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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Noted Author & Recluse

When J. D. Salinger died, I realized that I didn't want to be a famous writer anymore.

When I read the article written about him in the local papers, an unfortunate mirror of other articles written about him in other not-so-local papers, all I could do was shake my head. Even at the headline.

"Salinger: Noted Author & Recluse Dies at 91"

Noted author. And recluse.


I suppose it isn't enough that he wrote one of the best-selling, most-beloved books of all times-- thumbed through by hundreds of thousands of middle and high schoolers for decades. Because he shunned the spotlight, he had to be "noted author & recluse." Because we didn't see him on "Entertainment Tonight" and on television endorsing Acme Brand Puppy Chow-- because he didn't choose to bust his ass and sell his soul giving corny-ass lectures at universities and book readings in front of the salivating masses across the country, we slap that label right on his dead, wrinkly ass.


Oh, and then there was the part in the article where is daughter talks about him drinking his own urine. Well, really-- what literary genius isn't a little bit eccentric? I mean, Augusten Burroughs has a dog named "The Cow."

It was a thoroughly disappointing obiturary as obituaries go. It was split into two decidedly unequal parts-- the one about him being a tremendous writer of irrevocable influence on youth and the 20th century, and the one about him shutting himself away from the world in his little hamlet in New Hampshire.

Sipping blithely on his own pee-pee, apparently.

My guess is that, if J. D. Salinger had died thirty or forty years ago, his obituary would have read very differently. The press wasn't as salacious, we the public didn't have such a voracious, insatiable appetite for slander and filth and pornography, literal or figurative. The man would have been lauded as a literary great, a master of the pen, and maybe the sentence, "He was content to live his life apart from everyday society in his small home in New Hampshire."

And that probably would have been that.

I just don't understand what the point is in becoming a great, vaunted genius if, after you die, they're going to make you into some kind of perverted degenerate, as if he ate a constant diet of blue food coloring so he could throw up on himself every morning and shout, "THE FLOOD OF BLUEBERRIES IS UPON US!" into a megaphone to wake up the entire neighborhood. I mean, Jesus-- all the guy wanted was a little privacy from a socially retarded world-- the world that invented "Throw Mama From the Train," college football, "American Idol," the made-for-TV miniseries, sweaters for dogs, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Can you blame the bastard?

If you took some time to think very seriously about the world in which we live and function, trust me, son-- you'd go running for New Hampshire to some basement where you could sit, shivering, with a wool blanket over your head.

Maybe Salinger was trying to escape the ridiculous convention of the media. Well, it was abundantly clear that, after his death, it found him just the same.

They say that denying people something just makes them want whatever it is even more. This is probably true-- take a look at children. Tell them over and over and over that they can't touch the stove and watch how many of them wind up with coil ring-shaped imprints branded to their palms and the words "General Electric" on their faces. Salinger denied the world his presence, and his comments on day to day happenings, something that a megalomaniac like Mark Twain could never have permitted. Even when he was too sick and tired to walk, he summoned newspaper reporters to his bedside so they could record his daily dose of witticism. But Salinger didn't want that. And people sought it out anyway.

People like my high school writing teacher.

I think he was of Polish descent-- his last name was thoroughly unpronouncable, ending in wicz or some combination of those letters-- so we called him "Mr. O." Mr. O was a peculiar fellow, wearing his eyeglasses down on the very tip of his nose, with the lenses tilted down and almost pointed directly at the floor, so that the frames were almost always falling off his face. Somehow they never did, leaving me to suspect that Velcro was somehow involved. Mr. O had legendary pit stains and an bodily odor that bordered on the post-mortem. His hair resembled a graying birds nest, haphazard and sticking up in places and his moustache bore specks of food and tiny shavings of wood, presumably because he enjoyed gnawing on pencils.

I don't remember much of what Mr. O taught us, but I do remember a few anecdotes. He told us that, for one year, he stopped speaking-- to anybody. I remember a fellow classmate of mine asking if it was for any sort of religious reason. Mr. O replied no, that he just wanted to see if he could do it, and that he realized he didn't have very much to say to anybody.

I also distinctly remember him telling us (I don't remember, though, how it came up) of his unquenchable love for popcorn.

"If there was a bag of popcorn sitting right on the edge of a cliff, and my wife was also hanging off the edge of that same cliff," he told us one day, "I'd go for the bag of popcorn."

The only other thing I remember about Mr. O was him telling us about the time that he stalked his favorite writer, J. D. Salinger. Somehow he'd found out Salinger's address (these things were a lot harder to do in the 1970s) and he drove up to the town where Salinger lived. He stocked up on tinned tuna and chicken and other necessities, purchased camouflage facepaint, covered himself in it, and hid in Salinger's bushes.

For a week.

Finally, Mr. O told us, he couldn't take it anymore, and he summoned up the nerve to walk up the path and ring the bell of J. D. Salinger's house.

"I couldn't believe that I was about to meet my hero, J. D. Salinger," Mr. O told us. "I crept up the walk, slowly, slowly, and I stood in front of his door for at least ten minutes. And then, finally, my finger reached shakily for that little circle button on the side of his door and, I don't know how I got the nerve to do it, but I pushed it."

"What happened then?" someone in the back of the room asked. Mr. O looked at the kid as if he'd asked a very stupid question. He gave his answer in a manner that would suggest that we all should have been able to predict the outcome of this tale.

"I ran away."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cassette Me Free

The damndest thing happened to me this morning.

I got into my car and started it up, and I looked at the dashboard, maybe for the first time ever, really seeing it. And you know what I realized?

My car has a tape-deck.

This is one of the benefits of owning an almost decade-old car. It's weird, but my 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser kind of straddles the great, vast divide that separates old cars from new cars. Sure, it's got a dent that's covered in rust and it creaks and groans like a Craftmatic Adjustable bed in the early morning, but it's also got side-impact airbags, traction control.

And a tape-deck. And I know that, but it's something that I don't often think about, or ever think about, really, because I don't keep tapes in my car because who does that in 2010 besides annoying, retro-chic people desperately hanging onto their Tretorns and their Umbros and their pathetic, unctuous youth.

And their puff-paint.

I can remember a year or so ago, reconnecting with an old, forgotten friend of mine who's now a big deal musician on the West Coast, and, when I say that he's a big shit musician, I mean that he's got a Pandora station, just so we all know I'm not resorting to hyperbole. When I picked him up at his parent's house, he was dressed in torn plaid pants, old VANS, a ratty-ass pea-coat and a hat that looked like it belonged to a Depression-era railroad conductor. He climbed into my car, stinking to hell of cloves, smoke, and generalized unwashedness, and he was immediately impressed by two things he saw.

"Holy fuck! Your car has a tape-deck! That is SO COOL!"

My eyes glazed over the car's dashboard and I realized that he was indeed correct.

"Oh, yeah, I guess it does." And then he saw my small, blue emergency light that I activate whenever I stop to help some poor bastard who's run his car into something.

"Holy shit! Are you a fucking cop?!"

"Um, no," I said, "I'm an emergency medical technician."

"Oh-- thank God-- 'cause I've got mad bud in my jacket."

And you know what? Even though I hadn't seen him since I was fourteen, if I had been a cop, I would have arrested him-- just for saying the phrase "mad bud" because, really, who the fuck talks like that?

Even that day spent with my old friend, to whom I have not spoken to since, I never gave any thought at all to my tape-deck. Back in 2003, when my wife and I were first dating, I made mixes for her, like all young lovers of my tender generation did. They didn't, however, include songs by "The Counting Crows" or "Matchbox 20." They were tender, sensitive ballads by folk singers like Stan Rogers, Richard Shindell, Patty Griffin, John Gorka, Lucy Kaplansky and Sinead Lohan.

Interspersed with the sprightly, joyful tunes of Sir Arthur Sullivan, of course-- because, let's face it-- I had to let her know exactly what she was getting into here.

But as the years rolled along, and as the mixes I made for her turned to the CD realm, I slowly forgot that the tape-deck even existed. When we moved into our house in February, my wife found a shitload of old audio cassettes in the closet, put them all in a canvas old-lady shopping bag, and packed them away. And, this morning, for some strange reason, I re-realized that my car had a tape-deck, and I remembered that the cassettes were in the bag in the basement, and I wanted them.

All of a sudden, I wanted them.

And this morning, as I was driving to work, listening to scratchy, dull and sweet recordings of songs I hadn't heard in yers, I thought to myself that nostalgia's a funny thing. And I'm not even sure if that's what I was experiencing. Memories didn't come flooding back to me, and I didn't get all sensitive and sentimental or welled up with tears, even though that is my M.O. I was just enjoying the music, and the ride, and the content way the songs made me feel, like I was getting reacquainted with old friends who notice strange objects in my car-- like a blue light or a tape-deck.

And I was even singing along to these long forgotten about songs, harmonizing, as if no time at all had passed. And I thought to myself, shit-- if only it could be that way with old friends.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Honey, Donkey-Punch Me & Call Me a Cab, 'Cuz It's Time for DEAR APRON!

Welcome to Dear Apron-- it's half as fattening as a tub of Philly Cream Cheese, and it's at least one-eighth funnier than Dear Abby.

In short in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral, it is the very model of the advice column you wish had back in the day when the priest was diddling you in the baptismal fount.


I am in my early 40s, and married with two daughters. I have a friend, "Sally," whom I have known since the third grade. We are like sisters. Sally has been profoundly depressed for at least 15 years. She sees a therapist and a psychiatrist on a regular basis and is on medication.

My question, Apron, is what do you say to someone who calls at least once a week, for at least an hour, crying so hard I can barely understand her? She calls to tell me how sad she is and how she doesn't think anything in her life will improve. While I'm concerned for her and care about what happens to her, I don't feel I can give her any advice or guidance that her counselor/psychiatrist isn't able to give.

Short of listening and providing the proverbial shoulder to lean on, what more can I do? I feel I need to be there for her, but I also feel drained dry because this has been going on for several years. Any guidance you might offer would be greatly appreciated. -- CONCERNED FRIEND IN FLORIDA


Don't you have Caller I.D.? I mean, Jesus-- this isn't 1973, is it?

Seriously, though-- screen your calls. I mean it.

Otherwise, I don't know what else to tell you. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but this doesn't sound like a "How-Do-I-Help-My-Suffering-Friend" letter. To my world-weary and skeptical ears it sounds more like a "How-Do-I-Get-This-Bitch-to-Stop-Calling-Me?" letter. Doesn't it? Because, you and I both know you can't help your friend. And you don't want to either. You just want her to stop calling you. So, here's a couple suggestions.

* Change your phone number. Works like a charm.

* The next time she calls, take the phone into the bathroom and take a tremendous shit-- with straining groans and ploppage complete. If your bowels aren't primed/timed correctly, pretend. Be sure to drop a casaba melon into the toilet bowl at the crescendo of your agonized howls.

* While she's whining and crying about how alone she is on the other end of the line, put the phone down on your bedside table and start fucking your husband. Make sure she can hear those bedsprings and headboard echo the melodious audibles of lovemaking.

* Answer the telephone "Guido's Muffler Repair & Prophylactics" whenever she calls. Try to sell her things, like mufflers and prophylactics.

* In the middle of one of her tear-laden tirades, start laughing hysterically and hang up. Make sure to snort.

* The next time she calls, play dumb and ask, "Who is this?" When she says, "It's me: Sally," act surprised and say, "Oh-- Sally?! You mean you aren't dead yet?"

* When she calls you, immediately put down the receiver and let her go off on one of her fucking depressed-ass tangents. While she's doing that, leave your house, get into your car, drive over to her place and smack the everloving shit out of her.

* Tell her straight out, "Listen, Sally, when you call me, all you do is cry and talk and I can't even understand you-- so please try and enunciate when you bitch and moan about your pathetic, ridiculous, awful, nasty little life, so I can at least understand the boring, repetitive, unproductive bullshit you're slinging. Remember those final consonants, Sally-- those are extremely important when speaking in a crisp, clear manner that is readily understood by a married Florida housemarm in her early 40's with two daughters and one goddamn useless, depressed, suicidal, waste-of-time-and-space friend that I've kept around since 3rd grade to improve my own self-image."

P.S.-- Notice you mentioned everything else about yourself except your husband and your current geographic coordinates. Bitch.


I am a 14-year-old girl in eighth grade. I have plenty of friends, play the clarinet and piano, and am involved in school yearbook and theater, among other things. My problem is, I get sick a lot.

No one can figure out why I can't go two weeks without picking up a virus. Because of this I am gone from school quite often. I can handle the occasional teasing I get from other kids, and my teachers are helpful. It's the two school secretaries I have a problem with.

Once, when I left school during the day because I wasn't feeling well, one of them said to me: "You need to try to be at school more. I know it's hard, but you've got to try." Other things they have said lead me to believe they think I'm faking. Now they want a note from every doctor I see. I was gone a lot last year, but they didn't enforce this.

What is appropriate in responding to their "comments"? I'd like to ask, "Is that your opinion as a secretary?" or say, "I'm doing the best I can with my situation and you're not helping." Or, I could bore them with a detailed description of my medical history, or maybe complain to the principal. What do you suggest? -- SICK OF IT IN IOWA


Sweetie, I'm very glad you wrote to me about this, and you're very intelligent to ask what the appropriate response to their comments about you would be. Sometimes, it's very difficult to know exactly what the right thing could be to say to people who are simply not content to mind their own business. Your snarky and snide remarks that you say inside your head are natural, knee-jerk responses that might be immensely satisfying to say out loud in the moment, might have negative repercussions in the future. There's no need to resort to sarcasm in the face of nosey, paternalistic adults, and there's also no need to "bore them with a detailed description of [your] medical history." Simply smile like the sweet, beautiful girl I'm sure you are and say, "I have AIDS."


My mother is a spry, 75-year-old woman who has expressed an unusual request. She has told us "kids" that when she is called by the angels, she wants to be dressed in an aqua nightgown or PJs, and to be lying on her side. She says she will be sleeping for a long time, and she wants to make sure she's comfortable. She also says if we don't carry out her wishes, she will come back and haunt us.

I have attended many wakes, but I can honestly say I have never seen anything like this done before. What do you think? -- WANTS TO DO RIGHT BY MAMA IN MASSACHUSETTS


Look at it this way, at least she doesn't want to be dressed up in a Howard Stern wig, a red clown nose and a goddamn diaper, covered by a thousand My Little Pony toys in her coffin. You have no idea how fucking weird people are-- be thankful that your mother is only slightly abnormal. Also-- pajamas are cheap, and chances are she already owns plenty that you could just throw on her lizard corpse. Most people want to be buried in a goddamn expensive suit or dress-- and what a waste of money that is.

Now, about this haunting business. You'd better take that a little more seriously. I've seen "Beetlejuice" and that shit's no joke.


I have purchased season tickets for the local professional hockey team from a former co-worker for the last five years. We worked together for eight years and had a good relationship until this recent issue.

This year, when I called to ask about the tickets, she informed me that she had already sold them on Craigslist. I was upset because she didn't offer them to me first. I would have paid her the asking price without complaint.

I understand that they were her tickets and she could do what she wanted with them, but I feel she was inconsiderate and rude not to at least offer them to me before selling them to a total stranger. We are no longer speaking. Who's in the right?


Who's in the right? Jesus is. Damn, man-- can't you read billboards?

Now, about this nonsense regarding your hockey tickets-- she probably sold them on Craigslist for a lot more than your sorry ass was willing to pay for them. She's just another capitalist, so what's the big deal?

I know, I know. Poor baby's upset because he missed a great opportunity to see people beat the shit out of each other for no reason? Look, I realize that opportunities to witness extreme physical violence and brutality up close are rather limited in Minnesota, but if you've got such a hardon for that kind of action, come on out to Philly or Camden-- you can see that shit on any street corner you want.


I was poking around Dear Abby's Web site recently, and while looking through the archives I read the columns featuring names for people in various professions like the urologist named Dr. Leake and the dentist named Dr. Payne.

I have a suggestion for a fun sequel: How about a list of appropriate car models for different professions -- real or made up? I'll offer a few: The president of American Express driving a Dodge Charger, or an airline pilot driving a Honda Pilot, and -- of course -- the proctologist who travels everywhere in his Ford Probe.

I'll bet your readers can come up with a bunch. -- JAMES H., LAKEWOOD, WASH.


That's a hilarious idea. However did you find the time to come up with something so clever? You must be one of the 10.2% of Americans who are unemployed.

Here-- let me try:

The astronomer who drives a Ford Galaxie. Oh-- this IS fun! There's the Greek mythology expert who drives a Honda Odyssey.... and... um.... ooh-- how about the symphony conductor who drives the Hyundai Sonata and... sheesh... oh, oh, wait-- I've got one, how about the guy from Lakewood, Washington who drives a Chrysler Shut The Fuck Up, Loser!

Now I'll start writing your obituary while you hurry up and run along and go kill yourself.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Brother, Can You Spare $1,000,000.00?

Well, it's official: former "Price is Right" host Bob Barker has officially lost his fucking mind.

It seems that the generations of exposure to "Plink-o" American cars with roll-up windows and California Emissions have taken their toll on this poor guy. Maybe he got punched in the face one too many times by Happy Gilmore-- I don't know, but something's finally cracked his nut.

I just read in The Philadelphia Inquirer, my hometown newspaper that I read every time I feel I have a brain-cell to spare, the following headline:

"Bob Barker Donates $1 Million to Save P.A. Pigeons."

And I thought to myself,

"Oh. That's nice. He'll be in an assisted living center in a matter of weeks, wearing a mung-stained terrycloth bathrobe, ranting loudly about the price of a jar of mayonnaise in 1932 and "the goddamn Japs" while a Jamaican Certified-Nurse-Assistant tugs on his arm, his eyes glaze over and his penis hangs out the fly of his smelly pajama bottoms."

Call me a negative nellie, but I'm really a goddamn wizard.

Honestly, though, I think it's great that Bob Barker wants to save the pigeons. Awesome. Power to the pigeons. Whatever. But I can't help but think that $1 million dollars could be better spent elsewhere. I mean, hey-- it's his money, he can do whatever the hell he wants with it, right?

But, I mean... pigeons?

I just don't get it. Not when there are millions of homeless, widowed, orphaned Haitians, poverty-stricken Americans, homeless, battered women, retarded kids, throngs wasting away from cancer and AIDS and fibromyalgia (that's a joke-- we all know that shit is made up), police and army widows, unemployed masses... I mean, this modern society has causes coming out of its aching, American ass-- and he picks pigeons?

Well, maybe I shouldn't be talking. I picked dead cops. We all pick something. Well, those of us with a conscience and a modicum of disposable time and income do. The rest of you shitheads just sit at home and watch "Teen Mom."

And I don't blame you. Fuckin' Farrah, man. Awesome.

I don't know what it is about this that bothers me so much. I mean, I don't think there should necessarily be authorized, organized trigger-happy pigeon shoots, used as a convenient excuse so that back-woods bumjobs in the Pennsylvania sticks can obsessively cling to their absurdly outdated 2nd Ammendment right. But, $1 million dollars? Maybe I shouldn't be surprised that this is what a man who ended every episode of his game show with the phrase, "Help control the pet population by remembering to have your pets spayed or neutered."

I mean-- his game show, people. That's how a game show ended. Every time, for thirty years. A game show. And nobody thought that was weird. What does that say about us?

Maybe I thought he had his shit more together than he really did, mentally speaking. Maybe I thought a guy who deliberately surrounded himself with incredibly well-endowed, thoroughly boneable bimbos every working day of his life was smarter and shrewder than he really is. I mean, what have pigeons ever done for Bob Barker? Why should they benefit from the contents of his extremely deep pockets? It just doesn't seem fair. Why doesn't he just sit in the park and feed them goddamn breadcrumbs and shit like every other unemployed old fart his age? They'd be much happier eating his crumbs than receiving his dough.

One thing is for sure, every time somebody goes out to their brand new car and finds it covered in thick, sloppy, streaky white bird schnarz after parking under a tree or a telephone pole, and every time some child gets its lips pecked off by some crazy fucking diseased fluttery urchin of the streets, make sure to send Bob Barker a thank you note. Maybe, if you include a SASE, he'll send you some money to get your car washed or get your kid's lips sewn back on.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I'm Not Gay

This a difficult statement to convince people of when you're sitting at your computer, wearing a blue tie with little green goats on it, you've got a pocketwatch from 1921 with a gold fob dangling from your belt loop, and you're swilling gently from a bottle of Lorina Sparkling French Limonade.

And you're wearing a lady's wedding band.

But, at least I'm married to a woman-- and is it my fault my fingers are too slight to accomodate a man's wedding band? I mean, sheesh.

I've had to defend my heterosexuality for as long as I can remember, and the inconceivable amounts of heterosexually-based hardcore pornography I've consumed since age 15 aren't really appropriate corroboration, nor can they be readily accessed whenever a doubter is present. My dandy manner of dress, my incontrovertible knack for precisely matching outerwear, my ability to happily spend time at Anthropologie, enthusiastically and successfully shopping for outfits for my wife, my obsession with Gilbert & Sullivan and other aspects of the Victorian era and my involvement with theatre in general have all served to raise a few eyebrows over the years.

Sometimes, I'll say something to my wife, with complete and utter seriousness, whether it's a comment about a shirt she's about to inexplicably and ill-advisedly pair with certain shoes or about an antique that I think would look great over there, she'll stare at me and ask,

"Are you sure you're not gay?"

I'm pretty sure.

When I was a very, very young boy, I can remember sitting on the toilet in our downstairs bathroom and excitedly calling my mother into the bathroom.

"Are you sure you want me to come in?" I remember my mother asking from behind the closed door.

"YES! YES!" I cried. She entered warily, probably expecting to see yet another piece of my feces shaped like a question mark or a starfish.

"Look, Mommy!" I shouted energetically, my Osh-Koshes dangling around my ankles as I kicked my legs back and forth. Staring down at my crotch I proudly announced, "My penis can do tricks!"

(N. B. Although I was very young, it should be noted that I never, ever called it a "whingus" or a "teetletoo" or a "schmenkmen" or a "bing-bong" or whatever euphemism that was commonly utilized by little boys in 1985.)

"All I have to do is think about Vanna White!" I exclaimed. My mother crossed her arms in front of her and regarded me for a moment in my state of ecstacy.

"That's very nice, honey," she said as she turned around and walked out. See? My mother never needed Dr. Phil or Dear fuckin' Abby.

Please bear in mind that my taste in biddy has improved significantly since those days of my burgeoning sexual awakening. I mean, my wife's a little hottie-- let's face facts. Not only that, but I'm also slightly obsessed with English actress Natascha McElhone, if we want to face all the facts.

Of course, nobody actually thinks I'm gay. I don't think. Though I'll admit that, when I'm twittering and mincing about the stage inhabiting the 19th century clothes and effete mannerisms of a G&S patter role like Reginald Bunthorne, limp-wristed aesthetic poet extraordinaire or the ballet-prone Major-General Stanley, sometimes even I'm a little bit confused. I suppose the fact that the only dick I'd ever touch is mine keeps me on the right track.

The problem is with societal conventions that explicitly and implicitly portray manhood as husky, burly, sports-centered, slovenly, insipid, dull, monosyllabic, unshaven, eyes partially closed so as to look like he's on pot.

Oh, and did I mention stained sweatpants?

Ah, society-- with your preconceived notions and stereotypes and fucked up ideas about what it means to be male. If you're not eating a hoagie with extra bacon with one hand while the other hand is enthusiastically scratching your taint, you're just not really a real man at all, are you?

I have a great uncle who is gay. He's lived 80-some years and has never been truly outed, even though a select group of family and very close friends know. The world at large? Not a clue. Why? He runs track and plays tennis every week, smokes cigars and barrels his way through board meetings with headfirst, obscenity-laden gusto. He's a man's man if there ever was one, and he's always seen with a lady on his arm.

Thing is: he likes the peen.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Don't Look Up

If you come over to visit us, chances are you'll end up in the kitchen. That's where my wife's family does a lot of their entertaining and socializing. I don't know from this myself. In my parent's house, that sort of thing was done-- well, let's face it: it wasn't done. My family is not the entertaining/socializing sort. As a family, though, we gathered in the living room and the dining room. The kitchen is a place where you are uniformly ushered out of so that my parents can fight with each other about when to make the rice, who burned the bread or why there is so much goddamn shrimp sauce.

When we have people over, we tend to end up in the kitchen for generalized, pre-dinner chit-chat. I don't know why-- our kitchen is easily the ugliest room in our house. The living room is undeniably cheerful, with beautiful walls of both sunny yellow and luscious lavender. The dining room is a rustic, burnt orange/red, a white chair rail, and then a soft, buttercream. We've finally managed to get our act together to hang pictures in the dining room, and it looks quite fine. There's even a lovely, cheery tablecloth from Provence that was given to us as a gift by people with actual taste.

But, like I said, we usually end up in the kitchen. The floor is sheet vinyl, and it is, as my wife has often put it, the color and texture of freshly vomited-upon cobblestone. The cabinets are a terribly ugly and depressing dark wood with thick, chunky, off-putting handles, the oven (which we are trying to convince the home warranty people to replace) is from Gerry Ford's days in office and above, just like in your office, there's drop ceiling.

Oh, and a fucking hole.

When I came home from work yesterday, I noticed moisture on one of the drop ceiling tiles.

"Hmpf," said I to myself, said I, "moisture belongs on the outside of houses."

I moved the ceiling tile in question and this is what I found:

Pretty awesome, yeah?

Now, this house was built in 1929, so please know that I'm not here to cry and moan and be all stunned as a stoat and shit and bitch and sob to you about how unfair and unpredictable life is, and woe betide me, the new twenty-something homeowner.


I'm writing because I'm motherfucking pissed off, because this roof was 6 months old when we bought the house in February. That's right. There's a brand new roof on this bitch.

Unfortunately, this new roof was installed by some moron who doesn't know slate shingles from syphillis. I can remember talking to him on the phone during the agonizing, three-month-long closing process.

"Actually, I'm more of a handyman than a roofer."

Oh, well that's comforting.

Comforting or not, it's certainly a comment that goes a long way to explaining his inadequate, shoddy workmanship, and it will certainly go an even longer way when we get our act together enough to sue the motherfucker, his insurance company, and the township that approved his work. Really, though, I don't want to sue anybody-- that's just ballsy blogger talk. I just want my goddamn roof fixed, keeping moisture on the outside, as opposed to inside. I don't have time to go to court, I don't have money to hire a lawyer. And I don't have the goddamn mental energy to deal with incompetents, liars, bullshit artists, insurance companies, and holes in my ceiling that get bigger and bigger and, eventually, moldy and cheeselike.

I will be making anonymous, heavy-breathing telephone calls to the roofer's (sorry-- handyman) home, though. Just for shits and gigs. In the meantime, come on over to our place. We'd love to have you over for coffee and a chat in the kitchen. Just don't look down on us, or down at our cobblestone throw-up floor.

And, for the time being, don't look up either.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Worried Man Blues

My dog has recently began gnawing incessantly on his leg.

He's had hot spots before, but this one seems especially impervious to all manner of spray treatments and even the terribly tasty, beefaricious treats I give him to turn his attention from chomping with Olympian enthusiasm on his leg are no effective distraction. He does it when our backs are turned. For years, he could not bear to be in a different room than us. Now, when I'm upstairs blogging and my wife is upstairs crafting, that sonofabitch will stay downstairs, macheting his way through his leg with his little machete teeth. We'll go downstairs and find him, the fur by his mouth sopping wet, just looking at us like,


And there's a puddle on the couch. That doesn't smell like pee. Because I've checked.

I don't know what it is, and the vet couldn't adequately explain it either on our last visit there. Sometimes I think that he's worried, or anxious. That he knows, at 12, there are things that he doesn't really do anymore, or that he has more difficulty doing, and maybe this concerns him. Maybe somewhere in that kibble-ridden brain of his he knows that the end is now closer than it was.

And then I think, no, you stupid dimbledick, dogs don't understand aging, and they don't know what death is. Stop projecting, you maudlin motherfuck.

I don't know for sure, but I'd be willing to bet that, were I flexible enough to gnaw obsessively at my ankle, I'd do it. I'm that anxious. Last night as I turned fitfully in bed, my flannel pajama pants riding all the way up my asscrack, I heard the cuckoo downstairs announce 2:00am, 2:30am, 3:00am, 3:30am, 4:00am, 4:30am, and definitely 5:00am. I think I might have fallen asleep somewhere just after five, because I had just enough time for a nightmare before the alarm clock woke us up officially at 6:10am. And I'm glad I found the time to fit that in, because it was a doozy.

I dreamt that my boss had hired a bunch of new teachers that I was to supervise and put through an orientation, in the cheery, happy-go-lucky, positively positive, schmoopie-doop manner of our charming little non-profit. Well, most of these new "teachers" were droopy-eyed, college-aged male d-bags who were more interested in checking out the new female teachers' tits and fucking off with each other than listening to me. They didn't even know what classes they were supposed to teach. One of them refused to tell me his name. So I went up to him and I grabbed onto his arm and whispered hotly into his ear,

"Listen. Don't. Fuck. With. Me."

And I kept squeezing until I heard a distinct snap. Oops. Did I do that?

Then I got fired. As I was cleaning my desk out, a very tall geeky scientist-looking guy in a white lab coat came up to me holding a Zip-Loc bag containing the very small remnants of a ham and cheese sandwich.

"Excuse me," he said to me in a very Germanlicious accent, "I tink ve need to talk about thees sandvich."

I looked at it.

"That was my sandwich."

"Ja," he said, "but I didn't vant the Jew eating ham and cheese."

And then he hugged me. Kind of makes you glad that I didn't sleep for more than an hour and fifteen minutes, huh?

Last night, I just couldn't sleep. There was the equivalent of a tropical storm going on outside our windows. Not that the storm itself particularly disturbed me, but it gave me an excellent opportunity to obsess about whether or not our gutters are clogged. We've lived in this house since February and have not cleaned the gutters once. This is what homeowners think about late at night, for the uninitiated. Two weeks ago, some loser with torn pants who wanted us to hire him to paint our house called me and asked if we needed our gutters cleaned.

"Because, you know," he stammered, "in this economy, I can't wait for work to find me."

"Yeah, I hear you. Thanks, but I clean the gutters out myself," I lied.

There's probably an entire family of drowned marmosets sloshing around in those gutters of mine. But I'll be good goddamned if I'm going up there on a ladder to prove it. I'd rather just lie in bed worrying about it.

I was also obsessing over the fact that I have a play opening next month and I don't know my lines. Am I going to review my lines today? I doubt it. Why? Because it's a play I don't want to be in. If I wanted to be in it, the lines would have been memorized to the exact punctuation three weeks ago.

Then I started in on my obligations to other people. Things I promised I'd do that I haven't. People who've emailed me whom I haven't written back to, blogs I don't keep up reading, friends I've lost, my goddamn pocket watch ticking far too loudly on the dresser next to my head, and then, of course, worrying that my incessant turning is keeping my wife up. Of course, this morning, she reported that she was fast asleep all night.

"I'm a good girl," says she.

Of course, if you look at me today after I've had my coffee, you won't know that I'm such a crazy fuck. Sure, there'll be dark circles under my eyes, but I've had those since second grade, when I used to force myself to stay up until I could hear the birds sing in the trees, signaling that everything was alright and then I could sleep from 6am-8am before having to be in elementary school at 9:25. I did that shit for years. I guess this is why God made people like me incapable of great flexibility, because if we were as flexible as a rubber band, or a dog, we'd gnaw the shit out of our ankles and we'd gimp our way through life, and everybody would know we were worried men.

On Saturday at my banjo lesson, my teacher asked me if I was familiar with the song, "Worried Man Blues." The question struck me as very funny.

"Familiar with it?" I laughed, "I wrote it."

Sunday, January 24, 2010


On a warm June day back in 2002, I started my first day as a Police Officer Candidate at a local municipal police academy. I arrived in my freshly-pressed black trousers, crisp, firmly-tucked white shirt, and black necktie. I had even gone to my old barber that weekend and got a shorter haircut than is customary for me, hoping I would fit in a little better with the jarheads and baldies I was sure to encounter at the academy.

We gathered together, 64 of us in total, in a huge gymnasium where we were taught to stand at attention when the commander or basically anyone except for the janitor walked into the room, and then to relax at parade rest. There were young guys and a few old guys. Lots of white guys, a couple black guys. There were two women, one was very short and the other was tall and thin, like me. Most of my classmates, although similarly attired, looked like they had just rolled out of bed, or some, a dumpster. I can remember being amazed, on my first day in the police academy, that there were so many people who could wear a shirt and tie, and still look like complete slobs.

As I scanned the room while practicing attention and parade rest, receiving instructions about how not to lock your knees, my eyes scanned the room, pouring over the faces of my classmates the people with whom, had I not dropped out two days later, I would have been throwing to the ground, subduing, pepper-spraying, mock-arresting, mock-backing up, and probably being mock-friendly to for a period of six months. In my brief time there, I only really got to know one person, one of the only black men, whose name was "Flax." Flax was considerably older than the average bear in the academy, and he had the highest level of education of anyone in the room, including the commander of the academy-- he held a Master's degree as well as a Ph.D. in Divinity, if I remember correctly. He came up to me on day 2 and and we quietly shot the shit for around twenty or so minutes. Gently, he asked me what I was doing here. I laughed.

"I might ask you the same question. In fact, I will-- what are you doing here?"

He told me that he wanted a life change. His idea was to graduate from the academy, work uniformed patrol for a few years and then move into the federal arena-- possibly the FBI or even the Secret Service. He advised that I do likewise. I shook my head and told him that I would want to work uniform for the rest of my life.

"You're crazy," he announced, as others have. "Why?"

And I gave him my insane rant about wanting to alter the public's perception of the police by conducting my affairs and contacts with the community in a respectful, courteous, eloquent manner, by instilling that forgotten professionalism and dedication that officers of a bygone era were credited with establishing. He smiled at me.

"I like you," he said, "but you're going to have a tough motherfucking time in this world."

Years later, I heard that Flax graduated from the academy and was doing a local community proud, serving faithfully as a police officer. And that made me feel better about washing the fuck out during the barbell portion of the physical agility test.

I can remember, though, being in that gym, looking at everyone, and thinking to myself: who are these people going to be? Who's going to go work for the city? Who's going to have a quiet life as a sheriff's deputy, standing guard in some courtroom somewhere for the rest of his life, his belly slowly growing with each passing year? Who will be the hero? Who will rise through the ranks, to become a captain or a commander, with stars on his shoulders? Who will get killed for no reason at all? Who will treat the public right, and who will take out his aggressions and his anger and his hatred on the suspects he comes across in dark alleyways, when no supervisor or video camera is there to watch?

I don't believe that many people go into law enforcement because they want to kick the shit out of people mercilessly, or because they have some sort of societal grudge, or because they're homicidal or brutalistic. I believe that, like corruption, is something that tends to happen along the way and, of course, neither brutality or corruption happen to everyone. But, when it happens, it happens big-- and it hurts far more than just the person who gets brutalized.

It hurts every cop who dons a uniform and pins on a badge and goes out to do an honest day's or night's work-- because the public does not differentiate between a corrupt, brutal piece of shit, and a decent, hardworking man or woman. Hence: uniform.

With little fanfare or brouhaha, a trial recently began in New York City. Three police officers are on trial, and it's their word against the word of a man named Michael Mineo. One day, over a year ago, a trio of police officers in an unmarked vehicle spotted Mr. Mineo smoking pot. Big deal, right? Like the NYPD doesn't have bigger things do worry about. However, these three young, energized, overzealous cops gave chase when Mineo ran, down to the Prospect Park subway station. They tackled Mineo on that platform and, when he did not readily submit, one of the officers, Richard Kern, shoved his retractable baton inside Mr. Mineo's anus. And Kern didn't just do it once, he did it several times. Just so we're all clear on this-- jamming a baton up someone's ass is not an accepted, authorized police procedure or practice.

Mineo, bloodied from the attack, was told by Kern that if he breathed a word of the attack to anyone, or sought medical treatment, that he would be slapped with a felony charge. Mineo did go to the hospital, though, with a torn rectum which later became infected and abscessed.

The NYPD brass stripped Kern and the other two officers of their weapons. Kern, only 25 when this went down, already had two complaints of excessive force on him, and has been charged in this case with aggravated sexual abuse. The other two shitheads were charged with hindering an investigation and official misconduct for covering it up. There are witnesses and, most damningly, there is DNA from Mr. Mineo on Officer Kern's baton.

Whoops. How'd that get there?

An article in the New York Times pointed out that, although there were massive protests and unrest and immense public and media interest and attention during other NYPD brutality cases, such as the Amadou Diallo shooting, and the infamous plunger-rape of Abner Louima-- there are no protests in the street over Michael Mineo. There's no hub-bub, no Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton giving virulent pulpit speeches and preaches. There's no angry people yelling into megaphones outside the courthouse, giving the finger to the rings of officers standing guard outside. In fact, there are no rings of officers standing guard outside, because there's nobody to stand guard against-- there's just the steady thrum of NYC cabbie traffic and people hustling from one place to the next, their heads down, thumbing their way through their Blackberries and iPoding their lives away, while a man with a torn rectum takes on three of the baddest apples in the NYPD.

And I hope he brings them down.

I hope he brings them down hard. Because these three men shouldn't be permitted to wear the uniform of a goddamn toilet attendant, let alone that of a New York City patrolman. Because these three men are the worst kind of coward: a coward with authority. Because these three men have no business nodding to baristas at Starbucks who give them drinks for free or at a discount because of the peace and order that they represent.

Because, on a personal level, these three men make me ashamed that I ever wanted to be a cop.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Well, Shit on My Chest and Call it a Spa Treatment... It's DEAR APRON!

Here's your glimpse into the socially incompetent individuals who write in to Dear Abby, hoping she will solve all of their banal dilemmae, and who end up getting their chests shat upon by me.

Yup, welcome to Dear Apron: the least helpful advice column... ever.


I have always been a curious and motivated person. Because of it, I pursued higher education and became a college professor. Most of my siblings have also gone to college. However, their significant others have varying levels of education.

I like to think of myself as a nice person, but my siblings have let me know that when I converse with their partners, I often come across as patronizing. Do these partners need to be less sensitive, or do I need to be more so? -- THE GOOD PROFESSOR


Of COURSE it's their problem, Professor!

Of COURSE they're too sensitive!

I mean-- it's so obvious to me-- why are you even bothering to write to me about this? Don't you have a treatise to compose on the Proustian Ethics of Mammalian Phonology for the Journal of American Pomposity?

But, seriously, though-- I feel for you, Welcome Back, Kotter. It cannot be easy for you, being an intellectual giant amongst a muddle of mental midgets. They don't understand you, in your gently-distressed tweed jacket and shock of dapper, salt-and-pepper hair. And that's why you've come to me-- because I get it... and I get you.

You're bursting with intellectual curiosity-- why that much is clear. That is, after all, the reason you entered academia-- because you were intellectually curious. It wasn't because you wanted cheap, subsidized housing in a posh neighborhood, or because you love to listen to the sound of your voice meandering through a two-and-a-half hour lecture in an affected British accent, or because you get off on staring intensely at copious mounds of freshly Herbal Essence'd hair, fanned gently over an endless gaggle of woodblock-firm breasts.

See? I understand.

I wish I had advice for you as you struggle valiantly to communicate with the societal dregs who have latched onto your well-groomed siblings like big, great leeches, thirsting hungrily for your family's obvious good breeding and intellectual prowess, but I have no advice for you. Oh, certainly, I can proffer mindless suggestions, like avoid words with greater than three syllables, eat with your hands, sit down in a pile of your own filth and squalor and talk about the NFL whilst pouring beer down your pants. Or, I don't know... watch some more TV. Start with "Teen Mom" or "FOX News."

DEAR APRON: My parents divorced when my older brother and I were small. Mom remarried, and I was adopted by the wonderful man who raised me as his beloved daughter. I had limited contact with my biological father, "Nate," which seemed to please everyone.

After my adopted dad passed, Nate came back into my life. I have not seen much of him but he was present at my second marriage five years ago, traveling across country to be there.
Last month he called to tell me he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has named me as his heir since my older brother is deceased.

As a birthday gift, I presented him with a box from a company that does genome sequencing. It allows people to see their DNA and learn about their ancestry as well as any health-related issues. I enjoyed learning about genetics and thought Nate would, too.

Imagine how stunned I was when I learned that Nate is NOT my father. The company has assured me there is little chance the test is wrong, and they are certain we are not related.

I am close to my mother and horrified that she kept this secret from me for more than 50 years. I don't want anyone to be hurt, but I need the truth. What do I do?


You know what I'm questioning? Your taste in birthday gifts.

I'd love to know what you've given Nate in past years. A cryogenically-frozen embryo? A pair of plastinated testicle cufflinks? I hope the news about his paternity doesn't stop you from celebrating his birthday next year-- (if he makes it)-- because I'm sure he's looking forward to that ninety-seven gallon cask of jet fuel that you had imported from Abu Dhabi.

My birthday is May 12th, but don't you worry about sending me a gift. In fact, I'd be afraid to even see what a card from you might look like-- a Rorschach test maybe?-- so you can just skip it entirely, even though it is the big 3-0.

I'm sorry Nate's dying and he isn't your real father, and I'm sorry your mom was basically a prostitute. I wonder what kind of gifts you buy her.


Please settle a dispute between my wife and me. One of her co-workers, "Cassie," is eight months pregnant and also overweight. My wife saw her and said, "Wow, you've gotten as big as a house!"

Cassie told her she was hurt by the comment. In my wife's opinion, what she said is not uncommon when said to a pregnant woman and she thinks Cassie was overly sensitive. I believe the comment was inappropriate. What do you think? -- NEEDS A MEDIATOR, GAINESVILLE, FLA


Wait, wait, wait-- I'm one confused Apron. A woman said something inappropriate and insensitive, and a man is writing to some old lady for advice? What are we-- in some kind of alternate universe? Am I going to abandon Gilbert & Sullivan for Death Cab for Cutie now? Please pinch my dicktip-- I'm very, very frightened.

Getting back, though, to your original letter, one must take cultural sensitivity into consideration and shed our ethnocentric sensibilities and preconceived notions of right and wrong. Different cultures take offense at different things. For instance, in American culture, itis considered offensive not to make eye-contact with people, but in certain Asian countries-- eye-contact is very rude.

It is common knowledge that, in Gainesville, approaching some slovenly, pregnant, ass-layered Bertha and remarking that she is "as big as a house" is actually considered a compliment. Cassie must have been kidding when she claimed to be hurt. Really, she loved it, that fucking ornery condominium.

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Voice Is My Passport: Verify Me.

If you're an incredible spazz who is stuck blissfully in the not-too-distant past, you will know that the title of this blog post is taken from the super balls-awesome movie "Sneakers," a film that boasted some incredibly cheesy music and a bangdaddy cast that included Sidney Poitier, David Strathairn, the late River Phoenix, Dan Aykroyd (whose last fucking name I can never spell right without help), Robert Redford, and Sir Ben Goddamn Kingsley.

It's an incomprehensible combination of technology, humor, thrillerism and snappy dialogue. It was one of the most quotable movies of the 90's, but only if you're a total fucking dork.

"...Well, we could wrap you in a full bodysuit of Neoprene heat-resistant rubber, or we could just raise the temperature in Cosmo's office to 98.6 degrees, which is probably what we're going to have to do because the Neoprene would suffocate you."

And yes, that's not from IMDB. That's from memory.

Go ahead-- un-follow me. Just make it quick.

I was thinking about "Sneakers" today because of an article I barely read in the New York Times (aren't I special?) about passwords people use ostensibly to protect their privileged information online. We've all got approximately ten thousand eight hundred and eleven different passwords to different things-- our Shutterfly accounts and our bank accounts, our online veterinary tech classes as DeVry University, our cellphone companies that have a death-grip on our wallets/genitals, fucking Facebook-- I think I might have written a blog post about passwords a while ago, but I can't remember.

Lily will probably remember, though.

An elephant never forgets.

Anytwee, the article I read claimed that, in 2008, the most common password for chicanery and surfology used by Americans was "12345."

"No shit!" you say. "Shit," I say.

It seems, however, that Americans are, in this age of security-consciousness and identity-theft, smartening up. The most popular password for 2009?


Other super-pops passwords were "iloveyou," "Michael," "Ashley," your dog's goddamn birthday, and, the perennial favorite: "password."

I have a great idea for what I feel should be, and hope will, be the most popular online password for 2010:


I know, it's a little long and unwieldy, but I think it has its merits.

Most of you know that, every morning, almost against my will, I watch "The Today Show" for 1/2-an-hour, scoring some intense cuddle-muffin time with the missus on the sofa, sometimes while she snoozes with her head thrown back and her mouth open. God, I love her. Anyway, in between pretending that TMZ is a reliable source of information and presenting Meredith Vieira as someone you shouldn't want to stab through the neck with a Dixon Ticonderoga product, they love to present stories of down-on-their-luck schlubs from middle America, seated at their kitchen tables, pouring over mountains of bills, tapping on a calculator while an earnest voiceover talks of how they were scammed by hackers and other assorted internet prowlers who "somehow accessed their personal information online, destroying their lives."

Well, that's sad and all. But, seriously-- if your password is "123456" I won't be shedding much of a tear for you.

If you really want to fool hackers, come up with some really weird shit that they'd never think could be the password of some house-marm in Des Moines, or a blogger in suburban Southeastern Pennsylvania. Come on, people-- you've got to work at this-- get really creative. Your online identity is at stake here, and you don't want some industrious, highly-intelligent, high-school drop-out hacker getting his grubby digits on your money. So, you need to think of some pretty crazy passwords to outsmart these fuckers. Here's some ideas to get your brains working in the right direction:











and, your number 1 ticket to online security:


Remember: your online identity is precious: protect it like it was your little bitch.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Going Back

Because I was working until 9pm yesterday, my boss saw her way clear to giving me some time off in the morning.

Isn't that nice?

I spent the morning blogging, shopping for ingredients for a vegetarian casserole thing which will probably look post-digested, and, of course, looking online for jobs.

Because I'm not a "masseuse" or a clean water activist, there wasn't much going on on Craigslist yesterday morning, so I got in my car and, somehow, I ended up thirteen miles away from my home in the parking lot of the small optical shop where I used to work, where I landed my first big boy job.

The owner, my former boss, was there all by himself and, as was the case in the days of my employ, there were no customers to be seen. He greeted me with a wry smile and, in honor of my visit, proceeded to stick the cordless telephone up his asscrack with a twist as we both cracked up. Did I really just refer to this as a "big boy job?"

"Yo," he said after our man-hug, "did you eat yet? I had lunch already but I'm still fucking starving, man. Let's go get some pizza."

We walked out of the store, leaving the door unlocked, and went to the pizza place two stores down. I remembered that smell, of cheese, and oil-soaked pepperoni. We ordered our pizza slices and, as my old boss stared out of the window listlessly, he suddenly shoved some dollar bills into my fist and said,

"Oh fuck-- there's Mr. Wembel-- with 2 base up prism and a stigmatism. You remember that retard? Pay for the shit with this," he said as he flew out the door-- chasing another dollar. Speaking of dollars, the bill came to $5.88, and in my hand were three dollar bills and a $2.00 bill. I thought to myself, well, I have to add in a dollar of mine anyway, and I can't use his $2.00 bill-- so I bought lunch for us.

Though I haven't worked in his shop since 2002, I did remember that retard. A finnicky, anal-retentive man whose glasses prescription we could never quite seem to perfect. And yet, he still comes back. Most of them do. The limpy Italian woman who cannot read and pays for her lenses in gigantic tureens of homemade pasta and gravy. The middle-aged woman with the smoker's cough and the Joker's laugh who once tried to fix me up with one of her daughters. The UPS delivery guy with the donkey teeth. The high-powered pharma executive who loves to wear purple tinted lenses. The thoroughly insane woman who required a $800 pair of Oakley sports goggles so she wouldn't "get snow in her face when she shoveled."

Sometimes it scares me how much I remember.

By the time I brought the sopping wet and delicious pizza back to the store, he was already in the process of kicking Mr. Wembel out. Wembel had complained that the earpiece had what he called "a burr" on it that was irritating the side of his head.

"A burr," my old boss snorted as he waved at Wembel through the glass of the store window, smiling, "do you believe that fucking faggot?" He shoved a piece of the greasy pizza into his mouth.

I had intended to stay there for maybe twenty minutes, but my visit lasted from 11:00 to 12:50. I said, "Well, I should go," four times before it finally took-- but it was hard to leave. We were cracking each other up, hysterically reminiscing about old times and old customers and old coworkers. I mentioned the name of one of the lab technicians who used to cut lenses for us, and our shared memories of him prompted my boss to go online to see if his name came up on the Registered Sex Offender Database.

"Dude-- New York City is like, fucking completely red on this thing-- everybody's a fucking diddler there. And I looked up my neighborhood. There's three-- and a guy I went to high school with whose dad was one of my teachers-- he's on here, too."

Back in 2002, when I left the optical store, my boss barely knew how to use a computer, and he didn't have an email address. Now, his technological grasp on the internet has improved to the point where he obsessively Googles everyone who comes into the store-- endlessly searching for who has the biggest pocketbook, or, apparently, the biggest hardon for pre-teens. While I was there, he showed me a YouTube video of some long haired loser playing the electric guitar.

"This fuck was in here a couple months ago pissed off about a contact lens exam. He called my secretary a bitch and wrote a letter to corporate. Fucking antisocial dickhead. Look at him-- playing guitar in his mom's bedroom."

He asked about every single member of my family, and he expressed great concern over my current work dilemma.

"I've always told you that you could do anything, man-- I'm so freakin' jealous of all your talents. You've just got to use your thirties to commit to something, even if it fucking sucks. I mean, look at me-- I'm forty-eight. You think, when I was thirty I woke up and I was like, 'Oh! I know-- I wanna be a fuckin' franchisee! Yay!' But I did it, and it's pretty decent. It's okay."

I told him that what helped was a realization I'd had, helped by affirmations from my wife, that contrary to what this society says, your job doesn't define you.

"I struggled so hard because I thought that my life wouldn't be worth anything if I didn't become, I don't know, 'a person of note' or someone that people read every day in the newspaper-- a name people recognized. And then I thought, well, okay, if all I get is rejection letters-- then I'll do something socially important-- I'll be a cop. And I'll revolutionize the way people think about law enforcement, even if it's just in my own small little corner of the world. And I realized I couldn't do that. And then I just accepted that-- it's not what you do to make a paycheck, it's in your thousands of little interactions with other people. Can you be a decent person, a person people like or at least can stand? Can you love your wife and be kind to her? Can you raise fine children? Can you attempt to appropriately thank your parents for all that they gave you? That's what matters-- that's a successful life."

He looked at me.

"See? This is what I'm talking about-- you've got your fucking head on straight. Not like Heath Ledger-- 'Oh, I'm so talented I'm going to stick a spike in my neck till I'm dead' or Tiger Woods 'Let me just fuck everything that breathes because I'm a God.' You get it, and you always did. You wouldn't have ever talked to me when I was in my twenties, man. Hair down to my ass-- felony convictions. I wasn't good for shit till I was thirty."

I laughed, because I could picture it. My old boss in an "Anarchy" t-shirt, swilling back long-necks and grabbing black girls' asses in downtown D.C. or wherever, doing drugs and fucking off. But he's got a shirt and tie, and his hair is closely cropped and his face is closely shaved and his diction is closely... well, close. He's a fine upstanding businessman. And I smiled when the phone rang. He answered with carefully coreographed precision. I could hear the voice of a telemarketer on the other end,

"My name is Keisha and I work for PSS Processing, I would like to speak to the owner, please."

My boss smiled at me. "Sure, here he is," and he handed me the phone. Just like old times. I took the receiver.

"What's happenin', babe?" I crooned.


"Um, I represent PSS Processing, a new online payment processing center that handles..."

I cut her off.

"Oh my God! OH, MY GOD! THE CAT! NOOOO!!!!!"

And then I hung up.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What the Fuck Is Up With All the Roadkill Already?

I don't know what it is-- but I see a lot of roadkill.

Eviscerated rodentia.

Flattened squirrels.

Twitching chipmunks.

Smashed up canines, and other carcasses, torn up beyond recognition. A ribcage here. Some red, stringy detritus there. Bowels and bones and brains, strewn all over the otherwise unmarred motoring surface.

Deer, fucking split open like a cranium at an autopsy.

Today, it was a goddamn cat, turned upside-down, its rigor-mortised legs standing straight up in the air like it was standing in an upsidedown photograph.

And let me tell you something, this cat definitely cannot, in any way, shape, or form, haz cheeseburger.

My wife doesn't like to drive. I don't particularly know why, but I don't really care, because I love to drive. So, when she and I are in a car together, 99.17% of the time, she's in the passenger seat, and I'm turning the wheel. And speeding. Yes, even in the nine-year-old PT Cruiser, I manage to speed, flogging the underpowered, technologically-retarded four-cylinder engine as necessary. And, as I meander at a somewhat fleet pace through the streets of our little burbia, it seems like every time we're in the car together I'll wince and go,

"Aaauugh! Did you see that fucking otter by the curb? It looks like Shrek sat on it!"


"Jesus Christ! Look at that fucking deer-- decapitated like an Al Qaeida hostage!"


"Oh my God, I'm gonna fucking vom if I see one more steamrolled squirrel with brains leaking out of its ears."

And she'll say,

"What squirrel?"

Maybe I'm driving too fast for her to catch all of the roadside action, or, I suppose "inaction" would be a better word. Maybe she's just not as observant as I am. Maybe, because I'm driving, my eyes are supposed to be constantly scanning the road, my scattered brain obsessively taking in and processing relevant information so that I can make lightning-quick decisions about how to turn the wheel or when to slam on the brakes. Maybe she has inhereted her father's knack for glazing over the terrority ahead in favor of a gaggle of higher thoughts, not understood by or observable to the rest of us mental plebians.

I don't know. She's my wife, and she's pretty cool. Who knows what's going on in that beautiful brain of hers?

What I do know is: she doesn't see 3/4ths of the roadkill that I see, and it's made me start to question myself.

Am I imagining it?


But-- could it be?

Come on-- the fucking cat-- it was... its legs were.... I swear.

Truly. I do.

You believe me..... don't you?

And, trust me, it's not like I'm avidly searching for it. I think by now you know that I'm not the kind of guy who would scoop up a three-week-old marmoset with the letters "GOODYEAR" plomped onto its belly and take it home and fry it up with a side of chipmunk ball cous-cous. But I see carrion all the time and my wife, my only other consistent car companion just doesn't.

Kind of makes you suspicious of me, I guess. And I can't say I necessarily blame you. I want to think you believe I'm sane but, if you've been with me for a while or have sifted through the archive of this blog there's copious evidence that I'm probably not.

I just wish I really were crazy so my brain could turn the roadkill that my eyes seem so fixated on into other things like, oh, I don't know-- Vietnamese lingerie models, or funny little toadstools with happy smiley faces.... or cupcakes. Maybe easy-to-solve math problems. Or even a non-vivisected otter.

That would be just ducky!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Well, Tapdance On My Face... It's Guest-Blog Time!

Not only is there a new post below, but I'm such a loser that I've got time to guest blog on the site of one of the funniest unemployed, horse-riding, firefighter-marrying, mischiveous-dog-owning bloggers out there: Lily at Tapdancing in the Dark!

GO THERE NOW, (or after you read today's post here) OR I CRY!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Schmuck With the Really Big Problem

I've got this really big problem in my life.

See-- my wife actually likes being with/around me.

Ain't life a total bitchskies?

I work with/around lots of middle aged women, and I know many others who talk shit about their husbands non-stop. They join gyms and clubs and Alcoholics Anonymous and Gilbert & Sullivan societies and book circles and knitting trapezoids just so they can get away from their husbands for an hour or two each week.

They regale each other with stories of their husbands' ineptitude, skullduggery, and affiliated moronia to any other cluck ol' hen who will listen, nodding her head appreciatively while she bends down to peck and pick at some birdseed on the ground, stopping only to adjust her feathers.

My wife doesn't do that. Maybe it's because we're sweet, cute, young 20somethings. Maybe it's because our relationship was founded and is grounded in mutual respect and admiration. Maybe it's because we recognize what's good in each other, and accept each other "with our lumps."

We're lumpy, as people go. Everybody has lumps-- even seemingly perfect people like Sean Connery, Michael Bubblie, and that bitch on TV-- you know-- whatsherface. After four years of datery and three of marriage, my wife and I are intimately acquainted with each other's lumps, and we acknowledge that we falter and fail at certain things-- in certain ways, we don't measure up. But, that's life-- and mature, compassionate, in love people know that, and keep on loving anyway.

'Cuz we're good like that.

Recently, though, I feel like one of my lumps has been growing larger, to goiter-like proportions, and that lump concerns my job. I work at a small non-profit and, because I'm such a fucking cracker-jack at relating to younger folk, I teach on certain nights. I'm also in stage plays, because I've been known to assert my cracker-jackery at onstage antics, too. To make up for the fact that I often am here until 8 or 9pm, my boss allows me to come into work late, sometimes at around 12pm. This, of course, is no help to my wife or my marriage, as my wife is on her way to her job by 7:30am or 8:00am at the latest. To add insult to injury, I do not get paid for the teaching component of my salary, when other per diem teachers make $30.00/hr.

"That's included in your salary," my boss says-- a salary that is about on par with an entry level position at any comparable non-profit organization-- a salary that any 22-year-old living in his first apartment and getting his car and health insurance paid for by Daddy Warbucks-- would be very happy with.

But, let's face it, motherhumpers-- I'm going to be thirty soon (May 12th-- love me!) and, not to fucking brag, but I'm a published author and have a Masters degree and I'm getting kind of tired of working around the clock till my chapped ass bleeds for mostly peanuts and the occasional cashew. And my wife is getting tired of it, too, and I don't blame her.

So, after finishing work at 7:30 tonight, I went over to my parent's house to talk about it, as my wife had chorus rehearsal tonight and I had the "night off." It wasn't a particularly productive conversation, but it did bring me hurtling back in time to other trauma-ramas in my life that had their airings in the living room before my parents. At least my father, on this particular evening, politely refrained from doing sit-ups on the living room floor while I spilled my empassioned guts out. He did let out some extraordinary farts, but extended the usual courtesy of offering me foods I didn't want.

"Mummy-- do you want... eh.... prailine and vanilla diet ice-cream?" This receives an icy stare from me.

"What about Veggie Straws-- they are from Don Juan."

For some reason, my father refers to "Trader Joe's" as "Don Juan." Don't ask me why, I have no answers. He's Israeli, that's the only answer I can give you and, if you've ever lived with an Israeli, that's all the answer you need.

They basically told me that what is happening to me at work is purely my fault, and that I need to keep track of my hours and show my boss that I am working like a slave, and that I should refuse to teach, act, or direct or help in any way after five o'clock.

"And, if she wants to fire you, say, 'Hey, that's fuckin' great!'" my father says. My mother, for the most part, sits pensively, wrapped in a soft, white blanket, staring at the careworn, peach carpet beneath her slippers, quietly blaming herself for everything that goes wrong in all three of her children's lives.

"Daddy and I went to that new park today, the one they just spent all that money on a few years ago, and took a nice walk," she says to me while my father's in the kitchen making me coffee I don't really want.

“Yeah?” I ask, “was it romantic?”

“No, it wasn’t romantic. But the weather was nice—it’s a beautiful park.”

I look at her.

“What do you talk about, when you’re alone—just the two of you?”

She laughs at me.

“We’ve been married for thirty-six, Jesus—thirty-seven years—we have plenty to talk about.”

I find this intriguing because the avowed stereotype of ancient, married people is that they have nothing to talk about.

“Well,” I press, “what do you talk about?”

“We talked about Aunt Mickey (you remember her—she’s barely clinging to life in Florida), we talk about our children and what’s going on in their lives. Why—why do you want to know?”

“I just want to make sure that you have some uplifting things to talk about every now and then, too.”

She laughs at me again, this time shaking her head as she smoothes out a piece of already smooth carpet with the toe of her slipper.

”Jesus,” she says, “you really kill me.”

And that may be true. But I suppose, despite all of our troubles and travails, there’s something uplifting about all three of her children. My eldest daughter may be a prematurely, physically ill geriatric and an emotional infant—but she’s easily the most financially successful of all of us—and she’ll be able to make the payments on the Maserati she’s going to buy herself for her fiftieth birthday with no sweat at all. My middle sister, though she may be married to a failure, and makes $11.00-an-hour busting her ass behind the counter of a cafĂ©, has a beautiful, giggly, lovely son.

And me? While I might be miserable in my job, utterly directionless and haphazard in my daily affairs, with the anxieties of life keep me awake from 2:00am-6:15am when the alarm goes off-- my wife actually misses me when I’m gone.

And what could be more uplifting for a mother to know about her son than that?

The Privileged Few

Last night, I stopped at the local supermarket to buy goodies and snackies for the individuals with whom I rehearse. I'm one half of the hospitality committee and so, if I show up at rehearsals with, to paraphrase from the original Godfather, "just my dick in my hand" I feel somewhat embarrassed.

After all, nobody's going to snack, are they? At least, no one I'd care to invite.

As I tooled around the parking lot of the supermarket, aimlessly searching for the spot that would get me the closest to the entrance in view of the pelting, freezing rain, I pulled my car into a spot and was just about to put the bitch into "park" when I saw a sign that sent me into a fucking rage.



"That's a new one, guy," I thought to myself as I punched the Chrysler emblem on my steering wheel. I mean, are they kidding me? Do the rotund schlubs sitting at home in front of their computers in their stinky, cheese-laden slippers and their tattered, careworn, Dorito-fart underwear, clicking away at pictures of boneless pork shoulder and dehydrated Knorr meals deserve a better spot than me, just because they condescend to pop by to pick up their order?

Why, might I ask, do they need a special fucking space? I'm carrying out bags of groceries the same as they are, aren't I? Do they just presume that, if you're ordering at home you're some sort of mental or physical degenerate, stewing in your own milky feces whilst slamming your bicycle-helmeted head into the corner of your desk? Do they assume that your aged mama is swinging by in your handicap-accessible Town & Country van to pick up your Veetavitagegimen and your Lactatortots while you rock back and forth in the back of the van, listening to synthesized children's music from the 1980s?

Believe me-- people who order groceries from home are not


...special (in that way).

...deserving of special parking spots.


And, if it's not the lazy shitbirds ordering ribroast online who get first crack at the good supermarket parking spots, it's expectant mothers. Or mothers with small children. I mean, where does this insanity end? I liked it better when there were just a couple spots designated for the handicapped/persons with disabilities, incessant dribblers-- whatever you're supposed to call them these days. I don't care-- give them their spots with the little man sitting in the big circle thing, that's fine. And, if some bastard in a BMW parks there and jumps out of his car wearing loafers and no socks, ambling with no difficulty whatsoever into the store-- then his car should be fire-bombed and he should have his legs broken by Kathy Bates-- that's okay with me, too.

But that's where it should stop. With the disabled. There's nothing wrong with goddamn expectant mothers that they can't walk another seven goddamn feet across the parking lot. What does ACME and Giant and Wegman's think is going to happen? That somebody's kid is going to be born with Kleinfelter's Syndrome because mom had to park her Previa all the hell way down by the shopping cart return?

Come on.

And mothers with small children? No offense, mothers with small children, but fuck them! Nobody forced them to have small children. If a clown car full of pygmies pulled into the lot of the local Shop N' Bag, everybody would expect those cute little fuckers to hoof it across the lot. What's wrong with being small? It's good for kids to walk, especially if they're small. Children, ladies and gentlemen, are portable, in case you didn't know. They're not heavy rocks or big lumps of iron. You can carry them, or they can walk. Fuck-- put them on a goddamn skateboard-- just move their asses and let them know that life is hard and sucking it up and growing up ASAP is the only answer.

We just want to coddle our kids and, as a fellow lazy American, I understand that urge. But remember the Puritans and shit. They would never have accepted the charity of a special parking spot. I mean, it would look ridiculous.

"Reserved for Puritans Only."

That's just silly.

I'm not saying, of course, that I don't think anybody should be permitted to have a special spot at the supermarket, and I'm certainly not saying that I think I should have a special spot. But I just don't see why assholes who order groceries online and come to the store to pick up, or expectant mothers, or mothers with small children should have treatment on par with people whose legs don't work.

I am, however, in favor of preferential parking spots to recognize people who are deserving of special treatment for one reason or another. Here are some signs I would like to see in the parking lots of local food marts:

"Reserved for Any Catholic Priest Who Has Never Finger-Banged a Minor"

"Reserved for Walmart Employees Who Come to Work Sober"

"Reserved for Telemarketers Who Have Attempted or at Least Pondered Suicide"

"Reserved for People Who Understand When to Use You're and Your"

"Reserved for Jewish Women Who Do Not Speak in a Shrill, Shrewish Tone"

"Reserved for Registered Sex Offenders Who Don't Have Three First Names (i.e., "Jim Bob Lee")"

"Reserved for Police Officers Who Do Not Have Crew-Cuts"

"Reserved for Attractive Women Who Consistently Display Cleavage, Even When It's Cold"

"Reserved for People Who Appreciate Peter Sellers Films"

"Reserved for Anyone Who Traded in a Hummer After a Religious Awakening"

"Reserved for Black People" (because, let's face it, they've had it rough.)

"Reserved for Men Who Have Women's Names (i.e., "Beverly," "Carol," "Stephanie")"

"Reserved for Anyone Who Thinks Fibromyalgia Is Total Bullshit"

"Reserved for American Who Isn't Currently 60 or More Pounds Overweight"

"Reserved for People Who Have Never Considered Writing Into Dear Abby"

"Reserved for Pennsylvanians Who Aren't Attracted to Blood Relatives"

"Reserved for People Who Can Quote Entire Episodes of 'Fawlty Towers' from Memory"

"Reserved for Civil War Reenactors Who Get That It's Just a Hobby"

"Reserved for Sex Workers"

and, of course,

"Reserved for Followers of My Masonic Apron"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

God Save the Queen

I felt like a real baby yesterday.

Not in the burbling up mashed peas all over my onesie kind of baby, but in the not getting my way and not being particularly diplomatic about it kind of baby.

I had my heart set on seeing "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus," Terry Gilliam's latest romp. Those of you who've been around for a while remember the blog post I wrote about the film, relating to the imagination of children several weeks ago, and will understand why I wanted so badly to see the film.

Because I work all day and teach and rehearse at night, my opportunities for seeing films are very limited, but Saturday night appeared to be all-systems-go, and so I asked my wife if she'd go with me.

"Sure," she said, "but, what the fuck is 'The Conundrum of Mrs. Parabolas?'"

"Don't worry about it," I said, dialing the number for my forty-two-year-old sister, our perennial third-wheel. She was, of course, being fed and babied at my parent's house, a mere 0.04 miles away.

"Pick us up now," I said into the phone, "we're going to the movies."

"Okay!" she said. I never have to worry about her having plans, because she never has plans.

The time was 6:51. The film started at 7:00. The movie theatre was probably ten minutes away for most drivers, seven if you drive like you really mean it.

Now, I would have driven, but my sister is allergic to dogs, and feels that, because our dog has traveled in our car many times that she cannot do likewise. Therefore, whenever the three of us go anywhere, she has to drive. In her pristine, 2009, gold ("Not trashy gold," according to my father), blonde-wood enrobed BMW where dust mites fear to tread.

As my wife and I stood outside on our street corner, waiting for a glimpse of my sister's xenon headlamps cutting through the evening air, I shook my head in despair after consulting my watch.

"We'll never make it."

I don't exactly know what happened to my sister but, somewhere along the line, she went straight from infant to senior citizen. In her apartment, there are heating pads and huge containers of vitamins and tubes of theraputic gels everywhere. Her condominium looks exactly like my great grandmother's apartment used to look like, only without the chifferobe-sized console television, the avacado-colored rotary telephones and blackened liverwurst hamburgers.

My sister has even started driving like an elderly person. Fortunately, only as concerns speed. She doesn't weave into the opposite lane of traffic, nor does she drive through people's lawns and hedges, the way my step-grandmother has, but she adheres to the posted speed limit signs with an almost religious fervor. This is a woman who used to rack up speeding tickets with all the enthusiasm of a chubby 7-year-old kid vying for skiball prizes. I rolled my eyes as she slowed to a cringeworthy 15mph and rode her brakes down what can be a very fun, winding road on the way to the movie theatre and I resigned myself to the fact that "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" would fly the coop before I got to see it in the theatre.

I wondered briefly if my sister preferred Polident or Sea Bond.

When we got out of the car at the movie theatre, it was 7:12 and there were approximately 30 people in line for tickets.

"Oh, Jesus Christ," I moaned, "fuck this, let's just forget it."

"Buddy," my wife said in her best impersonation of an optimist, "don't forget about previews-- they're usually at least fifteen minutes long."

We stood in line behind the yacking and irritating wealthy people of this neighborhood and, as we got closer to the ticket window I saw a sign that read something like,

"Dear Movie Patrons:

Due to a malfunction in our heating system, there is NO HEAT in movie theatre #2, which is currently showing "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus." Please be aware that the temperature inside this movie theatre is approximately 55 degrees. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

I walked up to the ticket window when it was my turn and said, undaunted,

"Three for 'Imaginarium,' please," sticking my debit card in her face.

"Sir, you do realize that it is approximately 55 degrees in there, right?"

"Buddy," my wife said behind me, "I think I'll be cold in there." And she would have been. And if my young, sprightly, pixie-like wife would be cold in there, my woefully underweight, brittle-boned, geriatric sister would probably become an ice-pop before the first plot-twist.

I sighed and turned my gaze up to the other offerings or, in the case of this small theatre, offering. One other film, beginning at 7:15.

"Three for 'The Young Victoria,' please."

It wasn't terrible, but it was no Terry Gilliam film. If it were, a gigantic, slimey, cyclops dragon would have devoured Queen Victoria within the first ten minutes and its head would have popped open and a dozen tuxedo-wearing goldfish would have swam out singing German oom-pah songs.

But that didn't happen, and I was okay with that. I wasn't okay, though, with the filmmakers completely fabricating Victoria's husband, Albert, getting shot while shielding her from an assassination attempt.

There was an assassination attempt on Victoria, many, many assassination attempts, actually-- but in none of them were Albert shot. In the movie, he acts like a Secret Service agent, pushing Victoria back in her carriage while simultaneously leaping in front of her to gracefully accept the bullet into his powerful, manly shoulder.

But it was nothing but pure, Hollywood horseshit, and it made me furious.

What is the purpose of historical films if they are going to radically manipulate and outright lie about what happened? I know why they did it-- because, in the scene before, Albert & Victoria had just had a huge blowout and then they needed to have them make up. Well, couldn't they have done that without making shit up? It was ridiculous and unnecessary and all it does is make people who are too lazy to research things or are too trusting to think they don't have to believe things that aren't true.

I just think it's funny how films like these obsess over the historical correctness of period dresses and hairstyles and mutton chops, and uniform colors and the accuracy of medals and table linens, and casting just the right actress who looks just enough like the Baroness Lehzen, and then they just go and fantasize about rather significant happenings, or non-happenings and are content to rewrite history, because what really happened just isn't interesting enough. Am I a fuddy-duddy who only wants the history represented as it truly was-- or is that even possible?

Or maybe I'm still just in a funk because my sister drives like an octogenarian and I didn't get to see my movie.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Feeling Generous?

You'd have to be made of a pillar of salt or some sort of titanium compound to not be extremely moved by the pictures and film that are coming out of Haiti right now.

And you're very nice, sensitive people, so I think we can all take that you are extremely moved as writ.

It would be very easy for me to write some desperate-sounding, hyperbole-laden plea begging you to send money to aid the thousands and thousands of people who are without food, water, shelter, proper medical assistance or hope. Blogger makes it pretty easy for even technological blunderboobs like me to plop "Donate Now" buttons all over this site and hyperlinks directing you to the American Red Cross and other various relief agencies whose sole mission in life is do-goodery and beg you to send anything, whatever you can afford to the people of Haiti.

But, and it sounds terrible to say this, that's just not me.

Now, before you bitch me out in the comment section of this blog and write angry letters to Lord Jewdemort demanding that I be excommunicated from Heaven and my own home, I ask you to just please hear me out.

Large-scale tragedies are too big for me. At forty pounds underweight for my height, I'm a real small fry. I can't comprehend the big numbers-- maybe this has something to do with my deficiency in mathematics, but I find it almost a total impossibility to comprehend and wrap my skinny, boney little head around a calamity like this.

I can't do it. And maybe that makes me an insufferable asslick, and, if that's the case, go ahead and call me that. You wouldn't be the first-- not even this week.

I can remember going to college with crunchy people who would have jumped right on this earthquake, in fact, many of them are doing so now, even though they're a little more crinkly around the eyes and wizened than they used to be, back when they wore baggy corduroys, dreds, and carried around filthy Nalgene bottles festooned with Amnesty International stickers. They're on Facebook now (I have 267 Facebook friends, you know, and I regularly communicate with approximately four people-- one of them being my wife) donating their statuses to the Haiti earthquake, putting up desperate appeals for funding through your cell phone company or through UPS, even though most people write comments under these statuses claiming that these are nothing but frauds and schemes designed to take advantage of people with filthy Nalgene bottles.

Which I find sad and a little bit pointless.

When I worked on the streets as an EMT, Katrina beat the everloving shit out of New Orleans. My ambulance company got organized and sent dozens of ambulances down South, manned by many of my coworkers and friends. If I weren't affianced at the time, I said to my supervisor, I'd go. Of course, when my friends and coworkers returned, they told stories that made me glad I hadn't. Their radios didn't work with New Orleans emergency dispatch frequencies. They didn't have GPS and routinely got totally lost looking for unfamiliar addresses in a foreign environment. Some EMTs and paramedics resorted to sleeping in their trucks because their motel rooms were virtually uninhabitable. They ran out of supplies, got into fights with New Orleans EMS crews, and with each other, and the relief effort mounted by my former ambulance company was generally regarded in the end as uncoordinated and bungled.

When I looked at pictures of the cortege of ambulances headed down I-95 emblazoned with our company's logo, I snarkily snarffed, "It looks like charity, but it smells like a publicity stunt."

Geez, what an asslick.

I'm disenfranchised, too, I think, with all the media coverage that is being filtered, sifted, sorted, and exploited by the American media. Tallies of how many Americans have been injured or killed, profiles of Americans who have lost legs or have no contact with their adopted Haitian children. Americans who are missing. It's a little much and, while I realize that we are in America and that these are American media sources, I think it's presumptuous to assume that the only thing Americans care about are whether or not there are Americans affected by a tragedy. Why are we not able to feel for and empathize with people of different nationalities, and worry about them and their welfare?

That said, I'm not going to be sending any of my fungible funds that are earmarked for charitable endeavors to Haiti.

Why? Like I said-- it's just not my thing.

Many of you know what my cause-de-plume and charity-of-choice is: fallen police officers. My wife calls it my "fetish." Well, if it is, it's my number one. And I have a number two, too: wounded police officers.

On Saturday, January 9th at around 2am, Anchorage Police Officer Jason Allen was sitting in his marked patrol car finishing up some paperwork on a domestic assault call. A dark colored sedan pulled up next to his cruiser and someone opened fire on the officer, striking him five times. Officer Allen had absolutely no inkling of what was happening to him, he never had a chance to draw his weapon or take any action to defend himself-- he was taken completely by surprise in a totally unprovoked act of violence, hatred, and cowardice.

The occupants in the dark sedan got away, speeding off into the frigid Alaska night.

The bastards who shot Officer Allen are still on the loose, and Officer Allen is still in the hospital, only moved out of ICU a day or so ago. I know it's difficult for lots of 20somethings to muster up the gumption to give a rat's ass about anyone who dons a blue uniform and pins on a badge every morning, but if ever there was a time to stand up, it's now.

There's two funds to which you can make a contribution in support of Officer Allen, the victim of a senseless and rage-filled act of brutality. If you want your efforts to go towards finding the shitheads who opened fire on him, there's the Jason Allen Reward Fund. If helping to assist with his gigantic medical bills, and unmet costs for his family, there's the Jason Allen Family Support Fund. There's only one way to support either, or both, and that's by dusting off the old checkbook and writing a check to:

Key Bank, Anchorage
601 W. 5th Avenue
Suite 100
Anchorage, Alaska 99501

In the memo section of your check, write either "Jason Allen Reward Fund" (if you like catchin' bad guys) or "Jason Allen Family Support Fund" (if you like, um, supportin' families).

I don't know if anybody writes checks anymore. You might feel kind of old-fashioned doing it, but I hope you don't think I'm presumptuous in saying that you'll also feel good, too. I'm hopeful for Jason Allen's recovery. I'm hopeful that they catch the shooter(s), too.

And, even though I'm all curmudgeonly about it: I'm hopeful for Haiti, too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's Not Shabbat Without Morons... So say "Shalom" to DEAR APRON!

Nothing says "Oy vey" like sifting through the vast and vacuous heaps of vapid tripe that gets sent to the desk of Dear Abby by the numbskulls and dunderheads of America.

So let's put on our yarmulkes and tie up our masonic aprons to tear the shit out of these letters with a healthy, happy, challah-y dose of DEAR APRON!


I'm at my wit's end at work. There's a woman in her early 30s here who is out of the closet, and very vocal about being a butch lesbian. I'm straight, happily married and 20 years older than she is.

Apron, she keeps hitting on me! I've told her I'm not interested and that I'm straight. She then makes comments that she has converted other women. She does this in front of others and it's mortifying. Yes, I'm old-fashioned and religious, and I do consider her sexual behavior immoral. I am also tired of feeling like I have to apologize for my religious beliefs.

I have spoken to my union rep, but was told not to create trouble for another union member. I'm sorry, but I don't like this sexual harassment. I want to go to HR about it, but I'm afraid it will start a riot in the union if she's fired over this complaint. There have been other complaints about her harassing people. Please advise. -- BEING HARASSED IN ILLINOIS


Honey... Sweet Cheeks... Wet Lips... come on. You're not being harrassed you're being complimented-- didn't they teach you the difference in Sunday School?

I've got to tell you, the fact that this well-meaning employee wants nothing more than to become muff-buddies with you is very telling and, frankly, wonderful. I mean you must be one hot dish to be so relentlessly and aggressively sought after.

Unless, of course, you're both fucking dogs-- which, I admit, is a possibility that I'd rather not consider while I'm home alone and seated naked on the floor in the lotus position.

Your defensive, unwelcoming, and, frankly, prickly attitude about this whole situation is very unfortunate, and it speaks, I feel, to a much larger problem in this society and that is a proclivity towards litigiousness. Everybody is just itching to sue the pubes off each other these days, and most people are ready to do so before they've even considered alternative courses of action.

And that is sad.

So I ask you, darling, have you considered alternative courses of action?

Have you thought, for instance, about what it might feel like to wear this co-worker's vagina as a hat?

Have you even humored the possibility that attaching some sort of vegetable-shaped projectile to your waist and drilling the hell out of this bitch in the copy supply closet might actually be enjoyable for both parties involved?

Have you ever thought about installing hidden cameras in every room of your house and inviting this coworker of yours over, dressing up like Popeye and letting her violate you with a can of creamed spinach?

Have you ever thought maybe, just maybe, spending an hour or two Gorilla-glued to this woman whilst hanging upsidedown in a harness and having your genitals pierced with a sterilized steel rod might actually be better for your overall life experience, morale, longevity and overall countenance than dragging this woman to some boring, clothed HR proceeding?

I'm going to guess that you haven't given these alternatives due consideration. Well, my dear: you go run along and do that.


I'm a 26-year-old minor league baseball player. I have been involved in two serious relationships. My first was a girl I became engaged to when I was 20 and in college playing baseball there. I loved her and was committed to her, but she was jealous of my "first love" -- my sport. She constantly tried in subtle ways to get me to quit. After we had a huge fight, she finally threw my ring back at me.

I stayed single for a couple of years and then met a woman and began slowly dating her. The first year our relationship was good, but over the next three years the same issues arose and I was hearing, "You're selfish." "You don't love me." "Grow up!"

Being a professional baseball player has been my dream since I was 5, and I'm not ready to give up on it yet. Both these women continue to call and text me crying because it didn't work out. I'm angry at them for not supporting me, but I also feel sad for them because all they did was love me. What do I do about them and about trusting women with my heart and dreams? -- LOVELESS IN THE MIDWEST


Here's my first question: do you use performance-enhancing drugs? Sorry, it's first on the list of questions I ask anybody who is engaged in sports on any level. My guess is that you do and, if that's the case, then I've got to tell you, continued use of steroids is going to make your nuts dry up like raisins. Prolonged steroid use also increases your chance of thrombosis, stroke, sudden acceleration, unexpected de-icing, AIDS, catalytic converter failure, permature conflagration, amniocentesis, and spontaneous circumcision.

Say no to drugs, man. Didn't they teach you that in Sunday School?

Oh, and you're never going to make it to the Majors, so I wouldn't worry about it.


Our son, "Sam," is a senior in high school and has chosen a college that will suit his major. Now, all of a sudden, his girlfriend, "Amanda," has decided she wants to attend the same school. We'd like to discourage it because we know she's only going there to be close to our son. We feel she needs to get out on her own as much as Sam does.

Sam has tried to break up with her in the past, but she makes him feel guilty about breaking it off. We have talked to our son about her and her behavior. He is a bright kid, but seems not to be smart where Amanda is concerned.

Please help us figure out a way to make Sam understand the kind of position he's putting himself in. Amanda is needy and spoiled. She has never had to work for anything. Our son holds down two jobs and seems very independent -- so why is he coddling her? -- HELP NEEDED IN WISCONSIN


Aw... life is so hard for you, isn't it?

It's so hard having the perfect, Oak-tree-tall, rugged, handsome, industrious, intelligent, Wisconsonion, salt-of-the-earth, heart-of-gold son and his wicked, clingy, spoiled, wretched, rotten girlfriend.

I don't even like the pseudonym you picked for her. "Amanda." Ewwwww!

Look, you asked me a direct question, so I'm going to answer you directly.

"...why is he coddling her?"

One word: her tight, sloopity, yummy vagina.

Why the hell else would he do it? What are you, too stupid to breathe? Look, I know you're from the Midwest, but get a fucking clue, you goddamn Lutheran. Didn't they teach you about pussy in Sunday School?

It's funny, you think Sam is so smart, right? That's what you think, isn't it? Really, though, it's Amanda who's smart. Think about it-- she's got her little, manicured claws into your fabu little boy over there, who works two jobs just to be able to take her out to the movies and buy her thong panties at Vicky's Secret and all she has to do is wear them and parade around in her bedroom in front of the old web cam. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, orchestrated by one smart cookie, and her name is Amanda.

Trust me, your son ain't so great. And he'll never make it to the Majors either.


My problem is I attract needy people. I don't have a problem setting boundaries. However, those boundaries are frequently crossed because the person is so self-absorbed that he/she "can't hear" me.

How does one draw the line with a complete stranger who wants to tell me her whole life story the first time we meet, and sucks away my energy and my time? I feel like the individual isn't even talking to me. She might as well be talking to herself or to a wall for all I care.

Apron, I do not want to continue being taken hostage by these kinds of people. I'm not interested in their lives or troubles. I have enough of my own. I don't want to be unkind, but I haven't found a way to protect myself from being forced to invest time in needy acquaintances with whom I do not wish to pursue a relationship. I am not a total (rhymes with witch), but I am definitely ... BAFFLED IN VERO BEACH, FLA.

Dear Baffled:

Your name wouldn't be "Sam," would it?