Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bachelor Kitchen Tips: Leftovers.

If opening the refrigerator door stinks up your whole kitchen, you may have to do a thorough search of its interior. Wear latex gloves if possible and rummage carefully--you may run into things that could not only spread disease but also make a mess, of which you have enough already.

If you remove the lid from a pot stored way back on a shelf to take a sniff, and your head jerks back violently, there's your problem. The contents will be mysterious and soft, but whatever it is, you can easily scoop it into the toilet with a large spoon while you hold your breath. Flush immediately, but don't throw out the pot. They're expensive. Leave the lid off and push aside leftover debris to make room for it on your counter for a few days--so that the contents dry into a harmless solid crust, then clean the pot thoroughly.

Use a power drill with a wire brush attachment if necessary.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

God and Golf.

Golf is a very pleasant sport. You can get some fresh air, stroll through some of the world's finest manicured landscape, slam little responsive balls that sail incredibly through the air, and actually keep score to see how you're doing. Plus, if you're too lazy to hike the course, you can grab an open car, drive to your ball, smoke cigarettes and explore a cooler filled with all sorts of mood enhancing liquids.

It's fun, unless you're with my brother-in-law, Bob, when he gets into one of his mischievous moods, probably influenced by one trip too many to the cooler. He will help you find your ball, and the ball may turn up in unimaginable places, maybe brought there by a hole in his pocket, down his pant-leg and over his ankle and shoe top. And he's very convincing. It makes no difference to him whether your ball turns up in a good spot or a bad spot. Win or lose, it's all fun to him.

Which brings me to the time God and St. Peter played a game of golf one Sunday morning, which I didn't witness, but I believe must be true, considering my brother-in-law, Bob.

On the first hole, God drove the ball into a water hazard, but the waters parted and God made an easy chip onto the green. On the second hole, God actually plunked the ball onto the green with an impressive drive. Suddenly, there was a little earthquake and the green tipped enough to roll the ball into the cup. On the third hole God's drive sent the ball into a sand trap. A little ocean appeared nearby and started an evolution. Microbes turned into fish, fish turned into reptiles, reptiles turned into mammals, and one of these furry little mammals ran up, grabbed the golf ball in his mouth, then ran to the cup and dropped the ball in.

St. Peter looked at God and said, "You wanna play golf, or you wanna fuck around?"

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Class of 1964, Before You Were Born.

I just got my pre-invitation to my 50th high school class reunion, just as I was thinking that it's been an amazing 20 years since I graduated.
We had a big class, so I'm not surprised that most of the names on the list of graduates are unfamiliar, but I can't find one person I'm anxious to get reacquainted with. Most of my good buddies were members of the class behind me.
I've never been to a class reunion, and the thought of attending strikes me as ghoulish without an old buddy to share some private jokes about the characters at this particular geezer gathering. I'm sure some perfect stranger would walk up to me smiling with his hand out saying, too enthusiastically, "Hi, Tom, do you remember me?"
Uh... no, I would stare.
Then, he would reveal his identity as if waving a colorful flag which didn't impress me 50 years ago and still doesn't.
"You don't remember me, do you?"
"Oh, yeah. Yes, I remember you."
Yes, I might remember him, except that I don't remember him looking like he had shrunk three inches, swallowed a cow and fell asleep with his head in a clothes dryer.
"Good to see you," I'd lie, meaning that seeing him is better than dropping dead, while I'd be hoping someone would interrupt.
Then, the strange woman would approach, lacking the finer points I appreciated 50 years ago, and tell me I was really cute back then.
"Oh, yes, I remember you. Didn't you marry Joe Jockstrap?"
"Yeah, we divorced a long time ago. Actually, I'm on my fourth marriage."
"Really," I'd say as my eyes searched for one of those bright red EXIT signs--maybe somebody would yell "fire" and we could all pile out to the parking lot and disappear under cars.
Just to cheer us up, the reunion committee, whoever these people are, included a list of deceased persons in our reunion package. The only cheerful part is that I'm not on the list. Out of 328 class members, 57 are confirmed dead, including a few bozos I appreciated in the third grade. That's over 80% of us still kicking. This is not a bad score, considering our ages. With all the problems of modern health care, we've fared quite well with the medical miracles.
But--nah--I'm not going to this reunion. I'm going to wait for our 75th, when we can get the whole crowd around one table at Cheers, and I won't have to make much conversation.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Curse of the Catheter.

I underwent major vascular surgery in my pelvis last week, huge stents in arteries to both legs. Now--I understand they had to thread a catheter up my penis so I didn't accidentally pee all over the doctor's gown during the operation.

     But--the operation was over, I spent an hour in the recovery room, ate two meals, had a decent night's sleep, and not even a drug addict would be peeing all over himself on the amount of drugs I had in my system. It was high time this catheter came out. I told the nurse and she agreed to make it her first request when the doctor showed up.

      Okay. But I had periodic burning sensations, and I thought the tube to the urine bag might be twisted or kinked, so I plucked the bag from under the bed and switched it from hand to hand as I untangled the tube with the other hand. The tape holding the tube against my thigh came off so that my penis stood up and followed the tube around like a bird dog on the hunt (a pointer), a very unpleasant sensation--when it didn't involve a woman.
      Finally sick of the process, I carried the bag into the bathroom (just in case I squirted when I yanked out the tube), and gave the tube a healthy pull.

       Yow. That hurt. And the evil tube stayed in place. Something was holding it in, so I went back to the chair in my room and tried to be patient. But, the burning sensations kept coming around and I couldn't tell whether I was peeing or not. Where the hell was the doctor? Where's the nurse?

        Fed up again, I went back to the bathroom with gruesome determination. I grabbed my penis in one hand, the catheter in the other and pulled firmly in opposite directions. Aha, I observed, I could see the tube exiting the end of my penis, so I kept going and it looked like I was making progress. But, ow,ow,ow, no undocking. The only thing I accomplished was to compress my penis into a little stub of wrinkles resembling a small stack of coins (about $3.50 in quarters). At that point, I wanted to go into the hallway and howl like a coyote until relief arrived.

        Luckily, the nurse came. I gave her a grim look and said, "This catheter has to come out."
        She almost smiled when she conceded, "Okay, I won't wait for the doctor."
        She had me lay on the bed and started to manipulate the catheter.
        "What's the trick?" I asked, after confessing that I had tried to pull  it out.
        "Oh, you can't pull it out. There's a balloon on the end of it that has to be deflated."
        A balloon!
        "Are you ready? One, two, three...."
        I have never been to a hospital anywhere, at any time, for any purpose, for anyone when I didn't think the nurses were angels. Thank God for the angels, and may my penis rest in peace.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snowy Day.

It's 2 pm, and it's snowing hard. The geniuses on TV tell me this will go on until the wee hours of morning.

Hmmm, let me think....

Should I call in to work, sick--for which I will get a full day's pay--or should I go out to clean four inches of snow off my car and brave Interstate 293, like a kiddie in a bumper car, then work four hours on a mail sorting machine so that the folks can get their Walmart flyers and save 19 cents on a quart of milk if purchased by Friday?

Should I clean another four inches off my car at 8:30 pm to slip and slide over to Dunkin' Donuts to get my customary coffee from some kid whose only purpose in life is to be cool and relaxed--never mind old customers like me who are limited to half-hour lunches--then finish sorting the day's mail so that mail carriers can park in the middle of clogged roads, trudge through the snow and deliver bills? Then, clean another four inches of snow off my car at 12:30 am to get home--only to plow my way into the one parking space left on the street while the predators who own my building clear the parking lot and call the tow trucks?

Or--should I stay home, bake that strawberry pie I'm planning for Valentine's Day, plus a salmon pie that will feed me for days, and add an improvised pot of minestrone soup while I watch a movie on TV?

Hmmm, let me think....

Okay, I thought enough. Get me the phone.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Good Ol' Movie Diversion: Cat Ballou.

Got a couple hours to get silly and emotional at the same time?
Try this movie.
Jane Fonda turns in a touching performance as a girly-girl outlaw while all the men around her act like complete fools, with Lee Marvin going over the top to win an Academy Award playing a hopelessly drunk hired gun. All through this engaging farce, two banjo wielding jokers (Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye) appear here and there to sing the Ballad of Cat Ballou as you watch. It's delightful.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Rest In Glorified Peace, Larry Zavaglia.

Very often, we lose track of people we loved, like Larry Zavaglia.
I recently heard of Larry's passing, and I was struck with regret. I hadn't seen him or talked to him in at least twenty years, but the news triggered a stream of memories, all happy, now touched by sadness. Larry loved the theater, and as long as I knew him, his dream was to play Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.

Larry worked in management at the Daily News in New York, graveyard shift, and when the unionized press room went out on strike, Larry recruited me to work as a scab (defined as, someone who doesn't give a shit about union "solidarity"). I didn't have to cross any picket lines because of the late hour, strikers asleep, and the pay was excellent. Each night, Larry and I had lunch together in his office. He glided all over the office in his comfortable rolling chair, checking this and that on the computers, which earned him the nickname, "Ironside," after a popular TV show about a detective in a wheel chair. After work, we hit the bagel joint for a feast, he with tuna on a toasted bagel and me with a super-salted bagel with butter, bacon and egg. Oh glorious breakfast, we agreed.

But, my best memory of Larry was at a dinner theater in New Jersey. Not just an actor, Larry loved theater so much that he would pitch in at ungodly hours to help out on the production of scenery. One ungodly a.m., with opening night looming, Larry, producer Jack Bell and I were the only troops left to finish work on the scenery, and, at one point, Larry stopped in the middle of the stage carrying a large chair. He had been walking back and forth with the chair for several minutes, exhausted, trying to find a good place to store it in the wings.
"Aw," he said, "my dogs are barking."
Jack and I paused with our paint brushes to wonder, "Huh? What dogs?"
"Dogs. Didn't you ever hear that? "Dogs" means "feet." It means my feet hurt...Y'know, they're "barking."
We couldn't work for the next twenty minutes because, in our state of exhaustion, we collapsed in mirth, and every time we resumed work, one of us would chuckle and trigger another round of ridiculous laughter, tears welling up all around.

As an actor, Larry was superb. He had been afflicted with Bells palsy, a relatively rare affliction which paralyzes muscles in the face and makes the mouth droop on one side--not once, but twice, once on each side, so that his face appeared perfectly symmetrical, droop though it did, and he spoke with a detectable lisp.Yet, his dramatic and comic lines onstage were always perfectly intelligible and powerful, always believable.

I missed the show when he finally got the part of Tevye, probably busy with my own dreams. It must have been glorious.

(Photos and clipping courtesy of Stephen Newport).