Last week I was a passenger in a carload of 75 year-olds traveling to Bend to visit friends. I was disqualified from driving when my last post went viral. I was further relegated to the seat-beltless luggage area whenever five geezers were in the Tahoe. Driver Duke pulled to the front pump at a gas station in The Dalles while preoccupied with the visual of drivers now pumping their own fuel in Oregon. My wife Mollie gave her credit card to Duke along with her rewards number. But Duke chose the option to save points when we were trying to use them before they expired. Suddenly he noticed the three options for the grade of gas were missing. I started yelling that he was at the green handled diesel pump. So we cancelled the transaction. The driver behind us was pinned in by a huge oversized vehicle in a growing line behind him. He asked if we had actually put diesel in the Tahoe. We assured him we were merely making a case for professionals to pump gas. Mollie and Duke began debating where the credit card went. He suggested we leave and find the card later. I insisted we find the card now since it had to be within three feet of our vehicle. After an extensive search of our vehicle, Mollie found it in her pocket. As we drove away, a lady in the long line for the other side of the pumps gestured and pointed. Duke retrieved the gas cap we left behind and we headed to the other gas station where lines were worse. We returned to the line we created at the original station and redeemed our rewards discount while I wore a pillowcase over my head.
Recently a fire engine was poised to leave the station with lights flashing. I sped up to get past the driveway and out of the way but the fire engine turned left and began tailgating me. The driver’s vengeful honking rattled me into swerving back and forth across three lanes, accidentally slowing his progress. My passengers were too judgmentally incredulous to even listen to my justifications. Unfortunately, I have never been able to learn from mistakes because of an allergic reaction to medicine for my RAMBO (Rarely Admit Mistakes, Blame Others) medical condition.
Tuesday’s traffic snarl was caused because the Seattle Mariners were playing a meaningful game in September for the first time in decades. So I rushed out early for a dinner party with my toothbrush in my mouth while talking on my cell phone. I buckled my seat belt with my right hand while maneuvering the steering wheel with my forearms and elbows. Everything was under control for the minute we slowly drove down our quiet street. But I could not hear the person on the phone because my wife was screaming to be let out of the car and something about divorce. No way a witness could be allowed to exit the vehicle in her hysterical condition, so I tossed my cell phone in the backseat, demonstrated my buckled seatbelt, and explained through toothpaste foam that everything was totally under control thanks to my almost 60 years of driving experience.
My wife threatened, “What are our sons going to say about you driving while simultaneously brushing your teeth, using the phone, and buckling your seatbelt?” It sounds bad when she says it like that but I am hoping for: “Wow, Dad, you are amazing!”
Mom’s 100th birthday was last month although she died at age 94. She celebrated her birthdays without fanfare, once refusing a party and then spending her birthday alone to avoid favoring any of her children. She relented for a 90th birthday bash at the Space Needle with over forty family members but it was billed as Fifty Years in Seattle and her age was never mentioned. She refused to save money on a Senior ski ticket because she would never wear one. At age 72, when she skied down black diamond runs with my three sons while I snowplowed down green cat tracks, son Dustin wondered why I was not humiliated. But Mom was always a better skier than me. Big deal. She was smarter and kinder than me too. I suggested we emphasize Mom’s remarkable skiing, rather than my shortcomings. But Dustin felt we could celebrate both those attributes.
A few years after my brother Jamie died, I organized a 65th birthday party at his gravesite where we roasted marshmallows, drank Jack Daniels, and smoked cigars, basically consuming all the things that killed him. I tried to arrange a posthumous Sixty Years in Seattle party for Mom but my sister Mary staged an intervention by generously hosting my own 75th birthday party in an effort to distract me from arranging parties for dead people. I awarded $75 prizes to the attendees who came closest to guessing my weight and the steps on my Fitbit. I know Mom would be horrified at such vulgarity because even my wife was. But I was not bragging because I actually gained four pounds since my last birthday. At that rate, I will be sixty pounds heavier at my 90th birthday party. By then we will be guessing my IQ when I died.
As a student, my identity was based on my major (which was selected to best avoid 8:00am classes). As an employee, my occupation defined me even though Administrative Coordinator seemed meaningless. Labels oversimplify but can be useful. Retirement introduced “what I used to be.” Sometimes I choose “famous Blogger,” tempting doubters to visit and view my posts. Class Clown is my default self-descriptor. It outlives being a student and hints at what I am not: jock, artist, intellectual, technology nerd, ladies man. And claiming “Class Clown” validates the assertion.
At a party hosted by a Renaissance Man (doctor/winemaker/author/sculptor) I have known since high school, I introduced myself to a couple who knew him when the husbands worked together as doctors and socialized as hunters. I mentioned that our host was Student Body President when I was Class Clown and praised him for remembering the little people as he climbed the ladder of success. The host rotated into our group and his doctor friend repeated my words without my witty inflections. Renaissance Man denied I was Class Clown and named the person who was in a hushed tone that suggested it was not an honor. He may have been teaching me a lesson about fishing for compliments with self deprecation because he did not offer anything “more” that I was. So I graciously and apologetically conceded to being merely a Wannabe Class Clown. Our mini-group quickly dispersed.
I learned survivors tell the stories when I once referred to being class Salutatorian to a distinguished fellow alum who did not recognize it as an outrageous joke. I also had no idea who our Salutatorian was, so if I can outlive enough people, one day I may even become Student Body President. I will appoint my best friend Class Clown.
I am amazed at how many prominent companies send their urgent messages by junk mail. PayPal, my bank, and my credit union notify me in my spam folder when they freeze my accounts. Amazon cancels my orders the same way. Only the urgent cyber breach alerts seem to get through the filters. Nothing is more important to me than a surprise inheritance, a lottery win, or even a Yeti Tundra Haul from Dick’s Sporting Goods. But those messages inexplicably arrive as junk mail. Luckily, I devour my spam and monitor my junk.
Sonobello Liposuction claims it is not too late to get my body back with one day fat and cash removal. I want my body back but FedEx just junk mailed me that the Sonobello shipment has been delayed until after the Senior Olympics. Renewal by Anderson assumes I am looking for energy efficient windows when all I want is someone to clean them. If I subscribe to Zoosk, they promise to find my love. But I already know where she is, namely wandering from room to room in our house looking for her car keys, phone, and the cash that Mortgage.net wants us to take out of our home. Neither of us can remember where we hid that cash or we would definitely take it out of the house and treat everyone to banana splits at Dairy Queen.
WordPress, my most faithful correspondent, repeatedly wrote me about other Bloggers finding my posts “pretty awesome.” Despite the redundant praise, I never tired of it. But when I requested a quote for a plan upgrade to “totally awesome” posts, WordPress switched me to “New like!” If I win the lottery, I will purchase the package that comes with celebrity comments and see if those generate more traffic.
I comically failed the health test of standing on one foot for ten seconds, nearly doubling my risk of death in the next ten years according to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The increased risk stems from deaths of people like me stupidly trying to balance on one leg while watching Good Morning America publicize this dangerous stunt. Unlike many people, I do want to pinpoint time of my death. I am heartened that science is narrowing this down for me. I need the advance notice so I can locate and destroy incriminating evidence. And it will take time to coordinate and complete my life finale jumping trifecta involving bungee cords, parachutes, and deep ends.
I do not remember if I ever could stand on one foot for ten seconds but I no longer put on my pants from a standing position. And I know I cannot stand on my two hands for ten seconds because I have tried that in the swimming pool. That failing has apparently doubled my chance of drowning.
I was distressed at my wife’s amazement when I could not perform the simple one footed maneuver. She made no attempt to contain her mirth as I flailed even though I am dealing with Stage Four Balance Cancer. However, I was most devastated when she demonstrated how easily she could stand on one foot (either one) for more than ten seconds. But she has been practicing as part of a health routine which includes brushing her teeth on one foot. My doctor says I was born with One Addled Foot syndrome and confirmed that practicing was not cheating and could help. My spell checker says I invented the word “uncoordination.” Perhaps they will name that word after me.
Last Sunday, my wife Mollie and I left a Church Salmon Bake on Vashon Island to follow a big yellow school bus rumored to be transporting VIP guests from the ferry terminal to a sculpture unveiling at LaSalle Reserve. We especially wanted to see a magnificent 13 foot sculpture installed in the garden as Our Lady of the Asparagus in a similar ceremony in 2018. We wound up a narrow driveway, disregarded instructions leading to gridlock, and moved a two-by-four blocking a parking space. The effort was rewarded when free chocolate and vanilla ice cream cones were served. Each time through the line, I received a smaller dollop of ice cream despite informing the suspicious scoopers that I needed another cone for my disabled mother.
Mollie was not supervising me because she was distracted. First she worried she addressed Tom Skerritt as “Brian” and that I had not helped cover up that gaffe. I reminded her that my previous attempts to correct her in public all ended badly. I assured her that Skerritt was not present because I stole his parking space. I suggested the actual Tom at our table likely heard “briny” and not “Brian” because we were describing the taste of asparagus ice cream allegedly on the menu, a falsehood I was spreading to shorten the ice cream line. Besides, the host referred to me as “Kevin” and nobody was embarrassed about that. I often answer to my late brother’s name. He would be delighted with rumors now circulating that he is alive. Mollie also apparently sat on someone’s plate of food. I was cautioned not to mention the stain on the seat of her pants by people who were either trying to save our marriage or just wanted the fun of telling her themselves.
After a week of not posting about myself, demand is skyrocketing for another one. The Pandemic disrupted the flow of my anti-Narcissism cream when pharmaceutical companies prioritized the elimination of Covid-19. Although Narcissism is more dangerous than Coronavirus, bias against Narcissists is open and blatant. Covid-19 vaccinations are free but now that anti-Narcissism cream deliveries have resumed, I am charged triple the 2019 rate for the medication. The price gouging has been attributed to a spike in the Narcissist population which is disingenuous because most Narcissists are in denial and not using the cream. My own awareness stems from a relatively mild condition and a wife who reminds me of my disease nearly every day. She also claims the cream is not working. But ever since I started applying it to my butt, my rear end has become more modest. It no longer appears unclothed in public and has stopped twerking in private.
My daily medication for Hedonism is Placebo but I call it ice cream. The pharmaceutical companies are now making it in smaller containers to disguise another form of price gouging. I squeeze my own Anti-Hypocrisy juice and supplement it with the rigorous daily exercise program GOOB (Getting Out Of Bed). It exercises all muscle groups. I am considered an idiot savant for the way I negotiate the path from bed to bathroom in the middle of the night. Like playing Wordle, I have six chances to win every day. I am finally getting enough sleep by more regularly dozing off in Church, at the movie theater, and during testimony at Narcissist Anonymous meetings. I have also created extra time in my day by eliminating personal hygiene rituals except for the double dipper of jogging while I brush my teeth.
I recently rediscovered a tiny pillbox in my miniature collection. It seemed empty but a tiny pebble made a rattle. This was a kidney stone my wife passed in a White Plains hospital over a decade ago. I took it when the nurse offered. Hard to believe something so excruciatingly painful could be so insignificantly small. I am not sure why I saved it. The box is not labeled, the contents will be a mystery after I pass like a kidney stone, and the mineral deposit that caused so much trouble will be thrown out. Still I am powerless to toss it.
Perhaps I should have kept the nail that pierced my running shoe and caused me great pain. My wife and I could have put together a unique display of things that hurt. I never thought to retain my yanked tooth after a failed root canal and my two extracted wisdom teeth. I should have demanded my burst appendix from the hospital, like getting back a failed auto part. How do I know the doctor took out my appendix? It could still be in there. Maybe they pumped me up with powerful antacid and sent me home. I should have kept the Volkswagen Rabbit engine I ran out of oil and saved notices of a Bar Exam failure and a potential layoff. I could have asked girls to dump or reject me in writing. We did keep the three sons that caused my wife so much pain when she delivered them. They could be co-curators of the Museum Of Pain Endured. This partial listing is painful enough to be included. My quirky brilliant ideas always come too late. We could have become famous embracing pain as an opportunity to build a better museum.
I used to have a dandruff problem. Or maybe I just dreamt I had dandruff. Either way, it was troublesome. I was considered a bewildered deep thinker because I was constantly scratching my head. I wore white shirts to work and avoided dark clothing. The more I used anti-dandruff shampoos, the more dandruff I seemed to shed. I lost three quarters of an inch of height and my scalp looked like I was running a carrot grater over it. I was convinced that anti-dandruff shampoos were actually causing the dandruff. Eventually I switched to baby shampoo because I figured babies did not get dandruff. But then my hair started falling out. Perhaps this explains why babies in my family never had hair until my daughter-in-law from El Salvador produced two of my grandchildren. We thought it was a miracle when Noemi was born with a full head of dark hair but her brother Diego outdid that when he arrived with a head and back full of black hair. After panicking that baby shampoo caused my hair loss, I now use whatever shampoo my wife abandons, the grandkids leave behind when they visit, or the neighbors discard in their trash. I particularly like hoarding complimentary hotel shampoos and squeezing those little bottles into one big container. I do not know why that process brings me such joy. Remarkably I do not have a dandruff problem now that it does not matter. I needed to be dandruff-free back when I was dating. Well, not exactly dating, more like asking girls out on dates.
While proofreading the above, I reluctantly allowed my ten year old granddaughter Zofia (who manipulates me easily) to read over my shoulder. Her critique: “As one writer to another, this is good so far but needs a better ending.”