COME ON IN, THE WATERS…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 collapses 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, the technician gave him a clock and told to move his 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 25th and all the information you’ll need is at http://www.subzeroheroes.org. This is the 13th 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 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 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 to 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 25th 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.

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FILL ‘ER UP AND HOLD THE MEAT

OK, I say with a gentle sigh, it’s time for another friendly reminder.  The year is 2023. May we PLEASE stop selling bait on any premises where food is served?  Oh sure, you try to dress them us as ‘night crawlers,’ and put a fancy sign out front but we know they’re worms. Stop it.

Here’s how it all started. Once upon a time, there were three business establishments all on the same winding country road.  There was a gas station, a restaurant, and a bait shop. Then one day, the owner of the gas station had a brainstorm. “What if I sell food and bait along with the gas?  I bet I could make an extra two dollars and fifty cents a week!” Ladies and gentlemen, this was the end of civilization, as we know it. Yes, I’m sure it made it convenient for Jim the angler to come strutting in holding an empty satchel and instructing the clerk to ‘fill it up’ with his finest night crawlers. But suppose they got into a heated discussion about the previous night’s episode of Duck Dynasty on TV and concentration was lost for even a second?  C’mon, when the blood starts to boil, bacon and worms can look an awful lot alike.

Goober:          Hey Jim Bob, why is that sandwich moving across the counter?

Jim Bob:        Oh, you’re cruising for a piledriver, bud!

On the other hand, who among us didn’t serve our little sisters the occasional worm sandwich with mayo on Wonder bread from time to time? But we’re adults now and worms do not belong anywhere within twenty- five miles of where food is being served! I really can’t think of anything more unappetizing. OK, maybe that cylindrical piece of questionable twenty-five-day-old meat slowly spinning on the roller at the convenience store, but beyond that, I can’t think of anything.

Hey, I’m now knocking the hard-working people who sell bait exclusively. How about the hundreds of thousands of dollars they spent on schooling just to learn how to sell bait? What happens to them when you try to hone in on their business?   They’ll go out of business, their kids will have to go around without shoes, their poor spouses have to pick up a side hustle, that, by the way, is illegal in most states, and the whole family will have to head off to  that convenience store and eat that dried out piece of shoe leather on the spinning roller.

Let’s forget for just a moment that in a recent survey, 85% of people actually preferred the taste of unleaded regular to the ninety-nine cent breakfast specials at quick stops.  It’s a scientific fact that the sight of slithering invertebrates appearing anywhere near where food is being served is likely to cause an unpleasant intestinal reaction resulting in huge laundry bills. I say stick to what you do best. Restaurants should serve food. They’re well equipped to do so. They have highly paid and competent professionals with aprons, spiral notepads, and clean fingernails eager to jot down our every wish. They also have something called silverware. Overall, it makes for a nice dining experience. So, if you’re an entrepreneur who wants to delve into the wonderful world of bait, then sell all-season radials or chewing tobacco, or work gloves, just leave the food preparation to the pros. For Heaven’s sake, what’s next:  Barnes and Noble booksellers dispensing specialty coffees?

THE SUBSTITUTE

Where did everyone go?  I went to the pharmacy the other day to pick up the Prozac the doctor prescribed for my depression caused by the USA losing to The Netherlands at the World Cup.

I stepped up only to see my friend, Jim, working the counter. “Jim, what are you doing?” I asked.  He told me they were looking for someone who was able to communicate with people and smile a lot. He said that once he told them he could do that, he was hired on the spot. He added all he had to do was memorize the sentence, ‘We’ll be with you shortly.’ I shook my head and asked him if my Prozac was ready. He then asked me, “What’s that? Does it come in like one of those little bottles?”

Oh, Jesus…where did the qualified people go. It seems like every store we go into now has people who are clearly not qualified to do the job. I realize that the pandemic gave many a chance to re-think their current positions and explore more enjoyable options than punching a time clock as well as an occasional co-worker, but c’mon people.

Forget the fact that trying to reach a business on the phone has long since disappeared, can we really trust someone like Jim, whose last job was Popcorn Popper at Marvin’s Movie Arcade to be passing out prescribed medication to the public?

I was in the bank not long ago and barely recognized the place. The tellers that I had come to know and appreciate and who were always there with a smile and a lollipop were nowhere to be found. I asked for a checking account withdrawal slip and the young man with earspools approximately the size of truck tires and a neck tattoo that read, ‘Dragon,’ said, ‘Sure. Do you know what one looks like?’

Hey, let’s step inside the supermarket. Do you recognize anything? Let me help you out. Eight cashier stations, six of which are closed, leaving a total of two open, one of which has a cashier who is currently on ‘break.’ You can tell they were just yanked off the street because they still have their coats on and the look on their faces was one of someone who just emerged from a six-year coma. What happened, people?  Did you all leave for ‘greener pastures’ during the pandemic? Well, congratulations. As a result, our pastures are now nothing but a brown, brittle, dried-out tinderbox.

We need you back. This is a blemish on our entire country.  Nobody’s where they should be. We, as card-carrying American consumers demand better. The world is crumbling in front of our very eyes. To help entice employers from all service areas to do the right thing and bring back the old guard, the Society for Consumers Against Replacements (S.C.A.R.) is prepared to offer a handsome stipend. In addition to receiving a grainy 5×7 photo of the person you helped bring back into the fold, you will also receive a shiny 2022 penny glued to the cover letter as a display of our undying gratitude.

The world must return to some semblance of normalcy and we all must get involved because, as I write this, Jim, over at the pharmacy is handing a very confused customer a bottle of  Pedialyte for foot fungus!

I NEED SPACE

These three little words can really pack a wallop. If said in conjunction with your house, you’re probably talking about knocking a wall down. If a shuttle astronaut utters them, he’s talking about the love he has for his job. If, however, they cross the lips of someone involved in a relationship, loosely translated, it means, ‘dinner for one.’

I made the mistake of asking my high-strung but very lovely friend, Alana, how she and Steve were doing. She told me that he said he needed space. Tears welled up in her eyes and within seconds, the dam had completely burst. I hugged her and then stuck a pin in my arm as a reminder to never again ask her that question.

She wanted my help. “What does that mean,” she asked? I tried to put a positive spin on it and told her that it was no big deal. It probably meant that he wanted to spend more time with the guys, go to strip clubs, get hammered to the gills, and re-discover the joys of strange, naked women with loose morals. I then jabbed myself with the pin again realizing I wasn’t being much help. I was quick to add, though, that if he were to ever do that, I was sure he would use a designated driver.

I told her that after he spends a couple of nights home alone, he’ll realize how much he misses her and come racing back. “Do you think it may have been the Dr. Scholl’s bunion pads I gave him for his birthday,” she asked? Once again, I gave her a hug and said, “Some guys just don’t appreciate the simple things in life.” “I was only thinking of him. He walks a lot,” she blubbered. Continuing, she said, “It’s just that I’m having so many problems right now, you know. My accountant wanted to get together Saturday to do my taxes but I had a manicure appointment AT THE SAME TIME and then the cable guy came over and told me that I need a new cable box and he won’t have one until next week. How am I going to record Mob Wives on VH1? And as if that’s not enough, Bob, they’re really putting pressure on me to get an extended warranty on my dishwasher. I don’t even have a damn dishwasher! I can’t do it all.” 

Bob:     How long have the two of you been together?

Alana:   Almost six months. No wait, I think it’s eight or maybe a year.

Bob:     I’m shocked.

Alana:   That I can’t remember exactly how long?

Bob:     No, that he hasn’t shot himself. I mean, right, yes, that he’s an idiot for

              leaving you. That’s what I meant.  Don’t worry. He’ll be back.

Alana:   You’re not very good at this are you?

Bob:     No. Not one of my strong points. 

Alana, men are fickle sometimes. Mighty fickle. Sometimes a full tank of gas and the lure of an open road is too much to resist. If he comes back and you still tingle at the thought of his touch, good for you.  But, should he choose to follow the open road until he finds the elusive exit called Happiness, I hope he gets sucked in by the mother of all potholes. But, hey, I hear that cable guys are pretty good listeners and, as I recall, you always were a sucker for tool belts.

KEEP THOSE MASKS HANDY

What’s worse than a close talker? The answer is a close talker who also happens to be a food sprayer (C.T.F.S.) It’s not a good combination. I bring it up because I had another sloppy encounter recently while I was, not coincidentally, shopping for a few new shirts that were not permanently stained by the very food sprayer we’re talking about here.

As anyone who has fallen prey knows, these people are very difficult to escape from. They just keep coming. Sure, you keep back peddling trying to dodge pieces of flying avocados, but they just keep advancing, totally oblivious to the fact that they’re invading your territory and ruining your shirt in the process. What’s bound to happen is because you keep backing up, however slowly, you’re going to eventually back into a wall…walls are everywhere…and then, you’re kinda screwed…nowhere to go….and the close talker/food sprayer (C.T.F.S.) is still oblivious to the fact that you’ve actually moved what seems like about a half mile during the course of his conversation…and you end up with a completely chewed meal on your shirt, plastered against a stupid wall about a mile from where you parked your car!

You would be well within your rights to question what possesses someone to behave that way. Of course, you could always be slightly rude and ask them if they wanted their cheeseburger back but that would probably fall on deaf ears, so why bother? The only thing to do is just go home, throw your clothes in the laundry and jump in the shower.

It’s one of those behaviors that everyone but the offender notices. Very similar to that guy you see at the mall who just lowers his trousers in center court to give himself a big ‘ol ‘man scratch.’ He’s totally oblivious that everyone within a 500-foot radius of Orange Julius sees what he’s doing and but he just keeps scratchin’ away…and probably drooling.

To research this column, I spent six grueling hours sitting in the food court observing people chewing and talking. I learned several things but perhaps the most constant behavior was the food most likely to be chewed and then sprayed during a conversation were the free samples given out at Kung Yun Ho’s Chicken Palace. Why that one? From my observations, I believe it’s because they’re free and, consequently no one really cared if they spit it back up. Just spit-balling…so to speak.

Because the offenders aren’t aware of their actions, we, as attentive adults, must do the job for them and if that means toting a facemask with us everywhere we go, so be it. It’s common for adult birds to chew their baby’s food before giving it to them but humans don’t do that (with a few exceptions in rural Alabama), so let’s up our game people. Let’s take a stand for all food sprayer recipients (FSR). We will take it no more.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to buy some more shirts.

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.

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.