59

My parents were married 75 years ago today although neither one of them are around for an earthly celebration. They made it past their 59th Anniversary but then Dad left to investigate the afterlife. But they are here in their four living children, 14 grandchildren, and about as many great grandchildren. So you do not just pack up and exit this earth. You leave legacies. But you cannot control your legacy. Sure, my children may begrudgingly honor my Will which directs that all proceeds from my estate be used to finance statues of myself. But the grandchildren could eventually destroy the statues because I cannot control human being legacies. People change and societies evolve. No matter how fashionable statues of me are today, some crazy future may discover that bronze causes cancer, attracts cannibalistic aliens, or melts in the latter stages of global warming. What does my wife think of my statue plan? I guess I will find out when this Blog posts and she gets off the phone with our lawyer. Maybe I will need to include her on a joint statue. What’s the big deal anyway? Bronze goes for over two dollars per pound, so it can be converted into cash and invested in a movie about me. The possibilities are endless. What would my parents think about the statues? First, they would assume I was joking even though they would not be laughing. Second, they would tell my family to relax because I never do what I say. I claimed I would never get married and here I am within eight years from hitting a 59th Anniversary. And I think bronze is the traditional gift for 59th Anniversaries.

Free Stuff

Last summer a Stick Library appeared in Pinehurst Pocket Park in Seattle with sanded and polished sticks for dogs. The sticks were not meant to be used in the pocket park which is not an off leash area. They are offered like books at Little Free Libraries in neighborhoods everywhere. For a couple of years, humans have dabbled with stick libraries around the world but the trend was featured in national news segments this past week. As with many ideas, the first person who implements the concept is not the one to take it viral. You now need to act fast if you want to be a leader in the stick library movement. It likely will not be as popular as Little Free Libraries because a book exchange provides a more efficient mutual two way trade. A stick library is more limited to generous providers and thankful users, like water dishes left in public areas for pets. I expect users will not actually be in the business of trading their used sticks for used sticks from others. But I am actually not legally allowed to Blog about dogs because I have never owned a dog. So what do I know? I am mostly intoxicated with the idea of getting on television or in print by inventing the next free library trend. I am thinking of photo swaps. I offer old photographs that are redundant and/or feature unknown family members but which are emotionally difficult to trash. Then you trade your old photos which I and others will find easy to dump after a few moments of amusement. If this trend catches on, we can broaden the exchange to include ticket stubs, recipes, old calendars, and love letters from my wife’s ex-boyfriend.

Bandage Records

Last Wednesday, I showered before my morning appointment for a second Pfizer vaccination. I normally do not discuss showering details but I discovered a bandage on my upper left arm. I was shocked to realize it had been living there for 26 days, ever since my first vaccination. Why had I not noticed it before? The most logical explanation would be that I had not showered in almost four weeks. My friends could believe that. But my wife is still alive. Her eyesight has diminished to the point I no longer need to comb my hair, but her sense of smell has grown keener. I love her for who she is but she only loves the clean version of me. The small bandage blended with my skin and was difficult to peel off. I need some of those Band-Aids that the University of Washington Medical Center uses. The adhesive was like Super Glue. Generic ones I buy at the dollar store never stick. I am told to apply greasy antibiotic on wounds so they do not become infected. But then one side of a bandage on my face will slip and dangle while I am interfacing with the public. I was relieved to find the vaccination bandage in time to avoid questions about what it was still doing on my arm. I probably would have panicked and invented an explanation that the injection site was still bleeding. The vaccinator did not even see my left arm this time. I offered my more valuable right limb. I hope she affixed the bandage securely because with no impending appointments, I am determined to break the Guinness World Record for bandage longevity set by that guy who died of gangrene a couple years ago.

America is Back?

Politicians are especially good at declaring victories. Too bad they are so often premature. President Bush famously celebrated “Mission Accomplished” when it was far from accomplished. Donald Trump told us we were “turning the corner” while he led us off a cliff. After a month in office, President Biden declares that “America is back!” I look around and everything seems the same. I am an untrained and uncertified teacher still helping homeschool two grandchildren and they are suffering for it. Third grader Zofia has not been allowed inside a classroom for a year. The latest winter storms have devastated the country. I am sure Texans are not ecstatic to be told America is back. Our Senate is split 50-50. We are only in extra innings. Minds have not been changed on whether an insurrection at the Capitol is patriotic or treasonous. Minds have not been changed on whether or not school shootings are just collateral damage in the fight to preserve weaponry at all cost. The racial divide has not been bridged. The death toll from Covid-19 is passing one half million, even with Governor Cuomo undercounting. We are still wearing masks. Peaks Frozen Yogurt and Beth’s Cafe are closed. I have not been on an airplane or in a movie theater for a year. Sure we changed who gets to ceremoniously sign Executive Orders. But have we resolved the issues of Immigration Reform and Climate Control? I guess America is back if we mean back in the same old mess. At least Joe Biden did not shout “America is back” from the balcony of the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun. But I am back to being sick of political posturing, spin, and slogans. Show us an America that is back and then tell us how you did it in your memoir.

Toby’s Trouble

I am reading Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. The first sentence on the book jacket tells the reader that Toby Fleishman and his wife have separated. My wife Mollie could not gag her way past the first ten percent of the novel, so I am reading it because: (1) maybe I can give her insights to impress her Book Club in a few days; and (2) if she hates the book, presumably I would love it. I do not but I have pinpointed her problem. My wife would hate the Clint Eastwood movie The Unforgiven because she needs stories with a hero or heroine. If everyone is flawed or unlovable, she has no interest because I provide ample opportunity for her to love a flawed character on a daily basis. She hated Gone Girl and The War of Roses. Mollie always takes the woman’s side in any divorce so will definitely not be sympathetic to me if we split up. No surprise that she hated Toby right off the bat. His viewpoint dominates the early narrative but my wife could not stomach Toby’s spouse either. Mollie would never understand the Fleishman book because Toby is a sympathetic character in the beginning but she hates him anyway. Spoiler alert. So how is she going to get the twist when the wife, the female narrator/classmate of Toby, and the female author all collaborate to introduce additional information and dominate the different perspective later in the novel? My wife saw through Toby the whole time and thus spoiled the punchline. On one of our first dates, Mollie startled me when she said she could see right through me like a piece of cellophane. I wondered why she said cellophane instead of glass. Perhaps she saw the future wrinkled version of me.

Shadow House

Since second grade, my nine year old granddaughter has loved reading middle grade horror mystery books. As she gets older, this becomes more appropriate as the target audience is apparently 8-12 year olds. Last year she enjoyed shocking her teacher and classmates with her reading choices. Students can choose their own books but are required to provide weekly status and book reports. She is currently reading Shadow House by Dan Poblocki. I read with her. We are on Chapter 27 of 38. The best part is the vocabulary she is developing by reading books that are also aimed at slightly older children. The odd part is that Zofia has always been too afraid to go downstairs alone in our house. She invents excuses for others to accompany her because she knows she has no logical reason for this behavior. The fear of being alone has long predated the books. Instead of causing the fear, horror stories in fact seem to provide therapy. We keep up a running commentary as we read. We mock the characters who inevitably enter obviously unsafe places and then always find a reason to split up when they are most vulnerable. Everybody laughs at movies where those in danger decide to separate but that is exactly what my sister-in-law and I did when we got lost on Mount Adams back in 2005. It was a mistake and we wonder to this day what we were thinking. Is there a human instinct that somehow demands separation when danger is the greatest? Or is the world divided into rational people and dummies like me who panic under pressure? If so, why have the dummy lines not died out?

Dump the Chump

Procrastination is not all bad. I learned at work that taking no action often led to the problem going away one way or another. The pandemic has allowed me time to tackle the projects on my to-do list. I have scratched off many actions and not because I did them. The item to “fix cracked windshield” is moot because I long ago traded in the vehicle with its unfixed window. The plan to “buy tricycle” is unnecessary now that my nine year old granddaughter is riding a bike. I guess she did not really need a trike. I was going to resume searching for a proof for Fermat’s Last Theorem that no three positive whole numbers solve the equation x to the nth power + y to the nth power = z to the nth power for n greater than 2. Pierre de Fermat posed the proposition around 1637, but I thought I could do better than mathematicians who failed to prove it if I could disprove it with one example that worked. While fiddling with numbers to the fifth power, I discovered that Andrew Wiles had already solved Fermat’s enigma and published a Final Proof in 1995. This demonstrates how long items linger on my to-do list and how procrastination saves time and effort. If you wait long enough, someone else will do the dishes, launder the clothes, and take out the garbage. I was disturbed when I stumbled on my wife’s to-do list with the item: “Dump the hubby.” Luckily she is a bigger procrastinator than me and will never find where I hid her list.

A Word With You

A friend who monitors the latest trends introduced me to the word streateries. The pandemic gave a boost to the concept of street eateries as a way to expand dining outside. The resourceful will always prosper. Sidewalks and parking lots become valuable real estate for tents that satisfy spacing requirements and provide protection from the weather. I wonder how many new permanent habits the pandemic is creating. Good luck getting me to shake your hand now that I know it is a deadly weapon. And I will probably wash my own hands more often, less for hygiene than a new habit forged from ritual. I have now trained myself to wear my contacts whenever I leave the house because masks fog up my glasses. That habit will probably linger. I was already shifting to online ordering but the pandemic pushed me past a tipping point. No going back now. I am reading more. Laura Linney just taught me the word chuffed. I am very pleased to add it to my vocabulary since it sounds cool. And just yesterday Ms D introduced me to anguine in a blog on The Memoir Life. I never learned the word Quibi because that app died before I knew what it meant. Many words I rarely used are now popping up in practically every sentence. When post-pandemic time arrives after essential workers flatten the curve and I am socially distanced from the virus that quarantined me in remote lockdown, Karen Boomer and I are going Zoombombing. We will be looking for new words.

I Scream

I generally eat ice cream every day. I use ice cream as a generic term for all its cousins, including frozen yogurt, gelato, sherbet, sorbet, and frozen custard. I never found one I could not eat although twice restaurants ruined otherwise acceptable flavors: (1) green tea ice cream lacking any sweetness and (2) fried ice cream overwhelmed and wrapped in an unappetizing noodle. According to People Magazine, Jeni’s Everything Bagel ice cream is a “breakfast-inspired new flavor featuring garlic and onions with sesame and poppy seeds in cream cheese ice cream.” That should test my love of ice cream. When I transitioned to a healthy lifestyle, I explored options to creatively grandfather ice cream into my diet. I embraced frozen yogurt and light ice creams but had to stop ordering my favorite mud pies when menus started listing calories. I make milkshakes with fruits and nuts and call them diet smoothies. My ice cream concoctions serve as full meals instead of desserts. Sometimes I gobble down carrots first to simulate a real meal and promote balanced fullness. I have not been able to reduce portion size. What is the point of a treat if you torture yourself with restrictions? Life is full of things we cannot have or do. You owe yourself accessible pleasure that lifts your spirit without doing damage. Results vary depending at how well you rationalize away damage. The doctor restricted sweets for my maternal grandfather but he would sneak out to the nearby ice cream parlor anyway. The other day my nine year old granddaughter surprised me with a homemade milkshake exactly like the ones I make. I am relieved to know who will be smuggling me ice cream when I am in the hospital.

Last Will

Last Saturday I was snowed in so I started drafting my third Last Will and Testament. No one takes my designation of “Last” seriously. I passed many “Best and Final Offers” to unions who delighted in proving my BAFO’s were neither best nor final. I made my first Last Will when I got married. I left everything to my wife except a few sentimental bequests. I bequeathed my brother Jamie the clown lamp I made in Junior High. The lamp went missing long before Jamie himself died which was a warning I needed an updated Will. My wife and I owned nothing but debts in those days so this was really my insurance policy that her second husband would need to be rich. I drafted my second Last Will when my youngest son was 26 and my wife and I needed to document which of his brothers would inherit him when we died. Since we now have five grandchildren and some actual assets, I decided to name more heirs in my Third Last Will and not make my wife the prime suspect if I die suspiciously. And my death will be suspicious because I wrote in my Will that I think someone is trying to kill me. My heirs cannot dispute this without proving I was not of sound mind when I left them an inheritance. So it should get interesting, especially since I am leaving a note saying I drafted a nonexistent fourth Last Will. I wish I could be around to enjoy the turmoil.