Thursday, December 13, 2018

Another Story about Mom

This will be my family’s first Christmas without mom. A weird feeling has inhabited me knowing there are no gifts to buy for her and not seeing her stocking shaped like a teddy bear hanging over the fireplace at my sister’s house. Certain Christmas songs have left me weepy when listening to them which never happened before. We’ve been combating that by telling stories about mom that make us smile. This is one of mine.

Mom loved tennis. She watched every tournament on TV, even the older, retired players who developed their own tour. She always wanted to go to one of the 4 majors. Three of them were ruled out because they were overseas in England, France and Australia and mom was afraid to fly. She once asked me if it was possible to get to Wimbledon by boat.

That left the last major of the year, the US Open in New York which is a convenient 3-hour train ride from where we live in Pennsylvania. Mom found a travel agency whose whole business was booking tennis tours. They get you tickets, hotel rooms and have a shuttle to take you to and from the tennis center in Queens. The last piece of the puzzle was someone to go with her because this was something mom would never do on her own.

It was 1998 and mom caught me at a time in my life when I had money in the bank, so I agreed to go with her. Our tickets got us assigned seats in Arthur Ashe Stadium, but we could sit anywhere we wanted at any other court. One day we got to the Louis Armstrong Stadium early to sit in a courtside box to watch Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Cedric Pioline of France. It was a great match. It went 5 sets, and the quality of play was very high.

At some point during one of the change-overs where the players change sides, Bjorkman was directly in front of us facing the other way. Mom leaned into me and said, “You know, Jonas has a really cute butt.”

Now, understand . . . I know . . . I mean, I get . . .

Look, I know she had every right to admire Jonas Bjorkman’s backside. It’s just not what I expected my 70-year-old mother to say to me. I believe I responded “Ooooookay,” which made her laugh. Then she doubled down.

“I know it’s a silly thing to say, but he does have a really nice butt.”

So, I looked for myself.

“Yeah, ok,’ I said to mom. “You’re right. He does have a nice butt.”

This made her laugh again.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A New Theory

In my department at work we have a mix of introverts and extroverts which can make for interesting conversations and vivid reactions to life events. Recently a team member got married and didn’t tell anyone. When another team member found out, a week later, there was a rainbow explosion of questions, accusations, congratulations, more questions, incredulous expressions and open-mouthed staring. Guess which one was which, vis-a-vis extravert vs. introvert?

The whole scene was extremely amusing, and a vision popped into my head of how introverts and extroverts exist and interact.

We introverts live in our own private bubbles, meandering through space, sometimes bumping into one another. A quick wave or head nod and we’re on our way into the opposite direction.

The extroverts exist in the theoretical space between our bubbles, zooming all over with jet packs, yelling to one another, screaming with delight as they tell each other absolutely everything they think or feel, absorbing each other’s energy to fuel their rockets.

When an extrovert sees an introvert bubble they can’t help themselves. They fly over and pound on the bubble begging “Let me in, let me in, let me in, let me in, let me in, let me in . . . .” We try to float away but our bubbles do not have jet propulsion. We glide on a wave of peace and quiet contemplation. We try to hide behind our books or iPads but the extrovert knows we’re home because we’re always home.

“Let me in let me in let me in let me in let me in let me in.”

Eventually, through sheer force of will, the extrovert bursts the introvert bubble and the onslaught begins.

“Oh my God, you got married? Why didn’t you say anything? When did this happen? Why did it happen? How did you decide? Why didn’t you say anything? Where did you go? Is that your ring? Why didn’t you tell us? What is wrong with you? Are you happy? Why didn’t you tell me? How long have you been planning this? Was it your idea? Was it her idea? Why didn’t you say anything? Oh my God!”

Finally, the extrovert will run out of steam, leaving to find another extrovert to tell the story to so they can re-fill their jet pack. The introvert repairs his bubble and floats away into the ether.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

A Story about My Mom

My mom passed away a few months ago, in August. I miss her every day, but this is not to mourn my mother. I’ve done that, so now it is about celebrating who she was. To give a small illustration of that I’m going to tell a story that happened about 15 years ago.

Mom was all about her family, taking care of us, being with us. There was no one she’d rather spend time with than her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

My siblings and I like to get together and play games. We’ve had poker nights or hours of 500 Rum. We also enjoy board games, especially trivia games like Trivial Pursuit. Mom always played too. She was good at cards, pulling out a full house when you thought your 3-of-a-kind was good or laying down 3 aces in 500 Rum with a sheepish smile. She struggled more with the trivia but liked to play because she said she learned so much during the game.

One night, years ago, we were playing Trivial Pursuit and one of the questions mom got, followed by the answer she gave, will remain with me forever because of the boisterous laughter it produced.

This was the original version of Trivial Pursuit. Mom landed on the science category and I was reading the question:

Where is the medulla oblongata located?

The answer is the brain. My brother, sister and I gave each other looks that indicated we all knew the answer so we’re just waiting for mom.

I watched mom’s face as she scrunched up her mouth and said “Oh boy” under her breath. She dropped her eyes to the floor as she thought. After about 30 seconds she looked at me and said, “I don’t know . . . Italy?”

The laughter that followed was unrestrained, and after her children’s heads dropped to the table because we couldn’t breathe, mom joined in. Soon all our faces were red from lack of oxygen. I looked at mom and she said, “I guess that’s not the right answer.”

I found enough breath to say “No, no it’s not.”

Bad jokes were bandied about like:

I hope to get to Italy someday to see the medulla oblongata.

I hear the medulla oblongata is beautiful in the spring.

Is that where the Pope sleeps in the Vatican?

When I was finally able to speak I said, “The answer is the brain.”

Mom replied, “The brain? I’d rather go to Italy.”

And the laughter started all over again.

Miss you mom.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Jeff Flake and Susan Collins Go to Dinner

Waiter to Susan Collins: What can I get for you?

Susan Collins: Nothing too spicy, but nothing too bland. Not sure yet.

Waiter to Jeff Flake: Are you ready to order sir?

Jeff Flake: I don’t need a menu, I’ll have the alfredo.

Two women behind Flake begin chanting.

Two women: Jeff Flake he’s the best, he would never order without seeing the rest.

Jeff Flake: Perhaps you’re right. I will look at a menu.

The women begin swaying in unison and singing.

Two women: Jeff Flake we love you, oh yes we do . . .

Jeff Flake, eyes misting: This is such an important decision. I don’t want to be locked in a room and forced into anything. I’d like to bring my wife down to the restaurant and get her input.

Waiter: What?

Susan Collins: Hmmm, such a difficult decision. I’m going to call Chuck Grassley for advice.

Collins gets out her cell phone.

Susan Collins: Chuck?

Chuck Grassley: Can’t talk now Susie Q. Just told a democrat to piss off and it gave me a hard-on. First one since ‘06! Taking advantage and jerkin’ it as we speak.

Susan Collins: Jerkin’ it?

Chuck Grassley: You know what I mean; you’ve been doing it to Maine for years. Ohhhhh Louie CK! Damn that felt good.

Susan Collins: Well, he was no help.

Waiter: I just need a dinner selection . . .

Susan Collins: I need time to study this menu. It’s so voluminous it’s like being assaulted. And this separate list of specials keeps staring at me.

Jeff Flake: My wife is here.

Waiter: Why don’t you just have the salmon? It was Mr. Weinstein’s favorite.

Jeff Flake to his wife: Honey, could you please investigate the dinner choices? Take your time.

Two women: Jeff Flake, he’s our man, he listens to women . . . sort of

Flake’s wife: I’m doing this against my will. I’ll be back in five minutes.

Jeff Flake: That’s fine, but if the beef looks fraudulent in any way, I don’t want it.

Susan Collins to waiter: What do you think?

Waiter: I wish you two weren’t my customers.

Susan Collins: Do they massage, braise, bruise, touch or lick the chicken breast before cooking it?

Waiter: Why would they . . .

Jeff Flake: Oh good. My wife is back.

Two women: Jeff Flake . . . we thought he’d do the right thing

Flake’s wife: Get the Cobb salad.

Jeff Flake: Did you check out the kitchen?

Flake’s wife: No.

Jeff Flake: Did you sample any of the food?

Flake’s wife: No.

Jeff Flake: Did you speak to the chef?

Flake’s wife: No.

Jeff Flake: Good enough for me. Waiter, I’ll have the Cobb salad. I feel drunk with power right now.

Flake’s wife: I feel used. I’m going home.

Two women: Jeff Flake, he was our man, until he let us down . . . again

Waiter: One Cobb salad. And for the lady?

Susan Collins: This is the hardest decision I’ve ever had.

Waiter: It’s dinner.

Susan Collins: The chicken would be the intelligent and respectable choice. But the T-bone steak just keeps yelling at me. It makes me feel dirty.

Waiter: So, the steak then?

Susan Collins: I’m leaning that way but . . .

Mitch McConnell walks by . . .

Mitch McConnell: Get the ghost pepper chili Suze, it’ll put hair on your chest.

Susan Collins: I don’t know.

Susan’s seat is surrounded by Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, John Cornyn and Joe Manchin

Lindsey Graham: Get the chili Susie, it’s good for you.

John Cornyn: Get her a bowel of the chili.

Orrin Hatch: It’s what she wants, and she knows it.

Mitch McConnell:  Even Manchin ordered it and he’s a liberal.

Susan Collins: All right, I’ll take the chili.

Lindsey Graham: That a girl.

Mitch McConnell: Come on boys, let’s get some beer.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Brought to You by . . .

My sister and I were listening to a football game on the radio and chuckling at all the sponsorship reads the announcers had to do. When they gave scores for other games there was a sponsor to mention, when they discussed a great play, it became the “play of the game” which of course had a sponsor. It made me wonder what a broadcast will be in a few years:

“Hello everybody this is Big Dave Stucky comin’ at ya from Met Life Stadium where the Jets are taking on the Patriots. My introduction was sponsored by Overbrook Electronics of Trenton New Jersey. And now let’s welcome my partner, former all pro running back Glenn Forster and his sponsor Taco Bill’s on route 1.”

“Thanks Dave, I love me some tacos.”

“Sure, who doesn’t. That banter was brought to you by Moon Mobile, more talk for less money. Glenn what do the Jets have to do today to stop the Pats?”

“Well Dave, your question was brought to us by The Puritan School, a charter school for all ages. The Jets need to pressure Brady early and often to keep that offense off-balance. When the Jets are on offense they need to run the ball to control the clock. My opinion sponsored by News Channel 7, home of the news and views that help you not to think.”

“All right, we are ready for the Cheese Wiz opening kick-off. Andre Roberts receives the ball at the Nestles 3-yard line and after a few jukes sponsored by Melanie’s School of Dance of Secaucus New Jersey, he’s pulled down at the McDonald’s 24.”

“The Jets really need to get stronger on special Teams, Dave. My opinion sponsored by Haberstroh’s Haberdashery New York, New York.”

“Ok, we’re ready for the GE first play of the game. Darnold drops back and flicks a pass to Bilal Powell for a 4-yard gain. Those positive yards brought to you by Tony Robbins. Second down, brought to you by Second Chance Animal Sanctuary, and Darnold hands off to Powell who goes up the middle for 3 more yards. That puts the ball at the Quaker State 31-yard line.”

“The Jets need to establish a run game today Dave. My analysis sponsored by The Schlichter Group, a nonpartisan think tank from Washington D.C.”

“It’s Arby’s third down and Darnold throws incomplete down the middle. That incompletion brought to you by Cadillac. The Jets are in the Jack Links Beef Jerky punt formation . . .”

“They need a good kick to pin the Pats deep.”

“Glenn’s comment sponsored by Dell. The kick is taken at the Acura 15-yard line by Edelman. He cuts right and is tackled at the Snickers 25. We’ll be back after these messages.”


“Welcome back everyone to the Jeep second drive of the game. Glenn?”

“Thank you, Dave. My commercial break bowel movement was brought to you by Quilted Northern. Let’s see if the Patriots can jump on the Jets early. Analysis sponsored by Wells Fargo.”

“Right you are Glenn, the Patriots love to get teams in an early hole. My agreement of your analysis brought to you by Royal Farms. Brady drops back and throws a Kentucky Fried Chicken deep pass to a Pepsi open receiver.”

“He caught it! My excitement sponsored by Texas Roadhouse!”

“Edelman has it at the Home Depot 40, he’s at the Lowe’s 35, cuts right, breaks a Pizza Hut tackle at the Netflix 29, slips another Subway tackle, he’s at the Regal Cinemas 17, the WaWa 10, Vizio 5, Apple Watch touchdown!”

“Wow! Sponsored by Jim Beam!”

“What a Stephen King’s latest blockbuster start to the game. We’ll be Miller Lite right back.”

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Introvert Beach

I’m an introvert. There, I said it.

And a word to all you extroverts: There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. We’re not broken, we don’t need fixed, we don’t need to change, we don’t need your help to socialize. We don’t WANT to socialize unless we choose to.

Here’s the deal. Introverts and extroverts are simply wired differently in the brain. Being around people fills an extrovert with energy, with an introvert it drains us of energy. You’re like a Duracell battery and we’re like the Chinese knockoffs I bought at a flea market once called Durracall that lasted for an hour.

With all this in mind here is what I really want to talk about. I was at Bethany Beach in Delaware a few weeks ago. It’s off season so the beach wasn’t full. I was able to find a spot to enjoy the ocean but still be an introvert-acceptable distance away from everyone else. About twenty minutes into my stay I hear newly arrived people walking behind me. Then I hear the snapping open of beach chairs. The ffflhhh of blankets being unfurled. All this is happening no more than twenty feet away from me.

Seriously? You have an entire beach to plop down on and you choose do it closely enough that I can hear you unwrap the tuna sandwiches you brought along while talking on your cell phone to Jan back home in Lancaster? I came to listen to the waves crashing not you describe every millisecond of your vacation to your friend who hasn’t left the house since 1972.

I am proposing the incorporation of Introvert Beach. This stretch of sand will be open only to introverts who will instinctively know:

How far away to construct their beach-day kingdom so we don’t interact with each other.

If you’re thinking about getting in the water but someone else makes their move first, you will know to stay seated until that person is finished frolicking in the waves.

There won’t be any forced small talk, shouting for no reason, or screaming children. The sounds of the waves will battle only with the sound of book pages turning.

More than one person will be permitted to look for sea shells at the same time because heads will be down so there won’t be any eye-contact.

I’m aware that the powers-that-be (in other words: extroverts) may fight this amazing idea because they want everyone to be like them; befouling the air with jibber-jabber, making phone calls to hear their own voices and gathering together in large groups for made-up days of meaning. “Hey, Dan finally cut his toe nails. We’re meeting at the pub after work to celebrate!”
“Mary and Dave replaced the water heater in their condo, time to party!” “I’m still breathing, come to my house for jalapeno poppers and wine!”

In this case, I have an alternate proposal.

Before entering the beach, all extroverts must put on a wrist band that will provide electrical shocks if they try to put up their tent or umbrella too close to an introvert. The shocks will continue until you have moved an appropriate distance away. An extrovert may say hello to an introvert but if they attempt unwarranted small talk, shocks will continue until they move along.

Hopefully by next summer on the eastern shore introverts will have their own private beach. Next I’m going to work on a restaurant, the Introvert Bar and Grill. There will be twenty tables but seating for only 8 at a time.