Twice Removed

This post was intended for May 6th but WordPress insisted on publishing it this past Thursday. After twice removing it, I have given in since email subscribers have seen it anyway. Today’s regularly scheduled post has been moved to who knows where.

I am a second cousin twice removed from the mystic Edgar Cayce. Before they try to remove me again, I am documenting my gift of premonition passed to me by my Kentucky grandmother Lucille Cayce. My dreams began in high school. As a Junior, I had a premonition about flunking Chemistry. I thought cheating would thwart the prediction but I failed at that too. My Mother’s dream of travelling to Sweden while I accepted a Nobel Prize turned into a nightmare realization that her oldest child was doomed to life as a lawyer. Truth be told (a rarity on this site), my Mom had earlier implemented contingency plans by giving birth to six more children (one at a time) after I was born.

When in college, I had a premonition that my girlfriend since high school was going to dump me. She did so in both my Freshman and Sophomore year, so I was twice removed by two other boyfriends. My Mother thought said girlfriend was making a very big mistake. So Mom and I reconciled and bonded over that truth, forgetting all about the Chemistry experiment that blew up in our faces. I drowned my sorrow on the party circuit and one night discovered an egg salad sandwich buried behind all the beer in the refrigerator. I had a premonition it would make me sick but I had the munchies and poor judgment, so I removed it twice, once from the refrigerator and then again from my stomach.

I grew weary of fighting the premonitions. When I dreamt I would flunk the Bar Exam, I removed myself from the Bar Review course, partied, and flunked. On the second try I was shocked and pleasantly surprised that examiners had removed essays in favor of Multi-State multiple choice questions. My premonitions on answers finally paid off in that Guess for Success environment. One of my recurring premonitions is that I will live to be 100. So far so good. I am 75 but look 85, so I am only fifteen years away and counting on advancements in Chemistry to help bridge that gap.


Garden Party

I found my way home yesterday for the second consecutive time. My memory has improved ever since I began taking ice cream supplements. I knocked on wood to insure that my good luck would hold and asked my wife Mollie to see who was knocking at the door. Nobody was there and she had a long conversation with him. She would not tell me what they talked about because she thinks I cannot keep a secret. Which is ridiculous. The other people I tell are the ones who cannot keep their mouths shut. Doctors are the worst. Every time I confide in them, they send me to specialists who prescribe medicine with horrible side effects. Pretty soon nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and the FedEx guy all know my most embarrassing secrets.

One secret item not found on my resume is a magna cum laude degree I earned from the College of Big Meddling and Criticizing. Big MAC taught me that Nature abhors a vacuum. When I am doing the talking, I am invariably boring people. But if I restrain myself, some other boring person fills the vacuum. That does not mean that I hang with uninteresting people. At a garden party where Stephen Hawking was explaining Einstein’s E=MC squared formula, my eyes glazed over. I interjected that I was working on E=MC cubed but everyone yawned. I gravitated toward the bar and told Jerry Seinfeld that Jane Fonda had a suppository in her left ear. He quickly excused himself to go tell her where her missing hearing aid was.

Keep Your Promises

I have been married for over 53 years, so I am always prepared for people to ask: “What is the secret to a long marriage?” No one has asked yet but when we celebrate our 75th Anniversary at age 97, journalists will be legally and ethically required to pose the question. The answer is different for each person and it changes over time. When I was young, I told everyone that my wife Mollie was a free spirit and planned to run off some day and disappear. I hoped this notion would take root in the collective consciousness of family and friends and help me avoid being the primary suspect if she turned up missing. After the dawn of the Century of Constant Surveillance, going missing became more difficult because we have tracking devices embedded in our hands and cameras recording our every movement. We cannot be erased from social media even if we die.

As the years together add up, I have begun considering whether long marriages require two people with rigid belief systems who stubbornly resist change no matter how strong the case is for flexibility. Or perhaps the secret is merely two people who can never admit mistakes or who are too boring and lazy to change old habits. Mollie is inspecting my draft and wondering why I am trying to annoy those who do not have long marriages and insult the ones who do. We make a great team. She keeps our marriage alive by asking provocative questions like that. And I provide the rigidity by ignoring them.

Longevity Tips

I did the first fifty years on my own but have been counting on the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to get me the second half of the way to 100 years old. Three tips I excerpted from the December/January AARP Magazine:

(1) Tai chi is not a beverage for those who suffer from dyslexia but rather a martial art practiced for defense and health. Tai chi balance exercise: “Stand on one foot for 30 seconds and balance, then switch.” This seems counterintuitive. Seniors are warned that our biggest threat is falling down. And standing on one foot is the fastest way to fall down. I have trouble remaining upright on two feet. If I could balance on one foot for half a minute, I would be in little danger of ever falling down.

(2) One of the ten “subtle signs” that you might have Osteoporosis is “broken bones.” Presumably from doing crazy things like entering Standing on One Foot contests at the Senior Citizen Center. I could write such warnings. One of the subtle signs that you are dead: lack of breathing for over an hour.

(3) One product that “could save your life” just by going to the bathroom: “The Heart Seat by Casana is a toilet seat that measures blood pressure, blood oxygen and heart rate.” The seat shares the data it gathers to a “secure dashboard” which allows primary care physicians and/or cardiologists to monitor your health trends. I may have to opt out of some of these measures and settle for just making it to age 90.

Free Range Parenting

For over five years, I posted every day. Last year I tried every other day, then once a week. I would vow to Blog once a month but my rules always break. Years ago I agreed to babysit my granddaughter Zofia for her working parents on the condition that no playdates would occur in my home. After being maneuvered into a steady stream of playdates, my wife Mollie put my foot down and insisted on at least banning sleepovers for classmates. Exceptions crept in for emergencies like pouting. A couple weeks ago we hosted Zofia and another fifth grader overnight. They set an alarm for 4am “to see the sunrise.” While waiting for the mythical winter sun in Seattle, they took turns zipping each other into our biggest suitcase and pushing it down the stairs. I told them it was not a good idea, so I was shocked when Mollie discovered they kept doing it after I went back to bed. I explained that the girls insulated their torture chamber with a sleeping bag and pillows but Mollie just stared at me with a familiar look that silently screamed (profanity deleted): “I am married to a complete idiot!”

Amazingly, I have been accused of being a helicopter parent and grandparent, although I have always delegated all hovering to Mollie. Last November, I babysat Zofia (and a different classmate) for my daughter-in-law Asia in their 1200 square foot condominium. Asia returned after a few hours but interrupted my walk home with an angry phone call demanding (profanity deleted): “How dare you move my furniture around?” I wondered if she had put tape on the legs of her living room chair to catch me using her desk while passing the time on my phone. So I responded defiantly, “What furniture?” She began ranting at me, yelling that I was playing dumb and gaslighting her. So I returned to the condo and found that two skinny little girls had rearranged all Zofia’s heavy bedroom furniture (bed, bookcase, dresser, and desk). My helicopter has finally crashed into a smoldering pyre of gross negligence. Free babysitters are by definition worth nothing but at least Asia loves the rearranged furniture now that she realizes I had no part in the redecorating.

January 5th

January 5th is a big day in our family because two grandchildren share that birthdate. No Unites States President was born on January 5th, although we cannot be absolutely sure about Barack Obama. Only two Presidents were even born in the first four weeks of January: Millard Fillmore (7th) and Richard Nixon (9th). Calvin Coolidge died on January 5th and one Vice President (Walter Mondale) was born on January 5th. Likewise, famous people and celebrities born on this date are only pedestrian B Lister types you might expect to see on Dancing with the Stars or The Apprentice. So we are excited about the possibility that Sebastian (age 19) and Noemi (age 15) could become preeminent superstars of the January 5th Club. All they need to do is become President, cure cancer, or be the first to walk on Mars. The possibilities are endless. I like to think they are talented enough to pull something big out of the Birthday Hat. Maybe they can wipe out my disappointment at losing (so far) the battle for most prominent person born on August 20th to wimpy President Benjamin Harrison.

Confessions of Apath

Sam Mule and Ella Fant no longer get along.

Sam is stubborn ugly and Fant cannot forget.

One can be right only if other is dead wrong.

My friends and kin ask me not to shut the door yet.

But I lack energy to watch or pick a side.

I have no patience now that I exceed old age

Some fight on and others have gotten sick or died,

Leaving survivors with politics of bold rage.

I now trade in my disguise of faux empathy

And admit to being a sad and useless fool,

Wearing my scratchy cloak of listless apathy

While dogpaddling around that pathetic cesspool.

Sammy and Ella beg me daily for money

To buy my vote with ads of big lies and dumb hate.

I would find this so ironic and more funny

Except I live in an apathetic numb state.

Note: This Form of Poetry known as Crime Rhyme is typically found in preschool books, advertising jingles, and on restroom walls. This past February, Tom Brady and I looked foolish announcing our retirement, so I am calling my upcoming absence as just another break. My family needs me to spend more time meddling in their lives, although they do not realize it yet.

Confessions of Whiplasher

Broca’s Brain sat on my desk for a week as a prompt for last Saturday’s post but I could not remember why. Since I was downsizing Carl Sagan’s book, I finally blogged about hoarding. But the intended and now recalled storyline was Spirit Rapping as referenced on page 48. Margaret and Kate Fox were 14 and 11 year old sisters who became a sensation in 1848 for receiving coded messages from the Spirit World. As their fame grew, credible investigations debunked the authenticity and Margaret confessed on October 21, 1888, before 2000 spectators at the New York Academy of Music. She demonstrated how she made the rapping sounds by cracking her toe joints, a skill she and her sister perfected after years of practice when they were young with pliable joints. They also used power of suggestion with wealthy clients who wanted to believe. Margaret later recanted her confession as the sisters descended into poverty. Still after all the scientific debunking, failed investigations, and the confessional performance, many who had been deceived refused to accept the fraud. Even today, some consider the Fox Spirit Rapping as real. Sagan’s take: “People are rarely grateful for a demonstration of their credulity.” I am not so gullible to naively trust Sagan, so I conducted my research on Wikipedia. Meanwhile, I am tutoring my 11 year old granddaughter Zofia (a notorious knuckle cracker) on the fine art of big toe and ankle cracking because she will need a career in something other than Math or Music.

In unrelated news, Adam continues to insist that he was never told not to eat forbidden fruit in Eden. Furthermore, he never ate any fruit and never offered any to Eve. While she was eating fruit, he claims he was out secretly hunting animals.

Confessions of Hoarder

I downsize in slow motion. Every year I sweep the house looking for items to discard. On a shelf with ten books, I declare a 30% surplus and three are laid off. My wife raids the donation pile and puts Declutter Like a Mother back. The next year I see nine books on the same shelf because we bought Spark Joy. I declare a 33% surplus and so it goes. I also skim the books before discarding. Skimming leads to reading A Man Called Ove because no one can resist stories about old curmudgeons. Progress is slow but I have successfully eradicated most paperbacks. Culling the Word has also decimated books published in my lifetime. I retain undamaged hardbacks from the 1880’s through the early 1940’s because they look cool and I favor cosmetics over substance. I did toss a 1937 biography of Cecil Rhodes. My paternal grandfather signed his own name on the inside front cover but I do not want anyone thinking I admire Rhodes. I am a poser and have ten volumes of William Makepeace Thackery writings compiled and published in 1888. I may have read something he wrote but have retained nothing. I love the idea of Carl Sagan but I finally tossed Broca’s Brain. I do not have the requisite brainpower or attention span to actually learn any science. I was fascinated enough by Outer Space to attend a String Theory lecture. But all I remember is the Universe being like a tightly wound ball of string being threatened by Earth’s gravitation pulling too hard on a loose thread. I am going to take a Blogging break to skim Edward Gibbon’s two volume work on The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I may return sooner than I expect.

Confessions of Traveler

I thought my wife and I traveled on different flights to minimize the chances of both dying at once but she recently revealed that traveling with me is like dying a thousand deaths. Last week I forgot to reserve airport shuttle lot parking and ended up driving to the 8th floor rooftop of the expensive on-site parking garage where abandoned vehicles were already parked illegally. Panic attack. Next thing I remember was approaching the security screener while gulping down my water and contact solution and frantically searching for credentials. He asked, “Are you alright today, sir?” His tone had a sobering impact, so I smiled, calmly lied, and tried to cover the coffee milkshake stains on my shirt. I could only pack ten copies of Suicide Squeeze because I needed room in my luggage for birthday gifts, peanut butter, and my portable shower. My grandson Diego turned twelve and we gave him football cleats. Amazing how quickly we abandoned our position on the dangers of football after watching him score three touchdowns in a game. Next year we will probably buy him a motorcycle. Meanwhile, I distributed half my Suicide Squeeze inventory in Little Free Libraries. Regular libraries have long posted signs warning me against depositing non-library books in return bins. One Free Library with a lock required a QR code scan. Quickly Retreat. I could break into the box but would be a prime suspect because I do not write under a pseudonym. So I left two copies at covered bus stops, incorporated two others amongst the skeletons in front lawn Halloween displays, and inserted one in a dog house for sale in Alexandria, Virginia. When I returned to the Seattle airport, a long search in the dark eventually established that I had actually parked legally.