An Award-Winning Disclaimer

A charming little Magpie whispered this disclaimer into my ear, and I'm happy to regurgitate it into your sweet little mouth:

"Disclaimer: This blog is not responsible for those of you who start to laugh and piss your pants a little. Although this blogger understands the role he has played (in that, if you had not been laughing you may not have pissed yourself), he assumes no liability for damages caused and will not pay your dry cleaning bill.

These views represent the thoughts and opinions of a blogger clearly superior to yourself in every way. If you're in any way offended by any of the content on this blog, it is clearly not the blog for you. Kindly exit the page by clicking on the small 'x' you see at the top right of the screen, and go fuck yourself."

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A BBB (Better Baby Book!)

I realize that, lots of times, I come off as a cantankerous bastard who lays the negativity on pretty thick sometimes. That's part of my charm.

Isn't it?

I know that, sometimes, I'm just plain old mean without being particularly helpful. There are a couple reasons for this:

1.) On this blog, in Cybervania, I'm trying to make you laugh, not trying to help you. Get into a car crash outside my house, and you'll see a different side of me.

2.) Generally speaking, people who "try to help" you, through books or TV programs, or blogs, are more often than not trying to help themselves.

However, having said all that, I feel a responsibility to present my perspectives on another pre-pregnancy book, since I took such unmitigated joy in tearing Heidi Murkoff a quaint new asshole for her atrocious offering, "What to Expect Before Expecting." I mean, it's one thing to totally go off on someone for presenting shitty information in a poopy-smelling package, but it's another to then present a suitable alternative. After all, who knows how many of you out there are TTCing, possibly while reading this very blog entry?


Ladies and gentlemen, (think you're a stud...?) I proudly present you with, "The Whole Pregnancy Handbook," by Joel M. Evans, MD OB/GYN.

Yes, I feel pretty smug about typing those letters that appear after Dr. Evans' name, because, as we know, there sure aren't any after Heidi Murkoff's. But I don't need to belabor that point because, not only are there letters after Dr. Evans' name, there is also an "About the Author" section, something that, too, seemed to be missing in "What to Expect Before Expecting." Not only that, but Dr. Evans is gracious enough to include a section on contributors to his book, with bios for them, too. His contributors include a perinatologist, a certified family nurse practitioner, a professional animator and yoga instructor (um... okay?), several certified nurse midwives, the first state certified doula in the state of Connecticut, a few more MDs for good measure (one being his wife), and some fucking herbalists and shit.

Now, I'm not a white-coat snob. I don't make it a habit to worship at the door of any physician, (except one), but I happen to appreciate the perspective of medical professionals trained in the baby business. Hearing from physicians and licensed nurse practitioners makes me feel a little bitter about the information that I'm getting. It makes me feel like I'm not reading through a lot of horseshit from "gurus" or "self-made experts" or "people who think they know what they're talking about and can write books because they happened to have squeezed out two kids."

I had originally prepared myself, actually, to dislike this book. I had essentially convinced myself that Dr. Joel Evans was going to be some dancing amongst the Redwoods fruit-loopy looney tune. See, the first half of the first sentence of his bio reads just fine: "Joel M. Evans, MD, is a board certified OB/GYN" okay, that's great, nothing wrong there... "and the founder and director of the Center for Women's Health, an integrative holistic health center."


It's Toon Time, kids!

You'd think so, but you'd be wrong. This is a man whose head is on straight. He manages to do something quite difficult and quite respectable-- he writes in a way that acknowledges and respects people who think that holistic medicine isn't necessarily the way to go. He is respectful of both camps, and, while he encourages one to consider the benefits of a total mind-body connection, he doesn't strap on a latex, powder-free glove and shove it down your throat or up your chachee. What's more-- he's an intelligent, sensitive guy (who is able to write out the word "penis" and, I'm sure, even say it in mixed company) and he never talks down to you or makes you feel like an idiot or an asshole-- even if you're a man! Listen to this little passage he writes about an encounter with a woman in his practice,

"Our talk gave Emily an opening to voice her own wishes and concerns, as well as an opportunity for her to come up with a "next step" that felt right. As her medical caregiver, it gave me much more insight into who she was as a person and how I could best help her with whatever medical care she wanted from me."

See? No horseshit, no cutesy acronyms, no dumbing down for the Dorito-eating masses-- just straight, sensitive, empathic talk from a medical professional who doesn't cloak his feelings under a veneer of pabulum or, worse, jocularity. Yes, because he is a holistic kinda guy in addition to being an MD, sometimes he swims precariously out towards the deep end, with his recipies for "Red Raspberry Leaf and Pregnancy-Blend Tea" as a pregnancy stimulant and dandelion greens to help relieve pedal edema, but he also offers over the counter suggestions for these maladies as well. He has this to say about herbal medicine,

"Conventional doctors and scientists could say that the jury is out in terms of scientific proof that botanical medicine works. As a broad statement, that's true-- but it misses the complexity of the situation. Herbs function differently from conventional medications... And, as with conventional medicine, for ethical reasons, you can't always study how herbal medicine behaves in pregnancy." (171)

Now, doesn't this sound like someone who is confident, reassuring, intelligent and thoughtful? Kind of sounds like someone you'd want to talk to, and want talking to you, as you walk down the road hand-in-hand towards the biggest decision of your life.

Doesn't it?

Monday, June 29, 2009

What to Expect Before You're Expecting: Apparently; A Lot of Horseshit

The last time I seriously trashed someone on my blog, I got an ass-reaming. His name was Sean Hoots, a local singersongwriter, and I made the "mistake" of writing a review of a concert of his on my blog. It was my admittedly amateurish review, they were my original ideas and opinions, which I'm pretty sure I'm entitled to express in this country and, especially, on this blog. And yet, his fans found me. I think the link to that particular post got sent out on the Sean Hoots listserv, and I was inundated with comments, some of them pretty nasty, about what an asshole I was and how I didn't "get" Sean Hoots.

To them I said, "No, I get him. I just think he sucks."

You'd think that, after that unpleasantness, I'd think twice before ripping someone else to shreds.

Well, consider this sentence my second thought.

Now that we've got that out of the way, allow me to present my view of "What to Expect Before You're Expecting," by Heidi Murkoff. I'm going to leave co-author Sharon Mazel out of this, since her name is in noticeably smaller print, which leads me to believe two things:

1.) Heidi Murkoff is really in control of this boat and is therefore mostly responsible for all the things I hate about this book and

2.) Heidi Murkoff wants people talking about her in relation to this awful book, not Sharon Mazel, so she made her own name bigger. Well, Heidi, since you want the attention so bad: here it is.

If you're currently thinking about getting knocked up (or "Instant Semenized," as I like to put it) and are aware enough to want to read a little bit about pregnancy before you do the deed sans latex, I cannot discourage you enough from reading this book. If you want morning sickness to come on strong and early, fine, read it, but if eye-rolling and projectile-vomiting aren't your thing, I'd stay away from it.

It all starts off on the wrong foot. Chapter 1 begins with a subsection called "Talk the Talk."

"Are you TTC? You probably are, if you're reading this book-- yet you may not have the slightest idea of what "TTC means (it's short for "trying to conceive")."

Well, thank you very much, Rachel Ray. Why don't we just drizzle some EVOO on our dicks and pump away!? I'm really not into cutsey acronyms in a generalized way. I'm especially against them when it comes to pregnancy. Let me clue you in on something, Heidi Murkoff, pregnancy is serious. It's too serious, in fact, for your dumb fucking acronyms. I'm not "TTC." You know what I'm doing? I'm attempting to bring a new life into the world. I am attempting to nurture a new life with the woman I love more than anything and anyone else in the world. Pregnancy is not cute and it's not abbreviable. It's goddamn fucking serious, and if you're not serious enough to say "trying to conceive" out loud, then maybe you're not mature enough to be writing about it. And, maybe the naive idiots who read this tripe and gobble up all your stupid abbreviations aren't mature enough to be "TTC'ing" either. You, Heidi dear, are very much like a urologist who can't say the word "penis." Frankly, I wouldn't go to a urologist who couldn't say the word "penis." It's my penis-- it ain't no doodle-doo, biatch. Just like menstruation isn't "Aunt Flow," sexual intercourse isn't "BD" (Baby Dance) and the "Big O" isn't ovufuckinglation.

It stands for "orgasm." Ever had one?

Oh, and another thing, Heidi, dear-- my "penis" expels "semen." My "semen" contains "sperm." Here's a list of thing my body does not contain:

An "Olympic Swim Team."

"Incredible swimmers"

"Gooey goop" (seriously, I swear to God-- page 77)

Seriously-- what are you? Twelve years old? "Gooey goop?" Get ahold of yourself, crackpot. I do not have "gooey goop" or "slacker sperm" and, even if I did, I'm sure that they don't need your help getting into "Egg Land" (page 19). Oh wait, my wife doesn't have an "Egg Land" inside her body. We don't even eat "Eggland's Best."

It's sad-- people pick up this book because they're hungry for information. They're about to embark on the scariest adventure that two people can undertake. I know, it's not as scary as researching chemo treatment or coming to terms with end-of-life decisions for your parents, but it's scary, and people want information. They want good, reliable information. Not information that is found on page 83 of this book:

"So, You Think You're a Stud?

Get ready for a reality check,
courtsey of the animal kingdom.
Consider this: A male pig
ejaculates 1 pint (yes, pint) of semen
each time he mates; the average human
male ejaculates only 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
of semen. Here's another stat that may
leave you a little, well, deflated. The
average bull ejaculate contains 10 billion
sperm. In comparison, the average
healthy man's ejaculate contains 100 to 200
million sperm. But before you start feeling
sorry for yourself-- or a little envious of
those other male animals-- remember that
pigs and bulls don't get nearly as many
opportunities to mate as humans do.
So, who's the stud now?"

Um.... yeah. I don't even know how to respond to that.

Now, I realize that there are lots of women out there who think that men are retarded. That's fine. I understand that. You have a lot of examples in real life and in pop culture to support that notion. You have Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin and lots of John Goodman characters to support this notion. Here's the thing, though-- we're fifty fucking percent of procreation: period. Obviously, some women, like Heidi here, are uncomfortable with our status in that regard, and feel fit to denegrate us with embarrassing little side-commentaries like "So, You Think You're a Stud" and accusatory diatribes like "Say No to Pot Before You Say Yes to Baby" (wait-- women don't smoke pot?). What's your goal in comparing our semen to that of bulls and pigs? Is that your idea of including us-- or is that just your infantile way of having a little fun at our expense? I think probably the latter.

Here's my take on you: go fuck yourself, cunt.

I'll elaborate: I don't know who the hell you think you are, churning out this mind-mushing, inane, ill-supported garbage, but I'll bet you've made a pretty penny on unsuspecting young couples who have turned to you as some sort of authority figure on pregnancy. Call me crazy, but there's one thing I can't call you, Heidi, and that's "doctor." Nope-- no little letters after your name. You're not an OB/GYN, you're not an obstetrician, you're not a gynecologist, you're not an M.D., you're not even a Ph.D. (that stands for "PhoneyDoc," Heidi-- you know, like Dr. Phil). You're not a midwife or even a doula. At least, not that I know of... I mean, I don't know what the fuck you are-- because there's no "About the Author" section in this book, and I can't tell you how incredibly suspicious that makes me, Heidi-- very, very suspicious. I guess you were too busy thinking of nauseating acronyms like "BFP" ("Big Fat Positive" -- bleeaarrrgggh!) to think about telling us a little bit about you. I guess it's no accident, though, that you conned Charles J. Lockwood, M.D., Chair of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine to write the Foreword to your book.

What'd you do? Promise him a BFC (Big Fat Check)?

Want to know What to Expect Before You're Expecting? A terrible book written by an emotionally immature, puerile, ridiculous woman who TOHA (Talks Out Her Ass). If I were co-author Sharon Mazel, who I'm sure was consistently ignored throughout the "writing process" I would have said, "Hey, Heidi: thanks for putting my name on the cover in a font half the size of yours. Can you take it off instead?"

In The Belly, Off the Balcony

When I was a young boy and I found out that there were people out there who got paid to go out, eat lavish dinners, and write about them, I thought that the world had finally just plain old gone mad.

And I seriously wanted in on it.

The life of a food critic-- there doesn't seem to be anything better than that, anywhere. I mean, I love to eat, and I love to write, so could there really be a better career choice for me? Trouble was, I had no idea how to get started. I suppose I could have eaten at a dozen restaurants on my own dime, written reviews about all the food, and shown them to a newspaper editor in the hopes he or she would have given me a shot-- but that takes effort and start-up capital, doesn't it?

The other thing is, I have a very bad memory for everything but dialogue. So I would have been able to expertly recreate, in exacting detail, all the witty reparte between me and the waiter, but, when it came time to actually writing the review, I would have completely forgotten which soup I ordered, or whether or not there were croutons on my salad.

Plus, I don't drink, so I would have to invite along a companion who enjoyed alcohol somewhat so I could make mention of the quality of the libations. And my wife doesn't drink either, so, um, there would have to be some inebriated third wheel joining us, and that would be, um, awkward.

So I didn't become a food critic, much to my dismay. It's okay, though. I'm not sure anybody actually reads published food critics like Craig Laban anymore. If we want the skinny on a particular restaurant, we go to websites with user-generated comments, even if the spelling is littered with errors and the prose doesn't flow like a fine cognac (see, I have no idea what I'm talking about).

I mean, seriously-- I just happened to read my first Laban food column in probably six years, and it was a review of KFC's Kentucky Grilled Chicken. He didn't like it. Shocking, I know.

I wanted to write about food this morning even though I know I'm not particularly qualified. Not that most food critics are particularly qualified either. In fact, I don't know what makes you qualified to write about food-- are you an English major or a culinary arts student? Should you be both? Probably ideally, and you should also know a thing or two about hotel/restaurant management as well.

I was a theatre major, does that count?

I've been thinking a lot about food recently. Yesterday, my wife took me out on a hot date to the HK Supermarket. "HK," in case you didn't know, stands for "Hong Kong," and what an experience that was. Now, it's true, certain locations inside the store smelled strongly of dead fish that had been left for weeks in an overflowing outhouse in the August heat, but other parts of the store were not as olafactorily offensive. In the produce section, amidst the regular old fruit and veg, there was a startling array of dildo-shaped vegetables, as well as fruit that looked like it should be growing on the moon. They also sold fronds of aloe as big as your torso.

There were probably four aisles devoted just to candy. If you're looking for a specific item, good luck, because it may appear four times in the store, in random places. You really have to have an eagle eye here, and if you don't have one, that's okay. I think they sell those, too. They also sell a wide variety of shrimp-flavored candy and chips, if you're into that. All the food has quaint, faintly bungled Japanese marketing slogans or instructions. "Noodles Make With Japanese Technology." "This Norin traditional is to hang outside the home make for status. Today, Norin is found for common families inside or out." My favorite was the Ramen-type noodle bowl with a picture of three Japanese men in white lab coats and name-tags, each holding up one, two or three fingers, presumably to make the claim that making this dish is as easy as "1, 2, 3!"

For those who like their food moving, there was plenty of that over at the seafood counter. There was a box of live crabs, one was burbling up air bubbles (I don't know if that's a good thing or not) and my vegetarian wife was pretty fascinated. There was a large, elderly black man who was criticizing the shape and fitness of some of the fish (that he was purchasing nevertheless) and he was surrounded by a mob of dour Asian fishmongers who stood around him with their arms folded in front of their chests. I thought it was going to be Sharks & Jets time, so I grabbed Mrs. Apron's arm and pulled her away.

The seafood wasn't the only unusual aspect of the market. At the butcher's section, there was very little read meat to be found. Oh, except for cow's feet. They were chopped up and ready to go. You have to do the walking, though. There were also frog's legs, quail and duck eggs (how those huge honkers come out of little ducky poochies I'll never know) and there were also blueish-looking plucked birds that were literally swimming in their own blood. At least, I hope it was their blood.

I come from a Jewish family of pretty uninspired, inept cooks. We don't, for instance, cook vegetables, we overcook them, killing them until they're beyond dead, making sure every ounce of flavor and nutrients is gone and that they're as flaccid as an octagenarian's weenis. My great-grandmother would make us blackened liverwurst burgers that my sister and I would pretend to eat and then throw off her 18th story balcony at unsuspecting passersby. My grandmother's speciality is baked beans and hot dog pieces. My mother, thankfully, is markedly better in the kitchen, but nowadays most of the cooking is done by my father anyway. Coming from this culinary world as I do, I walked the aisles of the HK Supermarket like a babe in the new world, wide eyed and filled with hope and wonder, even as my nostrils were filled with the abundant smells of oversalted haddock and shrimp chips.

I may never be a food critic, but I suppose being a blogger will just have to do, and it'll have to do nicely. And I have steamed pork buns for lunch today, and I'm a better man for it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Travel Plans

My wife's funny.

We're trying to decide where to go on vacation this summer.

"We should go on one last big trip before we have a baby," she says. That sounds reasonable enough.

"Great," I reply. Where?"

"Oh, I don't know. Somewhere on a plane."


My wife loves to try and get me to do things I hate doing-- like recycling. And flying. She's not particularly dying to travel somewhere intercontinentally, but she wants to fly somewhere with me-- to get me out of my comfort zone. She feels this is good for me, the way that fathers feel that football is good for their pale, gawky, awkward sons. This sometimes covert, sometimes overt prodding is very similar to her insistence that I hold other peoples' children. I know part of the reason she wants me to do it is so that I get comfortable doing it, so that I'll hold our own child when we have one, and part of the reason she does it is so she can get that warm, gushy, schmoopy feeling a woman can only get when she sees her husband cradling a child, thus proving that he's not a total immature, knuckle-dragging, incompetent, retarded asshole. Every woman wants not to think that about her husband, and, even if it's true, no man really looks like that when he's holding a child, unless he's holding it upside-down, or over a balcony railing (no offense to the recently deceased).

We were originally planning on returning to Maine, like we had done last summer, only we would venture a little farther North than we did last year, to explore more of the state. I have recently been reading "Northwest Passage," an extremely poorly-written (lots of misuse of the contraction "it's" which is just unforgivable in a published work) biography of Stan Rogers, and then the idea hit me.

"Hey! Why don't we go to Maine for a little bit and then, you know, just keep going-- up to Halifax or Nova Scotia. We can go to a different country-- without flying!"

At first, my wife saw this for what it was: a totally transparent cop-out by an errant, insipid coward, but, the more I talked the idea up, the more it began to grow on her. Her parents had been up that way for a wedding recently and had nice things to say about the area. Bob, our friend who is building a master closet for us had been there with his wife and son and loved it.

"You know, instead of doing the drive, which friends of mine have done and they say it's lovely, but long, you can catch the auto ferry from Portland."

My wife's ears perked up at this. Here was an opportunity to go where I wanted to go, but to make me do another thing I don't like: travel by water.

Several years ago, we took the auto ferry from Plattsburgh, New York to Vermont and there are a couple pictures of me clutching onto the railing for dear life with a wince on my face that gives the impression some unseen bully had just smeared fresh blueberries all over my pants and called me a "faggot" but I was told I still had to smile for the picture. I think I ended up negotiating with my wife that, if I made it for the first half of the trip (probably around six minutes) that I could sit in the car for the remainder of the watery voyage.

I am very well aware that I am going to die one day, probably of a respiratory-related ailment, and though I'd like to put that off for as long as possible through constant calls to my doctor and a steady diet of maintenance inhalers, I am also pretty fanatical about avoiding dangerous situations that may hasten my demise. These situations include, but are in no way limited to:


Taking the train.

Going out on a boat.


Mowing the lawn.

Repairing the roof.

Walking during a thunderstorm.

Driving during a thunderstorm.

Flying during a thunderstorm.

Shoveling snow.

Getting into altercations or arguments with unknown entitites.

Parking near a BRINKS armored car.

Visiting an ATM after 7pm.

Eating the contents of any can with a visible dent.

Consuming food products past the expiration date.

Consuming medication past the expiration date.

Using public lavatories.

So I try to minimalize my chances of early demise by avoiding as many of those, and other, activities as I can, and yet, I still do lots of them-- though I'm pretty diligent about the dented can rule. You can easily spot me in the supermarket: I'm the guy obsessively fondling every goddamn can in the aisle like I'm a blind fetishist or something. But I'm really not at all crazy about flying, especially if there's no pressing reason to other than to get me to do it more (and of course, statistically, the more frequently you do it, the greater are your chances of dying while doing it-- so there) especially right before we're about to start trying to conceive. It'll make for an absolutely awful local news interview with my mom or sisters after we die over the Atlantic:

"And they were just about to start trying to have a baby.... *Boo hoo hoo!*"

Jesus-- fucking awful-- is that what I want the community to hear about me and my wife? During our honeymoon flight from Jakarta to Bali, the plane started going up and down like a fucking Yo-Yo, and that was all I could think about-- the inevitable, terrible interview sob-story that the vultures would just eat up:

"And *sniff sniff* they were on their honeymoon!"

Awful. Just fucking awful.

No thank you. I'll take that goddamn auto ferry, though. When's the last time one of those went down?

No, seriously-- will someone wikipedia that shit for me? I'm too scared to do it myself.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oh, Jeez-- More Seize, Please!

Read about neurosurgeons, seizures, and the inevitable path towards brain surgery at

Happy Friday, M.F.ers!

Dear Apron In England

Want your dose of Friday venom, spite, and advice?

You've got to go to England to get it!

That's right, kiddykins, I'm guest-writing at Sebastian's blog. He's the UK's answer to... well, nothing in particular, really. But he's a tea-drinkin', cross-dressin' Brit, and who doesn't love that?!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Famous & The Dead

David Carradine...

Farrah Fawcett....

Ed McMahon.....

and, the grand Daddy of them all...

The Queen of Pop.

June has been a pretty bad month for celebrities. I'm glad I'm not a celebrity. I wouldn't want to die in June, particularly this one. It would be a real bumfuck to die during one of the coolest Junes in recent history.

But, you know what they say about death: you don't get to choose. Unless, of course, you're a suicide. You don't have to worry about me on that score, though. Way too much to live for. Way too scared.

Though I'm by no means a suicide risk, I do have to say I'm not altogether too thrilled about waking up tomorrow and hearing people memorialize and mythologize Michael Jackson. My place of employ is going to be electrified with moronic, dunderheaded, pointless drivel about him, and I kind of wish I could spend tomorrow locked in my basement, just kind of let it all pass by without having to listen to any of it-- that would be seriously fine by me. I don't want to listen to people remembering practicing the "Moon Walk" in their parents' basement while wearing feet pajamas. I don't want to hear about some dickhead's first kiss to "Beat It." I mean, who would have their first kiss to "Beat It" anyway? I mean, I'm sure more than a couple pre-adolescent boys had their first kisses that way down at the Neverland Ranch, but that's their problem.

I wonder about the EMTs and paramedics who responded to the 911 call, though. I do wonder about them. I wonder how I would have behaved had I been summoned to render aid to Michael Jackson. It was obviously a critical emergency, and I'd like to think that I would have been all business, but, it's Michael Jackson. I mean, how can you actually tell he's dead? I guess that's where cardiac monitors come in. Can you just step back and picture yourself giving CPR to that man? I mean, fine, as a healthcare professional, you'd be using at least a barrier so your lips wouldn't have to directly touch Michael Jackson's dubious lips, but still... Just picture it.


Also weird-- they're going to perform an autopsy on him, probably tomorrow. How'd you like to be the coroner in charge of that one? Wouldn't you be petrified of what you'd.... find.... in there? I mean, again, it's Michael Jackson. Who the fuck knows what's hiding in there? Maybe he had a titanium duodenum retrofitted, or a small, waterproof music box that plays "Black or White" during digestion. There could be small animals living inside there. Way fucked up. Couldn't pay me enough to cut that shit open and take a peek. Sorry.

As part of my EMT training, I was required to attend an autopsy at the morgue of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. The deceased was your typical old lady-- distended belly, pale, flabby skin. Her wristbracelet said she was 87. No toe-tags. I guess that's just in the movies. She died of cancer but, since she passed away in the hospital, I think an autopsy was required. The gentleman in charge of the morgue at Jefferson was conducting the autopsy, and he cautioned me about professionalism and decorum around the dead.

"A couple years ago, I had a bunch of EMT students in here observing an autopsy on a deceased gentleman. When I cut into the lining of the stomach, a small piece of feces popped out, sailed through the air, and landed on the head of the deceased. This one EMT student, who I later found out was at the top of her class and was certain to graduate with distinction, blurts out, 'Wow! I guess he's a real shithead!' Well, I threw her fucking ass out of my examination room and, when the autopsy was over, I called the head of your EMT program and had her kicked the fuck out. So, just so you know-- in here: you watch your ass, and your mouth."

Needless to say, I was a very, very quiet EMT student for this autopsy. With my mouth, as long as it's open, there's the risk of trouble, so it was firmly shut. I helped him weigh the various internal organs. I helped him saw through the skull to expose the brain. After the top of the skull was off, he told me to cup my hands beneath the deceased woman's head. He snipped around the brain a few times with the forceps and, before I knew what was happening-- plop! -- her brain was in my hands.

You never forget that, I expect.

The philosophy behind requiring EMT students to attend autopsies is, I suppose, to get them comfortable with death, or at least acquainted with it. As a healthcare provider, you're going to be exposed to death eventually, so it probably should be done first in a controlled environment, where you're not responsible for the demise of the individual who has passed on. Plus, it's an incomparable anatomy lesson-- far better than any ditto sheet or textbook illustration.

It does smell worse than textbooks and ditto sheets, though. If you think regular, live old people smell, and they do, try being around a dead one whose rectum has just been cut open.

They say that an autopsy robs a corpse of its dignity, but I think people who say that have never actually been to an autopsy, at least not one conducted by the chief coroner at Jefferson Hospital. This man treats his corpses, well, like patients, and that's not always an easy or expeditious thing for a coroner to do. I trust that the coroner who stands before the corpse of Michael Jackson will do likewise, though I'm pretty sure Michael Jackson's dignity was lost a long time before his final breath.

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3...

At the goodwife's blog, read all about how she received her diagnosis, got poked and prodded and got totally schooled on what an EEG is.

A new Masonic Apron post tonight? We'll see!

P.S. - Some of you might have thought recently that I hate you and your blogs because I'm not reading or commenting on them like I used to.

Um, not true. My summer work schedule is completely different and I barely have time to keep up my own blogski, let alone chitterchatter on yours. So, um, to those of you who love me anyway, you're hot!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

When a Dog Enters Your Life...

Finley padded awkwardly into my life well over six years ago now. I had never owned anything larger, furrier or cuter than a guinea pig before, but I know I will always be a dog owner.

He's a funny little bastard. Tonight, my wife and I were giggling as we watched him consume his dinner lazily on his belly, like an opium-hazed prostitute. I'll bet you didn't know that's how opium-hazed prostitutes consume their dinners. Well, that's why you come to My Masonic Apron, isn't it-- for the edumacation?

Of course, owning a dog isn't all giggles and opium. It's hard work, too. Why, just the other day I picked up his feces. Twice!

Dog ownership is nothing if not expensive, as any dog owner who does more with his dog than lock him in the basement knows. It's even expensive if you ignore half of what the veterinarian says, like that echocardiogram and sonic ultrasound we were supposed to get for Finley. Hmmm... pass.

And then there are those legendary dog farts. Finley's, I feel, are especially eye-watering because of his specific dietary supplements. Evidently, dog food mixed with soy milk and broccoli has a remarkably high sulphur yield. I have had my nostril-hair singed off on more than one occasion by his ass-puckering stenchlettes.

Finley's especially nice to have around in the wintertime, when his fur-laden, elevated body temperature, 70 pound mass cuddles up against us in the frigid night. In the summertime, I kind of forget why we have him sometimes. Until, of course, I catch a glimpse of those beautiful, shimmering green eyes staring up at me with that soulful look that says, "Daddy, I Can Haz Soy Milk?"

You might think that the worst part about owning a dog is the vet bills. Or the stenchlettes. But it's neither of these things. It's the people you encounter when you're out and about with your dog. As Sartre so eloquently and succinctly said, "Hell is other people." It's certainly not dogs.

If you dislike people, you might be tempted to go get a dog. But beware, your contact with people will only increase after you acquire the canine, because they attract people. If you want to repel people, get a Fran Dresher and walk her around your neighborhood. Trust me, no one will bother you. Get a dog, though, and they won't stop coming near you, and they won't shut the fuck up.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm not really that into people. I didn't realize that my human-to-human contact levels would be significantly on the rise after I acquired Finley. Had I known this would happen, I might have reconsidered this new relationship. Before I got Finley, people generally knew instinctively to stay away from me when I was out walking around. I kind of skulk when I walk. I usually have my hands thrust deep into my pockets, my head is thrown forward like an aggressive hood ornament, my brow is furrowed as if I were concentrating on something (I'm usually not) and I walk at an inordinately rapid clip, whether I have somewhere important to be or not. Needless to say, I'm not the kind of person you'd see on the street and say "hi!" to. You'd be too concerned I might give you the finger or start yelling at you in some Arabic tongue.

Now that I have Finley, the scowl and the brow don't seem to deter anybody from accosting me with some time-wasting greeting, a blather or two about the weather, or an inane question or ill-conceived comment about the dog. I never know how to respond to these questions or statements, and I always end up saying something stupid because I'm embarrassed for them. I'm embarrassed that 6 year old children and 65-year-old retirees come up to me and ask "Is he a boy or a girl?"

I always want to answer-- "Why do you want to know? Are you single?"

I mean-- what the fuck is the difference to you whether my dog is a boy or a girl? I realize that there's not much you can reasonably ask about a dog ("Does he have all his original teeth?" sounds very strange) but, why do you have to ask anything at all? When you see someone walking with their spouse, you wouldn't stop them and go, "Hi-- do you believe all this rain we've been getting? Man! So, are you guys married or are you just fuck-buddies?" I mean, seriously-- what's with the questions? Leave me and the dog alone.

Oh, and he's a boy. Wanna suck his dick?

The other question we get about Finley a lot is "Is he old?" People ask this question because Finley is gray and people are conditioned to associate the color gray with oldness, the same way Catholics associate Ritz crackers with Jesus. Again-- why do you want to know? Do you want to help him cross the street so you can get a Boy Scout Merit Badge? Are you going to give him a prostate exam? Do you want to know if he has an Advance Directive? Maybe you're trying to buddy up to him in his autumn years so he'll leave you his collar in his will. You sick bastard. I don't want to picture you wearing his collar. That's disgusting.

Easily, though, the greatest indignity that any dog owner must suffer is the shame and ignominy that comes when your dog has his face buried in the crotch of a visiting human who is also a dog owner, and you must endure that most trite, automatic, idiotic, embarrassed and embarrassing of statements,

"Oh, he must smell my dog!" And it takes every ounce of jaw-clenching, teeth-grinding self-restraint to refrain from replying,

"No, he smells your pussy."

Saying "Please"

Please visit Mrs. Apron's blog for her latest, beautiful entry about the beginnings of our lives together, and the series of events that began her trek towards brain surgery.

You'll be glad you went.

I'll be back later tonight with a blog post of my own. Smoochies!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How We Met

As part of my wife's Brainaversary series, she has decided to take a brief interlude to elucidate how she and I met.

It's a touching story involving little touching. At least, at the beginning.

Enjoy this tale of romance, told here in 3-D.

I Want to Like Matt Lauer

Seriously, I do.

But sometimes he makes it difficult.

This morning on "TODAY" he was interviewing Adrian Fenty, the mayor of Washington, D.C. following the aftermath of the horrific crash between two commuter subway Red Line trains. The interview was proceeding normally and responsibly until Lauer let out this stinker,

"I understand that [name redacted], the operator of the second train that crashed into the back of the stopped train had very little experience. Do you think this was a contributing factor in the crash?"

Um, yeah-- so... this happened.... yesterday? Calm down, fuzz-head. I was livid. Here's the subtext of what he was saying,

"So, can we please prematurely jump to conclusions and irresponsibly heap blame upon this poor, dead individual and tear their family's hearts out even more than it already is? Pleeeease?"

Fenty, for his part, fortunately was having none of it, and he stoically refused to even entertain that idea until the NTSB is through with their investigation. He also stated, quite intelligently, that "there are lots of drivers with the experience level of this driver who perform excellently-- so that may have been a factor, and it may not have been."

Again... this happened..... yesterday? Chillax, media motherfuckers. The NTSB investigation may very well reveal that the driver of the second train was at fault. If that's the case, then we can tar and feather the driver's corpse through the streets of downtown Washington and burn it in effigy from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. But, Jesus Christ, Lauer-- they're still pulling bodies from the goddamn wreckage this morning, and you're already gunning for the driver's reputation?

Who the fuck do you think you are anyway? How would you like it if, tomorrow, Natalie Morales turned up pregnant and Diane Sawyer was reporting about it on "Good Morning America" asking her co-host if he thought "Matt Lauer did it?"

Nothing good comes from premature speculation-- that's the true hallmark of a muckraking, scandal-mongering amateur. Admittedly, it's still easier to like you than Ice Queen Viera, but don't keep giving the American viewing public a reason to think you're a shitlick.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Brainaversary

Long before she was Mrs. Apron, the woman who was to become my wife had her head cut open like a baked potato to correct an arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

I ask you to please join her over at her place to celebrate this most auspicious occasion.

Thank you.

Harken Ye to this Proclamation

This is a big day.

John & Kate (of "John & Kate + 8," but who are we kidding-- you already knew that, right? OMG! LMT!) are making their "big announcement" tonight.

I can barely stand it.

They've teasing our little cocklettes all weekend with this little tantalizing tongue-carrot since they had their PR rep state on Friday that, on Monday, they'd be making an announcement that will "affect both of them and all of their children and will hopefully bring peace to everyone."

Everyone? Even in Tehran? At first, I didn't think that Iran would permit shows like "John & Kate + 8" on Iranian television, but then I thought, wait a minute-- their mission is to get their people to hate us. And what easier way to accomplish that could there be than to flood Iranian airwaves with fatuous, inane drivel like "The King of Queens," "Rachel Ray," and "John & Kate + 8?" Put enough people in front of a boob tube constantly running shit like that and there'll be lines of people snaking around the block chomping at the bit to fly planes into our buildings.

Anyway, I just can't imagine what their big announcement is going to be. It's probably something lame like they're getting a divorce. Like, big fucking surprise. And also, like, way to be original. Everybody gets divorced-- who gives a shit? The only thing that could be potentially exciting is watching DHS take all their kids away because neither of them are competent enough to parent one child, let alone eight. I would enjoy watching that.

Though I realize that their announcement is probably going to be something mundane like a divorce announcement, I couldn't help hoping that it was going to be something really cool like that they've decided to do an on-air murder/suicide pact. Or that they were both actually the opposite gender and that they're going to have sex-reassignment surgery, also on air. Or that they've decided to pursue different career options-- he's going to pilot hot air balloons over the Pacific Northwest, she's going to become a champion ice-fisher.

Maybe the announcement has less to do with them and more to do with the kids. Maybe they've decided to sell all the kids on E-bay. If you win two or more, do you think they'd combine shipping to the United States & Canada? They strike me as the kind of folks that would combine shipping.

Somewhere, though, somewhere deep down in the tendrils and the coils of my tiny little, tired old brain, I had another glimmer of a notion of a thought about what their little announcement might be. Maybe.... just maybe... maybe this idea, this strange little idea they've had to instill some peace and tranquility in their lives and the lives of their children is to.... not be on television anymore....

Can it be?

Can they really have figured it out? Did they somehow get bitten on the tushie by the enlightenment bug and henceforth realize that whatever monies they're receiving from TLC and whatever noteriety (none of it's any good anyway) just isn't worth it at the cost of their children's future? Is it really possible that these two douchebags have seen the light?


That bitch is just becoming an ice-fisher. And I hope she catches a big one.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sometimes, the Supermarket Really is Less Than Super

Bloggers, a word to the wise & otherwise:

If you ever find yourself feverishly and ceaselessly itching the scabby pustule that is writer's block, take my advice: go food shopping.

You will encounter any number of blogworthy topics, whether you feel the need to decry the insidious price-jacking of a small, plastic bottle of Cheerios marketed at the mothers of toddlers that costs $2.99 for one ounce of Cheerios (it was marked down to $1.99, though. Gee, thanks for using lube, pa.) or whether you're particularly grossed out by the vacant, open-mouthed expressions on the deceased rainbow trout beaching themselves on ice-- you'll never leave the supermarket without a tasty idea for your little bloglette.

Trust me.

Today, Mrs. Apron and I went to the supermarket because we needed/wanted produce. We had our hearts set on going to this little Korean produce market, but, alas, it was closed on Sundays. (Weeknights, it's opened until 6:45pm. Seriously, it says that on the sign. Not 6:30, not 7:00-- but six forty-five. Mm-hmm.) So, disappointed but unstoppable in our underpowered PT Cruiser, we putted our way to the local Genaurdi's. I mean, we had even remembered to bring our cloth tote bags and everything.

So, we're at Genaurdi's and we're not even ten minutes into our shopping experience when some woman slams her fat ass into a 6 foot tall cardboard display filled with boxes of specialty "Mighty Leaf" teabags. She stared at the boxes of tea now littering the area and she emitted two small, monosyllabic words, words that you probably would think twice about uttering as loudly and as dramatically as she did in a public place:

"Oohhhhh. Fuuuuck."

Oh fuck. They say that the last words most commonly uttered by pilots at the controls of doomed aircrafts are, "Oh, shit." I guess that's just what you say when you're about to die in a plane crash. I guess "Oh, fuck" is just what you say when you make a complete ass out of yourself in the middle of a supermarket.

Thinking that she was going to in short order pitch in and start apologetically cleaning up her mess as any klutzy, responsible citizen would do, I automatically walked over to the mess and picked up the cardboard display and set it right. Then, I picked up a box of the tea and put it back on the display. There were approximately nineteen boxes left on the floor.

"Oh, man," she said again, aloud, to nobody in particular, "I really just did that, didn't I?"

Um, yeah. You really did. Now can you pull your fingers out of your asshole and help me clean this shit up?

She, of course, did no such thing. She actually bent down to pick up a box, and then she basically just moved it on the floor. She did not put a single box of tea up on the display. I put three boxes back on the display, and then my wife came over and did her share by putting back one box. The fat pig then motioned either to us or to a Genaurdi's employee, I didn't really see, and she said,

"Oh, they'll just clean it up."

Whether she was talking about us or the Genaurdi's employee, it's offensive and cuntytwat. To presume that my wife and I, who, for some reason, had taken the initiative to clean up this hogtit's mess would just continue dutifully putting boxes back until it was all done was outrageous, and my wife and I immediately stopped putting the boxes back and we walked away. To presume that you can make a mess in a supermarket and that "those people who work here" will just clean up after you without even making a goddamn effort to do it yourself is also classist and appalling.

I learned in pre-school, as I'm pretty sure a lot of kids did, that, if you make a mess, you're the one who's supposed to clean it up. Now, obviously that doesn't apply in every situation. It probably wouldn't have been right to take the captain of the Exxon Valdez and throw him in the fucking oil-slicked ocean with a toilet brush and a pair of flippers, but, most of the time, clean up your own mess is pretty much where it's at as far as the social constructs of our society go.

Some people, though, really like to think that they can just float through life, oblivious to all the things that their fat asses knock over because, well, there'll always be somebody to clean it up. Guess what, pigdog, I'm not your maid. I don't even have a maid. I want one, but I don't have one. And, if I did, I'd probably feel so guilty that some poor bitch was coming over to clean up my mess that I'd spend the morning of her visits cleaning.

Sometimes a little good old fashioned guilt is good for people. It keeps them humble. It makes them clean up their own messes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Want

A very bad cat inspired this particular post with a similar post a few days ago, detailing a bunch of things that she wanted that, in an ideal world, she could have.

Well, here's what I want.

I want:

* To be referred to as "The Supreme Leader."

For real-- how fucking twee would that be? I don't necessarily want to be the Supreme Leader of Iraq, and I don't want to walk around dressed in a muu-muu or have a white beard down to my nippitynoos either, but I'd like to be the Supreme Leader of... something. I don't really care what. I work at a non-profit, and I'm referred to as "Program Specialist" or "Project Manager" according to whatever task I'm working on, but neither of these titles really carry the same punch as "Supreme Leader." I would like that to be on my door at work. I would like it to be in the signature line of my emails. I would like to appear in peoples' cell phone contact lists as "Supreme Leader." And the people who have voice-activated dialing would sound so fucking cool as they hold their cellphone to their lips and command it to, "Call Supreme Leader." And the automatic voice of the cellphone would be all like, "Call Stevie Beater?"

* To learn a 6th chord for the banjo.

I'm kind of stymied. You know? I've got G, D7, C, E, D and that's really kind of about it. With some prodding from Mrs. Apron, I can sometimes figure out A, but it's never very comfortable. I've had the thing since Thanksgiving and in that time I've taught myself that much, and I can play a handful of folk songs that only require three chords. I can't figure out if that's laudable or pathetic.

* Lots of cars.

I fucking love cars. From the time I was sixteen to today, I owned lots of cars. Here's a list:

1966 Volkswagen Beetle

1990 Ford Crown Victoria

1989 Volvo 240 DL

1994 Ford Taurus

1997 Ford Crown Victoria

2001 Chevrolet Impala

2001 Volkswagen New Beetle

2005 Ford Focus

When my wife acquires her Honda Fit, I will become the owner of my 9th car, her 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser.

And I ain't anywhere near done yet either. I want lots more cars. Give them to me. Give me your fucking car. Whatever it is, I want it. Unless it's a Pontiac.

* To feel better.

Right now, my throat is sore, I have a fever, there's gunk in my chest and I have post-nasal drip and I feel like I've felt pretty much this way for the last three months. I just want a stretch of, say, seven weeks or so where I feel fine-- where I can breathe correctly and not have a mixture of sponge and lead in my sinuses. Is that too much to ask? No, I don't think so.

* To go gray quickly.

I have probably close to twenty gray hairs in my head-- maybe more, maybe fewer, I don't really know. But I'm growing very weary of the maple-syrup-like pacing of this particular aging component. Can we just get it the fuck over with please? I'd love it if I woke up tomorrow morning and I looked like Steve Martin. That would really be just fine with me. Watching yourself age slowly is unpleasant. You're never sure if it's really happening or not. I'd like to be sure.

* A fucking maid.

Our house is a goddamn mess. Will you please clean it up for us? I promise not to sexually harrass you. I'll just stare at you a lot.

* To be fluent in another language.

I love talking shit about people, but I often am not as careful about it as I should be. Fluency in a foreign language would be just what I need to cloak my venomous barbs. Of course, I would need a select group of other people to also be fluent in whatever language this might be, so they could understand my jests and respond with the appropriate laughter. This would have to be a different language, of course, from whatever the maid speaks. I wouldn't want her to be able to hear me joke about her teeth and tits.

* To eat bad things and never have to worry about it.

If I wasn't so scared of premature demise, I would eat bacon, eggs, sausage & hash browns for breakfast every single morning, a corned beef special every single day for lunch, and some sort of marinated meat dish every single night at dinner. I haven't gained a single pound in a decade, so weight's not my concern. Yet. It's my arteries, and I would like to keep them at least semi-elastic for as long as possible.

* To be able to understand others who are fluent in other languages.

A few days ago, there were these two Russian bitches in back of me at the supermarket and I just know they were talking shit about me...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hold Onto Your Boobies: It's DEAR APRON Time!

For those of you who are still confused about how this works, I take a Dear Abby column and I fuck it up the backside by providing my own sugar-free responses to the questions that hapless, dunderheaded open themselves up to public humiliation by asking.

Fun? Fun.


My 14-year-old son, "Adam," has known he was adopted since he was old enough to understand. Adam's birth parents both were addicted to drugs, alcohol and tobacco. In fact, Adam tested positive for cocaine at birth.

Should I tell him that he is at risk for addiction because of his biological heritage? I want him to be aware, yet I don't want to bad-mouth his birth parents or in any way lead him to think that this is his destiny. I know he associates with kids who may be involved in these things. -- CONCERNED MOM IN ATLANTA


This is why intelligent people only adopt Asian children. Most unwanted kids in developed, Western countries are unwanted for very unsettling reasons. Now you know, for next time, it's China time! Your home will be filled with the comforting sounds of the viola and the soothing, regular "blip!" of the calculator wristwatch. It'll be grand, I tell you. Grand.

Now, about this cokehead Adam-- I wouldn't be too "concerned" about what's going to happen to him in the future-- chances are he's already snorting angel dust off the paper towel dispenser in the school bathroom. Kids these days-- gotta love 'em, you know? If you were really a "concerned mom" than you wouldn't have adopted the spawn of two druggies. You would have adopted a kid from China. But, like I said, next time.

Here's my suggestion for you: progressive-thinking parents these days are all about embracing their kids' addictions and allowing them to fuck up in a controlled, supportive environment, so why don't you try that? Do some serious coke with Adam. In the living room. Share some with the bassett hound. Invite the fucking mailman over. As you've said, it's basically written in the stars that, by 35, he's going to be living in a rain-stained box on the side of the road with two crimson-hued, crusty tampons shoved up his nostrils, so why fight it?


I am one of your male readers. A year and a half ago, my brother was killed in an automobile accident by a drunk driver. We are a very close family, and everyone was devastated. My sister-in-law, "Grace," and I were always close, and we have become closer lately. Now we're discussing the possibility of a relationship.

Grace has three grown sons, and I realize there could be issues or concerns with the boys and our families, but we feel they would want us to be happy.
Is this something that is acceptable, and does it happen often? We have never discussed the fact that I am not my brother and cannot -- and never would try to -- replace him. I couldn't. He was a great man. -- LOOKING FOR INSIGHT IN THE MIDWEST


Oh my God-- I have male readers?!

Listen, Ted, everybody knows you were the "drunk driver" who killed your brother, just so you could get with Grace. I have to say, while I was initially disgusted by your deplorable and murderous actions, I couldn't help but think how ambitious and clever it was of you to bump off your brother in that way. Most people would have done it in some cowardly way like poison or a cougar attack, but you actually put your own safety and welfare at risk. I mean, hey-- that's dedication. And you fucking totaled your Buick, too. Can't replace that anymore!

Ted, Grace's grown sons will obviously have some serious problems with you dick-dipping their mom, because she's your sister-in-law, for Christ's sake, and you killed their dad-- but they'll come around eventually. I'm sure you'll see to that. Hey-- maybe you can seduce them too while you're at it. That seems to be your forte, you lothario, you. And, if that doesn't happen fast enough for you, hey, accidents happen, right, Ted?


When I take a break at work I like to read, but I am often interrupted by co-workers. Even though they see me reading, they insist on starting a conversation. I don't mean to be rude, but it is relaxing for me to "escape" for a few minutes, and I feel robbed when I can't enjoy my latest book. It is too far to go to my car, and we are not supposed to leave the area anyway.

What can I do or say without being considered unkind? -- ANITA IN CINCINNATI


Honey, let's get real with each other, okay? You don't give a shit about being "unkind." You're a hair-pulled-back, black-glasses-wearing, thin-lipped, disapproving-glare-wearing little bitch, aren't you? I can see you, very accurately, and while I would be at least passingly interested in watching you shower, you ain't shit, okay? You're a mean little turdlette, so let's get mean.

Here's a list of things that you can try out on your annoying coworkers who just won't let you finish your latest Neil Gaiman masterpiece:

1.) Inform the offender that if they talk to you again you will put a hit out on their mother.

2.) Look up from your book and announce, "I have AIDS."

3.) Throw scalding hot coffee in the face of anyone who comes within four feet of you.

4.) If someone initiates a conversation with you during reading time, immediately shit yourself.

5.) Jump up and down, start shrieking in an extremely loud, high-pitched voice, "KILLER SQUID! KILLER SQUID!" and then repeatedly lick the face of the offending coworker.

6.) Start cutting.

7.) Threaten to report your talkative colleague to the House Un-American Activities Committee.

8.) Start bawling like a teething two-year-old until the asshole walks away.

9.) Commence vigorously eating the book.

Or, 10.), you could always just get the fuck over yourself and realize that you're a goddamn grown-up in the real world and not in school during a fucking Silent Sustained Reading period.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Things I Don't "Do"

You know the housekeeper (or wife) who is fond of saying,

"I don't "do" windows?"

Yeah, well, in honor of her (get out that Windex, bitch), here's a list of things that I don't "do."

* Breakfast Burritos

Sorry, Ron McDon, but, from one clown to another: Homie don't play. I'm suspicious of the contents of your hamburgers, so why would I open myself up to a potential world of pain by sinking my teeth into a completely disguised breakfast conglroption? I very much doubt that anybody really knows what the fuck is actually in there and, if there are people out there who do, they should be ashamed of themselves. I know I make some questionable comestible decisions in my daily life (see post regarding semen-coated processed ham) but I will not engage in the food fiesta known as the Breakfast Burrito. I'm sorry, those are two words that were never meant to be put together, despite the seductive nature of the alliteration.

* Confrontation

If you were six foot and 136 pounds (fully clothed, with oversized wallet and keys in pocket) you wouldn't "do" confrontation either. As you know from reading this blog, I have a big fucking mouth. I'm a 20-something blogger ("The bloggers with the most to say!") and I can be one irate sonofafuck-- but that's online. It should come as no shock to you that someone who has a penchant for written bellicosity online would be meek and almost mute in real life. I'm very reluctant to go toe-to-toe with anybody, much more preferring to make peace and mediate the disputes of others. Even though there are some people I would like to massacre with the tines of a fork.

Yesterday, for example, I was getting my car's oil changed. I was chit-chatting with Jack, the baby-faced, genteel Chinese mechanic when the brutish thug who owns the gas station stormed into the garage, cut in front of me while I was talking and yelled, "JACK, GET ME AN ALLEN KEY!" Jack immediately stopped talking to me and meekly retrieved the Allen key, just like the model minority that he is. I quietly stewed in my rage until the bastard left the garage area, and then I made fun of him with Jack. But, in my fantasy, this is what happend:


Fantasy Me: HEY! How about, "Excuse me, Jack-- could you please get me an Allen key?"

Asshole: Who the fuck are you?

Fantasy Me: Who the fuck am I? I'm your Daddy, bitch. And you're about to get spanked.

* Small Talk

I can't fake my way though it. I can't pretend I like it. I can't chit-chat with the woman on the corner who has two dachsunds barking miserably in the background without a pained wince bubbling to the surface. Everytime someone mentions the weather to me, I cringe. The weather? Seriously? Do you really have that little to say to me? Then how about just saying nothing? I was once criticized by a former employer for "not making more of an effort at small-talk."

"But, I'm working," I lied. I was online most of the time looking for other jobs.

"Well, it wouldn't kill you to ask how my weekend was or something like that."

I stared at her in disbelief. I was laid off a month later.

This was the same woman who, by the way, criticized my supervisor, during an actual end-of-year evaluation, for not acknowledging her birthday.

* Facebook quizzes

Yeah, we've been over this before, but I feel it bears repeating. If you think that knowing the answer to such mind-deadening questions as "Which Sopranos character are you?" or "Which swimming event is your speciality?" or "Which handheld bluetooth activated cellular device are you?" is going to bring us closer, than you're obviously Facefucked.

* iPods

This little piece of technology has somehow passed me by. I like to think that I'm pretty with it. I have a handheld bluetooth activated cellular device (and it poings when I get an email!), I have a GPS unit for the car, we have a flat screen TV AND computer monitor, I watch shit on Hulu and I consider myself a pioneer consumer of online streaming pornography-- but I don't go to iTunes and download iSongs to fill an iPod that I then strap onto my iShoulder to go iJogging in iPublic. In fact, I don't "do" anything that begins with a small letter "i" followed immediately by a capital letter with no space iN between.

I'll never have an iPhone, either. I love real buttons far too much.

* Infidelity

Sorry, ladies, but I think you basically have to be the scum of the earth or worse to make a lifelong committment to another person and then go dick-dipping. If things are really lousy, that's why normal people can get divorced (sorry, Catholics, you're weird) but there is no justification, ever, for cheating on your spouse. Period. I'd rather insert my cock into a jar of acid than let it touch another woman. People tend to forget that they have self-control and that, just because there are hot women out there, some of whom might actually might want to sleep with or otherwise seduce you, you actually have something called impulse control. Use it.

* Shorts

I absolutely do not "do" shorts. I mean, I wear them, but I do not "do" them. There's a difference. I wear shorts begrudingly. I'm never happy about it. I look like a chicken wearing a very strategically-placed cotton ball. I got from 2nd grade through 9th grade without ever wearing shorts, except maybe for gym, but I didn't like it. Fortunately, from the second half of 10th grade through 12th grade, I took ballroom dancing instead of normal gym. No shorts required.

* Any activity that follows the word "Extreme"

Yeah... in first grade, I broke my right foot in music class. I think that pretty much explains this one.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Try Not to Get Backed Over By My Father-in-Law

In case you didn't know, Sunday is Father's Day.

Last night, my wife left the house to go tutor her student. A couple minutes after she left, she called me.

"Hi, buddy," she said, "what are you planning on doing tonight?"

"Well, I'd like to practice banjo," I replied.

"Oh. Would you like a p-word?" (This means "project." A "project" is usually defined as some haphazard, fucked up errand usually having to do with her family.)

"Um, not particularly." Pause. "What is it?"

"Well, I just listened to a voicemail from my mother-- it was about a Father's Day gift for my father."


"Would you please go to Amazon and order him a copy of "My Father's Paradise" by Ariel Sabar?"

I was relieved. Finally, an easy request, and a normal present to boot.

"Sure," I said.


"And, could you also research audible backup warning alarms?"



You know what we're talking about here, right? Throw a truck in reverse and hear a BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! loud enough to wake up your Facebook Zombie. These reverse warning alarms are typically found on, oh, I don't know-- big rigs... U-Hauls. Mail trucks. They're not necessarily items you would expect to find on a 2003 silver Honda Accord.

Now, my wife's father is a strange duck, as are lots of our fathers, but this particular gift desire took even me by surprise. As I was researching the various audible backup warning alarms on Froogle and Ebaymotors, I couldn't help laughing hysterically and pounding the desk in front of me. This man is my father-in-law and he deserves to be respected, but, come the fuck on already. What could a psychiartist in his mid-sixties want with an audible backup warning alarm?

Has he run somebody over?

Does he routinely drive in reverse on the grounds of a local school for the deaf during recess?

Does he harbor some secret wish to feel like a UPS man? Will he eventually carry out the fantasy by brush-painting his car brown and ordering large quantities of chocolate-hued uniform shorts?

I think it's probably less about the actual device and more about the gadgetry. He's all about techno-baubles. His car looks like the inside of a police cruiser. He has a custom-built laptop table which he made himself out of spare pieces of wood from the basement. There are more fucking wires and shit draped all over the interior of that car than there are vines in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. There's the auxiliary thermometer, and the compass, and the GPS unit and Christ knows what else-- probably a homing device or a mini-satellite dish. I guess this is the one final piece of auxiliary technology he hadn't gotten around to installing on the car. Besides the fare meter.

It's not about the beeping when he reverses. It's about the technology and the nerdery. He's a total nerd. As I was researching the alarms, I saw the specifications and I said to myself, "Aha, this is what he really loves:"

Voltage: 12V±3V
Temperature: -40ºF~+185ºF
Beep volume: 70~90dB
Input: <4W Range (Rear): 1.0~8.4 ft

All that shit that is essentially Mandarin to me. He loves it. And he'll totally get off on installing it, too, all by himself, in the driveway. It will take him all Sunday long, but he'll be in heaven. He will be out there, all 101 pounds of him, in his button-down, short-sleeve, threadbare blue Oxford dress shirt and torn trousers, crumpled tissues hanging out of his pocket, his salt-and-pepper hair awry whistling Mozart bassoon solos and airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore and mumbling calculations and machinations to himself that the rest of the world would never understand as he blissfully tinkers and putters the day away.

And, shit, if that's the Father's Day he wants, let him have it.

My only fear is that he won't install the alarm exactly correctly, because that's his M.O. I worry that he'll install it connected just a hair wrong so that it will beep incessantly whenever the car is put into Park, say, or-- worse-- Drive. These things tend to happen, you know.

But, still, I love him, and I wish him a Happy Father's Day. Beeps and all.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Post As Inevitable As Death Itself

You'd think that, for a person as obsessed with death as I am, I'd write about it more.

I mean, I write a lot about other peoples' deaths, but I kind of shy away from writing about my thoughts about my own. I guess that's because it hasn't happened yet. Or maybe because I'm just too scared.

A few days ago, someone was talking to me about my time as a practicing EMT. She asked me if any of my patients ever died in the ambulance. In just over a year-and-a-half on the street, I am still relieved to report that nobody ever died while under my care, not even the spindly little grammaws who were definitely at least gently tapping on death's door with their brittle fingernails.

"No, no one died on me," I replied, "but plenty of people threw up."

That reminded me of one particular patient who did plenty of throwing up in the back of the ambulance with me. He was an elderly gentleman, very sweet and kind. His first name was Jacob, and he was being discharged via ambulance from the hospital to a long-term care facility. During the ride, he vomited four or five times. I would clean him up and the half-full basin rested on the vinyl bench seat next to me as the contents sloshed around uneasily with every Northeast Philadelphia pothole. He was extremely good natured and repeatedly apologized, which I told him was nonsense. I would take his pulse every five minutes or so, and it was steady and regular, though a bit weak. He had good color and wasn't in any distress.

I leafed through his discharge packet, which contains vitals from his hospital stay, nurses and doctors' notes and observations by the various therapists who visited with Jacob. He had been in the hospital for pneumonia and was having lots of difficulty keeping food down. He was on thickened liquids and had been upgraded to oatmeal just this morning, all of it was now in the pink emesis basin.

When my partner and I plopped him into his bed at the long-term care facility, I gave report to the nurse who accepted him. She, like many nurses, barely listened to my report. I mentioned that he vomited several times and should be kept upright to avoid aspiration. She turned her back to me, the universal sign for "Go Away" and so my partner and I walked out with our clipboard and her signature. Just like when you receive a package from Fed-Ex.

"Should we have taken him to the hospital?" I asked my partner as I opened the rear ambulance door to put the throw-up basin in a biohazard bag.

"Why? Because he lost his lunch a few times?" my partner asked.

"I don't know. That was a lot of throw up."

"Don't think so much," he told me. People are always telling me that. "Come on," he said, "let's get you some coffee, you'll feel better."

The next day, we were summoned to the hospital again and the obese nurse in the yellow scrubs who used to enjoy razzing me stopped us in the hallway.

"Hey, that sweet fella you took yesterday died this morning. I thought you guys should know."

"He did?" I asked. I immediately felt awash in guilt and sorrow.

"Yeah, they rushed him in late last night. Shame."

This was the only patient I had transported that I had heard passed away, though I'm sure others did. I could not shake the feeling that I was in some way responsible for his death, that, if we had taken him emergently to the hospital instead of the care facility that he would have survived. Of course, throwing up a couple of times does not constitute an emergency, but what if you're a frail old man being discharged from the hospital with GI issues, pneumonia and you're an aspiration risk? Is it an emergency then? My partner didn't think so, and he was a paramedic with many more years experience than me. But I couldn't stop thinking about it-- couldn't stop second-guessing myself. Fortunately, I was already one week into my two-week notice when I received the news about Jacob. I don't know how much longer I would have stayed on anyway.

I remember the night that my father's father passed away. He was dying slowly for some time in a nursing home in Australia. My sisters and I were watching "The Hard Way," starring Michael J. Fox and James Woods. We were laughing our asses off in the basement when we were called upstairs into the living room, long the arena of choice for family disputes, debacles and other assorted get-togethers. It was nighttime, pitch black outside, and all the lights in the living room had been turned off. My mother called to us, so that we could follow the sound of her voice, and told us not to turn the lights on. She and my father were on the sofa and he was sobbing, a sight that we were not allowed to see. His Abba was gone, and it was too much for even this old soldier to bear. He held each of us to him and clutched us with his big, awkward hands as his tears got on our arms and clothes.

Now, years and years later, I cannot bear to be at their house in the dark. When my wife and I go over for family dinners, my parents enjoy sitting at the dining room table or in the living room as the sun sets without switching on any lights. As 8:30 or so nears, and it gets a little too dark, it always prompts an uneasy,

"Jesus, can we turn on some fucking lights in here, please? What is this-- a goddamn strip-club?"

I make it into a joke because I have to. I don't want to be in the dark in my parents' house again.

Death's funny-- well, the way you think about it is, at least. I used to fear dying and being mourned and remembered and missed by no one. This, I feel, is the single greatest impetus behind the human animal's desire for fame. Now that I have a wife, I dread death because now there is someone who will mourn, remember and miss me, someone who will most likely, statistically, be left behind. She is the vegetarian in this relationship, after all. And I consume dubiously-coated processed meat.

I don't think that I obsess about death the same way I did when I was a little boy. I used to think about it constantly. It would keep me up at night. The entire night. For days on end, I wouldn't sleep, convinced I would not awaken if I let down my guard. I think I was the only third grader in the Western world with deep, dark purple circles around my eyes. Ironically, as I've aged, those circles have not increased, they've gone away. I sleep soundly through the night, more often than not. I've learned how to be happy in the moment-- somewhat. Though I still catch myself thinking about death, usually at very inopportune moments. Like when the Mrs. and I are having a cuddle on the couch, I'll think about it. Why does a love like this have to end? Why was it ever allowed to start if it has to stop and tear the remaining one of us apart? How and when will it happen? Usually, I'm able to quickly rid my brain of these thoughts and get back to the snuggle, but it always comes back. While we're watching a movie, while I'm walking the dog, while I'm brushing my teeth-- it comes back.

At the dentist last week, I was told that one of my bottom wisdom teeth, that I had previously thought was totally bone-impacted was poking through the gum. The dentist told me I had to get it seen to.

"I know it isn't bothering you now," he said, knowing the cavalier attitude I take towards dental issues, being a notorious appointment-postponer, "but this is an eventual problem. Down the road, maybe when you're in your seventies, you'll develop an small little infection down in there, maybe pneumonia will set in, and that'll be it."

"So, basically what you're telling me is that I'll be killed by my wisdom tooth?"

"Well, maybe," the dentist replied. "Maybe."

Through the paths that I've chosen for myself, I know that my demise will probably not be glorious or newsworthy-- I won't be going down with the shipwreck on the shores of Bermuda, I won't be slain while trying to apprehend a dangerous felon, but I don't think I want to be felled by a fucking toothache. I mean, I realize I'm a bit of a loser, but that's pathetic.

I used to go to my mother with my fears about death, and she'd tell me to stop it.

"If you spend your entire life worrying about death, you'll never get to enjoy life," she'd advise.

"But it's scary," I'd say.

"I know it's scary. But you won't be so scared all the time if you'd stop thinking about it all the time. Cut that shit out," she'd wisely conclude.

While I haven't cut that shit out entirely, I think I'm at a point in my life where I can balance my enjoyment of life with my inevitable thoughts about death.

See, ma? You can have it all.

As long as the lights stay on.

Sticky Ham & Other Profundities

They tell you not to judge a book by its cover, but isn't that what everybody does in Borders?

You also probably shouldn't judge pre-packaged ham by its expiration date, but that's what I did yesterday in my kitchen.

Shame on me.

I purchased a vacuum-sealed package of Primo Taglio hammy slices at the market yesterday morning and, as I was preparing my lunch like a good little poor boy, I opened the package. When I stuck my hand in to extract a slice or two of ham, I felt as if I had just lost my wristwatch up Slimer's asshole. My face contorted in displeasure as I said aloud, "What the fuck is that?" to no one in particular-- maybe the dog who was salivating below, hoping I would drop a bit of porcine pleasure onto the floor. I turned my gaze reluctantly towards the packaging and observed a very thick, mucousy film covering the ham and the inner packaging. It looked like Gollum had vomited all over my ham.

I immediately pulled out my hand, which now looked like I had been fistfucking sewer pipe, and washed it under scalding water with copious amounts of Dawn. I then thoroughly inspected the package for some kind of clue as to what this mystery goop could be. I carefully scanned the back of the packaging for words like "saliva" and "rubber cement" but I found no such ingredients. Turning it over to the front, I read the words, "Primo Taglio Sweet Maple Ham -- In Natural Juices." Hmpf, I thought. Whose natural juices? They looked, and felt a lot like my "natural juices." My horny juices. What was my ham doing covered in horny juice? And then I read the expiration date: August, 2009.

Oh, I thought. Phew. It's fine. And I finished making my sandwich.

After I came home from work, I told Mrs. Apron about my unsettling culinary experience.

"So, what did you end up taking for lunch?"

"Oh, the ham. I made myself a ham sandwich."

"You ate that? You ate ham that was covered in semen?"


"That's disgusting." Sometimes she's such a vegetarian.

"What? The expiration date says August, 2009."

Listen to me. "But the expiration date says!" What if the ham had been black? What if it had glow worms going to the bathroom on it? Would I still have eaten it if the expiration date said it was okay? What if the expiration date was a misprint? What if the meat was infected and infested with piggy-sicky and hoof and mouth and mad hammy disease? What would I have done if it smelled like dead chick pussy? Would I still have eaten it?

And, the sad, cold, hard truth of the matter is: I just don't know.

See-- I trust safety inspectors. When I see and expiration date, it's like a speed limit sign or a contract-- it is meant to be obeyed. Expiration dates don't lie. We once had milk in our refrigerator that had gone past its expiration date a couple days prior, and Mrs. Apron was still expecting me to use it in my coffee. Now, granted, I only put in about the equivalent of one tablespoon of milk in coffee, but I sniffed that shit like it was coke. I poured it gingerly, slowly, methodically into my cup, as if it were liquid nitrogen or holy water. And, all that day, I waited for the inevitable signs of food poisoning. But, see, the milk smelled absolutely fine. It didn't have semen in it. But, because the date was a couple days past, I was immediately suspicious.

The ham, though, was fine, because the numbers on the package said so.

This reminded me of my EMT training course. Our instructor was desperately trying to instill in his students a sense of moral responsibility, a feeling of duty, he was trying his best to create empathic, observant, intelligent, compassionate, competent emergency medical technicians. Of course, for all his efforts, I was the only one in the class who graduated, but that's beside the point. I remember one class he was teaching us about the pulse oximeter, which is a small, handy device that measures the oxygen saturation of a patient's blood, as well as their heart rate and respiratory rate. Ed was trying very hard to tell us not to be lazy EMTs, EMTs who just watched the numbers on the pulse-ox and never actually checked on the patient, as long as the numbers were good.

"Look," he said to us, "granmaw Edith can have great numbers on the pulse ox-- she can be satting at 99% on room air and have a pulse of 92 and respirations of 16, and that's all great, but look at her fucking face-- what if it's blue? Ask her how she's feeling every now and then, for Christ's sake. Don't just look at the numbers. A patient can have numbers that read fine and they can be dying right in front of you. So don't be an asshole, right? The numbers don't tell the whole story."

And ham can be very much expired, just like granmaw Edith, no matter what the numbers on the package say.

"Well," Mrs. Apron asked finally, "how did it taste?"

"Oh, it was great."

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Morning Off

Some of you rabid, trembling addicts might notice that my morning blog is a tad later in coming than usual.

That's because, for services above and beyond the call of duty this weekend, I was graciously offered the morning off by my employer, and I graciously accepted.

But I didn't spend it stinking around in bed, though-- oh, no.


Though it's only 9:10am, I've been a productive little bastard already.

I ate breakfast with and saw off dear Mrs. Apron at 7:15. Walked dog. Picked up shit. ("Oh, thank you for doing that! You know, my husband would be the one who would step right in that if you didn't pick up! Welcome to the neighborhood!")

Drove to the supermarket.

Strange people are at the supermarket at 7:35am on a Monday morning. I saw at least three nurses, or, at least, women in scrubs. You never know who's a nurse anymore. Everybody wears scrubs. I don't know why-- I guess because it's easy and people like to look like nurses. It's interesting that, fifty years ago, when nurses wore white dresses and little cloth hats with red crosses on them that janitors and housekeepers didn't emulate that particular style. I guess that's a good thing. People think scrubs are comfortable, but I don't. I have one pair of scrubs that I wear to sleep in, and the seam cuts right inside my asshole. Maybe some people like that.

There was also a man buying nine 2 liter bottles of Nestea. Nothing else. I was suspicious of his motives.

I brought two cloth bags with me to the market. The environment and I have a tenuous relationship. She gets along a lot better with my wife. I have a hard time acclimating myself to doing right by the environment, because there's rather a lot to remember. I'm more often than not inclined to angrily and mechanically throw junk mailers in the garbage can without thinking to recycle them. I frequently cannot be bothered to turn over a goddamn Chinese takeout container and squint and hold it under the light to ascertain whether it's a 1 or a 2 inside the fucking triangle. I try. God help me, I do. Many, many times, I try to remind myself to bring cloth bags to the supermarket but, often, I just plain old forget. And the plastic bags they give out (for free!) at the market are so, so useful for dog shit. I can't pick up that in a chic Whole Foods cloth bag.

But today, I remembered. I remembered to take the cloth bags out of the house and put them in the car. I remembered to take them out of the car. I remembered to shove them into the grocery cart.

I just forgot to put the groceries in them.

See, when I get to the checkout line, I'm a maniac. For me, bagging groceries is the equivalent of a NASCAR pit stop. If it's not done in under 8.64 seconds, I'm a failure. First of all, I hate standing there while somebody else bags for me. I feel like those people who bring their cars to the car wash and then get out while some Hispanic guy with four teeth vacuums out the car, puts it into neutral and sends it through for you, while you stand there in your fucking Ray Bans and slicked back hair and madras shorts and point at all the spots he missed while he's thinking about raping your wife.

I especially hate standing there while the blind bagger at ACME bags my groceries. I just can't do it.

So, I bag. And I bag fast. Look at me go! I'm fucking fast! I don't want to inconvenience anybody by being slow or haggling about the price of pork chops or asking if I can go back to see if Bounty X-tra Thirsty is on sale this week. I don't want anybody to stand behind me and roll their eyes or check their watch surreptitiously give me the finger inside their pants pocket. I don't even want to slow up the pervert buying all that iced tea for the cultish orgy he's hosting tonight. So, in my haste to bag faster than you can say "OCD," I totally neglected to use the cloth bags.

Sorry, Mother Nature. I fucked up, yo.

After returning home, I decided that I should attend to home maintenance chores that have been somewhat ignored during the last couple of weeks I have been involved in tech and dress rehearsals for the show I was in this weekend. The hedges that I had meticulously cut a few weeks ago now looked like the Green Giant's afropubes on crack and I was not pleased. So, before the church bells in the distance struck 8:00am, I was out there with the hedge clippers. Although they really only needed a trim, because I am obsessive and anal, I gave them a buzz cut and, Earthlovers, you'll be so proud of me, I even put all the clippings in the lawn recycling refuse bag! Yay, me!

Then, I turned my attention to the weeds. Mrs. Apron and I had done some perfunctory weeding around a month ago, but nothing since then. Well, the thing about weeding is, it's really, really fucking awesome-- especially if you have obsessive compulsive tendencies. If you're a superfreak, weeding is like Pringles-- once you pop, you can't stop! It's so cathartic to hear those roots snap as they yield to your powerful grip.


*Sigh.* It's a beautiful thing.

We bought this house in February on a short sale, which means that the bank was in charge of the sale, because the previous owners had ceased paying their mortgage. And their real estate taxes. And their school taxes. And their sewer bill. And, presumably, most other bills. Though I'm not exactly sure, I'd be willing to bet there is a real correlation between the amount of bills a homeowner stops paying to the amount of weeds that grow in his/her yard. Let me tell you, at 8:00am today, this house looked like a fucking jungle. Yes, neighbors were staring at me as I, clad in a dress shirt and slacks, was methodically hunting down and strangling the life out of nefarious looking weeds on a weekday morning, but it had to be done. This is a house where people pay their fucking bills and pull their fucking weeds now.

Now it is.

It's a beautiful thing to have the morning off.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

An Open Letter to the Guy in the Black Passat Wagon


Just what the fuck is your deal, pal?

You insist on parking your black Passat wagon the wrong way on our street, and you do it every day. Parking is only permitted on one side of our street, and everyone else parks facing west-- the flow of traffic, but you park your black Passat wagon facing east. Yours is the only car parked the wrong way.

Our street is only one block long, as you know, so the fact that there are only approximately fifteen cars on our street all doing one thing and your car doing another really kind of makes you stand out. The red Fit parks correctly. The old fucks who own the stupid-looking, bloated-ass Buick Rendezvous and the Buick Century that is mysteriously covered in a clear, plastic tarpaulin-- those cars face the right way. Even the black family who abandoned their non-running 1990 Honda Accord with three tires and a donut at the corner of our street a month ago at least had the decency to park it facing forward.

But then there's your black Passat wagon, facing the wrong way, every day, like a great, big, black, German middle finger extended not only at parking rules, not only at The Man, but at the rest of us who try to get through life doing the right thing.

Doing the right thing doesn't concern you much, does it? See because, if it did, you would park correctly. It's really not hard. Some of us come home from a hard day's work and we actually have to drive around the block in order to have our cars facing the correct way when it's time to park on our street. It takes an extra, oh, I don't know, forty-seven seconds. You could do that, too, if you wanted. But you clearly don't want to.

And I know why.

Because you're bald, motherfucker.

That's right. I've seen you. Your head looks like a giant penis because it's completely hairless and bullet-shaped, and you're not sexy like Yul Brenner or even Kojak or Skinner from "The X-Files" or Mr. fucking Clean. You just look like a cock, and you behave like one, too. A defiant, rule-breaking, parking-decorum-ignoring dickhead.

And you're a mean sonofafuck, too. I know-- I've heard you yelling at your little son who, hopefully, will one day grow up into the kind of guy who will run you over with your own black Passat wagon.

Look, I'm sorry all your hair fell out and shit, and you yell at your son because you're impotent and frustrated and angry at God and all, but, seriously, will you just park your car the way everybody else on our street does? You're nothing special, okay? You don't work for the CIA or NASA or Obama or anything cool like that, so you don't get parking privileges on our street, sorry. There's two cars the next street over that have State Department license plates and, guess what, cock-neck? They park the right way, even though they're too cool for rules.

I realize that, for some reason, you are under the impression that societal norms, the unspoken, unwritten rules and codes that keep us all in line and not participating regularly in looting, wife-swapping or ritual murder simply don't apply to you. I don't know-- maybe I should be writing an open letter to your fucking mom who obviously let you track mud and shit into the house growing up and looked the other way while you kicked the family dog in the face. But there's a lot that can be gained emotionally by simply playing along with everybody else. For one thing, people won't write angry blog posts about you. Then, maybe people in the neighborhood will actually say "hi" to you. But by choosing to abandon and forsake the simplicity of everyday courtesy, you are putting you and your family on a very lonely island, where your black Passat wagon is the glittering, glowing, and unkind beacon of "FUCK YOU" to the rest of the world.

Is that the world in which you want to live? Ask yourself this question and then maybe you'll spend the extra forty-seven seconds it takes to drive around the fucking block and have your car facing the same way everybody else's does. You'll be amazed at how good conformity feels sometimes.

Mr. Apron

P.S. Oh, and thanks so much for baking us brownies and throwing us a block party and so generously welcoming us to the neighborhood.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Fable of the Small Gray Creature (Yes, it's Re-Run Time!)

Long, long ago, before the victors and the Victorians, before the Tudors and the mock-Tudors and the Raphaelites and the Pre-Raphaelites came and befuddled the world, there lived only animals; plain and pure and simple.

They swung from trees quite gracefully before National Geographic was there, snapping away. They groomed each other and played with each other before Jane Goodall showed up with her notepad, ponytail, and her khaki shorts. They flew hither and thither with aplomb and indifference to everything except the location and quantity of their next meal. Quality is not of great concern to an animal, of course. They do not reject a worm for being “a tad mealy,” and they do not cringe at the “mouth-feel” of a tender mouse. There is no kitchen in the wild to which to banish an unsatisfactory dish.

The animals were, in general, a complacent bunch in those days. Certainly there was a squabble or two, but these came and went like the wind, and were not given much more thought than that. This one’s in my burrow. This one’s eaten my kill, or my young. That sort of thing. But, at least each fight arose from a logical and organic conflict. No animal ever decided that it did not like another simply because of the color of its fur or feathers. That type of disagreement was best left to the human race, which would come in time.

In these days, animals rose with the sun, without exception. This was, after all, the logical and organic thing to do. Piercing sunlight is hardly conducive to a proper night’s rest. When the sun showed its first inkling of desiring a rest, all the animals would hurry back to their nests or their warrens or their trenches or their holes and sleep peaceably for the night. The snores and whistles and breaths of a billion different creatures echoed throughout the world, but there was nobody there to hear it: no quarrelling merchants, no back talking politicians, no hikers or bikers, no terrorists or atheists… no one at all, but the animals, the sleeping animals in the dark.One morning, when the sun rose as it does, and the animals scurried this way and that way to find breakfast and lovers, a particularly adventuresome gray creature bounded away from his brothers and sisters in search of something he had never seen. He wanted to know something very simple: he wanted to know what he looked like. When he looked into the small, black eyes of his brothers and sisters, he saw what looked like some creature staring back at him, but it was so warped and distorted that he just wasn’t sure it was even he. He was always asking his brothers and sisters what he looked like, but they were very silly and brutish and never gave him a straight answer.

“You look a right bastard to me!” one of his older brothers offered before rolling about on the ground in utter hysterics.

“You’re no help at all,” the young gray creature cried. “I hate you!”

Whatever he looked like, he thought, he at least hoped he didn’t look like his older brother. What a cruel, hurtful being he was. He couldn’t possibly look like that, he thought. Though, the reflection in his brother’s eyes… it was similar. Well, he really couldn’t tell. His older brother rarely ever kept still long enough for him to have a good, solid look anyway. He was always moving about and hanging from branches and generally being very silly. The small, gray creature was not interested in silliness or mucking about. He just wanted one thing: to know what he looked like. So he set off to find someone who would tell him.

He wandered about for what seemed like forever, but it couldn’t have been very long, for the sun in the sky had barely moved. He came across several black birds going at a corpse rather energetically with their probing beaks.

“Pardon me,” said the small, gray creature.

“Clear off!” one of the birds shouted, a pink, quivering bit of food flying out from its beak.

“I’d like some help, please.”

“What’chu want?” asked another, after tearing off a sliver of flesh matted with bloody hair.

“Well, you see, I’m a bit curious about… well… oh, it’s silly, I suppose.”

“What is it?” asked the third bird, impatiently stamping down its claw on the deformed head of its prey, forcing out a bit of peach-colored brain.

“I… I want to know what I look like is all. Just… what I look like.”

“What he looks like!” one black bird joyously exclaimed to the others. “What a laugh!”

“Quite precious, really,” affirmed the second bird, swallowing down its flesh in one strong gulp.

“Look—are you taking the piss out of me?” asked the first, still cackling as these kinds of birds do.

“Taking the…?” the small, gray creature began, his brow furrowed.

“Mate— honest. Look at us lot then. You see him, right? Shit’ead over ‘ere?”


“What’s he look like?”

“Um… well… he’s very… dark like the night, with dark eyes, his legs are quite thin, like very small twigs,”


“And, um, his… his mouth is sharp—pointy, like a jagged rock.”

“Okay,” said the bird. “What about me, then?”

The small, gray creature looked at him. He looked at the other one. And the other one.

“Here. How ‘bout this, then?”

The first bird moved in between the other two, and then the third bird took the place of the first. The second one didn’t move at all, and continued eating.

“What ‘bout now?”

The small, gray creature was thoroughly confused by now.

“I don’t know!” he cried. “I can’t tell you apart anymore!”

“Well,” said the first bird, “that’s because we’re all brothers. Same parents, you know. Tell me somefink—you got brothers, li’ul one?”


“I’d bet my little dodgy meal ‘ere that you look just. Like. Them.”

“No….” the small gray creature shook its head.

“Speakin’ of food,” the third bird piped up, digging its claw into the carcass’s head and raising it up, with its hollowed-out, bloodied eyes and torn scalp, “you sort of look like him!”

The small, gray creature stared, horrified. The sight he saw was gory, repugnant and foul beyond anything he had ever seen—it turned his stomach and it frightened him. He turned away and skittered away as fast as his legs could carry him, howling all the way in concert with the insidious, mocking screeches of the three black birds.

He ran for miles it seemed. Quite hungry, he felt too sick to eat, and so he didn’t. After a while, he no longer knew from what he was running, but he knew he had to keep going, and so he did. Finally, he found he could run no longer today, away from his demons, away from his beasts, and so he stopped. He stopped by a small pool of water that had collected in the rotted-out hull of a tree. He dunked his mouth hurriedly in the pool and he drank for quite some time, until he had his fill, and then he drank some more. He looked up to make sure he was safe from those who would harm him, and then he looked left and right to ensure the same. Once he had assured himself that he was quite alone, and after he had rested for a good bit, he decided to take one final sip of water before continuing on. He raised himself up on his hind legs and craned to get a good position for drinking when he stopped. He stared into the water, which was still as the ground for the wind breeze barely blew today. Usually, he drank water so quickly, and often with his eyes closed as he would simultaneously put some water over his head to wash the itches and scratches away but, today, for this final drink, he was in no rush and so he looked. He looked. He saw. He had never seen a more charming sight in all his life.

His face was powder-white, just like fresh-fallen snow. The prettiest pink was his nose and his lips—so delicate and sweet, almost smiling. His eyes and ears were black as the darkest mud. He marveled for quite some time about his ears—so perfectly round, it didn’t seem possible. He rose up his hands to the water and he saw that they were black, too, which he knew, but he had never really looked before. He splayed out his tiny, pink claws and he flexed them and brought them in. Gently, he reached one of them into the water, and his beautiful face disappeared.

“Oh! Oh, no! Come back, please! Come back!” he cried. And, gradually, as the ripples subsided, it did. His powder-white face and all came back. The small, gray creature was much relieved. He observed elegant, long, graceful hairs pouring out from his beautiful, pink nose. They were indeed quite fine. He posed this way and that in front of the water, and he was most impressed with what he saw. This was the truest view of himself he had ever had, and could ever hope for.He knew at once what he must do.

He scurried back the way he came as fast as he could, as fast as his small, pink feet could carry him. Animals always know where they are going, it seems. He made his way through the rocks and twigs and stones and grass and vines and trees back to the birds, who were finishing up their meal from the morning. There was not much left by this point—small bits of fur and flesh, mostly bones and foul-smelling shards of organs. The sight and the smell disgusted the small, gray creature, but, nevertheless, he presented himself proudly to the birds.

“I have seen myself,” said the small, gray creature.

The birds looked at him.

“Yeah?”“I am beautiful.”

“You what now?”

“I said, ‘I am beautiful.’”

The birds looked at each other.

“Are you ‘aving us on?” asked the first bird.

“Look at me, and you will see.”

“I see you,” said the third bird.

“You see me. I said ‘look at me.’ Look, and you will see how beautiful I am.”

“Look, mate. I’ve ‘ad about enuff a’ this,” the first bird said, about to turn away. The small, gray creature scampered to get in front of him.

“Look,” he insisted. “Look at me.”

The first bird reluctantly obliged. He stayed still for quite some time and he stared at the small, gray creature with the lily-white face and the black ears and eyes. He looked at him for a long, long time. He studied him. He took his time. He didn’t just see. He looked. Finally, he said,

“My God… I didn’t realize it before… I just… I didn’t look before. You’re right. You are beautiful.”

“I know,” said the small, gray creature. “I am. I truly am. You two,” he said, commanding the attention of the other two birds. “You must look at me, too. Really look.”

“Get off out of it,” the second bird said dismissively.

“Yeah, piss off. Wha’ja take us for, a lot of wankers, yeah?”

“Stop it, lads,” said the first bird softly, his jet-black eyes locked with those of the small, graycreature. “Stop it. Just look at him. Really look.”And they did. They were reluctant at first, thinking it a joke, but, as they moved in closer, they were drawn in. Their eyes pored over the white fluff of the small, gray creature’s face, the gentle flow of his whiskers; their eyes traced the lines made atop his head by his perfectly round, black ears. They were completely and utterly transfixed.

“I am beautiful,” stated the small, gray creature.

“Aye,” the three black birds affirmed in union. “That you are, lad. That you are.”After they uttered those words, swiftly, silently and immediately, all three black birds fell dead to the ground, in a heap of feathers and beaks and bones they lay still before the small, gray creature.

Certainly he did not mourn the passing of three simple birds, birds who had so callously mocked him and who could not truly understand his beauty until they had been forced to look upon him, to really look. The small, gray creature though regarded their bodies, and the faded corpse of the animal upon which they had feasted earlier, and a feeling of dread came over him. He was almost quite taken ill, particularly at the site of the ravaged carcass of the small animal. He could stand to look at it no longer, but he knew at once what he must do. He had to share such beauty with the world—with any creature who would take the time to really look inside him. He hoped, of course, that it would not cause the same results as befell the birds, but this was a risk he felt he had to take. Life was, after all, far too short to live in ignorance of such beauty.And so he made his way throughout the woods where he had grown up. Along his way he encountered various animals and birds, and all he bade them do was to look, really look at him. Some refused curtly and went on their way—but some took the small, gray creature up on his request. Quite simply said, all who truly took the time to really look at the small, gray creature perished the moment that his beauty had been realized. The small, gray creature was not particularly distressed or even bothered by this occurrence. After all, beauty had its price and, if this was the price, then at least these creatures went to their deaths having made at least one important revelation in their otherwise meaningless lives. That was how the small, gray creature reasoned, at any rate.

Gradually, as the months rolled into years as they tend to do, the small, gray creature’s actions, and their results, began to catch the attention of the Grand Epistle, who was granted authority to oversee all living creatures on Earth at that time. The Grand Epistle and her betters had significant and grand, and grandly significant plans for the promulgation of various species, and they had detailed schema relating to population control and its methodologies. The small, gray creature and his seemingly fatal beauty had not been factored into their tables and charts and graphs and so on. The Grand Epistle looked at her spreadsheets for the past few years and grew alarmed by what she saw. There were animals that, quite frankly, no longer existed because they had fallen victim, quite unknowingly, to the small, gray creature’s beauty, or at least his adamant insistence thereof. She knew at once what she must do.Though hesitant always to show herself on Earth, this was indeed a rare circumstance requiring her immediate intervention. She never permitted the animals to see herself in her actual form, but she was quite conflicted about what form she ought to use to appear on Earth. Finally, after much deliberation and conference, she made her decision, and she appeared in a small clearing late one evening, while the small, gray creature was fast asleep. She watched him sleep for a moment or two. He breathed so rapidly, she could see his lungs inflating and deflating almost constantly through his fur. She watched his nostrils expand and contract with every breath ever so slightly, blowing his gentle whiskers to and fro like windswept grass. She was careful not to look too closely, not to really look. She didn’t think herself vulnerable, but how could she be sure when so many had perished before her? She took a step closer, hoping a crunched leaf beneath her foot would be enough to wake him from his slumber, but he did not start. And so she said aloud,

“You are very beautiful.”

The small, gray creature awoke at once and got hastily to its feet, certainly caught off guard.

“I—I know,” he said, hurriedly. Then, composing himself, he repeated in an even tone, “I know.”

“When did you first realize it?” she asked.

“A long time ago,” the small, gray creature said, remembering, “I was teased by a few black birds—they were very cruel— and I ran from them until I got to a patch of water. As I was about to take a drink, I looked into the water, deeply, I really looked at myself for the first time, and I saw it. I knew it. It was true.”

“You’re very lucky,” she said, “most creatures never get to really see themselves, let alone realize their own beauty. You must be very proud.”

“Quite,” he said. “I am quite proud indeed.”

“Indeed,” repeated the Grand Epistle. “I wonder, have you ever realized the beauty in another’s eyes?”

The small, gray creature looked at her.

“I don’t understand.”

“Have you ever looked—really looked into the eyes of another to try to see their inner beauty?”

The small, gray creature thought about this.

“No,” he replied flatly.

“Ah.” She regarded him. “What is your purpose here on Earth would you say?” the Grand Epistle asked.

“To share my beauty with as many creatures as possible—with any who will look upon me while the daylight shines, while we are all awake to enjoy such beauty. To be beheld. That is my purpose. But I’m afraid I am quite tired now, you should be, too. I will to bed. Now, in the morning, by the light of the beating sun, if you would stay and look at me, really…”

The Grand Epistle cut him off.

“I think not, young chap,” she said. “Tonight, by the glow of this glorious moon, we shall try something a bit different tonight. Look at me, if you will. Look. Look at me.”

She raised two small, pink, clawed hands up to the small, gray creature’s face. In her black, round eyes he saw his face, distorted and mean, as he saw it in the eyes of his brother’s. He hated what he saw. The sharp stink of rotting flesh singed his nostrils and he immediately began to feel sick. The small, gray creature looked deeper into the eyes of the Grand Epistle and, this time, he saw bone and blood and brain—and small flies. He nearly doubled over in pain and horror, but he was transfixed, just as those three birds had been so many years ago, staring into his own eyes.

“You,” she said, “you are beautiful, my lad. But there is great danger in such beauty. You do not care whom you harm. It consumes you. Your conceit and your self-infatuation make you hideous to me—not worthy to be seen and appreciated.”

“No, that’s not true,” the small, gray creature protested.

“It is. It sadly is. It forces me to do something that as Grand Epistle of the Wood I shall perhaps always regret, but I do it because it must be done. I will grant you eternal life.”The small, gray creature could not believe what he had heard. Eternal life? Here he had thought he would be punished in some way, or killed, but it was not so. He was elated.

“Oh, thank you, Grand Epistle. Thank you!” he cried out, his eyes still locked in her gaze.

“Thank me not. You shall remain living forever, but you shall never again sleep whilst the moon is pulled down from above. From this moment forth, you will be always awake, prowling, trolling in the night. You shall sneak and slither while the cold wind howls, you will find nary a friend in the dark. You will live forever the most hated and mistrusted and avoided creatures in the Wood. You will sleep by day, when the glorious sunlight warms the hearts and bodies of all else around you—but it will be you to roam alone in the darkness.”

The small, gray creature trembled in her clutches as he felt a surge of hotness emanating from her little, pink claws—he knew the deed was done. He shivered a bit, but felt instantly alive and awake against his will. This was to be his first night of full alertness. He was forever damned, but he was determined not to give up yet.

“Grand Epistle—I have one final request,” said the small, gray creature.

“And what is that?” she inquired.

“Spare me a friend or two, a companion for my eternally wakeful nights. I can live with being awake in the dark, but I cannot live alone. I need others to know beauty, even that of a creature of the night.”

The Grand Epistle looked upon the small, gray creature with a mixture of disgust and ambivalence. She considered him, she even looked at him.

“So be it. Carry on,” was all she said before vanishing into the night.

For centuries to come, the small, gray creature lived though his nights with relative ease. He even found time and energy to play with some of his new companions—the brown one with the dark patches around its eyes—there were others, too who joined him in nighttime mischief.

Gradually, human came into being, but they bothered he and his friends naught. But, after the pre-Raphaelites and the Raphaelites and after the Tudors and the mock-Tudors and after the victors and the Victorians, there came a class of humans who built smooth, paved surfaces that gleamed in the night, and, on these surfaces, big objects with round feet would come chugging along. At first, they moved slowly, but, as time wore on, they got bigger, and moved faster.There were more and more of them as time went on.One night, one of his brown companions with the black eye-patches was not by his usual tree, and so the small, gray creature ventured out to look for him. He did not have to look far, for on one of those smooth, shiny surfaces he found him. The small, gray creature cried out in agony, for the brown creature with the black eye-patches lay dead, his body had been torn quite in half—its gleaming, red entrails lay strewn across the long, smooth path, and its rib bones poked out and glowed eerily by the light of the moon above. He knew now why the Grand Epistle had granted him so many acquaintances for his eternity of nocturnal wakefulness: this was to be his torment; this was to be his agony, to slowly watch each of his friends become extinct, a side-of-the-path horror. And, as he gazed in sorrow at his lost friend, a single, black bird swooped down from above, passing by the full, terrible moon and landed on the smooth surface below. He sank his beak down into the flesh and innards and pulled them apart with a shake of his head. The black bird stopped when he heard the anguished cry of the small, gray creature. He looked at the small, gray creature—really looked at him. And he winked.

And kept right on eating.