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."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Come On, Apron, Make it Hurt So Good

"Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody."

Samuel Langhorne Clemens

People are funny, and some of the things they do are even funnier. If you don't believe me, watch YouTube. Or reality television. Or scripted television. Or your neighbors.

Or yourself.

One of the funny things, I think, that people do is blog. Since I've sometimes been described throughout my life as "funny" I guess it stands to reason that I'd be one of those people out there, doing that funny thing. According to Wikipedia, which is only wrong when it's really important, there are approximately 156 million public blogs in existence. Of course, not all of them are funny-- intentionally or by accident, and not every blogger is funny.

This, obviously, doesn't mean that there are 156 million bloggers out there, because lots of bloggers write multiple blogs. One blogger might have a personal essay blog, a Hamburger Helper-based recipe blog, a Kama Sutra position blog, a Dow Jones Industrial Average blog, and a Davy Jones celebrity-follower blog. I tried to find out how many bloggers there are in 2011, and it wasn't really going anywhere, so I was like, eh-- fuck that.

A lot of personal blogs out there may look a lot like a lot of other personal blogs out there, but I suspect that the motivation behind creating a personal blog is very different for one blogger as opposed to the motivation stemming from another blogger. As I said earlier, people do funny things in life, and I wonder sometimes whether, if we knew the reasons behind their actions, would their actions be more funny, or less?

If you asked me what my motivation was to create my first blog, back in 2008, and then this one, in March of 2009, I'm sure I could spout off some horseshit that might convince you that I knew what my motivation was, but, really, I don't think I knew. And I don't think that I know, either. I've been giving it some thought, though, of late, and while I don't really know what my original motivation was, I think I'm beginning to see why continuing it is so attractive, so seductive, so important to me.

After doing this approximately 905 times, I'm starting to understand something about this space here that I didn't understand before. Forest for the trees, let's say. Here, I have a voice. Now, don't get me wrong-- in life, too, I have a voice. Light-baritone, actually. And the voice I have in life is soft and quiet-- it's patient to a fault, perhaps, with everybody but me, and it's afraid to be used too much, or too loudly. This voice is occasionally sarcastic, it's sometimes inappropriate, but only when I'm reasonably sure that sardonic comments won't be misconstrued, or taken badly, or reported to some sort of authority. The thing about the voice I use in life-- the voice that's attached to my face and my body and my sound is that it is hardly ever capable of hurting people.

I've hurt people before-- mostly, though, I'm realizing, through the written word. That's always where my balls have been, and it's not the anonymous, avatar-driven nature of the internet that's to blame-- I've been like that for a long, long time. When I was thirteen to about age sixteen, I wrote angry letters-- to Kraft Foods, Inc., Franklin Mint, Stiftung Mozarteum in Salzburg (don't ask). Vile and vitriol, printed out loudly in faded ink on thin, dot-matrix paper. There were also letters, and, later, emails to friends. Painful ones, angry ones, frustrated ones. Then, God invented the text message. "Thank you, God," as Basil Fawlty says, "thank you so bloody much."

But I've rarely hurt people with my voice. Because I'm scared to be that which scares me-- a bully, a tyrant, someone who wields power over others. And I suppose this blog, slick with sarcasm and snark and cruelty, is an outlet for anger, rage, frustration, despair and pain-- which is so much of what comedy is comprised of, if you think about it.

Just ask Mark Twain-- he'd tell you, if he could.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hey! I'm Going to Kill Myself If You Don't Read... DEAR APRON!

DEAR APRON:

Sometimes my secretary says things like, "I could just kill myself" or, "Just shoot me!" Apron, my son took his life by shooting himself two years ago. She knows what happened because we live in a small town.

I don't know what to say when I hear her utter those phrases, but it feels like someone has reached in and torn a piece of my heart out. Have you any advice for me? -- STILL GRIEVING FOR MY SON

DEAR STILL GRIEVING:

First, I'm very sorry for your loss. Your son was terribly handsome.

Now, I do have advice for you. Which is a good thing, since this is an advice column. If you wrote to me asking for advice and I didn't have any, why I'd probably feel so guilty that I'd kill myself.

With a gun.

Here's my advice to you: stop being such an overbearing, demanding, taskmaster of a boss. Don't you see that it's your unrealistic expectations, your incessant micromanaging, your constant need for anal penetration, and your ignorance of the pitfalls and intricacies of Microsoft Excel that are causing your secretary to experience and express suicidal ideation? Believe me, if you weren't such a heartless bastard, your bespectacled, desk-jockey prostitute wouldn't be having such a rough time, and you wouldn't have to be re-traumatized by her statements.

Now, please, lighten up around the office, will ya, before I stick my head in the goddamned oven.

DEAR APRON:

I was at a party where guests were exposed to salmonella that was on one of the vegetables served as an appetizer. At least 11 people were affected by it. The hosts talked to only one or two of the people who were affected. Some of us were concerned that the hosts didn't contact everyone and warn them of what had happened.

Don't you think they had a responsibility to contact all their guests and advise them of the problem, and even express concern and apologies? -- SICK IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR SICK:

OH MY GOD!

Are you OKAY?!

Did the veggie-wedgies hurt my little bubbie-wubbie's tummy-fummy?

Yes. The hosts of this mass-murder-attempt absolutely should have contacted every single one of the guests and informed all of them of the insidious, calculated, and not-terribly-well-thought-out plan to commit eleven counts of homicide in the first degree through biologically-altered vegetables at a staged dinner party. Not only should they have contacted each of the guests, including you, but they should have gone to the local police station with the intention of turning themselves in to the authorities, but, at the very last moment, they should have wrestled a 9mm Glock from the holster of the desk sergeant and done a murder-suicide job on themselves.

God, just shoot me!

DEAR APRON:

I recently got out of a two-year relationship. He broke up with me without explanation. I'm not over him and it still hurts, but at the same time I am starting to have feelings for someone else. The problem is I'm afraid he's just the "rebound" guy. What should I do? -- READY TO MOVE ON IN OHIO

DEAR READY TO MOVE ON:

Wait-- are you a guy, too? 'Cuz, if you are, you should probably just kill yourself.

DEAR APRON:

I am a man who has tried to lose weight for my health and failed. I am trying again now and have lost 40 pounds. A couple of years ago I did the same thing, and then before I knew it I gained it all back. I'm really trying to keep it off this time.

A co-worker said, "You look good with the weight loss, but do you think you'll be able to keep it off this time?" I had no idea what to say. I told him we all have our vices, but I am trying. Apron, the comment hurt my feelings. How would you suggest handling the situation? -- SMALLER IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR SMALLER IN NEW HAMPSHIRE:

I think it's great that you're trying to lose weight again, and that you're finding major success this time, with the excellent loss of 40 pounds!

Did you lose the weight by taking large amounts of laxatives? I know a chick who did that, and she looks FUCKING AWS! Seriously, if you saw her, you'd totally want to fuck the shit out of her. Speaking of shit, if you lost the weight using laxatives, you probably shit yourself a lot-- but it's worth it, isn't it?

Being fat is no joke, like suicide is, and I think it's really important that my readership understands that. Unlike suicide, obesity is a serious issue. Just ask First Lady Michelle Obama. She could have picked suicide awareness or some other issue in the mental health sphere to be her pet cause, but, no, she picked improving the lives of tubby round kids who eat too much Kraft Macaroni n' Cheese. Isn't that shit good? Oh, man. It's so oooey and gooey. Just like my shit after taking too many laxatives.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stream Away, Apron

They say you should never sit down to write something before you actually know what you're going to say.

And I'm like, "Fuck that-- I pretty much do that every day."

But, really, that's not entirely true. A lot of the time, I have a rough idea of what I want to talk about. Like the lesbian post from yesterday-- I knew, obviously, that I wanted to write about that after my wife was finished telling me the story. I was reasonably sure I knew what I wanted to say about it, but I hadn't formulated a fucking thesis or anything, a cogent argument. No. It's not like that. I think up some main bullet points that I want to hit and the post just sort of creates itself as I go, because, while I write, other ideas come into my head and, because I have no ability to edit, I invariably end up including all of them in the post.

Which rounds it out quite nicely. Don't you think?

But, today for example: no fucking clue. I don't know what I want to write about or what I want to say or why I'm even doing it. The only thing I decided on was that the piece was going to be sort of stream-of-consciousness because that style has always interested me and yet I so rarely engage in it because I'm somebody who leads a rather structured life and stream-of-consciousness writing isn't really my thing. Usually, when I end up writing something without knowing what I'm doing, it sounds like it's come from somebody with some form of psychosis and/or substance abuse issues, neither of which accurately describes me, but there we are.

Today, a coworker of mine announced that her "asshole is hungry". I thought this was a glorious statement, but I didn't tell her that. I mean, what do you say to someone who tells you that her asshole is hungry? "Um, I have a peach upstairs?" No, you don't say that. You just look at her like she's a total lunatic, which is what I did, because that's basically prescribed at this point. And so I looked at her like that, and she laughed, and she explained that, by saying that her asshole was hungry, she was stating that she was having wedgie issues. I thought it was a pretty clever way to let your coworker know that your underwear and pants are riding up your asscrack, and, frankly, I love love love that I work in an environment where people feel comfortable enough to share that sort of information.

On Saturday, I worked a full day wearing underwear that was on inside-out. The seam bothered me. Obviously, wearing inside-out underwear isn't nearly as bad as wearing underwear backwards (with the crotch part by your asshole) but the inside-out underwear was very uncomfortable, and I didn't understand why I was in such discomfort until I got home from work and observed that the underwear was on, in point of fact, inside-out.

This is what happens when you get dressed in the dark so that you don't wake up your wife, who doesn't work every other Saturday like you do because you're a schlep who works in a psychiatric hospital. Getting dressed in the dark could be an extremely complicated endeavor, but I've taken a lot of the adventure out of it by laying my clothes out the night before, even going so far as to loop my belt all the way through all the belt loops. But, even after such diligent planning, sometimes your goddamn underwear goes on top of your hungry asshole inside-out.

I am way overdue for a haircut. I can't believe that I let it get this long, and I've done this for the past year, I think. I used to go a month between haircuts, now I'm pretty sure I'm going about two-and-a-half to maybe three months in between. I look like a douchebag, truth be told. I look like a fuckjob. A hungry asshole. I look like an idiot, basically. "When your hair's longer, you look more Jewish," my wife said to me on the couch.

I'm getting a haircut on Tuesday.

Life's funny, you know? Everybody thinks I'm all psycho-anal safety man and everything, but Mrs. Apron and I didn't start looking for the flashlight on Saturday night until it was already, like, nine o'clock and the lights had already started to flicker. And it's times like that where I think to myself, "People just don't know shit about me."

And then I blog.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Then You're Wrong

My wife takes pre-natal yoga.

I, um, don't.

Before all you virulently Vassarish former English majors cyber-stone me, husbands aren't allowed, actually. Oddly enough, though, there's a pregnant women in my wife's class, and her lesbian partner is allowed to attend the pre-natal yoganess.

Which, I feel, is discrimination against us heterosexual husbands who might actually want to support our wives and possibly even participate in some downward doggedness.

I thought about blogging about this discrimination in my typically entitled, tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek, annoyingly cloying way that I've become decidedly un-famous for throughout the blogosphere, but Mrs. Apron told me something yesterday after yoga that incensed me to the point where I figured I'd better take a minute to actually be serious for a minute.

This post is going to be about the lesbian couple, but not about how the acceptance of the lesbian partner into pre-natal is unfair and discriminatory to me. I'm not in that kind of a mood today. Maybe it's the fucking hurricane.

So, lesbian couple was legally married in Massachusetts. Regrettably, for whatever reason(s), these married lesbians made the ill-fated decision to establish residence in Pennsylvania, the land of Rick Santorum and rabid sports fans whose attempts to climb up lampposts when their teams win (or lose) are thwarted by a police department that coats said lampposts in bacon grease.

(Close your mouth, dear. I'm serious.)

So, because Pennsylvania is about as backwards as a retarded elephant's fart, gay marriage is not only illegal, but funny. In Pennsylvania, this legally married couple is a mere domestic partnership. Now, retarded Republican elephants have been trying to convince the modern world that granting homosexuals the status of "domestic partnership" while heterosexuals can enter into the legal and/or holy bonds of matrimony is somehow just, appropriate, and fair.

With liberty, and justice, for all.

Mm-hm.

Anyway, this couple, obvs, is preggers or they wouldn't be at pre-natal yoga. At the beginning of each class, there is a "share" where the participants and facilitator wax rhapsodic about the joys of morning sickness and the impending joys of episiotomy. Yesterday, though, the lesbian mother dropped a yoga-style bomb on the class. She mentioned that her partner is currently busily filling out paperwork-- adoption paperwork-- to enable her to have parental rights to the as-yet unborn child.

But, wait-- there's more!

The pregnant lesbian, the woman who is actually pregnant with and gettin' her gestation on with this child, is filing adoption paperwork, too.

That's right, kids: this woman has to file-- actually petition-- to adopt (yeah) her own fucking child.

You know how they tell you that what you think can't be wrong? Well...

If you think that you live in a country that celebrates equality, you're wrong.

If you think that America doesn't discriminate against its citizens, you're wrong.

If you're married and you think granting homosexuals the right to marry would somehow diminish what you have with your spouse, you're wrong.

If you think it's appropriate and right and just and fair to grant some people rights and deny some to others, you're wrong.

If you think that any parent should have to file papers to adopt their own child, you're wrong.

If you think that we don't have miles to go before we sleep, you're wrong.

I know that sometimes I've been accused of having a rather inflexible moral compass, and I know that sometimes I come on a little strong, and I know that sometimes I make light of issues that other people are serious about, just to be silly because being silly is more fun than being serious, but I guess I just can't be that today.

And I guess I don't want you to be that, either.

I suppose I've cultivated an audience that doesn't really need to read this piece. I suppose I'm sort of preaching to the choir on this one. But, really, if you think I'm going to stay quiet while the rights of citizens in this country are being blatantly ignored, dismissed or forgotten in the fervent lust for a vote or a payoff or a blowjob or a spiff or an endorsement or a perk, well, you're wrong.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

How to Die in a Hurricane

So, we're all going to die this weekend.

In case you haven't heard, Hurricane Irene is strapping on a big, spiked, poison-tipped dilly and is going to fuck the East Coast up the poopocket with force, alacrity and zest, and everyone in her rabid, penetrating path is going to perish. Lots of people are posting tips for how to successfully survive a hurricane. Ever the pragmatist, I am posting tips for how to successfully die in one:

1.) Cross-dress

Give a little thought to the torment and trauma the first responders are going to go through in the days following the wave of unimaginable death, devastation and horror brought on by this hurricane. Just picture these brave men and women, many of them volunteers, sifting through the obliterated homes, the unidentifiable rubble that was once the homes in your neighborhood, poking around to find the broken, dessicated remains of humanity. Why not give these poor schleps a humorous jolt from beyond the grave by taking the initiative to cross-dress before the gale-force winds blow out your living room window, sending shards of glass careening through your neck muscles? EMTs and firefighters love macabre humor, and nothing gives a 45-year-old, pot-bellied, alcoholic volley the giggles like the sight of a twisted up body wearing alternative-gender clothing. If you're a married couple-- mix-n-match duds. It'll be a HOOT from the afterlife!

2.) Pre-destroy your own property

Hurricane Irene's coming, but that doesn't mean she should have ALL the fun! Why not take a little fate into your own hands by beating the everloving shit out of your home and/or car? Tonight-- get blazed out of your mind, and then take a baseball bat or a large hammer to the facade of your house. Smash out all the windows, kick the goddamned door in, piss all over that thing. If you're feeling real ambitious, why not spring for a can of turpentine? Pour that go-juice all over your porch and light a match! It's all going to get blown to Hell anyway-- so why not? Same thing with that car. Irene is going to toss it around like it's a Micro Machine, so I would suggest you rent a chainsaw from your local Home Depot and saw it in half. Don't stop there-- climb into the driver's seat and careen the front end of the car straight into the burning wreckage of your home. Make sure, if you're a guy, that you're wearing a dress first, because you probably won't get another chance at cross-dressing.

3.) Write out a legal document leaving your worthwhile possessions to...

...me! Let's face it-- while your life is basically over, my life as a father-to-be of twins is just beginning! And I'm a poor motherfucker, so we're going to need a little help from you on this one. Please send me an email for my real name and contact information so that you may include all of that in your Last Will & Testament, and don't forget to have that shit notarized.

4.) Buy a flashlight

That way, you can tell kooky ghost stories and read R. L. Stine books, huddled together in the dark with the ones you love before your ceiling falls down, flattening all of you to a gory, unrecognizable, cross-dressed death.

5.) Call your boss

Tell him/her to go fuck himself, and that you've been having an affair with his/her wife/husband/cat for years. If it's true, so much the better!

6.) Have sex with a cat

Come on, you know you've always wanted to try it. Since you're gonna die in this huge fucking storm, now's the chance!

7.) Replace your Brita filter

Having your body identified by your local rescue while you have an expired Brita filter in your fridge is like being identified by your local rescue squad while wearing dirty underwear. And we all know you're going to be wearing clean underwear. Panties, if you're a guy.

8.) Make sure you film the storm

This a critical component of dying in a natural disaster. Instead of taking appropriate cover in some secure area or shelter, you MUST be standing around near a window (or, better yet, outside) operating a cellphone video camera, or a flip, or a vintage-style camcorder (with the intention of putting that shit on Facebook, if you survived) to film the "fucking UH-MAZE-ING" storm. This act of intense stupidity will ensure that you are properly annihilated during the extreme weather event.

9.) Pray

Prayer never fails to kill people. Do you have any idea how many religious whackjobs died in Pompeii whilst in a position of prayer? Trust me-- if you've got your heart set on dying in this storm, get down on your knees, motherfucker.

10.) Read "My Masonic Apron"

'Cuz, man: at least you'll die happy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Goddamn, Thors and Thorettes: It's My Masonic Apron's 900th BLOGDAY!

Well, here we are, kids.

When I started this ass-crap, on Friday, March 13th, 2009, I was not just a 20something Blogger but, as that moniker would imply, a twenty-something.

Now, I'm a thirty-something. And not a 30something Blogger, because that website is all about Cialis and shit. And I can still get it up.

(Obvs.)

Speaking of which, as you know, in mid-to-late December, I'll become a father to two assuredly charming and awkward children. The way I figure it, my impending fatherhood will coincide nicely with the termination of this blog, or at least the obsessive, habitual, ritualized nature of the postings on this blog. I somehow don't think I'm going to manage keeping my marriage together, changing scads of freshly-sharted diapers, doing feedings, tummy-time, G&S lullaby-singing, working, and maintaining my sanity whilst blogging daily.

Will I still write on this site? Sure. Probably. We'll see. When my mother used to say, "We'll see" to me, it always, universally meant "No" but, when I say it, I really mean it.

We'll see.

At the rate I'm going, and have been going for some time, I'll reach a thousand posts before the children are born, and that'll be good, because reaching a thousand posts will satisfy that itch I have for roundness-- must be why I've always been a breast man. Lots of zeroes in a thousand. Lots of big, round... things.

900 is a good number, too, though-- don't get me wrong. But it's not the kind of number to crap out on, necessarily. Not at all.

Mrs. Apron suggested that, on this 900th post, I reflect on what I've been doing on here lo these many months, but I'm a little resistant to that idea. See, there's a fine little line between healthy self-analysis and a kind of neurotic self-absorption that threatens to envelop bloggers throughout Blogsylvania. And I don't want to be enveloped.

Unless it's during sex.

I go back and forth on whether or not I like blogging. If you're doing something for the 900th time, you'd think, "Well, fuck-- I'd better like this." But, even after all this time, I'm still not sure. I've always expressed myself better through the written word than I have through speaking. I get tongue-tied, emotional, my voice starts to break. I get confused, stymied, lost, unhinged, distracted. Caught up. Caught off guard.

Unguarded.

I don't like being caught off guard, and I don't like being unguarded. It's kind of a big reason why I don't do drugs, or drink. Or talk.

Writing is a way to bring it in, real thin. It's a way to make yourself vulnerable, and yet, at the same time, to keep everything firmly in check. Edited. Restrained. Controlled. Guarded. Even my work that appears to be the most wild, the most revealing, the most off-the-cuff, well, isn't. It's the illusion of familiarity and manufactured freedom. It's the performance aspect. It's me letting go, but not.

I think people who meet me after reading me (I make sure that there aren't many of those people) must be phenomenally let down, in a way. And bored. And confused. There's so much... quiet in me. So much furrowed brow and rumpled shirt and half-finished phrases and thoughts-- so much vacant glancing at my own shoes and socks. It's a good thing I usually wear interesting socks.

Or maybe not. I don't know.

I'm kind of surprised, in many ways, that we're here together, you and me. 900 posts. I sort of didn't think I had it in me-- the scourge of the sea, just little old me. Mrs. Hook's little baby boy.

(Sorry-- "Peter Pan" moment. It happens to me sometimes.)

In another way, though, I knew we'd get here. Because I couldn't let us not. I'm not ready to let go of... whatever this is.

Not just yet.

See you tomorrow, Pan.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Caviar and Doritos

Dear God,

I wish you would shut the fuck up.

I know that, in the old days, when you talked to people, it was a miracle or some shit. These days, we call it psychosis. People in 2011 who hear your voice are prescribed medication and are generally believed to be experiencing auditory hallucinations.

That's the popular belief, anyway.

You might think you're doing this sector of the population some kind of really big favor by giving them instructions or advice or commands, but they're actually doing some pretty terrible shit to others and to themselves because, in their warped, cobwebby minds, they believe they're somehow serving you by fasting or breaking themselves.

They're not saying their novinas, getting down on their prayer rugs, nor are they baking challah bread and lighting candles on Friday nights, that's for fucking sure.

I realize that it must be rather boring for you, keeping watch to see who's been naughty or who's been nice (that's you, right?) and making sure I'm not eating too many pastrami-and-cheese sandwiches, but, if you're really starved for something to do, why don't you try talking to yourself for a change? Believe me, we've got enough problems down here on earth without you mixing up trouble by whispering in people's ears.

They can't handle it. Believe me.

You know what would be a real miracle? A cure for schizophrenia. What are your thoughts on that, big guy? Do you think maybe, in your spare time, you could swing that? You'd be sure to fill the pews after a humdinger like that, that's what I think. Of course, who am I to say? I'm nobody, really. Certainly nobody who's ever heard the Word of God.

Way back when, when this whole organized religion thing was cooked up, and you first thought it would be a great idea to start talking to folks to give them guidance, you came up with some seriously crazy shit, I have to say. Or, they did. Or... anyway, it was shit and it was pretty crazy. It was all nice and opportune, too. Mortality was as big as the Beatles and people needed explanations for the terrible things that were happening, and they didn't necessarily require these explanations to be logical.

After all, logical explanations require, well, logic. And we all know that logic and religion go together about as well as caviar and Doritos.

So, I guess what I'm saying is: while you have probably psychotic folks like Moses and Abraham to thank for getting to be all exalted and shit, I think it would be great if you would quit while you're ahead. Don't worry, though-- crazy people will still be crazy without your assistance. They've got a bevy of creative delusions-- they'll still believe that there's microchips implanted under their skin and that people from the CIA are following them and that they're working for the Russian government. But they'll all get along just fine without hearing your funky ass as they fight through an endless forest of other demons as they try to find their way to the first peaceful night's sleep they've had in months, or years.

So, really-- shut the fuck up.

Sincerely,
Mr. Apron

P.S. See you on Yom Kippur or whatever.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Me n' Qaddafi

I have some very warm memories of summertimes past.

One of them is vacationing with my family in 1985 in Beach Haven, NJ. I was too young to be that disturbed by the amputated limbs, soiled hospital gowns, and hypodermic needles that were regularly washing up on the shore at that time. I can remember playing miniature golf with my family, wearing red shorts, and blue, red, and white striped shirt, and a captain's hat-- the type favored by Alan Hale, Jr. on "Gilligan's Island".

Another of my favorite summer memories is plowing, teeth first, into a fresh, delicious lobster roll, photographed by the bemused and probably slightly horrified Mrs. Apron on a vacation several summers ago.

I also fondly remember hunkering down in the computer lab of the creative arts day camp of my youth, avoiding the swim counselors who were searching for me, playing "Oregon Trail" and "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"

Those were the heady days of 1991, and those are the days that come back to me most clearly in light of the recent events in Libya. Doesn't make sense to you? Well, unzip my noggin and come take a swim in there for an hour or two. You'll get the picture quick enough.

The hunt is on for Muammar el-Qaddafi. A couple months ago, the seemingly interminable search for Osama bin Laden culminated when he got Swiss cheesed by a bunch of Navy SEALs in Pakistan. Swim counselors hunting me down for cutting instructional swim as I mercilessly sought the location of the notorious Carmen Sandiego and her V.I.L.E henchmen.

That bitch stole the Khyber Pass,

The controls for the Panama Canal,

The Ngorongoro Crater,

(and, my personal, sentimental favorite...)

The salt from the Dead Sea.

As the revolutionaries or rebels or whatever you want to call them are beating the brush looking for Qaddafi, I just feel compelled, for my own personal safety, to point out the following:

* I never had sexual relations with that man.

Now it is true that Qaddafi and I went out for Starbucks together a couple of times, and that he visited me in Pennsylvania on what he referred to as "matters of state" but at no time did we ever enter into acts of intercourse at the Conshohocken Marriott on April 13-17, 2001 or in a rented Hyundai Sonata at the Philadelphia International Airport long-term parking garage by Terminal B on the sweltering afternoon of July 9th, 2002.

* I am not currently in contact with Qaddafi.

In fact, the cheating bastard un-friended me only two weeks ago AND he rescinded my Google + invitation, just to really make me mad, I guess. That's okay, I didn't want to go on that shit anyway.

* I have no knowledge of his current whereabouts.

While it is true that Qaddafi once told me that, if he was forced to go into hiding that he would most likely choose to seek employment and shelter at The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, located in Bowness-on-Windemere, in the heart of the English Lake District, I have no firm knowledge that this is where Qaddafi is currently-- though, were I a Libyan rebel, I would be sure to carefully scrutinize every nook and cranny in Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle's kitchen.

* He's not in my house.

I swear to God. That swarthy, dark skinned, boisterous man you see hanging around my property sometimes is just my father.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the snow from atop Mt. Fuji has gone missing...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Once, I Thought I Was an Intellectual...

...it didn't last long.

Nowadays, I'm sure that I'm not an intellectual. A thinker. Someone who enjoys wrestling with, and perhaps even creating, problems, existential questions, crises of the heart and of the head, engaging in spirited debates with like or different-minded others about politics or philosophy or psychology or other issues of portent that begin with the letter "p". I, once upon a time, thought that I was someone who would spend much of his life grasping onto the issues of today, yesterday, and tomorrow and steadfastly refuse to let go until I had methodically explored the hows and the whys and the wherefores of these matters.

I was eighteen or so when I realized that this, really, wasn't me.

For one thing, I was masturbating too much to be a real intellectual. Intellectuals masturbate when they are intellectualizing-- it's not literal masturbation, it's just talking. An intellectual engaged in the process of hearing him or herself talk is basically masturbating, and can actually achieve a surreptitious, tangible orgasm while so doing. This is why so many intellectuals wear tweed trousers, because stains don't show.

I noticed, too, that I get restless, frustrated and, sometimes even angry when I try to engage in an intellectual conversation or argument with somebody. Sometimes the anger and frustration is pointed at the other person, but, oftentimes it is self-directed. I know a little about a lot of topics, but I only know a lot about precious few topics, and so I get annoyed with myself at being bereft of facts and/or background knowledge that would otherwise make me a keen and cogent debater on, say, the subject of Syria's place in the Middle East or the ethics of mandatory decanoate shots for severely, chronically psychotic patients.

Of course, I know that you can't rationally expect yourself know everything, but, when you hold yourself to impossibly high standards, rationality doesn't enter into it. And, if it does, you just masturbate until it goes away.

The other thing is-- I find I lack the attentional capabilities required for sustained bouts of intellectualism. When talking to someone about a thick, meaty, marbelized matter, after only several minutes, I find my attention wandering. I am easily distracted/distractable. I'd love to blame it on ADHD, but I don't have that. I think it's more that my brain is filled with things to worry about, obsess over, become horny about, perseverate on that I just can't engage in an intellectual debate about something. I can be in a two-hour play, but that's because all that other shit turns off because I'm a character, and the character isn't distracted and focus must be maintained because there's a paying audience who will boo and stone me if I start thinking about my mortgage payment and begin wandering around the stage aimlessly looking for a cheesestick in the middle of a Chekhov short.

When I was fourteen, I wrote a letter to Prime Minister John Major (Queen Elizabeth II was cc'd out of consideration) about the arming of British police officers. This event, which garnered a reply from both sources, marked my last official recorded act of intellectualism.

When we're young, delusions of grandeur are fanciful and often remarked brought up at the dinner table when reunited with our parents. When you get older, delusions get you committed to psychiatric facilities until they (the delusions) are medicated out of you. I'm glad that, today, I no longer suffer from the delusion that I am an intellectual. I'm pretty much a realist about who and what I am.

I'm an amateur performer, I'm not an actor.

I'm a blogger, I'm not a writer.

I'm a husband, I'm not Dick Van Dyke.

I can play six chords on the banjo, I'm not a musician.

I'm a relatively okay person, I'm not perfect.

And I'm certainly not an intellectual.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Well, Pour Me a Sippy Cup and Smack Me My Bitchy Up, It's... DEAR APRON!

On Saturday night, my wife and I firmly established ourselves as middle-aged by irreversibly crossing the threshold of American balding/paunchy Hell: American Signature Furniture and, just to twist the broomsticks in our assholes, Raymour and Flanigan.

The most upsetting thing of all? We actually found a couple sofas we didn't detest.

If you feel the need to un-follow me now, I would understand. Just promise me you'll come back every once in a while and slip your sweet, tender fingers beneath my

DEAR APRON:

A friend recently purchased a mother's ring from a pawn shop. When "Caron" told me about it, I told her she didn't have the right to wear one because she's not a mother. I discussed it with some other friends and they agreed with me, but Caron says I "overreacted" and that everyone is on HER side.

Caron says it's "just a ring" with different colored stones and she has every right to wear it if she wants to. The women who agree with me say a mother's ring is set with varied birthstones to commemorate the birth of a child born in a certain month, and that's why Caron has no right to wear it.

Caron says I'm crazy and need a therapist. She's ending our 10-year friendship because I will not agree with her. Am I right or wrong? -- RING OF TRUTH IN ARKANSAS

DEAR RING OF TRUTH:

Boy, am I glad you wrote to me, honey. You have EVERY RIGHT to dictate what other people should or should not buy, and what they should or should not place upon their person. If your friend "Caron" (that's a fabulous pseudonym, by the way) does not understand that a friend is not a true friend unless they're vetting purchases you make at secondhand stores, then she's just no friend of yours.

"Caron" might think that it's "just a ring" but she's wrong. Not only is she wrong, she's dead wrong. In fact, she should be dead. And, when she dies, if she's lying there stinking up that casket and wearing that ring, I want you to go into that funeral parlour and slice it off her finger with a rusty fruit knife.

Cunt.

By the way, you're crazy and you need a therapist.

DEAR APRON:

"Maria" and I lived together for two years. She had wanted eyelid surgery but couldn't afford to pay $5,000. I offered to give her $2,000.

A few months ago, Maria told me she didn't love me anymore. (She now has a new boyfriend.) She called me yesterday evening asking for the money I said I'd give her for the surgery.

Do I owe her this money? She's the one who ended it. I told her to ask her new boyfriend to pay for it, but she claims I need to keep my word. -- SEEING THINGS DIFFERENTLY

DEAR SEEING THINGS DIFFERENTLY:

Well, I have to tell you, Bucky, if I were in your pants, I'd be seeing things differently, (clever pseudonym, by the way) too. I certainly wouldn't be giving this bitch $2,000, much less $5,000.

See, the thing is, though, you did make a promise you'd help her out with the eye surgery. So, because you sound like a mature, reasonable adult, I'd do what mature, reasonable adults do in most situations: offer a compromise. Tell this rotten skank that, even though she ditched you for that guy with capped teeth and a spray-on tan that you're not going to totally leave her high and dry on this eyelid shit. Make sure she knows that, while you're not coughing up the dough anymore, that you'd be happy to perform the surgery yourself, right in the comfort of her own home.

At-home surgery is nothing new-- the Norwegians have been doing it for centuries (Wackipedia)-- and, if you follow a few simple guidelines, it's perfectly safe.

* Buy lots of plants for the "operating room"

Plants oxygenate shit or whatever. Medical research stuff says that it's really good for patients to be around oxygen. It probably couldn't hurt you, either.

* Be Asian or Indian or something

It's a generally accepted fact that the most competent, skilled and successful surgeons are from "the Orient" or whatever it's called now. Maybe this is just me, but I wouldn't want anybody cutting into my face who wasn't Indian or Asian. Well, except for maybe a Jew. But NOT a Jewish woman. I mean, come on already.

* Make sure the patient is asleep and not dead

Hospitals have expensive monitors and "machines that go 'ping!'" for this express purpose, but, chances are, you've only got a sofa and maybe a couple chairs and a coffee table in your living room. So you're going to have to take care to critically discern whether your patient, (in this case, "Maria") is asleep or dead. While the goal, obviously, is to operate on the patient in the living state, keep in mind that there are advantages to operating on a deceased patient. For instance, if she's dead, then you won't have to be nearly as careful during the operation as you would if she were simply asleep.

Just sayin'.

* Use a pneumatic staple-gun

When completing your surgery, (called "closin' up shop" by the pros in green booties) you've got to staple that bitch's face back together. After hours of tedious, energy-sapping surgery, your hands are going to be as tired as a mothafucka, and, trust me, you're not going to want to operate a manual Swingline. No, for ease, speed, and precision, you can't go wrong with the Pneumatic Crown Air Stapler by Makita.


Pumping out 18-gauge, 1/4-inch crown staples at 120 pounds-per-square inch, the #AT638 is available for only $179.99 (guaranteed lowest price) from Northern Tool + Equipment and is the top-rated pneumatic staple-gun, recommended by 9 out of 10 in-home amateur surgeons.

DEAR APRON:

I love my grandmother, but she constantly puts my grandpa down, even in front of the family. I know some of the harsh words she uses could be resentment built up over the years from past hurts. Still, if she talks so rudely to him when we're around, I wonder what she says when they're alone.

Grandma loves her family very much, especially the two of us grandkids. It just hurts that she's so mean to Grandpa. Immediately after she insults him, I'll ask her why she did it, but she acts like she has done nothing wrong.

I know it must hurt my grandfather to be treated that way so often by the woman he's been married to for more than 50 years. Should I address her about it in private? -- WORRIED GRANDDAUGHTER

DEAR WORRIED GRANDDAUGHTER:

You don't love your "grandmother" (awesome pseudonym, by the way), you miserable, disgusting liar.

If you really loved your grandmother, you'd buy her a 115-Volt, 20 GPM Fill-Rite Fuel Transfer Pump.


That's right, model# FR700VNT, available in eye-catching Fire Engine Red from our friends at Northern Tool + Equipment for the low, low price of $519.99 has an explosion-proof (not resistant, proof!) motor with ball-bearings that'll transfer diesel, gasoline, mineral and white spirits and, probably, all manner of bodily fluids.

So tell old Grandmama to say "goodbye" to that pesky Foley catheter, and say "hello" to the Fill-Rite Transfer Pump!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shocked, and Horrified

This post might offend some of my readers. If you think I'm going to apologize for that, you might want to re-familiarize yourself with Magpie's disclaimer at the top of the screen there, Punky Jewster.

I read in the paper yesterday morning that there was an accident at an airshow.

I know, right? I was stunned, too. Let's spoon each other till we both get over the shock.

Now, I know that I've been accused, by many a person, both smart and dumb, of great cerebrally-based crime of thinking too much. If it makes you feel better, I haven't given this subject matter much thought at all, but I have to say I've given at least a little bit of thought about the subject of airshows, every now and again, and I have to confess that I just don't understand.

I don't know whose idea it was in the first place. I doubt it was one of the Wright brothers, they seemed far too serious about the whole aviation thing to turn it into some sort of testosterone-fueled spectacle that would inevitably culminate with fire, gasoline and huge chunks of metal raining down on slack-jawed spectators.

It must have been some asshole who came along later.

Someone, perhaps, with roots in the circus. Some carnival barker type with a beaver-fur top-hat and a monocle who was like, "I know a way to make lots of money and scare the bejesus out of people-- all I need are a couple cheap planes and a few drunken, divorced pilots who aren't afraid to die-- or who perhaps might want to."

What I don't understand even more than airshows are the people who go to airshows. Now, this is the part where I might offend somebody, but, if you go to airshows, there's something seriously wrong with you. You want to see people die. There, I said it, and, you know what, it feels orgasmic. You're a sick, twisted duck-fucker and you'll crane your neck in any way possible so that you can get a better look at some Blue Angel's torso falling to the earth whilst engulfed in flames.

Not only that, you may even be vaguely suicidal. In that annoying, passive way, though. You're content to just kind of sit around on some tacky, plastic lawn chair and hope that you get killed by a piece of turbo fan or a pilot's neck traveling at some high rate of speed.

You're not there to be amazed and awed. You're there for death. Carnage. Horror.

(The horror.)

I like reading articles about airshow crashes-- they inevitably say something like, the airplane crashed to the ground in a fireball in front of "shocked and horrified" spectators.

Please. They're not shocked or horrified. They're thoroughly nonplussed and suitably pleased. In fact, if an airshow goes off without a hitch, I'll bet there's inevitably some maniac who goes and asks for his money back.

You know what would have been really coolballs? If, during WWII, we took every Japanese pilot who was captured as a POW and made them perform in airshows to entertain the American public. I mean, we'd have to make sure they were totally the kamikaze guys, and the airshows would consist simply of them either crashing into each other in mid-air or just making spectacular nose-dive, dive-bomb runs to the earth.

I think that would have boosted our national morale in a big way.

If that idea sounds too mundane, perhaps, for an extra fee, the high-rollers in the crowd could be sold or rented a surface-to-air missile launcher to try to take out some of the airshow participants. I mean, call it "Audience Participation" night or something. I think that would be immensely popular, because, that way, you're not just hanging around in that tacky, plastic lawn-chair just waiting for the eventual inevitability of an airshow accident, you can make it happen!

Shocked and horrified? Please.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Feed the Gallan Tree

"A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which
appalling experiences are survived with grace."

Tennessee Williams

Gallantry.

It's such a... I don't know-- Victorian word. Cast in finely engraved silver, frozen in daguerreotype, clad in a thick wool coat emblazoned with chevrons and brazen gold buttons, gallantry is a long time ago word. A bushy, unironic mustache-and-sideburns word. It's a parade-grounds word, a lace-and-satin word, a word that was used when heroes who didn't dribble a basketball or take off their clothes in movies roamed the earth.

It's a word that has gone out-of-style. Out-of-use. I tried to use the quote at the top of this post as an inspirational quote on the schedule at work a few days ago, and my supervisor, God bless her, didn't even know how to pronounce it.

"What's ga-LAN-tree?" she asked.

"Oh, nothing," I said, "now can you pass me that stapler so I can staple my eyelids shut?"

We have no more use for the word gallantry than we have for the acts which once defined it. Or, maybe, we have more use for the word and the acts which once defined us than we can even fathom.

I don't know.

148 years ago, the soldiers of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment who came swinging down Little Round Top because they were out of ammunition and could do nothing else to repel another Confederate attack were said to have acted with "gallantry".

The Navy SEALs who felled Osama bin Laden were said to have kicked terrorist ass, fuckin' aye.

I'm not quite sure what gallantry would look like today. Back in the day, it looked like this:



I mean, look at the way that one guy crosses his legs when he sits. Gays in the military or not, if we had a soldier pose for a picture sitting like that, well, that just wouldn't fly. Nowadays, we like our gallantry looking a bit more, um, buff:


Nice, eh? The ginger, by the way, is Prince Harry.

I suppose, to live a life of gallantry these days, appalling circumstances or not, one must abandon all hope of achieving the personification of the word by running through a field at full tilt brandishing a gleaming sword or struggling passionately for some noble cause or other. One must simply treat others with dignity and respect, to try your best to do the right thing wherever and whenever possible, and to forgive yourself when you don't.

And, if that's as gallant as it gets, I think I'm okay with that.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's Not Amazing, It's Genderiffic

I know something you don't know.

I know something you don't know.

I know something you don't know.

(!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Seriously, I know something you don't know.

On Tuesday, August 16th, the gender of our twinners was revealed to me and to my wife. The ultrasound tech obviously knows, but she's been sworn to secrecy by the HIPAA monster. She did mention the genders to our OB/GYN out in the hallway while my wife and I were cooing over the ultrasound picture print-outs, but I guess HIPAA doesn't cover release of medical information from ultrasound techs to OB/GYNs.

Of course, if I find out one day that it does, I'm totally suing that bitch.

See, here's the thing about this whole gender issue: Mrs. Apron decided, when we both said that we wanted to find out what the genders of the twins are, that she wanted to keep the information secret from the rest of the world. Well, the rest of the world that gives a sparrow shit. Her reasoning is that she doesn't want us, and, consequently, the twins inundated with a bunch of gender-assigned gacky shit in traditional boy/girl/lemur colors.

And I can understand that, and I can respect that. And so I am understanding that and respecting that by going along with Mrs. Apron and not revealing the genders of our twins until such time as they see fit to enter the glaring spotlights of all those papparazzi camera flashbulbs as they exit my wife's vagina, or stomach, whichever way this thing plays out.

I've got to say, though, watching those two goofballs rolling around inside her womb on that ultrasound screen was pretty amazing. And I don't use that word lightly, or even often, because it has the propensity for being annoying.

"Oh, that Bee-Gee's coverband was UH-MAZE-ING!"

"Whoa, trans-gender Thai prostitute, watching a streaming video of you having sex with that semi-retarded donkey was UH-MAZE-ING!"

"This two-for-one deal on Chobani yogurt at Genuardi's is uh. maze. ing."

That Ron Popeil Flavor-Injector you're always threatening to violate me with?

(Amazing.)

But, really, I suppose any expectant father (of TWINS! GAAHH!!!) is permitted to use the "amazing" word when staring at grainy, blue-tinged representations of his children bumming around inside of their expectant mother.

What are they going to be like?

What are they going to talk like?

What are they going to be into?

What are they going to want on their birthday cakes?

What are they going to think of their Christian friends who go on about Santa Claus?

What are they going to think of... me?

(Not to be a fucking amazing narcissist or anything, but...)

(Oh, God...)

(Sorry.)

I'm already in love, and you know how I know that? I think about them all the time. Sure, sometimes it's more worrying and less thinking, but, one way or the other, they're always on my mind. Always. Constantly.

It's kind of perseverative.

Kind of Aspergian.

I'm sort of like that.

I'm listening to "Comfort" by Deb Talan right now, and that plays frequently enough on my computer to make me wonder if I have Aspergers. I'll bet Pandora does that to lots of people.

Stupid bitch and her fucking hot box.

I suppose that what I'm trying to say is that, yeah, I don't want this to become a Daddy Blog, and I'm pretty sure I said that they day I announced that we were knocked up, but I do want this to be a place to celebrate those two nutter-butters doing somersaults and tumblebumps inside of the woman I adore.

'Cuz, let's face it, this is all pretty fucking amazing.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

No Need for a Curly

Yesterday, I spent eight hours at my job, and two hours at my mechanic's job.

I joked with my wife, after I'd finally arrived home, that "my day was great until I left work." And, for someone who works at an inpatient psychiatric hospital, that's saying something.

Actually, spending two hours with your sixty-eight-year old Israeli mechanic and his indeterminately-aged though much younger Chinese assistant isn't a half bad way to decompress after spending a full working day among 70 psych patients and some similarly-afflicted staff members. At least, at the garage, you've got the bay doors open and the sunlight is streaming in, and you're surrounded by cars, in various states of disrepair. Cars and mechanics-- simpler both than your average psych patient.

Soly and Jack have been working together since "1996 or '97, I can't remember," said Jack when I asked him yesterday. Soly, the sunburnt sabra, screams and curses. Jack, the obedient Chinese assistant, dutifully and quietly takes abuse. Soly is very much like hot-tempered Moe, and Jack is definitely Larry-- hapless, in the way, liable to get his hair pulled and his face smacked.

The only thing missing in that garage is a Curly, but I don't see any twinkle-toed, obese, balding men with high-pitched voices and a propensity for playing the spoons entering the picture anytime soon. Though I don't think it would surprise me if one did.

I went to see Jack and Soly yesterday because, on Tuesday, they changed my tires and noticed that I needed new front brakes and rotors.

"Why?" I asked.

"WHY?!" Soly screamed into the phone, "because the FAH-KEENG ESS-HOLE who owned your car before you put brakes on WITHOUT CHANGING THE ROTORS! Volvo, BMW, and Mercedes, if you change the brakes, you HAVE TO CHANGE THE ROTORS!"

And now I know that. And so do you. The person who owned my car before me obviously didn't know that, and now she was being maligned by some short, angry Israeli in a dirty work shirt and shorts that she'd never met.

This is what life is.

And so, yesterday, I went to Soly and Jack's to have my brakes (AND ROTORS) put on. But they didn't fit.

So they ordered another set to be delivered to the shop. They arrived forty-five minutes later, during which time I watched Soly fight with two customers and turn someone away who wanted to buy scrap metal from him for $0.15 a pound.

"What am I, a fah-keeng retarded?" he asked me, rhetorically, I presumed.

The second set of rotors didn't fit either.

"Oh my God, wat dee fak! JACK! Call Jeff and tell him to get me rotors here now. GODDAMNIT!"

I stared at my car, up on the lift, with the two front tires off. I wasn't going anywhere fast, so I sat down on a rickety wooden chair and enjoyed the atmosphere and the conversation. Mrs. Apron had been there earlier that morning to get her oil changed and her car inspected and to get new wiper blades on.

"So," Jack said to me as he was yanking a 16-inch tire off the rim of a 2009 Ford Econoline van that had just failed its emissions inspection, "you gonna have twins-- you the big daddy. No more money."

"That's right, Jack," I said, smiling, "so enjoy swiping my debit card today-- if you guys ever get the right fucking rotors here."

He laughed.

Other people might have been indignant about spending two hours in a garage, especially after they'd just worked a full day, but I wasn't. Because we could talk, about having twins, about mortgage rates, about what it's going to be like for my father if my wife and I have at least one boy.

"Let me tell you," Soly said, "for Iraqi Jews, if you have a son-- forget about it. That is eeet! He going to have your father around his finger, for good."

"I sure didn't have him wrapped around my finger-- my sister was always the favorite."

"But you are good," Jack said, furrowing his brow, "you always do the right thing, you grown up."

"Jack, shut up!" Soly yelled, "dat's not what eet is about! The sister is like the father, so he look like he like her more. But he is good. You are good. I didn't go to school for a fucking psychology, I can talk to you for five minutes and I know that you are good. And your father would facken' kill himself to make you happy."

It's funny, discussing the dynamics of your family with your car mechanics, but we've known Soly and Jack fifteen (maybe fourteen) years. I took my first car for its first oil change there. The barber who gave me my first haircut. The doctor who gave me my first shot. These connections mean something to me, and I cannot let them go.

And, even after two hours and three sets of rotors, I don't much want to.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

AH-ha.

Many several years ago by now, my wife (who was, back then, my girlfriend) was babysitting for two children belonging to this family who lives nearby. She sent me a text message earlier in the night saying that she was craving a pickle, and that there were none in the refrigerator in the house occupied by the two children belonging to the family who lived nearby.

So, I procured a pickle from a local establishment which trades in such things, and I brought the chick who was, at that point, my girlfriend, a pickle.

She was elated. She invited me inside and, although we didn't have sex in these people's master bedroom as I'd been lead to believe we would by Hollywood, we did have an enjoyable conversation. At some point during my visit, my wife left me alone in these folks' living room so she could go do something babysitterly like put children to sleep or fold up the Twister mat or whatever. While she was gone, I was left to eyeball the immense, floor-to-ceiling bookshelf belonging to these people who lived nearby.

Philosophy.

Cooking.

History.

Theory.

Humor.

Literature.

Biography.

While the subjects and the heights and spines and the colors and the ages of these books all differed, one from the other, there was a common element that united all of these published, literary works, or unified most of them, at least.

Jewish.

Jewish authors.

Jewish themes.

Jewish titles.

Jewish slants and bents and perspectives.

My eyes narrowed and moved to the music collection, which I only had a brief moment to study before my then-girlfriend now-wife returned from upstairs.

Jewish composers.

Hebrew lyrics.

Jewish singer-songwriters.

Israeli orchestra.

Irritated, I abruptly cut my visit short and left the house, noticing, as I walked out, the "Evil Eye" hamsa by the front door as I passed.

I would qualify the rest of this post by saying, "I don't have a problem with being Jewish" but, clearly, that would be a lie.

I do. I do have a problem with it. In fact, I kind of can't stand it. I reek of Jewishness.

"I've got a friend who's Jewish, but he doesn't look Jewish," a coworker of mine said to me recently, "but you really LOOK Jewish."

That might sound horrible and inappropriate and offensive, but he ain't just whistlin' Hatikvah.

In Dublin, my wife and I arrived at the departure point for our tour bus on Friday, August 5th. There was an elderly lady standing in front of the steps to the hostel, her bags packed, her slicker on, her teeth-- well, I don't know where her teeth were. Probably in her suitcase. But her eyebrows were drawn on and she was ready to go. We made superficial smalltalk with her about Ireland before my wife said, "I need to go get breakfast, do you want to come with me?" I said no, because this lady was starting to get entertaining, I thought. She had just checked her watch (which read five minutes of nine) and announced, in a thick German accent,

"Ah. Zey are late."

There was no way I was going to miss an opportunity to hang around this woman, I thought, so I said to my wife, "No thanks, you go on ahead. I'll stay here in case the bus shows up."

My wife rolled her eyes at me, thinking she was trying to rescue me from this woman's clutches, and disappeared around a Dublin street corner. The woman, who I silently named "Gerta" chatted amiably for another couple minutes until a natural silence interceded between us. She broke it with,

"You are from Israel."

Notice the distinct dearth of any interrogative punctuation mark. Another silence, this one less natural, took its place before I replied with,

"Uh-- no. We're... I'm-- we're American."

"Oh," she said, "AH-ha." She peppered her conversation with "AH-ha's", making sure to really emphasize the first syllable. "But," Gerta said, "that is where your people are from. Israel."

Again-- no question mark.

"Yes," I said, suddenly wishing I'd gone for that croissant with my wife as sweat trickled into my asshole hair-forest, "my father is from Israel."

"AH! AH-ha!" she ejaculated, with a satisfied smile, indicating "Got one!" on her face. "Your nose, though, your nose," she continued mercilessly, "is Persian. You have a very Persian nose."

Yes, I thought, and you have no teeth or eyebrows. Did you lose them in the war?

Instead of saying that, I came up with, "Well, my father was born in Iraq."

"AH-ha."

I spent a good healthy portion of my 55 minutes in the chair yesterday talking about what it means to me to be Jewish, both at home and abroad, about what it's like having the map of Israel (or Persia) tattooed onto your face, about being perceived as weak, nebbishy, schmecky, cheap, stuck up, intellectual, a nerd, a schdork, a minority, with a big nose. And kinky hair. In 1993, "Frasier" first came on the air, and introduced the world to Niles Crane, the hopelessly pedantic, more hopelessly romantic brother to Frasier. He was always dressed in a suit, and had a head of beautiful, flax-colored, thin, soft, WASPish hair.

When I was thirteen, I went into the barbershop owned by the man who, many years before, had given me my first haircut.

"Bob," I asked, "can you do something to my hair to make it look like David Hyde Pierce's."

He looked at me with a mixture of sympathy, confusion, and despair.

"I don't think so," he said. "But you've got beautiful, thick hair. You'll appreciate it some day."

I'm still waiting, Bob.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You Know What I'd Do?

It's raining right now. Usually, I like the rain. But now, right now, I'm kind of just not that into it. See, it's dark out, and part of the joy of the rain for me is watching it come down, diagonally, searing through the sky, pummeling trees and cars and squirrels and shit as it comes down with a vengeance.

Usually, I like the rain. But, tonight... tonight? Not feelin' it.

I'm kind of feeling like... I don't know. Aggressive. I am having aggression towards the rain. Maybe I'd even go so far as to call it homicidal ideation towards the rain. Simply put:

Rain, I want to kill you.

You know what I'd do? You wanna know? You wanna know what I'd do if, if, if the rain had... if it had, like, a face? I'd fucking punch the rain-- RIGHT IN ITS FACE!

YEAH!

No, not YEAH!

FUCK! YEAH!

Fuck yeah, rain, I'd fuckin' punch you right in your goddamned mouth-- your wet, rainy little mouth, and I'd break all your rainy miserable fucking teeth-- all wet with droplets of rain because you're raining inside your own mouth because you're rain.

YEAH. RAIN. FUCK.

FUCK FUCK RAIN!!!!

Can you just picture me, in, like, the middle of a street, like, with a headband around my forehead-- not a headband like girls wear, not with, like, a flower on it or "Hello Kitty" but like Rambo wore-- or like that guy in Street Fighter wore. Not the chick who was dressed like an elevator operator-- what the fuck was her name? Ping? Anyway, I'd be all there in the middle of the street, and Rain would be standing across from me, and we'd be adopting the fighter's stance, and then I'D KICK RAIN RIGHT IN THE MOTHERFUCKING JEWELBOX!

TOASTED OATSIES! I'D RAM MY FOOT RIGHT INTO YOUR GODDAMNED NUTS, FAIRYFART!

Because you're rain, and you ain't got shit on my shoes, you little moist pissant.

The rain would go down, and I'm talkin' DOWN! This ain't just shit-talkin Apron here-- this is real deal city. I'd go ape on the rain. I'd go yeti on the rain. I'd go Throatwobbler Mangrove on the rain.

I'd curb the rain.

Remember that shit, from "American History X", when he fucking curbed that guy and then the cops pulled up and he just put his hands up? That shit was fucking crazy. Do you think if you ever saw some motherfucker curb some other motherfucker that you'd throw up all over the guy who just got his shit curbed? Like, you'd puke all over his fucking busticated jaw and his tongue all hanging out or whatever?

Yeah?

WELL, FUCK YOU, RAIN! Because it's dark and I can't see you do your pretty diagonal thing and you know what I'd do about that?

I'd punch.

Punch punch punch.

The rain would be assaulted by my fingers whilst they would be engaged in a closed position enabling my hand to form the shape commonly known as a fist which I have seen in certain pornographic motion pictures performing unfortunate tasks and I would then connect my said shaped digits

TO

THE

RAIN!

I'd hit it!

Me! Little old me. Would fuck the rain's shit up.

You think you're so wet? Is that what it is, rain? You think you can out-wet me?

Well, let me tell you: No. Yeah! That's right! I said, "no". There's more to life than being... wet! Just ask Robert McNamara. I mean, fine, he's dead, but, if you'd asked him while he was alive, he'd tell you.

Ask Bernadette Peters. Yeah! Ask HER about the rain. And she'll give you a what for.

Bernadette Peters wouldn't take that shit from the rain. So why should I?

I'm grown and I pay bills, and if I want to street fight the rain dressed up as some Asian chick from a 1990s-era video game, well, I ain't waitin' for Hallo-fuckin'-ween, bitches.

The beauty of the rain?

I don't think so, Dar fucking Williams.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What a Riot

Is London burning?

That's what the headline in some paper somewhere asked. I didn't think anybody still read the paper, like, the actual paper paper until I went to Dublin and saw a shit-ton of people in caf├ęs and on benches and just sort of hanging about, reading the actual paper paper.

Most of those people were reading about the riots.

They were reading articles about who burned or broke what and how many police cars were torched and who fucked who's shit up and how badly. They read about who communicated with whom and how they did so. They read about BlackBerry Messenger and Facebook and Twitter and Foursquare-- the means to the end. The modern-day, techno-handy rallying cry. The 21st century's bugle's call.

Zoot-Suit Riot.

(Riot.)

As the riots quieted down, as riots do when people run out of vitriol and steam and gasoline for their petrol bombs and zeal and motivation and interest, the articles people read in the paper paper centered more around reporting the minute-to-minute fires and lootings, and switched to that more in-depth, introspective blame-assigning that journalists and politicians love to engage in, because, let's face it: it makes it look like they're doing something.

Also, it's fun.

Predictably, blame got assigned to the police. Scotland Yard. The Metropolitan Police Department. The bobbies on the beat. Once enjoying a trusted reputation among the GBP (Great British Public) the police are now perhaps the single most despised uniformed collective of fellows-- aside from the Pakistani cricket team.

A "New York Times" article tried to explore why that shift happened, but it didn't do a very good job.

I suppose assigning blame to the rioters would be too simple-minded. No-- wouldn't be much of a story there, I guess. After all, it's not open-minded, fashionable, politically-correct or intellectually-engaging to place blame for mayhem and destruction at the feet of mobs of angry young people holding fire-bombs and running into stores and carrying out electrical goods in the name of a young, armed man who died at the hands of the police.

Blame the rioters? But that's just crazy.

It's a sad thing: watching any community tear out its own asshole like a tick-ridden bloodhound because of poverty, racism, frustration, anger, fear, and blatant opportunism. These riots had nothing to do with the traffic stop and slaying of Mark Duggan (whose unfortunate death, it certainly appears at this stage, was the result of his own actions) and to couch violence, looting, murder, and wanton destruction under the guise of political unrest or protest is a despicable slap in the face to the memory of any man-- justly slain or not.

Could the police officers charged with keeping order in Tottenham and Hackney and other cities and towns have engaged in different tactics to minimize the devastation that occurred last week? Perhaps. Were they competently outwitted by tech-savvy, mobile and spry mobs? Most definitely. Will the department, bruised as it is, learn valuable lessons from these terrible days and apply them in the future? Certainly. Will we as a society continue to refuse to place blame in the hands of the perpetrators of violence in favor of clamoring energetically for academic and removed sources to assign culpability? Yeah. We probably will keep doing that.

Because we're petrified of starting a riot.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Snoogle Up Close

Pregnancy, I'm told, does funny things to a woman's body.

"Things just aren't in the right place," my wife is fond of saying. And I suppose I know what she means, but only sympathetically, not empathetically. I can guess what she means, is what I'm saying. Like, there's two babies in there, pushing up against her bladder or whatever, taking up room, being weird and turny and tumbly and shit in there.

They're shitting. in. there.

Gross.

And her breasts are huge-- they're not where they're "supposed to be" either. They're everywhere, actually. Her belly isn't where it's "supposed to be".

Nothing is where it's supposed to be.

This makes things like reaching for a glass in the upper kitchen cupboard tricky for my 5'0" wife, because her belly is round and it goes up against the counter and it gets in her way because, you know, it's not where it's supposed to be. The counter or the belly-- more the belly, though.

Sleeping's kind of a biatch, too-- for my wife and, consequently, for me, too. It's a bit of a shit because, during this time of pregnancy, while the children are all ensconced in amniotic fluid and plasma and Jell-O or whatever it is, we're supposed to be getting all the sleep we're not going to have again for the next fifteen-or-so years.

And yet, at 21 weeks, we're not sleeping.

There was little sleeping in Ireland, because my poor wife is besotted by body parts that aren't where they're supposed to be. If Mrs. Apron could go back in time and star in a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch, she'd be in the "Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things" because, in her life as a pregnant biddy, things are most definitely on top of other things.

And she can't sleep.

And, consequently, I can't sleep.

So, on the recommendation of several of our friends, we went to Babies R' Us on Friday afternoon to purchase a maternity sleeping implement, called "The Snoogle".

It looks like an enormous tapeworm. Or a big, white, turd.


Don't ya think?

It set us back $64.99 (plus tax) but, hey, I reasoned with myself after spending approximately $3,000 in Ireland, if it helps Mrs. Apron sleep, it's going to more than pay for it on its first night.

And it sure did.

Mrs. Apron passed a snoozeful night's rest on Friday night. I, however, had a terrible and fitful night's sleep. See, I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but this Snoogle is gigantic-- and we have a full-size bed. And we have two dogs-- fortunately one is elderly and arthritic and can't get up on the bed anymore. But the smaller, agile one sure can, and does. So, there's six of us up on this bed:

Mrs. Apron
Molly, the dog
Mr. Apron
Twin A
Twin B
The Snoogle

So, while Mrs. Apron was wrapped around the Snoogle, Molly was pressed up against me, and I was jammed up against the Snoogle. I woke up constantly, which was problematic for me, because I had to work on Saturday, and the alarm was set for 5:15am.

I didn't make it that long.

I woke up at 3:31am, with a bladder so full I'm sure my eyeballs were yellow, so I peed. Then I got back into bed and, eventually, I fell asleep.

And, apparently, it was at some point between that moment and 4:25am when I had sex with my wife's Snoogle.

I wish I could deny it, but there was copious, um, DNA evidence to suggest that's what happened.

I was dreaming about this Jamaican girl, who wasn't really Jamaican, but was a wizard, and, if I had sex with her, she would lose all of her magical powers and become a regular Jamaican, non-Jamaican human or whatever-- and, evidently, I got it into my head that freeing this woman of her wizarding powers was a good thing, so I balled her.

More accurately, I balled my wife's Snoogle.

I never thought of myself as the kind of guy who'd be unfaithful, the idea of cheating on the woman I love more than anyone else in the world is unfathomable to me-- the callous disrespect and disregard for her emotions and for the vows we made to each other on October 22nd, 2006 would be unthinkable to me. And yet, on Friday night, I cheated on her. In our own bed. While she was lying there, in a blissful, heretofore fleeting sleep, only a snoogle away.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Tramp Abroad

It wasn't cackling, I don't think.

And I wouldn't call it "cavorting" either. That almost sounds too refined. Too many syllables, I think.

Braying, maybe. Because braying implies assery and, as a contestant on last week's "Project Runway" stated, "It's either classy, or assey."

Well, these guys were assey. As in, behaving like asses.

At Dublin Airport.

At a gate reserved for U.S. Airways passengers.

Americans.

And, as I sat there, with my legs tightly crossed and my fingers bracing against my temples as they hooted and yelled and whooped and cut through the air with accents that would have put the street urchin flower seller Eliza "Awoowaaowwaaah!" Doolittle to shame, I wanted to dig up the flooring of that airport terminal and disappear beneath it.

"This is what it is," I said to Mrs. Apron, "this is what I have been struggling against so hard for ten days-- to not be associated or lumped into a category with these... people.

Categorius Americansus.

Universally despised and stereotyped for having no manners, no class, no appreciation or respect for other cultures, no indoor voices, no knowledge of another culture's history (much less their own), garish, harsh, inconsiderate, packed to the hilt with complaints, cellphones, and bad attitudes.

Oh, and fat. At least we all know I'm not that.

The lady on the plane smushed up against my poor wife for seven hours and forty minutes was, though. Hailing from New Jersey, she smelled like New Jersey-- an odd combination of old tires, a toilet, and bay water. Easily tipping the scales at around four hundred pounds, she billowed over into Mrs. Apron constantly.

"Eating left handed sure is a challenge on these planes," she said to my wife.

"It's all challenging," was Mrs. Apron's demure reply as she dodged a dough-like elbow to the chin.

I'm discovering that I am very much encumbered by a desire to always do "the right thing", to "behave", to "be good". Those compunctions were amplified a thousand-fold on this vacation to Ireland, where I was hyper vigilant about not being the last one back on the tour bus. ("Oh, we're waiting for the Americans.") To not make uninformed comments about the history of the Northern Ireland/Southern Ireland/British conflict, to not turn my nose up at the local food, (black pudding? Seriously?), and to not say or do the wrong thing culturally, morally, ethically, etceterally.

All of this, I am sure, made travelling with me at times uncomfortable and annoying for my dear wife. And I regret that. Could I have done anything differently to ease up a little bit? Probably, but, in the moment, it's hard to say. It's a terrible thing, being hyper vigilant-- about anything really, because your asshole never unclenches quite enough for you to actually enjoy a good shit, or to just enjoy yourself-- whether you're shitting or not. I know that, at home or abroad, I'm a good boy, and that I shouldn't have to walk around apologizing for the fat, braying troglodytes who came before me and who will come after me, no more than white folks down south who are trying to lead normal lives shouldn't have to walk around apologizing for slavery.

Unless they're racist pieces of shit, of course.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thank God

Thank God I'm back.

I was beginning to run out of ideas!

Actually... I think I have.

Shit.

Okay-- you're up. What should I write about for tomorrow?

I mean, sure, I'll be tempted to regale you with tales of how I got oral herpes from hooking up with The Blarney Stone (I was warned that locals urinate on it-- like I had any intention of kissing the fucking thing in the first place) and how our tour bus murdered four dozen defenseless sheep, but I can't imagine that sitting you down to tell you all about our vacation is going to be endlessly fascinating for you. I mean, it smacks very much of those not-so-distant days when people invited friends over to sit on plaid couches to show them slides of their vacations.

While serving chips and dip.

I mean, I wouldn't do that to you. I'll just put the pictures up on Facebook because, somehow, that's much cooler than a slide-show.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gratty-tood

I hate Thanksgiving, or any prescriptive time where we're supposed to be doing something because it happens to be a certain day of the week or month. I would never barbecue on the Fourth of July or Memorial Day, for instance, because that's when you're "supposed" to barbecue and it's like: what the fuck are we all, mind-controlled or something? What if I want to have crab cakes on July 4th? And what if I want to make them in a fucking pan?

I guess I'm a communist.

I don't like Thanksgiving because it forces the idea of command-style gratitude on us and, while it's great to be reminded that there are things in life to be thankful for, I don't especially think we need to have it marked on our calendars for us. So, with that in mind, I'm going to tell you today, on some random day in August, what I'm thankful for and, if you feel so moved, you can feel free to reciprocate.

No pressure. And no fucking cranberry sauce either.

I am thankful for:

* ties, of the neck and bow variety.

* Monty Python

* my travel mug

* folk music

* hiking

* Richard D'Oyly Carte, for bringing together Gilbert & Sullivan

* my parents

* air conditioning

* books about, not necessarily by, Mark Twain

* you

* that my eyesight is bad enough to warrant glasses, but not poor enough that I'm supremely dangerous to myself or others without them

* boxer shorts that don't do the army crawl thing up my asshole

* my banjo

* the ability to communicate through the written word

* those who've stuck around

* my job, imperfect as it is

* my beautiful wife

* the ability to not be embarrassed when I repeat myself

* my beautiful wife

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Pretty Teenager

I hate sounding like a broken record, but I hate this phenomenon more, so I guess I'll take one more swing at it.

I don't have any statistics about how many young people go missing in America every month, but I'll bet it's a shitload. And, more than that, I'll bet that young people in this country who go missing hail from every single socioeconomic, ethnic, geographical, cultural realm in this diverse nation.

Which ones, though, invariably end up on the national news programs?

Good looking white ones.

It doesn't matter what age they are, either. They can be infants. As long, though, as they're Caucasian and photogenic, you can bet that "The Today Show" is going to hang onto them like a dog with a bone and not let go for as long as they possibly can. I could cite dozens of examples, but I just can't-- it's just too disgusting and too macabre to sort through. You know, though.

If they're eighteen, and white and attractive, that's media gold. When Sarah Townsend, of Burlington County, New Jersey, went missing, the nation sat up and took notice.

Why? I'll let you decide.



After making national news, and after an extensive search for the girl who was believed to have run away, Sarah Townsend's body was found in a pond and, accordingly to toxicology reports, there was a "significant" amount of cocaine in her bloodstream. A suicide note was found in her abandoned car.

This post is not about the immense tragedy of the loss of her life, it is not a post about teen suicide, it is not a post about the unimaginable pain and suffering her family must be enduring, this is a post about the shameful, reprehensible and revolting media practice of paying inordinate amounts of attention to white, attractive missing persons and/or crime victims as compared to the rest of the population.

The article I read in "The Philadelphia Inquirer", written by staff writer James Osborne, about this case even goes so far as to refer to Townsend as "the pretty teenager". So much for journalistic objectivity. James, your use of the word "pretty" to describe Townsend is offensive and irrelevant, and your editor who allowed that go to print is an asshole.

I thank God that I never went missing as a child, because I sure as shit would only have found press on the back of a milk carton.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Side of the Road


I'm trying to convince myself that we don't need this.

I'm not doing a terribly good job, though. See, the thing is, I kind of want to need it.

Is that weird? Forget it, you don't have to answer. I know it's weird.

It's not that I don't like my car-- I do. I don't love it, but I like it. After eighteen months, I haven't gotten tired of it and, for a thirty-one-year-old who's owned eleven cars, that's kind of saying a lot. But, with twins coming, my car is looking decidedly small. Not necessarily in interior room, though it's pretty small that way, but in the trunk/storage area. It's hard to conceive of schlepping around twin-related gear in that trunk. Maybe part of that is because my trunk is, currently, filled with shit.

Maybe it'll look bigger once it's cool enough outside to clean it out.

Maybe.

Or maybe we'll capitulate and go for the station wagon. Oddly enough, I don't think I would feel like a lame-ass sell-out loserballs driving a station wagon. I'd certainly feel that way driving a minivan, but a station wagon is almost retro enough to be anti-cool in that schdork sort of way. I sort of feel like I'm destined to drive a station wagon. The impending arrival of the twins is sort of solidifying that belief.

I snapped a picture of that Volvo 940 wagon (191,178 miles, new exhaust system at a cost of $700, according to the Post-It note attached to the window-- I don't know how much they want for the car, but I'm guessing it's more than $700) while on my way to take the dogs to get their immunizations updated for purposes of boarding. Immediately upon seeing the car, I wanted it.

Of course, I'm not going to buy it. I'd have to get rid of my car first. And, anyway, the 940 is probably six or seven years older than my S-40. The 940 wagon has far fewer airbags than my car has. It's rear-wheel drive. Basically, it's all wrong. But I wanted it. I'm that way with most cars I see parked by the side of the road with a For Sale sign wedged in the window. It doesn't matter if I'd never previously thought about that specific car in an I-could-own-that-and-be-happy sort of way before, the moment I see one up for grabs, I get grabby.

Maybe I feel sad for it, as someone who was raised on "The Love Bug" and, hence, became very attached to the idea that cars have emotions. It's sitting there, abandoned, unwanted, its map pockets and glove box devoid of all of the love and affection and family memories it experienced through the years. And I want to save it, whether it's right or not, whether it makes sense or not, whether it's rear wheel drive or not.

I know it'll go to a good home, or, at the worst, it'll be donated to public radio or to the Shriners or to the local fire academy so they can train their boys and girls about rescuing trapped occupants, and they'll saw it to pieces with the Jaws of Life, and it'll have served its purpose.

Can't save them all, I suppose.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Noise

I'm learning that I need noise in my life.

It's rare that I can drive anywhere, for longer than 10-ish minutes without the radio on in the car. Every morning, I listen to NPR, as I do every afternoon. I can't drive in silence. I mean, I can-- but I don't like it.

When I blog, there is music on. Always. Right now, it's The Finches, singing "Leviathans Home!" I've never been able to write without music on in the not-so-background. I don't know if it's fuel or momentum or if it's inhibiting something potentially greater than what I'm producing from taking flight (gee, wouldn't that be nice?) but it's been a part of my creative process for as long as I can remember.

Sleeping is, confusingly, when I require the most noise. The air purifier (which I call "the noisemaker") has to be on-- not because it's helpful for an asthmatic with two shedding dogs and dubious dusting habits to have an air purifier on at night, but because the thrum of the machine is very soothing to me. The ancient window air-conditioning unit, which sounds like a front-end loader starting up, also helps too.

I don't know if it's silence itself that bothers me or my reaction to it that is most troublesome. The thing is-- I don't really even know what my reaction to silence is. I suppose my reaction is to fill it, to negate it, to make it go away, to overpower and control it with... noise. Noise is familiar and comforting and it occupies a place in my mind that might otherwise be filled with unpleasantness.

Not necessarily, but maybe.

That's the thing about the mind-- it sort of does what it wants if you don't provide it with enough distractions. I suppose that's why I talk a lot. I like to joke with Mrs. Apron that, "I talk a lot-- but I don't say very much."

If you've stuck with me this long, I'm sure you'll agree.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Our Fellow Jack

Jack was like most boys-- willful, smutty, and charming, hackneyed in thought, dress, expression of opinion and deftly lacking even the slightest ability to experience the world from anyone else's point of view. He was quite charming that way.

He had a peculiar talent for correctly identifying pieces of classical music, played on the local public radio station, as belonging to W. A. Mozart. He could not, nor did he try, to match a concerto, sonata, symphony or overture to a single other composer-- a particular combination of notes was either by Mozart, or it wasn't. Although it is admittedly tempting to exaggerate these sorts of things, our fellow Jack was never wrong.

The boy's parents, Alice and David, despised the word "precocious" and they would not permit its use by anyone seeking to describe, always with the best of intentions, their son. Certainly, propriety dictated that they not directly challenge a friend or teacher or even casual neighborhood acquaintance if a well-meaning person should happen to use the word in reference to Jack, but privately the parents disapproved of the word immensely. Though they were frequently of divided opinion on many a subject, including many facets concerning young Jack's upbringing, on this point they were united.

Instead of the rote, succinct responses favored by teachers of their pupils in those days, Jack's classroom replies were oblique, perplexing and, quite often, wrong. His teachers were, collectively, an odd lot-- a wiry-haired, aging ex-carpenter, an occasional Lutheran minister, an inordinately tall German immigrant with a gentle lisp and an outlandish mustache. They were not unprepared-- just put upon-- perhaps not quite up to the challenge, as indeed most of them felt some mornings upon waking up and realizing that Jack was part of their job that day. After completing primary school, Jack asked each of his teachers, from Kindergarten through grade six, to gather in the courtyard so he could take a photograph of them standing together with the camera David had purchased for him. Only the occasional Lutheran minister accepted the invitation. And Jack took his picture.

(Okay, so, I've given you four paragraphs. By now, you've got a good idea of the style/voice of the piece, how it goes from one idea to the next. I guess this is more of a creative writing assignment than a blog-- but, in the comment section, I want you to continue the story. What becomes of our fellow Jack? If I like what you give me, I might very well steal it ['cuz I'm like that] and turn this into something. Who knows? Stranger things have happened, I'm sure.

Right, so....

Ready?

Go.)