Friday, December 20, 2013
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2
The house is quiet. The hectic pace is fading. The cascade of catalogues is easing into digital solicitations. Christmas is nigh.
The cell vibrates. The Smithfield Ham Co. emails, “Last chance to get your smoked pig.” Following closely is Hewlett-Packard’s print cartridge supplication, “Act Today!” My delete button acts.
Through the window sunbeams cast shards of sunset refractions on a bloated bunch of bills. My, what good tidings they proclaim! I imagine them bursting spontaneously into flames. I think, now that’s real comfort and joy. Unfortunately, they’re evidence of a shopper out of control.
I contemplate how the concept of ‘good tidings of comfort and joy’ might appear in reality. I wonder. Star-gazing shepherds once wondered, too. But I get nowhere. The subconscious resurrects a poem by T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men. He mused, “Between the Idea and the Reality falls the Shadow.” I think of a parallel universe.
A few days remain until the Idea becomes this year’s Reality. Many are falling into the Shadow of manic last-minute shoppers, those who are succumbing to the eleventh-hour urgency to spend themselves into poverty. Is this the essence of Christmas?
At lunch I overhear a man tell his wife, “OK, here’s my last $30…see how far it’ll take us.” She grabs the money, leaps from the table and exclaims, “I’ll be at Wal-Mart.” He looks nauseous and stares at his uneaten chicken. Is he thinking ‘good tidings of comfort and joy?’ I think not.
In our haste, the essence of Christmas becomes vague. Bound by tradition, consumed by commercialism, we rush about in the Shadow of preparation. We ignore the deeper aspects of the Christmas season which ‘good tidings of comfort and joy’ proclaim. Is this concept plausible?
I try, but the secret of this Scriptural concept of comfort and joy eludes me. It falls into multiple shadows within the Shadow. It’s a ghost. I can’t grasp it. I let go, wondering if it will find me.
Last year we showed some restraint and purchased a 5-foot Christmas tree. We sat it atop a long, tall table. It appeared from outside to be tall, but in reality it was small. It was an easier set-up than the gigantic ones. Plus, it was a pleasure to decorate. Ah, Yes, finally some comfort and joy. Lighting it was easy. No spousal disagreements. More comfort and joy. It appeared as one single lighted evergreen, glowing resplendently in the darkness. Our best tree yet, we agreed…comfort and joy.
Today I crawl out of bed at 5:00 AM. There are few distractions in the strong, silent hours of the early morning. Even the dogs remain asleep. With a cup of coffee, I sit surrounded in total darkness, except for the lighted Christmas tree. Thoughts of thanksgiving circulate in my mind, remembrances of friends, of family Christmases, blessings of life, of comfort and joy. Wait…has it finally found me?
Christmas has many points of light. When frenetic activity ceases, then we can focus on the points of light that best represent the essence of Christmas to each of us. Sitting in the comfort of home, the Essence becomes less the Shadow and more the Reality. The bones of the concept of comfort and joy take on flesh and come to life.
In five days Christmas will dawn. The Idea will again become the Reality, and the Shadow will fade into the Light of a new day. But Christmas Reality is just the birth of another Idea that awaits its own Reality. The miracle of Scripture, “…and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” will live again.
Today, as the sunrise drives back the darkness, the house becomes alive again. I remember the verse, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Comfort and joy? Simply ours for the receiving! Perhaps it’s fitting that we boldly join with the ‘merry gentlemen of yore’ as they sing, “O, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O, tidings of comfort and joy.”
Merry Christmas to all.
December 20, 2013
Thursday, December 12, 2013
“Some say, ‘Seeing is Believing’…but I say, ‘Believing is Seeing.’”
Dewitt Jones, Photographer, National Geographic Magazine
December 12, 2013
Where do I begin? It’s been a long time since I wrote to you. It was 1950. I was 8 years old. I accused you of being fat, a fraud, a trickster, running a nefarious scheme and working illegal immigrant elves without green cards. I was dumb then.
My apology may seem hollow…what can I plead? Guilty by reason of insanity? You’ve heard all that. Besides, I know you’re busy. So many requests, so little time. But, trust me, I’m concerned about global warming. Are your headquarters really melting? We’re spending enormous sums to keep you in business.
I’m nostalgic when remembering the letters I sent. My brother and I tried to figure out how you could make those toys and deliver them all on one night in a sled. Our house had no chimney. How did you get in? Obviously somehow, since the milk and cookies were always missing in the morning.
I remember the letter about the red bike. How did you get it into the house? Yet, there it was. I believed in those days, because seeing is believing to a child. I can’t recall everything I asked for, especially clothes. Somehow you knew my exact size. They always fit.
Do you remember the tiny trucks, tractors and cars you once left? Crawling in the grit of our back yard, we became engineers and road builders . We constructed small freeways, built small stick cities. We fantasized being travelers, visiting places of intrigue far beyond our small hick town. Guess what? It came to pass. You knew it would, didn’t you?
Remember the Daisy lever-action BB rifles you gave us? The toy soldiers? We became warriors, real and imagined. Once we played ‘real’ army, drew sides, fought battles. Our parents took us to the woodshed for that.
Remember those ‘harmless’ pea shooters? Listen, small boys can fashion anything into some kind of a weapon. We amused ourselves in the movie theater until the owner began to bodily search us and confiscate our artillery.
Oh, the chemistry sets! The house reeked of sulfur for weeks. How ‘bout the erector kits? Parts were sucked up by the vacuum, causing great consternation with Mama. We became Monopoly tycoons. We still pretend to be. Unfortunately your model airplanes were shoddy. They never lasted long. Neither did my pilot’s license.
The fireworks were the best. Thanks for trusting us…no directions, no warnings, no rules. We were small-town terrorists. Everything was fair game…cherry bombs exploded, empty cans soared, mailboxes ripped apart. Fence posts were shattered. TNT bombs rocked passing cars. Roman candles set the sedge field behind our house on fire. Worse than the whipping we got, our bamboo fort burned to the ground.
But we have missed you. Age has enlightened us about the mystique of Christmas. It’s a time of great expectation, of anticipation, and of surprises…and endless discussions of who you are and how you always know everything.
We were told that “believing is receiving.” Somehow, in spite of our doubt, it all came to pass. Santa, we need a renewal of that spirit!
The years passed. We grew up and moved on. Our toys got bigger. We forgot about you, but thankfully you didn’t forget about us. So, belatedly I write to thank you for your faithfulness. While we still don’t totally understand it, yet we believe it… faith may be the miracle of Christmas.
Soon children , young and old, will attempt to resolve the enigma of Christmas… “Seeing is Believing, or Believing is Seeing?” Convince us again, Santa…and keep eatin’ the cookies!
PS: This may be a strange question, but are you related to Jesus? Just wondering.
Friday, December 6, 2013
It’s happening again...the hot breath of Christmas breathes down our necks like fire. Tempers get testy. Time eats up our hours faster than a politician asking for money. The plague of not- enough cash consumes our checkbooks. Visa elves work overtime. Platoons of catalogs clog our mail boxes. So many choices…who can decide? The hot breath blows.
It starts around late September. This year I hear a miniature Rudolph singing its tune, testing the waters in Walgreens. It winks at me. I detect a tiny camera implanted in its eye, ostensibly there to record my response. Spy cameras are everywhere. No one’s safe. Be careful of where you scratch yourself.
I chew the sugar out of some Dentyne and stick a wad over the lens. Alarms go off. A little fat man runs out. It’s his job to monitor the effectiveness of Rudolf. Marketing schemes now use spyware. Your money’s not safe. If not the shylocks, it’s inflation. You can’t win.
This year they’re using external stimuli to incite cravings. Potpourri with hot chocolate scents tease our noses. Willie Wonka lives on. Marshmallow Santas with big grins stand erect, reminding us of holiday cheer.
Cheer? Did I just write that? No, it’s ‘Holiday Assault.’ The music, the music. In stores it blasts holes in our brains. How long will Jingle Bells be inflicted upon us in 81 degree weather? The hot breath blows.
The Politically Correct Police are active again this year. They’re posing as Obamacare ‘negotiators,’ enforcing the nomenclature of Christmas. We must refer to it as ‘holiday.’ Religious references now violate civil rights. Punishment is harsh, administered without protection of habeas corpus.
Violators are chained, herded into dank rail boxcars and shipped off to hard-labor camps in the cotton-patch gulag near Vidalia. Blaring holiday music brainwashes the perpetuators. It’s heavy on Elvis’ Blue Christmas and Burl Ives’ Holly Jolly Christmas. All allusions to religious icons must be renounced. To be released one must recite perfectly from memory one hundred times, “T’was the Night Before Christmas.”
It wasn’t always this way. Before the advent of Amazon.com, Christmas was pleasant. We were innocent then. We actually believed in a jolly fat man with a white beard called Santa Claus who lived at the North Pole. Also, that he rewarded good little boys and girls. Recently I discovered a letter written to him when I was eight. My mother had saved it. It may be a clue to why Santa shorted me on some items:
“Dear Santy, I am a good boy. I brush my teeth today. I wash my feet. I eat my spinach. Now, bring me a bike so I can leave home and a BB gun so I can shoot my friend Billy. And forget my little brother. He is stupid. Signed, your friend. PS, you are fat, so don’t eat all the cookies.” (The hot breath of Christmas scorched me that year!)
Those were the days. We had real Christmas trees of reasonable size, not the flocked, store-bought ones. We decorated them with lights that had colored bubbles going up and down. They still mesmerize me.
Over time tradition changed…bigger got better. We bought fourteen foot trees. They took a week to decorate and even longer to dispose of. Truck-loads of presents looked miniscule beneath them.
Alas, like our parents, we get older, and the trees get smaller until they sit on coffee tables by the fire place. Scattered underneath are now bags of nuts—brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans and others of unknown origin dating from the Indian pogroms of the 19th century.
Shopping has changed, too. Online beats fighting the mall frenzy. But it lacks the spectacle of people-watching. One evening a couple of years ago I walked out of Neiman’s in an Atlanta mall. A lingerie shop was next door. A crowd of old men clutching small bags were gathered in front of the plate glass windows. I stopped to observe.
The clerks were changing out the female manikins with lacey unmentionables. Heavy breathing hummed to the mall music of Joy to the World. The crowd grew. The energy was intense. I think I know what their letters to Santa might have said. And I’m sure they were disappointed! Sometimes the hot breath of Christmas blows cold!
This year I’m giving my wife a gift that keeps on giving…a life-sized bust of me, carved from an ancient cypress log by a boy in Hoboken. It should be a real scorcher!
December 6, 2013
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Scripture records in Hebrews 11:4 that Able offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. By faith he had respect unto the recompense of the reward of grace. The closing words, “…and by it he being dead yet speaketh,” serve to remind us that we are inheritors of the sacrifices of others.
The year was 1620. Winter. Dutch Pilgrims sailed from Delfshaven across the turbulent, unpredictable Atlantic seeking a new home. Hope and fear were their companions. Clues of what lay ahead were scarce. They only knew what lay behind. In faith they replaced what was for the greater hope of what might be.
William Bradford of Plymouth Colony recorded in sparse, but profound detail the essence of this journey. The fair land so hoped for was in fact a desolate wasteland, teeming with wild men and beasts. Reality must have been a shock.
What would their anxious eyes have said to their expectant hearts as they gazed upon miles of rocky coastal escarpments? Certainly nothing like their mental pictures of a land flowing with milk and honey.
Perhaps they pictured the lands as a palm-tree paradise. Imagine their shock in the frosty chill while standing upon the deck of that schooner. Surely backward glances were made.
From the courage, perseverance and survival instincts of these and other hearty strangers, America was carved from this wilderness. Their voices still speak and define the tradition of Thanksgiving.
Some wonder if the tradition of Thanksgiving is losing its meaning. Is it becoming a mundane ‘must-do’ annual pilgrimage, a holiday for entertainment and shopping extravaganzas? Has the ease of life replaced the risks and perils that crafted the occasion? There’s more to Thanksgiving than this.
The mystical and eternal spirit of connectedness is at the core of Thanksgiving. It nurtures a short respite from the harsh realities and vicissitudes of life. We reconnect as we revisit homeplaces, mingle with family and friends and remember the Source of all blessings.
John is a friend. He’s recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. He has embarked from his own bleak land of darkness into a world of hope and the promise of a better life. John is, in a sense, a pilgrim. He’s committed to the cost of obtaining and maintaining a new life.
Recently he decided to plant an organic garden. We surveyed the barren backyard and chose a sunny spot. It was a 10 foot square of hardpan soil, strewn with weeds. It had grown fallow from non-use. Not big, but big enough to begin a new life. It lit a spark in John’s eyes.
He worked the ground faithfully. He tilled, raked, ashed, composted, fertilized and watered that small plot of sorry soil. He built raised rows and planted kale, celery, cabbage and winter lettuce. About ten days later he sent me a picture. Emerging from that once worthless plot of dirt were abundant green shoots of new life.
We consecrated that patch of ground, John’s Garden. It reminds me that the richness of America is not born totally from our country’s bountiful resources, but in the men and women who have taken the abundance from it through hard work, struggle and sacrifice.
We join with the pilgrims of Leyden, standing on the edge of tomorrow and nurturing our hopes and dreams. Though huge risks have been quantified, often eliminated, the world remains a violent and unforgiving frontier. As it is with all pilgrims, so must we be resolute in our goals for a better life…for a mightier hope abolishes despair.
Life always comes calling. It lays things in our lap to see what we’ll do with them. Sooner or later it returns to check on our progress. Will it find us faithfully tending the gardens we have been given?
On October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday:
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come….”
What sacrifices are we making that future generations could say, “…and by them they being dead yet speak?”
May God continue to bless America on this Thanksgiving, 2013.
November 26, 2013
Illustration courtesy of Leslie Hearn
Friday, November 22, 2013
Dinner parties are usually small, often exquisite. The guest lists typically include only the socially elite, an odd assortment of discriminating gourmands, upper crust oenophiles and learned world travelers. Bob probably wondered why he was invited.
The invitation was engraved. The embossing might have reminded Bob of some bath towels he once bought from Sears. He must have asked himself, Why me? Hack journalists don’t hobnob with the highbrow upper crust crowd. He apparently shook off the inhibition and showed up.
A lovely evening, guests always say. The word gets a prolific workout from the wellborn. Perfect for all events. It means everything in general, but nothing in particular. It seems to be the disguise of choice. It mingles with departing hugs, sideways, of course, air kisses and back pats. Dinner parties can be strange. They swirl in rarified air.
All lovely dinners demand a formal thank you note. It’s not wise to hastily synthesize the experience. It’s best to delay a day, let the details distill into the essence of the evening. Then write. Bob obviously ignored this advice. His note will not meet the standard for inclusion in the primer for Life Among Southern Gentry.
Marvin and Sue, dear friends, November 18, 2013
Your dinner party was a smashing success. Thank you for including me. It was a lovely evening. From the moment I entered, I could see the welcome surprise on the faces of your guests and yourselves. Please don’t even think about apologizing for your dog mistaking my leg for something else vertical. It often happens. I’m sure the cleaners can eliminate the stench.
I regret not wearing a jacket, but frankly, I thought the black silk Tommy Bahama shirt with the pink flamingos would be a hit. It coordinated well with your loan of the brilliant yellow blazer.
The hors de oeuvres on silver platters were scrumptious. Real class. It reminded me of my aunt’s tenth wedding. Her pigs-in-a-blanket were just as big a hit as your fish eggs, at a fraction of the cost. But your champagne was definitely superior to her Ballatore Spumante at five bucks a bottle.
Place settings confuse me. Especially silverware. Why do place settings require more than a knife, fork and spoon? Whatever. But, thank you, Sue, for helping me to segue through the sixteen pieces of silverware surrounding my plate. I noticed that your initials were engraved on each piece. Clever. Cuts down on pilfering.
Marvin, excellent choice of wine. Delicious is a cheap word…it was divine, purely ambrosial. A strange label, written in some foreign language. Something like Henri Jayer Richebourg Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits France. Your butler, Roland, was in a bit of a snit. I think I offended him. He kept coming to fill up my glass. I told him to just put the bottle on the table, I’d pour my own. Is he on a quota system?
Sue, your flower arrangements were absolutely elegant. They were an incredible artistic design of dandelions. Imagine, a common weed. Splendid.
Thanks to Lamar, I wasn’t the only one eating those luscious lamb chops with my fingers. I recall reading once that it’s against the law in Georgia to eat lamb chops with anything but your fingers. Is that true? I was a bit surprised Heinz was not served. I‘ve never eaten meat without ketchup.
The finger bowls and lemon wedges on the white doilies arrived just in time. I would have hated to soil the linen napkin with more au jus of chops. I think the last time I used a finger bowl was at the White Star prom dinner in the Sigma Nu frat house. I dipped a biscuit in it.
Sue, I just adored the colorful coffee demitasse. So French. But the handles are quite small. I’m sorry it slipped from my hand and ruined Marvin’s yellow blazer. Fortunately, it didn’t soak the half-smoked stogie I discovered in the pocket. Please forgive me for lighting it at the table and setting off the alarm. It was a case of bad judgment.
Thank you again for including me in your lavish affair. It was lovely. And please let me clear up a slight confusion. I’m not runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize as I thought. It’s for the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes drawing. I hope this inadvertent oversight won’t spoil our friendship.
Yours, fondly and with affection,
PS: One thing still bothers me, though. Where did you hide the sterling toothpicks?
November 22, 2013
Friday, November 15, 2013
Some actually believe if it weren’t for mules, men would be the dumbest creatures on the planet. Hearing and comprehension don’t equate. Yesterday proved the position of my lowly estate.
It was like this, see. I come home, stagger through the door, beat up from another onslaught of the details of life. I need TLC, some hints of marital bliss, a reprieve from the war dogs of the world.
“Hey, I’m home.” Silence greets me. I repeat, “Uh, helloooo, the Pack Leader is home.” My wife’s voice answers from the bedroom, “Oh, you sweet boy, how are you feeling?”
“Exhausted. You should hear what I’ve been through today,” I shout.
“You poor darling. Maybe you’ll feel better if you take a nap.” Her voice drips with affection. All men should have wives that are so caring, I think. I pour myself a stiff single malt, two fingers, two ice cubes and a splash. I plop down, prop up my feet and pick up the newspaper.
She speaks. “How ‘bout we take a walk on the beach. Maybe you’ll feel better. Besides, I always enjoy showing you off,” she says. I ignore the suggestion; mutter incoherently something about the state of politics and the idiots in DC.
“Would you like me to tickle your tummy?” she says with a sexy sigh that would melt steel. Tickle my tummy? Hmmmm. I lay down the paper, wondering what she’s been up to. Unusual behavior. Probably bought jewelry, I conclude. And it’s not even dark. Tummy tickling is a nocturnal sport.
“No?” she asks. “How about I run a nice hot tub and bathe you. Would you like that?” Things are looking up already. I’m a lucky guy. What a wife!
“Ok, if not that, why don’t you just put your head on my soft pillow. Oh, I bought you a surprise today,” she says.
I answer, “I hope it’s edible. I’m starving.” It’s so nice to have a wife who thinks about my needs. I take another sip of scotch.
“Precious, were you a good boy today? Did you do all your business?” What’s with her, I wonder. What does she think I do when I go to work? “Yes, I did all my business today, thank you. Why?” I answer.
“Well, sweetie, you seem so tired and irritable. Have you been playing with that cutie up on 37th Street again?”
What, the 37th Street cutie? What does she suspect? Ok, so I know her, but she’s not really what you’d call a cutie. Besides, she’s not my type anyway. Somebody’s spreading lies. I defend myself, “NO, baby, I was at the office all day. Ask my staff. I’ve been a good boy.”
“Maybe you’d like to invite her over this weekend. We could all three play some fun games, get to know her better,” she says. She’s baiting me, I know. Something’s going on. I need to find out what.
“How’s your little leg today, my big boy?” she asks. How thoughtful, she remembers I have bursitis in my hip. “Gonna live,” I say. I don’t know what’s come over her, but I approve.
“Listen, my sweet angel, I really wish you’d be more careful about the accidents you’re having around the house lately. Do you need to visit the doctor? I’m tired of having to clean up after you,” she says in a slightly menacing tone.
I reply in a weak, defensive voice, “I’m sorry, baby. I forgot to tighten the lid on the cranberry juice when I shook it. I’ll scrub the red polka dots off the wall tonight, I promise.”
“Oh, I forgive you, sweet darling. You’re a male. Accidents happen. Besides, I like the way you lick my ears. I know you love me when you do that.”
Ah, things are heating up. “Keep up that sweet talk, baby, I’m feeling frisky already,” I say. I can’t figure what’s gotten into her, but whatever it is, I’m excited about the possibilities.
I’m a man of action. I pitch the paper, grab my violin and head towards the sweet voice in the bedroom. I’m thinking music and romance.
After the shock, we had a big laugh. And now I wonder: What if all our relationships were laced with doggie talk…imagine the possibilities!
November 15, 2013
Illustration courtesy of Leslie Hearn
Friday, November 8, 2013
It’s a strange scene. An office conference table, a Bull named Gordo and a Skeleton named Lazarus. They’re politicians.
Gordo’s on a diet. Lazarus needs a resurrection. They can’t agree on things. They get close, yet remain far apart. They work on a modus vivendi, an agreement to reconcile two opposing parties. Entrenchment makes consensus difficult.
But what can be expected from polarization of ideology? They read their respective newspapers. For Gordo, it’s the New York Times. For Lazarus, it’s the Wall Street Journal. Political party affiliations? Guess.
Their tete-a-tete goes something like this:
Lazarus: Here we are, looking for answers for Beltway’s travails.
Gordo: Better here than hanging like an ornament on a lawyer’s wall.
Lazarus: (laughing) Yeah, politics beats my old real estate job.
Gordo: Who are you anyway?
Lazarus: I’m a metaphor. Right-wing Conservative. You?
Gordo: I’m a symbol. A Progressive, just fat and happy. Like lawyers.
Lazarus: That’s part of our problem. That, and money.
Gordo: (thinking) Huh?
Lazarus: You know, fat and happy. Money does that. Where’ve you been?
Gordo: Hanging around the feed lot….eating. Rich lobbyists, you know. No boring job. Everything’s free. Government trucks back up, fill the troughs. Food stamps, disability, unemployment insurance, stuff like that. Got it made.
Lazarus: No free lunch, Bullhead. Somebody pays.
Gordo: (glances at the NYT’s) Says here our party won. Says yours lost. Maybe you pay? More taxes, right? We don’t pay taxes. We’re winners. You’re losers. Losers pay. (He burps)
Lazarus: (opens his palms, attempts to reason) Yellow journalism. Look, do you know why I’m skinny? I’ll tell you. Conservatives diet, work hard, have tea parties and tithe. OK, so I did have to eat my own flesh to survive for the last six years. We’re not on the public dole like you. God’s on our side.
Gordo: This is politics, Scrawny, God doesn’t take sides. We shook down Wall Street. The Golden Checkbook is ours now. We’re even milking the scapegoat. Anyway, this newspaper suggests the President is God.
Lazarus: (Laughs) You stupid bovine, he just talks. Don’tcha know, sometimes mud gives the illusion of depth? Remember, when smashing monuments, save the pedestals—they always come in handy. Anyway, I’m gonna leave it all behind when I’m resurrected. (He shouts “Amen.” A slight applause echoes in the distance)
Gordo: (yawns) You should eat more protein, Bonehead. And lay off the hallucinatory supplements.
Lazarus: (pops his knuckles, his bones creak) My paper says Bigears is a socialist. He’s hanging himself with words, all these promises about cheap insurance, “no matter what.” Didn’t Lord Chesterfield say, “Cunning is the dark sanctuary of incapacity?”
Gordo: Have you forgotten, “WMD, Mission Accomplished?” That was your man Bush. Say, are you still at war with women?
Lazarus: (irritated) Man, that’s a myth. Just a small rift between some disgruntled pro-lifers and a few women’s righters, both nutcases, stirring up the Pope. Got him fired. The Press is incendiary.
(They take a breather. A calm descends)
Gordo: (now inspired, waxes academic, and changes the discussion to platitudes) Skinnyman, did you know that in a war of ideas it is the people who get killed?
Lazarus: Interesting, Bloathead. It’s a nightmare—too many ideas floating around, Twitters, bloggers, pundits. Reminds me of fleas on the necks of giraffes…from that height they begin to believe in immortality.
Gordo: Look, Thinman, did you know the first condition of immortality is death?
Lazarus: Good one, Fatso. You climbed pretty high to reach that deep thought. I think I’m beginning to like you, even if you are on the other side of the aisle.
Gordo: Yeah. We’re not that different, you and me. Can we be friends? I don’t want to have to cross heaven’s Streets of Gold when I see you coming.
Lazarus: Oh, sometimes I wish we could sleep off death on the installment plan. I love Washington.
Gordo: Man, let’s don’t talk about death. We’re too important. I don’t know about you, but I prefer signs that say NO ENTRY to those that say NO EXIT.
Lazarus: That makes me think about freedom. To whom should we marry freedom in order to make it multiply? (His demeanor becomes self-congratulatory)
Gordo: (Ponders the conundrum, them speaks) How about we include the letter of the law in the alphabet? (Conceit shows on his face)
Lazarus: You sound like a prophet. Remember, even the Prophet’s beard can be shaved. What will he hide behind then?
And so it goes, this aphoristic engagement.
Gordo: Let’s not leave until we agree on at least one thing.
Lazarus: OK. How about this: “Women will probably be the last animal civilized by man.”
Uh oh, Lazarus drops a loaded bomb. An eerie quiet pervades the room. There’s always a brief silence before an explosion is heard!
November 8, 2013
Note: Lest I should be accused of plagiarism, I wish to thank some of the great aphorists for the loan of their wit, including Geo. Meredith, Lord Chesterfield, Oscar Wilde, Ogden Nash, Stanislaw Lec and a few others I can’t recall.
Friday, November 1, 2013
These two icons of American life have something in common. One’s on the environmentalist’s endangered species list and the other is deep-sixed. Is there a correlation?
Change is coming so fast we don’t even like to look in the mirror. We have a love-hate relationship with it. Things become obsolete, compost for landfills. Survivors are recycled as art.
E-bay sells old Sears catalogs. The 1909 catalog of 1,100 pages was a pricy $99.00…expensive paper that was once outhouse wipes. Outside privies are now pop art. The $359 Amish model is a perfect conversation piece for any front yard.
Art is a relative term. Like clean, it’s a matter of personal taste. Things are born to die. Humans are creative with that concept…money can be made even on dead things.
Obsolescence and technology…a correlation? Look around…what hasn’t changed? Some changes slip up on us; others smack us in the face. The past never dies. We recycle, repackage and resell everything. Novelty is ephemeral. We frantically search for the next new thing.
Cell phones were once mobile phones. I had an ‘attaché’ phone. It was tucked away in a briefcase. It impressed people. Impression is a big deal to 20-year old upstarts. But after hippies and double knits, attitudes changed. Externals lost their luster with the old crowd’s attitude of ‘who-gives-a-rip.’
I got tired of toting the briefcase so I bought a black ‘car’ phone. It was the size of a basketball. It bolted to the floorboard of my car, smack between the bench seats. You remember bench seats, right? A lot of ‘accidents’ occurred on bench seats. Especially at night in pickups.
Mothers of high school girls helped develop technology that took all the fun out of drive-in movies. Bench seats were ripped out and replaced with bucket seats and Berlin Wall consoles. It resulted in the death of outdoor theaters. Change morphed to Netflix and sofas. Is there a correlation?
The first car phones were essentially mobile party lines. The world listened in, especially after midnight when tongues of tanked-up tycoons turned loose. While not quite as good as listening to “John R” or “Hoss” Allen on WLAC, Nashville, it was close. Today, party lines are replaced by NSA’s silent surveillance. Somebody’s always listening!
My father was into art…fishing art. Before he died we cleaned out the dusty tool shed. Ancient fishing rods, stiff as steel wire, hung limply from the walls.
“Daddy, get over to Walmart and replace this junk with graphite rods,” I told him. He told me back, “Son, rods don’t catch fish – fishermen do. It’s an art.”
After he died I found a tackle box full of old fishing lures kept from his youth. They were well-used and worn. I pawned them off on my nephew for a pittance. He later sold them as art for something approaching the price of a new boat. Art’s in the eye of the beholder, folks. I was blind.
Even nomenclature has changed. When did dinner become lunch, or supper become dinner? Or beauty parlors become salons? What’s happened to stamp lickin’, cotton pickin’ and pea shellin’? Pocketbooks are now handbags. Life is confusing.
Barbers have become hair stylists, a horrible ending to a venerable profession. Crew cuts were once cool. Later, ‘butch’ cuts were the rave. Bald was an embarrassment old men disguised with ‘comb-overs.’ Now everything goes, except the nickname of ‘Butch.’ Totally uncool.
Who dials phones now? Voice recognition does. Nobody gets up to change the TV channels, all 5,000 of them. Remotes do that. Rabbit ears are replaced by cables and satellites.
Technology makes human interaction irrelevant. Smart phones and thumbs book airline tickets, pay Georgia Power or charge Church pledges on Visa. Where’s it all going? The sky’s the limit.
Human nature is never satisfied. The psyche embraces the future. We’re dreamers. The poet, Dylan Thomas, once wrote, “The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it’s when it tries to invent a heaven that it shows itself cloddish.”
Ah, a heaven. Maybe that’s what we’re after…and our hearts are restless until we attain it.
Dreaming transcends the boundaries of technology. Americans say, “We are free, so we can dream.” But perhaps it’s best said, “We dream, so we can be free.” Is there a correlation?
So long to Outhouses and Sears catalogs. I’m not looking back…you?
November 1, 2013
Friday, October 25, 2013
Discoveries are sometimes made with a simple slip of the tongue. It’s when words like, “That’s woman’s work,” slide off of men’s lips. This thesis was revealed to the Apostle Jimmy while he was camping out with his camel near the Dead Sea. He penned these words, “The tongue is a fire…and it is set on fire of hell.”
The tongue is a torch. It ignites. Sparks made of words fly off and often set on fire the course of nature. The tongue is an unruly evil. It’s impossible to tame, especially with men.
I learned this lesson the hard way. My tongue made me lie. I must have been five or six at the time. I had discovered some packets of what looked like candy. Like a dog, I ate anything. I remember exactly how the events unfolded.
“Son, what are you eating? Mama asked.
“Uh, candy grandmamma gave me,” I said. The lie just rolled off the tip of my tongue. I didn’t even have to think about it. There I stood, drooling. Five packs of empty Rolaids wrappers lay scattered about my feet. After a severe tongue-lashing and a switch-thrashing, I discovered the tongue was not my friend.
Tongues have a tendency to wag. They’re attached in our mouths but many lack connectivity to the brain. It seems to have been a flaw in the original design of humans. To date no discovery has been made that will resolve the glitch.
Tongues boast of great things. This is the main use of it among men. It becomes quite lively after infusions of firewater. The context of such wagging tends to be centered on exaggerated achievements concerning money, athletics and embellished exploits with women. Not necessarily in this order, and nothing believable!
Shakespeare made this discovery by accident after pulling an all-nighter. He passed it on by Polonius’ warning to Ophelia, “…(when) the blood burns, how prodigal the soul lends the tongue vows.” The tongue boasts more than it can back up, to be sure.
There are two favorite words that the tongue prefers to use for mischief: fat and age. Used in the presence of women, it’s a disaster of gigantic proportions. I have discovered this trigger more than once. I’ve coined a word, ‘fatage,’ as a reminder.
My friend Todd, is a noted PhD, a deep thinker. He forgot the power of the word ‘fatage.’ He once suggested to his wife, tongue-in-cheek, of course, “If you get fat I’m gonna leave you.” His tongue betrayed him. “Just kidding,” he said. So shallow is this apology it’s like trying to put out a house fire by spitting on it. Todd now lives alone in Ludowici, thinking about what went wrong.
Last September was the birthday of a famous equation: E = mc2. It simply states that a tiny bit of mass can yield enormous energy. In fact, the nuclear bomb that exploded over Nagasaki contained less than an ounce of plutonium. Einstein made this discovery by accident.
One evening he came home, frustrated from thinking. The equation had eluded him for days. He had a quick nip of rye that sharpened his tongue. In his best Yiddish he snapped at his wife, “Velkh iz oyf varmes, eyfele?” Translated, it’s “What’s for dinner, baby.” E = mc2 came to him at the precise moment when the matzah ball exploded on his forehead.
I have made such discoveries. I once remember commenting to my wife with my smug, silver tongue that nobody made banana pudding like mama. Believe it or not, banana pudding has not been in our refrigerator since that comment. Such is the power of words.
Is there hope for the taming of the tongue? Nothing yet has been discovered that will mitigate the damage caused by this double-edged sword. I found this out again the hard way only last week.
We are cleaning out the garage. I find some Halloween paraphernalia; among such is a sign board. It reads, “The Witch Is In.” I show it to my wife. We laugh. She leans it against the pumpkin on the front steps. My tongue suggests we should nail it to the door permanently. Oops. It’s not wise to print the consequences.
Somewhere in the distance a tongue laughs hideously. The fires of hell begin to rage…
October 25, 2013
Friday, October 18, 2013
Cesare Borgia was a 15th century Italian statesman. He was the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI. He knew about life’s vicissitudes, saying, “I have taken care of everything in the course of my life, only not for death, and now I have to die completely unprepared.” Damage Control plans are sometimes useless!
The Gump movie has a memorable scene. A runner’s yellow shirt is splashed with mud, soon to become the Smiley Face emoticon. The runner utters the proverbial response, “Ah, Expletive.” Gump’s terse reply? “It happens.”
We exist on the precipice of an invisible abyss. It’s called Life. Things happen there. Life sneaks up on us. Things can go sideways. We’re “born into trouble as the sparks fly upward.” Dog owners know this. “Uh oh,” is a clarion call to action…damage control.
‘It’ happens to me often. Like a couple weeks ago. I’m unprepared for the consequences of lunch at Hot Dog Alley. The enormous ‘dogs’ are toxic. They laugh in the face of heartburn. Human nature is satanic…we yearn to test ‘the edge,’ just to see if it’s still there. It always is!
Dairy Queen is my damage control plan. Ice cream overcomes all sins. I ease into the drive-thru queue, order a chocolate-dipped cone. Large, of course. I pretend it’s a panacea. It’s precisely what a pill-pushing gastroenterologist would prescribe as a palliative for my stupidity. Pretense is my anesthetic of choice. Denial is a close second.
I take a huge bite, then smugly drive off. Ice cream has its own nature…it melts. Tiny rivulets trickle down. They pool at the dam of my fingers. My tongue is thrilled. It licks the leaking nectar.
The trickle soon becomes a raging stream. I lick frantically. My car weaves wildly. Two bikers avoid becoming a hood ornament. They curse me maliciously, something about my mother.
It gets worse. Hysteria takes over. So frantic is the licking that all mental synapses fail. Then ‘it’ happens…the cone crumbles. I watch helplessly, anticipating an impending disaster. The gigantic blob of ice cream seems to take a week to fall into my lap. Yes, I used the same expletive you would have.
Everybody has these stories. Take red spaghetti sauce. Its sole purpose is to ridicule you in public. It loves all things white. A bib is the only known damage control plan for such a spectacle.
Ah, cell phones. They have a built-in affinity for all things wet. Never talk on one anywhere near a toilet. One day I’m sitting on a bench, talking on mine. A cup of hot tea sits harmlessly on the floor beneath me. You know what happens. Quantum mechanics can’t explain how a cell phone can end up in the bottom of a cup of hot tea.
Want a fail-safe damage control plan for soggy cells? Forget hair dryers. Bake ‘em. That’s right. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees, turn it off and stick ‘em in. A couple of hours later you’re back in business.
Life is unpredictable, a gamble with incredible odds. Who can argue? If it were a bet you wouldn’t take it. But then you weren’t asked. And if life weren’t so serious it’d be a joke. It’s about attitude. We choose---a smile or a frown.
Robert Burns, the poet, wrote: “…(the) best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry, and leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy.” Hamlet had his say: “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them though we will.”
Most damage control plans are useless. Maybe they simply assuage our obsessive control-oriented nature. Where humans are concerned, who can say? But Life’s in control here…it has its own schemes.
John Quincy Adams, our 6th President, abandoned his damage control ideas: “I inhabit a weak, frail decayed tenement; battered by the winds and broken in on by the storms, and, from all I can learn, the Landlord does not intend to repair.”
Damage control plans--make ‘em if you must. But for today, loosen up…remember, the only way to paradise is in a hearse. Buy the ticket, enjoy the ride.
October 18, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
Americans love bargains! Yard sales are the place to find them. Forget trying to beat some Turkish rug merchant on a deal. You’re not in his league until you’ve cut your teeth on the art of negotiating for junk.
If you don’t think America has been on a buying binge, go yard shopping. Junk abounds. My bargaining skills get rusty, so I dust them off and go shopping at some ‘Estate’ sales. Here are a few pointers, and caveats for buying bargains in the arcane world of ‘too much junk.’
Never get in a rush! Leave that to first-timers. Seasoned yard shoppers know: shop late for low prices. Last Saturday we fueled up on caffeine, a couple of Red Bulls thrown in and prayed for rain. Yes, rain. Why? If you have to ask, you’re not ready to shop.
Sufficiently primed, we stuffed a wad of George Washington’s in our jeans, gassed up the pickup and headed out. Pickups are essential components of the ruse. They say, “I’m here to buy!” Same with clothing. No jewelry, no Rolex watch, no tortoise shell glasses. Just the basics: jeans, tee shirt and yesterday’s stubble.
We scout out several sales sites. At the first house an expectant couple greets us. She’s horrified at the public airing of their household follies. Hopeful anticipation is stamped on his smile. It’s early yet. Change is coming. Panic will etch itself on his face as the day wears on. She’ll hide in total humiliation.
We stroll around casually. Time’s on our side. We comment on their keepsakes in whispers just audible enough to hear. We snicker for effect. Their intuitive responses reveal their horror of failure. We assess their attitudes. I remove my wad of cash and count it for effect. The man hyperventilates. Cash does strange things to people.
Sellers must be sized up carefully. Are they greedy? Early on, they all are. They want to recoup something, anything, from that precious heirloom that’s now become an albatross. Will their face-saving pride get in the way of a sale?
Do they have emotional hang-ups with their castoff crap? Like the sofa the baby was conceived on, or their dog’s favorite chair? Are they desperate yet? They soon will be. We buy nothing here and move on. They’re dejected at our rejection of their treasures. I think I saw her cry.
All savvy yard shoppers know the first rule of buying bargains: you gotta risk losing it to get it. It eliminates the sense of urgency to buy. How does a seller read that? Buyer disinterest. The price free-falls.
We hit several more yards and perfect our disinterest with the stale aura of detachment. Acting is an art. It’s everything. Nothing works quite so well as wandering among people’s rejects and shaking your head. Sellers intuit this maneuver to mean you see through their stupidity in having bought such rubbish. Nothing works to soften up a seller’s perspective like exposing stupidity.
My favorite strategy is to ask, “What’s your bottom line?” Sellers sweat. They shuffle, hem and haw, tremble with fear of offending a buyer. Whatever the price, I whistle in shock disbelief. It sounds something like, “Whew.” Then I stagger backwards a few steps and utter “Whoa!” It’s a sledge hammer to a seller’s fragile ego. Prices collapse.
After assessing the day’s opportunities, we take a long lunch break. No need to rush. It’s cloudy. Rain’s coming. Prayers answered. Rain is a yard seller’s worst nightmare. Nature beats down prices better than we can. It’s now time to buy. We climb in the pickup and return to the first house.
Furniture galore awaits us. Shoppers avoid the rain like a plague. The owner runs from the house. He’s delirious. He grabs me by my Elvis tee shirt. “Just take it, take it all, it’s free. Take it outta my sight,” he shouts. I feel a twinge of conscience as he begs me and sobs uncontrollably on my shoulder.
“But sir, surely…” He cuts me off. “I’ll help you load it.” Deal done.
We shake hands. I admit to feeling a little cheesy, but hey, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
Yard sales are the ultimate in recycling junk. Our good fortune furnished an entire rental house. Free. Yard sales are Gump’s chocolate box…you never know what you get unless you show up. Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?
Sometimes you just get lucky in both….
Friday, October 4, 2013
Goodbye to the old trusted idioms. They’ve bit the dust. Acronyms of verbal arcana now rule, the new Esperanto. I’ve dusted off a few old ones and have cobbled them together. Perhaps they still convey a coherent message.
Today, our Republic is hanging by a thread. Money is as scarce as hen’s teeth. Politics is business as usual. Congress has slammed the door in our face and the government shutdown is adding insult to injury.
What’s happened to consensus? It fell off the wagon and got in the ditch. Everybody’s posturing, saving face. The wolf is knocking at the door looking for a continuation of hand-outs. We’re robbing Peter to pay Paul just to keep anarchy at bay and mobs off the streets.
But misery loves company. There’s enough blame to go around. The fat’s in the fire when the government can’t pay its bills. Our leaders are assuring us that we’ll dodge the bullet of dire consequences in spite of the eleventh hour. Don’t believe this rot. They’ve hung us out to dry while rewarding themselves with the fruits of our labors.
The moment of truth has arrived. Obamacare is here. We’re running from pillar to post, taxing everything that moves, and searching for money to pay the piper. Our ‘leaders’ are impotent. These hot-dog flash-in-the-pan fat cats have made off with billions and spit in our face.
Our Supreme Leader is seeing red these days. He’s tortured by the fact most of American states are red ones. Blue is his color. We’ve heard his empty rhetoric until we’re blue in the face. We’re fed up. He’s so obsessed with red he’s even drawing red lines in the sands of Syria. The world has figured us out. We’re easy pickings now, saturated with egg on our face and have a yellow streak running down our backbone.
It’s un-American to rub salt in our collective wound. Yet, it’s part of our national heritage to put up or shut up. What are we doing here? We’re passing the buck, some merry-go-round of avoidance and blame, living in a fool’s paradise. America is stooping like a crippled old man. Let’s roll up our sleeves and tell the smirkers of this world to bring it on. They’ll regret that day. They’ll be laughing out of the other side of their mouths.
There’s a solution to gridlock…legalized duels. It’ll put a stop to the endless debating of political issues. We’d get to the bottom of it quickly when it’s a matter of life and death. Such contests focus the mind. It’s a fair and square way of coming to grips with issues. It would be the final nail in the coffin of flawed concepts and idiotic ideology. It would truly separate the men from the boys.
Sadly, today our only recourse is the one vote we each have. Let’s use it instead of just running off at the mouth and eating humble pie. The biased media’s grim handwriting on the wall throws fuel on the fire, while we wait for the sorry mess to run its course.
To make a long story short, most of us have no clue how government works. We tend to our own business and try to make hay while the sun still shines. We still have choices. The long and short of it is we should vow to live vigilantly, and let no grass grow under our feet when it comes to speaking our piece.
It’s a dystextic new world of instagrams, sexting and tweeting. Get used to it. If you don’t like today, tomorrow will be a real pain in the ass. So join the crowd and tune in to a twerking Miley Cyrus and TV’s version of a dysfunctional Modern Family.
Remember, You Only Live Once…YOLO, y’all.
October 4, 2013
Illustration courtesy of Leslie Hearn
Friday, September 27, 2013
The stigma of being skinny follows the Thin Crowd like a ghastly shadow. Living in the land of behemoths, my 165 pounds clearly qualify me for minority status. Yet I’m not alone. Arise, O army of scarecrows…and unionize.
I was born skinny. I was so thin at birth they mistook me for a skeleton. They wrapped me in a shroud. My mother lost weight during pregnancy. Nurses asked if I were nine months premature. I’ve remained virtually invisible ever since.
Americans are enormous specimens these days. Look around…they have forearms the size of tires, legs like logs and trunks like Corinthian columns. The earth shakes when America walks. Steroids work wonders. People pay attention.
Nobody notices skinny folks. We evaporate in crowds. Without noses and feet, we’d have no profile whatsoever. Our spindly arms dangle from the sleeves of Polo’s like strings of spaghetti. Our clothes detest us. Our suits look like they want to crawl off of our bodies. Our legs are vestigial reminders of another era.
The emaciated among us endure hard lives and much derision. Many are the perils of being skeletal. Scales mock us. We stare at them in horror while they register each precious ounce of ever-declining body mass. We’re fearful in their presence. Last week in the food store I popped a quarter in one. It laughed and gave me back change. Scales have no respect of persons!
Skinny people have colossal appetites. Our metabolism is a raging blast furnace. We eat relentlessly. We burn through our bank accounts supporting our habit. We consume vast quantities of carbs. Calories ooze from our pores. Our hunger is rapacious. It’s a ravenous beast that claws our bellies like shards of broken glass. It’s insatiable. Without us, the potato futures market would collapse.
We survive on snacks. We’re on a first-name basis at Dairy Queen. We have reserved seating in yogurt shops. We are singly responsible for the profits of all Dunkin’ Donuts. We are addicted to peach milkshakes at Chic-fil-A. Ben and Jerry’s consult us. We’re enslaved by ice cream.
Our compulsive cravings hold us hostage. We’re shunned from party guest lists, especially those that feature buffets. Our passion for protein has made us social pariahs. The last invitation I received contained a PS: “Eat at home or brown-bag it.” They obviously remembered the last time…the time when I slid out the side door with their fruit bowl. After devouring three apples I discovered the fruit was plastic. I’m still recovering.
We swarm the natural health food stores, stocking up on whey supplements and elixirs that promise to flesh out our shrunken frames. Look at our faces. Are we smiling? Do we look healthy? Hardly! We’re walking cadavers. Black hearses wait for us outside these stores like buzzards preparing for meals.
We Bone-bags love to jog. No one knows why. Normal people don’t have these compulsions. Have you ever seen a happy runner? NO! We are not happy people. We’re tormented. We run to escape our wretched condition. Ambulances follow us in the distance, certain of the inevitable.
We don’t do diets. We read Italian recipe books and cook. No food is off limits, unless it’s green. No lettuce, no veggies. Lots of red meat, bread and beer. Sugar is the staple, butter is the backup, cheese is the crown. Add eggs, white flour, a lot of Crisco. Now you’re talking. It’s a primordial curse.
Life is boring beyond belief. It’s like living in a desert, a desolate existence in a world where nothing ever changes…same waist size, same weight, same everything. Think about always hearing, “My, you look the same, are you ill?” Hopeless.
The worst thing about being skinny is esthetic…wrinkles. The skin on our faces and bodies sags, then collapses. There’s no escape. Avon comes calling daily with its lotion van. We grease up like Yankees sizzling in the Miami sun. Nothing works. So grotesque are we that even Wal Mart refuses us entry.
Many are the lamentations and afflictions of skinny people. The Fates have dealt us a very strange hand indeed! What can be said?
We are the voices of many, crying in this wilderness of plenty, “More waffles, more waffles!” And we wouldn’t have it any other way!
September 27, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
How do I know you? Let me count the ways. Calling you by name and name-calling are mutually exclusive. I use both.
I live on a tiny island on the Georgia coast. In a sense we’re all neighbors here. Being friendly is essential, at least outwardly. But not too friendly. Hypocrisy is alive and well in South Georgia.
Knowing neighbors is one thing, but figuring them out is another. Besides, who wants to know too much about their neighbors? They might be weirdoes and invite you to dinner. You’d have to reciprocate. What would people think of you then? Identification by association is risky. Life gets complicated.
Here, as in other small towns, people are known in ways other than by their given names. For example, by their vehicles, their dogs, their voices and their swagger.
Facial recognition is the quickest means of identity. Except when people pop up out of context. Like the time you were shopping with your wife in Winn Dixie. Then, out of nowhere, a beautiful woman shows up. She smiles, you cringe. It’s not the gender that frightens you, it’s the age. Younger than your daughter. A classic example of wrong place, wrong time. Life is like this…unpredictable.
You prepare for an introduction, knowing an interrogation will follow. Suddenly your brain suffers a complete memory meltdown. To depend on instant recall synapses is to lean on a weak reed.
What’s her name? You’re terrified. You avoid eye contact, fiddle with the can of sardines, pray she’ll walk on by. No such luck. She closes in for the encounter.
“Hi,” she says with a voice that melts steel. You flash a lame smile, mutter something and pretend to vanish. She gets the message. So does your wife.
It’s important to have a plan for such contingencies. Your wife asks, “Who’s That?”
Your response is a weak stutter. “Beats me. Looks familiar, can’t place her. Clearly a case of mistaken identity.”
You are not convincing. A more intensive inquisition is gestating; you can feel it by the sudden chill in the air. Men have a keen sense of impending marital doom. But let’s leave such an unfortunate scenario.
We often know people by the pew they sit in on Sunday. Be careful where you sit in Baptist churches. Know this: they fill up from the back forward. You’re only safe on the front row.
Once I visited my mother in the small town of my youth. On Sunday I went to church alone after a long hiatus. I sat on the second row left. After the service, two ancient ladies approached, “We saw you come in and finally remembered your name. You were in the wrong place.”
Huh? A ‘wrong’ place in church? “Where is my place?” I ask, wondering if God were revealing a lingering grievance against me. I often have these thoughts in church.
“Last row back right, not second row left front.” Women never forget! Do you suppose heaven has a seating chart? I shudder to imagine where my ‘place’ might be!
I know some people by their sobriquets, often concoctions of my own choosing. I ascribe names, often not complimentary, based on physical size and shape as much as swagger. Voice recognition is often easier to recall than names, especially the loud-mouth bluster in the locker room.
Word here is people peg me as an obsessive type. The cognomen ‘Screwy’ comes to mind. I think it’s because of my fetish with shirts. I have never met a shirt I didn’t like. My closet is full of them, 520 as of last March.
But a strange thing is happening…they’re slowly disappearing. Last Tuesday my stash was down to 262. Today only 194 are hanging around. What gives?
I suspect my wife. I raise the issue with her. I get that shrug-of-the-shoulders response. I know that reply…it says nothing, but then it says everything. I march her to the window.
Outside the lawn maintenance crew is wearing new uniforms, resort casual. Their flowered Tommy Bahamas bear a remarkable resemblance to my missing ones. Is there a connection?
I demand a reply. “God loves a cheerful giver,” she says, then laughs and leaves. What will the neighbors think now?
Who knows. But I know what I think…. After 47 years of marriage, I still have no clue who she is!
September 20, 2013
Friday, September 13, 2013
Countries worldwide are concealing their contraband WMD. Citizens in America are dodging the IRS. I take note and hide the incriminating evidence of my own indiscretions.
I spend more time at home these days. Unfortunately, some of my old habits are re-surfacing. My wife is taking notice.
We play a silly game, an adult version of hide and seek. I hide things, she finds them. Concealed contraband goes undercover.
“What’s this?” she asks, finding chocolate bars hidden in an old coffee can, or pop tarts under a bag of dog food. The inquisition begins. Household bliss packs its bags, heads for the door. Turmoil lurks outside, waiting for its opportunity to slip inside. Men are advised not to spend too much time around the house.
In the old days, work and children covered up a multitude of my indiscretions. What seemed then to be demonic afflictions---deadlines, carpools, soccer games--- were actually blessings. But when these wretched hardships ceased, I found myself being more covert in shrouding secrets.
I have a shirt fetish. I’ve never met a shirt I didn’t like. Last week I bought fourteen. Shirt lust is a hard habit to quit. I have enough shirts to last until the Second Coming. I have to hide the new ones.
Why? To avoid chastisement. My wife runs the house Laundromat ever since I washed her lingerie with blue jeans. Nothing is hidden from her scrutiny.
“Hey, new shirt,” she says. “What will you wear THAT with?” I’m deficit in color coordination…pink flamingos on a black background go with everything, right? Hiding the evidence is essential. But where? Well, for starters, where no woman would ever touch…a man’s gym bag.
She found my favorite Elvis coffee cup cringing behind the Wild Turkey bottle. It later showed up in the trashcan, beaten to bits with a hammer. She blamed the dishwasher. She’s happier now that I have morning coffee in a thimble-sized china demitasse.
I have a Mason jar with a handle. It holds 72 ounces of sweet tea. It’s outlawed in New York, but worshipped in Ludowici. It’s a favorite among truck drivers. I hide it outside under the grill cover.
“Why are you always checking out the grill?” she asks. I pretend not to hear…deaf is a good defense for men of all ages.
“You’re going deaf,” she says. “Huh? Say what?” I play along. “Never mind,” she says. See? Try it yourself.
My wife has a PhD in hiding evidence…the iPad. This device leads to a lot of damage. Clearly, it was conceived by a woman. She pretends to play cards, do crossword puzzles, or read. I sometimes peek. Instantly the fleeting image of a Neiman Marcus ad disappears into the ether.
“What was that?” I inquire humbly. “Nothing,” she answers. Women are adept at disguising ‘nothings’ that sooner or later become significant ‘somethings.’ American Express statements don’t lie!
It’s important to have separate credit cards. My wife piles up points by the thousands. How? Guess! As for me, I don’t have enough points for one night at Eulonia Motel Six, which, unfortunately, did show up once on my Visa. It elicited quite a bit of explanatory dialogue.
I change hiding places frequently. I once hid a new pistol in an old suitcase. I forgot where it was until my wife took the bag through airport security. The events that followed don’t bear repeating.
I try to help around the house. I often make up the bed. I wad up my pajamas and hide them behind a pillow. Folding is woman’s work. Men have questionable motives with their beneficent acts in domestic affairs.
I hide my serious reading material in a box in the attic. Things like comic books and certain photographic magazines of questionable intellectual and moral value. “Why do you always go up there?” she asks. “Reviewing some old photographs,” I say truthfully. She can’t see my grin!
A friend once had an off-premises storage unit, complete with a sofa. It was the man-cave for his licentious library. As it happened he got trapped when the door jammed. He disappeared for a week. He now reads literature without pictures at home.
Creative hiding places abound. Yesterday I stashed the latest Cracker Barrel purchase inside of the heating vent.
It’s gonna be a bad day when the heat comes on…or when she discovers my box of Moon Pies.
September 13, 2013
Friday, September 6, 2013
We have a TV remote with a magic yellow button…the mute button. We use it often.
I’ve become a TV scriptwriter. Last night I was watching Longmire, the one when a severed finger arrives inside of a box. I ease to the edge of my seat, anxious for the next scene.
Suddenly a man comes on. His face fills the entire 48-inch screen. He appears to be a WWF wrestler…angry, bearded, bald and sweaty. He shakes his fist and screams, foams at the mouth, demanding I purchase a Chevy pickup…Now! Or else.
I seize the remote. It becomes a club in my hand. I swing it viciously like a feral savage. “Take that,” I shout. Instantly the poor creature is reduced to babbling in silence. His now-mute mouth continues to move in rapid motion. His wild gesticulations send him into a frenzied convulsion. I hear nothing.
It’s like a silent movie, all action, no sound. I watch him squirm in his state of seizure. I pretend he’s complaining about his third divorce settlement instead pimping pickups. I imagine he’s trying to justify why she got the house and the money. His lips synch, “My lawyer shafted me.” Suddenly he disappears.
I curse silently. Just as I was getting into his ‘story,’ he’s jerked off the air. Then, as if by magic, a middle-aged couple appears. They’re sitting on a dock overlooking a placid lake. His arm is around her. She smiles seductively. He gets the message: “When the time is right.”
I leave the mute on anyway and fabricate another story. Maybe she thinks he’s rich. Why else would she be smiling? She moves her lips, “Where’s your wife?” she seems to say.
“Cleaning the mobile home,” his silent lips reply.
“Does she suspect?’’ her soundless lips implore. He blushes and gives her a John Belushi roll of the eyes look. His voiceless smile virtually says, “Do I look that dumb?” He pats her on the shoulder for comfort. They look into the distant sunset. It casts a fiery red glow upon the water. The scene is a contrived theatrical metaphor for where this dalliance will ultimately end up.
Several dumb commercials segue past. Poor material for parody. I switch channels. Ah, the weather man, dressed like a Rodney Dangerfield redux. He’s good for a laugh. I mute him.
He gestures at the weather map, a colored, refracted-light image on a wall. It’s shaped like a brain out of control. His lips move without sound as he points to the hideous morphing shapes…a growing green blob, mixed with a yellow mass and a red serpentine worm crawling in concentric circles. The image seems to be alive.
The map colors pulsate in violent motion like an amoeba squirming under a microscope, attempting without success to exit its confines. I choose words for him. His muted lips lament, “This is a grave situation.” A plot evolves.
Then he stops, faces the camera. His expression is grim. His lips move slowly, silently. I read them in fragments. They seem to say, “Fellow Americans…tonight…regret…report…by his side…situation…grave...brain scan…red lines consume the brain…Obama…after meeting… Putin…Syria… unresolved…mobs…riots…expelled from Russia…Biden in charge.” I wince at the frightening possibilities of my own script.
Enough amateur programming for me. I kill the mute, laugh at my creativity and resume Longmire. Then I remember Arnold’s story of how he was muted. It’s worth repeating.
Arnold’s an old friend, an alcoholic, albeit a dry one. He once talked incessantly. He identifies himself as ‘a dumb drunk.’ Harsh, yes, but the truth often is. He’s sober by day eight of detox in the dry-out institution. But he’s angry. He marches to the director’s office with a gripe.
He tells it this way: “Listen, this place has problems. Here’s my list. Now what I want is….” The director interrupts him in mid-sentence.
“Arnold, you’re a self-made man, right? Lots of friends, successful, own your business, a home, drive a Cadillac?” Arnold nods “Yes.”
The director continues. “But Arnold, you’re a drunk, and a dumb one at that. I’ll give you some advice…if you’ll keep your mouth shut you’ll be the only one who knows it.” Arnold says these words changed his life.
I had a little fun with the mute button last night. But today, I may take heed and remember, “…but you’re dumb, and if you keep your mouth shut you’ll be the only one who knows it.”
I think about these words a lot…..
September 6, 2013
Illustration courtesy of Leslie Hearn
Friday, August 30, 2013
Last Friday’s headlines read: “Glitch Freezes NASDAQ Trading.” Some suspect a credit card overload. My wife is in New York shopping. A coincidence?
August heat in South Georgia is insufferable. Many flee for refuge to the mountains, others to Europe. My wife and friends head to New York City. Why? Do you have to ask? Shopping and dining, of course.
I don’t blame her. The Fall Collection at the Nearly New Shop is hardly haute couture. After all, women are creatures of style, not function. Plus, Outback takeout won’t even qualify for dumpster dining in New York.
I once asked, “Why New York, what’s wrong with Target?”
“Because I’m a woman, remember?” (Her answer solves a lot of unanswered questions) She gives me the ‘look’ that all men recognize when they open their mouths without thinking, which is much of the time. It’s the look that suggests even troglodytes are not dumb enough to ask that question.
“I’m going to ‘visit’ a new set of friends.” ‘Visit’ is code for shopping. At the airport her parting words are, “Don’t be surprised.” The emphasis on ‘surprised’ is the trigger. I immediately alert my banker.
Her friend has a co-op in the lower Westside Village. It’s where $30 million condos rub elbows with flats smaller than closets. It’s a long way from the shopping minefields of 5th Avenue. I think I’m safe. Men just shouldn’t think about some things.
Boutiques flourish there along with the Spotted Pig, an upscale bistro popular with the cognoscenti who nibble on escargot and sip champagne. Down South, a place with such a name would be a smoky BBQ joint, where the special du jour is always predictable: cold Bud and fried pig skins.
Boutiques will bite your wallet…small shop, expensive merchandise. I prefer street vendors. Their kiosks line the streets like carnival sideshows. They sell everything from $25 Prada knock-offs to $5 pretzels with yellow mustard.
A vendor once sold me a $50 ‘gold’ Rolex. I surprised my brother with it. He’s still scrubbing the ‘gold’ from his wrist. He hasn’t spoken to me in three years. He never could take a joke.
My wife calls daily. She says she’s ‘pacing’ herself. I ask how she defines ‘pacing.’ “Which, shopping or food?” she asks. She deflects my question with a question, a well-honed tactic. Women are hard to pin down.
Men pace themselves in different ways. They have keen internal restraint systems. It’s a primordial genetic arrangement that paces their proclivities. It functions flawlessly except in situations involving women, football, golf or guns. Nobody’s perfect.
“What does Harry sell?” I ask. She answers, “I’ll give you a hint. It’s a girl’s best friend.” Right away I know Harry’s not a used car salesman.
I’m wary of men whose first and last names are interchangeable. I knew somebody like that in high school, Harry Harvey. He had weird ways, like catching house flies in mid-flight with his tongue. He wasn’t Valedictorian.
She calls again on Saturday. “You won’t believe what I found at Ralph’s shop.” I ask if I know Ralph. She says nobody knows him, he changed his name. I ask why. “What would you do if your last name were Lifshitz?” What a slickster…he would be a terrific New York politician.
That night she calls again, thrilled with all her new first-name friends…Giorgio, Donna, Coco, Calvin and many Italians whose names end with vowels: Salvatore, Veneta and Morelli. The list is long.
“When are you coming home? I’m starving for a home-cooked meal,” I plead. “Tomorrow about 2:00,” she says. “Pick me up in the truck. I have a surprise for you.” I remember hearing that word before. Hmmmm. I’m sleepless in fearful anticipation.
I pull up in the pickup. She stands on the curb with her luggage. “Didn’t you leave with one bag? What’s with the ten?”
“I paced myself,” she says grinning. “I told you not to be surprised. We now have a whole new set of friends. You’ll just love them.”
I can hardly contain my enthusiasm.
August 30, 2013
Illustration courtesy of Leslie Hearn
Friday, August 23, 2013
Messing with a fellow’s secretly-hidden stash of midnight snacks may not be high crime and treason, but it demands retribution. Confession is a start.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Secrets hide in strange spaces…I recently spotted evidence of one hiding at the bottom of the kitchen trash can. It lay in a crumpled mass, barely distinguishable, beneath some chicken bones and covered with a black shroud of soggy coffee grounds. Secrets can hide anywhere.
I was livid to say the least. I had salivated all day thinking about a late-night snack, only to find that a heartless intruder had beaten me to it. Justice must prevail…someone must pay.
Listen, secrets are volcanoes. There’re volatile. Eruptions happen, even though they may smoke and smolder for a long time. Remember the Clinton ‘Bimbo eruption’? Gennifer Flowers showed up in 1992. Truth prevails.
The exposure of secrets is random. Many think a computer App, ‘Master Mind,’ is responsible. With a court jester icon, it stirs up the disgusting details of our lives and previews them in an ethereal Youtube. Somebody up there is laughing! We think we’re safe, then, vroom, an eruption occurs.
Take my friend Bob, for example. He sorely lacks common sense. He mentioned to his wife he’d lost his new Polo pajamas. One day a UPS package arrived. His wife opened it. It was the heart-shaped note that caught her attention. It simply read, “Honey, you left these. Hurry back.” It was signed “K.” An eruption occurred. Bob currently lives in a mobile home in Nahunta.
I pleaded with my household for the responsible party to come clean. My wife said, “Get a life;” my daughter avoided eye contact. We have two dogs. They can’t be ruled out. I interrogated them, too.
One dog, Mac, eats everything remotely similar to food. Just this morning he ate a cup cake wrapper. I asked him about it, but he was silent on the matter. A couple of hours later he came clean, so to speak. His answer lay steaming on the back porch. Eruptions happen.
Children, especially teens, perfect early on how to dodge ‘fessing up without full disclosure. They arrive home late at night with hang-dog looks, their breath reeking of heavy doses of Listerine and their clothes soaked with Lysol. Masking truth has its moments.
Later in life their guilt-ridden conscience prevails upon them to lay bare their youthful indiscretions so they can sleep better. They transfer these grievous burdens onto their parents who can’t sleep and who lie awake lamenting the perils of parenting. Some truths need no resurrection!
Fishermen are among the worst about coming clean with secret proclivities. My mother kept in the back hall a wooden plaque as a reminder to my father. It pretty much sums up many of his excursions. It read:
“Behold, the fisherman.
He riseth early in the morning and upsetteth the whole household.
Mighty are his preparations.
He goeth forth with great hope in his heart—and when the day is far spent
he returneth, smelling of strong drink, and the truth is not in him.”
Some truths are self-evident.
Yesterday the mystery of the trash-can caper came to light. I set a trap, put new bait in the freezer and hid in the closet. I waited. About 12:30 AM a dark ghost resembling a woman shambles silently into the kitchen, opens the freezer and removes something. The skulking phantom stumbles to the drawer for a spoon. The dark figure wrestles momentarily with the object.
Soon deep sighs of immense pleasure break the kitchen silence. The figure becomes animated in a fitful lust for the container’s contents. I switch on the light. The brilliance startles her. She stands there like a common criminal, caught in the very act.
She holds a half-eaten pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherries Garcia in one hand and a large spoon in the other. A tiny trail of white ice cream trickles down her chin. It’s my daughter.
If a man were caught like this, he would spew out a quick but stupid response. “Am I sleep walking? Where am I?” But not my daughter. She just stands there like an angel and grins. We both laugh. My heart melts along with the ice cream. She shares what’s left.
I thought about confessing my own obsessions, but the words wouldn’t come. Anyway, sharing a secret pint of midnight ice cream will reconcile anyone.
Besides, love overcomes a multitude of sins!
August 23, 2013
Friday, August 16, 2013
Life is a matter of perspective. It’s enlightening to glance at the other side. Here’s a snapshot of Wayne’s World.
I have a friend. His name is Wayne. He’s a country boy. He spends eight hours underneath a train locomotive. It’s his job.
It’s not his chosen profession, or his talent… photography is. He does what he has to in order to pursue the passion. He works in a CSX railroad repair yard in Waycross, GA. It’s a nasty, hot job.
Being ‘low man on the totem pole,’ his job is to climb up inside enormous locomotive engines and repair them. Such work of grease and grime is foreign to most. It’s hard to relate.
For most, making a living comes easier. We use our tongues, phones, keyboards, and pens. But look around…everything you own arrived either by air, highway, water or rail. Things break, somebody has to repair them. That’s what Wayne does.
Recently we had lunch. I asked him about his new job. The following is what I remember from his comments. They reveal another side of life.
He said every morning he climbs down in the ‘locomotive pit.’ That means he’s underneath a gigantic mass of steel, which often weighs in excess of 200 tons. The repairs are made in the belly of the beast. It’s not the same as a business meeting over coffee and a donut.
He showed me a picture of a motor that had exploded. It had eight small, round doors on each side. Looking in, the twisted crankshaft stares back. It’s as big and long as a large man’s leg. This particular repair job required a piston assembly. Pistons are removed from the top of the engine. He said often these pistons, which are as large as a wash tub, under pressure can explode and be blown 30 yards.
He described the maze of power cables inside this monster. Each cable is the size of a broom handle. They must be disconnected before the motor can be dropped down for repairs. This, he said, is the worst part of the job.
He said in order to reach the power cables, he has to crawl through a miniscule black hole into a dark cavern. His hands grope, working just inches from his face. It’s tedious work in a cramped space, no wiggle room. He paused, laughed and said it would send a person with claustrophobia over the edge.
He continued. To access the repair area, I have to extend both arms straight above my head, like superman. Then I climb a ladder into the innards of the leviathan and get on top of the motor. Imagine such!
I wear paper overalls. When I reemerge, assuming I do, the suit is ripped to shreds and I’m soot-black. And folks obsess over their fingernails?
He digresses, confusing me with the specs of engine repair and other minutiae, like train wheels that weigh 2,200 pounds. Little wonder the Lincoln nickels we put on the tracks in our youth were flattened.
Wayne may be country, but he’s bright. He doesn’t speak in metaphors, nor does he consult a Thesaurus. He lives in the world of absolutes, a matter–of-fact world where Yes is yes, and No is no. Explanations are unnecessary.
He speaks with a simple power, a ‘straight-from-the-shoulder’ punch, no backdoor ‘ya-know-what-I-mean’ equivocation. When cash gets tight, in his world people buck up and do whatever they have to, which gives the disgustingly vernacular ‘whatever’ an entirely different meaning. It’s a world where high school football reigns supreme and tithing is not an option.
Wayne’s a fellow who’ll help you change a flat tire in the rain. He believes a neighbor is special and is convinced that his small town can self-govern without outside interference. He affirms his family is paramount, and that church and faith have never failed him.
We eat the last piece of cornbread and leave the table. I ask him if he’s satisfied with life. He thought about it. These are his words:
“I have a job, a pay check, a few acres, a dog, a house, grandkids and good health. My taxes are paid, my mortgage is current and my old pickup’s paid off. I have a new camera, a nice garden and I’m not on the government dole. I’m not complaining. Things are pretty good, I’d say.”
There’s something American and uniquely refreshing about that, don’t you think?
August 16, 2013
Friday, August 9, 2013
Music and photographs…doors that open to the other side, to graveyards and scrapbooks full of memories, awaiting resurrection. My violin opened the music door this week. Here’s what staggered out.
Brothers and sisters, it’s Jubilee time in the South. Campground Revival meetings are hotter than dog days in Dixie. Bible sightings are everywhere. The air is thick with humidity and confession.
Our church just concluded one. It was an indoor event, no food on the lawn, a low-budget affair. Methodists avoid outside in August. Methodists ‘swelter’ inside on cushioned pews and in cool sanctuaries. We’re a civilized people. We only sweat when the preacher warns of the harsh conditions on ‘the other side.’
Our youthful minister is long on wind, short on color coordination. He sheds his black robe and dresses down…open collar and jacket. He takes a walk on the wild side in blue patent leather loafers and a lavender jacket with glittering sequins. The congregation forgives his fashion statement. However, it probably does little to advance his reputation with the conference bishops. His wife is conspicuously absent.
For repentance I work on perfecting the music of the spheres…with a violin. It’s not yet music, really, just a few notes resembling screams from the lower regions. My dogs flee to the other side of the house and doors slam. Even heaven cringes.
This week I’m wrestling with an oldie, “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.” Sing along with me:
“When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”
I bombed out on Rock of Ages and The Old Rugged Cross. These were written by psychiatrists. They’re designed to convict the heart and open the wallet. They guarantee contrition and an overflowing collection plate. My tears of sorrow soak the horsehair bow as I glance up to the other side for affirmation. Meanwhile, black storm clouds gather on the other shore.
Country campground meetings are miracles to behold. Like Mecca, multitudes migrate. It consists of a wooden open-air ‘tabernacle’, the preaching place. Tiny ‘cabins’ with dirt and straw floors encircle it. Twice a day for a week guest evangelists with names like Brother LeRoy summon the Holy Spirit from the other side. They come with a religious fervor to collect alms and to exegete ‘The Word.’ The faithful come to sing a little, eat a lot and occasionally repent.
This is old-time religion in the South. ‘Getting saved’ is paramount, especially for wayward teens who think heaven is found on this side, especially at night. Scare tactics are prominent themes—the other side is a hellish scene. Snakes are sometimes seen to amplify the experience.
Gospel singing mingles with glossolalia. The most favored tunes tend to be Love Lifted Me, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and Amazing Grace. It’s rumored that Newton wrote Amazing Grace not as a precept, but in remembrance of his exceptional girlfriend….if you know what I mean.
Late at night the preaching grinds down. Men slip outside and gather in small groups in the shadows. They speak in low tones and pass among themselves a small paper bag. The bag does little to disguise the contents, only the brand.
Inside the bag is another spirit. It has the peculiar power to make temporary reparation between men of all denominations. If you’ve never experienced this spirit of reconciliation, then you don’t know Jack….Black, that is.
With a surfeit of this spirit, reprobate husbands lose control of their tongues and their guilt-ridden conscious takes over. They ‘come down’ and spill the beans, exhuming things better left between themselves and the Ruler of the other side. The congregation gapes in shocked amazement and sordid amusement.
Such public revelations support legions of divorce lawyers. They lurk on the other side, busily writing legal writs to reconcile all things financial and ultimately who gets the house. Some even blame them for writing the preacher’s text. Most blame them for everything.
At week’s end the people have had all the religion they can take. They return to this side of the world with memories of the experience. I do likewise.
Before putting away my violin, I sing again When the Roll is Called Up Yonder. A light explodes in my brain. Wait, there’s no mention of violin music on the other side…only trumpets.
You already know what I’m going to do!
August 9, 2013
Friday, August 2, 2013
Newspapers are on life support. They’d die without coupon-saving inserts. Who wants to read the news anyway? No, we’re Americans. We shop. Here’s my experience with coupons.
It’s Saturday morning. It’s raining. Rain begets boredom. Boredom begets the urge to shop. My wife’s reading the coupon inserts…savings galore. I know what she’s thinking. I’ve seen the look before. My wallet has felt it! She needs a savings ‘fix.’
She flips a few my way. Look at these savings, she says. I check them out. Not much a man would want. Men only shop coupons for tools, trucks, guns and all things camo. I spot a bargain on a box of tools, but buying more tools necessitates cleaning out a place in the garage. Plus, I might be forced to actually use them. I quickly move on.
Mostly there’s stuff a normal person wouldn’t put in their house, on their body or in their mouth. Which accounts for why there are coupon discounts. But who can argue the point: when it comes to shopping for discounts, women are not normal creatures.
Women perfected the notion of ‘spend more, save more.’ They’re experts, especially when it comes to jewelry and clothing mark-downs from Neiman Marcus catalogues. Maybe it explains why more women are being elected to Congress, especially from California.
What man has not heard, “Honey, look how much money I saved you today. It was on sale, marked down from $1,999.99 to $99.99.” Such words drive men to golf for refuge.
A man can’t comprehend such a windfall in savings. His body goes limp, his eyes roll back and he speaks incoherently. I’m sure he thinks, “Goodbye season football tickets,” or something along these lines.
So many coupons. The one for Rogaine is smaller than a dime. Rogaine’s market share diminishes by the minute to Nair, whose motto is ‘No hair left behind.’ Head hair is out, which is evident by the Mr. Clean coupon juxtapositioned next to Rogaine’s. Mr. Clean is cool…he’s bald. He now sports an earring in his left ear. What’s next, a tattoo on Miss Clairol?
Ah, a coupon for a $ .97 cent cell phone. It’s the Weiner ‘Carlos Danger’ model, the one that comes with total anonymity. It self-destructs when the metadata sleuths trace its trail. It’s complete with instructions on sexting and instagrams. The screen-saver is a photo of pink Fruit of the Loom underwear. The ring tone is “The Great Pretender.”
I read the small print…Ten year contract, $2,000 for early termination. It’s the same kind of small-print ‘gotcha’ contained in ObamaCare. Cheap sells…buy now, pay later, credit same as cash.
The most incredible savings coupon I find advertises all mattresses for $89 dollars, lifetime financing, no money down. Wow, a real bargain! I call, ask why they’re so cheap. The clerk refuses to disclose this info over the phone, only in person. So I ride over.
The clerk explains it’s like buying a car. If you buy a new one, you trade in the old one. They clean it up, sell it cheap. Same with mattresses. I ask if this is legal or sanitary. His answer is unintelligible. But the latex gloves he’s wearing give me a pretty good clue.
I inspect the Heffner brand, called ‘The Fantasy Model.’ It comes with a stereo system inside. Music CDs range from Elvis, “Love Me Tender,” to Jerry Lee Lewis, “Whole Lotta Shaking Going On.” Sinatra’s CD, “I Had It My Way,” is a favorite. Who buys these, I ask? Mostly divorced men, he says. They seem to prefer “Can’t Buy Me Love” by the Beatles.
The Camel Model mattress is interesting, so-called because of the large hump in the middle. What’s this, I ask? He says the hump is a marital DMZ. He describes it as a vast, desolate wasteland, a ravaged war zone where the slightest intrusion sets off alarms and the conflict escalates. It’s a place where war has been waged for years without a clear and decisive victory. No man has gone there and lived to tell about it, he says.
He says it’s a favorite of seniors and also comes with a choice of music CD’s. Most popular are the tunes “Precious Memories,” and “I Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash.
Too many ‘savings’ for one Saturday. I go home, clean the garage, and fantasize about the tool box. I hope it’s still on sale tomorrow. My wife? Who knows…I’m afraid to ask!
August 2, 2013