‘MR. FABULOUS’ 21 DAY, NO HAPPY HOUR DIET

 

And so it begins.  There’s a first time for everything and this most definitely is unchartered waters that I’m swimming in.  It’s MY FIRST DIET…EVER!  Truth be told, it’s more of a fitness plan; the brainchild of Trainer Emeritus Mike “Mr. Fabulous” Romano.

Mikey, I see a lot of fruits and something called vegetables here but the primary food group called barley malt seems to be missing.  Hmmm.   Does this really mean that I can’t wash my mouthwatering flaxseed dipped carrot stick down with an ice cold Bud?  Seriously?

Well, I’m not a quitter, Mr. Romano.  Actually, I guess I kind of am, but I’ll see this through.   What else is on the list?  Sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, broccoli, grilled chicken and tuna fish.  That all sounds…delightful.

You hear people say all the time that the hardest thing in the world to do is stick to a diet.  I’m here to say that if you truly believe that in your heart, then you have never watched the Chicago Cubs play baseball.

Mikey, as with anything else, I’m sure you allow for some minor changes or concessions and with that I’m taking the liberty of switching out the sweet potatoes for French fries. Both being in the potato family, I’m sure you won’t have a problem with this.  If I can be honest here, Mikey, I tried the grilled chicken and it didn’t send me into a world of gastronomical orgasm.  There were no stars and not a single craving for a cigarette, so I took the chicken and tossed it on the grill and fried that sucker up.  Much, much better, and it’s still chicken right, so right no harm, no foul.

Mikey, I know you said if I stick to this I’ll look almost as fabulous as you by the 4th of July and one could only hope that would become reality and that the world will reopen by them.  Hey, how come that Starbucks Double Latté Frappuccino thingie that seems to be surgically attached to your hand is nowhere to be found on this fitness plan?  Weird, huh? It’s probably just as well. If I could afford one of those everyday, I’d probably do something foolish with the money like make a mortgage payment or something.

Whoa, hang on. It looks like it’s time for another delectable glob of cottage cheese.  I’m so into this that I gave myself a major pep talk in the bathroom mirror last night, repeating ‘I CAN DO THIS, I CAN DO THIS, DAMNIT. NO QUIT. NO QUIT,’ Then it wasn’t long before I stopped, shook my head and said, “Holy crap! I can’t believe I’m talking to myself in the mirror!”   Hey, whatever it takes. There’s no quit in this soon to be manly specimen.

I’m pretty sure now that I’ll be able to handle the remainder of this deprivation nightmare that you’ve placed me on…um, I mean, this wonderful fitness high that I’m experiencing.

Let’s go for the gold, but, in the event that that option is removed from the table, bronze would be nice as well.  Gotta go. It looks like my chicken’s ready. This time I diced up a Slim Jim and cooked it on top. Yum! I’ll give you the recipe.  Don’t worry, Mikey, I’ll make you proud!

Hey, Mikey, please tell me again about how you ‘beasted’ the last Tough Mudder you ran in two hours and eighteen minutes, all with a hangover, broken leg and a dislocated shoulder.  That was neat. I want to be you when I grow up.

 

 

WELCOME TO WEDGIETOWN

 

Among the reasons we end up in expensive, intense therapy sessions as adults, fifth grade gym class has got to be near or at the top.

Gym class has been a staple in elementary schools almost since the time that Eve asked Adam if that fig leaf made her look fat. However, few people in the long and storied history of ‘shirts and skins’ can honestly say that gym class was the best thing that ever happened to them. Physical Education teachers all have whistles. It’s the law. I think they need to blow them more often. In addition to stopping the action in a heated competition of synchronized jumping jacks, there is plenty of shenanigans going on in the locker room and in the shower that goes unnoticed.

Gary Ives, a classmate of mine and the world’s biggest jerk had hair in places that would have the Geico caveman pounding his club in amazement. How could anyone be so hairy at eleven years of age?  I made the mistake of asking him about all that growth as we were disrobing from another arduous game of badminton. “Hey jerkball, are you sure you’re not really twenty-one and were just held back a few years because you thought Neil Armstrong played for the Cubs and Pearl Harbor was the author of The Good Earth?”  For some strange reason, he took offense at that and grabbed my underwear. “OH CRAP, BLOW YOUR DAMN WHISTLE, MR. COHEN. HERE COMES AN ATOMIC WEDGIE!”  It was too late.  My eyeballs practically jumped out of my head, my screams set off the sprinklers and my manhood, obviously still in virgin territory, was in serious jeopardy of never getting in a game…ever.  And just where was Mr. Cohen while this assault was taking place?  Well, he was tucked away in his office of course, blinds drawn, no doubt watching the latest Marilyn Chambers cinematic masterpiece…for the 18th time.

By the way, just for the record, I love gym teachers. I wanted to be one back in the day myself. I thought the whistle was cool and who didn’t want to come to work wearing sweats and sneakers? But, can you imagine the pressure of having to come up with a physical regimen for an entire semester? It’s a brutal job and that’s why there aren’t more gym teachers. If memory serves correctly, our 5th grade Fall semester looked like this:

  • Week one:  tumble
  • Week two:   climb rope
  • Week three: tumble with rope
  • Week four: remedial volleyball
  • Week five: fifty-yard walk and run
  • Week six: dodgeball (kids, take off your glasses!)
  • Week seven:  bounce on trampoline
  • Week eight: bounce on trampoline holding a softball
  • Week nine: softball throw
  • Week ten: retrieve softballs

How many dollars have I spent on therapy concerning the venerable athletic supporter? It was more than a few years ago, why can’t I let it go? Funny this is, they never told us how to wear one. It was assumed that we already knew. Those assumptions were wrong. And what’s with this cup thing? What am I supposed to fill that with? Toilet tissue worked fine for me. I just snapped it on, filled it with toilet paper and I was ready for anything, except of course, Gary Ives.

Let’s not forget the ol’ wet towel snap to fully round out the pleasurable gym experience. Why do young snot nose bullies find that even remotely humorous? Is it because they’ve never been on the receiving end of one? Is it because nobody wants to mess with the bully?  Maybe it’s because that’s as good as their pathetic day will get; inflicting pain on the unsuspecting.  But it’s probably because they know the gym teacher has no plans of blowing his stupid whistle and, truth be told, if he had his way, he would be right there snapping towels himself.

Yes, the memories linger and the therapy continues. And did anybody ever actually learn anything in gym class? No, except it’s best to get a doctor’s note whenever possible. But, after all these years, I take comfort in knowing that my dear classmate, Gary is, more than likely, still in 5th grade and showering with a walker these days. But, if there’s any justice in the world, by now, he’s found himself on the receiving end of several of those atomic wedgies.  “OH, DEAR GOD, BE CAREFUL…THE PROSTATE!”

LOVE THY NEIGHBOR?

 

Neighbors can be very funny, but sometimes not in a ‘ha-ha’ kind of way. It’s more like ‘they need to be institutionalized’ kind of way. My doorbell rang the other afternoon and it was my lovely neighbor. I greeted her in the cordial way I greet everyone with a ‘Hurry up, the game’s on.’ She was holding a split in two plastic flower pot, estimated value: $2.50. She asked me if it was mine. I thought something horrible happened like maybe the wind tossed it around and the jagged edges decapitated her cat. But, no, the wind simply knocked it off its stand and blew it into her yard.

Neighbor: Is this yours?

Bob:  Maybe. It looks like a split in two flower pot, right.

Neighbor: I didn’t want to throw it out myself.

Bob: Why not?

Neighbor: It’s not mine.

Bob: It’s a completely useless, cheap flower pot.

Neighbor: It was in my yard.

Bob: Are you aware that you’re certifiable?

Neighbors puzzle me. Now, call me crazy but if I found a split in two anything that the wind blew into my yard, I would probably just pick up the pieces and toss them in the dumpster. But that’s just me.  Keep in mind that this is the same neighbor who just a few short months ago, came over and handed me an empty Bud Light can. Quickly, what did she ask me at that time? Correct: “Is this yours?”  My jaw dropped then just as it did this time when she rudely interrupted me watching something on TV involving a ball, not sure what it was exactly, but there were men running around on a field in uniforms and they were spitting and that was good enough for me.

Her behavior is extremely puzzling to me. It’s not logical and in many ways it’s troubling. It’s kind of like the NY Giants fan who tells everyone, “Gee, I wonder who we’re going to play in the Super Bowl?”

Having once taken a psychology course in college, I remember stuff.  At least I think it was psychology because the professor had a penchant for flannel shirts, unwashed khaki’s and Birkenstocks. Wait a second…maybe it was a Philosophy course. But I still remember stuff.

Whenever someone continuously reacts in such a dysfunctional manner, I honestly want to gently place my hands on their shoulders, stare into their eyes and ask them at what tender age it was that they came home early from school and saw their mother exchanging ‘tubes’ with the TV repairman? It clearly must have been something equally as traumatic for someone to exhibit these behavioral abnormalities.

So, clearly their actions are suspect, if not downright perplexing. You know how you always see person on the street interviews on the news after someone commits some sort of heinous crime and everyone is just shocked saying things like, “He was a nice guy, I think. That forehead tattoo of Hannibal Lecter was pretty cool. Pretty quiet, kept to himself,” and “I don’t think he bathed very much and he did carry that bayonet everywhere but I, gee, I’m shocked!”   Yeah, well…Okay, now I’m freaking out. Oh my God, is that what I think it is? An empty Snicker’s wrapper just blew into her yard. I have a feeling this isn’t going to end well.

CHOOSING CONTRACTORS: WHAT TO KNOW AND WHEN TO RUN

 

First of all, let me just say that ninety-nine per cent of contractors are brave, kind, thrifty, loyal and obedient and they help little old ladies cross the street…for a small fee. of course. Who knows? Some of them may even wash behind their ears, too. That said, let’s talk about the remaining one percent. These are the contractors I’ve worked with and I want you to learn from my mistakes.

I’m actually starting to think that some of these guys may be living in a parallel universe. They tell you they’re going to show up at ten o’clock in the morning and, in their world, they do. They just don’t live in the same world as we do. Just roll with the punches and please understand that in ex

From personal experience, I caution you to be beware of the landscaper who has a hard time distinguishing between a spade and a hoe. “Mr. Landscaper, can you tell me when a good time to plant Hydrangeas is?” The answer I was definitely not prepared for was, “Oh, right now. Don’t wait. I know it’s only twenty degrees outside but my mortgage is due. Let’s put those suckers in the ground.”

The red flag also needs to be raised when you see a guy who claims he can do it all. I know that in this economy, it’s important to wear several hats but I’m always leery of the guy whose truck reads, “Roofing, Siding, Plumbing, Snow Removal, Electrical, Excavating, Transmission work, Website design and Taxidermy. Please, for the love of God, pick one or two and, for the record, taxidermy and plumbing is not a recommended combination.

Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor some key questions. “Are you insured,” should be at the top of the list.  Do not settle for, “I’m pretty sure,” “Let me get back to you on that,” or “Can you spell that for me?” If you receive any of these answers, all you can do is thank them for their time and remind them that they’re drooling on their Got Brains? tee shirt.

Do you guarantee your work? It’s a great question to ask. The last time I asked that question of a contractor, his response was, “Hey, I guarantee that youse are gonna give me Five-Hundred big ones when I finish, Youse know what I’m talking?” Threatening the client hardly ever works. It did with me, but only because sleeping with the mackerel is not really how I envisioned going out. A simple answer of “Yes, of course I guarantee my work,” and the terms of the guarantee is all that’s really necessary.

You can’t make this stuff up and with that comes a story about the painter whom I should have been suspicious of right from the beginning when I noticed that he wasn’t wearing the requisite crisp, white painter pants. It’s the law, much like electricians must wear a tool belt with the black tape dangling off to the side. For whatever reason, this guy decided to paint AROUND the shrubbery in front of the house. This, you should know, made my house a tourist attraction for which I charged big bucks to see. If they wanted to just stop the car and gawk, it was fifty cents. If they felt the need to get out and take a closer look, it was a dollar.

Beware the contractor who wants to sell you the world. Some of them are notorious for wanting to sell you more than you need. “You’re going to need a new roof, Mr. Miller. There’s no doubt about that.” Some are exceptional at their little spiel. In fact, I’ve witnessed a few that were so good they almost had me convinced that not only did I need a roof but a helicopter pad as well. How good are they? Some of them must take lessons from these college kids who come by selling magazine subscriptions. Oh, the guilt! “Mr. if you don’t buy from me, then you, and you alone, will be responsible for me not winning the trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming with a stop to see the world’s Biggest Ball of Yarn in Ames, Iowa.” Most of us simply can’t handle that kind of pressure, which is why I currently have a two-year subscription to both Knitters Monthly as well as The Anvil (The only publication Blacksmiths need.)

So, tread lightly consumers. Times are tough. Don’t make any snap decisions. Take your time before signing on the dotted line and, most important, ask yourself, “Do I really need that helicopter pad?”

BIRTHDAYS: BAD FOR BUSINESS?

So, it looks like the days of having a glorious career and then collecting your gold watch at a special luncheon held in your honor in the break room are over. It all culminates with a few heartfelt slaps on the back after that delicacy known as delivered pizza is gone. Retirement has taken on a whole new meaning in the last decade. As a matter of fact, I checked Wikipedia and their definition of the word ‘retirement,’ now looks like this:  retirement (ri tir’ment) n. no longer applicable, outdated, antiquated. A nice idea once, but no more.

Economists and prognosticators say that people have to work well beyond typical retirement age just to be able to sustain themselves and their families. Then, the bigger question might be why on Earth do companies look to shelve people who are in their mid-fifties? Once you reach a certain age do you automatically become a liability? What’s the logic in that? Do they feel that you’re more prone to illness thus causing their insurance premiums to rise? Do they feel that the number of birthdays you have is inversely proportional to your productivity scale? Is it the infamous ‘Half/Half/Half’ syndrome where they bring in someone half your age to do half the job you’ve been doing for half the salary?

Let’s use the example of Jim. Now, of course, the name has been changed to protect his true identity, which is James. Jim has gotten up early every morning for the past thirty years to make donut holes. He was good at it, too, really good. Jim might have been the best donut hole maker in the entire state. He could make donut holes that would have you believing that you’re actually eating something good for you. It was with blissful delight that he hopped on that bus every morning. He loved the fact that he could eat while working and then rub these as yet scientifically unknown sugary substances on his apron without getting yelled at. Then, came the big mistake: Jim announced that he was turning fifty-five. With that one seemingly innocuous proclamation, his world would soon be turned upside down. A short time later, Jim was asked to remove his apron and turn in his key. He also had to sign a sworn, notarized statement that he would never, ever reveal the secret ingredient in donut holes. He then grabbed his autographed picture of Mickey Turdowski, Head Chef and owner of The Cows Udder End, and found himself being escorted from the premises.  Why? One too many birthdays.

Jim was replaced almost immediately by a young woman named Deshaniqua whose only experience with quasi food was a server for six weeks at Denny’s. She ended up leaving that job because as she so eloquently put it, “The people were mean and made me wash my hands.” By the way, this is something you might want to keep in mind before running off to World of Donut Holes.

Jim became bitter, angry, confused and lost without his apron. With each passing day, his spirits dimmed, his hopes faded and his disillusionment grew. We caught up with him in his modest half bedroom basement apartment where he told us that he still feels like he’s “at the top of his game.” He is confident that his skills have not eroded. He says with conviction that he could still add a few more Golden Blender Awards to his mantel if given the chance. For the purposes of full disclosure, we looked around and never saw a mantel. In fairness, perhaps he was talking about his card table.  He told us that birthdays should convey experience and pride and not something that anyone should have to hide from an employer. In the meantime, however, he has a message for managers everywhere:  “Don’t sell experience short. If these stupid jerks want to put out a good product, there is no substitute for knowledge and dependability.” Then we detected some slight agitation from Jim as he started throwing cans of Schaeffer beer. Protecting our heads, we made a bee line for the door but not before we heard him yell, “Santa’s old too, ya know, and he still gets it done. In fact, you invite him back every year to break into your house. What’s up? Hey, come on back. I’ll tell you the secret ingredient.”

COME ON IN, THE WATER’S…UM, FREEZING!

 

If you have been following the goings on of the Hudson Valley chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, you already know that every February brings another round of the Subzero Heroes Ice Jump at Berean Lake in Highland, NY. Why do we take the plunge into open waters in upstate New York in the middle of the winter?  Because we’re deeply disturbed individuals, but also because we hate Alzheimer’s.

During my radio career, I’ve been peed on by a circus elephant (which is only slightly preferable to being stepped on by a circus elephant), I’ve been body-slammed by a professional wrestler who called himself The Masked Assassin and I’ve had my head shaved in a bar following a stupid football bet. But, this thing is REALLY NUTS!  Count me in, however, because after witnessing firsthand how Alzheimer’s strips away one’s pride and sense of self and so whittles away at the brain that eventually one forgets how to eat or even in some cases  has no remembrance at all of the Chicago Cubs monumental collapse of 1969. I’m for anything that can raise awareness, even if that involves a little shrinkage.

When my father-in-law, Salvatore, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1994, he was given a clock by the technician and told to move the hands to show the Three O’clock position. Frustrated at not being able to do so, he felt the need to urinate in her flowerpot, thus effectively ending the life of four innocent African Violets who just happened to be in the wrong pot at the wrong time.

The date is Saturday, February 8th and all the information you’ll need is at http://www.subzeroheroes.org. This is the 10th year of the jump and it’s grown into a major fundraiser for The Alzheimer’s Association. Here’s an exclamation point as to the importance of all this: Every 67 seconds, someone in this country is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  I’m sure that Sal who passed from the ravages of this disease 12 years ago, will be viewing this spectacle from his luxury box in the sky saying, “Get some clothes on, you morons!”

I should mention that you don’t actually have to ‘take the leap,’ to assist. You may choose to stay nice and warm on the shore and volunteer. The word we use to describe this group of people is ’Sissies.” No, wait, I’m sorry…I meant ’Sidekicks.’ Yes, that’s it.  In the ice-jumping vernacular, “Heroes” are the jumpers and ’Sidekicks’ are the known as the sane ones.

To help me prepare for this jump every year, I enjoy speaking with a man named Nathan Numb, who happens to be a high ranking member of the Cook County, Illinois Polar Bear Club who run into Lake Michigan every New Year’s Day. He tells me that the second best way to prepare for this jump is too slather your entire body with Vaseline and the absolute best way to prepare is to consume mass quantities of Jack Daniel’s beforehand. Personally, I have been practicing by sleeping in the fridge on alternate nights. I also take an occasional cold shower and, of course, perform the obligatory Hanes Boxer snow shoveling, an event that I trust will soon be a part of every Winter Olympiad.

Psychologists have a term for people who do things like this and I think that term is: mentally unbalanced. Oh, sure, like they’ve never taken a butt naked leap off the pier at the stroke of midnight with champagne bottles in hand to celebrate Sigmund Freud’s birthday. Give me a break.

Remember the date: Saturday, February 8th at Berean Lake in Highland, NY. Again, get all the information on how you can help us find the 1st Alzheimer’s survivor at http://www.subzeroheroes.org. Salvatore gave me some sage advice before Alzheimer’s completely swallowed up his brain and that was, “If you’re going to do something, do it right and try not to screw it up. Now get a haircut!’ We love you, Sal. See you at the lake.

 

 

GENTLEMEN, LOCK UP YOUR UNDIES

 

I know we’ve discussed gym etiquette before in terms of prancing around in your birthday suit as if you were auditioning for a part on Glee, but this is different…and disturbing.

My friend, Ronnie, was just getting out of the shower at Biceps and Bulges, a local gym in Deerfield, Illinois. As he was making his way back to the locker to get dressed, he made a brief stop in front of his best friend, Mr. Mirror, no doubt to admire the results of yet another boot camp type workout, which I’m sure consisted of two minutes on the elliptical followed by fifteen rigorous minutes in the tanning booth. Satisfied with what he saw, he continued on his way. As he reached in his gym bag for his Fruit of The Loom briefs, they were nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, gym bags can look an awful lot alike and it was then that he made the horrible discovery: an elderly man, who was getting dressed next to him was wearing HIS UNDERWEAR! Forget the fact that he had his name written on them with a Sharpie (Ronnie was a Boy Scout and, well, some things stay with you forever).

Ronnie turned ashen and his knees felt weak.  He sat down on the bench to collect his thoughts. He had three options.

Option #1: Tell the old man that he was wearing the wrong underwear

Option #2:  Wear the other guy’s underwear

Option #3: Call it a loss and go home commando.

Ronnie chose option #3 and I applauded him for that choice

Complicating the issue was the fact that Ronnie considered this his (IT) lucky pair. Yes, you read correctly, Ronnie actually has a (IT) lucky pair of underwear. And he wonders why he can never get a date? He told me that he wore this particular pair of underwear when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, when the police officer told him he was free to go and, then last summer when he claimed to have grilled the world’s perfect hot dog. Yes, you would be correct: Ronnie is a nutjob.

My friend is totally beside himself. He feels lost with nowhere to turn. I tried to console him by telling him that if problems with his underwear are his biggest concerns in life, then he really has no problems at all. It didn’t help. When a child’s goldfish goes belly up, you, as a parent do the proper thing: You go to a carnival, try to knock down a stupid metal duck moving sixty miles per hour with a nerf ball, then finally give up and just hand the booth operator a twenty and tell him to give you a goldfish…or else.  I did the same thing here. I went to Kohl’s with my trusty coupon in hand and started underwear shopping. I was looking for something he would feel comfortable wearing, namely a waistband that would stand up after several washings as well as a pair that didn’t require a lot of room in front. Because underwear is packed much like gum, meaning you can’t buy just one piece, I settled on a three for ten-dollar deal, shipped them off to Illinois and am waiting to hear from Ron. Just for the record, this will be the ONLY time ever that I will have a conversation with another man about how his undergarments fit.

Complicating matters further, Ronnie is convinced that the old man, now in possession of his lucky pair of underwear, will suddenly have an incredible run of good luck himself like winning the lottery or waking up in the morning and discovering that his varicose veins have vanished.

Another concern, according to Ronnie, is whether or not he will be able to muster the courage to ever go back to the gym. He’s having nightmares about getting on a treadmill next to this guy and having him say, “Hey, young fella, sorry I took your skivvies by mistake, but they sure are comfy.”

So, men, take it from Ronnie. Lock up your gym bag at all times. Leaving it on the floor can only lead to trouble and embarrassment as well as that slight breezy feeling while leaving the building.