252. “Call the doctor or I’ll kill you!”

I tend to exaggerate, but my wife did say something like this to me this morning. You see  a month ago she’d written on a piece of gray cardstock that my doctor’s office had called me for a follow up appointment … because she does not want to be a widow at 58, especially since I have finally learned to dance with her and show some promise for retirement. I had faithfully used that reminder card as my bookmark for the past month. She bugged me a few times and I said that I would call the office to schedule, but here I am thirty days later, senseless and defenseless. She’s worried that I may have some hidden cancer that is eating me up, metastasizing as I am fantasizing about being younger and buffer than I am. I told you that I tend to exaggerate. Now keep in mind, my blogstas, this is the same woman who once told me to unloosen my belt and unthaw the frozen roast beef. To which I replied, “You want me to tighten the belt and refreeze the meat?” The current threat is ironic, I think.  It boils down to this paraphrase, ‘Prolong your life or I’ll end it now!’ In some strange way I think I still have to unthaw that meat and I am it, and I am scared.

So this  got me thinking about other ironic communications in my life. Years ago in Sunday School class our then single gun-toting cowboy Josh was famous for saying off the wall things that would occasionally make sense. His favorite color was/is camo. His favorite shoe?  Tony Lamas boots. Favorite truck?  Dodge Ram. I don’t recall the exact conversation, but Josh offered that the devil comes on like sheep in wolves’ clothing. He meant the opposite; however, he had such a history of twisted clauses and phrases that it was anyone’s guess which way he wanted it to roll. The imagery is weird either way, but I’d never heard of herbivores skinning out a carnivore for a new suit.

That is the beauty of irony; it’s completely opposite of your expectations. Shame on you for thinking that way! Incomplete communication is the heart of many trick questions. Here’s one that occurred to me. “Which one of the following months has 30 days in it– June, July or August?”  Well, they all have thirty days, but if you push and pull a bit, you can imply that the answer ought to be June alone. And that vague gap is what lawyers drive wedges into to end contracts or nullify agreements or just to be mean.
At the coffee shop this morning the Nation was meeting in earnest. Two games of chess were played satisfactorily. (I dominated.) However, Joel, the consigliere exchequer of the Nation, was making noises behind us, two tables thither. It’s cold this morning, which got me to bust out the Eddie Bauer down jacket, affectionately known as Mr. Fluffy. Joel has a bizarre attraction to my fluffy jacket like the old Charmin toilet paper commercials proclaimed, “It’s squeezably soft.”  He has heard me say that it’s $2.00 a squeeze if I’m in the jacket, and $1.00 a squeeze if I’m not.  Anyway, we bantered back and forth about his predilection and how it meets a primal mammalian need to suckle. I offered to clip a binky on my jacket for next week so that he could have the full experience. He declined saying it was too weird. To which I responded, “Why is it okay for lawyers to pinch and squeeze their customers, but when their customers want a piece of the action, it’s a no squeeze zone?”
Ah, the suckling irony of it all!
Earlier this week, Tuesday night to be exact, I worked until 8:30 p.m. and then checked my cell phone– three texts and three voicemails. I could quickly guess that Danny’s Garage meant my car was ready, so I began walking the two blocks to pick it up, hoping that the keys were under the mat as usual. Two texts were from my wife reminding me to pick up our daughter at 8:30. One voice mail was, I was sure, her attempt to confirm why I had not responded to either text message. I’d been fully engaged with clients since 2:00 pm without any break, that’s why. I hustled to pick up the car, then the daughter, and answered another voice mail with a live phone call. It was exhausting. Guess what? My wife was upset with me that I had not texted her back a simple “ok” to confirm that I’d received her three reminders. At 9 p.m. when I was finally eating supper, I did not have room in my brain to store her complaint. So I just stared at her like the substitute village idiot.
Fast forward to Friday afternoon. As I was leaving my office to pick up the dry cleaning and go by the bank, I noticed a reminder text from my bride to pick up our daughter after her work day. Though I already knew this and had it on my calendar, I panicked and fumbled with my phone. I quickly typed “k” to acknowledge her text and avoid future pain. But my phone would not let me send that. No, technology was using me not vice versa. I tried again as I was driving, which I think is a crime unless you have just picked up 30 pounds of dry cleaning.  I missed the k key and typed “LLL”. I was screwed. The phone tried to edit me and refused to send that also. Finally I typed blindly “PLO” and sent it by mistake.  Uh, what’s the deal here? I pondered how she would interpret this error… “Are you comparing me to a terrorist organization?”
Sure enough, an hour later she called to inquire about the PLO. I told her that’s how you spell “ok” when you are driving a five speed SUV and you are scared of your wife’s retribution. Okay, I guess sometimes the truth is the best policy. She chuckled and gave me three points for the effort. “You know you could have just waited till  you got home to safely text me.”
“I know, I know, but I needed to unloosen my belt and unthaw the meat before you kill me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

230. Magical Mystery Tour

Okay, this post has nothing to do with the Beatles album of the same name, I just thought you might peek in if I baited you with art and then switched you into madness. I am currently under the influence of Pink Floyd and Cream at this very intense moment and my thoughts seem to be erupting slowly like methane bubbles rising out of the decaying detritus from the floor of an intellectual swamp and then popping onto this blank canvas you are reading. Visual flatulence… could be the name of a band from Toronto that never quite made it, like Spinal Tap. Anyway, at this morning’s Coffee Nation Summit things turned and twisted uglily (yes, I’m sayin’ that) as they normally do… five wet shower curtains in the wind on a drizzly day. Each very limited man put in his unlimited input, like PGA putters put in their putts or putzes, depending on your personal preference and people group. But put or putt or putz, no one was disputin’ Rasputin or Vladimir Putin due to Article I of the Nation’s Constipation:  no politics or religion will be broached or tolerated in Summit. Failure to comply will result in a slow, painful death by pun firing squad, which may take up to six months. [Most victims of the pun firing squad actually die of dehydration since they only drink coffee during the painful firing of the puns. They often beg for a quicker death near the end. It’s a cruel and inhumane way to die and must be carried out beyond the outer limits of the Geneva Convention in caves on the north beach of Aruba, aka Pun Island, where the pun is truly mightier than the sword.]

Joel our jovial attorney was in no hurry to get to work printing counterfeit money. He stayed quite a bit longer than normal. (I hesitate to use the word normal, since that has mental health implications that we cannot justify. We are abnormal putzes. If we had an alma mater, that would be our cheer: “We are… abnormal putzes. We are…”) He had shared his thimble of wisdom for the morning and invited us all to his summer tendonitis attorneyment. You’ve probably already guessed its name:  Thimbledon. It’s a fortnight of blindfolded barristers yelling legal citations back and forth over ankle high badminton nets followed by a round of icy mojitos on the  croquet lawn. Instead of golf carts they have summer interns push them around in wheelbarrows to avoid any possible DUI’s. This year’s theme is “Liability and Libation, A Study of Contrasts”. Most attendees will never forget last year’s rousing rendition of Pete Seeger’s “If I had a margarita, I’d hammer out justice, I’d hammer out freedom all over this land” by a young member of the local bar who chooses to remain anonymous. (It was Eddie Fickle, but you didn’t hear this from me.)

As Lance arrives, Joel says, “When I see you, I have to go.” The table reassured him that there are medications that can help with his random urinary urges. He did not protest as we offered various homeopathic remedies such as corn starch and fiber supplements to balance and help him control his aging bladder. My favorite suggestion was for him to sleep with a penny under his pillow each night to pay off the bladder fairy. With a sheepish grin he thanked us.

Big Steve regaled us with his pool maintenance tips and warned us of using outdated hoses on updated pumps. Someone could be violently hosed if the couplings did not get along. (There’s a Lady Gaga joke in their somewhere.)  And isn’t that a universal truth?  This was a natural segue into the topic of war. D.J. shared his near death experience in Iraq when a nursing mother attacked him with a squirting breast. His soldier buddy collapsed at the absurdity of it all, laughing himself into a helpless state as D.J. had a tense standoff with the milk bomber. Later he wrote it up as an encounter with an IEBD, Improvised Explosive Breast Device. “She was deadly accurate with that thing. I mean it, man. I was ready  to shoot back!” Imagine his PTSD flashbacks and nightmares. Huge zeppelins spraying laser streams of 2 % milk on him as he fights against his high count Egyptian cotton sheets and shudders, “Don’t milk taze me, bro!” It’s not funny. A simple trigger of a pool pump could throw a man back into his struggle for life in a godforsaken land of booby traps… something his recruiter completely failed to inform him about. Maybe one of the Thimbledon lawyers will take his case and together they can push wheelbarrows filled with young interns around Aruba. “Mojitos for everyone.”

Meanwhile Gene sits like a disgruntled Buddha with hemorrhoids who occasionally shouts, “Shut your face!” He gives his shots at the Nation, knowing that when he leaves he’ll be subservient to Lance’s razor at the barber shop tomorrow. ” N-N-Not to be smart, but I can’t argue with a man who’s got a razor at m-m-my neck.” He’s as meek outside of the coffee shop as he is cantankerous inside it. The Nation functions as a catalyzing poop magnet for Gene, keeping him emotionally regular from week to week.  Lance sat across from Gene and was not content until he got a blast, “Shut your pie hole, you!” This outburst led to bent over contortions of laughing.

And that leaves me. The nice thing about being a blogger or the Dictator for Life of Coffee Nation Summit is that you answer to no one except your wife. So I am under no legal or moral obligation to say what I did or did not contribute to the group… unless my wife jacks me up and makes me confess. Anyway, I remember others’ silliness far better than mine. So let it be written. Let it be sung.              The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away. Dying to take you away, take you today.

 

 

214. Coffee Nation Noodles

I like the serendipity of my life. This  morning I could not remember where my scheduled  counselor meeting was supposed to be, so I wound up unscheduled at the coffee shop on Dustin’s birthday, a provisional nonvoting member of coffee nation. I did not know this little piece of info since I was not current with Facebook at that moment. I just ordered my medium coffee and was walking toward the door when Big Bald Vinnie came walking in. We greeted one another and I started to explain that we weren’t meeting since it was the second Thursday of the month.

“Well, Steve and Gene said they were coming.”

“Oh, an unofficial meeting of the nation.” I suspected a coup brewing in insulated coffee cups. “I’ll stick around.”

Vinnie and I chatted about his family and the end of his Great Dane puppy experiment.  “My wife didn’t see that coming. And we don’t even have papers on the dog.”

“I’m not following you. Would it be better to have a defective Great Dane puppy with papers?”

“No, I guess not.”

“There’s the fence and the toys and the food and the vet bills and the…I could have sent a kid to a semester of college with what we spent on the dog.”

“Well, your marriage is better than ever. So you have that.”

“True… could take another cruise with the wife for what I have in that dog.”

Ronnie from Jersey strutted in. Greetings. He joined us at the impromptu gathering. Vince was on his way to work in Hershey, PA but had time to burn with us. Ronnie is recovering from surgery and a life of construction work.

“Yeah, I’m from Jersey. Ya know, it seems like there’s a lot more murders around here lately,” said Ronnie.

“I’ve noticed that since you moved here, Ronnie. Are the landfills full of bodies in Jersey?” I added in.

“No, well, the Mafia has reserved lots for future appointments, ya know, like pre paid burial vaults.”

“Good to know.”

We got on to the usual nothing talk that marks a group of guys who are comfortable with one another. Historic storms, the Jersey Shore, shootings, and noisy Harleys. Before we even paused to look up, Big Steve rolled in sporting his new 5–0 look. He was without Gene but confirmed that it was Dustin’s birthday and that the young man of 38 would soon be joining us.

Steve has a unique mind. Somehow we got on to field sobriety tests and Steve amazed us by reciting the alphabet backwards while also turning around to face the wall. It was a double reverse verbal gainer. The Judges gave him 9.4, 9.6 and an 8.1 from the Jersey judge who was envious, I think, of this uncanny skill. Steve also drinks frozen mochas which will freeze mammal brains; however, since I believe he has a reptile’s brain, he drank deeply without even a hint of a brain freeze. Over this mysterious brain is an ear muff hair style with a wide landing strip down the middle. But sitting across from Razor Bald Vinnie, Steve looked like Bon Jovi. (This is a bone for the Jersey Judge in case there is a round 2 of amazing stupid human tricks later.)

As Ronnie doctored his hot coffee, the legendary Lance entered and nearly sat in Ronnie’s just vacated seat. However, being the king of pilates, he moved as if on a hinge and did not touch butt to chair. Instead he dragged over an ownerless chair to our shrinking round table. Introductions were made all around for Sir Ronnie’s sake, who is not usually at the Round Table. The skillet of wit was now hot and sizzling since Lance is both a barbershop raconteur and a template of fashionable haberdashery, according to him.

Critical mass was achieved and the jokes, tricks, references and silly words came often and easily. In a group of five guys it is possible to have three or four concurrent inconsequential conversations, which we did.

The topics were interwoven…

“And what’s with you?”

“Which U? Miami? The U?”

“No.”

“Oh, you mean U-Conn? Yeah amazing, men and women’s national champs…”

“Like Wooden”

“You mean the coach, Gino…”

“Nine titles.”

“Well Bill had a reference from him…”

“Who?”

“Wooden?”

“NO, Gino, the women’s coach.”

“Not good enough for our local high school, though.”

“No men’s retreat this year. Too much shaking up at church.”

“I’m appointing you, Vinnie, to investigate this.”

“What?”

“The retreat.”

“What’s my budget?”

“Just save all your receipts.”

“Did you say receipts or retreats?”

“Yes, save them. Like the whales.”

Dustin walked in and saluted us as is his habit as a former military member. Now it got dangerously goofy like an overheated nuclear reactor with too many loose electrons smashing into one another. The caffeine effect was sending verbal pulses across an eighteen inch round table at warp 9 speeds. An unidentified guy in a ball cap said hello to Steve.

“Who’s that?”

“Oh, you asked me too fast. Bob… uh.”

“You know, from church. His wife is that lady…”

“Oh yeah, they sit behind me.”

“Wasn’t their son, the guy who…”

“Uh huh, but he got fired for…”

“No, that’s not the same guy, you’re thinking of what’s his name.”

“With the big nose?”

“Yeah, Brian. His wife was the one who told me about setting up shop downtown.”

“Alright, I still have no idea. But it’s all good.”

Lance, “This reminds me of an episode of Cops where they’re busting a dude and he don’t know nothing. The cop says, ‘What are you doing?’ and the dude says, ‘Well, I was over there with them dudes but then what’s his name came along and they started into it and I got outta there when I seen you guys show up. And I don’t know nothing.'”

Dustin, “That’s just like a conversation at your barbershop, Lance.”

“That’s the truth.”

“Who?”

“What was that guy’s name, you know ‘the Truth’?”

“You know, the wrestler who was a governor?”

“Oh, Schwarzenegger…”

“No, he’s the one with his nanny and the wife on t.v. A Kennedy lady.”

“Ventura. Jesse, right?”

And those are the Real Lives of The Husbands of Franklin County.