Monthly Archives: December 2013

Lark Sitting and Other Idiomatic Adventures

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Have you ever done anything on a lark? I sure haven’t. I think I’d remember that. Are the birds so strong they can be ridden like a horse? Do you sit on their wing and pray? I’ve heard people say they did something ‘on a wing and a prayer’. I’d certainly pray the bird didn’t peck my eyes out for crushing it. The things we say without even thinking of it are usually so absurd it’s a wonder anyone can understand us at all. I don’t know about any other language, but American English has more unusual sayings than any other language I know. See what I mean? It’s enough to make a fellow pull his hair out. I’d like to see that one.

I wonder if anyone has ever actually traded their arm and a leg for something. I wouldn’t care to see that one unless it was in 3D. What about all those couples that want to paint the town red? Do they have any idea how much time and effort is involved in such an undertaking? Why would they even want to do such a thing? Then there are those who actually bark up the wrong tree. I can’t even wrap my mind around that one. That’s another example: wrapping your mind around something. If you can do it, take a picture or video. I’m sure it will go viral, but I’m not confident you won’t catch a cold doing it. Egads! They’re everywhere! Remind me next time to dodge a cold.

I want to know how a large quantity of money can soil a guy. I mean, there are those who are filthy rich, right? You’d think they could afford a shower. Speaking of getting clean, I want to know what exactly comes out in the wash. Perhaps a whistle, if it’s clean enough. I met a man once who had an axe to grind with me. I told him I didn’t own an axe, and if was going to act that way, I wouldn’t help him find a grinder, who happens to be my neighbor across the street who grinds his teeth every night. I’m sure they could work something out. Perhaps that fellow can find a hatchet to bury while he’s at it.

One time I asked a doctor about a new medication and he said the jury was still out. That just made me suspicious of it. I know it’s suppose to be innocent until proven guilty, but how did it get in that jam to begin with, and was it grape or strawberry? If it’s being tried by a kangaroo court, I hope the defense attorney brings plenty of Purina Kangaroo Chow. But they may very well opt for the jam. I know I would. Even if there is a pill in it.

Nobody likes it when you spill the beans, except the dog. That reminds me of a lady who said she worked like a dog. I could imagine her sitting around all day scratching fleas and chasing a ball. You want to keep your pooch inside, too. I hear it’s a dog eat dog world out there. All this word chasing is making me sick as a dog. I’ve seen my dog sick, and it doesn’t look like fun. I hope I don’t throw up on any larks. I heard their feathers stick together.

There really is no end to this nonsense, is there? I’ve had it up to here, wherever that is…

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Looking For A Pet Peeve

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All my life I’ve been hearing about people having pet peeves. I finally asked one guy what kind of critter it is and he yelled “That’s one of ’em!” Some people. I’ve had dogs, cats, birds, fish, an occasional reptile and once a pet rock back in the 70s, but I’ve never seen a pet peeve. I don’t know where they come from, how big they are, what they eat, or if they’re potty trained. Are they good home security, or do they just lay around all the time licking themselves?

Well, I thought the internet would give me a straight answer, but it just muddied the water. It seems whatever a pet peeve is, people don’t like them very much. In that case, why have one to start with? The dictionary says a pet peeve is irritating and annoying, and then goes on to compare it to random things that frankly have nothing to do with having a pet. For instance, there’s this website called GetAnnoyed.com that has a list as long as your arm of things that are suppose to remind people how bad a pet peeve is. Makes me want to vow to never have one, that’s for sure, but it also makes me more determined to find a picture of it so I can avoid it. For instance, a pet peeve is like a driver who doesn’t use their turn signal. Those kind of folks don’t bother me in the least, because I don’t know where I’m going half the time anyway. Another pet peeve reminded a fellow of someone talking out loud while they’re writing a letter or email. Heck, I kind of enjoy hearing what other people have to say. Some other guy compares a pet peeve to kids who tease dogs through the fence. I suppose you should leave your pet peeve inside if you want peace with the neighbors.

Pet peeves must be pretty wicked, what with so many people upset with them. I knew a man once that owned a pet rattlesnake. He always tried to get the rattler to share its space with mice, but that never worked out. If I ever break down and get me a pet peeve I believe I’d keep it locked in the bedroom when company drops by. There’s this other website that even has a top ten list of comparisons to pet peeves, called (of course, der) thetoptens.com/pet-peeves.com. Their number one problem with pet peeves is like someone chewing and talking with their mouth open. I have to admit, that can get fairly messy when you’re slurping soup, but if you have, say, a dog around while you’re smacking away at your dinner, he won’t mind in the least if some vittles drop out of your mouth. As a matter of fact, some dogs have no problem eating food you’ve already chewed up, especially if you open your mouth wide enough. Pet peeves must not be very clean animals, because the number three reason why they’re disliked is because it’s like not washing your hands after going to the toilet. What kind of sick pervert goes around watching other people in the toilet? If you don’t like your pet peeve’s hygiene, bathe it from time to time for goodness sake!

I think pet peeve owners should really try to get a life. One woman’s pet peeve annoyed her so much she said it was like having a road map that wasn’t folded properly. I’m starting to wonder if pet peeves are getting a bum rap. Another guy compared his pet peeve to people who don’t use coasters. For cryin’ out loud, mister! Use a napkin! Just the other day a lady at Wal-Mart complained that her pet peeve left the toilet seat up. How rude! How do you think the pet peeve feels having to close the toilet seat all the time? It’s just an animal, remember?

I think I’ll get me one of those pet peeves if I can just find one. Nobody I talk to wants to part with theirs, even though all they want to do it bitch about it. Once I have one for my very own, I’ll let it leave the toilet seat up, and it won’t even have to wash afterwards.

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On Fear

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If someone tells you they aren’t afraid of anything, they’re full of it, and I don’t mean fear. I guarantee you that if you’re sitting alone by yourself watching a good scary movie and a bloody hand lands on your shoulder, you’ll do the 100 yard dash in less than two seconds. I promise you that if you’re at your job, doing your thing and minding your own business, and a ghost suddenly comes through the wall and reaches out to you, you will say it and then do it.

We all like to think we wouldn’t freak out if the news suddenly interrupted our show with a breaking report that aliens have just landed in front of the White House. I’d be willing to wager that Rachael Ray won’t be the thing we care to watch right then. That goes for Duck Dynasty, too. If the major networks start talking about alien spacecrafts landing all over Earth and then the power suddenly goes out in your town, you’ll wish you had bought that extra box of shotgun shells. Yep, there are plenty of things that can frighten us.

I’m not talking about phobias, either. That’s a world of fear all on its own. I met a woman once who was so claustrophobic she had trouble with public bathroom stalls. That is kind of an unnatural fear. If a snarling pit bull suddenly lunges at you and your flight or flight instinct kicks in, that’s not a phobia. If you see a woman walking toward you holding her pet Yorkie and you start screaming like a girl at a Justin Bieber concert, that’s probably a phobia. I have to admit, if I saw Justin Bieber walking toward me on the street I’d scream like a girl while I’m running away. Now, I hesitate about admitting my phobia to you, because I’m afraid you might start messing with me. Wait, that’s a fear about a fear. I’m in deep trouble. Let’s just say my unnatural dread concerns certain eight-legged freaks. You see? My palms are sweaty right now and I’m fighting the urge to use bug spray on every square inch of my writing room. My wife told me once years ago that THEY (I refuse to say the word spider. No way, no how) like to climb in your mouth when you’re asleep. I suddenly developed sleep apnea so I could wear that face mask. Little monsters can’t get me now. I even stuff my ears with cotton and duct tape every other orifice just to keep them out. I think this qualifies as a phobia, don’t you?

But let’s get back on track (or I won’t be able to finish this article). Every one of us is capable of fear, no matter how brave we think we are. There used to be a TV show called Fear Factor that tested contestants’ reaction to frightening things like tightrope walking, eating live Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches and being trapped in a closed coffin with a few hundred rats. You will never see me volunteer for a show like that. I saw an episode where the contestants had to eat buffalo testicles or sheep eyes. I don’t care if it does taste like chicken, I won’t eat them. But I think we’re delving into the realm of disgust, which is a kind of sub-category of outright fear. Watching someone at church eating their own booger isn’t really a fear. Unless they’re bringing the sacrament to you.

The next time someone sticks out their chest and boasts that they aren’t afraid of anything, it won’t do any good to challenge them. I confronted a young man once who claimed to have no fear by asking him what he’d do if a ghost suddenly appeared in front of him. He confidently said he’d beat the plasma out of it. Yeah, right. Theologically speaking, you should be so secure in your relationship with God that nothing will cause you fear. I can agree with that in essence, but I admit to being human, too. Don’t be ashamed if you start shaking uncontrollably after some idiot comes within an inch of pulverizing you in your car. Fear is a natural reaction to some perceived threat to your survival. I know all about fear. I’ve been married four times.

Now I’m afraid one of my ex-wives will read this.

There’s no hope for me.

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Dinner Tales

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I was in the medical field most of my life and have seen things that would make your toes curl. What I don’t understand, though, is why I’m always compelled to tell the most visceral, graphic stories during meals. And it’s not just tales about guts flying everywhere or burn victims looking like used matches. I’ve got to share all my favorite memories about the things I’ve seen shoved up people’s butts. I can’t help it. There’s something that clicks in me when I’m sitting down to eat with strangers, and before I know it I’m talking about that one guy who somehow inserted a porcelain vase up his rectum, and how we had to send someone out to get plaster of Paris so we could fill the vase to keep it from breaking and shredding his anus trying to get it out. For some inexplicable reason, the story sounds best while dining on rump roast.

That’s not all, though. As Jimmie Durante once said “I got a million of ’em!” I suppose I do it to see the look on everyone’s faces – you know, that wide-eyed green-around-the-gills expression, with food half eaten inside their gaping mouths. Yep, I think that’s it. Once I see that reaction I know I have a captive audience. Well, at least until someone inevitably upchucks all over the table, ruining the meal for the rest of us. There’s some real selfish people out there, I tell ya.  Remind me to tell you some vomit stories one of these days over steaming bowls of raisin oatmeal. Oh, what the heck, I’ll tell you one now.

Not only do I have a treasure trove of anecdotes from my adventures in the medical field, I also was a taxi driver off and on for years. Believe me, if I were a squeamish sort of fellow, I’d rather watch a hundred bowel resections than relive some of the things that have happened in the backseat of my taxi. I won’t tell you the best ones unless we’re in a Chinese buffet, but I will share a true story about a very thoughtful young man for whom I am eternally grateful. Let me start off by saying that you would not believe the sheer number of folks who enjoy throwing up in the back of a taxi. I mean, it’s like they wait until we’re in heavy traffic to blow chunks. It doesn’t do any good to tell them to stick their head outside, because they just decorate the outside of my cab with creative splashes. I always loathed vomiters. I’d have to hose out the back, wash the cab and spend twenty bucks on air fresheners just to get the heave ho smell out.

Well, one night I picked up this group of five college guys who were going downtown to party all night. They were really nice, tipped well, and even promised to call for me to pick them up when the bars closed. About three hours later my dispatcher came over the radio and told me I had a personal fare at the bar where I dropped those guys off. I thought it strange because the night was still young, but figured what the heck, a fare is a fare, right? When I got there I saw one of the guys leaned against the wall, obviously bombed out of his head. He must have started drinking long before, or was a true pantywaist. I picked him up and started driving him back…until he warned me he was going to be sick. How considerate. I pulled the cab over and let him relieve his dinner in someone’s front yard. We both thought that was the end of it and carried on to his place. Just when we turned on his street – I could see his house not far away – I heard him make that classic throat-ripping roar that indicated he had just emptied the remainder of his bowels. Great. As I pulled into his driveway he began apologizing in that slurring, food remnant still in the mouth voice. I jumped out of the cab angrily and ran around to his door, ready to give him what for as I tacked on another ten dollars to clean my taxi. I opened the door and saw that he had pulled the bottom of his tee shirt out from his pants and had turned it into a pretty nifty bowl, you know, like when you used to go around picking up pecans from the neighbor’s yard and used your shirt to hold them. Well, this guy had about fifteen gallons of puke cradled in his tee shirt, and as he very carefully climbed out of the cab, he apologized so pitifully that I almost hugged him. Yeah, right. He had managed to spare my taxi, and for that I was so grateful I waived the cab fare and helped him get inside. Well, after her emptied the contents of his shirt into the bird bath.

Now, there you have one of my favorite dinner stories, and I didn’t even wait until you were halfway done with your lasagna. I wonder why I always feel compelled to share these memories during a meal. I also wonder why I often eat alone.

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On the Whiskers of a Great Discovery

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When I was a kid I wanted to be able to talk to the animals. Seriously. My goal in life was to be Doctor Doolittle. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to understand critter-speak? I’d be able to find out if Polly really does want that cracker. I’d know what the fuss is all about with that tree full of crows in the backyard. I’d finally get my dog to understand that my socks are not nesting material. Come to think about it, I’d probably be the most sought after person on the planet – except for the Pope. Everyone wants a selfie with him. I could charge for my translating ability and end up richer than Forrest Gump. Yes, I’d say I had some pretty wise aspirations as a child.

Well, it’s taken me over 55 years, but I have finally managed to reach the first step in my lifelong quest of being the Animal Whisperer. I discovered that cats have a written language! Ok, so I still can’t tell the difference between a “Meow” and a “Rrrowl,” but give me some time. I’m sure I’ll be hissing and purring with the best of them soon. For now, though, I’m up to my beard deciphering the things my kitty Mr. Jack has inscribed around the house. If you own a cat you’ve witnessed them scratching everything from the chandelier to the carpet. They’re not sharpening their claws, my friend. They’re actually writing! You see them outside shredding trees and telephone poles and have always thought they were just relieving pent up energy. On the contrary, they are communicating with each other through what I believe are cat-scratch bulletin boards!  Once I become fluent in their language, I’ll be able to ask them such important questions as Why ignore us when we call them, How can they sleep so much and can they teach us to do it, too, and What’s with leaving mice on the doorstep? Personally, I think it’s like a Mafia warning: Give me tuna or this could be you.

I’ve been busy translating table legs, throw rugs, doors and the dog’s nose to name just a few. For instance, on the side of the dog’s food dish Jack wrote “CHOKE, YOU MISERABLE BEAST.”  On his favorite window ledge it says “THAT STUPID SQUIRREL BURIES ACORNS AROUND THE YARD THEN FORGETS WHERE HE PUTS THEM.” Just this morning I found a treasure trove of information on the back of the couch. I think he’s been keeping a journal. I’ll be sure to share his entries with you as I decipher them. For now, though, I have to be cautious. Jack is becoming suspicious, so I’ve only been able to translate when he’s napping. I’m not sure if he knows I’ve cracked the code of his language, but I have to assume he considers it private and wouldn’t be too happy if he knew I could read it. The last thing in the world I want to do is piss the cat off. He could reduce this house to toothpicks if he wanted.

I believe I’ve discovered one of his earliest writings this morning while cleaning the kitchen. On the floorboard Jack etched “I HAVE ONLY BEEN HERE A FEW MOMENTS BUT HAVE SEEN MONSTEROUS BIRDS ON THE TOP OF EVERY ROOM SPINNING THEIR WINGS SO VIOLENTLY IT CREATES A DRAFT. I AM SURE THEY WILL DEVOUR ME SO I’LL HIDE RIGHT HERE UNTIL THEY FLY AWAY.” I think Jack was talking about the ceiling fans. The day we brought him home he freaked out and bolted through the house. We finally found him the next day cowering behind the fridge. Now I know why.

I feel like the first man to have climbed Mt. Everest, except I’m not as cold. This has got to be one of the greatest scientific discoveries since the automatic drip coffee maker. Once I acquire enough data, I’ll submit it to whatever Grand Poobah council you send such stuff to. Maybe I could get a grant. Maybe I could contract it out to the government. Maybe I’ll be able to have lunch with Donald Trump and Bill Gates. Maybe I’ll finally be able to figure out what catnip actually does to cats. The possibilities are endless!

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Far Out and Low Down

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As a writer, my mind is always racing with ideas for stories. Most of them dissipate as soon as I discover someone else has beaten me to the punch (that sounds violent), some of them get lost forever in the cavernous echoing chambers of my head, some I’m actually able to pin to the wall long enough to strip them down to the bones and then flesh them out again my way, and some of them never see the light of day because they’re too far out or low down. I can be quite the mischievous imp if left alone in a room. I’m grateful and blessed that my old friend and minister Billy Cagle is around for me to bounce the edgy story ideas off of. If it weren’t for him I’d be in a constant state of trouble.

One of the story ideas I’ll have to keep chained in the basement is as follows:

MEMOIRS OF A BLIND MAN

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Billy told me it’s disturbingly funny, but inappropriate. I replied that I didn’t think blind people could be offended by something they can’t see, but he convinced me to leave it alone.

I passed a story about farts by him and he said it stunk. While I admire Billy’s blunt honesty, I wish he could be a little more specific. Personally, I find the whole subject of flatulence quite fascinating, and while I understand the subject is really something one should not mention around a formal dinner party, it does provide people with a giggle or two no matter how stodgy they are. The funniest ones are the church pew farts (if ripped during a pause in the sermon) and the farts that erupt when an old person bends over to pick something up. I’m currently in the process of inventing a device that will allow us to channel the force of our farts into a form of self propulsion. I’m thinking about calling it ‘Toot-n-Go’. Unfortunately the project has come to a screeching halt because I can’t find any willing test subjects to wear the device and try it out. They say it looks like it would be too uncomfortable. Billy said it will never get off the ground. I don’t want to lift people up, just move them forward. I mean, it works for me.

Then there was the essay I wrote called “1,000 WAYS TO MESS WITH PEOPLE,” but Billy told me it might give folks the impression that it’s ok to swap out toothpaste with hemorrhoid cream, or sneak 3D pictures of cracks into a passenger plane and stick them on the walls, or put a glob of peanut butter on your toilet seat (make sure you clean the seat very well beforehand) and when the husband or wife goes in to doo their business and starts yelling a bunch of crap, you casually scoop it up with your finger, stick it in your mouth and walk away. Billy just doesn’t believe in having fun.

I had a great idea once about a special group of policemen called the Suicide Prevention Squad whose job it was to go around and kill people who threatened to do themselves in, like when they shot a guy who stood on the ledge of a ten story building wanting to jump. Billy told me that’s already been done. It’s called the legal system.

He told me I shouldn’t write about bodily functions, or poke fun of the handicapped, or point out the profane and perverse (what is it with all these gigantic women who think it’s remotely all right to wear Speedos in a Wal-Mart?), or make light of death, or incite riots and anarchy, or promote polygamy in the animal kingdom, or anything along those lines. Heck, that doesn’t leave me much to work with, does it?

How dull life would be if we didn’t chuckle when someone toots in the elevator, or rolled our eyes when we spot a big man in a tutu walking down the street, or secretly cheered when a child gives us a wide open mashed potato smile from across the room, or thought about doing something with our spouse’s dentures, or belting out our favorite limerick in a crowded public bathroom. I say it’s ok to be naughty from time to time. Don’t worry about the puritanical political correctness crowd, and for goodness sake don’t apologize every time the cheese slides off your cracker, or they’ll own you.

Just do me one favor, though, ok? Don’t let Billy read this. We wouldn’t want to stir the muddy water up too much, would we?

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