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."

Friday, April 30, 2010

Well, Tell Me a Story and Give Me a Happy Ending... It's: DEAR APRON

Dear Apron -- It's Bad Advice, and Good Times.

You know you love it.

Now, let's club this seal.



Would you please print the signs of a mental abuser? My husband is like night and day. There's no in-between. He curses at me, calls me names, tells me I'm stupid and, when he raises his hand palm outward, it's my sign to shut up.

I have to leave notes about where I am, what time I'll be home, and if I'm a minute late, I'm in for it big time. When I try to stand up for myself he tells me I'm a b---- or "too sensitive." He also tells me what to wear.

Why on earth would I still love this guy? Please print the signs because I know a lot of other women in this situation. -- BEATEN DOWN IN FLORIDA

DEAR B----

Okay, I'll make you a deal: I'll print your letter if you polish my knob in the car in the Walmart parking lot in broad daylight, you stupid fucking cow.

Nah, I'm just kidding baby, you know I love you. Now get on your knees and beg me to fuck your face.

Whoa! Sorry, about that, sweetie pie. I didn't mean it. You know I've been sniffing too much model glue lately, what with my war injury and bad back and testicular tortion and all. You know you're the only girl in my life. You hungry hungry hippo-- lose some fuckin' weight already! God, I oughta backhand you so hard your fuckin' mommy'll get whiplash!

Now let's hold hands and watch "Nick at Night," you sloppy fucked cunt.


How do you deal with a thief in your midst? I have a 21-year-old relative who steals. He has stolen from me, and I suspect from other members of the family as well. Please don't suggest therapy -- he's had years of therapy. Recently, he was caught stealing from a purse belonging to his mother's best friend.

The problem is family gatherings. I'm not comfortable telling my guests that they must watch their valuables, but I cannot deal with the possibility of having a guest's possessions or money stolen. Also, I don't particularly relish the idea of having him loose in my house.

He hasn't shown any particular interest in attending these functions and often hasn't attended when invited, but it's hard to know whether excluding him might make him feel left out. My inclination is to tell him the reason I don't want to invite him. Should I? -- HIS RELATIVE


"How do you deal with a thief in your midst?"

Well, I'm a big fan of the TASER, myself. After reviewing some of the products at TASER INTERNATIONAL's colorful and informative website, I would definitely feel comfortable recommending for your particularly delicate situation the TASER X12 by Mossberg. This non-lethal immobilization device is styled exactly like a shotgun, except that its grip and pump-action mechanisms are colored in bright, exciting yellow, to minimize the chances that, in a high-stress situation (such as your nephew rummaging through grammaw's purse while she's asleep in the living room) you might accidentally grab a nearby real shotgun and obliterate his head.

It looks like this:



According to TASER INTERNATIONAL, the X12 "delivers a similar Neuro
Muscular Incapacitation (NMI) bio-effect as [our] handheld TASER® X26™ ECD, but
can be delivered to a maximum effective range approaching 100 feet (30.48
meters), combining blunt impact force."

And, honey-- don't worry. I would never suggest therapy. That shit takes WAY too long and is far too much work.


My boyfriend has two children from a previous relationship. I love them very much and treat them like my own. We often go out with the children to playgrounds, shopping, etc.

Apron, people often refer to me as the children's mother. They'll say, "Ask your mom ..." things like that. What's the proper response to this? I find it embarrassing because I'm not their mother. But I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable by saying I'm not. What would be the most polite response to someone in that situation? -- NOT MOMMY IN MAINE


What an uncomfortable ordeal for you!

You have, as I see it, several options:

* Refer to yourself as "NOT MOMMY IN MAINE" in all social and semisocial situations. This includes, but is in no way limited to, introducing yourself to new friends, telling off persistent telemarketers, ordering a drink at Starbucks (from now on you must always speak of yourself in the third person: "Not Mommy in Maine would like no whip on her Venti Soy Hot Chocolate.") You should also consider having a t-shirt printed that says, "Hello, my name is Not Mommy in Maine."

* When a well-meaning, yet outrageously presumptuous person mistakes you for these brats' mother, take a deep breath and calmly state the following: "Thank you for the compliment. But, while I would like nothing more than to be their mother, I am not, because my stupid, unemployed, pot-bellied boyfriend will not marry me because he would rather treat me as his whore because it serves his Bermuda Triangle-like ego. Also, these kids are from his previous salacious relationship. They are bastards, and have no mother."

* Just break down and cry at the word "mommy" or "mother" like the hysterical woman that you are. If there is a tufted Victorian fainting couch nearby, be sure to swoon on that, too.

* Say, "Mother? To these kids?! Honey, do these abs look like they've squeezed out two mini-yeti spawn?"

If you're not into any of these aforementioned options, there's always an excellent selection of neuromuscular incapacitation devices from our friends at TASER INTERNATIONAL.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What About Babka?

I live in dread of lots of things-- random gunfire, intentional gunfire, a fatal asthma attack while I'm home alone, my car's airbag blowing up in my face after driving over a Philadelphia pothole, poisonous reptiles. The weather.

As you can see, most of the things I live in dread of are things that are far beyond my control. My mother has repeatedly advised against worrying about things I cannot control, but these admonitions have not stopped me.

Nothing can stop me. Except, of course, a fatal asthma attack.

Another additional occurance in life I live in fear/dread of are Seinfeld references.

Oftentimes, in the course of my mundane, banal, repetitive existence, I feel like a batter standing at the plate watching a spinning baseball zooming right towards his face, in slow motion. I can feel a Seinfeld reference coming, in rather the same way that I know I'm going to get a four-star sinus infection when I feel the back upper row of my teeth start to hurt.

Scene: You're standing in line at the bank on a Friday, waiting to deposit your miserable little paycheckette. There are two foreskinlips standing behind you in sweater-vests and nylon pants.

Random Dickhead: Hey, Bob-- you up for a game of golf this weekend?

Random Twatwad: Yeah, Dale, sure thing.

Random Dickhead: Got your Titleists ready?

Random Twatwad: Sure thing. Oh, hey-- do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where fuckin' Kramer hit the fuckin' Titleist into the blowhole of the fuckin' whale? Oh, man, that was fuckin' SO FUCKIN' FUNNY!"

Random Dickhead: Oh, yeah! Oh, man! Hahahahhahaha!

Hardy har har, d-bags. I want to run both of you over with a wheat-thresher.

Scene: You're at your parent's house for dinner. You're trying to have a nice time.

Me: The bread's great, guys-- where's it from?

Mom: Oh, it's the 3-cheese loaf that you like from Panera.

Me: Oh, thanks for getting that.

Dad: You remember the episode of Seinfeld with the marble rye? That was SO FUCKING FUNNY!

Scene: You've just returned from the dentist and you're all Novacaine'd up and you look and talk like Dick Clark for two hours. You're in agony.

Person Who's Supposed to Be Your Friend: How was the dentist?

You: Unnngghhhh....

Person Who's Supposed to Be Your Friend But is Really the Devil Incarnate: Sucks. Oh, hey, remember that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer goes in for dental work and then goes to that charity dinner and sits next to Mel Torme who thinks he's a retard and then Mel Torme sings to him while Kramer acts like a retard? That was SO FUCKING FUNNY!

Want to order soup? Forget it.

Waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant with a group of people? Someone's gonna bust out a "SEINFELD? FOUR!" and you can put money down on it. It might even be you. If so, just un-follow me right now-- I can't take it anymore.

If you're ever with a group of friends in an underground parking garage and you can't find your car, one of your pals is going to reference the episode where Jerry pees in the lot. Once you do find your car, be sure to lock this supposed "friend" out and then run him/her over.

If I seem like an insufferable misanthrope to you, um-- where have you been? I get it, of course, that the fact that this show has been off the air since the late 1990's and is still quoted and referenced so consistently and has so weaved itself into the very fiber of our being is a credit to Larry David and his cast (yes, including the recently-insane Michael Richards). I get that it is perhaps the most influential television program since "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "Maude."

I understand all that.

But, really, is it too much to ask that people restrain themselves a little bit? There really is no law that implicitly or explicitly states that, anytime you spot a male jogger sporting bitchtits you must suggest to your traveling companion that this jogger get himself a "Bro" or a "Mannsiere."

Really, it's not written anywhere. I swear.

And, really, if you want to call my blog gay for all the times I talk about wearing bowties and loving Gilbert & Sullivan and for being sensitive, that's fine. Just please, please, please, for the love of God and all that's holy, don't add, "not that there's anything wrong with that."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Today, I'm Going to Rip NPR a New Asshole

If this isn't your thing, you've been forewarned. Go somewhere else today, or take it like a grown-up.

If you're Terry Gross, and you got to this blog by Googling yourself, I'm very disappointed in you and your employer. Not surprised, just disappointed.

If you're Wilbert Rideau, and you got to this blog by Googling yourself, enjoy the ride, pal.

There. That's enough preamble, I think. Let's get on with the amble.


I like NPR.

I listen to "On the Media," "All Things Considered," "Car Talk," "A Prairie Home Companion," "This American Life," "Thistle & Shamrock," "Morning Edition," "BBC Newshour," and pretty much whatever else I can wrap my hair-sprouting little ears around.

I consider myself a better person for having NPR in my life. I've never donated money to NPR, and I never will, but that's just how I roll. I'm a pretty tightfisted sonofabitch, unless I love you, in which case I will spend inordinate amounts of money to prop up your ego, make you smile, and/or enhance your personal satisfaction with life.

I like NPR. I don't love NPR. There is a definite difference. I like it, and I feel that my life is fuller and richer for liking it, but you won't catch me with a "I ,<3 NPR" bumpersticker on my Volvo's ass, like you'll find on the asses of many a Volvo where I live.

Why not?

Well, NPR has this funny, frankly repellent little habit of glorifying minority prisoners, usually murderers, that I sort of find, um, distasteful.

First came Mumia Abu-Jamal. Those of you who read this blog as it should be read (obsessively and with a steady supply of nachos con carne) will recognize this name. Mumia Abu-Jamal blew apart the head of a Philadelphia Police Officer named Daniel Faulkner on December 9th, 1981. While Jamal was in prison, NPR commissioned him to record "a series of monthly commentaries on the subject of crime and punishment." Understandably, Philadelphia's Fraternal Order of Police popped a gasket when they heard, and they raised such an uproar that the plans were canceled. His commentaries later appeared in print, in one of the many books he was allowed to write and publish whilst on Death Row.

Now we have Wilbert Rideau. His name isn't nearly as prominent and recognizable as Jamal's, but his crime is no less horrific. In 1961, Rideau robbed a bank in Louisiana. He kidnapped two tellers and the bank manager, shoving them all into a car owned by one of the tellers, Julia Ferguson. The manager, Jay Hickman, leapt out of the car in an attempt to escape. Rideau jumped out and shot Hickman, wounding him. He then shot tellers Dora McCain and Julia Ferguson. Hickman fled and hid, McCain played dead, but Rideau found Ferguson still alive. He stabbed Ferguson straight through the heart with a hunting knife, killing her. Rideau never denied that he robbed the bank, and he never denied shooting McCain & Hickman, and killing Ferguson. He was sentenced to death by an all-white jury but, in 1972, when the death penalty was abolished in Louisiana, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

While in jail, he became the head of the Angolite, the prison newspaper for the Louisiana State Penitentiary (commonly referred to as Angola). His writing earned him nominations for seven national literary awards. He was NPR's "Fresh Air" prison correspondent from 1992-1995. He has had book deals and book signings and probably even book release parties.

In 2000, Rideau's conviction for murder was overturned on the basis that blacks had been excluded from his original trial jury. He was retried and found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 21 years in prison. Having already served 44, he was released.

He's been referred to by "Life" magazine as "America's Most Rehabilitated Prisoner."

You can probably guess by now that I'm not someone who's easily impressed by such accolades.

The fact that NPR feels compelled to lay laurels and garlands at the feet of a convicted, admitted murderer is something that utterly repulses me. If I had a subscription, I'd cancel it. If I donated money, I'd make them give it back. If I had a ceramic NPR coffee mug, I'd break it on my formica counter. I considered writing an angry letter, but nobody reads those, so I thought I'd write an angry blog post, because I know at least you will read that.

And maybe you'll be angry with me. Or maybe you'll challenge me to look at this in a different light. I've got to warn you, though: I'm a pretty tough nut to crack, especially when innocent blood has been spilt.

You may be of the opinion that Wilbert Rideau, who spent forty-four years of his life in prison, is a victim. This is certainly how NPR looks at him, or at least, it's one of the ways in which NPR looks at him. They also look at him, I feel, as a lightning rod-- for controversy, for educated, well-coiffed white people (some in Volvos!) to feel good about championing, from a comfortable distance, of course.

NPR loves the eloquent, felonious minority. It gets practically squishy when it learns of a well-written, well-spoken minority prisoner who "tells it like it is" and who "isn't afraid to go there." Someone who brings a sensitive, weathered, dignified face to the imprisoned masses of America. If they turn out to be wrongly convicted and incarcerated, so much the better-- but NPR is not particular about that.

You can practically smell the festering, woefully inadequate and apologetic tone of the following sentence in the piece about Rideau on NPR's website:

"Rideau always acknowledged his victims and took full responsibility for his crime."

As if we should all be lining up to pin a merit badge on his shirt. Careful, Wilbert: I may pin that sucker on a little harder than expected.

Probably in a month or two, NPR will throw an obligatory, conciliatory bone to Julia Ferguson's family members, if there are any who are still alive, by giving them a minute or two of airtime, you know-- to show how fair and balanced they are. And, with that, their hands will be as clean as the morning dew. Certainly cleaner than Wilbert Rideau's hands-- forever stained with the blood that flowed from a grotesque murder, from the heart of an innocent woman. I agree that this is America, and that everybody deserves a voice. But does the voice of a convicted murderer need to be on NPR? Maybe Rideau should stick to blogging.

Not only that: what about Julia Ferguson's voice? Why does the man who silenced that voice forever get to be heard? Where is the justice? Where is the logic? Where is the sense of decency?

They say that time heals all wounds, but it doesn't bring murdered people back to life, and it doesn't create celebrated journalists out of their killers.

Or does it?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Stinky Room

I now know why people move to East Moofongong, New Hampshire in a cabin with no television set, no furniture, no place to shit...

...and no neighbors.

Yesterday morning, at 6:55am in the pouring, cold rain, I was screamed at by an overweight, blonde woman who was wearing black stretchpants and some kind of small trash bag on her head. I had my two dogs with me, and, in my right hand I was clutching a bag full of their combined feces.

"HEY, (my name)!"

I was standing across the street from her, wearing one of those Gilligan bucket hats-- so I didn't look so chill myself, I don't mind admitting.

"Yes?" I said.

"HAVE YOU BEEN HERE LONG?!" she shouted across the street at me. High school kids were waiting for the bus at the corner in a cluster, and one or two turned to watch us. Great, I thought, an audience. Or maybe, actually, witnesses.

I didn't know what she meant by "Have you been here long?" Did she mean "in this neighborhood?" Because, no, it hasn't been too terribly long-- we moved here last February. If she meant "in this town" then, yeah, I've lived in this town my whole life. But her tone didn't seem to jive with some innocuous casual inquiry about my life's story. I didn't really want more information, but I felt that I needed more information to accurately answer her question.

"What?" I asked. Good, Apron. Prompting and probing questions-- just like you learned in grad school. Very good.

My neighbor freaked, gesticulating wildly to the general area surrounding her house.


I froze in place. This conversation had officially descended somewhere unfamiliar to me, and unsettling. I'm no horticulturalist, and I don't know what Stinky Violets are. I know what Stinking Bishop is-- it's a kind of cheese referenced in "Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit." But Stinky Violets? Wouldn't know them if I snorted them.

Which I didn't.

Not knowing how to respond to this question/tirade, I just stood there, looking at her. Her trash bag headpiece was starting to fly off in the wind.

"HAVE YOU BEEN IN MY STINKY-ROOM?!" she roared, pratically apopleptic.

Uh-oh. I was no longer sure that this wasn't a nightmare. I suddenly wished that I was a teenage girl, outfitted with a minican of mace and/or a rape-whistle.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," I replied calmly.

"NO?! YOU DON'T?!"

"No. I don't."

All of the kids at the bus stop were now looking at us, probably placing bets. She cocked her head and stared at me for a moment before shouting,


I stared at her, my mouth agape.

"SEE YA LATER!" she yelled, and walked back into her house where, I can only presume, all of the walls are covered in feces, shaving cream, and egg-yolks.

Walking back into the house I unhooked the dogs and announced, "Well, we can add one more house to the list of places/people/things/animals I need to avoid on our morning walk."

When I leave my house in the morning to walk our two dogs, I have to immediately duck with them into the back of the house to avoid a potentially volatile confrontation with the guy who owns the muzzled black dog and the cairn terrier who is, without a doubt, on crystal meth. This little dog, this Toto, this crazy fucking fuckhead could eviscerate a German Shepherd in a matter of seconds if the two were left in a room alone together. His snarling, wretching, growling, gnashing can be heard from streets away. And he hates my dogs. Maybe he hates anything and everything that isn't his meth dealer. Maybe, though, it isn't meth. Maybe he's into steroids. Maybe he's got the Roid Rage. Whatever it is, I avoid him, his foaming, muzzled, black compatriot, and the asshole owner who still insists on walking past my house at precisely the same time I have to leave in the morning before Molly steam-pisses our rugs.

Walking down our back-alley is also something I try to avoid, because the mixture of feral alley-cats, squirrels dive-bombing into trash-cans and obsessive-compulsive birds beaking themselves to death on trees and poles is enough to drive poor Molly, a mere 9 months old into an absolute distracted panic. A fluttering leaf falling from a tree is enough to transfix her and make her forget why we are outside in the first place: pissnshittime.

If I walk past Cliff's house, it's invariably when he's leaving for work, and this often results in a fifteen minute conversation, during which I fantasize about removing both of my eyeballs with my bare hands and inserting them into Cliff's mouth to get him to shut the fuck up. Cliff's a jovial, no worries kind of guy, and that type of person drives me nuts. When I talk to Cliff, I think, "Isn't he going to be late to work?" and, if he is, what excuse does he proffer to his employer?

"Oh, sorry I'm late Mr. Stuffnstuff, I just had to talk my neighbor's balls off about the dogwood tree on my front lawn. Won't happen again."

"At this rate," I said to my wife in the kitchen, "I'll have to walk the dogs on the fucking roof."

Of course, it's leaking, so that's probably not such a hot idea. And, besides: what would the neighbors say?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Flat or Upright?

Last night, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a bowl of noodles and several different animals at a Vietnamese restaurant with my wife and an old friend. During the course of this dinner, we discussed the terribly annoying Tea Party movement, why there is an old-lady-shower-style grab-handle on the bar ("For retards, probably," I mused in that worldly way of mine), how my friend's iPhone charger port got corroded, and whether or not the waiter was going to poison my food and/or try to pick us up.

We all know that someone like me is the kind of person who has precious few friends. That's a given. I mean, if this is how I come off in the blogosphere, where I actually have time to think about and craft my thoughts and ponderings-- you've got to imagine that it's at least 80-95% worse in real-life and real-time, where asinine idiocy constantly tumbles out of my mouth like regurgitated, well, Vietmanese food. The one or two friends that I do have who have consistently stayed by me and whom I have carefully conditioned over the course of many years to expect and sometimes even appreciate my own particular brand of social incompetence know what they're going to get when they spend time with me.

If the friend is female, she will be treated to my eccentric and haphazard way of talking/behaving, the unexpected topic shifts, maybe even a reference or two to her breasts, if I'm feeling especially frisky/moronic. If the friend is male, any topic of conversation is fair game, and whatever we are talking about will be peppered lovingly with homoerotic undertones. If the word "coming" comes up (see?) then just forget it. Homosexual references and comments only increase in the presence of my wife, who has also come (see?!) to expect this behavior.

All this is to say that nobody, not my old friend or my wife, was especially surprised when, as we were enthusiastically exploring our entrees with chopsticks tenuously in hand, I looked at my old, dear friend and said,

"So, when you die, do you want a flat or an upright tombstone?"

My friend and my wife laughed. It wasn't a surprised laugh, however.

Always one to indulge me, my friend considered the question carefully and gave the following answer,

"Well, I've given some thought to green cemeteries. Really, I think, I'd like to be just left in the woods. I know there are laws about that sort of thing. And, I mean, fine, if I have a family, and they want to know where I am to go visit me, then, yes, I understand that-- that need to have a marker of some kind, but I don't think I'd want an upright one."

And then he asked me if I'd ever read a poem with some unpronounceable name. I told myself to remember the title, and he said it twice, but I can't remember it. I can't remember anything anymore. Of course I hadn't read the poem, because I am an uncultured lout. Asking me if I've read pretty much any poem is like asking me if I have ever worn pants after 9:30pm on a Sunday night.

"Well, it's about death and the recognition that it is nothing to fear, and that the fate that awaits us is the same fate as awaits kings and noblemen, and that it equalizes every man."

Why the hell do I need to read poetry? I just need to spend more time with my friends.

I considered what my friend had said. I could have guessed he might say something like this. Even though he was wearing his grandfather's houndstooth blazer, he's really just a big hippie. I can't believe he can stand to be friends with me sometimes.

"Yeah," I said, "I think I'm going to go upright. And if it weren't so fucking expensive, I'd have something really witty carved on the stone-- but that shit is very expensive."

"Right, that's true," he replied. He shoved a stickful of chicken into his mouth and chewed, considering further. "Actually, there have been times where I wanted a stone hand, you know-- a carved hand, with the fingers sort of closing, just coming out of the ground, with the fingers curled as if the hand were going to close. And, you know, in the days and weeks after I die, maybe my relatives will come and stick flowers inside the hand, and, much later, when nobody cares anymore, it'll just be there to scare the shit out of little kids who come to the cemetery to play."

I took a drink of water.

"Right, but what about stoner asshole teenagers who come to the cemetery to drink and fuck off? You just know one of them will take his pants down, on a dare or whatever, and stick his penis into the hand."

"Bring it!" my friend said.

Fuckin' aye, Death, you little faggot.

Bring it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Un-Bucket List

For some reason, people our age (I'm assuming you're 29 or whatever) nowadays are awfully into making Bucket Lists. I made one, too-- sort of. I'm not going to hyperlink to it, because, really, why?

To me, it's funny to think about Bucket Lists and the people who make them. You might think that the people who would make Bucket Lists would be obsessed with death-- but they're not. Most twentysomethings aren't obsessed with death-- they're obsessed with Facebook, causes, boobies and blogging.

Oh, and Starbucks. 20somethings are all over Starbucks's hot, frappy jaun.

I like Starbucks, but I am obsessed with death. I read about it all the time. On Friday night, my wife and I went on a hot date to Barnes and Noble to try to spend a $25.00 giftcard that we've had since Hanukkah, and we couldn't do it. She was holed up in a corner reading the latest "Post Secret" book. I was reading a book about capital punishment.

Well, that's me. A side note about executions-- how about that fucker in Utah who was given a choice about the method of execution he'd prefer and answered, "I would like the firing squad, please," like he was ordering Chinese take-out or a slider from White Castle. Unbefuckinglievable.

Anyway, I'm the kind of guy who should be making his Bucket List because, every time I have to clear my throat more than once in a fifteen minute span, I'm convinced I'm going to die. My allergist didn't help when, earlier in the week, he reported that my pulmonary functions were down from my last visit, five months ago, when they were down from the visit before that.

"But I am still breathing, right?" I asked.

"I think so," he said, clinically crossing his arms in front of his chest and furrowing his brow.

"Oh, good."

But, seriously, I am dying.

That said, I have little desire to seriously compose a Bucket List. Sure, there are things I want to do before I die-- like an Indian girl-- but we all know I'm not going to do an Indian girl, or seriously compose a Bucket List-- because I'm married, and I rarely seriously compose anything.

One thing I would like to devote a modicum of attention to, however, is an Un-Bucket List. You know, a list of things I don't want to do/experience before I die. Seems more practical, doesn't it, and, because I am a negative little nelly, it would make more sense coming from someone like me.

So, without further horse-shavings, here's My Masonic Apron's Un-Bucket List:

Before I die, I don't want to...

* ... be inducted into the Israeli Army.

When I was seventeen, my father got this great idea that he was going to take my sister and me on a trip to Israel, to finally see where my father was born and lost his virginity, and performed that selfsame service for any number of attractive, raven-haired sabras. Because, underneath that Cro-Magnon exterior, he's actually a pretty big straight-edge, he called the Israeli Consulate to arrange the trip. The consulate officer to whom he spoke informed him that, if he attempted to travel to Israel with us that I would be met at the airport in Israel by military police officers and I would, at that time, either a.) be inducted into the Israeli Army or b.) be placed under arrest.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" my father politely inquired.

"In the eyes of Israel, your son is an Israeli citizen-- he is your son, and he must therefore serve in the army if he sets foot onto Israeli soil."

My father cancelled the trip.

* ... be anally violated.

I think this one pretty much speaks for itself, but I'll elaborate because, as my mother says, I don't know when to stop. Call me a homophobe or a homophone or whatever you want, but I think that being anally violated would really hurt. And I want to be hurt as little as possible, because getting hurt, well, hurts. I'm a very svelte person, and my rear door is quite pert. Sticking anything other than a Cross pen up there would probably just about kill me.

*... do math homework with my children.

This will almost certainly result in, at the very least, bloodshed. When my father and I used to do my math homework at the dining room table, he would shake his head in despair, and I would collapse in a pile of tears. These were not happy times. They say we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our parents, but the only mistake my father made was not getting me a tutor. I will not make that mistake.

*... be kissed on the mouth by an elderly woman.

I'm trying to think of a circumstance by which this one would happen, and I kind of can't think of one. That's probably a good thing, right? I mean, sure, one day my wife will be an elderly woman, and, hopefully, she'll still want to kiss me on the mouth. But I'll be old then, so it'll be okay. My mouth will resemble two pieces of dried mango, so what right will I have to be picky?

*... share a motel room with a Civil War re-enactor.

Again, difficult to imagine a situation where this particular occurance would become a reality. If I were a character in an eighties comedy, though, it might happen, and I think that would be disturbing. Do Civil War re-enactors wear period underwear?

I mean-- see? We regular people weren't meant to know these things. Or see them.

*... be in a room alone with Joan Rivers.

I mean, there's no telling what she might do to me. As we've discussed previously-- my asshole is very, very small.

*... go to any event called a "reunion."

This includes, obviously, high school and college "reunions." It also includes awkward "reunion" concerts and tours and interviews of washed-up, coked-out has-beens who haven't talked to each other in 25 years or more and are now having a "reunion" because they ran out of "money."

*... have my wisdom teeth out.

One came out already, one's in completely, and two are bone-impacted. I am petrified that I will die during the surgery, just like my friend did in high school. She died when she was seventeen. I was sixteen. When I went to her funeral, I said I was sorry to her mother, and I introduced myself because I assumed she didn't know me. She burst into tears and held me tightly as she cried out, "I know who you are! You're Captain Hook!"

I played Captain Hook when I was twelve years old. Her daughter was an Indian. And I doubt she ever got to make a Bucket List.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Philly's Phinest

The collective uniform of Philadelphia's public servants has gotten a little more wrinkled, a little more stained in recent days.

There's some tarnish on the badge-- and it won't be buffed out especially easy.

I hate using the word "alleged," because I'm not a news anchor and I'm certainly not a lawyer, but I'll use it because I know, before you get excused or body-slammed by a jury of your peers, you're an alleged everything, except an asshole. Juries don't lay on that title-- just guilty or not.

In the Philadelphia Police Department, we have an alleged pervert-- and a definite asshole. A 7-year veteran of the force, working in plainclothes, was alone in an apartment with a 21-year-old female. While conducting an investigation, or whatever it was, the officer in question "committed a sex act during which he exposed himself," according to Internal Affairs. The officer has been suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss. He's also been arrested and charged.

In even more shocking and depressing news, a Philadelphia firefighter and his son allegedy beat the piss and shit and brains out of a pedestrian who made the unfortunate decision to step in front of the firefighter's car in the Northeast section of the city. The District Attorney's office has charged them both with aggravated assault and conspiracy charges, and, after further evaluation, murder will probably be added to that charming little list.

I guess it's just a matter of time before a Philadelphia paramedic cuts somebody's nuts off in the back of an ambulance with a grapefruit spoon and sells them on E-bay.

These kind of things do tend to happen in three's, right?

I knew that, when I read about these awful, disgusting stories, I wanted to write about them-- but I really didn't know what I wanted to say. It all seems rather obvious, doesn't it? It's appalling and degrading to think that public servants, people given positions of power and authority can go so callously and cruelly wrong. On a selfish level, for me, as one who often stands up and bangs the drum in support of emergency service workers who I feel have been wrongly maligned in the press or in the court of popular opinion, it's personally offensive, because it makes me feel like an asshole-- like a dupe or a stooge. Someone who has been used, someone who has thrown his support behind some of the wrong people.

And, of course, I'll say what I always say when one or two go wrong: they're not representative of the whole-- but they are infected with an illness that could destroy the whole, most certainly. Popular opinion is a funny animal, and it is easily swayed. All it takes is one or two negative stories about one or two assholes to entice the public to turn against its protectors. And that's a dangerous thing.

Of course, in the heat of the moment-- either charged with rage or with sexual energy-- miscreants, corrupt cops, or volcano-headed firefighters aren't even thinking about the immediate, personal consequences of their actions-- let alone the consequences to the men and women with whom they served-- the people who are left to clean up the elephant shit with a feather-duster. This is the danger of belonging to a large organization comprised of lots of people of different educational, social, etc, etc differences whose emotions and actions you cannot control. One acts out, everybody suffers the consequences because, to the civilian population: the uniform is the same, and it's what defines first responders.

I have no tolerance, no patience, and no sympathy in my heart for anybody who stands up, accepts an oath, and then behaves in a manner that completely destroys the public faith and trust. It's reprehensible and selfish and stupid, and it is the mark of a true animal. More than that, I suppose, it's the mark of someone who is in it for the paycheck. And it's not a terrible thing to want to become a cop or a firefighter for the paycheck and the benefits and the job security-- but there's got to be something else behind that, or turning becomes too easy. Too seductive. Too tangible. We're all in danger of turning, of course-- you and me-- but the consequences of an office jockey turning are far less severe and far less over-reaching than when a public servant decides to turn.

And it is a decision.

That decision to take that graft. To unzip that fly. To get out of that car with fists at the ready. To fire into that suspect's back. To turn. To turn your back-- on your partner, on your City, on your oath.

It's just a fluke, right? Please tell me it's just a fluke.

In slightly related news-- you certainly can't compare it to the aforementioned atrocities, an African-American female Philadelphia police officer has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission after her captain ordered her to change her hair color before returning to patrol duties. The captain claimed the color was purple, which is not allowed. The officer claims it was red, which is.

PPD Uniform Patrol Directive 78-D states that an officer's hair may not be of "unnatural color," such as purple, blue, or green. Trolls have also filed similar complaints, but they are further barred from being police officers because they do not reach the height requirement.

All you can do sometimes is laugh.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Well, Pimp My Ride and Ride my Pimp: It's... DEAR APRON!

Welcome to the least sincere, least effective, least well-intentioned advice column on the planet. The idea, you see, is quite simple: I post letters that were written into Dear Abby, and I reply, lovingly coating my advice with enough acidity and rancor to sour your mommy's Thanksgiving turkey and stuff it with puréed babies.

Off we go!


I think my husband may be a cross-dresser. Last night while "Roland" and I were cuddling in bed, I felt his legs and they were smoother than mine. I asked him why he keeps shaving his legs and stomach, and then it dawned on me. Roland has sent me e-mails hinting about dressing up.

One year, he purchased a pair of high heels, saying he wanted to dress up like a woman. I examined them the other day and there is evidence that they have been worn more than once. My lingerie drawer is sometimes a mess, and sometimes my clothes are a bit out of place. I believe my husband dresses up while I'm out of town on business trips.

I'd kind of like to see him dressed up, but I'm afraid he might look sexier than me. Lately Roland has been asking me if he can join me when I go shopping for clothes. He does chores around the house (vacuuming, ironing, dishes), and if he enjoys cross-dressing, I say he can wear any outfit he wants. How can I tell him I know what he's doing? -- WISE TO HIM IN FORT WORTH


This may sound awful, but I'll say it anyway (because, really, why not) but I'm amazed that someone from Fort Worth who is still operating as if this were the dark ages (i.e., writing a letter to Dear Abby-- probably by candle-light with a fountain pen on oilcloth paper) is so open-minded.

Good for you, Sweetums.

What your husband is doing is perfectly normal-- especially the shaving-his-stomach part. Believe me, dearie, if I had the money to spend on a residential-sized wheat-thresher, you can bet I'd be plowing my belly clean, too. And I'll bet Roland's legs are to die for. You should be proud to call this man your husband. Or your sister-- or whatever it is you crazy kids are doing these days.

The way I look at it, as long as he's not joining Oprah's book club or spending hours in the tub, listlessly soaping up his bitch-tits to the tunes of old Boy George cassette tapes, I think this is probably recreational, and ought to be enocouraged. The next step, clearly, would be taking Roland to a lesbian sushi bar.

As for how to tell him that you know what he's doing, I would avoid statements that begin with the words, "Listen, queerbo," as this conversation-starter may be perceived as negative, and may prove to be more of a conversation-killer. If you're too embarrassed to bring up the topic of your husband's cross-dressing, I think you might want to try coming home from work dressed like a character from your favorite Humphrey Bogart movie with a pair of rolled-up socks tucked away in the crotch. That should get the idea across, and may very well lead to a stimulating evening. Hello, YouTube!


My boyfriend will not let go of my past. I didn't level with him about a couple of relationships because I knew he was a racist. He found out, and now all I get is teasing and comments almost every day. If he sees a talk show about a liar, he says, "Oh! There you are!" It's the same if the subject is a whore.

What he's doing is hurting me. Is this normal behavior? Am I supposed to ignore him? I have asked him to stop, but he says he won't until I learn to laugh about it. Any suggestions? -- EMBARRASSED IN ANAHEIM


Oh-- sorry, I was thinking about something else.


Listen, queerbo-- you're not the first kitty-cat who's ever been compared to some toothless yabbo throwing furniture/hairpieces/industrial-strength diapers on the set of the "Jerry Springer Show," so let's stop this look-at-me, I'm-so-special routine.

I mean, come on.

Now, about your boyfriend-- how many teeth does HE have? I'm willing to bet I have more fingers on one finger than he has teeth. Do you know that there is a statistical correlation between the number of teeth you have and the amount of times your first pet marmoset has had scabies?

Yeah, well, now you know. Thanks for writing. By the way, honey, it's one fucking rhetorical non-question per letter, not three. God, I need to start drinking...


How do I tell a friend of many years that the wig she wears is not flattering? We're nearly 80, and the wig is black and falls past her shoulders. Her hair was dark when she was young, but now the color looks harsh.

She started wearing the wig because it was too much trouble to go to the hairdresser every week. Something shorter and lighter in color would look much better.

My friend can be vain about her appearance. How do I enlighten her without hurting her feelings? -- CARING FRIEND IN OHIO


Caring friend, huh? Gee, I sure hope I have a caring friend like you when I'm nearly eighty. I'd pull off my harsh black wig and strangle your lizard neck with it.

Try saying, "Ethel, your fucking domepiece looks disgusting. It looks like Cousin Itt is having Mexican diarrhea on your head." Chances are, at nearly eighty, she won't hear you anyway and, if she does, she'll forget you said it two minutes later.



I'm 13, and my "first kiss" just broke up with me. My dad says it's just puppy love, which may be true, but I have a feeling that I need to be with him. What hurts even more is he had a new girlfriend the next day.

I have tried moving on, but I don't think I want to. I want to try to get back with him, but I don't know how. Can you help me? -- ACHING HEART IN IOWA


Listen to what I am about to say very, very carefully.

You're 13 years old.

13, okay?

And you're writing to Dear Abby.

You'd better take a good, hard look in the mirror, kiddo, and reevaluate your perspectives and your priorities or, let me tell you: you're going to be writing lettes to Dear Abby for the rest of your miserable, unfulfilled, soul-sucking life.

I know there can't be that much to do for kids your age in Iowa-- I mean, it's not like you're going to have a Bat Mitzvah or anything-- but find a large animal in a field somewhere and throw a stick at it-- count the divots on your kitchen's drop-ceiling-- buy a pair of overalls and puff-paint them, just do something, anything other than write letters to Dear Abby.

Please. Promise me. Save yourself.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Erranding We Shall Go

"Everybody does it," my wife said last night as we were chatting.

And, no, she wasn't talking about licking ecstacy pills out of a 20-year-old girl's innie on the floor of a nightclub. She was talking about erranding at work.

My wife is an intinerant speech-langugage pathologist. She goes traipsing about to children's homes and store-front daycare facilities and, if you think she can resist the temptation to hit up a fabric store in between appointments, well, then you just crazy, girl.

"One of my coworkers came into the office from seeing clients yesterday carrying bags from Pathmark, which she then put in the work refrigerator until she was ready to go home."

I guess we do all do it. Efficiency experts and corporate Hitlers call this practice "Time-Theft." There was a funny "The Office" episode about it, and it involved stopwatches, fornication, immunity, peeing in soda bottles, and Outback Steakhouse gift certificates. Obviously, it was an episode of the American "The Office."

I steal from my company all the time, and I don't feel bad about it, because my company steals from me. What does it steal? My time. Oh, and my soul, my will to live and procreate, my good nature and countenance, and the best years of my life. So, bearing that in mind, would I feel even the slightest bit guilty about, say, blogging from work?



Because I work in an office for eight, sometimes nine-and-a-half hours straight without any proper, prescribed lunch break. Is that legal? I don't think so. But I am expected to work through my lunch, with my boss constantly yammering into my ear until I develop tinnitus or aural herpes, mindlessly shoving forkfuls of salad into my mouth while I manage spreadsheets or attendance lists or compose worthless emails.

So, I blog from work-- and IDGAS.


I can remember, though, the first time I did a personal errand on work time, and I was practically shitting myself.

Greg and I were working the ambulance together on one sunny June day back in 2005. Greg was a huge black man with puffy, scruffy facial hair that looked phony, but wasn't. He spoke in a gruff voice, but he was actually very kind. He taught me how to drive an ambulance, even though I was supposed to have learned, you know, in a class. He really taught me. Greg had two cellphones clipped to his belt-- one for "family" and one for "bi'niss." Sometimes, while I'd be in the back of the truck tending to a patient, Greg would simultaneously conduct family affairs on one phone, bi'niss relations on his other phone, and handle the EMS radio, all at the same time. It was like watching a circus act, or a symphony conductor at work. Amazing. One of Greg's daughters had become Muslim ("I don't get it-- but if she happy, who cares?") and he would gruffly answer the phone when she called, "BAGEERA?! SALAM ALEKEM!"

Anyway, on this warm June day, Greg decided that he needed a new swimsuit, and he drove the ambulance to the parking lot of JOMAR, a huge discount clothing store for peeps in the hood. I needed a new dress shirt, but I was petrified about going in. I mean, after all, I was on the clock.

"Should we tell dispatch where we are?"

"Man! Are you crazy? Naw!" he said to me, his eyes bugging out of his head, "Everybody does this-- this is the way it is."

And then it hit me: this is how they can get away with paying us $11.00-an-hour for busting our asses schlepping 400-pound comatose bastards around Philly-- because they know that, during downtime, we're picking up our laundry or mailing our letters or going food shopping. As long as we're not in another county or time-zone and as long as we can be reached on the radio, I guessed that it was anything goes.

And so I bought two dress shirts and a tie. For $11.00. One hour's work, and thank you very much.

Two of my other partners on the squad, however, had slightly different ideas about on-the-clock errands.

Tom was a paramedic in his early forties. Coming to work to start his shift on time was like a disease to him, and he avoided it in the way that a germaphobe touches doorknobs with Kleenex and sprays Chloraseptic onto cabinet handles. I only worked three shifts with Tom in my time at this company, and, during each of these shifts some sort of errand or personal recreation was included.

Shift 1: On suspicion that his wife was cheating on him, Tom drove me, in our ambulance, 28 miles away to a hospital in Delaware (where his wife worked) to stalk his wife and see if he could get a look at her suspected lover's vehicle. Tom was driven to this action by his son's statement, "Mommy's boyfriend drives a Mazda Tribute." We saw two Mazda Tributes in this hospital's parking lot.

Shift 2: While not really an "errand," Tom hopped into our truck half-an-hour late for the start of his shift and threw a basketball, a towel, and a change-of-clothes into the ambulance. Ever play "P-I-G?" he asked me. It sounded to me like a game Laura Ingalls Wilder would have invented. "No," I said. He drove us to a basketball court. We played. I lost. Pig.

Shift 3: "We've got to go to Camden," Tom said as he put the ambulance into gear. "Why?" I asked. Tom looked at me and his face twitched everso slightly. "Traffic court." Tom parked the ambulance near the municipal building in Camden. This was a place where you not only kept the windows up and the doors locked, but you prayed in several different tongues that you would go home with no unnatural holes in your face.

"Be right back," Tom said to me. He took the keys to the truck, and the radio. He came back an hour-and-a-half later. His hair was all fucked up, he was covered in sweat, and his pupils were the size of pinheads. He smelled like a German Olympic team's locker room.

"We've got a call," he said, hitting the lights and the siren. He must have driven 80 miles an hour the entire way back to Philly-- illegally, I might add. I was sure I was going to die, and was almost disappointed when I didn't.

"I'm not working with that guy anymore," I said to my supervisor the next morning, "ever again."

"Don't worry about it," the supervisor replied. Two days later, Tom was fired for stealing over $8,000 worth of gas on the company Sunoco card.

For all of Tom's peculiar erranding, my partner Mitch, though, takes the cake and pawns it. Mitch was always being threatened with litigation, termination, extermination-- anything that ended in "ation" really. Consequently, he was always in need of a buck. As a medic, he made double what I made, but half his money went to child support, so we took home the same amount each week, which was sad for both of us. One day, in need of some fast cash, Mitch, 300 pounds and resembling a shaven yeti, turned to me and said,

"We gotta go to my place and take care of something."

He always wore mirror-tinted sunglasses and not seeing his eyes scared the bejompers out of me.

He told me to back the ambulance up to his front door, "so no one will see what we're doin'." It was 6:30 in the morning. As I put the ambulance in reverse, the "BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!" warning signal that alerts playing schoolchildren that an ambulance is about to run them over rang out into the chilly morning air.

"TURN THAT MOTHERFUCKIN' COCK OFF!" he roared at me. And I did.

I sat in the driver's seat of the truck for maybe fifteen minutes. I heard his front door shut and I looked in the side mirror and saw him carrying two very long objects, wrapped in blankets. I distinctly saw a muzzle sticking out from one of the blankets. Oh, good, I thought, so this is how my life is going to end. At least I know. It was almost comforting.

"Get out of the driver's seat," he told me. And I gladly did.

"I need some fuckin' money-- the landlord's after me, so I'm selling some of my guns."


"Rifle and a shotgun-- should get me some decent cash."

And he drove us to a pawnshop and he went in through the back door. Mitch was a back-door kind of guy. 10 minutes later, he came out with a wad of cash in his ground-chuck fist. He lunged into the truck and shut the door.

"Three-hunnert," he said to me in his trademark Cro-English, "not fuckin' bad, eh, bitch?"

When it came time for me to get Mitch fired, I read up on Pennsylvania law and EMS statutes. Who would have thought it was a felony to transport firearms inside of an ambulance?

Time-theft, though, ain't even a misdemeanor. Bitch.

IDGAS: And THAT'S My New Philosophy!

Here's an incongruous headline that probably won't make it onto Jay Leno's desk, but should:

"Chrysler Lost $4 Billion But Sees Signs of Improvement"

See? Life truly is all about perspective. After having spent nearly two years behind the wheel of one of their products, my wife's 2001 PT Cruiser, I have a unique bond or kinship with Chrysler. Even though I traded the '01 Cruiser in for an '02 Volvo last month, that kinship still persists to this day, like a stubborn herpe or a sweaty homeless guy with hot feet breath bothering you for change while you're filling up at the gas station.

After reading this headline, my bond with Chrysler has only grown, and it's grown exponentially.

I don't know if you've realized this about me by now, but I'm sort of a glass-half-empty kind of guy. I tend to be a bit of a downer. If somebody has a good idea, I'm the one who's most likely to unbuckle his trousers and dump a steaming, sizzling load of pragmatism all over it. I tend to look at the negative more easily than I look at the positive in any given situation.

But, golly gee willikurs, Ma-- I sure do love me a cockeyed optimist.

And, when I think of Chrysler, $4 billion dollars in the red and still claiming to see "positive signs," well, you know what? That practically makes me want to burst into song.

"The hiiiiiiiiills are ali--"


Chrysler's unique brand of vapid optimism is really awe-inspiring, actually, especially at a time when we are living in a perpetual fog of financial meandering and angst-inducing uncertainty. They're like the grinning guy on the plane that's careening towards the Indian Ocean saying, in the 2 seconds before impact, "I'm not dead yet!"

And, well, you've really got to admire cheeky sonsofbitches who think like that.

In a way, Chrysler is really exemplifying a life strategy that we would all do well to consider adopting, and that is the strategy of I Don't Give a Shit, or IDGAS. IDGAS seems to be an appropriate strategic monkier for a company who continues to produce cars with some of the poorest fuel economy of any car maker out there (my former PT Cruiser is at the top of that rather long list-- or is it the bottom?).

Chrysler's cutting-edge IDGAS philosophy is actually a brilliant marketing and financial strategy, because it combines time-tested methods that have led to proven success:

1.) A bright outlook in spite of obviously bleak facts.

2.) The perpetuation of outdated, outmoded, inefficient, ineffective methodologies and practices.

3.) A dogged persistence in the face of outright failure.

4.) The complete and utter disregard for the current state of the world.

5.) The ardent belief that cheap, substandard plastics are your friend.

So, whenever you're fucking up at work or home, whenever you're accused of not being "with it" or maybe being told that you have your head shoved so far up your own ass that you can lick your own pancreas, just remember, you're not being lazy or stupid or naive or possessing the intellect of a tortured hamster-- you're practicing the IDGAS philosophy. Because, when you're a member of the IDGAS klan, losing $4 billion dollars is just another day at the office.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What Am I'm Going to Do?

Hold onto your Deal-a-Meal cards, my little kitty-cats: both of my sisters are looking for houses.

Sister #1: 33, Recently married, has a baby, is a total fucking trainwreck.

Sister #2: 42, Unmarried, has lots of stuffed animals with unusual names, is a total fucking trainwreck.

Sister #1 has practically no money. Her husband makes a decent living, but a significant portion of his monthly doughage gets forked over to a Baby Mama.

Sister #2 has an appreciable amount of money and is a very smart shopper.

Guess who just got their offer on a house accepted?

You got it! Sister #1! You're SO SMART! Look at you. Somebody get you a fucking ribbon or something.

Now, of course, Sister #2 was the one who started looking for a house first. See, she was living in a very expensive condominium favored by elderly, widowed Jewish ladies, recent divorcees, pricks with neckties and male-pattern baldness, and the QVC-obsessed.

Oh, and mice.

Now, a normal person would do something, well, normal-- like call an exterminator, insist that the mice be eradicated as part of the exorbitant condo fee she is paying, or purchase a Vietnam-era ex-Army flamethrower and deal with the mice herself: Rambo-style.

Sister #2, however, did none of those things, though I could picture her one-day wigging out with loads of big bullets strapped across her chest. She moved in with my parents. At first it was "temporary." That was in February. And, as Joan Baez so wistfully sings, "And February was so long, it lasted until March..."

And April.

The way the real estate market is going, don't count out those languid summer months either.

After spending several fruitless and futile weeks being depressed and looking at real estate porn, she finally put her condo up for sale last week.

All of a sudden, Sister #1 was inspired, and contacted my father.

"Daddy, I want a house."

Veruca Salt, anyone?

Well, as is his way when she calls him with a polite command, Daddy hit the ground running, only ceasing briefly to fly to Israel to carpet-bomb his Great-Aunt Twat. Even while he was thousands of miles away, he was texting Sister #2, making sure she was dutifully schlepping Sister #1 around to look at houses.

You know, because Sister #1 has a baby, and is, therefore, more important.

My father got back from Israel Saturday morning. On Monday morning, Sister #1 put a low-ball offer in on a house. On Monday evening, it was accepted.

This is how we fuckin' roll, 'Cuz.

Don't ask me where the money for the down-payment is coming from. My father swears up and down that it's not coming from him, and that his name isn't going on a single mortgage document. I suspect the Mexican cartel and/or generally unshaven men in overcoats and sunglasses.

My father called me this morning to ask me questions about short sales, since, having been through one myself, I am now, apparently, the Grand Vizier of Short Sales. I told him that it was absolute Hell. Our closing date was postponed no fewer than six times, sometimes postponed on the afternoon of closing-- that the sellers threatened to call the police on me, that township inspectors threatened to take the roofer to court, that the sellers were deadbeats and owed thousands and thousands of dollars in back taxes and repair fees to people who had done work on the house.

I told him that, had I to do it all over again, for the sake of my physical and emotional health, I would have walked away. And maybe the yellowed scotch tape that is holding the various components of this house together will all simultaneously disintigrate when I write this: but I probably should have.

The fact that the house Sister #1 will be purchasing is in short sale is the least of the problems. The fact that she's going into this with a guy that she mercilessly complains about and cuts down every day is perhaps more unsettling. I discussed this with my father on the phone.

"Look-- if they stay together, the house is theirs, and that's great. If they don't stay together, well, then we're going to have a big fuckin' problem, okay? Is that what you want to hear? I know. I know! But what am I'm gonna do?" he yelled. His Israelisms always come out when he's excited. You should hear him when he's stuck in traffic.

"I'm just worried that, when this whole thing gets fucked up and all-of-a-sudden she doesn't want the house anymore, it's going to become your problem," I said to him. There is ample evidence of a pattern to suggest that this would be the case.

Daddy, I'm sick of:

my college #1

apartment #1

condominium #1

my car #1

my car #2

my car #3

my business

And he's gotten rid of all of them for her. *Poof!* as if they'd never existed. By taking care of her kid all the time, they're basically, in my opinion, doing the same thing with him. I know that's not nice to say, but give me a break-- my family's in crisis.

"Mummy," he said, "I know you're worried about me, that it's going to be my problem. What am I'm going to do?"

What am I'm going to do? The emotional death-knell of my father. A man who is trapped by his ability to see the future and his intense love for his oftentimes misguided, foolish, impetuous, bull-headed children. (Mr. Apron included, batteries extra.) The difference, I suppose, between me and Sister #1 is that, all the messes I have ever made in my life, and there have been a good many of them, I have cleaned up on my own. You know, like a reasonable impersonation of a grown-up.

It's none of my business, of course, and, when we're all having dinner at my parent's house, my mother "doesn't want to talk about it," so we gossip about it with Sister #2 in hushed tones in the dining room while my mother is doing the dishes in the kitchen and my father is doing stomach-crunches on the floor of the living room. We never have to worry about Sister #1 hearing us, because she never comes over to my parent's house for dinner anymore. Just to drop off her son, and pick him up. And complain about her husband. And wash her hair in the sink, leaving copious mounds of black curls all over that she doesn't clean up.

It's okay, though. Daddy'll do it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Aaaaarrrrrgggggh! Piracy!

No, this isn't another gay, Anglophiliac blog entry about The Pirates of Penzance, so you can all stop worrying/clicking the little red "x" on the top right-hand corner of your screen.

And it isn't a post about Somalian pirates either, who seem to be largely supplanted in the news media these days by pictures of exploding volcanoes and pictures of beautiful, white children who are missing/dead.

And it definitely isn't a post about "Muppet Treasure Island" which I have not viewed in full but, from the YouTube clips I've seen, I feel I can definitively state the following:

1.) I'll wait till it is one of the "On Demand" freebies


2.) Tim Curry-- you've still got it, you charming, curly-locked motherfucker.

This is a post about internet piracy, or more specifically, blog piracy. Or even more specifically, blog plagiarism. Or, even more specifically, plagiarizing my blog.

Now, before you all pick up lit tiki-torches and rusty scythes in preparation for the merciless hunting down and eviscerating of the scum who would dare besmirch and befoul this sacred blog with the smut and smegma of plagiarism, relax. Nobody's done it.

At least, I don't think anybody's done it.

I mean, why would anybody do it would have to be the first question I would ask about the hypothetical plagiarizer. Well, it would be my second question, really, immediately following "Is his penis bigger than mine?"

Maybe it's just my basement-low self-confidence, but why someone (with any size penis) would plagiarize my blog is kind of beyond my ability to comprehend. First of all, there are a lot better blogs out there to plagiarize and/or pirate-rape than mine, of that I am absolutely sure. I read some of them. Some of the ones that are way, way, way better than mine are either too painful for me to read, or I just can't understand them. I mean, I don't walk around with a Thesaurus wedged between my asscheeks. That would be very difficult to do, and would require funny trousers.

But maybe I need to think about bucking up my self-image a little bit. I mean, I'm Is-reali sexy (thanks, Magpie-- I laughed. Mission accomplished.) Aside from that, I done writes good. I bring home a paycheck (notice I left out any hint of an adjective there). I've never run over a pedestrian, accidentally or otherwise, and all aberrant behaviors of mine consisting of a wooden-handled axe were committed before age 10.

So, like, why shouldn't lazy, talentless hacks try to pass off my work as their own? I mean-- what? I'm not good enough to fucking copy? I'll show you motherfuckers who's good enough to copy.



Oh, God. Somebody please pay attention to me. It's so cold in here. It's so goddamn cold....

Now, the very astute/Aspergian of you might have noticed that I recently added some legalese mumbojumbo horseshit on the righthand side of my blog. I did it because, well, I noticed lots of other bloggers doing it and I thought, "Well, if they're all wrapping lacey thongs around their necks while they masturbate and are snorting crushed-up Ritalin in the work bathroom, then you can bet your sweet ass that I'd better start doing it."

Believe me, I've resisted peer-pressure my whole life, and all my morals ever got me were seriously jacked-up teeth, poor vision and asthma. So, time to start following the masses, methinks.

I've never liked people who plagiarize. I think they probably suffer from a vitamin deficiency or were suckled on cold tot milk mixed with lead paint shavings. I mean, what's the point of having a blog, which is supposed to be your exclusively narcissistic venue for creative self-expression only to use someone else's literary masturbatory gooplings? It's like paying $150/hr to see a shrink and then telling the pointy-nosed prick someone else's life story.

That's stupid.

But, then, people are stupid. Especially Americans. Just ask my father. He'd love to tell you all about it. And, if you give him your cell-number, he'll text you all day like a 12-year-old girl. Totes.

It's funny-- writing this post has kind of got me all fired up. I hope somebody does plagiarize me now. I'd love to meet the person who would plagiarize off "My Masonic Apron." I wonder if it would be a guy or a girl. I wonder if they'd have some kind of fucked up birth defect, like eleven fingers or a nostril on the back of their head or something like that. Chances are, they'd probably just be a miserly asshole with glasses like me. The worst part is, I don't know if I would be able to readily overcome the feeling of immense pride at being flattered by someone who loved my words so much that they just had to try getting away with attaching their name to my work. I'd probably really like the guy.

And that would make removing his uvula with a salmonella-encrusted olive fork very upsetting for me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Your Captain vs. the Volcano

In the passing fleetingdom of websurfing one day this weekend, I came across an headline that said,


And, as I read this and pondered it a little bit, I thought to myself, "Wow-- now if that isn't a sentiment that accurately expresses what it's like to be an American, then I don't know what is."

Besides, maybe, "Give me back that fillet of fish."

By the way, you can have that as your ringtone. Just thought I'd mention it.

Anyway, I wasn't going to write about the volcano, because it's just all over the news, and as I think you know, I try my best to eschew whatever is all over the news, or all over the place, unless it's my dog's feces on the kitchen floor. I mean, that there's good blog fodder. Seriously, if you're ever feeling creatively cramped-- get a puppy. You'll suddenly have lots to blog about.

So, right, I wasn't going to blog about the volcano, because it's kind of hogging the spotlight and I don't think it especially needs another ounce of attention from me. Besides, its name is fucking impossible to spell, and my wife, (sometimes in conjunction with fellow reader/blogger Colleen) edit(s) these blog entries in her/their spare time so I don't want to give her/them too much of a challenge, especially when I'm always spelling "occasion" and "synagogue" wrong.

But, this headline made me think twice about blogging about the volcano. It struck such a negative chord with me-- such an unctuous, self-important, bratty statement. It was as if an angry, American child had its arms folded in front of its pouty chest, its face contorted in a butt-ugly frown whining,

"Can't we just fly UNDER the volcano smoke?" Immediately followed by, "I HATE you! You never let me do anything FUN!" The culmination of this tirade is the angry American child running upstairs (being sure to stomp on each step) and violently slamming his/her door before throwing him/herself onto the bed in the trademark "prone moan" position (this is opposed to the "supine whine position" favored by terminal ICU patients and Chinese prostitutes.)

I'm pretty amazed at how this particular volcanic eruption is being treated in the media. Far-off volcanoes are reported on with a mixture of awe and seriousness, especially when they kill or threaten to kill great numbers of people. Pompeii, anyone? This one is being treated in rather the same way as a fatal accident on a major highway during rush-hour is treated by traffic reporters: as a big pain in the ass.

I sometimes pray that, if I am to die in a car wreck to let it occur on some untravelled back road at around 2 o'clock in the afternoon. That way, my untimely death might be treated by local news reporters as the shocking tragedy that it is, and not an annoyance to sweaty, Nutrigrain-chewing cubicle jockeys who are lip-synching to "Like a Virgin" inside their used Acuras.

I want to be a little more in this life than an inconvenience. That isn't too much to ask, is it?

Well, this poor volcano is being treated that way. It's just a big pain in the fucking ass to the flying public. I get it-- you have places to be. Your mistress is waiting for you in Galway. You have a Looney Convention in London. You need to visit your sick gram-grams in Napoli.

I understand. Thank you for your patience. Your call cannot be completed at this time. Go fuck yourself.

See-- the thing is, Volcano, we're Americans. And we have somewhere to be. You're lucky you're a volcano with big goddamn smoke plumes and ash and shit and not just a big dirt hill, or we'd all just get in our SUVs and drive the fuck over your dump-ass. You know, on Day One it was like, Oh, cool-- a volcano. That's pretty decent. But then, on Day Two, we Americans were starting to get a little sick of your bullshit. I mean, Alyssa Milano's got a new show on ABC, and she's fucking hot. You're hot, too, Volcano-- but not in the same way Alyssa Milano's hot.

And now it's Day Five of your macho, I'm-gonna-spew-big-goddamn-smoke-everywhere-and-fuck-up-your-vacation-plans. And it's like, okay, we see you, you're really cool.

But we Americans are cooler. And, if this is some kind of pissin' contest, Volcs, whip it out and let's duel. I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Help Me

As someone who used to work the streets as an EMT, who spent seventeen months of his life, day in and day out responding to calls for assistance-- you'd think I'd be more accustomed to the concept of asking for help.

I'm not.

Asking for help makes my skin crawl. It makes my ass sweat. It makes my eyes dart around like I'm on drugs. It turns me into an angry, frustrated, defeated bastard.

This morning, my wife and I were to pick up a vintage enamel-top kitchen cabinet to, well, put shit in (because we have lots and lots of shit) and we weren't sure it would *ahem* fit in my wife's Honda Fit.

"I'm going to call my coworker who has a Honda Pilot (a mammoth SUV inside of which we could park three Honda Fits) and ask if she'll drive us to the thrift shop to pick it up."

Cue: exasperated sighs.

Cue: resigned shrug of shoulders.

Cue: downcast eyes and forlorn expression.

What the fuck is my problem?

I don't know.

Sometimes it's about inconveniencing people. Sometimes it's about pride, and fearing that I'll look stupid or incompetent. Sometimes it's about admitting that I can't do something for myself. I would be a very bad quadraplegic.

I'm especially bad at asking for help at work. Ironically, I learned the most about asking for help during the time I was an EMT. When it came time to transport a 400+ pound patient, I was often the first voice on the radio calling for another unit to assist. More than anything else, I learned what it is like to depend on partner. And I found that I liked it.

Sort of.

After leaving EMS and entering office culture, I immediately erected walls around myself. When it came to PowerPoint, I fought my way through it blindly until my wife took me by the hand at home and helped me see the light. Spreadsheets were frustrating and mail merge fuckign label wizards almost drove me off the edge.

I can remember my first real job after college, working at a different non-profit-- I was put in charge of creating a template for a massive data collection project. I agreed to undertake the assignment without having any knowledge of what was expected of me. Two days before the thing was due, I had absolutely nothing to show. Harried, trapped, and at my wits end, I burst into the Program Coordinator's office, shut the door, and had a panic attack.

She was a decent, hard-working, German woman-- 6'1" with a bald spot and a fan of bulky snowflake sweaters and pictures of cats wearing clothes. She saved my ass in a very big way. And I learned that asking for help is not always a bad idea, and that it's probably best to ask for help before you start experiencing difficulty breathing.

In a CPR class I took once, the instructor said that more men die from choking than women because men 1.) think they can get the stuck piece of food out by themselves and 2.) don't want to create a scene.

"If a woman's choking in a restaurant, she'll generally stand up and start flapping her arms or banging on the table. Men, though, a tough ass bastard will stand up and quietly go to the bathroom. And, usually, he'll die there. One time, I was at Red Lobster and I heard coughing at the next table over, and then this guy went real quiet and left the table. I followed him into the bathroom, and the sonofabitch was lying on the floor, totally blue."

"Did you save him?" asked one eager student.

"Fuck no-- he was dead!"

I'm still largely incapable of asking for help when a mail merge is giving me agita, but one thing is for sure, if I'm at Red Lobster and a piece of tail gets stuck in my windpipe, I'll play a fucking Sousa march on my dick to get your attention.

Oh, who the hell am I kidding? I wouldn't be caught dead in a Red Lobster. You know that.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Just Call Me Stevie Wonder

No, I don't have a braille keyboard upon which I blog my life's sweet, sweet music. But I am definitely full of wonder. Like a slightly autistic child or a cat, my mind goes goes to and fro effortlessly and with little restraint or order. I drive around or zone out in my chair at work with all the aplomb of a hormonal teenager, at half-mast under his desk, pondering the color and proportions of his Algebra teacher's nipples when he's in his American Government class.

I'm full of wonder, motherfuckers. Here's a taste of what I wonder about:

I wonder...

* many people who drive around with commemorative D.A.R.E. license plates are drug addicts and/or dealers. I'm pretty sure the owner of the lowered, jet-black Lexus with 22-inch DUBS and mirror-tinted windows was. Of course, he could just as easily have been an off-duty cop. Sometimes it's so hard to tell the difference.

* ...why people think wearing pajamas out in public is acceptable behavior. Personally, I blame high school teachers and college professors, who are among the first supposed authority figures who permit it. I also blame Nicholas Cage, because I don't like him.

* ...what would happen if I forsook anonymity on my blog. Sometimes I think what I'm scared of is way worse than anything that could possibly ever happen in real life. Like middle-eastern commandos raiding my parent's house with machine guns and hand grenades-- just one of the scenarios that used to keep me awake at night when I was a small child. I mean, if I told you my name, would you still love me in the morning?

* ...what the fuck is wrong with cats. Are they all bipolar? One second they're wriggling around on your lap in total ecstacy, and the next they're puncturing your femoral artery with their claws or their scratching your face off. I'm fine with emotional instability in people, but I'm not attracted to it in animals. Not even for, like, five minutes.

* ...what I was thinking. This applies to the vast majority of the decisions that I've made since I was around eleven years old. This does not include my decision to go on Jdate, get married, (that first one led to the second) buy a house, or shave off all my pubes that one time in 2001 because, really, that's something every guy has to try at least once, even if it means that you're rubbing your crotch up against furniture because of the 3-day-later itch.

* anybody who writes what I write could even fleetingly consider forsaking his anonymity.

* ...what has happened to my family. I asked my oldest sister this question, almost in passing, on the phone last night, and she started crying. Three minutes later, she was in absolute hysterics, recounting a totally incomprehensible story about roofers working on the house and her answering the door wrapped in a blanket with a towel on her head. She and my mother were laughing like a pair of strung-out mad hatters. Maybe they're cats.

* ...why my parents didn't put me into therapy as a child. You would have thought that a 9-year-old me recreating the PAN-AM Flight 103 explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland using a model hearse painted in gold spray-paint and Playmobil action figures wrapped in Kleenex "bodybags" in front of my entire family (and one of my sister's friends) would have set off some alarm bells. But it didn't.

* ...who wrote the book of love. 'Cuz that shit should have been a picture book-- with scratch-n-sniffs. N'yah mean?

* ...why we can't figure out some way as a society to prominently label and identify fat people who are fat because they're goddamn lazy, repulsive, and pathetic, and another way to prominently label people who are fat because they have some sort of disease, glandular condition, politically correct excuse for being overweight that would exempt those in the latter category from large-scale, organized abuse and/or taunts. Because, really, everybody loves making fun of fat boys and girls. But we don't want to get in trouble over it.

* ...why a Jew hasn't been elected President yet. I mean-- I'm not running, so don't get excited, I'm just sayin'...

* ...why noted film director and Egon extraordinaire Harold Ramis felt it was necessary to show Beverly D'Angelo's breasts in "National Lampoon's: Vacation." I mean, they're wonderful-- at least, in 1983 they were, but I don't think it was really essential to the overall flavor of the film. I mean, I'm sure, if he'd asked nicely, Ramis could have seen them whenever he wanted.

* ...when it became acceptable to "drink your breakfast!" for people who aren't in the intensive care unit of a hospital.

* ...why the makers of the "Need for Speed" series of driving-based video games haven't developed and released "Need for Speed: Texting, Road Rage & the GPS Whore" for the PS3.

* ...why any number of celebrities/ordinary people/members of my extended family haven't sued me for slander and/or libel yet. Good thing I've still got that anonymity thing going for me.

* ...who thought making a Broadway show out of "The Addams Family" was a good idea, and why have we not brought back public flogging expressly for this thoroughly misguided and psychologically maladjusted individual.

* ...what I/these blog entries would be like if I drank.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Well, Tug on My Teat and Feed the Kittens: It's... DEAR APRON!

It's Friday, Goddamnit.

I'm not getting out of work early or going on a drunktastic cruise with a bunch of bronzed, blonde, lubricated people.

I'm just sitting here, gently mocking the circus clowns who write to Dear Abby with their quibbles, paradoxes, and traumaramas.

Maybe one day, someone will pay me to do this. But, for now, it's just a hobby.

You know, like pretending to build vintage WWI model airplanes just to sniff the model glue.

That's right: that's how I prep to write my advice column. Doesn't everybody?

Well, that's how we roll at... DEAR APRON!


I am not gay or bisexual, but I'm in love with my boss, who is a female like me. She's 27 and I am 17. She is married and doesn't know how I feel about her.

I looked up her address on the Internet and got directions to her house. I drive by every day -- don't ask me why. I told her I have a friend who lives on the same street that she does, and that I saw her car in the driveway.

About a month ago, she caught me driving by as she was pulling out of her driveway. Two days ago, she called my mother -- they have been friends for years -- and asked, "What's wrong with 'Janie'? She pulled my address up from a computer. I saw her driving past my house."

That's all my mom told me, but how in the heck did she find out? I still have the printout in my bedroom, and it's still in the same position it was, so I don't think my mom saw it and told her about it. Only three of my closest friends know, and I don't think they repeated anything because they have no reason to -- and they don't know my boss. What's going on here? Am I going crazy? -- FOUND OUT IN FLORIDA


Honey-- here's a tip: if you're going to go through all the trouble of inventing a creative, clever pseudonym like "Janie" in the body of your letter, then there is really no reason to further belabor the point of coming up with an alliterative signature for your letter like "Found Out in Florida" or "Fucking Box-Licking Lesbian in Florida." Seriously, I wouldn't want you to tax your precious little synapses more than is absolutely necessary.

Now, getting back to the crux of your letter: of course you're not gay or bisexual, dear. Anyone can see that. You just happen to be a female stalker who wants to ferociously clit-rub against your boss, who also happens to be female. See? I get it.

Now, while this activity may seem like a good idea to you, and while I wouldn't particularly mind watching the two Turtle Wax each other's areolas, you must think of the consequences. The consequence that should be foremost in your mind is that, if you two try the deep dykin' and things go sour between you, you may very well lose your job at Dairy Queen.

And then where would you be?


My in-laws (whom I love dearly) moved to another state after retirement, and when they come to visit they always stay with us. They own a house next door that is occupied by their daughter, and they also have another child living nearby.

How can I politely suggest that they stay in their own house with their daughter or with the other child? Both have the space to accommodate them. I work very early morning hours and don't want to disturb them, but they pretty much take over our house when they are here. I don't know if the other children offer them a place to stay or not, but I'm tired of having them here every time they visit. -- STUCK IN THE SOUTHWEST


I have no doubt that anybody who correctly uses the word "whom" in an advice letter can come up with a way to "politely suggest" something to their in-laws (whom you love dearly). But, since you seem to be having such painful difficulties in formulating the desired phrase, and since you asked me everso nicely, let me see if I can be of assistance.

When your in-laws come to town again, answer the door dressed as Adolf Hitler. From the waist-up, that is. Period Nazi dress uniform regalia should be readily available on E-bay. Be naked from the waist down, and have someone (it will be difficult for you to accomplish this on your own) shave a swastika pattern into your pubes. Your husband should be between your legs, on all fours, completely naked, with the exception of a vinyl facemask and a choke-chain around his neck. His ass should be reddened from repeated disciplinary actions from a cricket bat.

If you have schoolaged children, throw up on them around fifteen minutes before your inlaws are scheduled to arrive. This will give the vomitus time to dry and set into the fabric of their clothing. If you have children of opposing genders, dress them in each other's clothes, and have them stand next to you when you open the door to your inlaws, like a family portrait of sorts. If you have one pet, dress it up as Little Bo Peep, but be sure to hang a sign around its neck that says "FAG," written in excrement. If you have two pets, one significantly smaller than the other, insert the smaller pet headfirst into the larger pet's ass.

When you open the door to your in-laws, just smile, and say, "Welcome, in-laws, whom we love so much! Your room is all ready."


My son "Matt" is a junior in high school. He says he's not attending the junior/senior prom this year because he doesn't have anyone special to go with.
I tried to explain that his date doesn't have to be a "girlfriend," that she can just be a friend. I told him he could also go with a bunch of guys who don't have dates.

I know later on in life Matt will regret not having gone to the prom, and I'm sad about his decision. Should I make him go even though he doesn't want to, hoping he has a good time when he gets there? Or should I drop the issue and respect his wishes even if he's making a mistake? Matt is 17 and not particularly social, and I think that's why he doesn't want to go. -- ENCOURAGING MOM


"I tried to explain that his date doesn't have to be a 'girlfriend,' that she can just be a friend."

Honey, Matt doesn't have any female friends.

"I told him he could also go with a bunch of guys who don't have dates."

Sweetlips, Matt also does not have any guy friends. Granted, if he did, they would be the type of guys who also don't have dates, but, let's be honest with each other here: even these zit-picking societal freaks wouldn't be caught comatose, passed out in a Chevy Celebrity in the parking lot of a vacant warehouse with Matt.

Hey-- I have an idea: why don't YOU go to the prom with Matt? You seem to think he's totes the cat's meow. Let's see if he really delivers!

I won't wait up!


(Yeah, I never went to mine, and I don't regret it-- just throwing that out there.)


I'm 18 and a senior in high school. I do not drink and don't plan on drinking when prom time comes around. My problem is, I'm not sure whether or not my date will want to. I don't want to be around alcohol, and I especially do not want to have a drunk date I have to sober up before I can take her home, which might upset her parents if it's after curfew.

So how do I find out if my potential prom date is a drinker before I ask her to the prom? -- DOESN'T DRINK IN SOUTH CAROLINA


Well, gee, I don't know, Sport. I guess you could pass her a little quiz during Calc I.

1.) I consider myself a raging, Meredith Vieira-style alcoholic.


2.) I call alcoholic drinks by affectionate nicknames, like "SoCo," "the Captain," and "Chivs."


3.) I think it is acceptable to drink beer and eat hot dogs for breakfast.


4.) I have been sober for...


I think, once you get your survey back, you'll be able to tell just from the smell whether or not this is the girl you want to bring to the prom. Of course, if you're not the survey kinda guy, there's always the Magic 8 Ball.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jew Fewd

Here's a great opening sentence for a stunning, gotta-read-it blog:

"So, I was standing in my kitchen yesterday morning making a sandwich when I happened to glance at the bag holding the bread."

Whoa, right? My seventh grade English teacher would be so proud. But I think she's a prostitute by now, so her worldview may have shifted since 1993.

Anyway, I was making my sandwich in the kitchen yesterday and I glanced at the plastic bag holding the bread and it said,


Special Bread
for Special Sandwiches"

Apparently, it's also "Melba Thin," whatever the fuck that means. I mean, I know what melba toast is. People in California eat it and pretend they like it. I guess, in this context, "melba" is some kind of superlative adjective, better, of course, than being just plain old thin. I'd like to walk up to some slut on the street (my 7th grade English teacher?) and say, "Wow, honey, you're not just thin-- you're melba thin."

Now, obviously I've known before yesterday morning that there was such a thing as "Jewish" rye bread, but it never really bothered me until yesterday. I must have been on my melba period.

I don't know what exactly it was about the fact that my rye bread is "Jewish" that irritated me so. Personally, I know for a fact that this particular loaf of bread was purchased by my wife. I would never buy a loaf of bread that identified itself not only as "Jewish" but as "REAL JEWISH."


Oh, I don't know, because maybe, as a slightly stooped-over, rail-thin, bearded man with dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, bushy eyebrows and a nose upon which an overweight parrot could live comfortably alongside a small family of Mexican immigrants, I would feel kind of embarrassed and cliche buying a loaf of bread that is "REAL JEWISH."

I mean-- why do I need to do that to myself?

And so, another question becomes: what is it about this bread that makes it so, well, Jewish? It's certainly not the name of the company: Arnold. One of the teachers at my elementary school (who is most certainly not a prostitute, but is a lesbian) was named Mrs. Arnold, and she certainly wasn't Jewish. Maybe if the bread company's name was "Schmecky's" or "Blatzenblortt's" I could better understand the words "REAL JEWISH Rye" coming after its name. But, "Arnold," well, no. That I don't understand.

Then there's "Jewish Apple Cake." What is it about apples, eggs, flour, and sugar that suddenly makes something Jewish? Can't it just be apple cake? I don't get it. It's not like the apples are circumcized or have little dangly curls hanging down from their sides.

Can't we just buy bread and apple cake without having these religious affiliations? Is that really too much to ask?

I mean, I don't know about you, but I would feel kind of funny walking into a grocery store and seeing "Protestant Turkey Jerky" ("The Hard Work it Takes to Chew 'Em Will Set You Free!") or "Catholic 'Nilla Wafers" ("The Perfect At-Home Eucharist Treat!").

Actually, this is starting to sound like not such a bad idea. Maybe it's possible that I am the greatest marketing genius since Augusten Burroughs ("Refresh... mints" anybody?). Since I've now successfully convinced myself of this previously undiscovered talent, let's roll with it and see if Kraft Foods & Cigarettes, Inc. picks me up as their new talent-miser.

Ready? Let's give this a good shot. This could be the best career move of my brittle little life:

"Muslim Pork Loin -- The Best Edible Incongruity You've Never Tasted"

"Southern Baptist Fried Chicken: It's Not Offensive... It's Delicious!"

"Lutheran White Rice: So Bland it Just HAS to Be Lutheran!"

"7th Day Adventist Red Wine -- Save a Glass for Jesus, He's Comin' & He's Thirsty, Bitches!"

"Jehovah's Witness Carrots: See Jehovah Clearer with these Vision-Enhancing Treats!"

"Buddhist Cookies: Enhance Your Budda Belly with Box After Box!"

Okay, now it's your turn, kids! Create your own religiously-centered food products so we Jews don't feel like we're, um, weirdly singled out. GO!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

If You Hear Far Off Explosions...

... it's because my father is in Israel.

He's going there to threaten his cousin, or his aunt-- I kind of forget which-- with a lawsuit. And hopefully he's just going to threaten her with a lawsuit, and not bodily injury. Because, although I'm not entirely sure, that may possibly be a crime in Israel.

See, a month or so ago, my father's uncle, we'll call him Uncle Schmenkman for the purposes of this blog, died. He was very old, as the uncles of 61-year-old men usually tend to be. He was being cared for by the woman my father is going to sue/threaten. Reportedly, she wasn't the Florence Nightingale, dress-your-wounds-and-sing-to-you type. She was more of the Annie Wilkes, chain-you-up-and-hobble-you type. She, allegedly, verbally abused Uncle Schmenkman, called him names, mistreated him in other, unspecified ways and, in the days leading up to his death, made him change his will to effectively screw my father, his brother, and his sister out of potentially rather a lot of shekels.

Because I am loathe to use real names in this blog, and because I'm not even really sure if she's an aunt or a cousin, we'll just call her "Twat."

So, anyway, Twat scored the vast majority of Uncle Schmenkman's coinage, and my father and his remaining siblings are now kind of left high-and-dry. Which sucks, because my parent's house needs a new chimney, and I have around eight-and-a-half years of student loans left to repay.

And so, after weeks of screaming on the phone in a delightful mixture of broken Hebrew and broken English to sisters, cousins, aunts, and lawyers, my father finally last night boarded a plane to go back to his Motherland to, in his words, "straighten this motherfuck out."

Nothing broken there.

Last night, he texted me to say goodbye before taking to the skies. Even the most practical, least hysterical member of our family acknowledges the fact that it's always good to say "goodbye" and "I love you" before getting on an airplane, because it very well could be the last time.

I called him immediately after receiving the text.

Me: "Hi."

Him: "Hi, Mummy."

Me: "So, how are you?"

Him: "Well, you know, I am sitting here with a bunch of... {lowers his voice}... I guess they're Israelis..."

I'd guess so, too.

Me: "Well, I'm sorry you have to go back there for such a shitty reason."

Him: "Yeah, well, it's okay, Mummy, you know. I'm not going back there to take fuckin' pictures or jump in the Dead Sea, you know?"

Me: "Yes, I know."

This morning, I sent him my standard Daddy's-travelling-communique:

"Hi. Are you alive?"

Not six minutes later, I received his reply, indicating that he had just landed. I can't keep time-changes and time-differences and time-zones straight in my head. I did wake up and immediately check for reports of a plane going down en-route to Tel Aviv, because that's how I roll, bitches.

Relieved, I texted him back:

"Yay! I love you. Have a good trip. Try not to get arrested."

My father has a knack for getting into trouble, especially when he is not closely supervised by my mother. Her thin-lipped disapproval is usually enough to appropriately and efficiently reign him in and, without it, I feel that my fears for his safety and that of others around him is legitimate.


1.) Though I have no absolute proof, his active participation in two Israeli wars leads me to believe that he has almost certainly killed people. Sure, anyone is capable of killing someone but, once you've already done it, the door to repeat performances is pretty much wide open.

2.) His temper is volcanic. One Sunday morning, when we were kids, he absolutely popped his jugular because my sister and I were crunching too loudly on our Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I almost shat myself at the table.

3.) He's already extremely pissed off. We're not the kind of family that drags other family members into court all the time, like the people on "Judge Judy" or whatever. When we do, it's because we've been pushed to the absolute limit. Actually, we've never sued anybody. This will be an Apron family first. Just like my sister's kid is the first grandchild, and like I was the first one in our immediate family to own a microwave.

4.) He cannot stand the following people: authority figures, soldiers, police officers, politicians, lawyers, family members, other Israelis, being away from home, being stuck in traffic, being late, being challenged, being frustrated, being constrained by generally accepted standards of social decorum/civil law. This, to me, bodes ill for this particular trip.

5.) He wears dress shoes without socks and carries a gigantic wallet, held together by a rubber band. Do you honestly think this man gives a shit about anything?

I'm always a little uneasy when my father goes away. He used to do it a lot, for business. He used to have an office in New York City, but those days are no more, and I think that's a good thing. One of his clients in New York called my father in absolute hysterics one day.

"What the hell did you say to my secretary?" the client cried, "she's sobbing in my office like a little girl-- I'm afraid she's gonna jump out the window!"

"I did not do anything," my father said.

He never does.