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.

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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.

Confessions of Old Dog

I interviewed for a Gratitude Blog on WordPress but they assigned me to the Whinyland department. Even so, I am grateful every day I awake up alive, including last Monday at 12:36 am when I scribbled the words Ding Dang Dung in my bedside notebook. Apparently this quirky conjugation of unrelated words was hysterical in my dream. But I could not mold them into an amusing “ringy-dingy ring, rang, rung, sting, stang, stanged” post about the absurdity of the English language. Instead I will whine about what I have lost in the Age of Technology.

I miss walking into any drug store or grocery store to get my annual flu shot. Thanks Covid-19 for creating a reservation system. On Ding Dang Dung Monday, my wife labored on the computer reserving flu shots for that very day. Oops, the Confirmations say Monday, November 7th. I miss seeing doctors in person; the only one I want to visit on Zoom is my dentist.

I miss barber shop comradery. Now I need reservations on an app that notifies customers when to arrive. That is not convenient for a technology idiot like me. Luckily, I like long hair. Except in my soup.

I miss the airport where you could go out to dinner after Homecoming. Last weekend at the same facility, I was caught in massive gridlock because automated pay stations were down. I miss free parking or plugging a few coins in a meter.

I miss the aesthetics of old fashioned bookstores despite the efficiency of ordering books online. I used to surreptitiously plant my novel in the stores. Smuggling copies into Amazon Corporate Headquarters takes the fun out of that game. But I want my permanent electronic record to reflect that I am grateful about living to see the Future.

Confessions of Outdoorman

I spend quite a bit of time outdoors, partly because I have trouble finding my way home. I swam almost every day this summer but ran over my all-time favorite swimming goggles with my truck. They were gifted to me and had lasted two seasons. No problem. I went online to order another pair. They cost $48, so I decided to just swim with my eyes closed. But I needed a helmet to avoid concussing on the sides of the community pool. The lifeguards would forget to hook the stairs back after swim meets and I noticed an older lady would take a stepladder into the pool. I was too cool for that so I exited like a worm scaling the bait bucket. I was a beached whale flopping around with stand-up muscles made of rubber. Each day spectators gathered when I attempted to climb out of the pool.

I made another awkward exit on a hike in Mount Rainier National Park when the bottoms of my ski poles got stuck in the slamming door of the Sunrise restroom. Incoming patrons waited patiently while I extricated myself. I told a young man, “This is why you do not take hiking gear into the restroom.” He just smiled, probably wondering why anyone needed poles to hike or why I thought somebody would steal 45 year old poles if left unattended outside.

My latest outdoor epiphany occurred while watching my granddaughter roller skate with knee and elbow pads. I have decided to purchase some for running and walking because I do occasionally fall. I have not yet sustained a serious injury but cannot count on that luck holding forever. I have not seen any runners using such equipment, so I will either be embarrassed or start a trend.

Confessions of a Pet Sitter

Tomorrow is day ten of my current cat sitting assignment. My wife and I have never had pets although our parents, siblings, and children have been owned by a variety of cats and dogs. My brother Jamie turned a rat in the garage and a raccoon with cataracts into pets. They were not blessed with offspring. I almost created a fictional pet so co-workers and strangers on a plane would not think I was weird. But follow-up questions could expose the lie and make me even weirder. I am astounded when vacationing neighbors and family members entrust me with house keys to enable pet feeding. Unfortunately, security cameras have made snooping less fun.

I have three tips if you dogsit or catsit. First, do not use those words. They make your lisp sound vulgar. Second, do not sit for animals that are smarter than you. My sister-in-law Cindy’s dog can open her front door and I cannot. Third, make time to pray for the pets to survive your watch. I never saw one of my sister’s cats until my last day on duty. Shy cat was alive under an upstairs bed. It would have been embarrassing if an autopsy proved she died six days earlier.

I am currently staying overnight with Leo the cat and Zofia (age 10) at their Condo while the parental units are out of town. I did not prepare well. I live close by but my Fitbit charger, prescription glasses, contact solution, and Zofia’s trombone are always at the wrong residence. I did manage to drive Zofia the familiar two miles to school without my glasses. That boosted my confidence. As soon as we hook up a YouTube camera, I will drive the route blindfolded while Zofia shouts directions and Leo plays trombone.

Confessions of a Pillowcase

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 but their lines were worse. So we returned to the line we created at the original station and redeemed our rewards discount while I wore a pillowcase over my head.

Confessions of a Bad Driver

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!”

Birthdays: Dead or Alive?

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.