367. Toro Trouble

Wow, let’s start big, a snorting bull coming out of the chute, 2,000 pounds of kicking and bellowing beef pumped full of adrenaline and outrage. Boom! I am given to exaggeration, as you know already. I like words and their drama just a little too much, until I am thrown off my beautiful verbal bull and hit the hard prosaic clay of real life language.

“You need to take the trash up to the street. It’s trash night.”

Try as I might to make that green trash dumpster into a toro verde, I can’t pull it off. If I had a matador suit on with an Elvis cape, perhaps; instead I have only navy sweat pants and a fleece over flip flops. If my raven-haired wife held a crimson rose in her brilliantly enameled smile… as the crowd roared for Felipe the Matador trash man…”Keel the bull, Felipe”… I would baffle that green-eyed dumpster with cape play never seen before, leaving him exhausted by the side of the road, tamed and ready for the landfill.

In my blog world I can fling words around like celebrities toss hundred dollar bills in posh night clubs. But real life will not abide such foolishness. “That’s $2.42. You can’t use a credit card for purchases of less than ten dollars, Sir.” That’s so pedestrian, bordering on disrespectful. “Hey, kid. Do you know who you are dealing with here? These facial tissues will wipe away tears of princesses and duchesses, drag queens and drama kings. So suck it up, Buttercup, and run my card. Blog stars like me don’t carry cash. Too bulky in our skin tight yoga jeans.”

“Security. Check out line 6. Fazers on stun.”

As I go limp from the sudden blast of 50,000 volts of authorized Tazer Power, I pull the magazine rack down on top of my body, protecting my flanks with gossip mags full of rumor and vile lies about the Kardashians and Taylor Swift. The rent a cop smirks at the register jockey. “Sweet! I love that singed neck hair smell as they fall like cigarette butts into the ashtray of law enforcement.”

“You guys get to have all the fun, Sweeney. I’m applying to the rentacop academy this spring if I can pass the physical.”

“You need a 25 BMI or less, Winkie. You look like a 32 to me, if I was to guess.”

“You’re a meathead, Sweeney. I’m at 23.8, a semi-ripped BMI for males my age. Uh, isn’t that your car being towed away?”

Like a hysterical Ukrainian grandmother, Security Officer Sweeney polka waddled quickly out the automatic doors, shouting, “Stop. I’m the law here. Uncrank that lift. Release my vehicle. Do it now!! Stop resisting.” He waved the spent Tazer menacingly at the tow truck driver who responded by raising his hands in submission to the forcefully delivered yet empty threat.

Meanwhile I regained consciousness just beneath the commotion radar, so to speak. Crawling like Private Ryan across commercial grade asphalt tiles, I made my way to the impulse buy cooler and pulled down a twelve ounce can of Red Bull. In one long swig I emptied the pale red liquor and felt revived, untazed even. (Perhaps Tazers simply decaffeinate their victims.) My heart started pumping like, well, like a bull in a soccer stadium. My adrenaline surged. Heck, I was pissed off. I began to snort and paw at the slippery tile as I drew myself up on all fours. I was angrier than Al Gore in Florida, circa 2000. I just came here to buy a box of tissues, and I was assaulted by a mindless cop, faker than that whipped cheese wiz in a can. The pressure built into rage, then outrage. I could only see red, nothing above knee level. It was not so much tunnel vision as stuck garage door vision.

Across the open grand aisle a woman in a long red skirt sashayed by nonchalantly. I couldn’t explain the surge that rushed through my tense muscles. I had to charge the red blur or die trying. Mariachi bands roared in my ears calling me into the ring. An old dented trumpet warbled above the rising din.  “Hmph! Bellow!” My destiny awaited in the produce section. I charged wildly into the red.

Suddenly Winkie was back on the public address system, “Attention shoppers. We have a mad man acting like a bull in the grand concourse. Please do not attempt to subdue him. He seems to be in need of medication. Security to Produce please. All Officers. Code Mauve.”

I knew my time was short, but I could not resist the inner toro torque that welled up in me. My chest expanded and I felt a little tail pushing up and out at my rear, trying to erupt. I trotted forward, then burst into a full, vicious gallop. I had to pin that red blob against the fruit endcap that displayed ripe plums and nectarines as surely as a magnet must cling to a proud grandmother’s refrigerator door.

Just as I took my last gallop stride, the lady in the red skirt skipped backwards, leaving me to collide with the green sheet metal of the display case. A thunderous crash resonated throughout the Super Wal Mart. Witnesses later said it reminded them of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain only with fruit in a Wal Mart and a bewildered woman in a red skirt and fashionable black heels.

As I turned to face the terrified crowd of midday shoppers behind their stainless steel carts, I realized that a piece of copper plumbing from the guts of the fruit display was jammed onto my head like a pair of metal horns. My moment of truth had arrived. Sweeney and his underlings encircled me with loaded tazers aimed directly at my flanks. I smelled their sweaty garlic fear above the pungent odors of cabbage and broccoli.

Sweeney, “On my command, men. One, two, three!!!”

Six rentacops unloaded their 50,000 volt tasers simultaneously at my head. Something miraculous happened at that moment. Aaaahhhhh!!!!!  The spirit of a thousand dead toreadors sang out. 300,000 volts of deadly electricity arced across my copper horn set and returned to their origin points. In a flash six rentacops were knocked backward three feet into a state of temporary syncope. It was done.

I stood, brushed myself off, and spoke into Winkie’s walkie talkie, “Wal Mart shoppers, Ask not for whom the Bull toils, he toils for thee. Have a nice day.”





217. Confusion: Rains or Reigns or Reins

English is a funny language, don’t you think so?  We have all these sound alike words, homonyms, that mean vastly different things even before you allow for Australian accents, and British, and South African, and U.S. regions, and English as a second language yuk ups. Why just today I heard the joke about the guy whose plane crashed in Australia. In the hospital during surgery he cried out in pain to the Aussie nurse, “Did I just come here to die?”  Coolly, she replied, “No, you came here yesterday, mate.”  This word play is the source of endless puns and bad jokes, double entendres, innuendos and so forth. It’s just so funny if you are on the same page at the same speed… and so stupid if you are not.

Earlier this afternoon my wife and I met with our financial planner, Rich. He threw in a joke without fluctuating his voice or face–
“If you work till you’re 62, then you’ll draw this much pension from the state. If you work till you are 72, they’ll name a building after you.” I caught it before my wife, about an hour before as it turns out, and said, “Yeah, I’d like a brick  building to remember her by”, when Rich chimed in “Like a Brick….HOUSE” from the Commodores with Lionel Richie and full on upper body dance funk. We laughed and tried to get back on track as my wife wondered how the train of thought had become so derailed and deranged. It’s fun until it’s not. Caution: do not attempt word play with foreigners who are struggling to learn English or folks who have language impairments or people in crisis. Bad things could happen.

My youngest daughter had some language delays when she was 5 years old. She managed to cope by talking endlessly, thereby eliminating the need to listen. Each morning as I drove her and her older sister to school, Jess would prattle on and on about anything and nothing. Grace would shift in her seat, unable to get a word in edgewise. One day, attempting to insert a pause, I said, “Thanks for that update, Jess. Now let’s give Grace a turn.” That’s when Jess screamed out, “It’s not a cupcake, Dad!” That was the beginning of speech pherapy and auditory processing appointments. What a difference!! Now when she yells at me, her content matches the context and I deserve it. These days it’s my turn for pherapy.  Repeat after me, “Take the ambulance to the funeral.” “Take the ambliance to the fewhnyerral.”

“Just ’cause I said it don’t mean I meant it, just ’cause you heard it,” sings Adele. This reminds me of another favorite of mine– the double or triple negative. My wife uttered two good ones that I can recall. Once she called me from work to remind me to put dinner together for that night.

“Don’t forget to unthaw the beef”, she told me.

I paused. “You want me to freeze the meat?”


“Well, if you thaw something, it melts…so if you un-thaw something, you freeze it, right?”

“Don’t be difficult.”

“Or what?”

“Or I’ll beat you with frozen meat.”

“Thufferin’ thuckatash, I  didn’t thee that comin’ !”


The other utterance was the directive to unloosen my belt, which I believe appeared to be too tight. Again, let’s review:  if you loosen something, you let out length. If you unloosen something, you draw in length or tighten the thing in question. I inquired, “So you want me to tighten my belt?”

“You know what I mean”, she responded, which was true but I was being difficult, which she already knew from previous experience.

“Get a new belt or go on a diet. Okay, Fatboy?”

“Okay!  I didn’t theee that comin’ either.”

I am not a language Nazi, far from it. I am someone who loves words and language and fun. I recall a long, long set up to a really bad homonym pun. We were at the beach and I was trying to explain to some poor unfortunate soul how the fish were jumping beyond the waves.

“They are silver sea trout”, I asserted falsely.

“Oh, really. Why are they jumping like that?”

“To escape being eaten by the porpoises.”

“No kidding?”

“Yeah, there’s a best selling book about this fish.”

“I’ve never heard of it. What’s the title?”

“The Porpoise Driven Life by Rick Warren. It’s a big seller.”

“I’m going to beat you!!”

“You know, I get that a lot.”

“That’s because you weren’t beaten enough as a child.”

“I get that a lot too. It seems to be a universal assessment of my character.  Now, nah, ppput the frozen meat down… and the belt. We can talk this out without resorting to violence, can’t we Darlin? God help me. Did I just come here to die?”

I never learned to quit while I was behind. Not even when I was a little behind, maybe four or five years old. Now I’m a big behind and I need to unloosen my belt while thawing frozen beef.

Anyway, did you hear about the Arabic woman who got pregnant with twins before she was married? Shocking, so it was. Her family insisted on adopting out the identical twin boys. One to a family in Spain, who named him Juan; and the other to a family in Algeria, who named him Amal. Years went by. This woman eventually married a good man and started a family. Twenty years later a letter arrived from Spain with a photo of Juan. The letter said, “Mother, I  have tracked you down and want you to know that I am fine. Thank you for loving me enough to do what was best for me.”  The woman sobbed uncontrollably. When her husband came home she was still crying. She told him about the letter from Juan. He said, “My dear, this is a joyous thing. Be happy.” To which the woman replied, “But I will never see my Amal. Booooohhoooooo!” But her clever husband pointed out, “Dearest,  don’t you remember? They are identical boys:  once you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Amal.”

Put the frying pan down, Honey. This does not have to end in violence.