An Award-Winning Disclaimer

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lessons Learned

Back in Southeastern Pennsylvania

*** Thanks for putting up with the short, not-especially-creative, exceptionally-shittily-spelled blog posts done from my Blackberry Whatever whilst we vacationed in sweltering bliss in Lexington, Virginia. I'm back now, in the sweltering familiarity of our 2nd floor office/craftatorium, and I hope you will find the quality back up-to-snuff. Speaking of back up-to-snuff, I seem to have gained another follower! What the fuck?! I ought to go away more often. Welcome under my apron, Kari. That's hot. ***

They say you never stop learning. Of course, they also say that you can't take it with you, and that is so not true. You totally can, especially if your trousers have cargo pockets and your rear seats fold flat.


Anyway, getting back to learning-- they say you never stop, even when you finish school. And that's a good thing, because I was last in a classroom in 2008, and that was grad school, and I don't think that anybody particularly learns anything in grad school. You're just there to get another essentially meaning-free degree so that you're not earning $11.00/hr so you can afford to pay back all those bum-hole-busting student loans.


They're probably right about this learning shit, and I say that because I was just on vacation for a few days (as you know, because I go on and on and on about it like I was bouncing around on the goddamned lunar surface, for Christ's sake) and I sure learned a hell of a lot. Don't believe me?

Well, while in Lexington, Virginia, I learned that...

* The further South you drive, public radio starts to sound more like Christian radio.

* They still manufacture and sell C.B. radios.

* The best innkeeper in Lexington, Virginia is British. And he rarely wears shoes or socks.

* Ham, bacon, and sausage can, and should, be consumed together at breakfast in one sitting. It's the Pigfecta!

* There is a certain type of frog that makes a "BOING!" noise as it lazes around.

* We were worried that we wouldn't be able to understand any of the locals. As it turns out, none of the locals could understand my wife.

* I am physically and emotionally incapable of safely mounting a hammock.

* Cats (female ones, I'm assuming) piss in a most extraordinary way. We saw one urinating in the parking lot of an antiques mall. It just stood there, arched its back, lifted its tail straight up in the air like a flag pole and let loose an inelegant yellow fountain all over the place. My wife and I watched with our mouths agape.

* Irish Spring soap smells like farts.

* Nothing is open on Memorial Day.

* Michael Palin (whose diaries I'm reading) sometimes waxed philosophic about the state of his feces, which makes me feel strangely better about doing same.

* You're supposed to spend inordinate amounts of time making polite conversation with your innkeeper/bed-and-breakfast residents.

* When returning home on Memorial Day, don't pee at a highway rest-stop unless you're prepared to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with an Indian man and a 12-year-old boy at the urinal. I nearly died.

But I sure learned a lot.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Capital of the Hairfederacy

Lexington, Virginia

"I've got to tel you," Mrs. Apron said to me just as the two of us were waking up from a delicious mid-afternoon nap yesterday, "Virginia does not like your hair." I propped myself up on my shoulders in bed and squinted to make out my image in the mirror of the oak-finished dressing table across the room, only to discover that my wife was correct.
I looked like a Jewish Guy Smiley.

"Maybe," she speculated, "that's why all the Jews left the South-- because of what it did to their hair."

I've got to say, it's not like Pennsylvania's a whole hell of a lot better in that department. Many's been the day where I've been through hellacious embarrassment because of the frizzified nature of my hair due to some muggy, mucky, hazy, awful Southeastern Pennsylvania day. I'll even let you in on a dirty little secret, because I love you. On days where it's raining and/or excessively humid, and I know, even at 5:15 in the morning that my hair is going to go through some very uncontrollable, unpredictable, Telemundo-style theatrics, I will take an unusual step in the morning.

It's my secret weapon in the fight against Jewfrizz.

I have this hat, you see. It's a very warm hat, and it's got earflaps. Canadians wear these hats unironically, but all of a sudden, hipster assholes have been wearing them to ski with, I swear. They can make the ugliest clothing/most dubious facial hair cool. I don't know how they do it, they must be enchanted.

Anyway, so, this hat. I keep this hat in my car, and, to the casual observer it looks like any other piece of winter accoutrama that was just carelessly forgotten about inside some jerkoff's car-- but, no. It was left, very deliberately, inside this jerkoff's car because, you see, on a frizzy day, I will don this absurd piece of headwear on my 32-minute commute to work in the desperate hope that its flattening effect will somehow help to tame the frizz.

It works, with varying degrees of success. But, I think, if we lived in Virginia, I'd need a big, motherfucking Stetson.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

God's Country

Lexington, Virginia

There were cows roaming around in a pasture behind the gas station/Subway where we stopped for lunch. The tourists, ourselves included in that wretched word, were amazed, and stopped, and stared, and some of us even pointed. The cows, however, seemed rather nonchalant about the whole thing. After all, this is all these cows know. We know what we know, Virginians know what Virginians know, and cows basically don't know shit.

At least, not as far as I know.

People in this part of Virginia wear cowboy hats, and they don't seem to think there's anything out of the ordinary about that. That's probably because, here, it isn't. Rather like cows wandering around behind the Hess Station off of 81 South.

These aren't just regular, run-of-the-mill cowboy hats either-- these are rather a bit outlandishly-proportioned, (at least by Pennsylvania yankee standards), and they are generally favored by men into or approaching their seventies. I spied one crustified gentleman wearing a Stetson that was the size of a basset hound, and he was tooling around in a gray Buick Century. Tale away the hat, and he would have looked like my maternal grandfather.

So far, I like it here. It's a bit absurd at times, but, mostly, it's quaint, and I've always been one who's a bit of a sucker for quaint. Sure, I may be blogging away on my Blackberry, but I'm doing so from our room in a bed and breakfast with no television, and the curtains are lacey and there's a lovely, honey-hued damask wing-back chair in the corner.

And I like that.

They sing about God a little too much on the public radio station for my taste, but, then again, I don't have to live here, so it really isn't my place to say, is it? This place is for the cows and the Stetsons and the folks who still love to talk about Stonewall Jackson, affectionately, and it's certainly nice to visit.

I can see the Appalachians from our bedroom window, and that's better than anything that would be on TV at 8:30 on a Saturday night anyway.

Except "Cops," of course.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bad, Minton

They say a headline has got to catch your eye, or it's basically a worthless piece of shit. And I've got to say, the "New York Times" had me, hook, line, and shuttlecock with the effective combination of "Badminton" and "Sexist" on Friday morning.

Of course, "Badminton" and "Sexy" would have been much more effective at garnering my immediate and undivided attention, but, hey, what are you going to do? It's not a perfect world. If it were, we'd all have badminton courts in our backyards. Hell, we'd all have backyards.

Anyway, the full title of the article was "Badminton Dress Code for Women Criticized as Sexist". Apparently, the Badminton World Federation (also known as "BWF", which is also the noise a 500 pound man in corduroy trousers makes when he sits on a Herman Miller aeron chair) has deemed that competitors in professional women's badminton "must wear skirts or dresses... [to create a more] attractive presentation".

Here's what struck me about all this.

People still play badminton?

Honestly-- I was stunned. I had no fucking idea. I mean, pants, skirts, nun's habits or lederhosen-- I just can't believe that there are actually people out there still playing that fucking silly sport. I mean, it's just... silly.

The tiny, innocuous-looking racket (excuse me-- racquet?) looks like an appropriate sporting implement if you're an eight-year-old. And you're hitting a... a shuttlecock. There's not much more I can or need to say about that.

I was under the obviously mistaken impression that badminton went out-of-style with things like sock-garters, the gramaphone, music by Franz von Suppé, and cars that rode on wooden wheels and/or bicycle tires. I guess I just never realized that modern man engaged in this sport that I thought had been forever relegated to the days when sepia-hued people all moved around in stop-motion animation like they were on crystal-meth.

Now that I think about it, of course, I remember playing badminton in high school. Well, I can remember trying to play badminton in high school. Before you start assailing me with unfounded accusations of snobbery and you start asking me annoying questions about the size of the crest on my navy-blue blazer, I went to public school, thank you. Admittedly, it was a public school in an appreciably affluent suburb of Philadelphia, but it was a public school nonetheless. And we just happened to play badminton.

And, when we weren't doing that, we did ballroom dancing. I, um, used to waltz with a girl named Estelle to the methodic strains of Seal's "Kiss from a Rose." And Estelle was at least two inches taller than 11th grade Mr. Apron. Thank you very much.

I never understood anything about badminton except for the fact that you weren't supposed to let the shuttlecock hit the ground. In that respect, in my mind anyway, the game was rather like hot potato-- you were just supposed to keep the fucking stupid thing in the air. It was like a yarmulke, in that respect, a holy object that, if it ever hit the floor, you were supposed to get very upset and contrite and kiss it and shit. I never kissed a shuttlecock, which is good, because that sounds nasty.

I've kissed many a yarmulke, though, because those fucking things just never stay on your head. You know what I mean?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Anger Management

It's not the anger, we tell they who must be told, that's problematic-- anger is, of course, a normal human emotion-- it's what you do about the anger you feel that can be problematic. Like, for instance, engaging in self-injurious behavior, i.e., placing your fist through some drywall or abruptly and forcefully introducing a loved one's head to an item from your toolbox. Maybe you're angry at your boss for some passive-aggressive slight or other and you stifle it all day or all week only to, on an otherwise languid Sunday afternoon, explode at your spouse, or your cat, or your window air-conditioning unit.

Poor, poor Emerson Quiet-Kool. We hardly knew ye.

This is probably going to come out sounding (unintentionally) funny, but I'm not particularly good at getting angry. Of course, you're reading that going, "What the fuck does that mean?" and I suppose I'd have to come right back at you and say, "I don't really know." I suppose I say that because I am under the impression that one ought to be "good" at getting angry, as if there is some sort of skill to it. And I think there probably is. Believe me, I know how to swear and rage when one of my vamp-teeth pierces my lower lip while eating a Granny Smith apple, and I certainly know how to unleash a stream of delightful epithets when a Toyota Camry stops in front of me, for no reason other than the fact that the driver is probably having a T.I.A.

So... I can do that. I'm not all that deficient.

But, when it really counts, when it gets emotional, well, that's sometimes where I run into a mite of trouble. Because, see, emotions-- um... I'm not particularly good at emotions either. I'm fine with talking about how I'm feeling, it's just that I launch so enthusiastically and skillfully into the talking that I rarely find that I get to the feeling. Maybe I'm flattering myself a bit here, but I think that I can sit with someone for, oh, I don't know, say 50 minutes, and pretend that I've just talked about my feelings the whole time when, really, truly, I haven't said anything.

I'm kind of awesome that way.

Oftentimes, when I get very angry, I get very quiet. Why? I guess it's because I feel like I need that time to sort through what I'm feeling, because, even if the emotion is one that should be relatively easy to pinpoint, most of the time, the road to arriving at that particular emotion is, well, foggy. And I don't use my foglights very often, so I need that time to find the switch on the stalk. Or is it a button on the dash?

See what I mean?

Maybe, I think, I sometimes trick myself into believing that I don't have a right to be angry. Or maybe it's that I'm scared of what other people will do or think if they see me get angry. Maybe I'm scared of what I'll do, or think, or say. My mouth is scary, and not just because my teeth are fucked up and English-looking. Scary things emanate from my mouth. My cakehole. My venom-pocket. It's a cruel place. It's supposed to help, and heal and, for roughly eight hours a day, it succeeds, to varying degrees, but I'm afraid of what happens when the time-clock swipes out.

I'm afraid.

And fear will keep you from doing lots of things, I suppose. It'll keep you from taking risks. It'll keep you from confronting realities about the world in which you live, and your job, and yourself. It will keep you from climbing rock walls, or at least it'll keep you from enjoying it. It'll even keep you from getting angry.

Yesterday afternoon, three big, angry black guys were this close from beating the shit out of my 67-year-old Israeli mechanic. They had pulled into his garage in a beat-up Pontiac Grand-Prix with two shredded front tires. My mechanic had the nerve to ask them where their spare was. They didn't have one.

"Driving without a spare is asking for trouble," the mechanic said.

"MOTHAFUCKA! JUST FIX THIS SHIT!" one of the men screamed.

A mouth-match ensued, and my approaching-elderly Sabra mechanic, who has shot Arab soldiers dead in the desert many years ago, was winning. But I knew, at any second, it could go the other way, and I was scared. I work in a place where simmering violence lies just below the surface, like a camouflaged snake ready to pounce. And here I had survived another day, only to probably be killed in the cross-fire in my mechanic's garage. Fortunately, the driver of the car exited the vehicle, got between the parties, and apologized to my mechanic for his friends, and reason had prevailed. Anger was, sort of, managed. The temperature outside was 92 degrees, but it had cooled down considerably in the garage, and, as I went into Soly's office to settle the bill for my new car battery, he remarked that he hadn't seen my wife in quite some time.

"I know-- that's what happens when people buy Hondas, you never see them anymore," I said. His gaze shifted from the credit card machine to meet my eye and he said, with a mischevious glint,

"Maybe I should get one for my wife!"

And we both laughed, more out of relief that we could than anything else.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


It was painful.

It's like, when a song ends on the radio, and there's way too much silence because the D.J. is taking but hasn't pushed the "Hot" button to make his microphone live and the radio audience hears absolutely nothing-- I can't stand it, I change to another station, because the silence is unbelievably embarrassing to me.


I don't know. It has nothing, really, to do with me-- I didn't do anything. I'm not the one fucking up in the booth, and yet, I cringe. Likewise, on a radio program, when a guest is talking for far too long and the interviewer keeps trying to politely cut in and the interviewee just doesn't get it, even though it's shockingly obvious to us that the reply has more than run its course-- I can't fucking stand that. And I change the station. This usually happens on BBC Newshour. It's the fault, I think, of the way the show is structured. Oftentimes, in the remaining three minutes of the program(me) they will feature an interview, and there isn't nearly enough time to actually do the interview justice, but they do it anyway. So this poor bastard professor from Leeds or wherever will be talking about the Chinese economy or the price of bananas in Ecuador, and he'll be droning on and on the way professors do, and Robin Lustig or whomever is running the show will keep trying to shut the fucker up, and finally he'll say, in that abrupt, curt, British way,

"RIGHT! Well, somuchforthatthankyouverymuch,forBBCNewshour,I'mRobinLustig,bye-bye."


For some strange reason, modern British culture has its middle-aged men end conversations/interactions with "Bye-Bye!" like they're seven year-olds, ending interviews with their mothers.

Anyway, yesterday, I got embarrassed for somebody else, and they weren't even on the radio. They were two tables away from me. A gawky, pale-faced guy of maybe seventeen was sitting at an outside table in the late afternoon with a woman who was quite obviously his grandmother. They even shared a hairline. He was wearing standard upper-class-twit garb: madras shorts, Tevas, some ironically screen-printed t-shirt, and a pair of inexplicable Ray-Bans. His two front teeth even protruded, which is mandatory upper-class-twit dentition, the world over. His gran was dressed in charcoal-gray wool slacks, black leather shoes with gold doo-daddery on them, and a black sweater, perfect for the 92-degree heat of yesterday afternoon. Her sunglasses were more fashionable than her grandson's.

As I sat two tables away from them, anxiously sipping lemonade-- which is the only way I sip-- waiting for my wife to arrive, I caught wind of their conversation.

Gran: What is "Vanty?"

Twit: Venti-- it's the size of the drink she gave us.

Gran: But it looks so big.

Twit: Yeah, because that's not what we ordered.

Gran: So why did she give it to us?

Twit: Because we ordered a Grande, but they didn't have Grande cups, so she put it in a Venti cup and charged us the Grande price.

(At this point, after all this information, I fully expected gran's hairline to explode. But it didn't.)

Gran: What?

Twit: They charged us for the drink that we ordered, but they gave it to us in a bigger cup.


Gran: So they overcharged us.

Twit: No, they charged us the same, they just gave it to us in a bigger cup.

Gran: What's 'Grand-aye'?

Twit: They're just the names of the drinks. They all mean "big", really.

Gran: What did you get?

Twit: This is a White Mocha Frappuccino.

(Long pause, during which I briefly consider killing myself.)

Twit: Do you want to go home?

Gran: Yeah, it's too hot out here.

And.... scene.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Magnetic Pride

A few weeks ago, I was engaged in a lively dialogue with a co-worker about something or other that was wrong with this country. I think it might have been political correctness. Actually-- yes, that was it. My co-worker, a psychologist, who also happens to be Israeli, was railing against people who take issue with the term "mentally retarded" to describe people who are, well, mentally retarded.

"What dee fack?!" he screamed in the chart-room, in his charming dialect that I know all too well, "mentally retarded eees mentally retarded! It's not a facking insooolt! Now, if you are saying it to put somebody down, okay, fack you, you're an ess-hole, but der eees nathing wrong wit 'mentally retarded' as a clee-nee-cal term!"

And I agree. Slower processing. Slower cognition. Retarded. Nothing wrong with that. However, in this country of ours, where everybody is so petrified of saying "the wrong thing", we are content to seek shelter behind euphemisms and politeness and couching. It's funny, because I think, if you asked most foreigners if Americans were a "polite" society, they'd laugh in your face. No, we're not polite, because politeness really means graceful and considerate, it doesn't mean not speaking the truth. We're rude and brash, and we're generally socially unacceptable, but, don't worry, we won't dare call someone with an IQ below 70 "retarded".

I can remember feeling slightly bad during this conversation with our Israeli psychologist, and he said to me, "Don't worry-- you're not American, you have a dee-freent perspective than these other morons."

And I remember finding that funny, because I've never really thought of myself as not American. Sure, my father is Israeli, but he moved here eight years before I was born. My mother is American-- so American that she used to flirt with life guards in Atlantic City when she was fourteen, lying about her age. I mean, what's more American than that?

On paper, I'm American. In my heart, I'm... whatever. I don't know. Israel seems to think I'm Israeli, at least that's what they told my father when he was planning a family trip for us there back when I was seventeen. They told him that I would be taken into custody at the airport and inducted into the army. Oh, but there was some paperwork that could be filled out to avoid this happening.

"No thanks," my father told the consulate.

I don't know if my views on America have been more shaped by the fact that my father is Israeli or the fact that I'm a cynical, skeptical bastard. Of course, I may very well be that because my father is Israeli. Chicken. Egg. Israeli. Falafel. Who knows?

I like this country well enough, I suppose. Sometimes, things that our government or some of its citizens do embarrass me, or make me ashamed, or make me want to pretend I'm from Oxford, but I expect that citizens of other countries can't help but feel that way about their homelands, too. Sometimes my family members say and do things that embarrass me, too, but it's not like I can say, "Oh, see that goy family eating ham and swilling zinfandel in that big stone house with the Mercedes 550 in the circular driveway over there? That's my family," because we all know it's not.

We all know.

I look at peoples' cars sometimes, with their "Proud to Be An American" bumper-stickers and I can't help but envy them sometimes. I wish I could feel that way all the time. Maybe I could have a "Proud to Be An American" magnet, that I could take off and put on according to the behaviors and statements and actions of our government-- and its citizens. Like, if I'm in line behind a boorish, petty, obnoxious, ornery American at the bank, I could go out to the parking lot and take the magnet off. When we devote humanitarian aid to a foreign country (one where we have no special interest), I could slap that puppy back on my trunk.

I would be okay with that.

I think.

Yesterday morning, I was in a doctor's office waiting room while my wife went in for an appointment. On the television, some crazy-ass network I'd never heard of called "HLN" was featuring coverage of the Casey Anthony murder trial. It brought me back to the heady days of 2002, when I would sometimes skip class in college if a particularly good trial was being featured on "Court TV," and it made me remember how much I can't stand Nancy Grace. But what was far more interesting than anything the prosecutor was saying in her laborious opening statement, was a small graphic in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen that said,

"Justice for Caylee"

And I thought to myself, Wow. If I had that magnet on my car, this would be one of the times where I'd take it off.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Weirdness That Binds

I just got off the phone with a man named "Bernie."

"Short for Beh-nehd, actually."

He's English, and the proprietor of a bed and breakfast in Lexington, Vermont, where my wife and I will be staying this weekend.

(If you're into fabric with frogs on it or antique typewriters, robbing our house might very well be on your agenda, then, this coming weekend. Please just try not to leave too much of a mess. And feed Finley.)

My conversation with Bernie lasted exactly 6 minutes and 26 seconds, but, two minutes into the conversation, we were fast friends-- united by our common association with another British hotelier, Basil Fawlty.

Ordinarily, I don't bring up 1970's-era British situation comedies like "Fawlty Towers" with bed and breakfast owners, but it just came up so naturally with Bernie, so organically. In truth, in faith, I just couldn't help it. It was so easy. So... right.

He was taking me through the list of rooms available.

"Well, there's the Pheasant Room, which, in my opinion, is the nicer of the two, but it's got two twin beds in it, and I don't know if that would suit your particular situation."

Instantly, my brain was flooded with images, dialogue, and memories of episode three of "Fawlty Towers," called "The Wedding Party" in which scandal erupts when an unmarried, lascivious couple try to rent a room with a double bed from the obsessively prudish and notoriously repressed Basil.

Basil: "It's against the law."

Guest: "What law?!"

Basil: "The law of England, nothing to do with me!"

Later in the scene, the guest temporarily relents, saying that he and his lady friend will take the room with the two twin beds, "if that's alright with the police."

I told Bernard that Mrs. Apron and I are, in fact, married, and that we'd take the room with the Queen-sized bed, "if that's alright with the police." Bernard howled with delight on the other end of the phone.

"Oh, God!" Bernie cried, "don't get me started on 'Fawlty Towers,' you'll have me going on all day. I've seen them all a thousand times! My favo(u)rite is the one with the Germans-- 'Don't mention the war! I mentioned it once and I think I got away with it alright!'" he quoted with precision. I couldn't help but chime in.

"A Prawn Goebbels, a Hermann Goering, and two Colditz salads!"

It was like talking to an old, um, gay friend. Not that Bernie's gay. He's just English. And I know they're basically synonyms. Basically. I didn't know that I was going to hit it off with the innkeeper at this place. I didn't even know he was an ex-pat. I swear to God. I didn't know.

I guess some people would be disappointed to know that their Southern-fried bed and breakfast isn't managed by some overalls-wearing good ol' boy named Hanky Lee, like they're somehow not getting the full, below-the-Mason-Dixon-Line experience, but I'm not disappointed. Not one jot. I'm elated. I am, however, a bit worried that they won't have any salad cream.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Well, Excise My Bunion and Save Me a Funion, It's... DEAR APRON!

You ever think Dear Abby will get around to suing my balls off for ass-spraying all over her advice column the way I do each and every week? God, I hope not. I was only ever in court once, and it was to watch the proceedings, because my friend and I thought it would be fun. It wasn't. I don't think I'd be very much good at being sued. I'd probably cry, and nobody really needs to see that. But, you know what we do need to see? A whole hot k'noodling mess of...


My boyfriend and I will be attending a milestone birthday party for a friend of his. The fiancee of the birthday guy stated on the invitation, "There will be a surprise during the evening." It has been suggested that a stripper "may" be the surprise.

Apron, I realize this might be OK for some people and it's just for fun, but I'd be uncomfortable if this happens. My boyfriend knows my feelings, but I don't know if we would risk being ridiculed if we left the party. What should I do if I find myself in this situation? -- HATE TO BE A PARTY-POOPER


Oh my God-- they still haven't told you that you're the stripper yet? Wow. That's just all kinds of awkward, isn't it? I mean... I knew.

Well, it's a little late, but I think you could still have enough time to adequately prepare yourself for the gig. Remember, D.I.Y. tassels can easily be constructed out of two Band-Aids and some paper-clips hooked together. You're going to want to do a Brazillian, too-- trust me on that, so make your appointment now. As this is a "milestone birthday," requests for lapdances would not be unreasonable and ought to be adhered to promptly. You will also be expected to tongue the birthday boy's asshole, while your boyfriend holds your hair back and the members of the live band take turns jacking off onto your back.


When someone has a serious illness or major surgery, everyone thinks to bring food, which is lovely. But I have a better idea.

When my friend, who has a young family, was diagnosed with breast cancer, I offered to do her laundry. Her recovery was slow, and the chemo and radiation therapies endless. Three years later, we're nearing the end of a short and brave life, and I still do their laundry every week. It has been a help to her, and I have grown closer to her and her family. When she's gone, I will never again do a load of wash without thinking of her.

Perhaps your readers can help another family this way. -- THE LAUNDRY FAIRY, ROCHESTER, MINN.


That's a truly excellent suggestion. Who cares if you're lying on your couch, your chest burned from radiation, your energy completely sapped so that you can't even think straight enough to boil a pot of water for macaroni and cheese? At least you'll have clean undershirts for the week-- not that you can move over to your dresser to access them. You may not have meals prepared for you for the daunting weeks ahead, but at least you'll be able to eat your clean socks. Thanks, Laundry Fairy! You're the best!


I'm a senior in high school and about to graduate. The week after graduation, one of my close friends is getting married. I have no qualms about the marriage, but I'm confused about the pre-wedding parties.

The bride and groom are registered at three stores and have had a Tupperware party already. However, I have received an invitation to a lingerie party to which guests have been instructed to bring the bride lingerie with gift receipts attached.

Am I wrong in thinking that buying intimate apparel is the responsibility of the couple? I plan to buy them a wedding gift from the registry, but I feel odd being asked to essentially contribute to their sex life. Apron, if I decline the invitation, what would be the proper way to do it? -- BRINGING A BLENDER IN MONTANA


Okay, stop the show.

What the fuck is going on here? This letter wasn't written by a senior in high school, it reads like it was written by a goddamned senior citizen.

*** "I have no qualms about the marriage." High school seniors (in Montana, no less) do not use the word "qualms". Sorry.

*** "The bride and groom... have had a Tupperware party already." WHAT?! What high school senior who isn't Napolean Dynamite has friends that have Tupperware parties in the year 2011?

*** "Am I wrong in thinking that buying intimate apparel is the responsibility of the couple?"


Maybe I'm just a sugar-sack full of paranoia, but this letter stinks to high heaven to me. It's fucking putrid, in fact. Either some high school chick's grandma wrote this thing or someone is totally having me on. And, in either case, I'm not dignifying this crazy shit with a response beyond this.

Intimate apparel. Jesus!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Moist Girls

There are lots of phenomena that I don't understand. Like men who wear Sperry Topsiders without socks-- yeah. I don't understand that. And I certainly don't do it. No, you won't catch me dead doing that. If you do catch me dead, most likely I'll be wearing Florsheims. Actually, remind me to specify that in my will.

When I get around to stop being too afraid of death to make a will.

Anyway, getting back to phenomena I don't understand, one of the things I don't understand has to do with girls. Well, women, actually. No-- I guess girls, too, because I first realized this phenomenon when the women I know were young enough to be referred to as "girls". This is getting confusing. But that's okay, you're still with me. I think.

So, people, at least in Western society, like to think that they're individuals, that the things they say, do, think, and feel are somehow unique. Special. Little. Yellow. Different.

Why is it, though, that so many women with whom I have casual conversation (you thought I was going to say "sex" because you're a pervert and you think I'm one, too) say that they are grossed out by the word "moist".

I've heard this from a significant amount of women. The first time I remember a female saying that she is nasted out by the word "moist" was in high school. And she was a girl. Now she's a woman, and I'm willing to bet that she still would tell you that she wants to throw up all over your face when you exclaim that "This Duncan Hines cake is so moist!"

Why? How did this start? Has this become a meme? Have enough women heard other women say it and now they feel compelled to state that they, too, are disgusted by the word "moist"? Are they even really disgusted or has pop culture and/or peer pressure collaborated to persuade women of a certain vintage that they ought to be sickened, or at least profess to be, at the uttering of this word?

While I am normally against research of any kind as a general rule, I attempted to delve into this subject matter through proper academic channels. I put in a call to Professor Modrig Hoschen*, leading research fellow at the Department of Aqueology at Slippery Rock University for his perspective on this queer phenomenon.

"You are quite correct," he said to me via Skype during our interview, "the word 'moist' is the word most frequently disliked by American girls aged 12-17 and women aged 18-47. Interestingly, the word typically disliked by American women aged 47-59 is 'staple-remover'."

Professor Hoschen was unable to ascertain why it is that American females so consistently cannot stand hearing or uttering the word "moist."

"You could argue that a woman's budding sexuality and awareness of the inherent slickness of her vaginal area is mostly to blame for the discomfort with the word 'moist,' especially considering that the disdain for the word occurs during the onset of puberty, and wanes as a woman approaches menopause. Of course, men's assholes get moist when they experience the uncomfortable occurance of swamp-ass, and they don't seem to have a problem with the word 'moist'."

I had to admit, the professor had me there.

I myself like the word "moist." Of course, I'm not a girl. There are, come to think of it, no words that I really dislike. I love words, and I try to use as many of them as I can. Pronouns are especially cool, even though some consider them to be an affectation. Just thinking about linguistics kind of gets me... you know... moist.

(*Dr. Modrig Hoschen = Dr. Moist Panties, in German)

(I wonder if German girls don't like the word 'modrig'. I kind of doubt it. I'll bet German girls dig weird shit.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The End of Their World

It was a little after ten o'clock at night.

Two young cops walked together along the sidewalk towards their radio car after answering what turned out to be an unfounded call for help at the Colonial Park Apartments, a dubious quad of low-income, movin'-on-down housing in Harlem. Gunshots ripped through the quiet of the night. Everybody always says that gunshots sound like fireworks, but nobody sets off fireworks in Harlem on in mid-May. One of the bullets caught the black cop square in the back of his head, killing him instantly, felling him like a tree.

The white cop was shot thirteen times, his dead partner's revolver prised from its holster and used against him, shot after shot pumped into his writhing body. The assailants fled. Help was summoned. The white cop tried to crawl to safety, but, when you're bleeding out of thirteen holes in your body on the sidewalk in Harlem, how can you know where safety is? He died in the back seat of the patrol car that sped towards Harlem Hospital, cradled in the arms of another officer. He'd found safety at last.

Widows had to be notified, and children, far too young to understand what had happened to their fathers, were shuttled off to neighbors or relatives houses so that bodies could be identified, so that vapid, inconsequential words could be muttered into their ears by police commissioners and mayors, so that asinine questions could be brayed at them by reporters. Flashbulbs in the waiting room. Pandemonium in the E.R.

"Oh my God!" a nurse screamed as the bodies were wheeled in, "it can't be!"

But it was.

I think it's funny when leathery, old, possibly psychotic evangelists run around predicting that the end of the world is going to happen on May 21st, 2011. Actually, I think it's rather a bit more insulting than it is funny. I think it would be very interesting for Harold Camping, the lunatic who is behind all the billboards and all the palaver and all the rapture, to meet the families of Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini. To sit down with them and try to convince them that the end of the world is going to take place on May 21st, 2011. I think they would have some interesting things to say to him.

Because their world, or at least a huge part of it, ended on May 21st, 1971. They know what it feels like to have the floor fall from beneath their feet, to have the ceiling come crashing down. The end of the world? Please. They've been there, and beyond.

Today, I'm not thinking about whether or not my theatre tickets for tonight's performance will be redeemed if the Rapture comes, and I'm not going to be in some cinder-block basement at 6pm, EST, quivering with my wife under a wool blanket. I'm going to be thinking about two families who had to endure unimaginable sorrow on a May 21st, 40 years ago. To have to hear about how their husbands and their fathers were hunted down like wild animals, felled by shots from behind, never having a chance to return fire or even react. To have their lights darkened. To have their worlds end, so violently, so callously, so offensively.

The end of the world? Rapture?

Save it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

This Post Is About Sex

Actually, it's not about sex. I just thought I would put that as a title to try to get more people to read the post. Call it marketing.

What this post is about is surprises, and I suppose the only way surprises could really be related to sex is the charge facing Julian Assange, which is "Sex by Surprise," which sounds like it could be the title of a Neil Diamond album.

(Fortunately, it isn't.)

As I write these words (5:43pm, Thursday) my wife is planning on taking me somewhere special for dinner. I'm not quite sure why, of all nights, we're going out for dinner somewhere special. I don't think May 19th is some sort of event in our history together. If it is, I'm going to be in the shit. But I don't think it is. I don't think she has some kind of good-for-one-night-only coupon to Applebees or something. We're way too uppity for that shit.

Nevertheless, Mrs. Apron texted me while I was at work with a rather cryptic message, stating, "I have an awesome idea for something you really would like to do tonight. It involves food, no carabiners, and no harnesses. Lots of vaseline and ropes, though."

I think she's kidding about that last part. But, just in case she's not, I've got our vinyl facemasks with the zipper mouth openings tucked away in the glovebox. The mention of "carabiners and harnesses" is a not-so-subtle reference to the surprise my wife planned for my birthday which was...

(Drumroll, please...)

Indoor rock wall-climbing.


I figured out where she was taking me the night before it was scheduled to happen.

Me: "What am I supposed to wear to this alleged surprise?" I asked my bride.

Her: "Um... comfortable clothing..."

Me: "Okay. What about on my feet?"


Her: "Sneakers."


Me: "Are we going rock-climbing?"

(She looked at me.)

Her: "Yes." (Pause. Cue Mrs. Apron tears.) "You don't want to go, do you?" she whimpered.

Truthfully, she was right, and she knew she was right. I didn't want to go. Why the fuck would I want to go? What about my personality, my fears, my proclivities, my preferences, my tendencies, my interests, my frail sanity would make anyone think I would want to strap myself to a harness and climb up a fucking wall and then come down, only to have to do it again?

I wanted to flip out at her and ask her that very question, but, instead, I sucked it up, because the woman I loved was crying pre-emptively because she knew she had disappointed me, and so I did what I had to do and I said,

"I do want to go." And I plugged the dam. Frankly, I don't think she believed me, but it was enough to quell the tears, and it sealed the deal. The next day, I was going indoor rock-wall climbing.


I didn't really enjoy myself. Surprise. I was way too preoccupied with judging the speed (or lack thereof) with which I acclimated myself to the harness, knot-tying, and (to me) complex instructions delivered in a rote fashion by the staff member at the rock wall gym. When I was the climber, it was no problem. In spite of my predictable fear of heights, I zoomed up the fucking wall-- aided in that vertical venture by my monkey arms and legs. It was when I was the belayer, responsible for the safety of the woman I love more than anything in the world, that I freaked out inside, sweating like a bastard, hands trembling as I clutched onto the rope and the break for dear life, absolutely panic-stricken that something stupid I would do would send my beautiful Mrs. Apron plummeting to earth, damaging her skull and our marriage.

Fortunately, none of the various disaster scenarios I violently and graphically saw in my head throughout the afternoon came to pass, and, after three hours, we were sitting together, bathed in steep sunlight at a sidewalk café, she enjoying a veggie-burger, me plowing into fried clams and cuban-style egg rolls. Which was definitely more my speed.

Surprises are funny, you know-- rather like sex, I suppose. You build them up, trying to discern what the other person is going to like, and sometimes you get so wrapped up in thinking about it and planning it and obsessing over it, you forget just a little bit about what you're doing (or why you're doing it) in the first place. But, even when they're not quite what you wanted or expected, surprises generally turn out just fine.

You know, like sex.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Holy Shitknuckles, It's My Masonic Apron's 800th Blogday

As John Hiatt once dolefully sang, “What do we do now?”

Here we are—you and I. Eight hundred posts.

Eight-hunny. Honey.

Some of them have been ricockulous, some of them have been tender and some sad. Some posts have probably made you question whether or not I am on hallucinogenic additives, and some may have made you wish that we could go out for coffee sometime.

I take a lot of sugar, by the way-- more than is socially appropriate. But, you already knew that.

I didn’t understand blogging when I started blogging. I don’t really understand it now, either, but I’m reasonably comfortable with what I do. If there is a certain skill involved in blogging, I’m pretty sure I don’t have it. If there’s a technique or a rationale or a goal, I’ll content myself with being appropriately mystified. After three-or-so years behind the monitor, where I’m most cozy, I find that plopping down in my chair and banging out a post, or three, is as much a part of my routine as any other part of my routine. And, in that respect, I like it.

Do I actually like… blogging? The actual physical and mental aspect of writing? I don’t know. That’s kind of like asking me if I like coffee. Clearly, anybody who puts as much sugar into a 16 ounce tumbler of coffee as I do probably doesn’t like coffee very much, but, if I go three days without it, I’d probably have to be hospitalized.

In my counseling session on Tuesday, my therapist recommended that we set up an end-date for our work together, as it’s his feeling that a little structure might appeal to my desire for, well, structure. I reacted skittishly to this proposition because, viscerally, it felt like abandonment, and I’m just starting to feel comfortable with the blazer-wearing guy. Why set up some arbitrary-feeling time to stop what we’re doing? But I get it. He’s giving me tools that I’m to apply outside of his presence. That’s kind of the whole point.

“After all,” he asked, “what is your vision of what ‘the end’ for us will look like? What will our work being ‘done’ look and feel like to you?”

And I, of course, had no answer. And I think the same holds true for this blog. At least, it may.

One day, I’ll get it into my hamsteresque mind to quit blogging—I’ve already hinted that 1,000 might be a good place to give the keyboard a little rest, and maybe fondle the banjo a little bit more.

(That’s not a euphemism, by the way.)

But I don’t know exactly what that’s going to do for me. Will it force me to “get serious” about blogging, to increase my rate of navel-gazing and focus less on entertainment or writing for an audience? God, that would be dreadful for you, and I wouldn’t do it to you. You can only take so much of that shit, I can imagine. Will I come to some sort of realization, at the point when I’m ready to stop, that I won’t lose my identity as one who writes (I can’t call myself a writer—I just can’t do it) or that the ability to connect with people on a funny or satirical or sardonic or emotional level won’t just go away? Will I be able to accept myself as who I really am, and not as Mr. Apron?

Or will I just… stop?

Back in the summertime, I stopped blogging for a little bit because I was looking for work and not finding it and I was beginning to unsuccessfully wrestle with the guilt demon that was habitually telling me that I was being selfish and vain and potentially disastrous to myself and my wife if I didn’t shitcan the blog in favor of looking for work, constantly. That was probably immature of me, and a bit foolish, because I was, in fact, depriving myself of a pleasure, albeit a small one, at a time when I needed all the pleasure I could reasonably get for under $19.95+s/h.

But I did it because I thought I needed to do it. And, look, Ma. We still made it to 800 posts. Give me a hug.

Life’s funny, you know? I used to write because I loved seeing my name underneath the masthead or the title of something I’d written. Back in middle school, I developed the habit of including my middle initial when writing my name on work I’d written because it made my name look more important. Now, I write every day and my name is nowhere to be found, with or without the middle initial.

Oh, life. I love you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

You Mind Me Now, Boy

You know it’s the 21st century when your therapist is recommending a smartphone app to you as a logical extension of your work together.

It’s a series of recordings by a specialist in Mindfulness Meditation, meant to serve as a guide for me as I enter the meditative process. Now, before you picture me disrobing to nothing more than my shanti-om, just try to get a hold of yourself. It’s not like that. At least, I don’t think it’s like that. At least, it’s not going to be like that for me.

Mindfulness Meditation essentially just involves one sitting, focusing on one’s breath, and being mindful of noises, feelings, emotions, judgments, ideas, sensations. Not focusing on them, or ruminating on them, but acknowledging their presence, being mindful of them, and moving on.

This process has been suggested for me because of my definite inability to accept or tolerate or acknowledge… pretty much anything I do, or anyone else does, without passing swift and severe judgment. I rarely permit myself to have an opinion or a feeling or a thought without evaluating it. I can barely have a casual conversation with a friend or a coworker without delving into harsh analysis and, typically, body-slamming myself with a fierce critique of how I “performed” or what I said or what I was thinking.

I mentioned this to my therapist last week. He remarked that I seemed “quiet” during that session.

“Well,” I said, “I’m sitting here and I’m getting very frustrated with myself because I am not making the progress that I think I ought to be making (that was session 5, by the way). I feel like I’m not giving you enough of what you need for you to do your job—I feel like I should be having greater insights about my personality or about the way in which my mind works. I feel like what I say is couched in a genteel, overeducated rhetoric that retards my ability to talk about feelings. I feel like I’m not being forthcoming with information with you, like I am not progressing how I ought to be progressing because of some innate inability to truly articulate what I’m thinking or feeling, if I’m feeling anything at all. I feel like I’m not giving you the goods. I feel like I’m sitting here, judging everything I’m saying, evaluating everything I’m not saying, gauging every silence that sits between us and wondering what it means, for my progress, for my status, for my potential. That’s why I’m maybe being quiet today.”

Haha. He thought I was being quiet.

“Wow,” he said, his expertly-manicured eyebrows lilted in surprise, “that… that sounds… torturous.”

“Well,” I mitigated, “it’s frustrating.”

Not really, though. It’s torturous. I have a frightening inability to turn off that part of me, to squelch the white noise constantly emanating from that judging mind. And I suppose that this is where Mindfulness Meditation comes in—its aim, I think, is not to silence that part of my mind that casts judgment to and fro liberally and efficiently, but to make me mindful of what is going on in my mind throughout the day, and to perhaps accept that this is what I do—this is my judging mind, and it’s okay. There are birds chirping incessantly outside my window while I’m trying to mindfully meditate, and, instead of throwing up my hands in disgust and resignation and saying, “Fuck this, I can’t do this!” to acknowledge that the birds are out there, doing their birdie thing, and to allow my mind to wander to them, to not fight that, to let it happen and, when I’m ready, to bring myself back to my breath, back to whatever is to be through of next.

And that this, too, will be okay.

It’s a funny thing, working to change a part of your personality that may very well be a larger part of your personality than you ever believed it was. Part of me isn’t even sure I want to stop judging—the world, and myself—because it’s so ingrained, it’s just… what I do. It’s kind of my thing. Has it benefitted me? No, I don’t suppose it has. Has it detracted from pleasures I may have, at one point or another, experienced in my life up to this point? It’s distinctly possible that it has. And yet, I’m still a little scared to let go. And, as I read this paragraph, I realize that I’m talking like an addict. And I suppose, somehow, some way, we are all pretty addicted to our behaviors and our personalities, because they’re what we know—they’re as much of a friend to us as Captain Morgan or a line of coke. Not necessarily a good friend, but a friend nonetheless. And I hold onto friends pretty tightly, whether it makes sense or not.

I guess, in the end, either I’ll change or I won’t. In the meantime, I’ve got an app to download.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Age of Innocence

Uh-oh-- I'm a little in love.

It's not with an antique Volkswagen Beetle, or a song from the Victorian era, or a retro-chic men's dress shirt, and don't worry Mrs. Apron, it's not with some tight Villanova law student either.

No. I'm in love with some random schmegeggie who somehow found his or her way to my humble little blog by engaging in a Random Act of Googness.

Every day or so people come here, sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally, and, really, I'm not picky. I'll take either. I love all who enter here, because you're choosing to take some time out of your app-filled day and pull your bar stool up next to mine.

And I appreciate that. It may not seem like it all the time, but I do.

While I definitely have love in my heart/trousers for each and every person who reads "My Masonic Apron," whether it's once or 794 times, there's one person out there for whom my love is exponential, Freudian, all-encompassing, and damn well near Terpsichorean.

Yes, it's true. I'm in love. I'm in love with whomever arrived at my blog after typing the following question into the vastness of Google:

"What does 'pull my pud' mean?"

God. I could kiss you-- on your pud, even-- I love you so much. (Hopefully you're not a minor.) I was just filled with such a sense of immense delight when I say that somebody had Googled "What does 'pull my pud' mean?" and got to... ME!


Pull my pud! I say that! And I LOVE saying that, and other stuff like it! And I don't know if this random Google-face got the answer s/he was looking for by arriving at my blog, and I don't care, because it's not about conferring information to people-- it's about broadening their horizons, about creating question flowers out of question seedlings, it's about painting with all the colors of the wind.

How high does the Sycamore grow? Who gives a tit? What does 'pull my pud' mean? That's a real question, Pocafuckinghontas.

You might find this difficult to believe, but I, as a true vulgarian of the highest, apron-wearing order, love innocence, and the charming naiveté inherent in the asking of a question like, “What does ‘pull my pud’ mean?” makes me very, very happy—over the moon, in point of fact. I’m like the goddamned cat with the runcible spoon when I encounter sweet, cherubic questions like these. I have to believe that the only people alive today who don’t know what “pull my pud” means are formerly home-schooled, sack-cloth-wearing Iowans, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there is an unjaded, unmaligned sector of the population out there that faces the world with a St. Olaf-like glint in its eye. And, if that’s the case, then I’m glad they’re out there, asking their questions and getting their answers.

(Whoa—second Disney reference?)

Because, really, in a world where U.S. Presidents cigar-fuck their interns and I.M.F. heads sexually-assault chambermaids with their sloppy, yogurt-dicks, the fact that some random somebody, somewhere got to my blog by Googling “What does ‘pull my pud’ mean?” is just about the last, breathless hope for humanity.

And I think that’s fucking beautiful. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put on a pair of black mambos and strengthen my armadillo.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Well, Grip my Dick and Make it Thick; It's... DEAR APRON!

My eldest sister pronounces "espresso" "ex-presso," and, while I try not to let things like that bother me too much, I'll admit that it makes me sad. But not half as sad as the sad-sack, pony-asses whose lives are far too meandering and complex to navigate without the sticky, prickly, pot-bellied, obtusely-angled, Jew-infused advice of a hard-lucka mothafucka we've all come to accept and tolerate known as...


My wealthy brother-in-law and his entire family didn't give my daughter a graduation gift. And even though they attended my son's wedding, none of them gave him a wedding gift, either.

We have attended the graduations and weddings of all their children and have been generous. We know the right thing is to say nothing, but it's hard to understand and remain quiet. What do you think? -- GIFTLESS FAMILY IN GRAND RAPIDS


One thing is for certain-- you are absolutely, unquestionably correct that "the right thing is to say nothing." I don't know where you picked up that particular nugget of etiquette, but this prescribed silence will serve you exquisitely well when you mete out your revenge.

Do you lift your eyebrows in surprise? Oh, come now-- don't be coy. We all know that silence is the perfect decoy-- without it, with an audible, vocal complaint or gripe, your smoking jacket-wearing brother-in-law will undoubtedly suspect that something's up and he will be awaiting your counterstrike. But, if you play it cool and just keep on keepin' on, being careful to make no waves, air no grievance, when the time is ripe for your tactical maneuver, he will have no idea what hit him. It is absolutely critical that you remain mum about these continued slights and nurse your wounds quietly, and in the height of privacy.

The poisoning of his terriers (strychnine secreted in their water bowls is one way to go) and the eventual firebombing of his McMansion will never be able to be traced back to you, because you will have left no paper-trail, no complaining voicemail messages, no passive-aggressive Post-It notes complaining about gifts unreceived and financial inequities or petty jealousies inherent in your relationship. The police will suspect some crazy ex-lover of his, or a random act of sociopathic violence.

And that's good. Oh.... it's so good....

So, shhhhh.... Shhh..... There's a good boy. Shh... Stay very... very..... quiet.


My 17-year-old daughter, "Kelly," tried to commit suicide. She was admitted to a hospital and started on an antidepressant. Last night, when I was walking across the parking lot to the ward, I met her psychiatrist. When I asked how Kelly was doing, he said she's agitated, not sleeping and he was starting her on medication that night.

When he mentioned the dose, I told him my daughter had been given half that amount previously and didn't wake up for 24 hours. I said I thought he should give her less or change the medication. He said he'd change it, went back inside and I followed.

I'm glad I ran into him, but now I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't. What are the rules about medication being given to adolescents? Aren't the parents supposed to give consent? What can I do to prevent this from happening again? -- VIGILANT MOM IN COLORADO


How dare you?

How DARE you?!

Do you not understand what you have done? You have crossed a medical professional-- someone who has been granted the privilege of walking around wearing a white lab coat. Someone with M.D. after his fucking name. I just... I can't believe you. You have the unmitigated temerity, the gall, really, to tell a doctor what he should be doing with your own daughter?

I. am. outraged.

I'm just out of rage. Actually, not quite. There's still some rage left in there. And I'm glad, because you're going to get the remainder, sista.

Clearly, you were not raised in a Jewish home because, if you were, you would have been taught from a very early, pre-literate age that doctors are essentially the Messiah and are to be treated with respect. They are the supreme authority figure on this earth, and if you're saying to yourself, "Well, wait, what about rabbis?" I'm going to tell you that, compared to doctors, rabbis ain't shit. Okay? Nothing. Oh, look, they can open and close the ark and take the torah out.

Big fucking deal, man. Big fucking deal. A doctor can cut your goddamned head open, dig around in there, and then close it up AND he can open the ark and take the fucking torah out as long as he's had his fucking bar mitzvah.

And here you are, some mom jeans-wearing peroxide case just strolling up to a doctor in a parking lot (where his Mercedes is resting, protected in an invincibility shield manufactured by God himself) and you start mouthing off like you're Andrew Dice Clay?

No wonder your daughter hates her life.


My mother-in-law, "Kay" -- who is in her 50s -- dresses like she's in her teens or 20s. Don't get me wrong, she looks great. She exercises several hours a day to keep in shape and follows a strict diet.

Kay wears spaghetti-strap shirts and short skirts in the summer, and bikinis to sunbathe. I understand that she wants to show off her body, but is there a way to direct her to more age-appropriate clothing? Or am I in the wrong here? -- PRIM AND PROPER IN OKLAHOMA


First of all-- is Kay a doctor? Because, if she is, she can dress however the fuck she wants, and you'd better not say anything to her about it, especially in a parking lot.

In the case that Kay isn't a doctor, the next time she shows up for an outing with you wearing a tank top and short shorts, just throw up on her dimpled, leathery-assed tits. That should get the message across.


I have several old Bibles that are literally falling apart. What's the proper way of disposing of Bibles? It seems wrong to just throw them in the trash or burn them. -- ROBERT IN COLUMBUS, OHIO


Robert, Robert, Robert. Are you new to the game, man? Are you some kind of rookie, is that it? You're supposed to come up with a clever pseudonym when writing lame-ass advice letters-- it's one of the few things most of these readers have to look forward to in their dusty, meaningless lives. Something like "Bible Bound in Columbus, Ohio" or "Good Book Gone in Columbus, Ohio" or something gay like that. But you didn't put any effort into your pen name, or your letter for that matter, at all, did you?

Did you?

Anyway, Robert, I'm sorry to have to inform you that the proper way to respectfully dispose of several old bibles is to eat them. Then, after digestion, which may take a while, you are to excrete the biblical leavings into as many glass bottles as it takes, toss them in the Atlantic Ocean and hope they make it to some far-flung African nation where the religious fecal matter will be examined by Christian missionaries and spread on the faces of sleeping African children while they sleep so that they may be converted more efficiently.

I hope you're glad you asked. I certainly am.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Love Your Look

Yesterday, my wife and I went to the Arts Star Craft Bazaar. It's an annual event, held at Penn's Landing, and it's still going on today if you're in the neighborhood and feel like braving the rain and lots of ironic mustaches.

We went two years ago and it was hot as Roseanne Barr's left inner thigh, and just as humid, too. We brought our then-only dog, Finley with us, because we just love punishment, and it was stressful, to say the least. It's one thing if you're a true hipster asshole and live downtown and it's a short trot from your regentrified rowhouse to Penn's Landing, but we suburbanites schlepped our 68-pound dog all the way from Whiteysville down to the city so we could prance around while our elderly dog nearly died from dehydration.

I mean, we tried. We brough the sonofabitch water and a collapsible travel water bowl, but he wouldn't drink. And we panicked, thinking we were going to kill him, knowing full well that no hipster asshole would perform doggie CPR on him, so we left. Not before my wife purchased an undeniably cute felted floral headband, though.

This year, we came sans canine, and it was a much more pleasurable experience. The temperature was approximately twenty-five degrees cooler than it was the last time we were at Arts Star, so it was a far more tolerable experience. There were charming creations on display: a gentleman who meticulously-crafted handbags partially out of old hardback book covers, upcycled old sweaters made into squirrel, anteater, and walrus stuffed animals, resin-coated pins, buttons and cufflinks, screen-printed t-shirts, one couple who crafted the most beautiful baby mobiles, even Valerie from Project Runway, Season 8 was there exhibiting her dresses and headbands.

And she told my wife there was a mirror on the table. And my wife realized who she was. And my wife almost sharted herself.

At some point during the afternoon, Mrs. Apron became a little dizzy (probably from the shock of seeing a real-life former reality television star-- one who has received a consolation hug from Tim Gunn, no less) and we sat down on the steps at Penn's Landing and contented ourselves with people watching for a time. Outside of an airport, a shopping mall, or a bordello, a hipster craft fair is a pretty succulent place to people watch. You could have played "Spot the Risqué Tattoo" or "I Spy an Emo Baby" all day long and not gotten bored. Outside of a rack at an antiques mall, I had heretofore never seen so many pairs of antique glasses in one location. The 1950s-1970s are the preferred decades for hipster vintage reclaimed eyewear, though spotted a couple of omni-pierced chicks sporting hideously large and ugly 1980s-era plastic Cheryl Tiegs frames-- the kind I used to sell regularly to women resembling the late Estelle Getty, back in the heady days of my foray into the optical business.

I was accutely aware of the whole life-as-performance-art aspect of what I was seeing at the craft bazaar. It wasn't just kiln-fired ceramic mugs featuring sketches of foxes and penguins on display, it was the vendors and the consumers who were also out for public view. People were there to be seen by other people, and not just seen, but appreciated. People had looks. I don't think I've ever been so keenly aware of peoples' looks as I was yesterday at the craft bazaar. People were regularly being complimented by others for their shoes, their hair, their tats (not tits-- though there were plenty of those on display, too), their hats, their glasses, their babies, their dogs. My wife got a compliment on her coat.

"Is that vintage?" one of the vendors asked her.

"No, actually, it's new," my wife responded.

I suddenly felt weird, as if we were on display, too. I hadn't consciously dressed yesterday morning to be appreciated and fawned over, but I started worrying if, perhaps subconsciously, I had done just that very thing. I was wearing a short-sleeved, button down dress shirt from the early sixties, white with subtle blue and burgundy stripes. A skinny, knit, square-bottomed necktie, brown trousers, and a brand-new, birthday-fresh pair of brown Chuck Taylors-- plus a black fedora, because it was raining.

Was that a "look"? Or was that just... me? Of course, when my wife decided that she had to visit a restroom and that the lav situation at the bazaar was a tad skeevy, we ventured toward a waterfront hotel so she could use the restroom inside the lobby. As we strolled towards the door, a smiling doorman pulled it open for us. His eyes caught mine and he gave me a formal nod and said,

"Man-- I love your look."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Don't Accept That

Blogger fucked up, and they fucked up on my birthday. How unacceptable.

I used to know an Asian neurologist who, when confronted with something with which he did not agree, would angrily proclaim, "I don't accept that."

Actually, when he said it, it sounded more like, "I don assep tat!" I think there are a lot of people who would say that what I just did there is racist. These people are the same fucklords who want to ban "Huckleberry Finn".

Anyway, Blogger deleted my birthday post yesterday, and the lovely comments that went along with it, and I don assept tat. Of course, I realize that I do not live on an isolated island with mermaid-style prostitutes and tufted leather chairs and endless supplies of sugary, chocolatey treats. I realize that other people were fucked over by Blogger on May 12th. And I am angry for them. I am angry for you.

I bleed for you. Out my ass. My ass bleeds for you, ******

It. Bleeds.

I figure that the internuts are full of irate posts about Blogger's ineptitude by now, and I typically don't add my voice when I know there are other far breathier voices out there and they're all talking about the same thing. The thing is: I'm really upset. The other thing is, in a situation where a bunch of people are doing one thing, I typically present myself with two options:

1.) Take a contrary position


2.) Stay silent and/or talk about something else

Now, option 1 is clearly out of the question. How the hell can I take a contrary position about Blogger twisting my nuts and calling it love? "Oh, Blogger fucking up on my birthday? Yeah, it really gave me a chance to be all contemplative and disconnected from the fast-paced online world and I used the time I normally would have wasted blogging traipsing about in the wilderness holding hands with a grizzly bear and we picked a couple daisies and shoved them up each other's twart."

I mean, come on. That's just silly. No grizzly bear would ever hold hands with me.

I considered option 2, but I'm not very good at staying silent, and, truthfully, I couldn't really think of anything else I wanted to talk about. So, by default, I was going to blog about Blogger's immense cock-up, one way or another.

I suppose I should go easier on Blogger, seeing as they've provided me with 792 opportunities to pretend I'm a writer and all, with relatively few interruptions or complications. And it's free, so, really, you'd expect the servers or the interface to fuck up a lot more than it does, because things that are free are generally for bullshit-- like those stale-ass cookies in the Bank of America lobby or sex in Thailand or those BIC pens on the counter at the hardware store. And it's very true that everybody makes mistakes, and the error that prompted Blogger to shitcan probably 798,432,345 blog posts on May 12th was most likely a human error, prompted by some college drop-out's decision to masturbate in his cubicle and his gyrating elbow hit some key or other-- and that's a forgivable human mistake. And I can acknowledge that. I can understand that. I can relate to that. If I look deep down into the smarmy, swarthy depths of my thirty-one-year-old soul, I can even forgive that.

But I don assep tat.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Up My Conch

Some people think I’m a snob. And, maybe, they’re right. After all, I haven’t worn a pair of overalls since I was four, I don’t say things like “How you’s doin’?” and “I gots fitty cent,” and “I enjoy watching Dr. Phil,” and I’ve never driven a car with rust accents, spinners, or a confederate flag license plate.

I’ve also never eaten at Red Lobster.

You can’t get away from their commercials though. They’re insidious and infectious and invading one’s subconscious. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a “Red Lobster” commercial and viewed a powerful hand crushing a lemon slice, sending orgasmic spritzes of juice hurtling towards an unsuspecting lobster tail or succulent shrimp piled high on a bed of fluffy rice.

It’s sealicious.

Be that as it may, however sea-ductive (okay, I’ve got to stop that now) the commercials may be, I’ve never been moved to enter a Red Lobster. They’re… around, sure, and I loves me my Sebastian legs, but, for whatever the reason—attribute it to snobbery if you must—I’ve abstained up until this point.

No one’s ever said, “Hey, Apron-fucker, let’s pile into the Volvs and head on over to Red Lobster.” Of course, I’ve never said that either.

Sometimes, I feel guilty about this… call it avoidance of Red Lobster. I mean, what’s the fucking problem? I like seafood. I like reasonable prices. There really shouldn’t be any reason why I wouldn’t go there. Is it the chain-ness of it? No. Chain-ness doesn’t stop me from lustily mouth-fucking a #7 at McDonalds on certain inauspicious mornings.

Maybe it’s the feeling that seafood is somewhat more… special? That it shouldn’t be reduced to some corporate formula, passed down to dozens and dozens of restaurants nationwide?

Why not?

When we were younger and smoother, my parents used to take us all out for dinner maybe once a month at a restaurant called The Little Inn. It wasn’t terribly far from our house, and it was mainly a place that catered to the hearing aid/diaper population. Elderly men would take their wives there to indulge their social security checks and enjoy the waning hours of their autumn years by sleepily sucking down some lobster bisque. The men would dress in impossibly-hued green blazers the shade of astro-turf and the ladies wore Mennonite-style floral dresses and purple hair was the order of the day.

Oh, and there were fucking animal heads and guns on the wall. Lots of guns. Lots of heads.

You’d think that dead deer and fucked-up fowl taxidermized and staring at you would freak one out as an eight-year-old child, but it didn’t bother me in the slightest. I greedily wolfed down surf-and-turf like it was nobody’s business. Inevitably, there would be sibling squabbles, which eventually got so heated that we were banned from returning. Banned, of course, by my parents.

Maybe having never been to Red Lobster was due, at least in part, to the Little Inn Effect (“LIE” – ooh!) I might very well have been… conditioned, in a way, to believe that seafood was something that ought only to be consumed at tables dressed in starched white whilst being stared at by dead… voles, or whatever the fuck those things were on the walls.

Yesterday, though, in honor of my birthday, my Red Lobster cherry was popped. By my father. At 12:05pm, I arrived for our lunch date at a park located down the street from the hospital where I work, and, as I got out of my car, I noticed my father standing by a picnic table, and on it were two enormous take-out containers. As I walked up to him, I artfully inquired,

“What the fuck is all this shit?”

“Red Lobster, Mummy. You can choose which one you want—shrimp scampi or shrimp jambalaya.”

And so, two tall, dark, handsome Jews sat in the park together, on the younger one’s birthday, eating seafood from Red Lobster. And, you know what? It was fucking great. Those cheddar biscuits? Amazed my balls off. My father, who must have been in a nautical frame of mind yesterday, remarked,

“I asked your sister if she wanted to come to lunch with us, but she said, ‘no’, which is okay, because she has been so fuckin’ up my conch lately.”

Bottoms Up. To Life. Up My Conch. Happy Birthday. I love you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On My Birthday, I Come to Blogger to Get Away from Facebook

Hi. I'm 31 now.

I used to wonder where I was going to start going gray. Turns out, I never should have wasted any time wondering about that, as I have skipped gray and have gone straight to white. It's starting, right at the front of my hair, most of the white hairs appear in a friendly little clique on the left side of the part of my hairline. There are some on the right side, too, but more on the left. Maybe I use those left-hand brain cells more and they are wearing out their welcome.

Don't worry, though. This isn't going to be one of those self-indulgent posts where someone who's just entering his thirties bitches and whines about how "old" he is. I mean, we're still going to be self-indulgent as all fuck here, but not in that way.

Do you remember your first birthday that included Facebook? I don't, but I expect that it was a pretty significant boon to my self esteem. It probably increased the amount of recognition my birthday received by approximately 8,000-fold. Of course, there was also that negative, judging aspect of it where I undoubtedly said, "These motherfuckers barely spoke to me in high school, and now they're wishing me a happy birthday? This is gay."

And, really, it is gay (and by "gay" I mean "superficial" as well as "the homosexual act where one man inserts his [hopefully lubricated] penis into the [hopefully lubricated] anus of another man) but I suppose the greater question one has to ask oneself is, "So what?" I'll bet Zuckerfacebook is almost singlehandedly responsible for halving the number of birthday-related suicides worldwide. Seriously, who could off themselves on their birthday after witnessing the veritable cavalcade of succinct though well-meaning well-wishers alighting one's Wall?

Maybe on the day after, that I could see, but not on your birthday. No. Not in the Facebook era. No, ma'am. Or sir. Or giraffe.

As you may have gleaned from the tone of this particular blog entry, I am feeling a tad weird about my birthday this year. I've been a bit melancholy in the days approaching May 12th, but I'm feeling better as the date gets closer. This is a birthday of firsts, in many ways. To start, it's my 31st, so... there's that. It's a real mental health-related birthday, which would be my first one of those. It's the first birthday I've had (in ten or so years) where I've been in therapy, and I feel pretty good about that. It'll also be the first birthday of mine where I'll be spending eight hours of it inside a locked psychiatric hospital (and being paid for it, no less!) and that'll be... interesting, I have no doubt.

I suppose there are some who get totally fanoozled about their birthdays, but I'm just not that way. I think a birthday is a good time to eat a bunch of crap that you maybe wouldn't normally eat, and I don't mind receiving things that I want, because I'm a pretty materialistic sonofabitch, if we're being straight with each other, but I'm also in favor of a contemplative approach to birthdayism-- something that isn't perhaps encouraged by the Facebookizization of the birthday. I try to think about where I am in life on this day-- what I've done in the past year, and what I've yet to do.

Thinking about where I am satisfies me. Thinking about what I've done in the past year kind of amazes me. Thinking about what I've yet to do scares the Christ-juice out of me.

I'm scared.

Fortunately, I've got this girl who promised me, under a chuppah dappled in sun and sunflowers, that she would hold my hand. Or maybe I promised her. Either way, it luckily works out the same.

There's this website that tells you what coolio things were going on in the world on the day in which you were born. In 1980, on this date, "Call Me" by Blondie was the chart-topping song in the U.S. I've never heard it. Edmund Muskie was on the cover of TIME. I've never heard of him. The average price of a dozen eggs was $0.91. I have no idea what the fuck a dozen eggs costs now, so that factoid kind of falls flat on me.

Apparently, the Grateful Dead on the day I was born at Boston Garden. Fucking hippies. Gabriel Faure was born on May 12th, a long time ago. He wrote a pretty kickin' requiem that I like. It's nothing I'd particularly choose to listen to, though, although I'm sure lots of people do on a quiet day. I think composers like Faure and Mozart would be freaked out if they were resurrected and they found out that people pop their requiem masses into CD players or bring them up on iPods when they're jogging. That's just fucking bizarre, isn't it?

I'm spending my lunch hour with my father today. We're going to dine at a park near my work. After work, I'm going to stop over and see my mother, and then I will spend the rest of the afternoon and evening with my buddy. I won't be seeing a single other soul for the rest of the day. Random people from my past and present will pop up throughout the day on Facebook to say hello, and that's okay. At least they're where they belong. I was never one to surround myself with tons people on my birthday. I don't like lots of people, and I don't like the Grateful Dead.

But I'm maybe starting to like my birthday.

Real Time


This is trippy.

As I write these words, it's 6:56am, on Tuesday, May 10th.

This is how I used to roll-- back in the day. I'd wake up at the bum-slit of dawn, walk the dogs, make coffee, and come back up to the office to write, and then I'd post live, somewhere between 7:15 and 7:45 in the morning. The day's post was pretty much always up before eight. Of course, this post won't go live until its scheduled time of 7:18am, EST on May 11th, because I've already got a post pre-loaded for Tuesday.

Because I'm just. that. cray. in the mem. brane.

Writing in the morning again feels weird. Off. Nostalgic. There are birds outside my window making ridiculous noises. They sound even funnier than Asian chicks make when they're getting pounded, and I think we all know how funny that is. Birds are truly idiotic if you watch the right ones and you watch them closely enough. Small birds especially. They all look like they have epilepsy-- not that epilepsy is funny, so please save your righteously indignant emails about that-- but they way they dart around and jerk their heads-- it's like they're break-dancing to strobe lights.

Fucking birds. I hate epilepsy.

Anyway, part of the reason I'm writing in the morning on Tuesday is because it's an assignment from my therapist. It is designed to keep my ass in this chair and not in my car, speeding to my 8:30am appointment with him, which I have every Tuesday morning. The first time I ever saw him, I arrived at 7:47am. That seemed absurd, even to me, but I rationalized those negative thoughts away by saying to myself, "Well, you're a new patient, of course you're going to have paperwork to fill out." And, what do you know, I did have paperwork to fill out. However, I was unable to start said paperwork for twenty minutes, because, when I arrived at 7:47am, the doors to his office were not even unlocked.

I've been trying to force myself to leave the house later each week, so that I arrive at his office at a socially acceptable "early" time. The latest I am allowing myself to leave the house so far is 7:40, which is almost epileptically funny if you consider the time I arrived at his office five weeks ago for our first appointment. According to Google Directions, which is never wrong-- just like Wikipedia-- it takes between 22 and 24 minutes to get to my therapist's office, and the distance is 9.8 miles. Knowing that, any reasonable person who lives in my house would most likely leave that house for an 8:30am therapy appointment at 8:00am.

I'm not sure I can do that. See, it's 7:08am right now and I'm already getting schpilkus.

(Schpilkus, n, Yid: Ants-in-da-pants.)

They say that "the unknown" is the biggest inducer of fear in most people. I don't know who "they" are but they must never be wrong-- like Google Directions and Wikipedia and Dr. Oz-- and, frankly, I'm willing to agree with "them". I fear the unknown probably more than I fear carotid artery disease or an abdominal aortic aneurysm or skeevy people in elevators or someone hitting my car where the gas tank is located. Of course, I fear all of that, too, but the unknown is far more seductive because it comprises any number of awful, terrible things, including CAD and a Triple-A and all that other shit I mentioned, as well as... everything else.

Where I'm going with this is, I'm obsessively early because of that... unknownness. The traffic jam occurring up the way. The car accident. The detour. The bottleneck. The what-ifs. My life is comprised of approximately 753,000 what-ifs, and I have them for every single circumstance or situation in which I engage in daily life. Why do I write my blogs a day or sometimes two or sometimes three in advance? Well, what if the internet connection goes down tomorrow and I'm unable to post.

Well, what the fuck if?

Who gives a shit? Maybe you. Definitely me, that much I think we know for sure. But it's more about the settling of the beast within me that craves consistency and sameness and order and security. Do you know that those words are comforting, even to tap out on the keyboard and see appearing on the screen?

Last week, I was assigned by my therapist (goddamned C.B.T.) to wait just ten more minutes before hopping in the car and sit and force myself to write about what it feels like to write while making myself not leave the house for my appointment.

"See," I said to him in his office last week, after arriving there at 8:06am, which is better, "everything got all fucked up this morning because I had coffee at Starbucks with my father, so I wasn't at home and I wasn't at a computer, and I wasn't going to write on my smartphone."

"Did you consider, after your father left to go to work, just hanging around at Starbucks by yourself for another ten or fifteen minutes?"

I stared at my shoes. I had considered that, but I didn't do it.

"Yeah," I replied, "but we'd been sitting outside and it was kind of chilly and, besides, who the hell wants to sit at Starbucks all alone anyway?"

Hm, I would have said to me, had I been the therapist, only about half the fucking civilized world. But, you're right-- who the hell would want to sit at Starbucks, listen to inoffensive, faux-indie muzzak, enjoying a delectable, warm beverage while looking at hot, mousy-haired medical students studying for their Step II exams on their iMacs?

It's 7:20am, on May 10th. I'm going to schedule this post. Shave. Leave the house. Get a pastry from someplace.

And go.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Okay, You're a Taxi

Get ready, because New York City is going to get a lot more Soccer Mommy come 2013.

That's when the Nissan NV200, a dumpy-looking minivan that is not available for public consumption in this country, is going to start cruising the streets of the five boros, being piloted by short-tempered Middle Eastern men wearing Bluetooth earpieces, turbans, distinguished facial-hair, and perpetu-scowls.

The NV200, in case you haven't heard, was recently chosen as the taxi-elect for New York City. It will begin replacing a fleet of thousands of beat-to-shit Ford Crown Victorias that will most likely be sold to far-flung places like Rwanda and Dubai where they can be appropriately flogged to death.

The NV200 is a forward-thinking vehicle-- that is, unless you're a person with a physical disability, in which case it's backward and awful as it, apparently, cannot be modified to accomodate wheelchair-bound passengers.

Take that, A.D.A.

It is definitely a cab, however, that caters to modernity in several aspects. As we've gotten stupider, the NV200 is sensitive to our declining mental prowess. Because other motorists are, apparently, incapable of careening into open cab doors that are either letting out or letting in passengers, the NV200's passenger doors slide, minimizing collision risk. The NV200 is also very sensitive to our need to be plugged in to myriad of electronica at all times, granting its occupant the use of a 12V outlet and two USB ports, as well as floor lighting to help us quickly locate our smartphones and tablet computers that we drop drunkenly at 3am.

According to the website, the NV200 also features two distinct interior advancements over its predecessors:

1.) "Attractive, breathable, antimicrobial, environmentally friendly and easy-to-clean seat fabric that simulates the look and feel of leather."

Wow. Five fucking adjectives. Is that really necessary?


2.) "Independently controlled rear air conditioning with a grape phenol-coated air filter to improve cabin air quality."

I don't know what grape phenol-coating is, but I'm not sure it's something I necessarily want in an enclosed area like a taxi cab. I'm too scared to look it up. Why are they coating my air with grapey stuff? Why don't they just coat the seats in Kool Aid varnish?

While these features are all admittedly amusing on some sophomoric level, easily my favorite technological advancement featured on the NV200 has nothing to do with seats that feel like leather or fruity air, and it isn't anything to do with EPA estimates or the reassurance of airbags out the ying-yang, it's the horn.

No, it doesn't play "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Unfortunately.

The NV200's horn is what is referred to as a "low-annoyance horn."

Low. Annoyance.


Frankly, I can't wait to hear this thing in action. I'm just picturing some middle-aged Indian man with hate-glazed red eyes after being cut off in traffic in Soho or something, hanging out his window screaming,


He slams his vein-bulging fist down on the center of his steering wheel and it sounds like a tow-headed third grader with stage-fright playing the triangle.

Not only is the horn "low annoyance" but, every time you activate the horn on the NV200, lights on the outside of the cab illuminate so the police can slap you with a fine for noise pollution. So, basically, your own fucking ride narcs on you. Amazing.

I think what the NV200 needs is a time-delay horn, or an impulse-control horn-- something that gives you time to compose yourself before deciding, "Yes, this situation truly warrants the activation of my low-annoyance horn."

The way I see it working would be comme si:

Fast Forward to 2013. Some shitty-kneed bastard almost hits your snazzified NV200. You smash your fist down on the center of the steering wheel, but there is no sound. Your in-dash navigation system screen (which comes standard with all NV200s) lights up, and a familiar old friend appears on the screen:

"Hi. Looks like you want to give voice to some desert-infused rage. Do you want help with that?"

Monday, May 9, 2011

Stay The Fuck Away From Me, World

As my wife and I walked hand-in-hand up the path to the front door of my parents’ house, we spied an unfamiliar sticker affixed to the screen door.

If my mother could be summed up in a sticker, it would be this one.

Fearful, paranoid, constantly warding off the evil eye or evil bacteria or evildoers in general, she is a 5’2” hundred-odd-pound bundle of anxiety with stylish short hair and librarian glasses.

And, we love her. And not just because yesterday was Mother’s Day either.

Being greeted as we were by this new sticker last night made me smile, because nothing says “my mother” quite like a “stay the fuck away from me, world” sticker on the front door that’s approximately a full foot tall. If she could enclose the property in razor-wire without it looking institutional, she would do it. Because, really—why take a chance?

We do not take chances in my family. In fact, when my wife texted me while I was at work Saturday to let me know that she had an idea percolating about something special to do next weekend to celebrate my birthday, this was my reply:

“As long as it doesn’t involve me performing and/or socializing too much, or potentially risking my life or our lives outside of the normal risks, you should be okay. I love you.”

Ah, good old genetics. Thanks for those hand-me-down worry-warts, Mom.

Not only are my parents proudly displaying this boldly-hued burglar warning on their screen-door, they had two more of them, they had two more of them, in case my sister and I wanted one for either or both of our houses.

I politely declined. The previous owners of our house, also apparently scared straight by the wicked world, had already placed an older version of this sticker on our front door years ago. My sister declined because she’s an asshole.

The previous owners of our house also have metal grates on the basement windows, three locks on the basement door, and auxiliary locks on all the windows in the house, operated by small keys. I think we must be distantly related.

I love my mom and her paranoia and her fears, many of which I have inherited. While I don’t wake up covered in sweat after having nightmares about thousands of half-naked Koreans storming the beach like she does, I am, basically, afraid of everything. Seeing that sticker on the front door of their house reminded me of the day when I was in fifth grade and I stayed home from school sick. And I called the police because some scruffy-looking guy was crawling through our bushes in front of our house. Three radio cars with emergency lights ablaze responded in under three minutes. When he didn’t comply with their directions fast enough, he was taken down.

It was the guy from the water company trying to read our meter.

I was worried that, when my mother got home from work and found out what I'd done, that I'd gotten a menial public servant thrown to the ground because I was a tightly-wound, neurotic child who watched far too much "Rescue, 911" for his own good, that I would get in trouble, that she would be disappointed in me, ashamed of me, mad at me, bewildered and confused by me. But she wasn't any of those things. She held me close and said,

"I'm very proud of you-- I'd have done exactly the same thing."

Of course she would have.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love your crazy, I love your sticker, and I love you.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I was talking to an old friend recently about a certain international event that has got everybody all lathered up of late. He mentioned that he had been talking the matter over with his wife for several days, and she brought up the point that this particular incident had potentially dramatic consequences, not just for Pakistan, but for Israel. My friend then asked me for my opinion on the subject. I was quiet for a little while, and I answered,

"Possibly. We'll have to see."

Profound, I know.

The fact of the matter is this: I live in America. I don't live in Pakistan, and I don't live in Israel. My father is from Israel, but we don't live there, and my family doesn't live there. In my world, small as it is, I care about what and whom I emotionally connect with. There are people of Irish descent in this country who've never set foot in Ireland, but belong to organizations (they'd probably spell it "organisations") like "Celtic Connection" (they'd probably spell it "Connexion") and, whenever something happens in Ireland, their ears perk up.

When shit goes down in the Middle East, I am relatively unfazed. Sorry. I just can't help it.

International news in general interests me, of course. Like a good Jewish Volvo driver, I read the NYT online edition every day. And by "read" I mean "scan the headlines of for stories that might potentially interest me." However, I am not someone who gets his rocks particularly off over espousing my views on what's going on in Tibet or the Congo. Do I have views on these subjects?

Sometimes. Not always.

Oftentimes, I feel far too ill-informed to formulate a view or opinion, and I would feel silly discussing something about which I am not grossly informed and/or semi-ambivalent about.

Why would I bother? To sound smart? I kind of think I'm smart already. To hear myself talk? Meh-- kind of nasal.

I guess sometimes I'm just too damned practical-- too fucking micro-- to engage in heated discussions about international affairs. I wish I was the sort of person who enjoyed getting all animated jawing about Egypt or Syria, but I'm just not. The people in these countries are going to do what they do whether or not I offer my view around the chart-room table. I'm not going to impress anybody, or move anybody, or gain anything out of chewing the fat about the value of the euro on a Thursday afternoon. I'd much rather talk about issues surrounding my job, or the challenges we face in every day life.

For me, the smaller the issue, the better. It's something I can conceptualize, something which with I can wrestle and, not only that, something I can (possibly) do something about.

Maybe that's what bothers me so much about fervent discussions about international affairs. What is going to change by talking about it? What is it going to matter what I think? Easy: it's not.

To that end, my wife and I are not the sort of couple that engages each other in spirited debate on matters of politics or happenings in far off places. Sometimes I wish we were that sort of couple but, mostly, I don't.

I think it's great if you're in a relationship where you can fight like James Carville and his wife over politics and then have romper-room-style sex afterwards, but that's just not us. We do our best to figure life out together, and it comes with complexities aplenty, that's for sure. Because we both listen to NPR very frequently, by the time we get home and back into each others' arms where we belong, we're so sick of the daily news anyway, who the hell wants to rehash it all in the dining room or the kitchen.

Besides, we pretty much know how the other one feels about most news stories anyway, even before they happen.