RIGHT AFTER THE HOLIDAYS

Get ready for it. This is the time of year when we’re all out merrily skipping down the department store aisles, full of the holiday spirit,  when, OOPS! Oh no, someone approaches that you haven’t seen since K.C. & the Sunshine Band were on the charts. Is it Jill or is it Jane? You can’t remember but one thing’s for sure, you’re in no mood to engage in meaningless conversation. While you’re racking your brain for her name, she’s rapidly ascending. Quick, hide behind that 8-foot fully decorated, anatomically correct Santa Claus. Crap, too late:  BAM:

Jill:  Barbara. Is that you?  My goodness. How’ve you been? It’s been so long.

Barbara: Yes, it’s been a long time. Well, goodbye.

Jill: You know, Billy is now in community college and has a part-time job at Dynamo Lanes working the counter disinfecting bowling shoes.

Barbara: Wow. That’s great. Well, goodbye…again. 

Jill: My husband’s retiring this year. We bought a Winnebago and are making plans to travel across the country.

Barbara: You’re leaving soon, I hope.

Jill: Our little Jimmy’s not so little anymore. He’s the assistant captain of his pickleball team. They grow up so fast, don’t they?

Barbara: Do you know if they sell nunchucks here?

Jill: Oh, you look so good. Did you have work done? Oh, can I show you a picture of our new patio/

Barbara: No. Hey, let’s get together…right after the holidays. Well goodbye…for the 3rd time.

That was a very smart move on Barbara’s part, not necessarily the mention of the deadly weapon, but the part where she mentioned getting together right after the holidays. With that one sentence, she let the other party in the conversation, in this case, Jill, think that she was glad to have run into her without actually having to tell her that she was sucking the life right out of her. Brilliant move, Barbara!

Of course,  this tactic will work any time of the year but it’s more prevalent around the holidays because we’re all out buying presents for people we actually know the names of. Oh sure, there’s always that very slim possibility that they may actually contact you ‘after the holidays,’ but, in that case, your response should simply be, “still celebrating.”

Making conversation today is different than before the pandemic. Remember when we were able to muddle our way through a conversation without much effort? That seems to have all changed after having been couped up for close to twenty-four months. Apparently, we’ve lost our edge. That presents a huge problem around the holidays. We all need to protect ourselves as much as possible and that’s why it’s comforting to have that extra  bullet in your gun belt and that bullet is “Let’s get together…right after the holidays.”

I do speak highly of this method because I’ve used it and have personally seen it work. But lest you think it’s only effective around Christmas, with a little creativity on your part, it can be useful any time of the year. I remember being in the mall one late January afternoon when I ran into an old co-worker who now holds down the corner chair at Billy’s Beer Garden. When he was regaling me with his ability to consume those gin-soaked pickles, my head was ready to explode so I instinctively blurted out, “Let’s get together right after…Groundhog Day!”  It worked. He bought it. We shook hands and I was on my way.  e was regaling H

Happy Holidays to all and I hope I’ve been of some assistance. Remember now,  uttering that one little sentence is a lot safer and much more within the confines of the law than actually clobbering someone with a set of nunchucks.

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HAGGIS & HEAD CHEESE NO MORE

So, I woke up and my foot felt like it had just been run over by an Amtrak train with a bunch of sumo wrestlers on board. I thought I might have stubbed a toe before I went to bed, or maybe I kicked the wall in anger because Michele asked me to do something totally unreasonable, like dry the dishes. All I knew was the pain was excruciating, and I couldn’t take it another minute. Whom do you see when the pain is so intense that driving rusty railroad spikes through your forehead with a ball peen hammer sounds like a vacation activity? Obviously, you would see… an herbalist!   I got his name through a friend of a friend who knows somebody who once lived next door to his niece’s babysitter. After an hour and a half with him, I walked out with orders to try some dandelion root, elevate my foot for long periods, try yoga and always think good thoughts. Then, rinse and repeat. Oh, and meditate.

It was time to take some drastic action. An action so distasteful that the mere mention of it might make you, the reader, scream. It was time to bring my HMO into the picture and see my primary physician. Just the thought made my skin crawl which is unfortunate because I’m pretty sure that skin-crawling medication isn’t covered by my policy. But this pain in my foot was so intense that the word ‘hacksaw’ entered my mind on more than one occasion. 

“So, how are you doing, Bob?” Dr. Park asked.  “Fine,” I said. “Now cut off my foot and let me get out of here”

Dr. Park:  Does it hurt here?

Bob:       Yes. It hurts to look at it.

Dr. Park:  Hmmm, Do you drink alcohol, Bob?

Bob:       Of course I do.  Have you seen the price of gas recently?

After gently poking and prodding and silently making notes in his chart, I had to ask a question. Doctor, when you are six inches deep into a patient’s  ear canal with that magnifying thingy, do you ever say to yourself, “God, I should have gone to law school?” When he was done checking blood pressure, sticking me with needles and making me feel like a sissy, he finally got around to concluding unequivocally that I might perhaps possibly have a case of gout, maybe, and prescribed an anti-inflammatory. He then handed me a list of foods I can no longer have. The list included anchovies, mincemeat, herring, sardines and goose. I’m guessing there are ample amounts of people who fake having gout just to AVOID those foods!

Excuse me, Doctor, but  I thought gout was for old people.  I’m not quite ready to wrap myself up in a crocheted afghan, sit on the front porch and yell at kids to get off my lawn. “Calm down, Bob,”  he said. This is a dietary thing that has to do with too much uric acid in the system. It’s easily correctible through a change in diet.  “Just stay away from alcohol for a few weeks and see how your foot reacts,” he said. I swallowed hard and asked him, “Certainly you’re not talking about happy hour or anything like that, are you?”  Pulling his half glasses down to the tip of his nose making sure to establish eyeball-to-eyeball contact with me, he said very s-l-o-w-l-y, “Of course not, Bob. Let me be clear on that. You may have all the beer you like during happy hour. That doesn’t count. Everybody knows that.  I’m strictly talking about before or after happy hour. It’s in all the medical books. You can check it out.” OK, I get the idea, but what if I swear off mincemeat and herring instead? Until that moment, I had never actually seen a doctor throw his clipboard on the ground and slam the exam room door as he left while muttering something about law school.  Oops! Sorry, doctor.  

Today, I’m proud to say that I have not had a recurrence of gout in three weeks. I have to attribute this to my recent change in attitude as well as a change in diet. I’ve completely sworn off mackerel and tongue, which was pretty easy seeing as how I never started eating them in the first place.  So, take some advice from your old buddy Bob. Should ever develop a case of gout, make sure you have at hand some dandelion root, and, of course, a cold beer…but only at happy hour.    

SILENCE THE HORNS

There are two types of people in the world: 1) people who blow their car horns and, 2)  people who hate people who blow their car horns. I fall in the latter category. I am what one would call a Non-Horn Honker (N.H.H.).  There are plenty of us around. It just doesn’t feel like that when I’m out driving. I’m fairly outspoken about my loathing of car horns. You see, for as long as I can remember, I’d had this intense aversion to getting shot!

So, as per usual when putting together a column, I’ve done extensive research on the subject, interviewing people who drive for a living. I first spoke with Tony, a professional and dedicated taxi driver with an impeccable driving record. He granted me the interview but preferred that I call him Knuckles, the name given to him by, um, fellow residents while he was being detained for 3 1/2 years by the state. I started out by asking him how many times he blows his horn on an average workday. He told me he loses track after about a hundred or so. I told him that horns seem to be so prevalent and constant that it seems like drivers are actually using their horns as a communication method. He said that was definitely true and gave me a couple of examples. You’ll see this a lot in smaller communities where people tend to know each other more often.

3 long honks  + 2 short horn stabs = Hello, how are you doing?

4 short horn stabs + long 3-second honk = I’ll call you later

2 long horn honks + 6 short horn stabs = I’m sorry. I just ran over your dog.

My research also took me to the home of Mabel ‘Pedal to the metal’ Parker. The employees from the traffic court suggested I speak with her as she’s on a first-name basis with everyone there. She’s had the same silver Ford Fairlane since she almost graduated high school in 1960. The odometer gave out sometime during the Reagan administration but she makes sure the horn still works. Mabel admits to being what they call a constant honker (CH), although she does say the only time she really lays on the horn is when there’s somebody in front of her. I asked her what message she was trying to send by constantly laying on the horn and she said, “People seem to put on their ‘stupid hats’ when they get behind the wheel.”  For the record, Mabel has never had an accident but has been stopped numerous times for noise pollution. As our conversation was ending, she lit up another Chesterfield, shooed her cat out the front door, and with that well-known raspy voice told me that without her laying on the horn all the time, how are other drivers supposed to know they’re dumb? Good point, Mabel.

So, what have I learned from my research? I learned that drivers use their horns for a variety of reasons. Some use it as a way of acknowledging friends or acquaintances while others honk in fear for their lives as they inch closer and closer to getting impaled by a mass of sheet metal…and then there’s Mabel, who spells it out very clearly in just one sentence: “Lord help ya if you slow me down on my way to Bingo!”

I WAS GOING TO INVITE YOU, BUT…

Is there anything more annoying than the guy who projectile sneezes into your coffee cup only to exclaim, “Whoa, that was a good one, huh?” Yes, there is something more annoying and that’s the person who gleefully declares, “I was going to invite you to my party, but…”

For some reason, I’ve been hearing that a lot lately. Not quite making the cut. At first, this bothered me. I couldn’t figure out why someone wouldn’t want lovable ol’ me to liven up their stodgy get-together. Do they think I’m going to bring little baggies and scoop all the avocado dip into my pockets? Do they think I’m going to have too much wine and go off on a tangent about the postseason ramifications of baseball’s designated hitter? I think I clean up pretty well. I trim my ear hair. I bathe regularly. More importantly, I know when to spill ice cubes down the pants of the guy who starts off every sentence with, “Well, Marjorie Taylor Greene says…”

I would be a valuable addition to any party. Besides, sometimes, as a special surprise, I bring my harmonica AND a six-pack of Meister Brau. So there!

If you’re not inviting someone to your tedious party, then SHUT UP! Does it make you feel better to ‘twist the knife?’ Interestingly enough, the person who has no problem letting you know that, for whatever reason, you are not invited, is ALWAYS the first in line pounding on your door come Girl Scout cookie time so their precious daughter can win a Jonas Brothers watch! 

The excuses I’ve been getting are priceless:

• I know you go to bed so early

• It was just for neighbors (I live across the street!)

• We are going to play naked Twister and I know how shy you are.

• It was only for my Twitter friends (What a great party that must have been. Totally 

   non-verbal. What a blast!)

Etiquette experts Conor McGregor, Will Smith and Art the Clown all agree on one thing: If you absolutely feel the need to let someone know that he is not on the invitation list, at least make him feel good about it by saying something like, “I was going to invite you but the party is only for Trekkies and I know you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing Spock ears.” We can live with that. So, I’m here to say to you, dear reader, if you’re having a party that you think needs a little extra pizzazz, I’ll be happy to lend my services. Contrary to what some sub-humanoids who live across the street from me named Lucy may think, I really do know how to work the room. I can chat about anything. I know who the President is and, if pressed, I’ll even engage you in conversation about NASA, although the whole astronauts peeing and floating thing kind of freaks me out. C’mon. I’m a seasoned party pro and I’d be a valuable asset to your little soiree. And, the best part: my harmonica is always within arm’s reach. Call me.

CAUTION: DO NOT ENTER

My friend, Sandy, invited me to her mother’s house to have a piece of her homemade Key Lime pie. I love that pie and there’s not much I wouldn’t do for a slice. I might even attend an opera (one with a long intermission…and a bar, of course).

When I got there, I was greeted with that horrible phrase no one ever wants to hear, “Oh, just one thing.”  Trust me, nothing good can come from those words. Sandy said her mom needed help moving a refrigerator from the kitchen to the driveway for the junk man. Ah, neat little, dirty trick. Just for that, I’m having 2 slices of pie.

Of course, before we could do anything, her mom, a lovely woman whose thick, gold eyeglass chains looked like they could easily double as tire chains in winter months. Very strong neck muscles, this woman.

I hate taking involuntary house tours, but really, is there any other kind?  I’ve not yet met anyone who, when visiting a friend has said, “May I please have a tedious tour of your home along with the back story of how you acquired every single piece of furniture?”  Oh my God, look, another bathroom. Wow, that’s some hamper you’ve got there. What is that, plastic?’

Next on the tour was what she called the White Room. White everything. Walls, ceiling, window frames, door knobs. One big Cumulus cloud.  “The carpet’s looped Berber,” said. “It doesn’t show footprints.” As I started to walk in, she practically stiff-armed me in the chest.  “No, no, no. We don’t  go in there.”

“Why,” I asked.   “Oh no, we just don’t,” she said. I thanked her for clearing that up for me. “Yeah, but there’s a TV mounted on the wall and a full bar,” I said.

She snapped, “Those were in there before we put the carpet in.” “Wha…?” I asked how she knows it doesn’t show footprints if nobody was allowed in.   

 Many call it the Bonus Room. The word ‘bonus’ by definition, means ‘extra,’ which, by definition means, ‘not necessary.’ SO WHY HAVE IT?

I remember speaking with my friend, Brad, who works the floor at Sammy’s Carpet World and Bagel Emporium on this very subject. He said that having an extra room that isn’t used, makes people feel successful or superior and they waste precious few minutes pointing that out. 

Martha:  And this is the room we never use.

Janet:     Why don’t you use it?

Martha: Because we’re better than you, silly.

 Brad likened it to having an 8-foot Tiger shark mounted on the wall in your den and regaling everyone with the riveting tale of how you snagged it off the Florida Keys as your boat was going under in the middle of a typhoon, when, in reality, you bought it at a garage sale in Kerhonkson last summer for $10.00. It makes you feel better about yourself. But, please keep in mind that if you do have a large fish of any type hanging in your den, it’s best to remove the sticky note with the price tag still stuck to its snout. It’ll make your storytelling much more believable.

Brad also opined that to get a more detailed reason for the ‘Bonus Room,’ one would have to go to someone a little higher up on the food chain than an assistant manager.  I understood.

So, the definitive answer remains one of the great mysteries of life. With my research now concluded, the only thing I can say with absolute certainty is that Sandy’s mother makes a killer Key Lime pie.

JEEZ, YA THINK YA KNOW SOMEONE

So, the other day, my wife, Michele, was on her laptop making the rounds stop when I heard a loud and rather excited, “OH MY GOD!”  Not being in the same room, I thought that one of the cats must have dropped a major hairball in her Coke Zero or something.  I was wrong.  I went racing in wondering what was going on when she told me that her old boyfriend, Billy Lyons,  wanted to be ‘friends’ with her on Facebook. “Sweetheart, was that really worthy of a glass-shattering ‘Oh My God?’ What’s the big deal,” I asked.  “Oh my God, he was such a hunk!  I could have just eaten him up,” she said.  “Whoo… re-phrase, please!”

 I was about ready to tell her that if my math was correct, when ‘ol heartthrob Billy was courting her, Ronald Reagan was spilling jellybeans all over the White House and the creator of Betamax was six! I managed, however, to take a deep breath, compose myself and respond like the mature adult I am by saying, “I BETCHA HE’S A POOPY HEAD AND WETS HIS BED!”I quickly realized I really should have taken an extra minute.

I was actually willing to let the whole thing go until she said, “WE WERE ENGAGED!”  I shot back with, “YOU WERE 16! WHAT DID HE GIVE YOU, HIS CAPTAIN MARVELOUS SECRET DECODER RING?” Hang on…need a beer, be right back.  How long have we been married and this is the first I’m even hearing about this guy to say nothing of you apparently swapping copious amounts of bodily fluids with him?”  She did go on to make one minor correction: she told me that they were almost engaged. The word ‘almost’ makes a big difference to me here.

After seeing his picture, I wondered what he has that I didn’t.  not.  Okay,  so he probably makes more money, has a full head of hair, and seems to be fairly well adjusted, but other than that, what are we talking about here?”

As it turns out Michele’s father never did like him because apparently, he drove a VW van with a cot in the back and he had hair that practically covered his ears!  The shame!  Truth be told, her father didn’t like me very much at first, either. After all, I played rock & roll on the radio and, early on insulted his favorite food, Broccoli Rabe, saying I’d rather eat a Brillo pad.

So, Michele, is there anything else you’d like to tell me at this time?  Perhaps you augmented your college funds by servicing sailors? Former Russian spy? Advisor to Steve Bannon?  Please, you can come clean. It’s okay, really it is.

By the way, honey, two can play this game:  I was never the star of my college wrestling team. I was in charge of carrying the bucket they threw up in. Ha-Ha. So there!

WANT A DATE? BREAK A LEG!

Eileen, a close friend of ours, made an errant turn while playing Twister and after a six-day wait in the emergency room, it was determined that she had, indeed, broken her foot. Eileen would like to remind everyone to exercise extreme caution while playing Twister, especially while naked… and alone.

She is now wearing what they call a walking air boot which comes with its own odometer. The first five miles she walks are free and after that, it’s ten dollars a mile. But the health care system in this country is not broken. Nothing to worry about.

Eileen learned something about this walking air boot: it draws wimpy men out of their pathetic little shells. She now believes a broken bone is far better than walking a puppy in the park when it comes to grabbing the attention of the opposite sex and it probably even surpasses winning a zillion dollars in the lottery. She swears she can’t go anywhere without men offering to help her. At Stop N’ Shop, they’re falling all over themselves to put food in her cart. Interestingly enough, these are the same disingenuous guys who wouldn’t give her the time of day before the Twister fiasco. Now, they’re asking her out to movies, dinner, and happy hours. Heck, she went to Home Depot to buy a door knob and one drooling construction worker started chatting her up and volunteered to build her a deck! Guys, please…take a cold shower. Pretend you’re sitting next to a naked Mitch McConnell in the sauna or if that doesn’t cool you off, imagine you’re getting a lap dance from Nancy Pelosi. Jeez! 

That gym rat whose best friend is a mirror was way too cool to acknowledge her existence before, all of a sudden is grunting, groaning, and sweating within inches of Eileen now. She can tell he’s just dying to start a meaningful conversation but all he’s been able to muster so far is, “Hey, you’ve got a really nice ra….I mean, um, how’s that tibia healing, anyway?”

What is wrong with you people? Eileen was the ideal date long before she broke her foot. Why did it take a compound fracture for you guys to develop a pulse? Were you intimidated by her? Maybe it’s because you thought (correctly) that she runs ten miles a day all while texting her stockbroker and composing Op-Ed pieces for the NY Times? But now that she’s ‘flawed,’ she’s somehow more approachable? Can you really be that insecure?

How about that overzealous stud at the liquor store? His tongue hanging down to his knees and pushing a shopping cart full of Jim Beam and Jack Daniel’s, he asked her if she needed help carrying her purchase to her car. I’m sure it would have meant more to her if she had bought more than ONE BOTTLE of Merlot!  Guys, control yourself, please. Eileen confided in me that although she thinks you are all acting like pre-pubescent fourth graders, she does kind of like the attention, but was quick to point out that you guys really have to step up your game.

The doctors say the walking boot will come off in two weeks but she’s seriously considering taking a ball peen hammer to her other foot just so she can keep it a little longer. It’s either that or she’ll just buy a puppy.

THANKS FOR THE RIDE, MR. B.

As we pop the lid on yet another school year, it’s time to show some love for those dedicated and loyal but often underappreciated agents in the educational system…the bus driver.

I will do so with fond memories of Mr. Bedrosian, my high school bus driver in Chicago (It’s near Illinois. You can look it up). Although Mr. B. never achieved a high educational level, he was one knowledgeable and entertaining man.

Mr. B. left school in the sixth grade to cut the heads off chickens on his father’s farm, which, I suppose, would account for the reason that the words ‘thighs’ and ‘breasts’ were the only words not allowed to be uttered on his school bus, or ‘classroom,’ as he called it.

We learned more about life from him than most some of our teachers. He was famous for saying things like, “Study hard, play hard and never leave a ballgame before the 7th inning stretch,” and  “Stand up to the bully. Punch him in the head and then pull his pants down. Nobody looks tough naked.”

We couldn’t wait to get on that bus so we could sit up close and get a good whiff of his freshly lit Camel. We hung on every word he said. Just about every morning he would sit idling his school bus and wait on the corner for Sandy and Steve to come out of her house. “Hey, Mr. B., c’mon, we’re going to be late for homeroom,” we would say. He would take a drag of his cigarette and tell us, “Sandy and Steve are making out in the house. Give ’em a minute. We punish you kids all the time for fighting. We certainly can’t punish you for loving, can we?”

He was a psychologist as well. “Hey Mr. B., I think this guy named Mike is trying to make time with my girlfriend, Sara.” He shook his head and offered, “Wait until gym class and bury his head in the mat.” Sage advice, indeed.

He was an expert on everything.

On the Chicago Cubs: “You kids may even live long enough to see them win four in a row.

On financial matters: “If you have to borrow money, ask your father. He’s only going to spend it on Playboys and Pabst Blue Ribbon anyway.”

On hot cheerleaders: “Look, but don’t touch. They’re either dating a player or too stuck up to mess with.”

He would even quiz us on stuff the day of an exam, just to make sure we were doing our part.

Mr. B. knew every student by name and knew all of our interests.  On a typical morning, he’d open the doors and ask, “Hey Glenn, how’s that curve ball working out for you?” or “Billy, go get ’em tonight at the track meet,” or “Hey, Miller, next time you try and sneak into Wrigley Field, I’m calling the cops.”

Today, of course, Mr. Bedrosian would be arrested for the way he treated kids and maybe that’s where we’ve gone astray. SMOKING ON A SCHOOL BUS? How could he? But that was then, and this is now, yet somehow we all managed to grow up to be responsible citizens…well, everyone except Jimmy Wolinski, who grew up be a White Sox fan. You can lead a horse to water, but…

A kinder, gentler man could not be found and that’s a lot more than we can say about some educational administrators today, who’ve made the wrong kind of headlines for incidents too numerous to name.

So, Mr. B., I know it’s been several years and nary a Christmas card from me, but, trust me, if you were still driving, I’d be the first one on the bus just to hear that next pearl of wisdom fall from your lips. Thanks again for the education and I’m sure you’d agree, “Kids belong ON the bus and IN school…not ON your front lawn!  God bless you. 

BAN THE SPROUTS; SAVE THE CHILDREN

I strayed from my usual dinner of Salsa a la Triscuit the other night and had something called Brussel sprouts. I imagined them to be about as tasty as wet cardboard would be if you added a dash of cumin. They also had a negative effect on my digestive system and consequently the environment but that’s not what this is about.

This is about a nightmare I had concerning Jimmy Wolinski the same night I ate the sprouts. Coincidence? Jimmy was a friend of mine when we attended Deerfield High School on the north side of Chicago. Jimmy was a good kid and the first to suggest that we play a game of touch football instead of tackling our biology homework. It should come as no surprise that you will not be reading about Jimmy discovering a cure for cancer or even an ergonomically correct beer glass anytime soon. Jimmy now teaches gym at the very same high school that he attended and I can say with confidence that his students will never have a better mentor on the proper way to climb a rope (an exercise that comes in handy should you ever need to scale a prison wall) or how to serve shuttlecock in badminton and still look cool. However…

In my dream, Jimmy was called into service to teach trigonometry in addition to his torturous gym instructor duties, which include blowing the whistle and carrying a clipboard. Let me be clear: Jimmy MUST NOT teach trigonometry. Jimmy’s highest math class was a paint-by-numbers pre-introduction to junior remedial algebra. I know because I sat right next to him. I would be willing to bet my Cubs footsie pajamas that Jimmy thinks trigonometry is a breathing procedure where a tube is placed in the neck.

I’m painfully aware that the current economy is forcing workers to double and sometimes triple up on duties as a result of lay-offs and as distressing as this is, the thought of Jimmy going anywhere near a classroom where they have actual books and instruments of higher learning is mind-numbing.

Teachers need to stick to what they know and I certainly wouldn’t want a trig teacher telling me how to put someone in a full nelson or how to do backflips. I need Jimmy for that. Here’s what some of his former gym students have said about him.

“His gym shoes were always really white!”.” 

(Steve Kelly)

“Mr. Wolinski taught me one of the most valuable lessons in life; never eat an entire pizza before doing somersaults.”

(David Ives)

“That man could really blow a whistle.”

(Hunter Lessner)

“Thanks Mr. W. for the valuable lesson about the jockstrap and the hockey stick.”

 (Dan “The Soprano” Lindquist)

Jimmy’s a great physical education teacher and the master of the wet towel snap to the buttocks, but teaching trig? 

“Okay, Kids, settle down. My name is Mr. Wolinski and if you don’t behave, I’ll blow my whistle. Today, we’ll be discussing the Pytha…that theory thingamabob that says that 2 sides of a triangle equal…no, wait a minute…I mean when you add up three sides then subtract the short…no, wait. Ah heck, anybody want to go outside and play kickball?”

Hey, dreams can come true and if this one materializes, the kids in Deerfield are in a world of hurt! I’m planning on doing my part. There will be no more Brussel sprouts on my menu, ever again. As much as my mouth salivates for the taste of soggy pizza boxes, I’m giving them up and I suggest you do the same. I say keep Jimmy in the locker room and out of the classroom. Our children deserve at least that.

THE SELF-HELP GURU

I was driving to work the other day not feeling that great about myself. I needed to work out the serious funk I was in before my radio program started at 6 AM, but how? I needed a self-help book, and fast! Then I had an ephinany: I would write that self-help book myself. After all, who better to write a self-help book than a person in dire need of self-help?

I was sitting at a red light, pounding the steering wheel, telling myself that I really didn’t suck as much as I thought I did. After a few minutes of just sitting there, watching the light turn green about 10 times, I felt better. My shoulders began to straighten up. My chest puffed out and before the next red light, I realized I was actually smiling! I finally came to the conclusion that I wasn’t the miserable failure I thought I was. My friend, Jim is! Jim’s always smiling and bragging about how his life is going. He beams with pride when he tells you he’s in finance. And, if by ‘finance’ he means selling Covid masks at the train station, yeah, I guess he’s the man.

e says I kept on repeating over and over, at the top of my lungs, “I’m not as bad as dumb old Jim! I’m not as bad as dumb old Jim!” And it worked. By the time I got to the radio station I was fully cognizant of the fact that I was making a complete ass of myself in traffic and could have easily been arrested for disturbing the peace. But I also felt great. Why? Because I was better than dumb old Jim, that’s why? And if I was better than Jim, who knows, maybe I was even better than someone else and from there, hopefully the list would grow like weeds on my freshly planted Pacasandra.

Maybe you have a Jim in your life as well. And, truth be told, you hate him. For example, if you were being honest with yourself, you know without a doubt that you’d derive a great deal of pleasure if he ever tried to photocopy his pockmarked butt in the office and the glass on the copier broke! That would be the highlight of your week and it’s perfectly alright to admit that., Why? Because Jim is an idiot.

Have you truthfully never felt that your life isn’t progressing as you thought it might? Is it taking a little longer to reach your goals? Do you feel that everybody else you talk to is doing better than you? Everybody else seems happier than you? Gosh, from the way some people make it sound, their sheets don’t even wrinkle when they sleep on them. They never drop any toast crumbs on the floor and they can get out of the house every morning in fifteen minutes, completely bathed and sparkling from head to toe. I’m here to tell you that THEY’RE MISERABLE. There, now don’t you feel better?

Yes indeed, I’m writing that book! C’mon, anybody can write a book about how to feel good when they’re already feeling good. What’s the challenge in that? The world needs to hear from someone whose emotional swings are as vast as theirs. 

Here’s a little-known fact about the ‘happy’ people who author books about how to improve yourself. Oh sure, they’re nattily attired and beam confidence on their book jacket covers but the reality is, they’re the ones you’ll find closing piano bars in Manhattan at 4 AM with a stirring rendition of Red River Valley using a swizzle stick as a microphone as the waitresses push them out the door!

So, until my book entitled, Bob’s Self-Help Guide to Self-Help, comes out, keep this important fact in mind: The people who seem the happiest are always the ones who can’t wait to get home, lock the door and play hide and seek with their cat. I’m talking to you…Jim!