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

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

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

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Protest Schmotest

On a very rare outing today (outings are rare when you're the father of twins, in case you didn't know) I noticed some protesters holding up signs and chanting some shit outside one of our local hospitals.  The heat was sweltering, and there were some elderly, knobby-kneed fuckers out there with sign-boards yelling at traffic in that ornery, old protester way, and I thought to myself,

Man-- those people are really angry at whatever it is that hospital is doing.  But I'll bet, if one of them collapsed from an aneurysm or heat stroke or an exploding varicose vein, they probably wouldn't put up much of a fuss if they were picked up and dragged into the emergency room of that hospital.  I doubt they'd do anything to prevent the doctors and nurses inside that villainous institution from cutting them open and knocking around their hearts till they restarted.  I'll bet they wouldn't mind.

That's the thing about being pissed off at a hospital, or at the police-- it's all well and good until you're frothing at the mouth or being beat up by a gang of roving Vikings.

I've never protested anything, and I got to thinking about this when all the Occupy Whatever protests were going on at full tilt.  I had thought that my apathy had really set in once I became a father, but that's not entirely true-- I didn't give a shit about things way before that.  Not even as a college student, when I fancied myself an activist of some sort.  When every asshole considers himself an activist of some sort.  Looking back on it, I probably would have gotten more head in college had I went to Washington or New York to protest something.  I'm sure protests are great places to meet idealistic chicks.  Women aren't crazy about giving head at Lutheran schools in Allentown.  At least not to me.

It was nice to get out of the house today, even though I was running a regrettable errand.  See, for approximately ten years, I was a 30-inch waist.  This made buying trousers uneventful, and I liked that.  If I liked my life to be eventful, chances are I'd have gone to a protest or two in my twenties.  Due to a combination of slowed metabolism, middle-aged spread, and experiencing the suddenly sedentary lifestyle of suburban twin fatherhood, I noticed recently that I was gasping for air every time I would put on a pair of pants.  This simply was not going to do-- not for long at any rate.  Crushed guts aren't good for a person, you know.

So I finally ventured out today while Mrs. Apron looked after the children and I bought pants.  Eight pair of pants.  Blue, black, gray, olive, brown, khaki.  I don't know what else-- there were two other colors.  Gray? Who cares?  The point of this story isn't the trousers, it's that I was outside, and I was noticing things again.  Like the sweaty bastard in the wife-beater mowing his lawn, like the two children who were standing by the curb and should have been being more closely monitored by their dick-brained parent.  Like the stupid new Fiat that looks like a hemorrhoid. Like hot jogging chicks with ponytails who don't give head in Allentown.  Like protesters outside of the hospital.  I liked noticing things again.

I wanted to go up to one of those protesters and talk to them, to see what they were about.  To see if they were really as annoying as I thought they were.  To see if they were protesting abortion.  Or if they didn't like the new GE ultrasound machines for some reason.  But instead I just got out of my car and stared at them, like they were animals in the zoo.  One of the animals tipped his head to me, acknowledging me.  I didn't like that.  I felt like kicking him, but I didn't.  I'm not a violent person, you know.  Like F. Murray Abraham's Salieri, I just have "really... violent thoughts".  Like you do.

I got punched in the face last week at work by a patient.  That's never happened to me before-- not just at work, but anywhere.  In elementary school, I was hit in the stomach once on the playground, probably for saying something smart.  On the #30 bus, a blonde 5th grader named Russell hit me in the chest with his hockey stick as he was getting off the bus.  I don't remember provoking that incident, but it's likely that I did.  I'm not violent, but I did a lot in those days to incite conflict.  These days, I do my best to avoid it.  I guess that's why I don't protest, or walk up to protesters.

When I got hit in the face-- it wasn't that hard-- I saw little specks for a quick second or two.  The screen went black and there were these little white specks, little bitty flecks that kind of sparkled.  It was, I don't know, weird.  Nice Jewish boys from the suburbs aren't supposed to get punched in the face at psych hospitals.

"That's for some other mother's son," my mother said to me years ago when I tried to join the police academy.

So, I guess, is protesting.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Remember when this blog used to be funny?

Neither do I.

But, you know who does?  


My niece, "Amy," got her driver's license last November. Since then she has been stopped six times for violations. Unfortunately, she wasn't ticketed for any of them -- just given warnings. Who knows how many other times she should have been ticketed?

When Amy told me about it, she acted like it was a joke and something she was proud of. Her parents are divorced and her father spoils her beyond reason. He gives her whatever she wants, including buying her a new car. Her mother has little control over her.

My niece doesn't seem to understand the possible consequences or what serious damage a car can do to her or to someone else. How should I handle this? I have no contact with her father. Any ideas? -- CONCERNED AUNT IN MASSACHUSETTS


Why, it just so happens I DO have some ideas-- thanks for asking!

Spoiled whorelettes like Amy need consequences-- any bald, mustachioed, jack-off T.V. therapist will tell you that-- so clearly, Amy needs to be taught that an automobile is a very heavy, potentially dangerous killing machine.  The first thing you want to do is take away the illusion of safety.  See, modern cars are stuffed to the gills with supplemental restraint systems, airbags, anti-lock brakes, collapsible steering wheels, traction control, doors-- you're going to want to get rid of all that shit.  Strip the car down so that it resembles a mail Jeep from the 1970s-- basically a hand-grenade on wheels.  Then, duct-tape the bitch into the driver's seat and put a cinder-block on the accelerator.  Make sure that it's rush-hour and the streets are filled with passively suicidal desk-jockeys heading home to their wives and children that they can't stand.  I have a funny feeling that Amy will be less likely to take driving as some kind of joke after this little motoring excursion. 

Kids... sheesh, right?!


My 60-year-old sister is being married for the third time. She's planning to wear a long, white wedding gown and will be having a maid of honor, bridesmaids, a rehearsal dinner and reception. We are encouraging her to have a small, quiet ceremony with only family and close friends. Who is correct? -- REALISTIC SISTER, PORT ORANGE, FLA.


That's a great pseudonym, R.S., I have to tell you-- it really does a lot to eschew any possible ambiguity regarding the relationship you gals have together.  Kudos to you!

As far as Unrealistic Sister's third wedding is concerned, all I can say is that, as long as she's marrying someone of the opposite gender, she can wear nothing but a pair of water wings and have the 32nd Precinct of the New York City Police Department as her bridesmaids for all I care, because marriage is a union between a man and a woman and no one else should have the right to make a longstanding commitment to anybody of the same gender in this country.  So help me God.


My sister-in-law is demanding to know why I won't accept her friend request on Facebook. Personally, I don't consider her a friend and prefer not to allow her access to my Facebook page. How can I politely and honestly answer her questioning? -- PREFER TO DECLINE 


Tell her it's because you don't want her to see those pictures of you doing all that stuff to those homeless guys' assholes with the Nutella-covered bendie straws.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Looking For My Mother

She's in there-- somewhere, I guess.  She's got to be.  On outward appearance, it's the same bespectacled face, the same careworn hands, the same short, salt-and-pepper hair.  It's got to be my mother.

Lately, though, I'm not so sure.

The wry smile is gone.  I don't know that it's gone for good necessarily, but I haven't seen it-- not since December or thereabouts.  That's when my brother-in-law was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic cancer.  That's when the reality set in that her first grandson was going to grow up having never known his father.  "Buddy," my wife asked me tentatively last night during a rare, quiet moment in our house, "will your mother be sad for a very long time?"

"Yeah," I said, not looking at anything in particular, "I think so."

Tragedy doesn't visit our family.  Death does, as it drops in on every family, but tragedy?  Not so much.  I went to my first funeral at age 9, but it was for Dr. Porter, our next door neighbor, who died at a ripe old age-- an irascible, bent over, shriveled up raisin in suspenders and tatty old Florsheims.  People we know and people we love tend to die late in life, when they should.  The only person who exited the world out-of-order was my mother's mother, who was felled by lymphoma-- but that was years before I was born.  So I was not scarred.

But my mother was.

And maybe that's part of the reason why the death of her son-in-law at the age of 34, from cancer, no less, hit her so hard.  Because she'd been there.  She knew.  She'd watched the woman she loved more than anything get eaten up, eaten alive, become barely recognizable.  A shell.  A shame.

Now that I have children, I see my mother more.  For a while, while my brother-in-law was dying, I never saw my mother, because she was caring full-time for his son, while my sister was caring for her husband.  Now that my brother-in-law is dead, my mother comes by to help me with the babies when I'm home with them alone.  Part of it, I think, is because she feels guilty about missing their first few months.  Part of it is because she's from the generation that is absolutely sure a father will kill his children through sheer incompetence and absent-minded negligence by putting them in the dishwasher when their diapers get dirty or something.  Part of it, maybe, is because watching me be a father is one of the few small pleasures she gets to experience anymore.

Maybe.  I don't know.

When she's with me at the house with the babies, conversation is quiet, and the content is either superficial, or it's sad.  I can't manage to get us anywhere in between, and the fault is mine as much as it's hers.  Sometimes, I find myself trying to keep it light, because I can't bear it when it's heavy-- sometimes I say deliberately inappropriate things just to get her to smile-- and, sometimes, it works.  That's what I used to do at the dinner table when we were all young together.  I'd make a cutting remark about a distant relative or someone from the neighborhood just to see my mother smile.  I never thought then that the corners of her mouth turning up would ever mean so much to me.

Or happen so infrequently.

She's in there somewhere, I know, just like we're all in there somewhere-- who we were before cancer and before twins and before mortgages and cars we paid for ourselves and colleges we shouldn't have gone to and majors we shouldn't have chosen and girlfriends we shouldn't have slept with and friends we shouldn't have made.  But did.  We're all in there somewhere.  My daughter is cooing downstairs and my son is sleeping in the next room and my wife, a mother, who's also in there, just finished pumping.  And I'm wearing red and pink argyle socks, because, somewhere, I think I'm in there, too. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Where I Came From

I bought myself a birthday gift today.

I don't know much about it, but that doesn't bother me.  The seat is covered in a coral-hued fabric, there's wicker underneath the cloth.  The back is punched leather, and there's wicker behind that, too.  The little sticker from the antique mall just said, "Swivel Chair - Oak.  $85".  I offered to pay cash, so they gave it to me for $70.  Life is good, you know.

I saw it a week ago, and I wanted it then, but my wife and the babies and I left the antique mall last weekend and I let myself think about it for a couple days.  See, I'm a pretty impulsive guy, so I thought I'd see if I still wanted the chair come, Wednesday, say.  I did.  Ten years ago, I bought a wooden swivel chair from K-mart and, well, it's just not the same.  There's no character, no history.  No one's ever farted in that K-mart chair besides me.  I like things that have been farted in, apparently.  You should see my trouser collection.

So, today, I put the babies in the car and, on a whim, I picked up the phone and called my father.

"Hey, want to take a ride with me and the babies?  We're going to an antiques mart to pick something up."

"Where?" he asked, "you mean, like across the street, or like, New York?"

"Well," I hedged, pulling up to their house, "it's somewhere in between."

The antiques mart is 23 miles away from where we live, and is around a 45 minute drive.  The babies were blissfully quiet in the back, and my father did what he does best-- which is keeping conversation going.  He asked me questions about the babies he already knew the answers to, or had forgotten, he chatted about a conference for entrepreneurs he attended where he met the mayor and inadvertently put his foot in his mouth-- this happens a lot.  He talked about successfully suing a local radio station, for what I have no idea, and his thoughts about possibly suing his web design contractor.  My father also wants to sue the hospital where my brother-in-law was diagnosed with and treated for the cancer that quickly killed him, but thankfully that subject didn't come up on this leisurely drive down Route 1.

"I hope this thing actually fits in the car," I said during a silence, "I didn't take any measurements."  I never do.

"What are we picking up?" he asked.

"Oh-- it's an office chair, an antique office chair with a cloth seat and a leather back."

He looked at me.  I looked at the road.

"Where did you come from?" he asked, shaking his head, "I mean, seriously-- an antique fucking chair?  Where did you come from anyway?"

I shrugged.

"You know, I ask myself that question a lot, too."

"I mean, I know I have family on my side that liked music and things-- and my cousin, you know, the one that was in love with my brother, she had an antique show in South Africa a while ago.  But you?  I just don't know what it's all about."

And he never did.  But one thing that was always understood was that, however bizarre and off-the-wall my latest interest was, he would be there to indulge it.  During the late eighties, when the Olympics were held in Seoul, I decided, at age 8, that I was going to grow up to marry a Korean girl.  The language fascinated me, so I would have my father drive me to Darby-- 69th Street-- where there was a small Korean enclave, and I would look at all the strange neon signs on storefronts and windows, and I would make him buy me Korean language newspapers that I would take home and study, and copy onto lined paper.  My lust for antique VW Beetles raged unquenchable for years and, when I was fourteen, a 1966 Beetle-- Bahama Blue-- somehow ended up in our driveway.  I sometimes went off to summer camp dressed in a dark blue, heavy wool three-piece suit in 100-degree weather.

No one ever said "no" to me.  But they probably always wondered "why".

I don't know who they would have asked.

"Look," he said to me as I piloted my wife's Honda Fit towards through the towns leading to the antique mart, "just be who you are-- you always were who you are.  The minute you start to change, you can't live in your own skin.  I never changed for anybody."

"Yes," I said, "you did.  You changed a lot."

It was quiet for a second.

"Yeah-- okay, yeah, I did.  But I knew if I was going to stay in this country, I'd have to change-- otherwise it wouldn't be fair to anybody."

I've changed, too.  I'm a husband, and I'm a father, two times over.  I'm no longer chasing dreams of policing the streets as a genteel beat cop, and I'm satisfied with the humble life of the occasional community theatre performer.  I'm no writer, I'm a blogger, and that's okay with me.  When my wife was pregnant, she was worried that the babies would change us into some unrecognizable entity, that they would supplant our identities.  It happens, you know.  Just look at the Facebook profile pictures of the people you went to school with-- many of their profile pictures have been replaced with pictures of their offspring.

But that's supposed to be you.  There's still a you in there-- isn't there?  That's what identity is, I think; who we are and what we love and what piques our interest.  My identity is comprised of my preferences and my proclivities and my habits and my collections.  My sillies.  And I suppose I'm glad I'm still bringing back silly things from antique malls.  And I think, in his way, my father's glad, too.