Inanimate Objects

The other day I bought a little wireless mouse for my lap top. I get home, excited about not having to use that touch pad thingie anymore, and I can’t for the life of me, open the package. It’s one of those sealed all around the edges, hard plastic packages. I started muttering expletives at whoever the idiot was that designed these things. Flipping it over several times, I decide the only way to do this without cutting myself is with scissors. I can’t find the scissors. Apparently the flashlight and the scissors are hanging out somewhere because I can never find it either.

In the midst of this debacle, I’m thinking I wasn’t meant to exist in the physical world. Somewhere along life’s path I chose an intellectual course over the physical one. Me thinking that is probably a self preservation trick, I’m sure. The kind the body produces to stop trauma. Still, it exasperates me. I seem to be constantly engaged in an endless war with inanimate objects. I am in total awe of pilots, skateboarders, circus acrobats and people who can rub their belly with one hand and pat their head with the other. How does that skateboard follow its owner’s feet into the air without the aid of velcro or rubber bands? It’s in utter contempt of gravity. Gravity rules me, why not them? And here I sit struggling with a hard plastic clamshell package. It’s going to hurt me before it’s all over with, I know it. For me, daily life is a comedy of minor mishaps. My patron saint should be Tim the tool man Taylor.

I have a pot on the counter that has been soaking for most of the day. (Yeah, I can’t cook beans either) It’s literally three feet from the paper towel dispenser. I want one, single paper towel, and the entire roll falls perfectly in the pot. A math professor couldn’t have calculated the exact trajectory any better. I add one magazine to the pile next to the toilet, and triggered an avalanche of paper that sent my dogs into hysterics. I pull my boat registration sticker out of the envelope, dropped it at the foot of my work bench and watched it vanish into thin air.

I know I invite most of these disasters through my own ignorance. Stuff like placing a glass of tea on the sofa cushion. The cushion is firm and level, the glass is three-quarters empty and the dogs are nowhere in sight. It is a blatant infraction of universal law. I trust the sofa and the laws of physics to hold the glass upright, and I’m always shocked when it fails. Some people just have a better understanding of nature and physics than others. It must be in the DNA. The forces that govern my world refuse to tolerate even a minimal level of risk. I remove a freshly broiled steak from the oven, balancing it on a spatula in one hand while transferring it to my plate with the other. The spatula is wide enough, my hand is steady enough, and at the last second, the spatula tilts one degree farther than the maximum steak flip angle. I carefully arrange all the grocery bags on the seat of my truck. A highly trained NASA engineer couldn’t do it any better, then drive home. You would think I could complete the twenty minute trip home with the grocery bags intact. Of course not. They fall in the floorboard, mostly upside down, and the contents always achieve a perfect state of chaos.

Knowing these things are going to happen should stop me from trying to put the steak on a plate with one hand or walking anywhere near the paper towels but it doesn’t. It is against my very nature. A cat may land feet first but buttered bread always lands butter side down. And shouting at grocery bags? Save your breath. Apparently they only hear what they want to hear.

Men vs. Women

Why is it that God has seen fit to make women and men so different? Besides the obvious differences, genitalia, femininity, child bearing and menstrual cycles, there are a thousand diametrical contradictions between us. It’s because of his sense of humor, that’s why. He had just finished building the earth, heavens and eternity and when Sunday rolled around it was Miller time or something. He made Adam, borrowed a rib and then came Eve. THAT is where things got messed up right there. I bet the first thing Adam had to do was take out the trash, sore ribs and all. She didn’t care that God hadn’t created light yet. She was perfectly happy bitchin’ in the dark.

I’ve heard it said a million times that men will never understand women. I beg to differ. We DO understand women, we just don’t frickin believe it that’s all. Argue, argue, argue, bitch, bitch, bitch. Man. All the time. They say never go to bed mad at each other. Really? What does that even mean? Stay up and fight? Women know stuff that men don’t and it’s not fair. They have long memories too. Why is it that in the midst of a heated argument, they will bring up something that happened five years ago that has nothing to do with what we’re arguing about? Nothing. In shock, we stand there with that dumbfounded, deer in the headlights look trying to figure out what just happened. It changed the whole topic. And while we’re standing there in total disbelief trying to figure out what just happened, they are so far along in their wailing we have no choice but to give up and lose. It’s at this juncture we know it’s over and anything said past this point is the start of a brand new argument.

My wife not only knows every single birthday and anniversary in her family, but mine too! I don’t care who you are, this is contrary to the ordinary course of nature. Borderline savant. She’s damn hard to argue with I’ll tell you that. Sometimes I feel like we, as men, don’t have much of a chance. And boy do they love their children. I’m not saying men don’t, we do, just not like they do. Women know every little detail about them. Birthdays, allergies, likes, dislikes, boyfriends and how to buy school supplies. They know shoe sizes, how big they are in the waist, what their favorite colors are. Men are vaguely aware of some little people living in the house. In all fairness, and I’ve always said, if it weren’t for women there would be, like 6 people on the planet. Yeah we’re different. I guess it’s better that way somehow. I just wish the footing was a little more even that’s all.
As it is, women will always sit and listen to a ten year old for an hour talk about how he almost caught a fly ball, and be just as proud of them as they can be. But men? We’ll always want to knock a fart out of him for making an error in left field.

A Day in Sam’s Life…

So I went to the pharmacy to pick up some Super Spike styling gel. I was milling around the back of the store pondering over the vast assortment of hair styling products. All of a sudden a blonde cashier from the front raced past me and alerted another staffer that a woman was trying to make off with some stolen goods. One of the pharmacist’s, another blonde, slightly older, left her station and followed the action toward the front of the store. My curiosity, like always, was rampant and the Super Spike could wait. I assumed a stealth mode and followed behind them.

The thief, a medium sized woman, knew the jig was up. She was shuffling down the aisle in quick small steps. An obvious attempt to dodge her pursuers. The posse now included a balding store manager and two apprehensive blonde clerks. Watching from behind the Max Factor display, I noticed the alleged thief wore no brassiere or shoes. She was dressed in a skimpy light brown top and black stretch pants. She did have on socks, and her breasts were swaying uncontrollably. I immediately felt sorry for her. I was trying desperately to telepathically inform her to drop the stuff, they can’t get you if it’s still in the store. It was like, an automobile accident unfolding in front of you and instinctively you slam on your brakes as if to save them. And like I was in a combat zone trying not to get shot, I found myself creeping from the Max Factor display to between the Revlon and the sunglass case.

With cat like instincts I watched. I was now in the perfect position to observe. A heavy vapor of body odor hit me like an invisible fog. It was so intense that it actually overpowered the Obsession sitting on the shelf beside me. The thief had moments before scrambled down this aisle and I had mistakingly stumbled into her wake. She could have been anywhere from thirty to fifty. Cinching the noose, they stopped her at the door just short of the Duracell batteries. The store manager, accompanied by his two clerks, good-naturedly attempted to gain her confidence. I could make out only parts of the conversation. She looked straight ahead, avoiding eye contact with everyone. She had an unnatural high-pitched tone. The kind that makes you want to clear your throat. I felt sorry for her even more. Embarrassed for her.

The store manager evidently felt her to be harmless enough, he was talking to her in sympathetic, almost caring tones. Although his physical appearance left a little to be desired, I admired his tact and sensitivity. For a moment I thought he was reaching her. I could hear her voice shifting from the high-pitched tone to something resembling adult speech. The two of them disappeared around the corner of another aisle. Damn. I had to find different cover. As I was making my move, the manager made a strategic blunder. He moved around her in an attempt to lead her down the aisle she had came from. This left a huge opening in the snare. She seized her opportunity for freedom. Just as an oblivious customer was coming in, and the automatic door opened, she bolted out, startling everyone. She was clutching some small object in her hand.

She bounded across the parking lot crossing the busy street. The balding store manager and his blonde assistants made a feeble attempt to chase her, but decided that whatever it was she had done wasn’t worth the effort. The madwoman was running though one of the widest and busiest streets in the area, and we all watched in horror as she charged blindly across it. I expected to see a flattened carcass at any moment. Flashes of Eyewitness news crews and Life Flight raced through my mind. I could see myself explaining the whole torrid story bravely to a beautiful brunette roving reporter, sadly grimacing while nodding my head from side to side. But, she survived. Turns out she could run remarkably well for an overweight madwoman. She sprinted through the Block Buster parking lot, maneuvered a corner like Mario Andretti and vanished from sight. Carl Lewis couldn’t have caught her. I returned to the Super Spike, slightly shaking, and resumed my original quest. As I paid for the gel, I chatted with the young blonde who had now returned to her station shakily. I asked what the woman had stolen. Turns out, she had taken nothing. The small object she was clutching in her hand was a pack of gum the store manager had given her in return for surrendering the stolen goods. And what was it that she had attempted to steal in the first place? Deodorant, the girl told me. It now all made perfect sense.

Growing Old…

At 59, I think I’ve noticed that deterioration has not only become foreseeable but inevitable. I feel like one of those public statues that attract pigeons. I’ve crossed the half-century mark, and already sense the whoosh of angel wings around my shoulders. I find it shocking, and scary, that I’m now closer to eighty than twenty, closer to ninety than ten. I swear it was only yesterday that I was throwing baseballs over our house and screaming “Annie Over”. Now I have little hairs sprouting from various parts of my nose and ears. The barber’s scissors have become a nuisance in only reminding me of the march of time.

My ten-year-old inner self still grimaces at the reading glasses that lay on virtually every table at my house. The flecks of white in the eyebrows and beard, the wrinkles that seem to grow everyday. As an analogy, I think life is a lot like a toaster. You go in soft, pliable, and out pops a dried up old person. I guess that beats not popping out at all. Over the coming years I can look forward to liver spots, failing memory, calcified arteries, digestive miseries, prostate and bladder complaints, faulty hearing, sadistic joints and those damn free radicals overtaking every cell in my body. I’ve already shrunk half an inch from my once proud six-foot three inch stature. It doesn’t seem possible that I’ve already outlived most of my friends and some of my family, considering all that I’ve done. Hell, if I were to keel over tomorrow I’d be less famous than a Chia Pet. That’s a sad piece of information right there.

It’s already too late for me to become an astronaut or a nuclear physicist or maybe a writer. And as proof of that fact, I just gave up on finding three synonyms for “detestable.” What’s even more troubling than the relentless march of time is its damnable tendency to accelerate as we age. When I was a child of six, one year was an entire universe of discovery and jubilation, a vast arena in which every experience tasted like a new ice cream flavor. Peach today, Rocky Road tomorrow. A year represented a massive chunk of my child life. But now, being a man of age, a year encompasses a mere two percent of the territory, a barely perceptible blip on the scale of a life time. Days become weeks, weeks become months, months become years. I’m thinking of all the time I’ve spent checking e-mail, brushing my teeth, driving, nodding off during business meetings, or reading the sports section for the thousandth time. Add up all those forgettable moments and it’s no wonder I misplace car keys, forget to water the garden or wash the damn truck. Hell, sometimes I misplace an entire decade.

Although, I’m not without weapons in the war against time. None of us are. I mean, if you think about it. I snatch victories when and where I can by creating moments, like walking in the rain, fishing on a beautiful lake in the evening or appreciating how the sun looks as it too, disappears over the horizon. But even those memories recede eventually. I try and fill my life with the love of family and friends. But even my favorite people tend to mutate over time. Sometimes into odd and unrecognizable people. I have convinced myself that I’m growing in wisdom, even though I’m losing mental dexterity along with precious I.Q. points seemingly everyday. I argue that time and gravity are the same. Both pulls us into a steeper and faster descent, we narrow our focus to the path ahead, dodging the occasional obstructions, hitting one every now and then. They seem to just poke up from no where. In the descent, you begin to spot the bodies of the luckless ones who crashed or spun out of control, former people you’ve known who came to grief in their own descent. We pass them, we pass everything in a blur as we accelerate, thinking we’re still in control, but no one ever survives that sudden stop. It’s like jumping from a 50 story building. Down around the 25th floor or so, you’re thinking, well, so far so good. Cause of death? Stop trauma. We then close our eyes and enter the next realm of possibility.

Low Riders

Today I saw a kid, who couldn’t have been no more than 12. His pants were down over his hips and just above his penis. I am sure this appendage was the only thing keeping his pants from falling off completely. He would take three steps and pull them up, take three steps and pull them up. Without realizing, his taste in fashion, or lack thereof, is leading to a compulsive disorder that could possibly stay with him into adulthood. What is up with kids these days? Maybe his family lineage has a long line of plumbers. Maybe it’s really not butt crack just rear cleavage. Maybe his gene pool needs some chlorine. Is it a tough boy thing? Showing your crack builds street cred’s or something. There are probably degrees of street credits. Like, no belt, you’re cool, but a novice, 1 credit. No belt, small shoestring around two belt loops, add a slight droop 2 street cred’s and you can hang out behind the gym with the rest of the fashion challenged. Sagger’s, low riders, what do you call them? There is legislation in some states that actually prohibit this style of dress with fines and jail sentences for non-conformists. I guess it’s good that the government has stepped in to help the rest of us respectable citizens with real class.
I just hope they don’t make me remove my dangling bull nuts from my truck bumper…

Things better left unsaid

We’ve all had those times when something comes out of our mouths that was meant to stay locked away forever. Except of course those things you can’t wait to share with your best friend and only if it’s behind the other persons back. I knew the meatloaf was horrendous and instantly thought meatlump, definitely not meatloaf. But in saying so, and using my most sweetest tone, a cataclysmic chain of events set in motion that made the Big Bang theory look like snap, crackle, pop. Apparently when asked if I liked it, I missed that suttle expression on her face. Men know that look. We have been genetically bred for thousands of years to aim ahead of the fleeing antelope, what formation to use against an attacking tribe, how to keep beer at that perfect temperature. At the top of all our survival instincts is knowing “that look”. That look of pride in knowing something they’ve done is remarkable. That look of, go ahead, say it, I’m awesome. It’s a twitch of the eyebrow, that certain purse of the lips, the look in their eyes. I totally missed it. Damn. And women have remarkable memories. It’s been 12 years since I’ve had meatloaf. I got it at Golden Corral one time and she made me put it back. Yes, we all say things that are better left unsaid. My buddy told me it has happened to him as well. The other night he and his wife were eating dinner and having a casual conversation. He told me, what I meant to say was “honey would you please pass the peas..”, but it came out “you fat cow, you’ve ruined my friggin’ life.” It’s been two weeks now and he’s still on my couch. They’re trying to work it out through counciling.

Male doing laundry

I hate doing laundry. I hate it so much that I wait until everything I own is dirty before I face it.  Why is it that women know the difference between the colors and the whites? Men don’t. To us it’s simple. If it’s underwear or T-shirts it’s white, everything else is colors. We bought a new Samsung front loading washer. I know that Samsung makes TV’s, DVD players and Cellphones, none of which I can operate very well, why I would think a washer would be any different is beyond me. It has a Sanitizing cycle, Bedding cycle, Steam cycle, Normal cycle, Delicate cycle, hot wash, cold rinse, warm wash, cold rinse , cold wash, hot rinse, normal load, Jumbo load, large load, small load and automatic load. Why isn’t automatic load all there is? I’m sure this thing would get HBO if I could figure out how to hook it to the dish. With me it’s automatic load, hot wash and cold rinse. Period. Everything I own has a red or blue tint to it. I have come to think of this as a character trait and not a sign of failure. Once the washing is done comes the real work. Drying and folding. It always starts like this;  Take everything out of the washer and throw it in the dryer. Set the heat as high as it will go so it will finish faster and I can get this over with as soon as possible. I start the dryer and then watch it like a hawk. When it’s almost stopped spinning, I fling the door open, ignoring the burns from the steel tumbler and red hot zippers, and pull everything out into my basket. Like a nascar driver coming out of turn four, I open the garage door slinging it wide, and send my two dogs scrambling for cover in terror. I’ve cleared off the couch, and the end tables and usually a TV tray that has become a permanent piece of living room furniture. I dump the basket on the couch and begin separation.  I have a particular style of lint removal that I am very proud of. I pick each garment up and raising them over my head I snap them downward in a whipping motion that a ringmaster controlling a tiger would be proud of. It didn’t take me but twice to remember the ceiling fan. In one solid move two things happen. One, the lint is removed completely and two, the dogs bolt upright ready to fight or flee. The shirts and pants that need hanging are immediately removed from the pile and the lint removal process applied. I rush to the bedroom, grab seven hangers, rush back, put them on the hangers and then hang them on the door jamb. Now on to separation completion. It’s usually during this second separation process that I discover one of my wife’s favorite rayon, nylon, polyester, whatever, blouse, shirt, top or whatever, in the mix. It now fits an eight year old. Damn. Thinking quickly, I wrap it in a newspaper to conceal it and throw it away. One of my daughters will get blamed for stealing it eventually. I can live with that. I then start with my favorite logo Tee’s. I apply the lint removal process to each, smoothing them out and lay them on a flat spot on the couch. Next are the shorts and then the socks, underwear and white T-shirts. Now I fold, beginning a stack on the coffee table with my Logo Tee’s. Then the shorts, then the white T-shirts, underwear and socks. I leave the underwear until last because no one cares if they’re wrinkled or not. Well, maybe Mom…she used to tell me I should always have on clean underwear so if I got in an accident the EMT’s or Doctors wouldn’t think less of me.The dogs have came out from their shelter now, stretching, but still keeping a wary eye on me. I take the one sock that doesn’t have a match to my overflowing orphan sock drawer. I have socks in there from 1982. Making seven trips, I put everything else away. Done. Record time of…2 hours and 45 minutes. Now, I feel like I’m a pretty darn normal person, but…is it like this in every household? I get up the next day, do my coffee thing, shower and get dressed. My clothes are wrinkled and have a red tint, but at least they smell like springtime in the Rockies. Or that’s what they’re supposed to smell like, I’ve never been to the Rockies….

Constant Struggle

I am always in a constant struggle in some part of my life. It’s a never ending battle of how to get by. I went to Brookshire Brothers to pick up some toilet paper and came close to a coronary when I saw the entire aisle filled with a virtual cornucopia of defication removal products. There was Cottonelle, Northern, Charmin, the list was endless. I thought about the bears on TV, you know, the ones that have the toilet paper lint stuck to their butts? I couldn’t for the life of me remember what brand they used. I certainly have enough problems in my life without having to worry about lint on my butt. The prices were ridiculous. The cheap kind was one ply and I know what a bad idea that is. Are there really people out there that use one ply? I will always wonder who they are and vow to never shake their hand again. Unless of course they’re of Arab descent. Their culture uses the left hand for this cumbersome, but necessary deed. I walked from one end of the aisle to the other. I remember thinking, what a booming business this is. In the old days people used grass, leaves, fur, mussel shells and of course who doesn’t remember their grandmothers Sears and Roebuck catalog. At my age, my brain has become a 20 terabyte hard drive filled with useless information. To prove it, did you know that “splinter free” toilet paper didn’t come out until 1935? Can you imagine? After the fourth trip down the aisle and passing the Angel Soft I decide to not put myself through this any longer. I will put toilet paper out of my mind for good and let my wife deal with this. As I am leaving I pass a woman pushing her basket and I wonder, is she a “wadder” or a “folder”?