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.”


Saturday, February 27, 2010

You Think I'm Stupid?

My wife, Regina, thinks I’m stupid. I know it because she tells me so every once in a while. Like the other day, I did some little thing absentmindedly and I could see by the look on her face that she thought I am a moron. I said, “I know you think I’m fat and stupid.”

“No, just stupid,” she answered.

I, for one, don’t think I’m stupid. Not really, anyway. Okay. I do some stupid things like mistake the phone for the remote when changing the radio station, but you have to admit, they do look very much alike. It’s not so much stupidity as it is-what’s the word? Senility. So, what we have here is age discrimination. I’m 54, I think. Let’s see: I was born in June of 1955. Ten minus five is five. Change the one in 2010 to what? A zero? Nevermind.

My wife is too politically correct to use the “R” word, especially after the whole Sarah Palin thing. Instead, Regina softens it up a little by saying something like, “You’re a f---ing idiot.” Well, how nice is that? Besides, what kind of a name is Trig? Or, Regina, for that matter? Tell me you don’t picture Aunt Jemima when you hear that name. (You can see from my line of reasoning that I’m not stupid at all, just petty and vindictive.)

I do feel slightly stupid when someone says something that, to them, must seem clear for all to understand. Such as in the movie “Forrest Gump” when the Flying Nun (how stupid is that?) says, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Or, when I was a kid, the anti-drug theme was, “Why do you think they call it dope?” Frankly, I don’t know. Maybe because they don’t call it horseshit? Actually, “horse” and “shit” were street code for heroin, but let’s not split hairs here.

Around our house where behavior rarely reaches above the level of a fourth grader, whenever one of us does something obviously stupid, it is customary to mimic our goat, Misho. For some reason, this idiot animal (all goats are idiots) will sometimes make this bizarre motion with his head by staring straight up into the sky then doing a complete windmill-like rotation. Try it a home sometime. You’ll feel like a total idiot.

If you think he’s an imbecile, you should see our other goat, Marko. This dull-minded creature gets excited and forgets he is castrated or that the other goat is also a male and then mounts Misho from behind and, well, I’m sure you can figure it out for yourselves. Even the horses think they’re morons.

Maybe my wife doesn’t think it’s just me that’s stupid but the whole human race. She may have a point. Try turning on the television and watching what’s going on in the rest of the world. If you aren’t amazed that the world functions at all because it’s filled with so many dummies, I’ll kiss your brainy ass. There is even a whole line of self-help books “For Dummies.” So maybe it’s not that bad to be a retard after all. Maybe the Firesign Theater was right when they named one of their albums “We’re All Bozos on This Bus.”

I even have a button that says “I’m Surrounded by Idiots,” which I’ve never worn for fear that someone will take offense and pin it to my skull. I’m not that stupid. Of course, I could pin it to my lower lip or the tip of my tongue and look, depending on your way of seeing things, either very edgy or utterly asinine.

If you think about it, which can be fairly difficult if you actually are an imbecile, we all tend to get a little nasty and consider others idiots. Democrats think Republicans are idiots and vice versa. Amazingly, they’re both right. George Costanza had a personal revelation in one episode of “Seinfeld” when he realized every decision he ever made was wrong and decided that, in the future, he would do the exact opposite of everything he was naturally inclined to do. It worked great and his life immediately improved.

He showed me the light. It was a very liberating moment for both of us. Most of the decisions we make every day and the stances we take are likely as not, wrong. I knew a college professor with an M.D. who once told me the arguments in academia get so heated because the stakes are so small.

So I am stupid, and proud of it. But, I do have one question for my wife, Regina. If you’re so smart, why the hell did you marry me? Don’t answer that.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Broken Furniture

You have no idea how much is shames me to say I’m down only one pound from 203 to 202pounds this week. The situation is desperate. We’ve become such obese losers that children on the streets of Otis laugh at us when we walk by (that is the few who haven’t become fast-food porkers themselves). The horses are complaining about the weight, clothes don’t fit and worse of all, we’ve damaged all our furniture with our big asses.

Don’t get the idea that the sofa is ruined from us doing any husband-wife stuff. Regina and I are too sexually repressed to even dream of doing anything silly like that, although there was a time a long ago when we regularly gave it a good work out. Unfortunately, Regina, always the multitasker, would insist on watching TV at the same time.

Then, one day while in the throes of animal-like passion, we saw Rev. Jimmy Swaggart on the screen frantically waving a worn out Bible and giving us the evil eye as if he could peer into our living room. Talk about the air going out of a balloon. It put the kibosh on everything. Regina froze up and I cowered in fear of being struck down by a heavenly thunderbolt. But I get the feeling he wasn’t so much disgusted with our behavior as he was looking down his nose at our choice of colors and furniture. Yuck! Poor Jimmy sought refuge with a hooker in a seedy motel, and now an icon at a convent sees more action than our place.

In truth, the sofa's springs are shot from using it the way God intended, which is eating four-course dinners while watching people in Haiti fight for food. When one of the springs recently popped up and impaled our cat, leaving fur, puked up mouse remains and cat shit everywhere, we knew we had to get new furniture.

I’ve learned that furniture stores are generally one of two types. There’s the kind that carries garish stuff for low-class hicks who eat TV dinners while watching NASCAR, and there’s the type that carries high-quality stuff for sophisticated people who cook their own meals and eat with their feet on the coffee table while watching Baywatch. That’s us, so we needed the better stuff.

There are also two basic types of furniture, cloth and leather. While leather sounds a little risqué for the two of us, it’s great for cleaning cat puke. The problem is you have to get a feeling for what best suits you at the furniture store. These are generally public places and things can get awkward.

“Go ahead and lay back in it they way you would at home,” the saleswoman said to us when we were eyeing a leather sectional last week. I’m sure lots of people feel the way I do about this. I’m sorry, but I just don’t feel right lying down on a piece of furniture like a slug while other people are around-even with my clothes on. Forget about the Jimmy Swaggart thing. It’s even worse when you’re trying out mattresses. You feel like a complete idiot. You might as well be trying out toilet paper.

“No, really,” she said. “Feel free to make yourself comfortable. Put your feet up like you would at home.” (She didn’t know we have horses and we're knee-deep in manure half the time). Now, the last thing I want to do is get too comfortable in a furniture store. Only one of two things is going to happen. Either a conditioned response will set in and I’ll become hungry for a four-course meal, or I’ll get too relaxed and wake up two hours later with my shoe laces tied together and a clown face painted on me. That’s what I would do to some goof who came into my store and started snoring, especially if he was another Realtor.

To make matter worse, we heard ourselves saying things like, “Wow” and “Oh, my,” and “Oh, yes that feels real nice,” and “God, just feel that leather,” which told us it was time to pick something out and get the hell out of there. We did settle on buying a new leather sectional which should be delivered in a few weeks. In the meantime, it you know someone looking for a good deal on a matching sofa-love seat set, tell them to give us a call. The springs are shot, but the fabric, at least since Jimmy Swaggart, is stain free. Except for the cat incident.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I’m Falling Apart

Let's hear it for a truly inspired, dedicated guy. I lost a whole one percent of my body weight this past week. Damn right. Stop the presses. We have a winner here.

Yep. I'm down from 205 to 203 pounds and gaining steam, not pounds. Someday you will be witness to a genuine transformation from a complete swine to a lean, mean, slightly broken down machine. I think I'm doing a little better than my wife, Regina, who also weighed herself last week.

I'm not at liberty to mention her weight here. It's fair to say she'd probably kill me. In fact, I fought to keep her from killing herself when the scale screamed in bright red digits just how far she has sunken into blubbery despair. Let's just say it was all I could do to get the knife out of her hands before she plunged it into her stomach. When the poor girl realized it was just a puny two-inch paring knife that wouldn't penetrate her vital organs anyway, she just started sobbing. It was all so sad.

I've learned to accept the fact that I do not resemble the guy I once was. Whose does? It's not just a weight thing. It's a broken this and beat up that thing. My body is beginning resemble the shirt of a slob. You can spot every morsel of food that accidently fell short of his mouth and left a historical marker on the garment. I wouldn't mind it so much if my injuries were something to brag about as if they reflected the life of a man who lived fearlessly and dangerously fighting the good fight in honor of God and country.

"Sure, buddy," I could say. "That scar on my leg is where I took a piece of shrapnel back in '67 while I was pulling my pal, Joe, from a rice paddy outside Da Nang while under fire from the gooks. Fucking Charlie was a motherfucker."

But my injuries aren't like that. Sure, there is a sense of swagger that comes with saying most of your aches are horse associated. I can point to my collar bone and boast of having a steel plate. People mistakenly assume I fell off while riding. The fools! I quickly correct them and declare that my horse and I both plunged at a full gallop face first into the dirt while racing against my wife and her animal. However, fear of having my insurance claim denied meant I had to tell the doctors and nurses that the accident came from falling off a ladder while cleaning gutters. I used to be a carpenter for Christ's sake and I handle ladders and scaffolding with the best of them. Can you imagine the shame?

There is little satisfaction telling people I broke my right hand like an idiot on the metal buckle of the halter on my wife's horse. I was gallantly trying to protect her as she was about to get kicked into next week while sticking a vaccine the size of a knitting needle into the horse's ass. Someone once told me that the best way to get a misbehaving horse's attention was to give it punch on its cheek. He forgot to tell me to take the halter off first.

My other injuries and ailments are less glamorous. Pathetic would be a better word. Like when I recently ran into a door in the dark and actually cracked a rib. I couldn't even go swimming in the ocean while vacationing in Cancun, the damn thing hurt so badly. I'm also about to get surgery on my right shoulder. The MRI showed I have bone spurs which is a nice way of saying arthritis. That's right. Art-fucking-rites. Think about it.

Last week summed it all up when I dropped a bowling ball on the little right toe while attending a birthday party at the Black Cat bowling alley in New Carlisle, Ind. of all places. It was gravity combined with a 16 pound orange and black swirled bowling ball versus the poor tiny toe. Now the sad little smashed bastard looks like a grape and I walk around like I've still got a piece of shrapnel in my leg: and, no medal to show for it. If it doesn't start feeling better soon I plan on cutting the digit off and telling people I lost it to frostbite when I was scaling Mt. Everest.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Creative Weight Loss

205. Remember that number.

Frankly, I have a difficult time thinking of new topics to blog about. I must admit, I came to this blogging business somewhat reluctantly, which is to say that’s it mostly my wife Regina’s idea. She thought I needed some kind of creative outlet in my life. Apparently, making abstract yellow patterns in freshly fallen snow isn’t creative enough.

My problem is that I’m not sure I’m a big fan of blogging in the first place. I guess it’s ok the way my wife and a lot of other people do it. She generally blogs about our lives with our horses and that gives her a regular stream of material. We go on a ride: she blogs about it. Something semi-interesting happens in the barn, so on and so forth. A chicken lays a big-assed egg, you get to see it.

Other people blog about specific topics like politics. The problem there is that it’s enough to make you move to North Korea where the only political discussion is about the guy with bad hair. These days, a talking head on CNN introduces a supposedly hot topic and two hacks from the Dems and GOP put their spin on it. It’s all banal and utterly predictable.

Other bloggers salivate over entertainers or anyone else with a thin body and good looks whose IQ is lower than their weight. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I honestly don’t know who most of these people are. If I pick up a People magazine, all I think is “Who is that person and do I really care if he or she incinerates in a flaming orange ball of fire?”

That leaves me to blog about my life and I have a problem with that. It’s like “Dear Diary” for the masses. In fact, most blogging seems like a lot of navel gazing by people seeking attention in an attention span shortened world. But I must blog on, or so my wife says. But, about what?

Well, it turns out that most of the people who have read my blog are horse riding women who also follow my wife’s blog. Maybe she pointed a figurative gun at them to make them do it. So, I have asked myself “What is the most important thing women think about?” More precisely, what number has the most significance in women’s lives? The birth dates of their children? Their wedding anniversary? How much money they earn per hour? P-l-e-a-s-e.

Face it, the most important number in a woman’s life is followed by the notation “lbs.” In other words, just how much dead weight does her horse have to carry? How many jeans has she actually wore out and just how deep has her navel grown? An inch? Two inches? More? Is that where that missing sock went?

That’s where the number 205 comes in. That my fellow fat Americans is how many units of cellulite my horse (who has a big ass herself) has to lug around these days. I used to be able to see my ribs clearly. Now I’m a symbol of what happens when you’ve eaten too many ribs. Considering that I’m a little over 5’11” and, at 54 years of age, not getting any taller, it’s a pathetic measurement. But, it’s good way to start a story line on a blog, especially if you a dull, uninspired boy like me who can’t think of anything else to write about.

It is a number that I hereby commit myself to reducing. There is absolutely no reason anyone other than my wife or maybe my horse should care if I lose weight or instead get big enough for someone from the USDA to put a stamp on my side, but I’ve got nothing to lose by going public, except maybe a few pounds. And some dignity.

Each week, I propose to post my new weight as taken Monday mornings. Anyone with a sick sense of humor, sense of self-righteousness or, better yet, a taste for sadism, can follow along. If you’re naturally thin and can eat whatever you want, go screw yourself. You have no idea how many people actually hate you. But, if you’re like the rest of us who like to share our misery with company, then maybe you’ll want to read my version of “America’s Biggest Loser.”

If you want to bet against me, fine. It won’t be strictly a blog on my diet, but at least I’ll have a starting point each week, publicly stating how big I am. Think of it as a cheap literary device. At least my horse and her chiropractor will be cheering me on, although just between you and me, I’ll think she’ll be covering her bets and laying odds the other way. Barn animals can be vicious that way. Except for pigs, of course.