The movie Two for the Road includes contrasting restaurant scenes. Young lovers joyously engaged with each other are juxtaposed with the somber disengagement of older married couples. At least that is what I remember from watching it fifty years ago. I do not know how well my wife and I have avoided the aging stereotype over the decades but we try not to project it in public! After a recent Sunday morning walk, we stopped to eat outside at a restaurant. The only other patron we could see was another older couple. They never spoke to each other. He made a few curt replies to questions from the waitress. Otherwise he was casually playing with his phone or eating. His wife was working through a large salad with avocados at a deliberate pace. They were both dressed casually but fit the image of a well heeled couple. I did not sense they were fighting or in the middle of a phone emergency. I rarely have a meal without a phone emergency but in such cases I usually leave the table and I am definitely talking about it with my wife in between calls or texts. Usually we are saying things like: “Let’s call Bobbie and tell her to list our house. We can have her arrange to put any possessions we leave behind into storage. As soon as we pack up the Toyota, we can sneak away in the middle of the night and hit the road. And remind me that we need to change our Wills.” Of course, we sober up and wait patiently for the next emergency to erupt. .
Month: September 2021
Joaquin Alcaraz Gracias was a 45 year old man who died immediately after winning a beer drinking championship in Spain in 2013. He drank six liters of beer in twenty minutes but began vomiting and went into cardiac arrest. Local officials believed alcohol consumption was a factor. That impressive understatement did not prevent the suspension of future festival plans. Other factors in the death included a bladder as full as my Bucket List, a brain as shriveled as my sense of decency, and a genetic predisposition for early death. I have removed “winning a beer drinking contest” from my bucket list but still hope to score on “winning a multi-million dollar lottery.” More troubling is the discovery of a bucket list in my name but which I did not compile. On Wednesday, I wandered into a medical clinic looking for a restroom and was directed to the Urology department. That is one of the “ologies” that I would never voluntarily select. Nothing could make me more uncomfortable. Wait, the doctor used a witness to record a transcript. That did make me even more uncomfortable. I wonder if she typed in all my witticisms. I bet she was smiling behind the curtain she pulled when we got to the X-rated portion of the show. I asked if the pingback of her transcript had space for followers to like and comment. Lack of response probably meant they have heard it all a million times. Wow, a tough audience compared to the Blogology office where I work. I cleansed with as much beer as I could drink in 20 minutes.
Cuoco and Cook
Kaley Cuoco and Karl Cook “shocked the world” when they announced on September 3rd that they were divorcing after three years of marriage. When I skimmed this article in the September 20th issue of People Magazine, I wondered who these people were and how I missed the world’s shock. Finally I recognized Cuoco from the Big Bang Theory television show. I also recognized that I cannot have it both ways. I cannot subscribe to tabloids like the National Enquirer or purchase the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue and pretend to be surprised by what I get. And I cannot be objective. If I do not disparage People’s overstatement about the World’s shock, then I have to admit to being out of touch. What could be worse than an “out of touch” Blogger? Maybe September 3rd was a slow news day. I peeked back and found Biden’s response to Texas abortion law, Hurricane Ida death tolls, Georgia DA indicted for mishandling Arbery killing, Virginia Supreme Court position on a Robert E. Lee memorial, Booster shot timelines, Taliban clashes with Panjshiris, California forest fire predictions, Capitol rioter ordered to jail, and release of an ABBA album. I realized I am in a daze wandering through daily activities, hiding behind a keyboard, and certified as shock proof. I am fiddling with Fantasy Football transactions while Rome burns. But I am not going to cancel my People Magazine subscription until after I find out who Kaley Cuoco’s new boyfriend is.
I once knew a guy with three hands. Actually I may have dreamt I knew the guy but that does not matter. The important point is that he cheated during our juggling competitions. His third hand was attached to a smaller arm below his right arm. He favored his main right hand but identified himself as underhanded, probably as a joke. He could let the short arm hang inside his sport coat or jacket so it was not always noticeable. But people knew. Word of a three handed man spreads quickly. I do not know his real name. We all called him Monte because he made a living playing that three card game on the streets of New York. His third hand did not give him much advantage in technique but it made the audience more willing to be scammed by the show.
Previously rejected for publication, barely modified except Monte was named Yardstick, had three feet, cheated at soccer, and made his living as a pogo stick instructor in the streets of Kathmandu.
Tool of the Universe
My daughter-in-law Asia has a love/hate relationship with me. I love her and she hates me. Obviously I exaggerate. We both hate each other. Obviously I cannot stop jesting. I do have the advantage of a Blog to document my side of the story. But people close to me take the other person’s side even when they have only heard my position. When a third party does something wrong, my daughter-in-law and I like to blame each other. I am responsible for anything bad done by the Catholic Church, Bill Gates, or her husband. Likewise, I link her views to dangerous statements made by Nazis, Donald Trump, and Breatharians. Recently I defended myself in a dispute by pointing out some generous actions my wife and I have taken on behalf of her and her family. I thought that would likely escalate the debate. Instead, she sent back some sincere words of love and appreciation but included the observation that she looked at the help as an offering that she received from the Universe/God that used my wife and me as a tools to help her family. She was sly enough to use the term “tool” to describe me but nonetheless the thought provoked an epiphany. When my prayers for a safer draft board classification during the Vietnam War were answered (on Christmas Eve 1968), I thanked God for it and not the Selective Service System. In fact, I never even had a kind thought about the Selective Service System. They were just a tool I guess. I tend to “kill the messengers” bearing bad news and praise God when messengers deliver good news.
Grandparents Day was this past Sunday. I celebrate it every day. My 17 year old grandson Sebi lives with us and on Friday, my nine year old granddaughter Zofia stayed overnight. She loaded a paper plate with five items (honey, maple syrup, watermelon, cheese, and a strawberry) and left it in the backyard to attract ants. I told her we do not want to attract ants. We want to repel them. I was relieved the idea came from YouTube and not a recent Blog post of mine. I planned to remove the food after she went to bed but forgot. On Saturday, I discovered that something bigger than an ant licked the plate clean, leaving a few greasy spots. I explained that deer were already eating the roses and other animals were stealing berries, digging holes, and leaving droppings around our yard. She made no attempt to suppress her glee. She was not around on Sunday when a dog began barking loudly in our backyard. My grandson ran upstairs in a panic, yelling: “There’s a dog in the back yard!” I barked at the messenger: “What do you mean there’s a dog in the backyard?” He was mystified because he assumed his statement required no further explanation. We chased off a white dog we had never seen before. Presumably he was back for more food. My granddaughter returned late Sunday night, so I could take her to school Monday morning. I did scour the backyard for more food. But by Monday morning she had changed the battlefield by wearing her Daddy’s XXL polo shirt as a dress. I made sure she wore jean shorts and a tee shirt underneath but I expect to come out a loser in this skirmish as well.
My fourth grade granddaughter Zofia and her mother Asia each had two Covid-19 tests in eleven days (all negative), not because of symptoms or exposure to Coronavirus. Everyone in Zofia’s orbit except masked classmates have been double vaccinated. Asia is a hypochondriac when it comes to potential medical conditions affecting her daughter. Asia and I had spirited debates over whether any of us had the beginnings of a cold. My judgment is suspect because I once let my appendix burst. Zofia thought a free drive-by test would be exciting two days before school started. Who can argue against anyone getting tested? Zofia told friends about a stick being inserted up her nose. So her mother confirmed the information on a parent group email. Parents began contacting Asia with advice and questions. One father asked the school if his daughter should quarantine because of contact with Zofia. A Covid specialist met with Zofia and Asia and reassured them that Zofia had a negative test, no symptoms, and no suspicious contacts. Asia still contemplated keeping Zofia home the first day of school but she was one kid out of over 700 in the school actually documented negative for Covid-19 the day before! She went to school. During the eighth day of classes, Zofia told the school nurse about stomach butterflies. This is not uncommon for her, usually at night, when hungry, or under stress. The nurse, Asia, and I have calming rituals but now the protocol is to send students home when reporting sick. They can return only with a negative Covid test result. Zofia was back in school yesterday but I am getting stressed and may need a Covid test.
My nine year old granddaughter Zofia has always enjoyed patrolling our yard, looking for spider webs, sneaking up on rabbits, and digging for worms. On Friday, she dug up three worms. I think she may have unearthed one of them twice because she releases them after finding them. I pretend to help her but I am actually weeding and looking for worms at the same time because I multitask for maximum efficiency. Like I eat and talk at once which is not a very good look but no look is good at age 74. On Saturday, Zofia could only find one worm and was weary of all the work for so little payoff. Because I am me, I suggested we should find a bait shop and buy some rescue worms which we could release on our lawn. I should have kept my mouth shut because Zofia thinks this is a wonderful idea. So I just added another item to my overburdened checklist. Yes, worms are good for lawns but our yard must be a hell hole for them. The few that Zofia finds are puny. We are past a tipping point and planning to paint our weed and dirt patches green. So now our green worms may need expensive medical treatment for lead poisoning.
DNA test reveals Chicago couple’s new rescue dog is a first or second cousin to their former pet. My opening sentence paraphrases an August 12th post on the People Magazine website. I did not actually read the article because I am on a deadline and because genealogy records have been kept for horses and dogs for a long time. So this is not that big a deal. I am more interested in DNA tests being administered to my fruit flies because I cannot figure out where they come from. I think we should track down great-grandpa fruit fly and hold a retirement party for him. We have so many of his progeny living on our fruit that we could name our pies fruit fly pie. You can trap them with a glass of wine covered in plastic wrap with a small hole for entry to the trap. They are smart enough to flock to our house from all over the neighborhood for free red wine but cannot figure out how to exit through the opening they entered. Such methods seem to attract more fruit flies than we remove. And their drunken flight paths make it impossible to clap them from the air. In my experience, traps that entice rodents and insects with a reward are just ways to breed the pests. If my DNA strategy works on fruit flies, I plan to pursue DNA testing for all moles on the premises.
The current state of civility toward each other is a hot topic. I dusted off my copy of Etiquette by Emily Post (17th Edition, 2nd Printing, 1928) and flipped randomly to the page 92 section: When the Lady of the House is at Home. The gist is that the parlor-maid quickly moves toward the drawing room with the visitor’s card on a tray while the guest lags behind to give time for the presentation of the card directly to the hostess or to a butler who will announce the visitor. How to enter the drawing room is a “test of good breeding” but takes pages to describe. Apples and oranges bounced around my head as I searched for nuggets of relevancy. Is it good manners to offer a condemned man a last meal before electrocuting him? Should we let him know that “asparagus can be taken in the fingers,” according to Emily Post? Should we extend the opportunity for a person to say some last words before we hang him? Does this make us civilized? Politicians and news commentators of today offer condolences and promises of prayers to families who lose children to gun violence in schools. Is this merely a hollow politeness, a meaningless gesture from the days when a glove slap initiated a formal duel in a civilized manner? Are we more impolite today or just mystified by the hypocrisy of bygone rituals? Myself, I am still reeling from Emily Post’s surprising endorsement of eating asparagus with fingers (unless the tip is drooping). I eat asparagus without silverware but always assumed I was uncouth.