Tuesday, January 24, 2012

For Christ's Sake, Make it a Double

Hello fellow sinners. It’s Sunday morning and time to go to church. Before you put on your most pious faces and head to your favorite houses of worship, let me invite you to my church where the devout humbly bow their heads, the incense fills the air, and you can get a drink before noon.

That’s right, you’re all invited to a Serbian Orthodox church where God speaks Serbian and, if you’re a little late, don’t worry about it. We’re very casual. You may ask yourself, “What is a Serbian Orthodox Church?”

It’s simple. It’s a member of the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith, a very Byzantine religion with emphasis on the word “orthodox,” as in, its hasn’t changed in nearly two millennia. At all.

Just joking. We’re actually very tolerant. Quite frankly, we’re not too worried if we don’t see you in heaven. We believe that if you’re not one of us, you’re probably no fun anyway. So there.

I should take a moment to point out something about the Serbian part. We long-suffering, peace loving, and most-holy Serbian people (alleluia, alleluia, alleluia) don’t have much going for us in the traditional sense. Serbia is generally a poor country known mostly for starting wars, (we started WWI and almost kicked off WWlll; yahoo!!!), food with lots of onions and garlic, and hard liquor which we make for ourselves if we can get away with it.

For this reason, we think God has a soft spot in his heart for us. At least we pray he does; we’re in serious trouble if he doesn’t.

My church is St. Elijah Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Merrillville, Ind. A cathedral, I guess, is more prestigious than a simple church which is probably a place where God hangs out part-time. A cathedral, on the other hand, is a home with multiple baths and granite countertops to where he brings friends and angel buddies from heaven.

In case you heathens didn’t know, St. Elijah is the prophet who defended the worship of Yahweh over the more popular Baal, according to the Book of Kings, and, of course, Wikipedia. Also, in some Balkan folklore, he is responsible for thunder, lightning and bad weather in general. No wonder we always have to repair out roof.

The first thing you notice when you enter our church (beg your pardon, cathedral) is how incredibly beautiful it is, and, how much dough it must have cost to build. The vestibule or narthex is the entry where Serbs burn candles for the deceased and people on the short list for entering the afterlife. Usually, there is an old guy with a heavy Serbian accent who sells the candles. (True story: My wife, Regina, and I once arrived very late on account of a mix up due to a time change. Seeing that we were terribly embarrassed, our old guy said, “Don’t worry. You no miss nothing.”)

Straight ahead, always on the east side of an orthodox church is the sanctuary which includes a beautiful altar of ornately carved wood with an arched double door in the center flanked by two single doors to the right and left. The sanctuary also includes a sacristy and vestry where holy stuff is kept and where the altar boys shoot craps, swig holy wine and check out the latest issue of Balkan Babes. “Holy sh#t! How’d you like to kiss the icons on her?”

The altar is covered with life sized icons of some important saints such as St. Nicholas (without his Santa Clause outfit) and of course, JC. One is of him as a baby in Mary’s arms, one shows him as a young adult, and well, as you know, the story kind of ends there.

The nave is the area where the congregation sits, or in our case, mostly stands until they can’t feel their legs anymore. In general, men tend to sit on the right and women on the left. You may think it’s sexist but I think our church forefathers figured out that old men with bad hearing spent most of the liturgy talking about everything from the weather to the price of chickens. By segregating the sexes, you could isolate the old goats and make it possible to find a quiet place to sit.

One warning if you come to our church. There is a middle-aged guy with male pattern baldness who has a wart on the back of his head the size of a small cathedral. You can’t help but stare at it and when you do , trust me, you will not be thinking holy thoughts. You’ll just want to get the hell out of there. Avoid this man at all costs.

If you do find a nice, quiet place to sit, you will find a book that contains the liturgy written in English and in Serbian, including text in the Cyrillic alphabet. We don’t bother to bring Bibles. That would only confuse us. After all, as a fellow Serb I know who is a serious churchgoer and devout Bible reader once said to me, “Why do they make the print so small in the m#therf@cker?” It was a slip of the tongue, of course, but he had a point.

You will also notice that our nave is stunning, in particular because of the recently completed religious reliefs which decorate the massive domed ceiling. The images are of angels and more saints, some of whom I’ll bet are former parishioners dressed up in robes who donated a lot of money to the church a long time ago.

Most of these guys were Serbs who worked in the steel mills in Gary and East Chicago, Ind,, and were affectionately known as mill rats. From what I remember of my time in the mills, some of the rats were as big as the wart on that guy’s head. Now I’m not saying that Serbs think you can buy your way into heaven, but every dollar given to the church is one less dollar that could presumably be spent on the sinful ways of the flesh. Or, on demon alcohol, which brings me back to the part about getting a drink before noon on Sunday.

The St. Elijah’s cathedral sits next to our church’s hall, a truly beautiful place you can rent for weddings, social gatherings, bar mitzvahs, whatever. Like any self respecting hall, it has a full bar, but it doesn’t matter. Every Serbian church I’ve set foot in has a social area where you could at least get a shot and a beer. And, on most Sundays, after the liturgy, some of us will go to our hall to socialize, which means buying a shot (or two or three) and a beer.

Anyone with any qualms about demon alcohol can easily assuage their guilt by telling themselves the money is going to the church. Of course we don’t want people driving home drunk, but if one of us does run off the road when leaving a Sunday service, we don’t say the Devil made us do it. We’re honest. We say we copped a buzz in the name of the Lord. Heaven is going to be great.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Guide to Counting Teeth

I woke up a few weeks ago with someone else’s mouth in my mouth.

I wasn’t kissing someone or anything like that; it simply didn’t feel like the inside of my mouth. My mouth had changed overnight.

I should explain that I had had a few or more drinks the night before, and when I awoke, I had that feeling you have on the flip side of too much fun. The party was over and now the world seemed a cruel, ugly place of strangled emotions, creepy images and crawling skin.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s all fairly normal and I’m not complaining or anything like that. But this time it was different. This time, my number five tooth suddenly felt bigger than before and certainly much larger than its counterpart, my number 12 tooth.

Gee, John, you may be thinking, that’s very interesting, but I didn’t go to dental school, you moron, so what the hell are you talking about?

Well, my wife, Regina, went to dental school and was a dental assistant for 15 years, so she’s taught me a thing or two about dental numerology which I would like to share with you. To count your teeth, start on your upper jaw way back by your wisdom tooth on your right side (which you should have had removed by now unless you have a head like an ape). Now count right to left.

Then, drop down to the lower jaw and count from left to right. (Note to my country music loving friends: don’t forget to include missing teeth.) You may be counting your teeth right now, touching molars with the tip of your tongue while counting upwards.

Using this nifty method, you’ve probably figured out that the number five tooth is the first bicuspid behind your canine tooth on the upper right side and the number 12 is the first bicuspid behind the canine tooth on your left side. You’re number 32 aligns with number one tooth, and numbers 16 and 17 also align. Having fun yet?

(Note to readers: I originally had the term “molars” where the term “bicuspid,” is in the above text. My wife looked over the blog and made the correction. I hate her.)

As I said, when I awoke, my number five tooth seemed huge and protruded into my mouth like a warthog’s. It still does weeks later. So what happened? It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’m married to someone who actually decided that looking inside people’s mouths would be a great way to earn a living for the rest of her life.

Don’t get me wrong. I honestly love my wife (except when she notices my mistakes) and in most respects, she’s a fairly normal person. But at some point during high school she figured she would like to spend eight hours a day sitting in a chair looking and sticking her hands in other peoples’ mouths. Go figure.

I have nothing against mouths. Like most bodily orifices, they can mean hours of good, clean fun, but do you really want to look into them with bright lights and mirrors? Even the healthy ones look funky. Imagine the ones with sores and rotting food between the teeth.

And guys, I’ll bet most of you have had conflicting emotions when sitting in the dental chair with that cute hygienist pressing up softly against you with her hands in your mouths, gently scraping away plaque. She sure is sweet and friendly. Do you suppose she’s interested in a hunk like you?

Are you kidding? She thinking, “Hey numbnuts, you need to floss better.” Don’t forget that you look like a clown when you get out of the dental chair after having your head sandwiched in the head rest.

I’ve known a few dentists in my life and most appear to be decent, normal people. They generally dress pretty well and smell okay. There have even been some famous and honorable dentists, such as Wyatt Earp’s buddy Doc Holliday, the Nazi “Is it safe yet?” dentist in the movie “The Marathon Man,” and the sadistic Steve Martin character in “Little Shop of Horrors,” but you have to wonder. What does looking into wide-open garbage disposals hours on end do to people?

You have to remember that their entire workspace is the size of a coffee cup, and when things go wrong as they inevitably will, whose teeth are they going to want to knock out? Not their own.

Part of my wife’s claim to fame is that she worked on a couple of famous mouths, including the late Charlie Finley’s, the famous irascible owner of the Oakland A’s baseball team of years ago. She even worked on the great home run king Henry Aaron when she was a dental assistant in Atlanta.

I’m not the world’s biggest baseball fan but I can vaguely remember seeing Hank Aaron play a few times late in his career when he was with the Atlanta Braves. I’m sure millions of people would agree that he was one of a kind. But how many do you think could tell you what the inside of his mouth looked like? Not many, I hope.

But you can imagine my wife saying something like, “Great game yesterday, Hank. But you’ve got some plaque building up here. Let me get out my scaler and take care of that for you. When the doctor comes in, we’ll both try to stick our fingers in your mouth at the same time. A little wider, please.”

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Please Help

As many of you know, my wife, Regina, and I had the pleasure of hosting an Italian foreign exchange student in 2001. Her name is Lydia and she is a lovely, intelligent young woman whose family owns vacation properties in Tuscany. We hate her.

Regina and I have visited Tuscany several times since and as you can imagine, fell in love with that part of Italy. We have decided to retire in the nearby province of Marche which resembles Tuscanny in almost every way except that property there is cheaper. At least it was until the idiots at the AARP magazine wrote about it being a great place to retire, probably setting off a land rush that will send prices soaring.

As affordable as it is, there is one small problem—it is not affordable enough for Regina and me. Not yet, anyway. That’s where you, our good friends and loyal readers come in. We need for you to save some of your money so we can retire there comfortably in a lifestyle befitting us.

I haven’t figured out exactly how much we will need, but with so many wonderful and generous friends, I’m guessing just a little from each of you will make it possible. I know it isn’t easy to save in these difficult times, but if you think about it, there are countless little items we all spend money on foolishly which we can learn to live without.

Allow me to make a few suggestions that will make it easier for you to make us happy in our old age. Some are no-brainers.

Say, for instance, you’re in your car and one of your grandchildren says, “Granny (or Grampa), can I have an ice cream?” Simply reply to them, “I’d love to darling, but John and Regina need money to retire in Marche.” Not only would you instill valuable self-discipline, but you’ll be fighting the terrible obesity problem facing America’s kids.

If the kid starts whining, you can always slam its little head against the dashboard and tell it to “shut the f&ck up!” Come on, you know you’ve always wanted to when the spoiled brat gets on your nerve and now you have the perfect excuse.

Maybe you’d rather save money for your son’s college education. Let me ask you, did your parents pay for your college education? Did you even get to go to college? Deep down inside, don’t you think with his or grades, the dunce will be lucky to get a job as a Walmart greeter?

Knowing that, wouldn’t it make more sense to say to him, “My dear boy, I know I should help you prepare for your future, but John and Regina need money to retire in Marche.”

Did your daughter find “Mr. Perfect” and now has her heart set on a lovely June wedding that will cost you thousands of dollars. Not a problem. Tell her that the money would be wasted given that 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce, and besides, “John and Regina need money to retire in Marche.”

She’ll be hurt at first now that you’ve crushed her dreams, but she may as well get used to the feeling of life kicking her in the teeth. Buy her a beer to get rid of the taste and send the rest of the money to us.

Here’s another easy way to save money for us. Let’s say you’re sitting in church and they’re passing the plate around. You could make a divine contribution to the Lord but you wouldn’t really know where the money went, would you? God can print his own money if he wants. So ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” I think he’d say, “Blessed are those who give to John and Regina so they can retire in Marche.”

Do you need to save money for an expensive operation to replace the fading battery in your husband’s pacemaker? Poor fellow, he’s looking shallow and sickly and needs to get to the hospital soon. But whose fault is that? Not mine. Besides, you know his pacemaker would still be charged if he didn’t watch online porn that causes his heart rate to accelerate.

The no-good bum isn’t deserving of your hard-earned dollars, so go ahead and tell him, “I’d like to help you pal, but John and Regina need money to retire in Marche.”

On the other hand, fellas, if your wife tells you she needs money for a breast enhancement operation, I understand perfectly. Keep your dough.

Maybe you’ll find yourself in a bar with me and Regina and a bunch of our friends watching my good buddy Dave Hutchins perform and suddenly get the urge to leave him a generous tip. Sure, he’s worked his butt off, but trust me, he’ll understand perfectly if instead you just pat him on the back and say, “Great show, Dave, but John and Regina need money to retire in Marche.”

God forbid if your poor little pooch “Fluffy” swallows a sharp object and needs to go to the vet immediately. My heart goes out to you, but vet bills are getting ridiculous and you don’t feel like getting off the couch anyway. You have to admit, the dog does sound funny when it hacks uncontrollably.

Wouldn’t it be so much easier to just look at its sad brown eyes and say, “Sorry, sweetie, but John and Regina need the money to go to Marche.” In this case, your little four-legged friend won’t understand a word your saying but say it anyway. You’ll feel better. And, to save expenses on euthanasia, feel free to park in my driveway and take the dog into the woods in Otis. A coyote should get to it in no time.

There you have it, a bunch of easy ways to set aside money so that Regina and I can retire comfortably in Marche. If you’re asking yourself, “Why can’t I retire in Marche?” you just can’t, that’s all. We found it first. Besides, you really wouldn’t want to live next a bunch of mooching slobs like us anyway.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


You were in my dreams last night. Yes, you. Pretty weird, huh?

Creepy, too. I don’t even know you that well, or at least well enough that you have any right to crawl into my head while I’m sleeping.

You probably thought it was only other people who showed up in your dreams uninvited. You know how it goes. You have a dream where someone from your past unexpectedly takes a leading role and you wake up in the morning and say to your partner, “You wouldn’t believe it but I had a dream with so and so in it. Don’t ask me why he/she was in my dreams last night, but they were.”

“Oh really, that’s odd,” your partner casually remarks, which is all they can do because that same night they were having a sex dream of their own and you were nowhere in it.

Well, you were in my dream last night and let me tell you, you were having a bad hair day.

Here I was, minding my own business trying to take a leak in some strange bathroom and next thing you know, you’re standing there looking at me. Now I can’t piss.

“Get the hell away from me,” I tell you, but it doesn’t matter. You start talking nonsense about something that happened years ago that I’m not even certain really happened. Then I find out we work together at a job I didn’t know I had and everybody else in the dream treats you like you’re our supervisor.

To me you’re just a middle of the night gate crasher who’s watching me trying to relieve myself. Sorry, I can’t wait for lunch or break time. I gotta go NOW.

Suddenly, you’re not only having a bad hair day but your head is starting to look weird, as in big and somewhat misshapen. Worse, your clothes don’t match because you’re mixing plaids and stripes. What are you, some kind of idiot?

And here you thought you were a normal person minding your own business and living a normal life. Not in my dreams you aren’t. This is what nightmares are made of. And who knows how you behave in other peoples’ dreams. They’re probably too embarrassed to tell you.

There’s nothing normal about you eyeing me in the john and then introducing me to your dog who is as big as a horse or is it a horse the size of a dog? Where did that thing come from? And why do I get the feeling its reading my mind? Don’t tell me the fucker speaks Serbian too.

"Get screwed,” I say, but you insist on setting up house in my head. I guess you knew I had horses so this was you’re way of trying to buddy up to me, but you’re only making me feel very, very uncomfortable.

So my dream goes on, me trying to figure out this new job I didn’t know I had and having to piss (where the hell did that bathroom go?), your dog/horse thingie looking like he wants to tell me a secret and you with your lumpy skull chatting with our coworkers. I’ve got to hand it to you though, you look like you know what you’re doing at your job, whatever it is. At least you’re not naked; not yet anyway.

You complain that I often show up for work late and that makes me nervous, but whose fault is it? I didn’t even know I work here.

Then it happens. Now you’re standing next to me, way too close in fact, and you’re only in your underwear. To you it all seems perfectly normal. Do you really know what you look practically naked? No, you don’t. Not in dreamland.

Your head doesn’t seem quite as lumpy as it did a while ago but the rest of you, YECH! Lumpy in all the wrong places. Another thing: did you just have a sex change in, say, the last minute or so? I can’t say for sure what sex you are anymore, but you don’t seem to mind and neither does anyone around us. So why do I feel like I’m the weirdo here?

Do you do this to other people you’ve met? Do you like prowling around like a ghost at night, creeping into peoples’ dreams? Oh, another thing. I’m in real estate and things are slow. Are you looking to buy or sell a house? One with good blinds or shades on the windows? No phony dream money, please.

Finally, you start to fade and become nothing that a good cup of coffee would take care of in the morning. By the way, I told my wife, Regina, about you being in my dream.

“Oh really, that’s odd,” she said.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Not long ago I sent some people we know the following email about a friend of mine who was going to play at a local bar. It read: “Dave Hutchins, the semi-talented and occasionally amusing entertainer (Cedric’s less gifted twin brother) will be belching out your favorite tunes at Joe’s Bar in Michigan City this coming Saturday, April 10. For anyone with absolutely nothing better to do and no real friends to speak of, this is an excellent opportunity to find solace in the bottle while listening to someone in the waning days of his career. See you there.”

I ended the email with a postscript advising anyone wanting to leave a tip to use caution when going near his tip jar because he also stored his dentures in it.

All told, quite a few people turned up and had a pretty good time, but a deeper question has arisen. Was my less that flattering email a form of cyber bullying? Let me answer that. You’re damn right it’s a form of cyber bullying and I’m perfectly fine with it.

I’ve been a victim of bullying by this bum much of my adult life simply because, as a musician and entertainer, he controlled the microphone and the stage. If he said something rotten about me before a room full of people, I had to live with it. So what if it may have been true.

When I took my wife, Regina, to see him at a club soon after we started dating some 20 years ago, that scumbag announced to everyone that it was my first date in years. Now I’ve got the internet at my disposal and it’s time for revenge. Now I can tell the world that the only reason I took her to see him in the first place is because she was the only woman tone-deaf enough to sit through one of his sets.

It’s not that Hutchins hasn’t been a pretty good friend for the past 40 years. He’d be a great friend if he mowed my lawn or was rich, but he’s not, so let’s just call him OK. But being a friend apparently made him think he had license to say horrible things about me in front of countless people—things so terrible and slanderous that I am weeping uncontrollably as I write this.

But the internet has changed the world and my keyboard is my microphone. And since I’m relatively certain I am more comfortable with my new weapon than he is, the slob is going down like the blasphemous swine he is. Admittedly, I could take the higher road and turn the other cheek, but it’s really not in me. I’d rather go online and leave a crease in his skull just as if I had taken a cyber whack with a Louisville Slugger.

Maybe you’re thinking, “John, you should be careful. Perhaps Mr. Hutchins is a computer whiz in disguise.” Actually, he’s an evil troll disguised as a human being. Anyway, don’t make me laugh. Not long ago I ran into a mutual friend (also a Realtor) who, laughingly said Dave probably wasn’t a very good typist, having spent most of his school years in detention.

I thought to myself, “Are you kidding me? Typing is the least of his problems. I doubt the son-of-a-bitch can spell. Hell, the poor man’s pudgy pinkies need at least a vague idea of how to form a word before they hit the keyboard. It’s not like scratching your ass.”

In the past I had to settle for brief moments of retribution like the time I slipped a dollar bill into a prophylactic and hung it onto his microphone, thinking to myself, “Here’s your tip, motherf#*&er.” I must admit I was surprised he didn’t turn around and say something like, “That’s the rubber Zdravich has been carrying in his wallet since high school. I’m glad he finally got a chance to use it.” If he had, what could I do? I was helpless.

Now I can respond via my blog, maturely of course, that I pulled the rubber out of some guy’s ass at the state prison in Michigan City.

Lately, Dave also has made disparaging remarks about me and my farm animals. I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly state that I have never had sex with any goats, chickens or horses. I’ve watched, of course, and on occasion even cheered them on, but that’s it.

The malicious toad has even gone so far as to make fun of my looks. Slavic people, including Serbs like me, tend to have slightly larger noses; it’s common among great nationalities. Well, well, well. Here’s my chance to make a remark about Dave’s size, and I’m not talking noses here. Let’s just say that if he says he’s pleased to meet you and it looks like he has a bulge in his pocket, it’s because he really has something in his pocket—probably lunch money his wife left him. KABOOM!

You too can get into the fun of cyber bullying by leaving nasty comments on his business Facebook page. That’s what I did recently when I asked if Potbellies is a place he plays or the name of a new group he belongs to. SMASH! POW!

Isn’t the future going to be great?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The North Universe

If anyone reading this is a birther, i.e., someone who believes President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States, I could use your help.

Last week my wife, Regina, received a thank you note from her nephew, John. It was for a package of stuff like cigarettes, chocolates and other goodies that she sends him every once in a while. John sees the world a little differently than most of us. He has been a schizophrenic since his late teens when he first began hearing voices on the television speaking directly to him and he’s been in and out of institutions ever since.

I’m not sure why that makes him any more insane than a lot of other people, so I’ll have to take my wife’s word for it when she says he has a problem. (I’m only joking of course. I’d have to be nuts to take her word for anything.)

Anyway, the note which came from a nursing and rehab institution in Georgia was just a crumpled piece of paper from a 3 x 5 spiral notebook saying thanks for writing and for the package. It concluded with the words “married to Brooke Shields in the north universe.”

I only met the guy once, briefly, but he didn’t strike me as much of a jokester so I’m inclined to take him at his word. Just because he’s been clinically insane for the past 30 years doesn’t mean he’s not married to Ms. Shields. The fact is, I have no way of proving otherwise.

I don’t know much about Ms. Shields except that nothing got between her and her Calvin Klein jeans, although I guess now my wife’s nephew may be in there somewhere. I believe she has a couple of kids and she may or may not be married to someone else.

I’m sure she’s a nice lady but that doesn’t mean she’s not carrying on a second life secretly married to my wife’s nephew as well as some other guy or guys, for that matter. So, I’m happy for him and Brooke and hope they have a great life together, if they really are married.

I see one slight problem, though. I’ll bet she’s lived around Hollywood much of her life, so there is a good chance she’s a socialist and nephew John needs protection from her political influence. What if he decides to run for president? He could have a problem on his hands: not because of his schizophrenia.

Severe medical handicaps never stopped anyone from holding public office. But, what if he supports health care for people he’s never met but whose voices he hears. This is why I need help from birthers.

Birthers, and there are probably millions of them, insist Obama was born outside the U.S. and therefore shouldn’t be president. They claim they’ve never actually seen his birth certificate. I’m not sure if their problem with the whole thing is that they don’t think he was born here or if they just haven’t been informed that Hawaii has been a state since 1959, albeit one where the people talk and dress funny. We have a friend who is a policeman there (Hi, Bob) and he seems to think it’s a real American state. Of course he is a cop so he probably thinks Dunkin Donuts is the state capital (just kidding, Bob).

The question is, should I write John asking him to produce a marriage certificate, and if he does, how will I know it’s not fake? If he doesn’t write back, would that be an admission that he’s being less than honest about his holy vows with Ms. Shields? Only a birther would know how to tackle a delicate issue like this.

(I can’t honestly say for certain that I’m who I am. My birth certificate says “Jovan” instead of John and it doesn’t have an “h” at the end of Zdravich. If I’m not who I say I am, has my wife being cheating on me?)

You may think I’m whining because we weren’t invited to the wedding. Is he embarrassed of us or did Brooke’s publicist insist he keep it a secret? You don’t have to be crazy to see a conspiracy here.

Another problem I have with John’s note is the part about the north universe. Since the universe is infinite, I always figured there was no such thing as north or south because direction is relative to where you are.

Sure we have a north star, but isn’t it possible that on some other planet in the far side of the Milky Way a slightly drunk, three-eyed guy is looking at the same star and telling his wife, “Dear doesn’t the southern star look lovely tonight?” before slipping one of his four hands up her skirt.

I’ve always had my doubts about the whole north/south thing anyway. I’m ashamed to say that the farthest south I’ve travelled is Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, which is still a good way north of the equator. My neighbors say they’ve been in the southern hemisphere in a place called Australia. They swear they have never felt upside down while there even though it’s referred to as “down under,” that it’s perfectly safe to sit on the toilet, change doesn’t fall out of their pants and saggy boobs still sag.

I have no way of proving otherwise, but intuitively I’m not sure. How do I know there even is an Australia? I’d be crazy to take my neighbors at their word. I’m sure John would agree.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dazed and Confused

You'll probably say I'm going to hell for asking this, but what is it with old people, our elderly brethren with the overly decorated flower beds and peculiar lawn ornaments? I admit it; I'm a terrible person. But just the same, is it something in the water or prune juice they drink? Does getting older entitle them not only to senior discounts but the right to drive others nuts? Or, are they just grouchy?

When you get stuck behind a car doing half the legal speed limit, you can bet its being driven by an old man in a hat, sometimes with a small dog on his lap, or an old woman who wears too much perfume and just got a new perm on her thinning scalp. As you pass by you pray she won't have to step on the brakes because her nose is approximately four inches from the dashboard.

Don't you want to kindly suggest that perhaps they don't have the luxury of driving so slowly. Time is running out. If they give it just a bit more gas, they're going to get to where they're heading sooner. Then they'll have more time to take Gigi the pet poodle to the pet palace for a bath and a perm before finally putting the car in park for eternity.

“John, you rotten, heartless bastard” you say. “Someday you'll grow old and I hope it happens to you, only worse.” Geez. Talk about getting personal. But, if it does and I end up completely oblivious, then it won't matter because I won't know what is going on around me anyway. But, I don't believe most old people really are oblivious. I've met plenty who were lucid, alert and great to be with, right until the very end. The rest, I think, just want to be coddled. Or they've turned ornery, like old mutts.

(I know I've mentioned in previous blogs that I am getting older too, but as soon as I remember my computer password and where I left my glasses, probably under the AARP magazine, I'm going back to erase those entries.)

So, why do I sound so bent out of shape?

The other day as I was heading to the house after feeding our animals, I saw a large, very clean and shiny sedan parked in our driveway. It was the kind of car that clearly said, “Single owner, garage kept, driven by an old lady going to church.” Sure enough, in it was an old lady waving a piece of paper at me as if to say, “Young man, could you come here please.” As if I had a choice.

In the car was the driver, a woman who I would guess was in her seventies. Seated next to her in the front seat was another slightly older woman probably in her eighties, and in the back seat was Harry, an old man wearing a hat, probably in his eighties also. He looked grouchy, possibly because the two women forced him to sit in the back alone. (There's a hot tip for all you entrepreneurs: car seats for guys like Harry.)

The conversation went as follows, but I should warn you, if you have any problem at all with foul language, STOP NOW, because there are two dialogues taking place, one between the passengers in the car and the pleasant, courteous Nice Outer Me, and another with the EVIL INNER ME saying what I'm really thinking.

“Excuse me,” said the driver in her seventies. “Could you tell me how to get to Division Road?”

Nice Outer Me: “Sure, it's easy. Just follow this gravel road,” I said, pointing south. “When you hit the paved road, take a left, go a short distance to Otis Road, turn left again and in about a half mile you'll reach Division.”

Blank stares.


Nice Outer me: “Really, its easy. Just go to the street, turn left, then left again to Division.

More blank stares.


Driver in her seventies: “We're looking for Division Road. I think we might have passed it.”


Nice Outer Me: “Well it's back that way,” I said, pointing north. “Just go out this road, go left to Otis Road then left again to Division.”

More blank stares.


Nice Outer Me: “Just go straight out this gravel lane to the paved road, it's called Snyder Road. Then turn left to the first main road. It's called Otis Road. It's the only street that bisects Snyder Road. If you turn right, you'll go over the railroad tracks. You don't want to do that. Go left and it will take you straight to Division.”

Female passenger in her eighties: “Did you get that Harry? Harry actually has the best memory of all of us.” Harry just shrugs like I'm there to fill up his gas tank.


Nice Outer Me: “Trust me you can't miss it because there are no other cross streets. Just go to Otis Road, then left.

Older passenger in her eighties: “Is that by that building there? Is there a church or something around there.”


Nice Outer Me: “There is a church nearby. It's called St. Mary's. The building you're talking about is their hall. But just turn left at Otis Road. You can't miss it.”

Driver in her seventies: “I guess we can find it. What do you think Harry?” Another casual shrug.


Driver in her seventies: “Thank you.”

Nice Outer Me: “No problem.”