarcoating things, making them age-appropriate. “Mom, what’s an impotent man?” She frowned and said, “Someone who keeps to himself.”

That’s such a good answer, now that I’m basically impotent myself. In general, I keep to myself. I figure, Who am I anyway? Just another brick in the wall. Just another drop in the bucket. What’s the difference? And I love how she kept it on the innocent side. Because since then I’ve grown up and learned that there’s another meaning to impotent, and probably what she was hinting at with the ‘keeping to himself’ definition.

Still, ‘keeping to himself’ is a pretty good definition. He’s all sad sack, hang dog, long in the face and nowhere else. He’s got a couple dried up raisins lacking savor and flavor. Let’s say. Maybe he dreamt of deserts too much, vast spreads of sand and little else. Or maybe he worried about the humidity too much, kept the dehumidifier on, and now is all dried out. Which could be part of my problem. I’ve been running the dehumidifier constantly, and it looks like it caught up with me. You put a pot of stew on the back burner to keep it warm, pretty soon the stew’s gone and the pan's dry and crusty.

Naturally I’m going to keep to myself, not go out. When you’re impotent, what’s the point of catting around? You’re content to sit at home and watch C-SPAN, old school C-SPAN, not the interview shows, just the one-camera panning an empty Capitol building except for one lone filibusterer. I used to bust a few fillies, at least in my dreams. Now it’s only my eyes that are big as saucers, looking at this Republican wash-out, keeping to himself, impotent like me in every respect.

The great avatar of dried up men everywhere — although now 99% forgotten, fittingly — is the singer Yogi Yorgesson. He’s well-known for the Christmas record “Yingle Bells.” But it's his impotency song “All Pooped Out” I’m thinking of today. Back in his younger days he used "to give the girls the eye, now I only want another piece of pie." Once upon a time he used to “yump and shout,” now he dreams of pigs’ feet because he’s all pooped out. My mom used to buy pickled pigs feet, but I haven’t had any since; think I'll buy some.

So what’s my trouble with impotency? Good question. Mostly age, no doubt. They used to tell me, “Ahh, sonny, get out there and sow your wild oats!” This was the old guys at the barber shop. “'Cause one of these days you’ll be like me!” I’d look at him and not know what he meant. White hair? Needing assistance to his car? Something more? I didn’t know the facts of life. Now I know. He wasn’t put out to stud. He was put out to stood, as in was stood in the corner all alone. And loathing it.

But being impotent isn’t so bad, guys. I kind of like it. No more filthy lucre, as in I’m not even looking anymore. What’s the use, who cares? No more throwing pebbles at girls’ windows and hoping they’ll shimmy down the ladder I propped up. There’s no more shimmy, no propping up. No more sending flowers anonymously, then dropping hints of who might’ve sent them. The flow-er’s kaput, no more anonymess, the only thing dropping is the pp, and that’s a bare prickle. No more big testes, but quizzes still flow easily.

I have all kinds of time on my hands, folks. I mean, what else would I be holding? Just a ticking timepiece, the only piece I need, keeping track of my pathetic days, counting the seconds till the rest of me shrivels and fades away. Put me on a burning dingy and set me afloat; that’ll be the only dingy that hasn’t sunk hopelessly out of sight.