737. And Away We Go

Image result for hot air balloon photosThinking about retirement as I enter the final year of official employment, the countdown to greater freedom and more choices seems a bit daunting. There’s a lot to do in order to do less. It still seems pretty vague despite all the definitive funding streams and anticipated expenses ahead. A figurative door opens on to the great wide world beyond employment. Travel, everyone wants to travel before it’s too late and their body or checkbook won’t permit them to leave town. Sure, I want to check off my bucket list items too. Maybe it’s a bit presumptuous to even hold a bucket list, as if the bucket (of life) will hold still for me to kick it on my own terms. Not sure if Cambodians or Nigerians have bucket lists in their daily struggles to survive. Must be a First World problem like which flavor mouthwash to use.Image result for blue highway maps

I do see a long blue off ramp that runs west and southeast toward loved ones, though. Even the poorest folks on earth want to be with their closest relatives at the end of their lives. I’m no different. I have a will and a funeral party playlist of songs that I put together twenty years ago. I might need to update that list, however. I don’t want some crazy 90’s song embarrassing everyone who has come to grieve my passing. My death should be like the passing of a kidney stone– the end of their suffering.  The will should be good or I will have to sue Joel.  As far as my property legacy, I think I’ll take a page from John Prine….Image result for john prine daddy’s little pumpkin

Woke up this morning
Put on my slippers
Walked in the kitchen
And died
And oh, what a feeling!
When my soul
Went through the ceiling
And on up into heaven, I did ride
When I got there, they did say
“John, it happened this way
You slipped upon the floor
And hit your head”
And all the angels say
“Just before you passed away
That these were the very last words
That you said”
“Please don’t bury me
Down in that cold, cold ground
No, I’d rather have ’em cut me up
And pass me all around”
“Throw my brain in a hurricane
And the blind can have my eyes
And the deaf can take both of my ears
If they don’t mind the size”
“Give my stomach to Milwaukee
If they run out of beer
Put my socks in a cedar box
Just to get ’em out of here”
Yep, just divide what’s left if there is anything. Try not to mix my cremains with your breakfast cereal, my grandkids. That would be disturbing…Image result for kid eating cereal pictures
“Gag, hack, gag.”
“What’s wrong, Max?”
“I-I-I think I ate Grandpa’s foot in my Fruit Loops.”
“Oh, no! Spit it out. Heave the Heimlich with me. There you go. Was it his right or left foot, honey?”
“How should I know, Mom? How would anyone know?”
“Now it’s simple, Honey:  Granpa’s left foot wouldn’t taste right.”
“Must have been the left cuz it definitely did not taste right.”Image result for cremains images
“Where did you get it… oh, no, Max! That’s the cremains jar not the cereal box.”
Some folks never retire; they keep on working till they die at the office or on the shop floor. That’s kind of hard on your coworkers, I think.
“Where’s Silverback Larry?”
“I dunno. He went to the bathroom, I think.”
“That was two hours ago, Mikey. Go check.”
“I’m not gonna check, Shirley. What if he’s like deceased, you know? I don’t want that job. What if rigor mortis has set in on the toilet?”
“Take the dolly with you. If rigor has set in, it’ll be a snap wheeling him out. He was mostly water.”
“No, Shirley, I won’t do your dirty work.”
“Well, I’m not going to check. It’s a men’s room.”
“Only when there’s a man in it, Shirley. Otherwise it’s nongenderized. Remember that training on sensitivity by H.R.? You can go in. Just make sure you knock.”
“He was your friend, Mikey. He was like a, a grandfather to you.”
“No, he just looked like a grandfather with the nose and ear hairs, and that clicking thing he did after lunch just before his nap.”
“Well, can’t you just listen to the door and see if he’s at least clicking?”
“Okay, Shirley, but if it’s dead silence, you’re going in not me…. Hey, Larry, Larry.”
Rude and inconsiderate, if you ask me. I want to simply let go on a parasail high above the Island of Capri and float airborne northwesterly over the boot of Italy, on past Tuscany, over Milan and scrape the tops of the Swiss Alps with my bare feet. Then glide on above the neat fields and towns of Germany, across Denmark, and then make a swirling clockwise tour of Scandinavia. Maybe I will get lucky and catch a strong westerly wind to finish out my good bye tour in Iceland. I know I’m not a rock star, but why can’t I retire and die like one? You know, like Elton John, maybe.
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So, that’s my story. I need to add “My Way” to the playlist while I’m thinking of it. Soaring across Europe in my untethered parasail, it would make a nice music video with Frank or Elvis singing… (Do not under any circumstances look at Sid Vicious’s version.)
And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certainI’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill my share of losing
And now, as tears subside
I find it all so amusing

To think I did all that
And may I say – not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it my way

For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Yes, it was my way

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736. Canoodling

My favorite pasta is the canoodle.  It is a cross-hybrid of kiss and cuddle with a splash of amore sauce. The amazing fact about the canoodle is that this pasta is gluten fee and calorie free.  You can canoodle as long as you like and not gain so much as a gram. I should note that canoodling can lead to passionate outcomes that require mature audiences for me to share, and since I don’t know the age of my many readers, I cannot in good conscience go forward with further discussion of the passionate results of unharnessed canoodling.  Let me just say this: in some countries you must be at least 40 years old to obtain a canoodling license. Even then it’s seasonal like a hunting license; you must reapply each canoodling season and abide by all the laws in the 50 page booklet that comes with your canoodle tags..

Image result for a canoe filled with politicians imagesLately there has been another type of canoodling going on, the political type where hot to trot politicians wet kiss their audiences with steamy promissory slobber trails. They promise us everything– tax breaks, free insurance, tuition, economic resurgence, racial harmony, liberty and justice for all– and admonish against having other political suitors on the couch with us. “You can’t trust him/her. They are not me. I want you to canoodle in my canoe into a brighter, crisper future with one third of the calories. One that tastes great but is less filling.”Image result for elizabeth warren pictures

On the Dems side there are so many canoodlers that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Some have to submit to facial recognition technology since they have no name recognition.  Seriously, if you can match names and faces with the following list, you are a better citizen than I am. ( Okay, I know you are thinking you are already a better everything than I am, but just do the exercise anyway for your own edification.)

  • Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
  • Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro
  • Rep. John Delaney of Maryland
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont
  • Former Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania
  • Billionaire Tom Steyer
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
  • Author Marianne Williamson
  • Tech entrepreneur Andrew YangImage result for fish catch pictures

Bennet, Delaney and Sestak sounds like a law firm in a New Jersey suburb. Not sure I could identify Deval Patrick either, though I’ve heard the name. That leaves 11 hamsters licking the voters’ sweaty palms to take him/her home for the next four years. “Oh, this one is so cute!” Mind you, this is after the pruning of the following 13 wannabes.Image result for fish catch pictures

  • Sen. Kamala Harris of California
  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock
  • Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam
  • Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas
  • Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
  • Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
  • Rep. Eric Swawell of California
  • Former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska
  • Former state Sen. Richard Ojeda of West VirginiaImage result for richard ojeda images

Whaaaat? I thought the last guy was extremely shady since he had gotten out of West Virginia for military service but went back there after his tour ended. That should disqualify anyone for national office. Harsh? you may ask. You may Snopes check the following article from the Hagerstown paper, The Morning Herald, July 18, 1996.Related image

Washington County police responded to an incident on the shoreline between Maryland and West Virginia last night after complaints of loud booms were reported. Long time local residents claimed there has been a long time insult contest going on between folks on either side of the Potomac River where it narrows before the Al Roker Bridge span. 

Arthur Laird, 66, who has lived on the Maryland side all his life, stated, “Those West Virginia boys have an inferiority complex. Ever since Virginia divorced them back in the War.”

“Which war was that, sir?” this reporter inquired.Image result for civil war images crossing potomac river

“The Civil War, son. They come asking if they could be West Maryland. We said nope. Then they went to Ohio to see if they could be South Ohio. They got beat back like a red headed step child from outside of wedlock. So they went to Kentucky and asked if they could be Northeast Kentucky. I guess you know how that turned out. So, that left Pennsylvania, and them good ole boys was hopin’ that some of the old Quaker tolerance would drift  down to them, ya know? They was so beat down by rejection, they was ready to accept the title of GuamShoe County, PA. But when the Pennsylvanians asked for their shot records, they thoed in the towel, and just grew bitter and made moonshine.”

“That’s so sad. So, Arthur, bring us to last night on the river bed. How did it ever get so crazy here?”Related image

“Well, them Mountaineers was talking all crazy and yelling at us cuz we got running water and Coleman gas stoves over here, and RV’s and four wheelers and such. And, I guess it’s as old as Cain and Abel, ya know? Them boys was gonna destroy what they couldn’t have, so they got some dynamite sticks they stole from the highway department and thoed’ em across the narrows. It was terrible scary with shouting and children screaming and women cussing.”

“Is that when the Army National Guard helicopters arrived?”

“No, it was a fore that.”

“What did you do in the mean time, before the authorities quelled the violence?”Image result for helicopter spotlight at night

“Whelp, I aint namin’ names or nuthin’, but one of our boys who was a perty good pitcher at Williamsport back in the day, he grabbed up a few of them sticks of dynamite and lit them, and he thoe’d them back across the river. It was a turrible loud mess.”

“Thank you, Arthur Laird, for you heroic service in preserving peace in our time. Have you ever considered running for office?”

“Now son, this river may run on down to Washington, but you’ll never find me canoodling my canoe that way. No sir. I got standards.”Image result for canoeing down the potomac river pictures

Kyle Overton, Cub Reporter

 

735. The Last Word in Middle School Drama

Related imageBack in the day I taught exploratory drama to seventh graders, the majority of whom had little or no experience with plays or being on stage. Just reminiscing about some of those moments makes me laugh out loud at how goofily funny things became sometimes but also how magical they could be at other times. The goal was to put on a twenty minute micro play after five weeks of 45 minute classes. The results were always unique, often priceless.Related image

Let’s set the stage, so to speak, for the mind’s eye to take in the comic splendor. My students would build and decorate paper sets stapled to a folding wall frame made of 1’x3’s at the back of my classroom. The set wall stood about four feet from the real back wall, with a center entrance and open flaps at either end. The cast would wait behind the paper for their cues and I would direct from behind the paper wall. (Mind you, I had zero experience in theater.) We had lights and music to go with each play. Another class of 25 or so students would pile in to the desks that were flipped around backwards to watch these rare, never to be seen again theatrical exploits. We even had homemade programs as well, so everyone’s creative efforts could be chronicled and recognized. Image result for middle school plays photos

Let me begin with the mute narrator. Despite many repetitions without an audience. on the day of our one goofy play, the narrator, a big kid named Dion who was a bit of class clown without trying to be, froze in the spotlight before the first live audience. His fellow seventh graders in the audience giggled nervously as he stood there mutely. Behind the paper sets the other actors were whispering nervously, “What are we going to do, Mr. Burrito? He’s frozen in fear. We can’t start without his intro.” Image result for charlie chaplin images

“I’ll think of something”, I reassured them, knowing the mute narrator thing would grow old in another ten seconds. I had the script in hand and began in a loud, deep voice, “Dion, this is God. Can you hear me?”

Fortunately Dion came out of his paralysis and responded, “Yes, God.” The audience burst out laughing at the absurdity of it all, thinking it was part of the show. Image result for god speaks to adam pictures

“I want you to repeat after me.”

“Okay, God.”

I read his lines and he began to say them from that point on without any more divine interventions. It was like jump starting my old 1959 Volkswagen primer grey Bug, only it was a big 13 year old boy whose cognitive engine would not turn over. Looking back at both experiences, I prefer the spontaneous, unrehearsed moments. Otherwise it would not be memorable, you know? Who remembers the 1,000-th time he/she turned the key in the ignition and the car started?  However, we all remember those times when the key broke off or the battery died and the starter merely clicked. Yeah, it is the unique and bizarre that we easily retain and recall.Image result for man jump starting an old volkswagen pictures

Another drama favorite reduction had to be Excerpts from Monte Python’s Holy Grail. A rambunctious group of boys were the last cycle of the year, and they had all year to think about what glorious 20 minute theater explosion they would ignite. Beginning with the Black Knight scene where the Black Knight loses his arms and legs in a sword fight, the boys riffed about which scenes they had brainstormed in advance. The girls in the group had been excluded from planning, however, and made it known that they weren’t going to be ushers. So to accommodate the girls and to work out the storming of the castle scene, the boys made some adjustments. The castle was renamed Castle of the Babes and the girls came up with how they would defend the paper ramparts. Instead of tossing livestock at the invaders, they decided on marshmallows– soft, safe, edible. Image result for images from Monty python's holy grail

Finally they stole the final scene from Indiana Jones’ Holy Grail movie where the good knight or Indiana must pick the true Grail and worked it out as the fitting end to a crazy middle school charade of a medieval legend.Image result for last crusade images from end of movie

Fortunately the Black Knight, Paul, was an ice hockey player and had the full suit in all black with pads and helmet; a wooden shield and sword; and he was ready to be carved like a Christmas turkey. A play cannot begin with mere mayhem and murder, however. The knights of the Round Table had to begin their search on stick ponies, while providing their own click-clocking noises. Very soon they realized they were lost. What to do? One goofy knight borrowed the other goofy knight’s cell phone and placed a call to God, who stood on top of a ladder off stage with his head up in the dropped ceiling. After several rings, God’s answering service responded, “You have reached God. I’m either with another customer or away from my phone. Please leave a message at the beep.” The head knight left a disappointed message with the Creator and carried on toward the Castle of the Babes.Image result for images from Monty python's holy grail

On the way toward the castle, though, they ran into the spunky and over confident Black Knight, who challenged the knights to a fight to the death. As the fight developed, Paul would scurry behind the set with some severe blow. When he reappeared, he’d have one less limb. Until finally he came out on a skateboard with no arms or legs. It was cute in the stupid meaning of that word. Image result for images from Monty python's holy grail

When the wenches of the castle refused to surrender, the fight began. The girls pummeled the knights with marshmallows, causing one knight to exclaim, “I’ve been hit!” Followed by falling down to eat the marshmallow projectile. “Hmmm, these catapulted stones are tasty.” The scene ended mercifully after three bags of medium marshmallows had been fired at the audience.Image result for images from Monty python's holy grail

Finally the Round Table was set with several vessels and Lancelot, Galahad, and Gawain had to pick which was the Holy Grail. Each knight said something noble and took a swig. Each died in an overly dramatic death spiral, leaving only the Archbishop of Cranberry on the stage with an enormous red hat. When he took off the hat he revealed the true Grail which he began to sip while calling the Babes from the castle to party. They danced irreverently to some rock n roll song and that was the last word in middle school drama.Image result for bishop dancing with wenches pictures

 

734. Global Hatriotism

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Peace on earth and good will towards mankind…. does not seem to be in the cards once again this Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, New Year season. I mean, sure, it’s a banner on one in ten Christmas cards but not in reality. Getting in the way as usual is mankind being cruel to mankind. You don’t have to look very far to see the cruelty.A picture taken on February 19, 2019, shows swastikas painted on graves at a Jewish cemetery in the French town of Quatzenheim close to the German border (Frederick Florin/AFP)

Just the other day a bunch of Jewish graves were vandalized in Paris by someone who left swastikas with blue spray paint. So thoughtful. Attacking graves is the nadir of cowardice since they (the dead) are undefendable. Most people groups on this earth condemn disturbing the dead. The criminality of the act is self evident. Unlike other graffiti necro-graffiti must be carried out under cover of darkness. Anonymously. Therefore the cowards cannot be held responsible or accountable. It’s like  poisoning the victim, so passive-aggressive. Cowards will not confront their supposed adversaries in daylight on a level playing field evenly armed. But this indefensible cowardly attack was double edged: it disturbed the universal respect for the dead while also searing the hearts of survivors with the universal symbol of hatred.‘They were both very nice to me’ ... Goebbels and his wife Magda with Hitler

We are all witnesses and survivors as the family of mankind. Our humanity is not lived out in a silo that stops at the threshold of our homes, countries, cultures, political persuasion, or places of worship. Our humanity is a universally shared compassion for all men and women, knowing that pain and suffering are understood across all ages, languages, oceans, governments, religions, and cultures. Willful ignorance of this shared care does not make one man, tribe or nation immune from accountability. It makes them poisonous.Image result for universal humanity imagesWe cannot unsee or forget these insults to our human nature anymore than we can ignore ebola.

Happy Christmas then to the Rohingyas of Myanmar. About two and a half years ago they were purged from land they had lived on for generations. Their crime? Muslim faith in a Buddhist country. Framed as foreigners, illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, they had no rights when majority Buddhist Myanmar decided on an ethnic cleansing/ genocide program in August 2017. Weird, isn’t it, how Buddhism is usually associated with peaceful contemplation. Buddha’s teachings are known as “dharma.” He taught that wisdom, kindness, patience, generosity and compassion were important virtues.A Rohingya refugee cries as he climbs on a truck distributing aid for a local NGO near the Balukali refugee camp

Not only were almost a million Rohingyas forced out of their villages, the villages were incinerated behind them; women and girls were raped; thousands were murdered. Their crime, once again, was being different. The same story plays out all over the globe.Image result for the globe on fire images

In China a million Muslim Uyghurs are being re-educated by the authoritarian state of Xi Xinping, Trump’s on again, off again buddy. Apparently these Chinese citizens do not know how to be Chinese, and so the state must reteach them how not to be Muslim or Uyghur. The Communist Party of China is so concerned about these folks that they have been giving DNA tests to catch Uyghurs in hiding, trying to avoid the internment camps. Now just consider that program in any other country, except North Korea– making citizens give their DNA for no legal or medical reason. Seems like a prelude to another Holocaust. It’s easy to ignore Chinese Muslims, though. I mean, what on earth do I have in common with them besides humanity?Related image

Save your tears, my readers, at least budget them judiciously. You’ll need to save some for the Muslims in India who are now being expatriated by the new right wing Hindu government. Despite comprising 14% of India’s population, Muslims are being declassified as citizens by Prime Minister Modi’s virulent government. Claiming the citizenship bill is meant to protect minorities, troops were deployed to majority Muslim states and internet service was cut off to those areas. Just a coincidence, I’m sure. “What you are seeing and hearing is not what you are seeing and hearing.” “Our lies are true; our truths are lies.”Image result for india's persecution of muslims images

Save some tears for non Muslims, folks. The Yazidi of northern Iraq were singled out by ISIS, the crazed Islamic terrorist group of Iraq and Syria. Yazidis worship one god but not like Jews or Christians or Muslims. They are different and therefore unholy apostates living next to the pure, fundamentally unstable, radicalized Islamists. Answer to this problem? If you guessed genocide, you win again. Your prize is a loss of more humanity.In this Dec. 5, 2015 file photo, Yazidi refugee Salma Bakir, 9, from Iraq, waits with her family to be permitted by Macedonian police to board a train heading to the Serbian border, near the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija. (Muhammed Muheisen/AP)

Darfur in Sudan has witnessed the murder of 480,000 civilians in the past 15 or so years. And what drives this genocide, you might ask?

The ethnic conflict in Darfur has been persistent. Darfur is home to six million people and several dozen tribes. Darfur is split into two: “those who claim Black ‘African’ descent and primarily practice sedentary agriculture, and those who claim ‘Arab’ descent and are mostly semi nomadic livestock herders”. [wikipedia]  Image result for ranchers fighting farmers in sudan pictures

You might think that the farmers and the ranchers should be friends, but it’s no more true in Sudan than in Oklahoma.

Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends
One man likes to push a plough
The other likes to chase a cow
But that’s no reason why they cain’t be friends

But throughout history there has always been a reason why nomads and farmers can’t be friends. It’s not just religious differences. In Karen Armstrong’s historic survey of religion and violence we find…

Amid the kaleidoscope of examples, the argument solidifies: religious awakening is a symptom of too-quick transition from one kind of society to another. From the nomadic to the settled, from the agrarian to the mercantile, from the mercantile to the industrial. Violence often erupts at these moments. But the link with religion is one of correlation, not causation.Image result for medieval war pictures

Blood spills at pivot points in history, with or without religion. Not all countries or cultures pivot at the same moment in history, so we wind up with a bloody patchwork quilt brightened by a few stars and halos here and there. These small cracks where the light comes in defy the mindless massacre of humanity.

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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733. Murray Christmas, Joel

Image result for tortured accountant cartoonOkay, I’ll admit that I torture Joel on a regular basis. It’s fun for both of us in this crazy world we live in, where strangers kill each other for no apparent reason. It’s comforting to know that when your friend stabs you in the chest, it is not a random or purposeless act of a deranged demoniac. No, it’s your friend– maybe wishing you a Murray Christmas or just being socially reciprocal in an inappropriate manner. Like yesterday.Related image

I was in a festive mood as I prepared for a busy day of what I call work. I dressed and shaved, slathered coconut oil into my wispy hair for control that does not look too moussey or controlly. (Now there’s a pair of words that spell check does not like.) I picked up the small chunk of bleached coral from my dresser that I use as a paperweight for my receipts and bank statements. “Ha! I’m going to give this to Joel as my Christmas gift. Now I just need a card and a facetious reason to go along with the gag.” Related image

I like to set myself personal creative challenges like this, no matter how trivial, mundane or silly. I went to the file drawer where my sane and sober wife keeps cards for all seasons and reasons. Some are art cards without any messaging. I like those best. But for this occasion I wanted a stock, Dollar Store card. That’s when I found it!  A cheesy get well card with a tedious message on the front cover and inside. “Yes!! Perfect!!” just like Trump’s Ukraine call. It just needed a bit of dressing up. Image result for pathetic greeting cards

“Get well soon” was crudely edited to “Get Christmas soon” with a black Sharpie, again like Trump’s map of Alabama and the hurricane watch. Other references to illness were crossed out and replaced with seasonal words. “At this trying time, remember…blah, blah, blah.” became “At this festive time, remember…blah, blah, blah.” That was the easy part, doctoring the card to resemble a prison tattoo or one on an old Navy vet’s arm, where you can’t tell if it’s the Baby Jesus or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. And it’s rude to say, “May I stretch your forearm skin out to read the original tat inside?” This is how random killings occur by strangers in public parks. Totally senseless, random, and impersonal. Image result for wrinkled old tattoo images

Joel lives for classical music, as I have recorded in previous posts about his sousaphilia and the Tubette Wilson trilogy. ‘Hmmm. Yes!!’ I thought. My sloppy marker message said, “For your love of coral music, fa la la la la la, la la la la.” With the same marker I drew a budget creche with faint blobs suggesting Joseph and Mary standing like baked potatoes over a jelly bean sized Baby Jesus. Knowing how much Joel likes camels, I drew a Moroccan camel on the outside of the stable next to a reindeer/ longhorn bull combination animal. Overcome with Yuletide joy, I signed it “Burrito” and slid it into a used-looking beige envelope that screamed “Thrift Store Sale Rack”. Ah, but the homely enveloped needed more than just “JOEL” on its water stained outside. I drew a sad looking star where the stamp would go. It’s mournfully weak ink beams reached toward his name like dribbles of decaf coffee. At the bottom left I added “Budget Cards.Com”. It was more perfecter than a homely card had a right to be. The homeliest mother of the homeliest child in Homely Land would call it homely.Related image

I was excited to greet Joel, buy his unsweetened iced tea, and give him the homely card. He laughed like a mad man holding on to a thin sliver of reality. I believe the card hit his absurd nerve that intersects with the vagus nerve. For a moment I thought he might over-guffaw and fall out right there, slain in the spirit of regurgitated revival. But he held on like the sea worthy maritime lawyer that he is. (See previous post about his pro bono intervening for a motorcycle gang on a ferry boat ride to Cape May, N.J.)Image result for sea captain images

He graciously accepted the chunk of coral, not once insinuating that it was an odd gift or asking if it were actually human bone, never mind saying, “What? Coral in my stocking, Scrooge? What about Tiny Tim? Have you eaten him?” Nope. Image result for tiny tim cratchit pictures

Yes, banal banter ensued. He promised to put this latest gift/card in his special box at home where he puts all my memorabilia. The British call such boxes, dustbins. As we parted ways, I recalled the lyrics to Harry Chapin’s song “Taxi”…

“Well another man might have been angry; and another man might have been hurt; but another man never would have picked it up; he stashed the card in his shirt.”

On my way out I sang softly to myself, “Murray Christmas to Joel, and to all a good night.”

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732. The Christmas Party

Image result for christmas party photos from outside houseIt was a diverse crowd, half of them I knew from other social settings– dances and parties; the other half were brand new… a doctor, a dentist, a retired general and colonel, birders, missionaries, Kiwanis, Rotarians, and more. Some of the usual social suspects were missing, though… Alex, Don, Bill. It wasn’t supposed to be a costume party, just a lot of red and green, but toward the end of the festivities, a caravan of opulent magi came through the front door bearing gifts. At first it was funny, like a Christmas dress-up prank timed for the end of egg nog with rum, and wassil, or Irish coffee and White Russians. We laughed trying to guess who was which magi… was that Alex in the purple?  He had been conspicuously missing from the gathering. No, this guy was too tall. Maybe he’s that retired airline captain whose name I can’t recall from Harold’s gatherings. Balthazar came to mind, but all I could think of was bath robe razor, a very fine silk bath robe at that.Image result for balthazar the magi images

The second magi came in speaking loudly and convincingly in a foreign tongue with a golden box. His cape was a deep crimson with gold brocade on the edges. “Fred? Is that you? Why’d you wait so late to come? We’ve been here for hours, man. Where’s Jan?” But it couldn’t be Fred. Too short and his mannerisms were all wrong. I gasped in confusion. Gaspar, the second magi? Kooky coincidence.

The third magi came in smelling of incense and garlic. I wondered if he’d stopped at the Grille Kabob on his way over. Maybe it was even Simon, the owner. He also spoke in a language I’d never heard, Middle Eastern maybe mixed with Azerbaijani. Pakistani? His robe was, what color?, saffron? I guessed. These guys were awesome. I don’t know which church’s drama closet they raided, but I had to give it to them for the near approximation of reality. It was stunning like a magician’s trick. Only these guys were pulling hats out of rabbits.  The party goers applauded and then called out names of the likely suspects, which only confused the magi. Saffron guy had to be Melchior. His name poured over my mind like warm buttermilk.Related image
“Melchior”, thick and warm, rolled off my tongue.

A wild and loud “Oh my God!!” went up. “There are at least a dozen camels with attendants in the driveway and down the road! It’s crazy!! I mean, whaaaat??” The guests crowded toward the windows and front door. Some scurried upstairs to the second floor windows, all adorned with Christmas lights to behold the spectacle. Everyone grew quiet, each person in a private silo of awe. ‘What is going on here?’Image result for magi caravan images at night

Finally the hosts spoke up. “Gentlemen, Sires, Lords, Kings, etcetera, welcome to our home. How may we help you?”  A young lad came forward and immediately became the interpreter. He spoke to the magi in what sounded like a cross between vigorous gargling and exotic bird calls. Eventually the kid nodded and spoke to Wayne. “Sir, thank you for you hospitality. We have been traveling a far and our camels are tired and hungry. If we may rest in your stables tonight, we will be on our way to Bethlehem in the morning.”Image result for camels at night photos

“Bethlehem, PA?  Why that’s over a hundred miles from here, fella, if you stay on 81 north to 78. It’s practically in New York.”

“Yes, Sahib. Our astrolabe tells us as much. We must be there by Christmas, and by our calculations we will be there in three weeks if the weather holds.”Image result for astrolabe being used by old man pictures

That’s when Jackie chimed in. “Are you making a Hallmark movie? You have some of the essential ingredients– a small town, Christmas, strangers, surprises that aren’t really surprises. You just need a hopeless big city refugee guy and a winsome local girl to meet on the snow covered town square as they realize they love one another on Christmas Eve.  Her long time love interest dumps her from a holiday carriage ride to go home with a mean girl from high school, and the stranger breaks her fall on the icy street. Or something like that.”Related image

“We just finished playing Christmas trivia, though, and no movie with the Magi came up. Let’s see, we had Miracle on 34th Street, A Wonderful Life, The Santa Clause. Gremlins. Nope, no Magi in any of them. No camels. Where are you guys from anyway?”

“Afar”, replied the kid.

“You mean like a far piece, maybe Georgia? Definitely a southern phrase.”

“No, Sahib. We come from afar, from the east. You call it the Orient. You know the lyrics…

We three kings of orient are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.
Oh, star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright.
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide with thy perfect light.”

Image result for christmas carolers pictures

“Everybody, join in.” And so we did on that joyous evening. The camels came up the driveway and lay down in the back yard. All the attendants made their way into the garage and eventually into the kitchen/living room area, where they helped themselves to endless trays of ham balls and cured meats, cheeses, gherkin pickles, and Jackie’s killer coconut cream pie. It was, well, magical. No one wanted to press for proof of this being a prank or a miracle wrinkle in the time/space continuum. No I.D.’s were needed.Related image

We sang every song that camel driver knew. Before you knew it, the sky was a faint grey, and then pink, orange, gold, yellow, and finally azure blue. As the dampness evaporated in the morning sun, our guests turned a ghostly pale and disappeared. No one had a cell phone picture or video. We looked at each other, knowing this was a test of mental health or spiritual maturity we had just experienced. Not one doubted, though. We just smiled at one another knowing we’d shared a Christmas miracle, too good for Hallmark.Image result for camels at night photos

731. The Editorialist

Image result for scott jennings photos

Conservative columnist Scott Jennings wrote an article the other day for CNN called “Why Trump Is Still Winning”. He makes the ridiculous argument that because “global elites” are laughing at Trump at NATO, Trump’s disaffected base will simply ooze more affectionately for their little boy blue. He makes a point of separating out the Us vs. Them, with the THEMS being liberal Democrats whom he magically casts as all those immature cool kids in middle school. [News flash Scott: there are no cool kids in middle school. I served in exile there for 23 years, from Michael Jackson gloves to Gothic emo’s to Aeropostale shirt stardom. There are no cool kids in middle school. Just go and visit if you can even get inside these barricaded bunkers of emerging adolescence nowadays.]

Image result for wizard of oz screen imagesIn making such a wild comparison, Mr. Jennings is maybe the greatest illusionist since the Wizard of Oz. He has projected the biggest bully this country has ever known as the helpless victim of elitism abroad and at home. The very same clown who brags about going to the best schools and owning the best accommodations known to mankind (i.e. practicing elitism) is now the victim of those other elites he chased after like a dog in heat.  Who can forget his butt sniffing bromance with Macron and his big parade envy? “All those fire hydrants but so little time.” He goes on to say that all this (well earned) mockery and ridicule of Trumpzilla is proof, not of what a clown Trump is, but of how he is shaking up the elitists, those entrenched intellectuals who won’t let Deplorables sit at their lunch table.Image result for trump mocked on snl 12/7 images

Jennings’ illusion is comparable to the fictional transformation of a slightly daffy, weak fortune teller, Professor Marvel, into the Magnificent Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the movie we all know and love. The problem outside of Hollywood is that you can’t have it both ways, Scott. Trump’s campaign cast him as a Caesar, Conan, or Thor who could not be bought or corrupted because of his wealth, brilliance, and power. Campaign Trump was an all-powerful wrecking ball who was going to do bigly things– Build The Wall, Drain The Swamp, Lock Her Up, Make America Great. He was the Strong Man who would whip the world into shape through sheer will and wit.  He didn’t need no stinking Congress or the judiciary. He would rule like a super Raptor in the presence of park pigeons.Image result for trump as bald eagle images

But Scott, here’s where your fakery splats like a raw egg on concrete. Once poor Baby Donnie got elected, his wittle feelwings got hurt and we were all supposed to feel sorry for him. Those damn Dems were trying to strangle Baby Hercules in his crib, so the Fox News propaganda went. One conspiracy led to the next, as truth was subverted again and again. Why couldn’t the Wall be built? And the Swamp drained? And Hillary locked up? There had to be a Super Villain to balance the Hero/Victim. And so, like Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy before him, Donnie Boy’s spin machine went on a wild snipe hunt to explain away his failures. Oh, Lex Luthor, where art thou? Elite cabals of rich Ivy Leaguers, old money, deep staters had to be the kryptonite behind Donnie’s complete ineffectiveness. It couldn’t possibly be that his litttle tyrannosaurus rex hands were too small to hold the reins of democracy.Image result for desperate trump images

Trump can either be the pathetic little man in the projection booth or the pompous strong man on the screen, but he cannot be both.  The headlines either read “Trumpy Shakes Up The Elites” or “The Elites Shake Up Trumpy”. To bound back and forth like a game of political ping pong is intellectually dishonest. As the Wizard, Trump tasked others to go do the hard work of bringing back the Wicked Witch of the West’s broom stick while he reclined in the Emerald City of Illusions, aka, the White House or Maralago. And when the troops he did not fire completed the heavy lifting, they gained access to his narcissist nest, where he sat playing video games like a 10 year old emperor of Fortnite, only it was Twitter.Image result for addicted gamer kid gif

“Ignore that man behind the curtain!”  shouts the angry green face from the screen. “Loyalty is very important to me. I’ll sue you all. Just watch me. I’m the victim here, uh, well, uh. Okay, you caught me.”  When all the manipulations are done, Oz is defeated by a girl and her little dog. But that is Hollywood.Image result for dorothy and toto images

In real life when the Wizard of Trump is caught, he just lies louder and faster, knowing full well that 40% of the electorate will fall into his hypnotic cadences and march in a zombie army of ignorance, or winkies, wherever he dictates.

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And so, Scott Jennings, you have to choose your Trump. Is he the Great and Powerful to be feared and obeyed by elitists? Or is he the petty and pathetic, to be mocked by the same elitists? My money is on the little man in the most expensive soul toll booth ever known.

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730. To All The People I Never Met or Hardly Knew

“I don’t text or use email. In fact, I hate to write stuff down. It creates a paper trail, which is why I have forbidden any transcripts or recordings from My Real White House. com, because all they do is make for legal haggling and meddling later on. Who needs that headache? My presidential library will be a wall of televisions locked on Fox News.Image result for trump watching tv pictures

“So today as Melania was dictating holiday greetings to Stephanie Grisham for our thousands and thousands of closest friends, I thought, you know, I thought of all the folks I never met or hardly knew. Like that song that Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson sang, ‘To All the Girls I Loved Before’.

To all the girls I’ve loved before
Who traveled in and out my door
I’m glad they came along
I dedicate this song
To all the girls I’ve loved before
To all the girls I once caressed
And may I say, I’ve held the best
For helping me to grow, I owe a lot, I know
To all the girls I’ve loved before
The winds of change are always blowing
And every time I tried to stay
The winds of change continued blowing
And they just carried me a way
To all the girls who shared my life
Who now are someone else’s wife
I’m glad they came along
I dedicate this song
To all the girls I’ve loved before
To all the girls who cared for me
Who filled my nights with ecstasy
They live within my heart
I’ll always be a part
Of all the girls I’ve loved before
The winds of change are always blowing
And every time I tried to stay
The winds of change continued blowing
And they just carried me wayImage result for playboy bunnies in christmas hats pictures
“And I thought, ‘What a nice card to send them on Christmas. Ivanka, Marla, Stormy, Karen, and all those women named in the class action suit against me for molesting them in a tent at a pageant, or on a bus without much fuss, with a goat in a boat, in just a bra at a day spa, on a plane with a cane, at a bungalow outside Moscow, with a feel on a seal, on a train with a stranger, on the floor in a store, or a mid-teen with Jeffrey Epstein. I know they’d just love a card with my EKG needle signature in black Sharpie. Perfect!
“I thought, you know, I thought it could be like the ‘Cat in the MAGA Hat’ and I could make a lot of money cause that’s what I do. I make money. I am so rich that I forget how rich I am. And I’m smart, like really smart cause I went to the best schools and my grades are the best, but I’m being audited and can’t release them, but I really want to. Trust me. Nobody wants the truth more than I do. Image result for Trump in MAGA hat images
“Anyway, I thought I’d send one to Paul Manafort, even though I hardly knew him and he barely worked for me. I thought I’d add a line from that old song, “I beg your garden, I never promised you a rose pardon”. Classy, eh? Sucker.
“And that lawyer rat Michael Cohen. A lot of people are saying I knew him, but I don’t know. We’ll see.  Maybe a card with a train on the front and some seasonally appropriate lyrics inside.
Image result for christmas train images
When I was just a baby my mama told me son
Always be a good boy don’t ever play with Huns
But he shot a man on Fifth Ave just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowin’ I hang my head and I cry.
“Nice! I just couldn’t fit that into a tweet.
“And Rudy, Rudy what’s his name? Maybe something like a Ukrainian nesting doll frontispiece with clever words on the inner panel.Image result for ukrainian nesting dolls pictures
“So Rudy could cover up Rick Perry, who could cover up Sondland who could cover up Volker who could cover up Nunes who could cover up Parnas who could smear the Bidens. Maybe I could make that a chain letter that those co-conspirators send to each other as each one is indicted. God I’m funny.
“Jeffrey Epstein, well, return to sender there. I wonder how he’s doing in Hell? I should call him. Mick, call Epstein at Trump Hell Towers. Wish him a Merry Christmas from me, will ya?
“Oh, Prince Andrew, another guy I’ve never known. What do you send to an unemployed royal? Hmmm. One of those bear skin hats. Perfect!!
Image result for royal british guards
“I’m getting into the spirit now. Those NATO bullies don’t know who they’re mocking. Why, in Norway, Trump is Norwegian for Santa if you say it fast. Let’s see, who else loved me and I betrayed?  Jeff, uh what was his last name? Yes! Sessions. He always reminded me of an elf, so he gets an elf card.
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“Merry Christmas, my little recuse of an elf. You left me before I could leave you. I gave you the best ears of my life, you little bastard!
“Yes, now I see why people enjoy Christmas so much. It’s a chance to get revenge for all the petty grievances I have stored up all year long in my stockings.
“Chuck and Nancy and Shifty Schiff,  (this has to be the cleverest)Related image
Up on the housetop, reindeer mutiny
Out jumps good ol’ Comrade Putiny
Down through the internet with lots of noise
All for the cretinous, Christmas joys
Ho, Ho, Ho! Who didn’t vote?
Yo, Yo, Yo, I’ll just gloat…
Up on the desktop, click, click, click
Down comes democracy brick by brick 
“God it’s great to be me! The fox in the hen house, the snake in the bird’s nest, and the wolf in the rabbit’s den. What’s so exhilarating is my people can’t get enough of me. They want to rub my bare baboon butt for good luck, and I let them. It’s a win-win… though I ‘ve never met nor hardly know them.”Image result for trump smirks gif

729. Retire Mints

Image result for retirement imagesYes, it’s been on my mind for the past year now– my upcoming retirement from my second career as a counselor. Sixteen years of private practice after 23 years of teaching middle school English, or river otter herding as I fondly recall it.  And true to my inspirational form I am sucking on peppermint Life Savers as I slaver over the moments ahead and savor those behind… whatever that means to blog reading minds like yours. In my career counseling class back in grad school the prof used to call it re-tire, i.e., putting on a new set of tires for the next adventure in life. I guess it was a cute verbal trick if you were doing an overnight infomercial selling snow tires to old folks whose doctors were about to take their operator’s licenses. Anyway, it stuck with me for thirty years, and now I’m the old dude watching the infomercial, mumbling, “Well, Ethel, maybe we should re-tire.”

“Who’s Ethel?” my wife asks, causing me to awaken from my spacey reverie.

“She’s Lucy’s best friend, Fred’s wife on ‘I Love Lucy'”.Image result for lucy and ethel pictures

“Okay, so what’s she got to do with us here and now as I eat gluten free organic popcorn and you drink your velvety hot chocolate?”

“Oh, nothing. You just happened to catch me thinking for a change.”

“This is a rare occasion. Should I get some champagne and a photographer? Usually you claim dissociation or alien abduction. What’s the deal this time?”Image result for photographer and champagne pictures

“Well, we’re both retiring at the end of next year, right?”

“Yes, unless the world blows up and we lose our pensions, social security, 401K’s, and all other funding streams.”

“Yeah, so if that does occur, I have a foolproof remedy to cushion the blow.”

“You do?”

“Yes, I’ve been studying demographic and economic trends.”Image result for demographic trend charts pictures

“Oh here we go! Your stats are for Japan.”

“Now I never said they were U.S.A. trends. Just hear me out before you go ‘Here we go!'”

“Why should I?”

“Cause it’s in the marriage contract.”Image result for marriage contract images

“Where?”

“Here in paragraph two:  You promised to love, honor, and survive. And this is about post apocalypse survival.”

“No, I promised to serve not survive.”

“You can’t serve is you don’t first survive. Right? It’s implied in the concept, a priori.”

“Oh for goodness sakes! What’s your economic/demographic idea?”Image result for angry woman face gif

“I’m not sure I like your tone.”

“You’ll like it after I beat you with the iron skillet.”

“Okay, alright already. I can take the subtle hint of kitchen murder. Are you ready?”

“I’m ready to kill you again!”Related image

“Here’s the plan: we repackage pink and blue peppermint Lifesavers as Retire Mints. We test market them in Florida for starters to build the buzz. In our fake labels we suggest that the thrills and spills of youth can be attained by regular use of these “life enhancing” mints. We contract with some bankrupt celebrities to do radio and television ads for Retire Mints. Like, uh, Millie Vanilli  or Toni Tennille or Billy Ray Cyrus. We launch an aggressive campaign that promises in a sultry female voice “80 is the new 60 with Retire Mintssssss.” We get a jingle from Barry Manilow… ‘Oh Retire Mints, you came and you gave without taking…’Image result for barry manilow images

“Huh?  You like it right?”

“Go on. Tell me more.”

“Why are you filming me now. Is that on video?”season 5 bet GIF by Real Husbands of Hollywood

“Yes. I want to make sure I’m getting it all down for, uh, marketing later on.”

“Oh Baby! I knew you’d get it. I know I’ve had some crazy schemes in the past, but this one is the Grand Salami of all cured meats.  I mean, once we conquer Florida, it’s off to Palm Springs and Colorado Springs and Hot Springs. Why we can piggy back on to all the Baby Boomer themes out there and make some real bank. I’m picturing a lithe 20 something with a boom box on her bare shoulder asking “How do I look so good?” And the jam comes on, “Retire Mints, Boomer. Okay, Boomer?”Taylor Swift Shake It Off Video NeonLights S, woman in red and black hoodie carrying boombox on her shoulder transparent background PNG clipart

“Keep dancing around with that couch pillow on your shoulder like that. Yeah, work it, Boomer.”

“Honey, I can’t believe you are so into my idea. I don’t want to start a fight, but I really expected more push back from you. I love you so much. Am I dreaming?”

“Actually I’m recording this for a competency hearing next week. I’ve been in touch with Joel and he assures me that payback like all revenge is a green vegetable best served late and cold.”Image result for evil woman face gif

“What?!? You have been conspiring with Joel? But he– But I– No, no. It was all a ruse on your part. You let me go on and on with my scheme, and you FILMED it all for court?!?”

“Yes. It’s about time that someone put you in your place, Burrito. Joel told me to read ‘Some Kind of Vegetable’, and that was my last straw. I snapped and began planning this revenge. It was not hard to lure you into my lair. I just had to uh-huh and um you into heights of grandiose delusions. How does it feel to be snared in your own foolish trap?”Related image

“Actually, I like my women a little on the devious side, so it feels kind of sexy, Baby. Exciting. Exhilarating, like Retire Mints. C’mon, Baby. This could be big. It’s a slam dunk. Don’t listen to Joel. He’s Mister Actuarial, Risk Aversive. I’m a silky black wild steed galloping through the hinterlands, caution be damned!”

“I know, that’s why I upped the life insurance on you to a million bucks. That’s my post apocalypse plan. It’s tax free to grieving widows and soooo convenient.”

“But Honey, I’m not dead. I mean, not yet.”

“JOEL.”Image result for sean connery indiana jones 4 pictures

“Hello, Burrito old chum.”

“Joel, you knew! and, what? No, the Mossberg over/under trap rifle!! Are you a co-conspirator?”

“You had this coming, Burrito. It’s time to pay up. Sara and I are going to split the insurance after the death certificate is issued. As a representative board member of your bank, I want to thank you for paying off your bills in a timely manner. ”

“Joel, you’re forgetting one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“You are a terrible shot. I have an 85% chance of not being wounded by you, according to my last blog post. So the question is, are you feeling lucky, Punk?”Image result for dirty harry final scene stills

“Why, you… I’ll give you a  head start and then I’ll blast you to smithereens or the Smithsonian. Whichever is closer.”

“After all we’ve been through, you would shoot me like a clay pigeon?”

“For a half a million bucks, yes.”

Sara, “I never said how we’d split the payout, Joel. I was thinking 90-10 my way.”

“Forget her, Joel. I’ll  give you 70-30 your way. I insured you to insure her to insure me. Not only will you be 7 times richer, you’ll be able to sing, ‘I Shot Him My Way’. And I will even shoot myself.”

“You will? That’s very thoughtful of you, Burrito. Here, I hate the mess of blood and spatter. Plus, truth be told, I am not a very good shot.”Image result for soldier surrendering rifle pictures

“Thank you. Now that I have the Mossberg, I’ll be calling you both a chaplain for your last confession. Don’t try to run: I am a crack shot. I can shoot a Retire Mints salesman at 1,000 yards.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

728. Clay Pigeons

Joel, “I had a nice Thanksgiving break with my daughter’s in-laws. They sent me home with a week’s worth of left overs. Cheaper and closer than Cracker Barrel. It dawned on me that my kids are much cleverer than I was at their age. Well, at my age too. I got them both antique milk crates to remind them how lucky and lazy they are, though.  And how about you, Burrito?”

“That’s a good insight, Joel. I’m glad to see that our work together is showing some promising fruit even if it is just midget cranberries.”Image result for wild cranberry pictures

I gave Joel the minimum details about my visit to my brother’s home in Virginia, knowing he was merely trolling for information to be used against me in a court of law or public opinion. I did not want to see my words taken out of context in his measly imitation blog the same way that I take his words on wild rides across imagined drama escapades in mine.Image result for mr toad pictures

“How do they tolerate your presence for extended periods of time?”

I explained facetiously that my brother and his entire family are deaf, and that we communicate in American sign language. “It’s like air typing. It’s a good digital work out. My fingers are limbered up for next time we meet around Christmas. Very refreshing, similar to yoga. It’s a good first line defense against dementia, better than Sudoku or playing the violin.”Image result for sign language gif

Joel, anxious to one-up me, “I see. Well, I went shooting clays on Saturday near Dillsburg. It’s exhilarating to blow those disks out of the sky, just obliterate them, crush them in explosive violence, demolish into little bits, totally annihilate, extirpate…”

“Joel, easy lad. You are foaming at the edges of your quivering mouth. You seem to be sublimating your anger, nay rage, with these hapless clay targets.”

“Now don’t take the furious fun out of my one hobby, Burrito, by over-analyzing the perverse depravity underneath my boy joy. I can see what you are up to. It’s like that time you switched out our AARP cards and pretended to be me. I still can’t believe you opened a VISA card with just that number and your phone impersonation of me.”Image result for aarp card images

“Joel, it was easy. People want to believe what you make them want to believe. I played a bit helpless and lost on the phone, and since I know all your facts and numbers, I just let the nice fellow, Garrett I believe his name was, help me through the process. Some folks still enjoy helping the elderly through this cruel cyber world. And Garrett was super helpful. Besides, I’ll need a separate funding stream into perpetuity to fund the Spyder expenses once you are no longer with us, Joel.”Image result for telemarketer images

“Well, Garrett was one of the many bureaucrats and ne’er do wells whose faces I imagined on those clay pigeons. As I prepare for the trap shoots, I draw upon my list of enemies, real and imagined, you know, like Nixon with a 20 gauge. I think of the woman at the Social Security office who didn’t seem to care that I already had a secure traveler’s clearance card from Homeland Security that far exceeded this new REAL I.D. card business.”Image result for real id card pictures

“What’s a REAL I.D.?  Sara has been talking about it also.”

“Well, here. You see that gold star in the upper right hand corner?  It signifies that you are, I don’t know, REAL. Starting next year you’ll need one of these babies to board an airplane or enter a federal building. They are equal to a passport.”

“Let me see that, Joel. Hmmmm, that’s a good picture.”

“It’s off my driver’s license. Now you would think that they could have simply cobbled together all this easily available information on me from their computers and printed my REAL I.D. on the spot like Shutterfly. But NOOOO, I had to pay them $30 and wait two weeks. And Trudy at Social Security rolled her eyes and gave me that ‘I just work here’ half smile of tepid disgust.”Image result for embarrassed smile lady pictures

“And that is why you enjoyed shooting her visage on the clay pigeon?”

“Yes. I am not a helpless, powerless Walter Mitty. I am a tweedy warrior with roots in the Highlands of Scotland and Switzerland.  My people were the feral goats of feudalism!”Image result for outlander battle photos

“That’s quite a claim, Joel. Instead of a coat of arms your family has a goat of arms, I assume.”Image result for goat of arms images

“I’m ignoring you.”

“That’s your problem, Joel. If you were nicer to the Trudys and Garretts of this world, perhaps you would not need to shamelessly shoot them in effigy outside of Dillsburg. By the way, did you stop at Baker’s Restaurant, home of the Dillsburger?”Image result for baker's restaurant dillsburg pa pictures

“I did indeed. Delicious. But you’re trying to distract me from Trudy and Garrett. They should tremble when I have my hot index finger on the trigger of my Mossberg Silver Reserve. I am a killing machine with clays.”

“And how did you do last time out?”

“Uh, fifteen.”

“Out of how many?”

“A hundred.”

“So you missed 85% of your shots?”Image result for blindfolded man with rifle pictures

“Well, I prefer to look at the positive side, you know, my greatest hits.”

“Like Ray Charles? Is this place specifically for the visually impaired?”

“No, it’s just, I, uh, well, I needed a shoulder pad to level out my angle.”

“Like a diaper on your shoulder?”Image result for shooting shoulder pad pictures

“No! It’s nothing at all like a diaper. Why do I even  bother to converse with you when you mock and ridicule me?”

“You really want an answer?”

“Yes I do! It confounds me why I continue to stick my hand in the proverbial blender expecting different results. It’s insane.”Image result for hand in blender gif

“Okay, Joel. It’s simple:  you are an unconscious masochist. You enjoy pain but you don’t realize that you do, so you continually put yourself in situations where you can only be frustrated by near approximations of satisfaction. It makes you happy.”

“Really?”

“Yep. Really.”

“Oh, that reminds me– where is my REAL I.D. card?”

“I don’t know. I gave it back to you.”

“You did?”

“Yeah, remember? We were going on about the AARP switch and how you’d never be so dumb as to repeat history again?”

“I suppose you are right. Oh dear! I hate to call Trudy again.”Related image