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Submitted by Steven ODell on 8 July 2007 - 12:29am.

Aimless Wanderings

There are days when I feel a bit like Jeff Foxworthy, but with a twist. The goofy things I wonder about make me wonder. (Don’t try—you’ll just hurt yourself). Like the words that he transmogrifies into Redneck dialect. I can do that, too. Far too easily for most folks’ comfort, I might add.

Ball—“Bring it to a ball on the stove for 2 minutes.”

Tom—“What tom does yer watch say?”

And you have to wonder why some one-syllable words become two-syllable words when translated into Redneck. For example:

Pain —Pă-yun (This could mean severe discomfort, but it could also refer to a kitchen utensil used on the stove—so be cautious in its use).

Ham —Hă-yum. With a nice glaze, sounds great.

Finder—At first glance, this would appear to be the word we use to denote someone who locates some-one or some-thing, but I’m afraid it isn’t that simple. Instead of the familiar ‘long i’ sound that we have come to expect with this combination of letters, we are faced with a ‘short i’ sound that completely transforms it into another meaning altogether. See for yourself:

“Dale, didja fix that front finder on the truck, like I asked?” To which Dale replies with the ‘long I’ version of the same word—“I think you’ll finder satisfactory, Pa.”

If you aren’t careful when you speak this language, you might just find’jer self in trouble and embarrassed. But once you begin to understand this regional dialect and become truly fluent in it, you will invariably find yourself asking why you ever wanted to learn it in the first place. No easy answer for that, even after all these years. Sorry.

Okay, okay—not wonderful so far, but I do have other talents found somewhere in the general Foxworthy-esque cubicle, although I add my own twist to them, to be sure. This can be an advantage (it is not plagiarism) or a disadvantage (“He really is nuts, Martha!”), depending upon which camp you may occupy. But there is a creative force within me that cannot be denied—whether it be for good or evil, I know not. It just has to express itself, much like the Spam song. I simply feel better once the critter is set free.

So, without any further ado (or is it Adieu? See, I told you I couldn’t help but wonder), let me introduce you to:

You may be a heavy drinker if...

·You've ever awakened in the morning with "carpet face".
·You don't recall your shoes being that color a moment ago.
·Everywhere you go is uphill.
·Close friends wear raincoats on sunny days.
·You spend more than one minute digging for your car keys
before you realize boxer shorts have no pocket.
·You don't recall the door being there when you came in.
·It has taken you more than 1 minute to find the door.
·You've ever put your shoes on backward and it felt right.
·Even the dog hides your car keys.

·You're glad you drove because you were in no shape to have walked.
·Your head is in the toilet more than your backside is.
·You ever tried to bum a dollar from a cop or a parking meter.
·Just hearing the word "medicinal" makes you thirsty.
·You ever answered a hiccup with, "I'll drink to that".
·You've ever gone after more beer on your riding lawn mower.
·You've ever tried to climb over a sidewalk.
·If your idea of a balanced diet is a beer in each hand.
·If you dress like the Michelin Man for safety reasons.

·You conclude that you must have had a good time, because you can't remember a thing.
·If you’ve had more than one beer cap removed from a single body part.
·If gravitational anomalies seem to focus around you in particular.
·If someone burps and you holler, "Another round!"
·If you've screamed, "Stop! Let me off!" while in a prone position.
·You consider a day without alcohol to be "fasting".
·You think of alcoholic drinks as 'staples of life’.

·If you stargaze a lot during daylight hours.
·You've ever tried to answer the phone and don't have one.
·If you can name more local bars than Presidents.
·If you don't like water because fish swim in it.
·You've ever tried to put a drink coaster in your CD player.
·You and your drinking buddies think you may have decoded the TV test pattern.
·If you have ever had a "good conversation' with your dog.
·If you have ever wondered why you can't get the fishing
channel on the microwave.

·If you ever hit the bottom stair and just kept going.
·If the only thing on your Christmas list is beer.
·You think Smith and Wesson is a new distillery.
·If using the doggie door is easier than finding your keys.
·If, when pulled over by a cop, you've ever said, "Oooh, look at the pretty lights...."
·You've ever ordered another drink while wondering if you have a drinking problem.

·And the biggest indicator of all—if you've ever set your hand on fire while blowing out a match, you may be a heavy drinker.

So, there you have one of them. Yes, he inspired me, but I would never truly rip off a fellow redneck. You see, my parents were both from West Virginia, so I have some Stump Jumper, Ridge Runner and Gully Whomper in me, although one can never be certain of the percentages in the mix. I will add a few more examples of Foxworthy-isms before we are done here. You have to spread them out, you see. Too many at a time will just make your head spin. Aren’t you inclined to agree?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have lots of strange ideas, about all kinds of things. Restaurants, for example. You don’t wonder about them, but I do. For instance, what if you adventurously combined different cuisines and styles, somewhat like what has been done recently with certain famous chicken and Mexican food restaurants, owned by the same mother company? This bears looking into more deeply.

A Jamaican-Mexican restaurant combination might be called Rasta Mañana. It just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Or a Mexican-Italian restaurant— you could call it Hasta la Pasta. Again, perfect sense.

Or combine my two favorites, chicken and fish (‘fish or chicken’) and you get The Chicken Ship. I like this one a lot, but my wife still holds great reservations (no pun intended).

You could combine an Indian restaurant with Greek and get Indianopoulos. Too much of a stretch? It was kind of a groaner at that, but let me redeem myself.

What if you combine Thai and Mexican? You could call it Thai Juan’s. This is actually brilliant, suggesting even a third culture altogether!

My friends were puzzled as to why I would never drink diet sodas, but went for the sugar instead. The fact is that the stuff they put in it is dangerous. Some of the sweeteners break down at less than body temperature into some very nasty substances. I take the built in clue to heart—call me silly, but anything with the word DIE in it is off limits to me.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The aisles at the grocery stores are amazing to me now. A whole aisle, packed on both sides, top to bottom, with nothing but sodas. If there was ever an explosion in that aisle, God help us all. And the cereals! You walk forever past them. Oat Groaties, Gnarly Barley, Wheat Sweeties, Corn Shards, Fruit Tooties, Cereal Fibrosis and more. When will it end? And none of them have any food value. They taste like breaded cardboard to me and sit just as well on my stomach.

My Dad, who is now a grandfather several times over, couldn’t help himself in the store one day. He HAD to buy the product he saw, because of the ‘cuteness factor’ alone. The disposable diapers he bought (he had no kids at home) were called Tinkles. What is the world coming to when a grown man can’t constrain himself from such a thing. No, he didn’t buy them for himself, but where is the dignity?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My kids and I were once reflecting upon the dizzying array of wrapping papers we have available now. There is everything you can think of —almost. We thought of one that the industry has yet to implement. I know it would be popular for the crowd that has a gift for the Old Flame that has suddenly burned out, the ex-whatever that won’t go away or the boss to whom you wish to send that extra special message (after you quit).

The wrapping paper would have real photos of garbage dumps, leftovers in the wastebasket, candid photos from the latrine and other choices. We would call it Rude Wrap ™. After all, there is already a real market for sending a dozen dead roses to those you have special feelings for. Why not the appropriate paper to wrap other gifts in? Besides, the flaming bag left on the porch is a bit dated, don’t you think?

Ready for another Redneck view of the world? This one is on the very real dangers that may surround you even now.

You may be accident-prone if...

·You've ever fallen out of a pair of shoes.
·Your bruises heal up and friends ask, "What happened to you?"
·You have calluses on the side of your head.
·You can fall upstairs.
·People have ever tried to attach training wheels to you.
·You once got a cell phone stuck in your ear.
·You get personally offended at slapstick comedy.
·You know people around you are taking bets, but won't tell you why.
·You get hurt while climbing the wheel-chair ramp.
·You've ever cut yourself with a butter knife.
·Standing up makes you very nervous.
·Your standing up makes others very nervous.
·You won't use a pencil sharpener because "mechanical things" scare you.

·Others clear a room to "wait until you are finished with it."
·The hospital has a welcome mat with your name on it.
·The Guinness Book people have called you "because you are famous."
·You are Evel Kneivel's hero.
·Scientists want to study you and are willing to pay handsomely.
·You have been hit by more than three meteorites...this month alone.
·You have a permanent asphalt tattoo on your forehead.
·Any sudden movements, like waving, makes others cringe.
·You think using a file cabinet should be "left to the experts".
·If mail addressed to your house is prefaced with, "Keep out of reach of..." and bears your name.
·Your closest friends have had a special walker made for you, "just like the ones toddlers use, only bigger."

·You're thinking of volunteering for a cloning project, for purely personal reasons.
·You've ever crossed your fingers because it was less noticeable that way.
·You have a "permanent wave" in your skull.
·Inanimate objects seek to move out of your way.
·The words "I'm going to..." are met with peals of laughter.
·If everything in your house is decorated in Early Nerf.
·Your "train of thought" has ever resulted in a wreck.
·You cut your finger on a string while practicing "air guitar".
·Dinner forks make you break out in hives and give you hiccups.
·You've ever had a teacup removed from your esophagus.
·A new wing at the hospital may soon bear your name, though you don't recall contributing any money.

·You are the poster child for any medical organization.
· Paramedics thank you for making their early retirements possible.
·You get Christmas cards from Johnson & Johnson.
·You refer to common sewing repairs as ‘sutures.’
·You've been made an honorary lab rat.
·You change a tire and can't pull your hand free without removing lug nuts.
·You've been named the Ninth Wonder of the World.
·You've ever pursed your lips and couldn't un-purse them.
·You were told to "zip your lip" and got it caught in the zipper.
·The mere act of waking up causes nosebleeds.
·You discover you have several new wounds upon waking up.

·And last, but not least, a definite sign: If you've ever gotten hurt while changing your mind, you may indeed be accident-prone.

Okay, another breather is in order. You’ve earned it.

In our family, the more bizarre your humor, the more likely you are to get the family’s Badge-of-Bizarre-Humor Award and be inducted into Sigma Phi Moron. It’s just our way. What can I say? Much of it is intentional, but some just happens on its own.

Our eldest took us to a restaurant once, as a family, and we were asked by the waitress whether we wanted ‘soup or salad’. When she came to our youngest, he responded with, “What’s the difference?” After the initial stunned looked from all of us, there were hoots of “Duh!” and “One’s wet, the other isn’t” and the sort. Then we got an explanation—he thought she had said ‘Super Salad’ and wanted to know what made it so ‘Super’. Well, I knew right away he was a chip off the old block and his inquisitive mind was fully intact. We all relaxed and had a great dinner, as any loving family might—never letting him forget it for a moment. After all, one must have a ‘family roast’ when one is wearing roast-colored glasses.

He has his moments when he gets us back, though. He waits for the ideal time to spring it on us. He got us on the way back from a vacation trip once, in a small compact car with little means of escape. No, it wasn’t what you think, but it was just as obnoxious, in its own way.

We kept smelling this nasty ‘pickled sausage’ type of odor every now and then. Our faces would screw up and we would all complain and ask what it was, commenting on how disgusting the smell was. Had we run over some strange, decaying beast along the road? No one could say what it was, but it was certainly disconcerting. The next day we were reflecting on it and wondering aloud what it might have been and he grins, real proud-like and blurts out, “It was me-e-e-e-e!” He had been burping with silent, but deadly effect from the back seat all that time. How he had kept a straight face through it all still puzzles me. That and how he managed to survive such close proximity to the vapors.

In families, it just seems that much of the humor is the lowest, most base kind. In our family, if you were to refer to the ‘’Eternal Flame,” it would likely be met with, “Yeah, we always have a candle burning in our bathroom, too.” Or some unfortunate member of the family would be accused of being that person who bore the name, but let’s not go there, shall we? There’s no sense burning britches here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When it comes to foods and our family, some of us are adventurous and others are not. I still wonder if a genetic defect must have caused some of my kids to not like tomatoes or mushrooms on pizza. To this day I insist that they order their own pan pizzas or sandwiches at the fast food joints. I can’t possibly remember all the permutations they insist upon. There is no such thing as just ordering a Supreme Pizza in my family.

“I don’t want pineapple.”

“Can we get it without mushrooms?”

“The onions are gross!”

“Hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s just order one with no ingredients and go home, okay?” (I knew I should have just taken the wife out to dinner and let the kids eat macaroni and cheese).

I and my oldest son, Adriel (who is a great cook, by the way), like to try the cuisines of other countries, adventurous souls that we are. Some of us (my youngest son) like to try other foods just for the shock value. (He could learn a lot from my first grade experiences about never responding to dares and bets.) I will never forget the time that his brothers challenged him to put wing sauce on his Jello. He liked it on so many things that they thought it would be funny to tease him. He thought it would be funny to call their bluff. He has this brave-heart attitude that no challenge must go unaccepted. It was funny, though—for all but him. He did everything but lick the bottom of his shoe to get the flavor out of his mouth. In the end, he saw the humor of it. Later—much, much later.

In fairness, he isn’t the only one that has suffered culinary sabotage, whether voluntarily or by accident. During a family get-together, I once reached for my favorite drinking container (not transparent, but large—a ‘man’s man’ type of glass) and began to pour Root Beer into it. Everyone stared in disbelief as I discovered the mash floating in my soda.

“What’s this?”

“Ummm, minced garlic for the garlic bread.”

I hated to see the soda go to waste and I liked garlic, so-o-o-o-o….
I have yet to live that one down. Actually it wasn’t as bad as it sounds, although I wouldn’t repeat it intentionally. It does, however, remind me of the time I first saw an olive tree, shortly after we moved to California. I thought that since I liked black olives, it would be cool to try one fresh from the tree. It beckoned me in, calling my name and pleading with me to try just one. It was ripe and delectable and something that my wife insisted heartily I should avoid. I countered with the argument that her tastes and mine were often different and proceeded to put it into my mouth and bite down.

I’m not sure what my muzzle velocity was, but we were both glad she wasn’t standing directly in the line of fire. Our tastes weren’t as different as I had imagined and my curiosity was instantly and abundantly satisfied. I learned that they must leach at least 17,000% of the flavor out of a black olive before it is anywhere near fit for human consumption. I suspect that there are as yet undiscovered war applications for them directly from the tree, though.

In what seems to be the proper category, now is the time to introduce the last of my Foxworthy-isms into the mix. This segment deals with food, so this is the best place to let it reside. Enjoy and Bon Appetit.

You may be a lousy cook if...

·Your dog starts howling each time you move toward the kitchen.
·Your children really believe there is such a thing as the Charcoal Lover's Pizza.
·You are always the "guest of honor" at all the church potluck dinners and as such have "no need to cook".

·You think of beans and franks as exotic cuisine.
·You make two kinds of Jello--smooth or crunchy.
·Your biscuits are heavy as lead, but they won't go down.
·A food fight with your cooking causes life-threatening injuries.
·If you start hearing things like, "No thanks, I ate just yesterday."
·If a new meal is greeted with, "Leftovers again?"
·Your guests ask you to identify which are the peas and which are the carrots.
·Your children start following dinner with ipecac and epinephrine chasers.
·Several neighborhood dogs have died of mysterious circumstances.

·Dry heaves are just a part of your life.
·You've ever bought Pepto Bismol in the ‘handy 5-gallon size.’
·Your family doctor has a stomach pump with your family crest on it.
·Your dinner table has ever been quarantined and you were banished from the kitchen for extended periods.

·Your family invented anorexia and bulimia.
·More than seven of your favorite recipes use Ramen as the main ingredient.

·The Surgeon General and several FDA officials are on a first name basis with you.
·The World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control have adopted your family.
·If Saddam Hussein ever asked you for your recipes.
·Alka-Seltzer is considered a dessert in your home.
·The makers of Raid, Black Flag and Roach-Prufe have all offered to buy you out.
·Tour buses approach, slow down, and the occupants point and shake their heads sympathetically.
·That "spontaneous picket fence" around your house is made entirely of handmade crosses, donated by anonymous caring individuals.

·Your meatballs, when fired at high velocities, have been demonstrated to kill vampires.
·A new and unusual syndrome has been dubbed in your honor.
·If anyone eating your homemade bread has ever broken a tooth or fractured a jaw.
·Portland Cement Company has identified three new molecular structures in your biscuits.

·Your dinner rolls may have newfound applications in rail gun and particle accelerator technologies.
·The Department of Defense has classified your cooking as Top Secret in the interest of national security.
·Your kitchen has ever been lovingly referred to as Ground Zero.
·If your wastebasket or garbage disposal ever threw up.
·The mere thought of "eating in" causes spontaneous diarrhea and vomiting in your family members.

·If you find that cooking is the quickest and most effective threat you can make.
·Your pancakes are often mistaken for the plate.
·Your husband asks for more pancakes just before he goes skeet shooting.
·Your children are caught skipping your pancakes across the lake and several ducks are hurt.

·You discover your kids stacking your homemade cupcakes and running for cover when they begin to tilt.
·The baby begins crying when you ask if anyone is hungry.
·The fumes from your cooked cabbage can peel paint...at a distance of three blocks.
·The FDA has ordered you to attach a warning label to all your concoctions.
·You've inspired Hollywood producers to consider a new approach to the Lethal Weapon series of films, but Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are afraid to star in it.
·Your Peanut Butter/Tuna Noodle Surprise brought the house down—literally.
·Your kitchen has been listed as a Superfund Cleanup site.

·And a huge indication to consider: If shoe repairmen use your waffles because they last longer than synthetic soles, you may indeed be a lousy cook.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

No one can explain why my mind works as it does—not even me. It’s just one of those wonders of the modern world. If you talk about ‘dog tags’, my mind comes up with ‘Collar ID’. Don’t ask why. It just happens.

When someone refers to ‘that windblown look’, I immediately jump to the next option, which is ‘storm-ravaged’. I’ve never been able to explain it. It just happens…and happens…and happens….

Like when I hear someone mention Manila envelopes, I can’t help but wonder if they actually originate in the Philippines. My mind is just wired differently from yours. The relational database is jammed and crammed with lots of seemingly unrelated things—until I get ‘hold of them, that is. It amazes even me.

‘When you cross certain animals with other animals or objects, what would you get?’

Rhinostriches. Kinda like turkey, but the skin is so thick you can’t eat them. (Hmmmm—long legs and horny, too!)

Kangaroosters. These lay eggs and crow every time they jump. Awesome! (“Breakfast is ready, kids—hop to it!”)

Woosels. I’m not certain exactly what these are, but I do know they make you dizzy if you have one for a pet.

Alligarters. Okay, your guess is as good as mine on this one, but they looked pretty menacing, so I had to include them or risk being eaten. One is wrapped around your leg right now, by the way.

Buffalumps. Soft, furry and very slow moving, these creatures cannot be used for transportation or farm applications, but genetic scientists are working on a hybrid that shows promise as a throw rug.

Rummy Babbits. My oldest discovered these when he was a toddler. Cute as they are, the fact remains that drunken rodents are still rather unnerving and bizarre.

Was Charlie Chaplin’s walking stick where the term Chapstick first came from? Or was it transliterated from the Chinese ‘Chopstick?’ Okay, that was a stretch, but I need to stretch now and then.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kids can be really funny. I recall when my wife was trying to teach our oldest not to belch so loud. You can’t do that with a teenager, by the way. It doesn’t work. Or it may only be temporary until they have another teen boy in their presence. At any rate, she asked him to say, ‘Excuse me’ after he did it, if he must do it. He told her that he had said it, but she hadn’t heard him and instructed him that it had to be said at least as loud as the burp. Wrong words! My son, the Howitzer, nearly scared her to death the next time he belched, following it up with a hearty “S’CUSE ME!” that any Army Sergeant would have been pleased and impressed to hear. She can laugh at it now, but nearly needed to shower back then.

Loud sounds can be funny, though. I recall a campout we had in a California state park. The restrooms were made of concrete, not very large and with ported windows at the top. I re-entered the world after a much needed visit to this little booth of relief and tranquility, only to have my family grinning and one of my smart Alec sons ask if he had heard a bear growling in there or was that me. (This was the ‘That’s ‘gusting’ kid. He sang a different tune in later years, it appears). I recall that I told him I was tuning up before the big concert, or some such nonsense. This kid does have tremendous talents, though. A musician in his own right(seriously). He is also a natural salesman. He could sell clothes to a nudist, I swear.

I always thought that no campout was complete without entertainment and the logical choices always seemed to me to be Root Beer and beans. ‘You make your own fun’, my wife was always fond of saying. We just disagreed on the methods. The boys and I were always outvoted when she was with us. The all-male campout was a different matter, though. Like Outback; no rules, alright?

My Father was a connoisseur of rude smells, it seems. He was raised in the country and on any trip that we had, when the family held their breath and groaned at some local odor we were currently passing (or passing through), he would immediately proclaim what type of animal the stench had originated with, as if we were to recall that lesson in case there would later be a final exam that might determine and seal the remainder of our lives. Okay, he wasn’t that bad, but I did think it peculiar that he could know all of this so intimately. I never envied him the ability, just thought it peculiar.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Some folks are just born without a clue and never manage to get one, it seems. You feel like you want to get them a T-shirt that says, ‘Reality Check—Cash Immediately!’ My son, the salesman, runs into this a lot. Here is a kid that was training other salesmen after two months on his first sales job—he’s that good. A natural. What kind of customer does he have to work with?

‘Ooooh, that must be a good TV—it’s made in China!’

And one hour and forty-five minutes later, he can’t help himself. She’s still bought nothing and he simply must walk away to reclaim his sanity. She was just lonely and wanted company, I guess. (So, invite him to dinner, Lady. You get to talk all you want and he gets a decent apology).

I recall being in a church congregation of single adults before I was married and meeting the “Have We Met” girl and the “Human Magnet”. The former would remember me each time she saw me, but always ask if she had met Linda. Linda tells me this had been going on for months, even before we dated and got married. I had heard of selective memory before this, but had never actually seen it in action until this young woman came into my life. Very strange. But, as strange as that was, equally terrifying was the latter—the Human Magnet. Both my wife and I lived in fear of him. Everyone who knew him lived in fear of him.

If he saw you in the hallway, he made a beeline to you and glommed onto you like a super glue and tire chains jacket with concrete lapels. You didn’t stand a chance unless there was someone else he was attracted to with a greater magnetic density. Even yelling and pointing, “Look at that big distraction!” did no good. You were doomed. He talked about nothing, but he did it with such a desperate need that you had to be fascinated at first. That wore off quickly, however. It took exactly ten seconds. He was one that was so lonely that he smothered and alienated those he sought to befriend. I began to duck and run, as I had seen others do. I was never the type to try to be intentionally rude, but this was a matter of self-preservation and I felt God would understand. It was every man for himself!

Speaking of magnets, I have an idea for an invention made with magnets. These days the kids (of all ages) are wearing those body-piercing studs (someone’s idea of self-beautification—to me it is more like defacing a monument). Why not make them with the Neodymium magnets and save having to actually poke holes in yourself? You’d have two metal studs with strong magnets stuck to them and with opposing magnetic poles. They will stick to both sides of your lip, you ear lobe, your nostrils, your …well, never mind that. They get too creative for my liking. The way these guys look already, it would at least lend new meaning to the term “Stud Magnets ™,” would it not?

Some of these people with piercings could set off the alarms at the airport even if they were completely naked! I wonder if they pick up radio stations with those things. Maybe they even get better cell phone reception. Some people recycle metal. I could make a fortune if I could con these folks into lining up and following me.

I could never poke holes in myself that way—I’m not Swiss. If the hole wasn’t put there by God, I don’t want it. You should know that a high percentage of young folks who are doing it are coming down with heart valve problems, probably due to messing with acupuncture points. The tattoo/piercing guy may know how to keep it from getting infected, but he is no nerve specialist. You do what you want, but my heart isn’t in it (pun intended).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I had a missionary companion that impressed me with the sense of humor that he had, when once I was on my mission for our church. He was from British Columbia and seemed the prim and proper gentleman, every bit. He even lectured me once that ‘puns are the lowest form of humor.’ He found it less-than-amusing when I responded that, in my experience, I had found them to be ‘quite punny.’ The kicker was that as we got to know one another, he played some tapes for me of him pulling telephone pranks on people. I was impressed with his skills, but after that I never quite figured out his standard for what qualified as good humor and what failed the test.

But, getting back to bathroom humor for a moment. We (the boys and I) often get a laugh from the environment that others just use and lose. Once, when two of them were lined up at wall and paying their respects, one of the boys read the brand name on the urinal—Swisher. Grinning and turning to his brother, he pointed out the name and then made the appropriate swishy motions and sounds with his mouth, as if he were about to discharge—or swallow—some liquid. It got the laugh he wanted. Another time the laughter was because of the graffiti someone had left on the dispenser that many stalls have for the paper seat covers—‘Free Cowboy Hats,’ it read.

Of course, even drinks are not immune to attack. If the color is appropriate and the timing is right, the remark will be made concerning ‘free refills’, accompanied by a big grin from both parties. On this one, perhaps you had to be there. Whether you might want to be there is another matter entirely and not discussed within the constraints of this book.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Relieving tension is important for everyone, but how that tension is released can be a surprise, as well. On a particularly hot and miserable car trip with the kids once, we were all on edge and on each other’s nerves, also. We were about to explode when we found a place to stop and get a drink and gat a jug filled with water at a roadside faucet. When our second son bent over to let a small amount of water drip on his head, our oldest son took opportunity to open the faucet all the way and drench the poor boy. The shock of the cold water had to have been tremendous and I know the intent was anything but well meant; however, when he gasped and came up in what we expected to be a tirade of anger, he simply said, “Thanks, I needed that”, defusing the entire powder keg that could have ruined the entire trip for good. That type of response was certainly welcome, after the fact, but not expected. He had no corner on this market, though.

My daughter was once being very annoying on a trip and I was less than patient as I drove. And less than kind, I might add. I attempted to demean her with a comment like, “What did you do, take your brains out and play with them?” I heard a mumble in the backseat and the kids all started to laugh out loud. I knew they weren’t laughing at me. My wife asked what was said that caused it and one of the boys repeated my daughters’ remark—“I can’t remember”, she had said slyly. Well, that broke up the crab-in and we went on our now merry way.

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My youngest son, Alma, and I were discussing the stupidity of some aspects of the legal system. You might think it insane that Mexico City (one of the world’s largest population centers) has no law against kidnapping—until you realize that you probably can’t name a place in the U.S. that says a criminal has no legal claim for damages for any injuries received while in their commission of a crime.

So-o-o-o …if a dope fiend breaks through your bedroom window to kill and rob you and slips on your skateboard and gets hurt (well, you should have put it in the closet or under the bed, actually), you could get sued for everything you own. Not fair, right? Of course not. You just missed a perfectly good night’s sleep. That’s got to be worth something. But I digress.

Now we must also discuss the possible solutions to this predicament. The situation is this: You have a partially used and broken dope fiend on your bedroom floor. His inconsiderate moaning is bound to wake the rest of the household and he is most certainly going to be of little use in cleaning up the broken glass that he himself has so carelessly strewn about the floor for you to step on with your bare feet. Woe is me. What to do?

Well, all is not lost. If you actually have a skateboard in your bedroom, you might use it to finish the job and put the poor soul out of your…er, his misery. If that seems unlikely, then you probably have a baseball bat nearby. After all, you had a skateboard, didn’t you? So, a bat can’t be too far away. But maybe you are the bookish type and a bit squeamish about such things. ‘The mess would just ruin the carpet completely’ and all that stuff and that solution would tend to ruin your next breakfast, as well. Alternate solution for the bookish, nerdy type: liquid nitrogen. This makes the body easier to break up and carry out to the dumpster. A side benefit of the process is that it may actually raise the I.Q. of the perpetrator a few points, as well. Not a bad deal, really, considering what his I.Q. was before his “unfortunate accident” occurred. At the very least, he will finally be ‘cool’ for once in his sorry life. By the way, I call this method ‘settling out of court.’ Feel free to improvise.

Next project—the jury that awarded over a million dollars to the lady that spilled hot coffee in her lap. What is wrong with this picture, people? This woman orders hot coffee at the drive-through window at her local gilded arches establishment. She gets hot coffee—just what she ordered. So far no problem, right? Then she places the cup of scalding hot liquid between her very tender thighs and squeezes it hard. Okay, arousing as that may be, we’ve just taken a hard turn into the Twilight Zone here, folks.

Is it her fault for doing such a foolish thing? It would seem that the appropriate answer is no, despite all human desire to rationalize. The rules of some alternate universe must be at work here, because nothing I can find or think of can explain the math on this one. And the Einstein that can explain it has yet to materialize. All I can figure is that the jury that decided this case must be a dozen freaky geniuses to have all come to the same conclusion. Still, I’m 100% certain that I would not want any of them tutoring my children. Oh, and lady …next time order a cold soda.

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Okay, here’s one to think about. The person that calls you at 3 o’clock in the morning (probably from India) and asks, “Did I wake you?” You know, half of me wants to laugh, half of me wants to cry and the third and remaining half wants to say something like, “Of course not. I stay awake every night waiting for just such a call as yours. Thank you for helping my Make-A-Wish Foundation dreams come true; you angel, you!” I think I could pull it off. I’m getting pretty good at this sarcasm stuff, don’t you think?

P.S. If you are guilty of this crime, I didn’t mean you, okay? No—really. There’s a bus coming in five minutes—be under it. (Sorry, Donna--I had to. No offense, okay?)

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Sometimes I get frustrated quite easily. One thing I really hate with a passion is the hoops you have to go through to make semi-long distance calls. It isn’t to another state and it isn’t local. It’s just far enough away to confuse the issue. You dial a ‘1’ and the voice says, “It is not necessary to dial a ‘1’ with this number. Please hang up and try again.” So, you do that. This time you dial the area code and the extended number and the voice tells you that you have somehow screwed up again. On the third try, you may get it, if the lines haven’t gone down totally by then— You know the drill: “All of our circuits are busy now. Please try again later.” Yeah, probably from a thousand other people attempting the same thing you are.

What I want to know is this: If this lady is smart enough to know that you don’t need to ‘do this’ or ‘do that’, then for cryin’ out the window, why isn’t she helpful enough to just dial the stupid number for you?!!! What good is technology if it doesn’t work? Sheesh!

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