Just remember, we’re all in this alone. Jane Wagner is credited with those words. Wagner began collaborating with Lily Tomlin fifty years ago as her comedy writer and eventually they married. Wagner was a major influence in making Tomlin a star performer and Tomlin’s success helped Wagner earn Grammy nominations, three Emmys, and a Writer’s Guild award. So Wagner’s “alone” quote is quite witty but definitely does not reflect her experience with Tomlin. This makes me a little sad to realize that if my wife had just provided me with better material, I could have made us both famous!


Trump Trap

I have come to the slow realization that I am trapped in an alternate universe inside Donald Trump’s head. It took me awhile to piece together the clues. I made an unwise left turn from James Street onto an I-5 freeway entrance in July of 2015. I remain foggy about the details but apparently I caused an accident that totaled my wife’s car. My initial elation over surviving has been tempered by the creeping awareness that I did not survive in the same dimension. I am not sure how or why I was inserted into a parallel world. Maybe I was rewarded with life. Perhaps it was a random unlucky break. Likely my transgressions aplenty triggered cosmic punishment. Anyway, I am here living out Trump’s fantasy life. I am not tremendously consoled that parallel universes are populated with Presidents Clinton, Cruz, Sanders, and Pence. I am pleased the Patriots were bounced early from the NFL playoffs this season but I am now desperate to find the universe where the Seattle Seahawks won yesterday and I have less than two weeks to get there before the February 2nd Super Bowl. First step: I am heading to the James Street freeway entrance in my wife’s Toyota.


Zarf is not a new word. I used zarves long before I knew their name. According to Wikipedia, they have been around since the thirteenth century as holders, usually of ornamental metal, for coffee cups without handles. The word is easy for me to remember because it rhymes with my nickname “Garf.” The image of Garf with a zarf is much more pleasant than “barf on my scarf” which I have been trying to erase ever since I swiped that dreadful egg salad sandwich from the Sandstrom refrigerator after a night of youthful alcohol consumption. Modern coffee and tea rituals have now popularized the cardboard zarves that keep the burn away while consumers carry hot beverages in paper cups. I am always looking for shortcuts to becoming famous, so I thought maybe I would invent a new word this morning and start it on its viral way. I began with the idea of using “larf” to describe the moldy loaf of bread that lives in my kitchen. But the word already exists (immature cannabis buds). So I moved along the alphabet to “parf” which is also taken as an alternate version of “parp” (a British bodily function). Stay tuned because this exercise will continue offline away from this arful posting.

Body Part Emails

I scan my junk mail every day before emptying the folder just to rescue the rare wanted email. Some reputable companies send me spam but I hear more often from shady senders masquerading as Bank of America, Amazon, Apple, Walmart, and FedEx. Sender names and the catchy subject line hooks usually tell me all I need to know. They appeal to my greed (inheritance from my Nigerian aunt), my vanity (body fat melters), my fears (my computer is infected), or my sympathies (send money to end global warning). The sender line can be personalized with my name so I appear to be sending myself much of this junk mail. Luckily I do not trust myself any more than I trust strangers. I have resisted opening emails from myself but now receive messages from individual body parts like “Your Aching Joints.” I routinely ignore my body parts and all their whining. But I am wary of deleting unopened messages from one body part that I will not identify due to privacy concerns. However, I am always extremely interested in what it has to say. My public plea to said body part: contact me by snail mail so we can avoid computer virus threats.


My decades have been exciting. Much of the excitement was generated by failure and heartache but space and ego will not permit me to highlight the negative. Instead I employ a selective memory perfected by years of resume writing. My first ten years included birth, getting spoiled, and learning to squawk, talk, walk, and play. The next ten years featured sports, girls, cars, and educational leaps into high school and college. My twenties technically qualified me as an adult and father with a wife, law degree, and real job. My thirties introduced teamwork needed in the raising of three sons and playing the position Weak Link on softball teams. In my forties, I boldly relocated my family to Wichita and was promoted to the executive payroll of an international company when they implemented the Peter Principle. In my fifties I smugly retired and indulged myself in selfish pursuits of travel, photography, and writing. Life even improved when my sixties ushered in grandchildren and surprise running awards for being in age categories decimated by attrition. But as I move through my seventies, I realize this decade will be characterized by declining physical and mental capabilities. When young, I adjusted to being categorized as awkward and uncoordinated but naively assumed that was the lowest rung on the physical ladder! Even worse, my already lazy mind is losing touch with reality. The other day I actually convinced myself that Donald Trump was President of the United States.


Cheaters never prosper. That proverb reflects both wishful and wistful thinking. Risk/reward ratios favor cheating compared to buying lottery tickets. Cheating would be even more popular but the timid tend to overestimate the risk. Publicity about those caught in the recent college admissions scandal served as reminder of the consequences. But a tremendous amount of successful cheating goes unpunished. Some actually brag about their deceit. I have heard first hand from people boasting about defrauding Nordstrom, insurance companies, and the Internal Revenue Service. I cannot claim some moral superiority. When I flunked Chemistry one semester, I was too lazy to write out crib notes because that takes as much effort as studying. But the real upside of cheating is that getting caught often only results in embarrassment. You could cheat your way into becoming President, be exposed, and still expect to be reelected. The New England Patriots repeatedly violate rules by secretly taping opponents and deflating footballs but reap the rewards of six Super Bowl wins. The Houston Astros illegally steal signs but win the 2017 World Series. I believe: (1) cheating (and lying about it) is wrong; and (2) other people do it all the time. By and large each one of those “other people” believes the exact same thing I do.

Now or Never

My wife is a saint to put up with my shenanigans. She bears the brunt of my failings. But in a cruel twist of fate, she is compelled to be my biggest advocate. She has to make me look better or she will seem a fool for staying with me for over half a century. Early in our relationship, others could reasonably assume that she would dump me soon enough but now she has lost that cover. I am careful not to press my advantage or rub it in because she is a big proponent of “better late than never.” Never must be looming because we are both scrambling to clean out the storage room. We were hoping for some pleasant surprises but we still have not found the money I hid during the period I did not trust banks. And where is all the emergency food we stored in the corner where those animal carcasses are piled up?

Attention Please

I do not know my exact attention span. I know I am a good target for seven second sound bites on the news. If I try to heat a cup of tea in the microwave, I cannot remember to extract the cup ninety seconds later. I find it cold hours later when I try to heat up another cup. Unless someone else finds it sooner and asks about it. In which case I claim the tea belongs to my wife and accuse her of forgetting about it. Even she believes me because she is afflicted with a similar attention span disorder. I have pinned down my limited span to between seven and ninety seconds but further research will likely lean closer to the seven second mark. In fact that research may already have been completed. If I find the results on a sticky note on my desk, I will amend this posting.

Skin of my Teeth Escape

The dental assistant asked me if I brushed my teeth once or twice a day. I assumed that was not a yes/no question and quickly chose “twice.” She made sure to tell the dentist that my last visit was October 2018. What a tattletale. They wanted to know if I had seen another dentist. What a joke. I need two dentists about as much as I need two wives. I generally regard dental office employees as the enemy. They keep trying to drill and extract teeth in my mouth. Even numbing agents are administered with a shot. I should get hazardous duty pay. But get this, they actually make me pay for all the discomfort and inconvenience. I do not have dental insurance. I self insure because I understand insurance companies make tons of money and I want a piece of the action. Since I am such an unpleasant patient, on this last visit I decided to buy the fluoride varnish treatment they had long since stopped trying to upsell me. Kind of like a tip because the process is probably as useless as purchasing automobile undercoating. I was instructed not to brush my teeth for four hours. I went right home on autopilot, ate lunch, and forgetfully brushed my teeth. I realized I needed to amend my answer on brushing frequency to three times a day! I did not call in my revised answer because I am dodging their requests to schedule recommended dental work.


The future is here and it has crushed my anonymity. Not in the good way of making me a celebrity but in the bad way of knowing every little detail of my life. I always expect my physician to ask invasive questions that I feel uncomfortable blogging about. But now my my dentist’s questionnaire includes a yes/no on whether I urinate more than six times a day. I struggle with the answer even though I am famous for counting everything, including my daily steps, weight, and miles run in each shoe. The last few times at the dentist I have just scrawled “never counted” in the margin of the urination question. And I am not going to start counting now because I am afraid of the answer. The dentist should not worry though because I can still hold it while I am in the chair. How long before the dentist picks up on the physician’s question of whether I am sexually active? Fortunately the answer to that will always be “yes” because you never know what might happen tomorrow.