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."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Doing What He Loved

As an avid and active supporter of law enforcement officers, I know all the rhetoric that gets automatically spewed from the uniformed talking heads that have the misfortune to be stuck behind microphones and newscameras.

"He was a cop's cop."

"He always wanted to be a police officer."

"He will never be forgotten."

"He knew the risks."

And, inevitably, "He died doing what he loved."

That one comes up a lot when a first responder dies while on-duty. "He died doing what he loved." Nobody ever questions these slogans, because, really, in the moment, you'd be looked at as kind of an asshole if you did-- but what does that really mean?

He died doing what he loved? The cop died chasing some shitbag through a slum apartment complex at 2:30 in the morning, all because the dumb prick was a wanted, armed felon and he wouldn't pull over to accept a ticket for a broken turn signal light? That was what he loved? The firefighter died falling through two stories of a house that caught fire because some stupid asshole kid was growing marijuana in the basement and didn't put the right wattage bulbs in the heat lamps? Who the hell loves that?

Even if you do die doing what you supposedly "love," does that really matter? Does that somehow take away the paralyzing fear and undeniable, irreversable dread you felt the instant you saw the guy in the oversized wifebeater turn towards you with a Tech-9 and pull the trigger? No, of course it doesn't. Platitudes like that are for the living anyway-- they're supposed to make the ones dressed in black the next day somehow feel better.

But I wonder if it really does.

I tried to think about the things that I do in my life that I love doing, and I couldn't really come up with much. I love being held by my wife, but I sure as hell wouldn't want to die like that-- that'd be kind of awkward for her, I think. I like writing, but I don't really love it, and I don't think it would sound quite right if I stroked out at the computerdfgjkdjhg;idgi;erag;agenk;sjdfnkxdg;dafkgnadskngdsa;kngfa;ksdjngkasdjlngfjkdabneg;

like that, and some numb-numb wrote an obiturary for me saying that I "died doing what I loved-- writing." Just doesn't sound right, does it?

I love trolling around ebaymotors fantasizing about purchasing old cars, but, again, would dying during that particular activity spur someone to report that I had died "doing what I loved?"


I read an obituary today about a "semiretired financier" who died while surfing last weekend. Last weekend, you might remember, the east coast was visited by a rather unwelcomed friend named Hurricane Bill. The deceased surfer was a newbie, receiving a lesson. Obviously, this is a tragic event for his family, but the extremely long obituary made the claim that the family is "finding some solace in the fact that he died doing something he loved."

What was that, exactly? Taking insane risks? Ignoring dangerous surf warnings? Putting his life at risk and callously disregarding the family he would soon leave without its husband and father? Being a completely thoughtless schmuck?

His children, according to the article, had enough sense to pack it in early on that day. I guess they weren't prepared to die doing what they loved, or maybe they just didn't love frollicking in the Atlantic Ocean during a hurricane.

I'm sorry, but it's exceedingly difficult for me to find sympathy for this reckless individual, regardless of whether he died "doing what he loved" or not. If you have a wife and children, what you love should be them, not pursuing your own interests in a thoroughly dangerous environment for no reason at all other than your own selfish enjoyment. Granted, police officers and firefighters put themselves in harm's way every day and night, but they're doing it for the greater social good-- there is no social good in surfing during a hurricane, whether you're a beginner or an expert.

So go ahead and die doing what you love, but don't expect a nodding affirmation or a funeral wreath from me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Going Buh-Byes in the Car

In just under 20 minutes, I hope to have successfully bundled my wife, my dog, and several tons of bags, clothing, toiletries and other assorted items (including my 1930s style Boater hat and some light vacation reading about explorers perishing during their ill-fated quest for the Northwest Passage) into my wife's Revolution Orange Metallic Honda Fit for our trek up north.

They tell you to never post on Facebook or a blog that you're going away on vacation, but I have reasonable amounts of faith that a contingent of my female, Canadian readers aren't going to break into my house and steal my collection of antique typewriters while we're away.

Speaking of "while we're away" you might be wondering, "Well, what the fuck?! What about us?!!!"

Well, dah-links, I had the best intentions of banging out a week's worth of blogs today while I was at work and setting them to auto-display at 8:23am each day we're away, but I could only manage one, which will go up tomorrow at the aforementioned time. If something very blogworthy happens, perhaps I'll risk arthritis of the thumbs and post a quick entry from my Treo, but I doubt it. Blogging from a five-year-old handheld device is exhausting. You practically go blind while doing it and, two hours later, you've written the equivalent of 3/4ths of an 8.5x11 sheet of paper.

Not very rewarding for blogger or blogeee.

Before I depart, I should just like to point out that I received a friend request via PoliceLink, a social networking site for police officers and law enforcement advocates/afficianados like myself. The subject header of the email read,

"Jim Bigguns wants to be your friend."

Am I a lucky sonofabitch or what?

Well, Shit in a Saucepan & Serve it Up Fried: It's DEAR APRON Time!

As Mrs. Apron & I prepare to head off for our long-awaited, and, may I say deserved vacation, I wish to conclude with a hymn.

But I think a Dear Apron column, pouring salt on the wounds of the oppressed plebians of the world who, rather than solve problems on their own wait for Dear Abby to solve them instead, would be more suitable, and enjoyable than a fucking hymn.

So, suit up and enjoy.


I'm a 16-year-old male high school sophomore in what I think is a pretty common predicament. A lot of my friends have had sex, and some are having it pretty regularly. Apron, I've never even kissed a girl!

How can I deflect attention from myself when my friends ask me how far I've gone? And what can I do to make sure I am not in this spot forever? -- IN THE MINORITY IN PALATINE, ILL.


What can you do to make sure you're not in this spot forever?

Fuck a lot of women, kid.

It's obviously the only way to avoid being viewed by your friends as a dickless, puritanical freak. Besides lying, and I would never suggest in my column that people lie, especially about their sexual conquests. Not cool.

Seeing as you're already sixteen and have never kissed anyone in a permissive society like ours where twelve-year olds are regularly popping out babies like PEZ dispensers, I'm willing to bet that you're just to the right of hideous, or some goth slut would have gotten around to fiddling with your whang by now. No doubt you're overweight, with dragon-esque halitosis and a pimple-ridden face that resembles a relief map of Europe. If this is the case, nail a prostitute or two. They're a great, unintimidating way to get initiated into the world of sexual congress. Then, you can tell all your awkward, nasty friends in the AV club that you've known beaver.

Just try to pick one with at least five real teeth. And remember-- real teeth cost real money, but it's worth it.


My former boss, "Ken," is 30 years older than I am. We slept together several months ago while my boyfriend, "Vinny," and I were separated. The affair was short-lived, and Vinny and I reconciled.

When I discovered I was pregnant, Vinny and I eloped. Abby, I'm almost positive this is Vinny's baby, but I'm not 100 percent sure, so I told him everything.

Now Vinny wants me to tell Ken and his wife that I need a paternity test. I agree that Ken's wife needs to know, but I'm afraid that bringing this out will bring some serious repercussions. What should I do? -- NEEDS CLOSURE IN OHIO


You definitely do need closure: of your legs. Jesus Fern-Watering Christ! What a fucking disgraceful, contemptible strumpet you are-- parading your firm, young tits around the office like you're Lady Godiva until you seduced that poor, innocent, frail, elderly Ken with your wanton glances and your eminently slappable buttocks!

Shame! Shame! I sentence thee to eight days in the pillory!

Now, Vile Whore, as to what you should do now that you're in the admittedly awkward position of possibly having an elderly man's baby-- here's what you do:

In twenty years, be prepared for the kid to have schizophrenia because, if it's Ken's kid, the product of elderly, infirmed sperm, he's damn likely to have it.

If the baby's Vinny's, be prepared for him to deliver pizza and/or mispronounce the word "youths."


Some friends and I shared a vacation house last month. While I was out hiking, a supposed friend, "Lynette," rummaged through my purse (which had been stashed in a closet) and made a non-emergency phone call on my cell. She didn't tell me about it. I found out on my own.

It's not that I mind her using my phone, but a purse is private, and I felt violated. Let me add that she also knew about an article I had packed in a zipped pouch that I keep in my beach bag. I don't know why she snooped through my stuff.

Am I wrong to be upset? And do you think this "friendship" is worth continuing? -- LIVID IN LEXINGTON, KY.


Yes, you are wrong to be upset. Jesus, why are all you people so uptight? What's in your purse that you didn't want Lynette to see? Your pills? Your fucking tampons? God, get over yourself. Everybody knows you're on Xanax anyway.

I appreciate that you don't like being violated, but it's not like Lynette shoved her finger in your asshole while you were asleep in the tent, right? So let's try to keep things in perspective here.

(She didn't do that to you, right?)

If you have such a problem with Lynette going through your bag while you're not looking, there are a couple easy solutions, all of which will teach her a valuable lesson about respecting boundaries:

1.) Place a mini bear trap inside your purse. Lynette will be guaranteed to lose at least three fingers, if not her entire hand. This method of crime-and-punishment works well in the Middle East and it's what we educators refer to as "experiential learning."

2.) Before you go out with Lynette again, text all of your friends a message, something to the effect of, "OMG, did u guys know that Lynette has AIDS?" That way, when Lynette goes to use your phone again, she'll see all of the aghast, disgusted texts in reply to yours.

3.) Again, before going out with Lynette, visit a chemotherapy/radiation treatment center and get a bunch of brochures and pamphlets about "Living with Cancer" and "Effects of Chemotherapy." Make sure there are at least two informational packets about hospice care and/or end-of-life decisions. You'll be sure to get a heartfelt apology now!

4.) Next time you're out hiking and sharing a tent, wait till Lynette's asleep and then stick your finger inside her asshole.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Just Another Family Car

My parents have very strange relationships with cars.

I suppose it's no accident that I do, too.

My father learned to drive, he says, in a beat up Citroen in the deserts of Israel. If you've ever been in a car with him, or, far worse, if you've ever tried to follow him somewhere, you'd believe it for sure. I like to close my eyes and picture this mustachioed, swarthy man behind the hard, gleaming steering wheel of a DS, his Jewfro scraping against the perforated headliner as my young father bounded merrily up and down over sand dunes in an untamed land, in a long forgotten fairytale time-- a shiteating grin plastered across his face.

Road signs mean absolutely nothing to him, they might as well be in Japanese, or great, big lollipops-- it wouldn't matter. What he doesn't want to hear or see, he ignores. Like people honking at him. Or stop signs. He speeds through life, no matter where he's going. Whether he's late for something (wait-- he's never late for things) or whether he's going to The Camera Store on some secret Israeli mission, or whether he's going to pick up red grapes for $0.63 a pound at the Shop Rite on 63rd Street. Speed is of the essence. I guess he learned this way of operating from his youth in Israel where, if you didn't book it, a sniper's bullet or a rocket could take your fucking head off.

He's been pulled over more times than I have fingers, toes, and capillaries. My phone rang a week or so ago.

"Mummy, leeesten, I have a qvestion," he began in earnest in his slightly accented English. "I was driving in Allentown, to pick up fabric from Naajib, and I was going down this small alley..."

"Were you pulled over?" I interrupted.

"Wait-- no. Leeesten-- so, I'm going down there, and I had my blinker on" (Sidebar: this was a complete lie. He has never used a turn signal in his life) "and I'm turning and the cop pulls me over. I mean, I turned, with my blinker-- I did not know where I was..."

"How fast were you going?" I asked, nonplussed.

"Oh!" he laughs, "I don' know..."

Right. He and I discussed the finer points of negotiating your way out of points on your license in traffic court, how, if you plead guilty to a lesser charge, they will make you pay a fine but they take away the points. Which is good, because my father already has four points on his driver's license-- take two more away, and he won't be able to drive that brand new, black BMW 328xi that is sitting in my parent's driveway right now.

Which brings me to my original point about their strange relationship with cars. For decades, my parents drove shitbuckets. My mother, who was petrified of motor vehicles and didn't get her driver's license until she was thirty, began her motoring life behind the wheel of a two-door Chevy Nova. She then graduated to a Pontiac Sunbird, which was exactly the same thing as the Nova, just with a different name. My grandfather bought my mother this car, for $300 from a police auction-- a pretty lame gesture coming from a man who never drove anything that wasn't a Cadillac himself. The Sunbird didn't last long. One day my father was driving the car on the Atlantic City Expressway and it caught fire, thus ending its brief stay on this earth. We later theorized that my mother's father had rigged the car in an effort to kill my dad. This was a pretty unlikely theory since my maternal grandfather couldn't even put together a TV table or make a door stop squeaking.

When I was a boy, my parents graduated to a 1986 Toyota Camry. It was in this car that I asked my father if we were Jewish, prompting him to almost crash the car as he reached blindly and furiously behind his seat to try to grab any part of me to throttle. He didn't succeed in wrecking that car, but he did wreck the next one-- a 1987 Buick Century. We're still not sure who ran the stop sign, but it was either my father or the other guy. Either way, someone slammed into the driver's side of the Century sending it careening into the curb and flipping it over three times. Being Israeli, my father doesn't believe in seatbelts, in spite of our repeated efforts to get him to wear them. (As a child, I would scream and cry until he would put it on, which was reasonably effective, but only when I was in the car.) Miraculously, he came out without a scratch. The Century, however, came out with several scratches and a crushed roof.

We had a couple Centuries and a couple Oldsmobile Cutlass Cieras, which were the same exact things as the Centuries. Except for the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera International Edition. This car was jet black with gray leather seats and a kickass V-6 that my father would punish mercilessly on his 81 mile to-and-from work every single day commute. When he was finished kicking the shit out that car, he gave it to my sister. Not being allowed to bring her car to college freshman year, she left it at our house. One morning, my father went outside to get the newspaper and, instead of the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera International Edition, there was a small pile of broken glass. My father looked the pile of glass, took the newspaper, turned around and went inside. He finished his coffee, read the newspaper, and then called the police. Four months later, my father got a phone call. Officers in the 18th District had found the car.

"Is it okay?" my father asked.

"Um... Well, we need you to come identify it," they said, as if they had just found a decomposed corpse.

Turns out all that was left of the car was the chassis, some wires and the little "International Edition" emblem.

That car was the beginning of my father's affiliation with luxury and performance. Never again would he drive a car with cloth interior. The Volvo 740. The Taurus SHO. The Pontiac Bonneville. The Volvo 850. The Volvo S70. The Saab 9(3). And now, the BMW328xi.

This steadily rising trend of luxo-rockets is in pretty stark contradiction to my father's inherent belief in what an automobile is, and what it should do for its owner.

"A car is to get you from poin' A, to poin' B," he loves to say. Apparently, though, it must be capable of getting you from "poin' A to poin' B" with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and from 0-60 in 5.6 seconds. But then, that's my father. He's an enigma. Or "exioma," as he says.

As for my mother, well, she gets whatever he and my oldest sister bring home for her. It's a luxury car, too, which says more about the equality of their marriage than it does about her need for speed, or luxury. Christ, she works 0.02 miles away from her house and doesn't go anywhere else. She could drive a golf cart or a Smurf-trike for all that it would matter. But, whenever it's time to get a new car for the triumverate that is my oldest sister, my father and my mother, she goes straight to the Consumer Reports Battlestation and researches the shit out of every single car out on the market, all the safety statistics. A car that is suitable for them must have at least thirty-seven airbags and a safety-cage made of reinforced titanium and kryptonite alloys. It is her self-appointed duty to pick the safest car for her mommy, her daddy, and, of course, herself. And, of course, it can't just be the safest car-- it must be the safest luxury/performance car.

After all, my family's days of careening through the desert or dickering around the police impound lot are long, long gone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dr. Who?

I haven't picked on Dr. Phil in a long time, but an article I read today in The Philadelphia Inquirer reminded me that he's still out there, being annoying and useless, and making big bucks whilst being so.

And he's not alone.

The article I read was about kids with autism managing their social defecits through communication workshops hosted by people who go by "Dr. Liz" and "Dr. Alex." They do have last names, like your gynecologist and your dentist, they just don't use them. You know, because going by "Dr. Liz" is cool, and going by "Dr. Laugeson" isn't.

Here's the thing, though, Dr. Liz: you're a clinical psychologist. You're not supposed to be fucking cool. Cars with spoilers are cool. New sneakers are cool. Vacations and blowjobs and roller coasters are cool. No autistic child is going to think you're cool and accessible because you call yourself "Dr. Liz." Want to be cool to a kid with autism? Stand really close to them and talk about trains.

I don't understand this kick that we're currently on in America-- our fascination with candy docs-- Dr. Laura, Dr. Drew, Dr. Oz. Well, fine, "Oz" really is his last name, apparently, but are we too stupid and immature to refer to Dr. Drew as "Dr. Pinsky?" The colloquialism of their reference kind of deflates the seriousness of the degrees they ostensibly worked so hard to obtain, and it certainly pours confectioner's sugar all over whatever information they might dispense to the masses, like pez. Of course, I don't know how seriously I'd take anyone who appears on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" dressed in surgical scrubs and doing squats with a champagne cork between his teeth no matter what he calls himself.

My primary care physician's name is Dr. Lander, and that's what I call him. He's eighty-four years old and, back in the time of Christopher Columbus, my great-grandmother used to apply rouge and lipstick in preparation for Dr. Lander's much-anticipated house-calls. Dr. Lander is an intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, competent medical practitioner who wears threadbare dress-shirts, bowties, pencil-straight courderoy pants and a stained white coat. The idea of referring to this man as "Dr. Bill" seems incongruous, idiotic and offensive. He is what I like to call "a real doctor." If he ever appeared on a television show or at some flashy conference, I don't think a lot of people would tune in-- they'd much rather watch "Dr. Bill." But that's their loss.

The Dr. Phil's and the Dr. Liz's of this world are here, I guess, for people who don't expect much from them. They're here to entertain, and they're here to make a bigger name for themselves, and to profit. I just hope that people out there don't forget that, and that, if they are really looking for serious advice or help, they seek out a doctor who has the self-respect and the dignity to refer to him or herself by their last name.

Caring for people, dispensing diagnoses, medications, theories or advice was never meant to be cool or marketable. If you think you've got yourself a catchy moniker for your new TV show, why don't you tuck your tail between your legs and return to your exam room or your office where you can look at the degree bestowed on you by the institution of higher learning that you paid a mortgage to acquire. Why don't you go actually do something useful or helpful? If you think you're making yourself accessible to kids by calling yourself "Dr. Liz" or "Dr. Alex," trust me, you're not. Kids can pronounce your last name, and they see through condescending bullshit like that with 20/20 vision-- even the autistic ones.

Femme Blog

According to some statistic that someone cited somewhere at some point, on the website 20something bloggers, there are 7,942 bloggers registered as members, and only around 900 of those members are males.

I'm left to ask the intellectually-stimulating question, "What the fuck is that all about?"

Seriously, sometimes I look at the 129 "friends" I have collected nigh these many months, and I feel like a total whoremaster, supervising my burgeoning, ballooning brothel. There's Laura the pilot, Mila with the roses popping out of her cleavage, Kate the poet, Sarah with the camera, Floreta with the vibrators, and, most recently, Leslie with the eye-patch. It's quite a collection of damsels, really. Any whoremaster would be proud.

There was a time where I felt selfconscious about having accrued so many BWB (bloggers with breasts) as online acquaintances, but I don't think I can honestly feel guilty about it due to the extreme saturation of the 20something blogging market by womenfolk.

It's interesting to note that, in the 18th, 19th and even 20th century, the vast majority of published writers were men, and that's no accident. The vast majority of book publishers and literary agents were men, too. It was not acceptable for women to write and publish material. Just ask Jane Austen, whose family was never quite thrilled about her professional aspirations.

Fortunately now, there are many, many women in the book publishing and literary agent industry. I should know, I've received rejection letters from most of them. So, with the increase in written, published work written by women, it should be no surprise that women are also taking the blogging world by storm.

My question is: why?

What is so appealing about tapping those deliciously manicured nails to the keyboard for women? Women have a reputation for being more sensitive than men, more open to revealing themselves and their inner feelings, and a whopping shitload of them were English majors in college.

So, is that it? Have I answered my own question? I don't know-- I don't think so.

There must be something about writing, about blogging, something about its freedom, its unemcumbered, unadorned form that appeals to women, but I don't know what it is. I guess that's why I have a comments section.

When I first started blogging, and for a while after, I didn't read any blogs. "I don't want to be influenced," I would say. "I want to be original and fresh." I worry about that a lot. If I'm going to play a part onstage, and another local company is doing the same show, I will avoid seeing the show at all costs, because I don't ever want to be accused of "copying" or "stealing," "mimicking" someone else's work. It's a youthful arrogance, a holdout from my younger days when I did copy others whom I admired-- and that fear of being caught nowadays petrifies me into almost total creative isolation.

Now, though, I read several blogs, and almost every one of them is written by a woman. I like women writers, because they are different than me. They are thoughtful, introspective and they are careful, considered, sometimes eloquent. They think about things I would never think to think about, and they open me up to different perspectives, and I appreciate that. I never thought I would like reading blogs, but I think I do. I guess I'm growing up a little.

When I write a play, I often struggle to create authentic female characters. Oftentimes they don't show up in my plays, because the challenge of writing honestly for a woman scares the piss out of me. I feel incapable and inept. The only woman I've ever included in a play who sounded true was my mother, because I couldn't get her wrong if I tried. There is a poignancy and a firm wisdom that I can only watch from a distance and appreciate.

I suppose, in the end, why there are so many women bloggers out there and so few male bloggers isn't really important. It's a fine discussion topic to start and in which to participate, but it doesn't matter much. We bloggers all bring something different to the table, even those of us who just post YouTube clips or pictures of cellphones encrusted with Swarovski crystals.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Supercircumcise Me

You may have missed the news of the recent debate that's flaring up around circumcision these days, since the Today Show has apparently been bought out by Michael Jackson Television Enterprises, Ltd.

Apparently, the CDC is considering recommending that all male babies be circumcized in an effort to combat HIV. In studies conducted in African countries, rates of HIV infections amongst circumcised, heterosexual men went down by as much as 50% and, in Kenya and Uganda specifically, the rate of infection dropped by 60% for that same trimmed population.

The theory is that the muscosal tissue in uncircumcised men, which, as we all learned in 10th grade health class, is coated in a filmy substance delightfully called "smegma," is more prone to infection by the virus. Anecdotal evidence from studies in America shows a higher rate of other STDs like syphilis and herpes in uncircumcised men.

Of course, this, like any other scientific finding, has slackjawed hooligans down South up in arms. The group "Intact America" has rented mobile billboards railing against the findings in the report that hasn't even been released yet, as well as declamations against the advisory that hasn't even been made yet.

Their website is pretty funny. It's not as funny as "My Masonic Apron" but I'd still suggest a visit. Why not head there now? I highly recommend the "10 Reasons NOT To Circumcise Your Baby."

In fact, let's address their statements, in true "Dear Apron" Style, one by one.

1.) Because there is no medical reason for "routine" circumcision of baby boys.

Right. Except that, apparently, it decreases the risk of HIV infection.

2.) Because the foreskin is not a birth defect.

Right. But, neither are the appendix, wisdom teeth, or tonsils. In their brief paragraph under number two, they also cite the foreskin's role in pleasurable sex, stating that it has "natural gliding and lubricating functions." Right. That's called "smegma" and that's nasty.

3.) Because you wouldn't circumcise your baby girl.

Right. I also wouldn't stick my hand in an active garbage disposal or Gorilla Glue my eyelids shut or take a shit inside my parent's car. There are a lot of things I wouldn't do-- what does that have to do with circumcision of a male child?

4.) Because your baby does not want to be circumcised.

Oh! I didn't know that. Thank you for telling me. Now, does my baby want formula or breast milk? I'm dying to know.

5.) Because removing part of your baby's penis is painful, risky and harmful.

Right. And so are vaccinations, but I think I'm still going to go that route.

6.) Because times and attitudes have changed.

Right. And everything people believe now is correct, like that Miley Cyrus is talented and that George Bush, Jr. isn't a war criminal.

7.) Because most medically-advanced nations (Europe, Asia, Latin America) do not circumcise baby boys.

Wait a minute-- Europe, Asia and Latin America are nations? Wow. My geography is all messed up. I'm glad I went to this site! So informative!

8.) Because caring for and cleaning the foreskin is easy.

Right-- it's just like washing a baby elephant's trunk that's been dipped in Elmer's glue.

9.) Because circumcision does not prevent HIV or other diseases.

Right-- it just decreases the risk of infection. And why would anybody want to do that? The misinformation being spread by the CDC must just be an effort to convert every hayseed and lumberjack in America to Judaism. Next they'll start enforcing compulsory Bar Mitzvahs for every thirteen year old boy in Kentucky.

10.) Because children should be protected from permanent bodily alteration inflicted on them without their consent in the name of culture, religion, profit, or parental preference.

Right. You're right. We, as educated, well-informed parents shouldn't be able to do anything to our childen until they're old enough to consent, including vaccinate them against potentially fatal diseases, take them to the doctor, clothe, feed, burp, bathe, or diaper them. We should not be permitted to raise them in a faith until they are old enough to decide whether or not they want to be a part of that faith, we should not enroll them in any school until they can make an informed decision for themselves, and we certainly shouldn't look at them either, being careful to avert our gaze at all times until they are at least twenty-one and can decide if eye-contact is appropriate.

By the way-- I do agree with Intact America about one thing, children should be protected from being circumcised in the name of profit. I mean, if I find out that my parents made a fucking dime off my circumcision, I'm going to sue them.

Of course, Intact America doesn't seem to have a problem with profiting themselves-- you can make a donation in any amount on their website. And why stop there? While you've got your Visa out, you can purchase any number of insane products at their online giftshop including a "Whole & Happy" teddy bear or a "Stop Genital Mutilation" bumper-sticker to slap on the back of your car.

$29.69 for a pack of 10.

Monday, August 24, 2009


There's a man in my house and I'm not there.

He's not armed, that I know of, so at least that part's good. I don't know much else about him, though. I have a business card with his name and his phone number. It says, "Electrical Contractor." I guess that's good, too.

I don't particularly like having people in my house when I'm not there, but, hey-- I have to go to work and blog, know what I mean?

Our old house has old house problems-- oversized breakers in the box, antiquated wiring, big, chunky switches, broken flourescent lighting in the basement, and so we needed to call in an electrician. Not having the luxury of being that work-from-home writer I always dreamed of being, I can't very well stay home and babysit this guy and make sure he doesn't steal my passports and flee to Buenos Aires with all my antique pocketwatches and typewriters.

The truth is, I don't think he's going to steal from us.


I don't know. I just have my gut, as svelte and virtually concave as it is.

Mr. Docherty comes from a tradition of skilled laborers who don't go by their first name. Mr. Deal used to fix my parent's plumbing. He wasn't some scumbag with a toolbox and a plunger. He was a gentleman who always picked up the phone when you called, always came, and didn't always send a bill. One time he did work for my parents and three months went by with no bill. My father called him up one day to ask where his bill was.

"Jeez," Mr. Deal replied, flabbergasted, "I've never had a customer call me to request a bill. Let's just forget about it, because I obviously already have."

Mr. Docherty was recommended to me by my parents, and, though our opinions differ in a lot of areas, I pretty much trust their judgement, especially when it comes to character. We size people up. We do it every day, every moment of every day. Some people call it "judging a book by its cover." I call it "survival." We have to do it. That way, we can make decisions about who we can let be in our homes when we're not there, and whom we just can't trust-- we may not know entirely why, we just can't put our finger on it, but we know.

I trust Mr. Docherty.

He's an older man, probably at least sixty. This doesn't automatically make someone trustworthy, but it's a good start. I like the way he looks me in the eye when he talks to me. I like the way his hands look-- thoroughly beaten up and bandaged. This is a guy whose hands have done a decent day's work a thousand times over. I like the way he touches my dog-- the calm, gentle way he runs his hands through the fur on Finley's back. I like the way he talks to my dog. He even looks my dog in the eye.

I work down the street from my house, and I gave Mr. Docherty my phone number so he could ring me when he was done, so that I could run home and give him a check before he left. I believe in paying people promptly for work, because that's what I like and expect. Because that's the right thing to do.

"Please don't bother with that," he said, waving his hand. "I want you to come home when you come home, make sure everything works right, and then I'll send you a bill. There's no hurry. No rush. I don't want you worrying about anything."

Trust is funny. I don't know how it happens, or why, but I suspect that, like most things, it's in the little things-- the feel of a handshake, a small, offhand remark, the way someone touches your dog. People put a lot of trust in me, and sometimes I don't know why. At my old job at the eyeglasses store, I received the "Most Trustworthy Employee Award" which was kind of tongue-in-cheek, as I was the only employee, besides the owner of the shop. But, before I was hired, he had never taken a day off, and the former employee didn't have a key to the shop. Since I had started, I had a key, and my boss was not only able to take long weekends and vacations, he got married and went on a real honeymoon to St. Thomas.

"I could never have done this without you," he said to me on the phone, "there's nothing I wouldn't tell you or let you be reponsible for."

That was really sweet to hear-- it made me feel good. Of course, it's also kind of scary.

I do my best not to violate peoples' trust, but it happens sometimes. I try to treat it with respect, because it's one of the most important intangibles out there. I know that, when I come home from work today, not only are all of our valuables going to be exactly where they were this morning, but our house is going to be a safer, better lit place in which to live. And my dog will have had a nice companion for half the day.

Next week, while we're away on vacation, painters will be over to do our bedroom and our office. Thursday or Friday, I'll be brining over several boxes of stuff to my parents' house for safe-keeping. I just don't trust them. Maybe it's because there's more than one of them. Maybe it's because they'll be there for several days. Maybe it's because they're Mexican and barely speak English. I guess that makes me a racist. But I just can't do something I don't feel good about, no matter what it makes me.

If you ask me what kind of a person I am, I'd say that I'm trustworthy. Reliable. You can always depend on me to show up, early, for whatever you need me there for. I think maybe that's what I loved so much about being an EMT. Responding. "Unit 4-0-2 responding." Once I got on-scene, well, my partners usually took charge. I was jittery, afraid of making a mistake, of hurting someone, of doing or saying the wrong thing. I was constantly violating my EMS instructor's advice, "Don't think soo much." I thought too much, always. And yet, people trusted me-- they trusted me with their lives.

I don't know why. Maybe it was because my uniform shirt was always clean and tucked in. Maybe it's because I wear glasses or because I comb my hair. Maybe it's because of the way I looked them in the eye.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Status: It's Complicated

I entered into a very complicated relationship today.

Don't worry-- it's not the one with my wife. That one's pretty straightforward. She wears the leather face-mask with rivets. I am the keeper of the safe-word.

No, this isn't a relationship with a woman, or a man, or even a South African track-star who may be both, or possibly neither. Man, I'd hate to be the endrocrinologist who has to make that call.

Anyway, this is a relationship between me and a clock.

A cuckoo clock, to be precise.

My mother-in-law came over last weekend to visit. When she comes to visit, we always get things. She pulls up in her used, red Jaguar wagon and we make an average of five trips from the car to the house. She's like Santa Claus with lip-stick. I'll bet there are Santa Clauses out there who wear lipstick, even while on-duty.

Anyway, she always gives us stuff. Stuff, I believe, is her middle name. Or her maiden name. So, when Stuff-in-Law comes over, it's like fucking Christmas. We don't always want the stuff we get. Sometimes it's stuff even she doesn't want that she tries to unload, usually successfully because guilt is powerful like tractor, on us.

"Well, I got this at TJ Maxx and I didn't really like it-- oh, the price tag's still on there. Do you believe that sale? I mean, the price was right..."

There was even more stuff this time around because this is the first time she's been in our new house for any extended period of time, so it was house-warming time. She was here right at the beginning, a week or two after we'd just moved in. My wife was violently ill, vomiting with appreciable propulsion every hour or so. But it was okay, because her mommie was there. To schlep us both down to fucking Maryland to visit my wife's 106-year-old 1st cousin, twice removed. Fortunately, Mrs. Apron didn't kill him with a strategically-placed vom-shot to the skull.

So, included in the usual pile of home-baked cookies, cast-off, discount clothing and a full-sized ironing board, this time, we also got a present that was, apparently, two-and-a-half years in the making.

"We had this in our house, and then it fell off the wall, and I took it to a shop in Fall River and they said they couldn't fix it, so then I took it to another store and they said they could, but they needed a part and, well, it sat there for a couple years."

Well, the price was right.

It's a Black Forest Cuckoo Clock from Germany. It kind of looks like this:

Tonight, we hung it up and, after my wife consulted a website or two, we figured out how to make it go ticky-tocky and cuckee-clockie. Miraculously, we didn't break it. That would be two-and-a-half year's bad luck, approximately.

Now, I love timepieces. I own four or five pocketwatches, and I'm always on the lookout for the next one, and I have an antique self-winding Bulova wristwatch. One day, there will be both a steeple mantle clock and a grandfather clock in this house, just give me time + money. This clock, um, doesn't really do it for me. Now, I know what they say about looking a gifthorse in the mouth-- he'll let you count his cavities before he severes your cervical vertabrae-- but I just can't help it. The first person with whom I was honest about my feelings towards the cuckoo clock was my own mother.

"So, when your mother in law comes into town, hang it on the wall."

Ah, but it's not so simple, I explained. Mrs. Apron also likes the clock. Finally, after a week of dreading speaking the truth, I said something.

"I don't like it, I'm sorry,"

"What don't you like about it?" Mrs. Apron queried, smiling, signaling that it was not perhaps the choicest reaction, but that it was okay.
"Well, it looks like it was painted with poop. And those three pinecones dangling from the chains look like turdlettes."

"Well, I like it," she said steadfastly.

It's in our dining room. As we watched COPS together, it cuckooed its goddamn head off. I smiled.

See-- this is where it gets complicated.

The clock does indeed look like some German clockmaker in lederhosen dipped his paintbrush in a bowlful of digested sauerbraten-- but that goddamn little bird that comes out to say "Guten morgen" every half-an-hour is just pretty fucking irresistable.

Though it's only been hanging for less than three hours, I can already see myself making excuses to go downstairs to hang around the dining room just so that I can catch a glimpse of the elusive avian creature.

"Oh, I just need to get, um, a napkin..." and I'll disappear down the stairs so I can catch the 3:00pm show at the aviary.

I can't help it, I'm smitten with that little bastard.

Even if he lives in a house covered in dookie.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's My Masonic Apron's 200TH BLOGDAY!

Praise be, my little darlings-- I never thought we'd get here.

Certainly not together.

Today marks 200 posts on this here bloggy-doo, and I'm grateful to you for sticking it out with me. Some of you have been with me since the old Pudd'nhead Nathan days-- you dealt with the abrupt cancellation of that blog, and you dutifully tied on your masonic apron and followed me along this path.

You've waded through countless posts about anxiety, personal incompetence, home ownership, dead cops, lost friendships, home ownership, suburban inferiority, a nice, chunky sampling of some Dear Apron ire, and the sporadic rant.

You've even continued reading after I made the decision to stop spending hours of my time searching for funny hyperlink pictures.

Well, shit-- you're all kinds of swell.

Funny thing is-- my 200th Blogday almost didn't happen today-- because I couldn't remember my blogger password for a minute or so there. No password? No post.

Actually, it's kind of a good thing that this happened, because I didn't know what I was going to write about until I forgot my password, then remembered it, then realized that this minor event underscored a uniquely 21st century dilemma that I have no doubt a lot of us are having-- and what better way to celebrate a 200th blogday than by bitching about something that affects not just me, but you, too? Here's the dilemma:

I have too fucking many usernames and passwords.

I mean, Jesus Christ. What the dick?

Here's a short list of all the institutions/websites I frequent with at least moderate regularity that force me to keep track of a username and password:

Auto Insurance website

Credit Card website

My bank's website

My cellphone company's website

Health insurance website

Student loan website

Online class website




Shutterfly (yes, we do both-- one for business, one for pleasure. Yowza!)


Work email



And, of course

And Icerocket, the blog tracking software I use so that I know when I am visited by Guelph, Ontario or Fishers, Indiana or Elmhurst, Illinois. Hi, y'alls! I see you!

And that's just a sampling of websites that require username and password entry. There are at least eight or nine that I have to use for work purposes that I can frequently never remember. I just had to ask my boss how to log into the Theatre Alliance website because I couldn't remember the username and password. Pretty sad.

But, seriously, how's a brotha supposed to keep track of all his skeez like that? Are we supposed to write it all down, every username and every password for all our websites-- even our financial institutions and such, so that any petty pilferer or day laborer who happens to be working in our house can access anything and everything online? I know we're not supposed to make all our usernames and passwords exactly the same, because then, one someone has one, they have them all.


This isn't just me, right?

So, I make them slightly different, but then I can never remember which variant of which username or password goes with what website. And, of course, the credit card website is the one I can never remember, and it's one of the few websites that, if you get it wrong three times, sorry! You're locked out until tomorrow. Try again, please.

How did it come to this? Sure, usernames and passwords are good ideas in theory, but sometimes all this security blows up in our faces when we try to pay our credit card bill online. We ought to be rewarded for "going green" and getting paperless statements-- instead we're forced to commit to memory dozens of usernames and passwords until they start leaking out of our ears. I mean, yeah, we're young and virile now, but as Generation Y or whatever the fuck we are ages, we're never going to be able to remember all this shit.

Will "Password Retrieval Services" start springing up all over the place, created by some enterprising bastard wishing to capitalize off the graying of America's online generation? Will websites start charging you a dollar every time you can't remember your password, like your R.A. used to do when you couldn't find your dorm room key?

Speaking of higher education, I think the first online password I ever created was in college. This demonstrates how old I am. My freshman year, I was shoved in a cramped dorm room with a shoulder-tufted leviathan who grunted instead of speaking, showered in Aqua Velva and possessed a remarkably cro-magnon forehead. The dorm building was one of the oldest on the campus, the windows only opened a crack, there was no air conditioning and the floors were movie theatre sticky. The dorm's name was Walz.

My online password for all of freshman year?


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Big News From the Auto World

You may have missed this latest news story from the world of automobilia. That's understandable as there has been a lot of news lately stemming from automobiles, both their manufacture and their sales.

We've got a lot of headlines emanating lately from the world of hybrid and/or electric cars-- the pleasant newbie the Honda Insight is competing feverishly with the third generation Toyota Prius for the hybrid hearts and minds of America. Chevrolet is still promising us the Volt, but it remains to be seen if it will deliver in time to save the planet. Gasoline and crude oil prices are fluctuating with all the haphazard unpredictability of a crack addict. Saab has just been sold. Chrysler is going to be building Fiat's pint-sized 500 in Mexico. Ford is breaking out the pinatas as it plans to revive the Fiesta. And, of course, there's still cash for clunkers, though you'd probably be better off selling your 1995 Chevrolet Caprice on Ebaymotors the way things are going with government funding.

And so, with so much car-related news out there to assimilate and digest, it's completely forgivable that you didn't catch the latest headline to come out of the car world. Well, that's what I'm here for-- to bring you up to speed. And it's good you're here, because this isn't an article you could read in U.S. News & World Report, Car & Driver or even Peugeot Station Wagon Quarterly. No, this is only a piece you can read about on My Masonic Apron which, of course, is Your Masonic Apron, too. Here's the news:


That's right, folks. You heard it here first. Now go Twitter your friends' tussies and tell them.

Here's the full report:

AP Wire Service - Since 1972, when General Motors began outfitting their Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham sedans with tufted, crushed velour seats, and speedometers that topped out at 85mph, the Cadillac has officially been the slowest-moving vehicle on the streets of America. The Cadillac's propensity to be driven by elderly widows and widowers at an average speed of 13 miles-per-hour below any posted speed limit has been unmatched by any other vehicle, not even the Lincoln Town Car, which has consistently come in a distant second place in clinical trials since 1984. The Cadillac, it seemed, would forever remain the barge of the road.

But all that is changing.

According to research statistics from the University of Georgia's Vehicle Dynamics Division report issued Thursday, data analyzed from traffic cameras, state police speed radar and VASCAR data, driver input and research gathered from 4500 American cities and towns, the Toyota Camry has officially overtaken all Cadillac products as the slowest moving vehicle in the United States. Professor Edwin S. Van Hooten explains the significance of this study's outcome,

"The importance of this finding cannot be overstated-- or understated, for that matter. This is the first time in America's history that a foreign car has attained the distinction of being the car that is driven the slowest on virtually every street in America. Our researchers were simply stunned at this outcome-- why, do you realize that, even in Pompano Beach, where the Cadillac Sedan DeVille and the Seville have been almost completely unchallenged in the realm of slowness, the Camry came in a shocking 4.7 miles slower, on average, than either of those Cadillacs. The Camry even ranked slower than Cadillac hearses actively engaged in funeral processions."

The Toyota Camry was also found to be 7 times as likely to be driven straight for an extended period of time with its left turn signal blinking than any Cadillac vehicle, surprising the University of Georgia researchers, and many police officers.

"Well, when I heard that statistic, that just blew me away," said Cpl. Thomas Phillips of the Clagmore County, TX Sheriff's Department. "Whenever we needed more money to fund vests or new radios or whatever, I used to just park on the side of the road and wait for a Cadillac to come lumbering down with its blinker on for no reason-- we made quota in two weeks. Now, though, it's a different story. I've nailed sixteen Camry drivers for that in just two days. Now that's mad money, baby. We're building an addition onto the squad house and all the patrol units are going to be housed in a heated garage!"

Salesmen at Toyota dealerships across the country do not seem altogether surprised by this new research finding. Car salesman Chet Atkins of Minasquea Toyota in Iowa speaks bluntly,

"Look, I haven't sold a Camry to someone whose hairline wasn't receeding or their pants weren't full of dookie yet. These Hermans and Hagithas just ain't spending the dough on a Cad anymore. Grampie's 401-K's gone like yesterday's Cracklin' Oat Bran. They want a silver Cam with gray interior, and I've got forty-six of them. Come 'an get 'em, pops."

Indeed, evidence accrued by the University of Georgia study seems to support Atkins' anecdotal claim: the number of car-buyers opting for the Toyota Camry fall into the 68-92 year-old-age bracket. In independent surveys, 87% of Camary buyers stated that Calvin Coolidge was the last American president they trusted, 75% reported that they could no longer velcro their own shoes, and an overwhelming majority of Camry owners, 94%, stated that there were "too many lumps in their oatmeal."

What "Debit Card Trap?"

An editorial appeared in the New York Times today which cast debit cards in a very negative light. I was initially surprised and hurt by this, as I have debit card. And I love it. It's my flat little bubbie.

It just sits there in my wallet, an innocuous piece of plastic with raised letters and numbers (and no, I won't tell you what they are, you little thievy-poo) and I've never had any reason to think that, one day, my debit card and its sisters, cousins and aunts would be villified in the pages of the New York Times.

But I guess I should have expected it-- everyone and everything gets villified in there at some point, doesn't it?

But actually the editorial wasn't about debit cards, per se, it was about people who use their debit cards when they have no money left in their checking account. Most transactions will still go through as "approved" with the issuing financial institution encumbering the overdraftee with massive overdraft fines.

Here's my question: so what?

It's pretty easy to avoid overdrafting-- mind your balance. Most of us in the modern era check their balances online. I eyeball all of my checking account transactions on my bank's website approximately once a week. Did this check go through? Were my student loan payments auto-debited? How much money am I spending on chinese food this month? Are there any mysterious debits that I did not authorize, like $587 worth of edible panties from or a $700 anatomically-correct inflatable Warren G. Harding?

I just think it's wise to keep an eye on the shop, you know. That way, I'll know if some pervert has stolen my identity, and I'll also know if I'm getting dangerously close to the figure of naught before I go blow $100 I don't have on bison meat.

I suspect that a lot of people who have to worry about overdrafting and getting slammed with huge fees from their banks run into this problem because they are purchasing things they can't afford. Call me cynical, or a lousy bitch, but I'd be willing to bet that it's true. If you're making $11-an-hour, you probably shouldn't be downloading a dozen ringtones each week for your brand-new iPhone. Maybe you don't really need that 52 inch flatscreen mounted on your wall. Maybe you could brew your coffee at home instead of Starfuxing it up every morning so you can stare at the barista's rock-hard tits.

Living within our means is not part of the American Dream, but it should be. Being responsible about our money isn't part of the American notion of "fun" and "devil-may-care" but it isn't hard and, face it, it's part of growing up. You want to sit around and write columns in the NYT pissing and moaning and whining about how the big, bad bank hurts your feelings with big overdraft charges? Hey-- Big Bad Bank, Inc. didn't tell you to go spend money you don't have.

Checking your bank statement may seem boring, but, once you get into the habit of doing it, it becomes a habit, like everything else-- and you'll feel better once you've started doing it. No more surprises, no more scary fines, no more worrying or wondering if you have enough funds to cover a transaction.

The New York Times disagrees, saying, "Banks must be required to warn customers in real time when a debit card charge will overdraw their accounts — and what fees they will incur if they still decide to proceed with the purchase."

Oh, really?

So the bank is now my mommy or my daddy, reminding me how much allowance they're giving me? Fuck that-- I'm supposed to know how much I have in my back pocket. I hate to sound all Republican here, but whatever happened to personal responsibility? Why can't grown up motherfuckers like you and me be expected to know the balances of our own finances? If we're really that incompetent, then we shouldn't be allowed to have checking accounts and savings accounts and debit cards and credit cards in the first place. I suspect, though, that most of us are competent enough to watch over our own funds-- I just think a lot of us are too goddamn lazy to do it, and we feel better pointing the finger at the bank for punishing us when we do the wrong thing. Because, hey-- we're young, hip, attractive, on-the-go, plugged-in, text-happy, tech-savvy Americans, and we're just not responsible. Who has the time to check their balances in between frappaccino meetings and Samsung evenings?

Well, guess what? We should be more responsible and we should be held accountable. "Know your limit" isn't just good advice for boozies at the bar. It's good advice for all of us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Whoa, Nelly! Shove a Twinkie in Your Belly 'Cuz it's DEAR APRON TIME!

Welcome to the DEAR APRON column, where I take letters written into Dear Abby, and put my own unique, abusive, unorthodox and decidedly unhelpful spin on things. Enjoy!

DEAR APRON: I have an embarrassing dilemma. I have a baby with a man I am no longer with. Our romance ended before I knew I was pregnant. He is not in our lives anymore -- his decision. I have moved on and am now in a solid, loving relationship.

My problem is my OB/GYN has always been under the impression that my child's biological father and I are together and that we're married. The father attended some of the obstetrical appointments with me and was even there for the birth.

When my doctor initially referred to him as "my husband," I didn't correct him because I didn't feel I needed to spill the beans about such a personal issue. But now when I go for my annual examinations, he always asks me how "my husband" is. I feel it's too late to say, "Oh, by the way, he was never my husband" since I didn't correct him to begin with.

I need a graceful way to finally tell my doctor that we were never married, especially since I am now involved with a different man whom I plan on marrying and will eventually have another child with. Please help me find the words. -- STUCK -- DOWN SOUTH


The baby's father is your brother, isn't it?

Come on, don't fuck with me, Beulah. That's the real reason why you didn't want to say anything to your OB/GYN, isn't it?

Look-- it may be 2009, but it's still "Down South," n'yah mean? What's the big deal? Your OB/GYN wouldn't mind or be critical of your decision to have your brother Enus sire your baby. It's all good in the hood. Besides, I'm sure your OB/GYN realized something was up when your baby was born with toenails for eyelids.

But, hey, if you're still feeling really weird about it, the next time that white-coat asks you how your husband's doing, just say, "Him? He's dead."

Lastly, my best wishes to you, the baby, and your uncle. I hope you will all be very happy together.

DEAR APRON: We are hoping you can settle a small dispute. My husband and I have a soon-to-be 2-year-old. Her birthday is next month, and we will be celebrating at a local park with lots of kids from work and day care.

Is it OK to offer beer and wine to the parents? The park officials have no issue with it. There is an alcohol permit to sign, which includes no hard liquor and no drinks to be taken off premises. We will abide by park rules. We just want to know -- is it OK to have alcohol at a child's birthday party? We will wait to see what you have to say. -- PARTY PLANNER IN COLORADO


Absolutely! I cannot imagine a better scenario than a bunch of toddlers be-bopping around a public place with playground equipment, monkey bars, and possibly a small creek all while being observed by a bunch of inebriated, cavorting adults!

Tap that keg!

And I mean, heck, why stop at simple alcohol? I would certainly check out the local 4am streetcorners to see if some blow or E could be obtained for this festive event. While you're out shopping, make sure to stop by 7-Eleven to pick up some condoms so the couples can engage in some safe wife-swapping in the bushes while the kiddos choke on their hot-dogs.

To finish off the event just right, why not pull out some 9mm handguns and shoot apples off the birthday boy's head?

This sounds like some party-- don't forget to send me the E-vite!

DEAR APRON: Is it now acceptable to clip one's fingernails in the workplace?

I work in an office with cubicles, and I hear some of my co-workers (mainly men) clipping their nails! Isn't this a task that should be performed in one's bathroom at home? Am I the only person who thinks this is gross? -- GROSSED OUT IN RICHMOND, TEXAS


Yes, you are the only person who thinks this is gross. Isn't it great to be unique?

Now go fuck yourself while I put my fingernail clippings in your coffee cup and rub my crusty asshole all over your cubicle.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Open Letter to Important Documents That Are Somewhere In My House

Dear Important Documents That Are Somewhere In My House,

Where the fuck are you?

Our first monthly payment for the new Honda Fit that my wife is so enjoying is due on the 23rd, and I cannot find the paperwork for the sale of the car. You, Important Documents That Are Somewhere In My House, are that paperwork, and I would like to find you so I know how much money to give the mean bankie peoples.

I know you're in a blue folder, but that doesn't help me much.

I did find one blue folder, but its contents were prototypes for our wedding invitations, and that was, like, three years ago and stuff.

Those were important documents then, and they still are kind of important, but, right at this current moment, the vehicle sale documents with the monthly payment amount are a little more important.

So, I once again reiterate my interrogative statement issued at the start of this letter:

Where the fuck are you?

Are you hiding in the basement, perhaps thrown down there by in the hasty attempt to make this house presentable for my mother-in-law? Perhaps you are lingering coquettishly under the mountains of fabric and stuffed animals that are piled up like the Leaning Tower of Pisa in our office.

Maybe. I don't know.

It is distinctly possible that I deliberately placed you somewhere specific, to avoid this very dilemma, but, if that is so, I have no recollection of so doing, which is very inconvenient. I realize that I should probably be spending more time looking for these papers and less time writing an open letter to them, but I don't feel great, and writing open letters exerts a lot less energy than physically moving things and sifting through endless mounds of crap that I've already looked through seven times.

I also realize that I could just call the bank and see how much we owe, and will most likely end up doing that, but I would really like to find those Important Documents That Are Somewhere In My House, just as a matter of personal pride, really. I would check the filing cabinet, but there's really no point. Why would they be in there?

Incidentally, have you seen our new boxes of checks? I know we ordered 300 checks in late July because we ran out and realized we needed one to pay the mortgage, and that was kind of a frantic little problem.

"Oh, no problem," I said to my wife, "we'll just go to our bank and they'll issue a temporary check."

Yeah, our bank doesn't do that apparently.

So, Important Documents That Are Somewhere In My House, I'd like to know where those checks are, so I can pay the real estate taxes and the water bill. Oh, and the car payment, once I figure out how fucking much that sumbitch is.

I wish things like this wouldn't keep hiding from me. Last month, when we were thinking of going to Canada, I was almost compelled to write an open letter to our passports, but my wife located them before it came to that.

So listen, Important Documents That Are Somewhere In My House, you cannot hide from me forever. I know that. I can wait you out. I've got an endless supply of Caffeine Free Diet Coke, Boca Burgers and Newman-O's. What the fuck do you have?

I mean, besides information that I desperately need.

And my blue folder.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Prescribing Information

If you ever want to scare the happy shit out of yourself, read the "Prescribing Information" for any prescription drug you happen to be taking.

My mother-in-law was visiting this weekend, so, consequently, I spent an inordinate amount of time locked in the bathroom. With scant reading material from which to choose, I decided to open up a trial sample of Xopenex, my rescue inhaler, and read the prescribing information. I'll never feel the need to watch a horror film in the dark ever again.

First off, there's the stuff I didn't understand, which is good, because you can't be scared of what you don't understand. For example, the following:

"The active component of Xopenex HFA (levalbuterol tartrate) Inhalation Aerosol is levalbuterol tartrate, the (R)-enantiomer of albuterol. Levalbuterol tartrate is a relatively selective beta2-adrenrgic receptor agonist. Levalbuterol tartrate has the chemical name (R)-(x1-[[(1,1 -dimethylethyl)amino]methyl]-4-hydroxy-1,3-benzenedimethanol L-tartrate(2:1 salt)."

Oh. Okay.

My 10th grade chemistry teacher drove to work in a rusted-out Chevrolet Chevette, wore broken glasses held together with scotch-tape and opined regularly on the joys of "butt-bumping," so, needless to say the aforementioned jargon holds no meaning for me whatsoever.

If you turn the paper over, you'll read about the joys of drug interactions, complications, side effects, the ability of the drug to be excreted in breast milk and, now my personal favorite: "Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, and Imprairment of Fertility." Ready?

"In a 2-year study in Sprague-Dawley rats, racemic albuterol sulfate caused a significant dose-related increase in the incidence of benign leiomyomas of the mesovarium at, and above, dietary doses of 2mg/kg/day (approximately 30 times the maximum recommended daily inhalation dose of levalbuterol tartrate for adults on a mg/m2 basis and approximately 15 times the maximum recommended daily inhalation dose of levalbuterol tartrate for children on a mg/m2 basis)."

There are also discussions of this product being used on "Golden hamsters, mice, pregnant rats, rabbits and dogs." 5 out of 111 of the mice born to mothers who used my inhaler were born with cleft palate. They will be teased in school.

I also enjoy the side-effects portion of the informational packet, because now I think I have all of them, even though I use this inhaler maybe eight times a year:

"cyst, flu syndrome, viral infection, constipation, gastroenteritis, myalgia, hypertension, epistaxsis, lung disorder, acne, herpes simplex, conjunctivitis, ear pain, dysmenorrhea, hematuria, and vaginal monilasis."

Yes, I even think I have that.

Funnily enough, they also include "asthma" as a possible side-effect stemming from the use of this inhaler.

People usually think about "TMI" as your co-worker telling you about the time she found poop schmear on her thong bikini in Key West or the time you jerked off your high school boyfriend nine times in one weekend and his cock bled all over your parent's sheets, but TMI comes in all shapes and sizes, and, sometimes, it comes in a levalbuterol tartrate suspension.

I like to stay informed, and, as a former healthcare professional, I enjoy conversing with medical professionals on a relatively intelligent level, but, really, there's no reason for anybody to read their prescribing information, unless they're particularly starved for a way to pass the time in the bathroom. Just know that, after you read it, you may very well wish you hadn't.

I just hope that, the next time I'm in the midst of an asthma attack, I don't start thinking about chemical compounds or Smoot-Hawley rats with fucked up mouths.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's August 15th

I used to wear a watch that showed the month and the day, but I don't anymore. I'm fickle that way. I've switched to a Bulova wristwatch from the 1940s, which I bought for myself as a present last year for starting a job that only lasted a month, and ended ingloriously. I still wear the Bulova, though.

It has a simple face, with no month or date, so, oftentimes, I don't know what date we're all on-- I'm often on a different one than you. Without that constant reminder, it's easy to lose track.

When I went to the pharmacy to pick up my asthma medication, I glanced down at the signature pad before signing my name and saw that it was August 15th today. I thought for a moment about what was significant about August 15th and nothing specific came to me, though I knew it was something. An hour or so later, I realized it was my best friend's birthday.

But we haven't spoken since May, so it doesn't really matter.

We had a falling out that is inevitable amongst certain types of male friends-- a fight about the other one's girlfriend. It wasn't what you're thinking-- that I wanted to sleep with her or something like that. I just confessed that I didn't trust her, and that, in my best friend's mind, concluded our friendship-- a friendship that began in 4th grade, petered out in high school, and then reignited in college when we discovered that we were living in the same dorm, and had carried on ever since. Until May.

I don't know if he's going to read this post or not, and it doesn't really matter anyway. I wish I could call my friend and wish him a happy birthday, but we all know I'm not going to do that. I want to wish things could go back to the way they were before, but I don't really know which "before" I'd be wishing for, so I just won't. Wishing doesn't get you much these days anyway, I find.

Life without a best friend is strange once you've had one for many years, but you adapt. There is, of course, no replacement for a best friend, just like there is no cure for a broken heart, but the days and nights keep rolling along and we do our little thing in spite of our loss. There isn't really a day that goes by where I don't think about him, at least once. At least fleetingly. In truth, it scares me, though, how ambivalent I've grown about the loss, and it scares me too to think about how ambivalent he has most likely grown as well, as he has adapted and moved on, too.

Thinking back on it, our friendship was probably more volatile and more succeptible to collapse than I realized. We had huge fights and falling outs in the past, and we are both extraordinarily truculent and hot-headed, making apologies hard to come by.

I don't know who was right and who was wrong in our final argument, and I don't care either. Somebody speculated recently that, when his relationship ends he will come back to me, but I don't necessarily want either of those events to occur. I want him to be happy, with or without her, and with or without me.

They say you need friends to survive in this world, but I don't really know if that's true. Maybe they're just nice to have, like leather seats in your car. Part of me can't believe I'm saying that after burying my oldest friend's brother on Thursday, and part of me can. Maybe it's just the depression talking. But, if I were more upbeat, it would probably just be the Xanax talking, and I only treat my asthma.

When this falling out first happened, I thought it was a great tragedy to lose your best friend, but I've come to realize that, while it's still a tragedy, it's not so great. It's just one of those things. What we're so afraid of losing sometimes, I feel, is the history, and all the history is still there, it's just that looking at memories is a little more abstract now. Remembering my past used to be like looking at a Wyeth painting, now it's kind of like looking at a Picasso-- it's still beautiful, but it's also a little fucked up. You have to struggle to look through the weird colors and shapes. It's not so pleasant or so easy to sit back and remember anymore.

Soon it won't be August 15th anymore, and that will be okay with me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Friendships Like These

"What was the grave like?" she asked me.

I sat there, dumbfounded, fingering the edge of the clear glass coffee mug that sat on the table in front of me.

"Um... I... I don't know."

That was all I could say, or wanted to say. I was afraid of giving too much detail, of saying the wrong thing. Of making her cry. After all, she watched us bury him, from a very far distance, she watched us. I saw her, as I jabbed my shovel into the huge dirt pile, I lifted my head up to clear some sweat from my brow, and I saw her, standing right next to her mother. They were both wearing white shirts and lime green headscarves, and they stood there, in front of all the other women, watching us bury her younger brother.

"Yeah, my mom and I had a big fight about it this morning," she said about her clothes. She had walked into the room this morning dressed in black.

"You can't wear that to the funeral," her mother said to her. This prompted an email that all of us received at 9:00 this morning:

Subject: "Clothes for Today"

Message: "anyone who is coming today please try to wear something white. sorry I didn't tell you this earlier, my mom just told me and now I have nothing to wear."

I, of course, had been dressed in my black suit since 6:30, but had time to run home and change into a white and blue seersucker suit, which had stains on it. Of course, it didn't matter. Nobody was going to be looking at my stains, or me. It was a funeral, for Christ's sake, not a fashion show. And my poor friend, who had a clothing fight with her mom on the day of her brother's funeral, showed up in a plain white t-shirt, with a huge brown stain. What did it matter anyway?

We get hung up on these things, I suppose, because the minutae is easier. It distracts us, it's something else to get involved in besides the tremendous, unbearable pain of losing someone so young, so talented, so intelligent, so genuine. The clothes, the rituals, the food, the driving directions. Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu. Whatever. A loss is a loss, and we are all diminshed.

I did not know him well at all-- I cannot remember the last time I saw him-- maybe at his mother's marriage to his step-father, maybe one time after that. I don't know. I went for his sister, because she has been my friend since 3rd grade. They lived four doors down from my parents' house and we shared a bus stop, back in the days when she would steal my glasses and we would chase each other around the neighborhood. We played in her house and searched in vain for her four escaped hamsters-- all were found when they moved, all were quite dead. I remember playing with her brother, too, the brother I helped bury today. Many many years ago, I borrowed a plastic police constable's helmet from him and it never found its way back to him. I wore it for Halloween a couple years ago when my wife and I went as police constable and prostitute, and were handcuffed together.

His sister and I stayed friends even though she went to a different high school, and we wrote letters to each other when she lived in Abu Dhabi for a little while, back when people wrote letters to each other. It wasn't the closest friendship, and it got less close after she moved to the west coast. It's the kind of friendship where, when she calls me, I pretty much know it's bad news. So, I should have known that, on Sunday afternoon when her name showed up on my cellphone that it was bad news. We had company over, so I didn't pick it up, and she didn't leave a voicemail. Twenty minutes later, she called again, and I knew. I quietly excused myself and texted her from the upstairs bathroom.

"Hey, I can't really talk right now. Are you okay?"

A minute or so went by.

"Yeah im ok. I just wanted to let you know my brother died yesterday. The funeral will be in philly this wk so i can let you know the details if you want to come."

There are friendships like these, and I am just as grateful for her friendship as I am for any other one that I have, because it's just as real and just as important. I don't like going to funerals, and I like actually burying people even less, but this is what it is to love someone and to share a past, and to be the one who's chosen to hold the pocketbook while she goes and hugs distant relatives. The phrase "the guy holding the bag" is often said in a derogatory way, but it can be an honor sometimes, too.

I'm glad today's over. I just wish I'd picked up the phone the first time on Sunday.

"Was it just a big hole?"

"Um, yes," I said, "and there was a wooden frame around it, inside."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Naked Marriage

My sister got married today.

She got married in judge's chambers, at approximately 4:00pm this afternoon. I was at home, having just walked the dog, and was in the process of trying to decide whether to take an online quiz about Poe, Melville and Dickinson, or masturbate. Today, the scholar in me won out. And I suppose it's better that I was engaged in an innocuous, studious act at the moment my sister was getting married-- better ju-ju and all that.

I never imagined that my sister would get married and I wouldn't be there. Then again, I never thought my sister would ever get married, and I certainly never thought that my sister would be eight-and-a-half months pregnant. My mother says that she saw it coming for years, but she also said that about September 11th. Well, perhaps I lack my mother's foresight/prognostication skills, but nevertheless, here we were, tonight, at 5:00pm, on the back deck of my sister's new in-laws, my sister as big as a zeppelin, celebrating a marriage that occurred with bewildering speed. I was informed that it was happening last Friday, and, Tuesday night-- kaboom.

My mother, my other sister, my wife and I were all there as my father made a semi-coherent speech that managed to embarrass just about every single person present. Being Israeli, it's remarkable what he gets away with. My side of the family all held glasses of champagne from which we all pretended to sip after the marathon toast was completed. From the moment we arrived, the groom's four-year-old son bombarded his father, my sister's new husband, with one question over and over again,

"Can I take off all my clothes now?"

After the photographs were taken, his request was granted and he careened through the evening's festivities in nothing but a pair of olive-drab colored Osh-Kosh underpants.

The boy wasn't the only one celebrating this naked marriage. My sister's now exceedingly ample breasts were positively valoomping out of her blouse. It was easily the most naked wedding celebration I'd ever attended, but then, I've never been to a wedding in New Orleans.

People we appropriate, by and large. There were certainly elephants in the room a-plenty, there was even a bichon that was the size of an elephant. This fucking thing looked like more of a basset hound than a bichon, and more of an ottoman than a dog. But, in spite of the elephants and the fetuses and the things left unsaid and the sidewards glances and the whispered side conversations and the groomly debates about what to call my father, things went pretty smoothly. The kid provided ample entertainment via streaking and beating the holy shit out of a starter child's drum set in the living room. As I watched him cavorting around in his underwear, enjoying himself the way four-year-olds can, barely aware that anything significant occurred today at 4pm that will change his life forever, I was seized with a palpable desire to be him, or at least his age. I wanted to run up and down the driveway in my Osh-Kosh underpants playing wall-ball with the kids next door, or giving my broken Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots to my grandfather for a quick repair. I wanted to not give a hoot in hell about what was going on with the adults in the room-- all the drama, all the tension, all the questions and the doubts and the bullshit because, as much as I like to say "I don't care" about what my sister does or how all the stupid things she does and the irrational, ill-advised choices she makes are inconsequential to me, well, that just isn't true.

I do care.

I just wish that sometimes I had the excuse of being four-years-old. Or even Israeli.

I don't know how things are going to turn out for my sister, or her new husband, or her new step-son, or her soon-to-be-born child, but I care about how things will turn out. I expressed some concerns about what was happening to my mother on the phone and she said, "It will all work out."

"You mean that we're all going to die?"

"Jesus Christ," she said.

I can't help being morbid. I've always been that way. I've always obsessed about death, ever since I was old enough to know what it was, and probably before that. Tonight, my mother asked my sister's new husband how old the furniture dog was.

"Eleven," she answered, then remarking that the life-expectancy of a bichon was around 15 years.

"Oh, well don't think about it," my mother sagely advised, which I found very funny.

"Yeah," I said, "I never do."

And then I thought about what I'd said when I saw no reaction from my sister's new mother-in-law. She was meeting me for the very first time, didn't know me from Hell's bartender. Anyone who knows me would have cracked up at my saying I never thought about death, or they would have at least given me a knowing smile. It's funny how you can lie, stone-faced to people who don't know you, and they have no idea. One day, I hope that she gets to know me, to know all of us, better.

I hope a lot of things, for my sister, for her husband, for their kids. I hope it all works out, and not just in the end.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Public Indecency

Have you ever seen someone do something that just positively blew your mind, left you slack-jawed and thunderstruck and, at the same time, completely and utterly disgusted?


Think back to college, Old Head.

You'll remember the R.A. who, stumbling back to the dorms positively blind-drunk opened your hall-mate's sweater drawer and pissed all over the woolen contents residing therein. You'll remember the jock who, also blissfully and inebriated, mistook the sink for the toilet and took a volcanic shit inside of it. Want to wash your hands? Surprise!

You'll no doubt recall multiple incidents of inappropriate expulsion of bodily fluids. That's what college is all about. Well, that and losing your virginity, which also involves an expulsion of bodily fluids, and usually an inappropriate one, considering the partner/receptacle.

Tonight, though, far away from the college I attended, and indeed far away from anybody remotely college-aged, I witnessed a sight that shocked and horrified me, and brought me right back to the puerile and bold-faced immaturity that are hallmarks of college freshmen nationwide.

These behaviors tonight, however, were exhibited, or I should perhaps say "exhibitioned" by an eight-year-old.

When I first saw this child in JoAnn Fabrics tonight, I immediately judged him to be a descendent from the proud and prevalent White Trash Tradition. See, he wore a mohawk. Now, I know, I'm mean and judgmental and everything but, seriously, when you allow your eight-year-old to have a mohawk, well, he's white trash and so are you. Sorry. I felt bad about passing judgment on this trashy little bastard. Well, a little bit. But, that's what we do, and there's really nothing wrong with passing judgment on people. We do it all the time, and it's a self-preservation device. Our judgment/instincts tell us who we can trust, who we feel is going to rape us, who we can take advantage of, who we can use big words in front of, who we can privately admire/deride. My step-grandmother uses her judgment to determine with whom she can safely share the sidewalk.

"This black man was following me home from the store," she said to my parents one time years ago.

"What did you do?" my mother asked.

"I crossed the street."

Anyway, so I knew from the start that this kid belonged to a white trash family. His mother was a dumpass-- stringy hair haphazardly flying this way and that, father was balding-- his mohawk days long gone, and the two daughters had farmer's tans. Classic.

We were all at the framing counter, and I was standing behind Roseanne Barr and her family. We were all drawn to the framing counter by the 60% off coupon. My wife and I had just inherited a piece of bizarre artwork drawn during possible stages of dementia by our friend's mother using paint marker. The piece of artwork is wildly colored and crazily patterned with all kinds of lunatic geometric shapes and floral patterns and it looks like a kaleidoscope on acid and meth. Our friend had hundreds of them and I made the mistake of admiring one of her mother's pieces on the wall of their house, and so, of course, we ended up with one.

"Thank you," I said.

"You won't be thanking me when you go to get it framed."

She was right. An irregular size, requiring UV-free glass because of the unorthodox materials used to create the painting, the bill came to $233 before presentation of the coupon, still not cheap.

Before I could even get up to the counter, though, I had to wait for Roseanne, her husband and her kids harrass the framing lady with their own especially wacko framing request. Those coupons just bring in all the weirdos, I guess. The little boy with the mohawk kept turning around and staring at me. Ordinarily, when kids look at me, I wave. This kid, though, received only an uncomfortable glower from me. His parents were taking up a lot of my time, monopolizing the framing counter and they were trashy. I, standing there in my linen trousers, dress shirt, silver pocket-watch chain and expensive shoes, deserved to glower at this be-mohawked child in his tiny wife-beater.

"If you ever graduate high school," I mused while staring him down, "you will be voted 'Most Likely to Be Tased'."

Later on in the evening, after my wife acquired some fabric and we went to the counter to pay, we were standing behind Roseanne, her husband, and one of the daughters. I wondered where the pint-sized miscreant and his other sister went off to. Probably copulating in the fleece aisle, I thought. But I soon saw them, riding the escalators up, and then down, and then up, and then down, until the JoAnn clerk at the cash register asked the mother to tell them to stop. I love it when store employees are forced to compel parents to, well, parent their children.

Unfortunately, there were no eagle-eyed JoAnn employees, or police officers present in the parking lot when my wife and I got into our car. As I started it, I peered out over the steering wheel and the sight I saw stopped me completely. My jaw dropped, literally. I couldn't believe, barely could I process and then report what was happening.

"Oh my God."

"What? What?" my wife asked, thinking maybe something was wrong with our car.

"He's pissing on the car! He's pissing on the car! He's pissing on the car!"

And, indeed he was. My wife looked just in time to catch an arc of urine, cresting gently through the air, splashing all over the gold-colored wheel of a white Acura Legend, parked two rows in front of us. It took me a second to realize that I recognized the tire-pisser. It was the mohawk child, and he was grinning his very naked ass off, his shorts around his ankles as his parents and sisters were entering the car. The parents weren't reprimanding or discouraging. The sisters weren't razzing him or chastising him. It was just a pretty blase affair to this brood.

I, though, was shocked. He was pissing all over his own family's car. I don't know what's worse, really-- pissing on your family's car, or pissing on somebody else's car. I mean, pissing on somebody else's car is a crime. Pissing on your own car is just retarded. Especially when there are restrooms inside JoAnn Fabrics for customers' use. I know. I've used them. They're perfectly adequate, especially for children with mohawks.

My wife waved at him, and he pulled up his shorts, only mildly embarrassed. What did he think: he had an invisibility cloak?

I wanted to go find a policeman, but I didn't know exactly what I would say. I didn't want to get the kid in trouble, I wanted to get the parents in trouble, though, very much. I couldn't imagine what kind of people would think allowing their eight-year-old child to let loose a hot, steaming stream of piss all over the family car in a public place is an appropriate thing to do. I mean, who the fuck are these people? What else do they let this kid do-- shit in the neighbors' mailboxes? Fart inside the dog's ear while he sleeps? I mean, once you're allowed to piss on the family car in the JoAnn parking lot, you're pretty much capable of anything.

Watching this kid urinate in public reminded me of a time when I had done something similar. I had come home from school on the bus and my mom had not yet returned home. I had to pee extremely badly and I had no idea when she would be back. I was a very nervous child, always petrified of doing the wrong thing, and even more petrified of being caught, and so I surreptitiously as possible found a secluded spot in the back of the house and peed. Knowing that we were upper-middle class Jews and were not ever supposed to do such things, I cried as I relieved myself by the central air conditioning unit behind the house. I knew I was a bad boy, but I didn't feel I had a suitable alternative. I mean, I could have knocked on a neighbors door, but the neighbors on both sides of my parents' house were elderly and weird, and I thought I should take my chances outside.

The next day, after school, I was playing in the living room with my Matchbox cars, racing them along the patterns of the rug when a strange car pulled up in front of our house. It was a dark blue Ford Crown Victoria with tinted windows and four or five long antennae sticking out from its roof and trunk. It had small hubcaps and two spotlamps on the A-pillars. My heart stopped. Even at the tender young age of seven, obsessed as I was with emergency vehicles, I knew an undercover police car when I saw it. The doors opened, and two men emerged, wearing the stereotypical crew-cuts, dark suits and Ray-Ban sunglasses. Positive that I was about to be arrested for my vile, reprehensible actions of the prior afternoon, I raced up to my sister's bedroom and immediately hid under her bed, just scooting underneath the bedskirt, silently weeping as the doorbell rang.

The guys left shortly thereafter, but I wouldn't come out from under the bed for several hours.

Though my mother was finally able to convince me that I wasn't in trouble for peeing outside our house, it was only years later that I learned that the two gentlemen who visited our house that day were there looking to speak to my grandfather, who used to live at our house but had since moved in with my step-grandmother, the one who crossed the street to avoid the stalker. He had owned a small clothing store that, in the 1970s, was frequented by many members of the Testas, a notorious Philadelphia mob family. My grandfather made custom-tailored suits for many members of the Testa family, and the men held informal "business meetings" at my grandfather's store, so, obviously, the FBI wanted to know what was discussed at said gatherings. Besides haberdashery, that is.

As I watched this kid piss all over the wheel of his father's Acura in the JoAnn parking lot, I wished silently that an unmarked police car might happen to visit his parents' home tomorrow, on some other errand, to scare the bejesus out of this little mohawked bastard. But I doubt very much that it would have the same effect on him that it did on me, lo those many years ago. I was a different child than this boy, I knew that for sure-- and it wasn't religion or social standing that made us different. It wasn't his mohawk versus my bowl-cut. It was the fact that, as he did his urine-soaked deed, he smiled.

And I cried.