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Wednesday, August 25, 2010



We had our annual Hamptons Getaway last weekend, where our group from high school gets together and catches up. And it was a relaxing time as usual. By relaxing I mean nonstop people yelling at each other. In between the yelling we often have time to gloat about how little we have changed, which is great for now, but before you know it we will be gloating about how few of us are dead. I don’t want to be one of those people who when they die you go, “Jesus he was even still ALIVE?”
We sit around the table outside with our drink of choice and chat. Sometimes we talk about old times, but very rarely, since now everybody brings their kids, and the only things we ever did in High School together happen to be the very things that everybody is trying to convince their kids not to do.

Sometimes we talk about current events, like whether they should build a mosque next to Ground Zero. On one hand I don’t know why in the world they would WANT to build a mosque next to Ground Zero and risk having dopey people say bad things about them, if they are trying to show how loveable they are. On the other hand I got a mosquito bite, so I went inside.

The Hamptons is a funny place. If you look around, you can find an example of everyone in the song, “You’re So Vain,” by Carly Simon. For instance, I saw a guy with a hat strategically dipped below one eye. I also saw someone with an apricot scarf. There was also a guy who was with an underworld spy, or the wife of a clothes-pin. Okay I was never that good with lyrics.

Steve made his usual fabulous filet mignon on the barbecue. All of us are very health-conscious and do not eat red meat, so we had Steve cook it until it was maroon. I would like to get one of those rotisseries for our home barbecue, but I can’t imagine cooking anything other than beef on it, because anything smaller than a cow and you risk having it look at you with its stunned face as it comes around each time on the spit. It seems so barbaric, and there’s just no way to dress it up. I find it odd when they cook a whole pig and stick an apple in its mouth, as if to say, “We caught this fucker trying to steal an apple, and that was the LAST STRAW!” Or when they take a chicken and stick an entire lemon up its ass as if to say, well never mind what they would say.

There is a lot of fawning over wines, everybody saying that this one is very rich, or that one is a little fruity. Personally I think fawning over wines is a little fruity, but that’s mainly because wine gives me asthma, not to mention a hangover that is very rich.

As we eat and drink with spirited conversation, intelligent points-of-view, an exchange of ideas, I can’t help thinking what a dynamic group we were and are. Then I eat something with a bee in it and all those good feelings go out the window.
The next morning my wife and I made crepes, which is to say that we were trying to make pancakes and forgot one of the ingredients. Since everyone is so health-conscious, we made sure to bring some fresh fruit as toppings, hoping no one would be interested in the chocolate sauce. But there was a boatload of children there, and while adults can be easily fooled, children never fall for such basic tactics.

We got to the beach in record time. Usually it takes one to two hours to pack the coolers and figure out who is going in which car. This time it took two hours and seventeen minutes, including the fact that their car was literally out of gas. I won’t mention any names, since I would find myself on my own list, but there are people who will pass by a gas station for 2.79 a gallon, thinking that they have enough gas to make it home and then, by coasting down hills with the engine off, squeak over to the 2.77 gas station. Unfortunately, a change of plans takes them instead right by the 3.11 station, clearly unacceptable, but everyone knows that the gas gauge has a built-in margin of error of a quarter-tank. Those of us willing to drive five miles out of the way to spend two cents less on gas are the same people who overpaid by $25,000 on our house without blinking an eyelash.

Anyway we get to the beach and start our Scrabble game, and all of a sudden there is a big dust-up because the Clintons walk by. It is almost impossible to tell it’s them, since they are so unassuming, strolling by slowly, hand-in-hand, followed by a bunch of guys in bathing suits with a wire coming out of one ear. One of them tackled a kid with an Uzi squirt gun just to be on the safe side.

While everyone is yakking about the Clintons and what they’re wearing (Hillary is wearing red from top to bottom, which is making her caboose look like an actual caboose), I’m looking at my Scrabble letters thinking, hey, since Hillary knows about foreign policy, she probably knows how to spell the word, “foreign.” I thought it was “i before e except after c,” but there’s no “c” in “foreign,” and spelling it “foriegn” looks foreign to me. Maybe the word “foreign” is foreign and the rules don’t apply?

But the Clintons saunter away and I’m left with no Spell-Check and Steve’s really bad Bill Clinton imitation. Everyone else is dishing about how much better Hillary looks on TV. If I was on TV I would have the make-up girl make me look worse than I usually do, so I could hear those words that the litigants say after a Judge Judy trial: “TV doesn’t do you justice!” I think about braining Steve over the head with a Kadima paddle, but I don’t want to ruin my Kadima paddle.

Incidentally, Hillary Clinton is the 67th Secretary of State. Thomas Jefferson, whom Hillary’s husband is middle-named after, was the first. Jefferson waged the Tripolitan Wars from 1801-1805 to prevent piracy of American ships off the coast of North Africa. Killed in action during a heroic maneuver in this war was one Captain Richard Somers, whom my town is named after, even though he never set foot in it. If he did, I believe he would have liked it, even though there are far too many traffic lights.

Sunday, August 15, 2010



Against my own better judgment I organized a softball game in which 40 and 50 year-old idiots were invited (harassed) to compete. The last softball game I participated in was maybe 15 or 16 years ago when I was about 35, if you’re buying that. If not, I can certainly offer you a discount, or perhaps you’d like to see something in a different size? In that game I learned that the term “softball” was clearly coined by someone who never got hit by one. “Hit by one” means that you made the mistake of trying to catch one. The ball after being hit by someone (usually fat and out of shape, the most dangerous of all softball athletes) travels with a generous amount of “English.” My glove, which took “English as a Second Language,” is always in the slightly wrong place, so it bounces off my mitt and usually hits me in the chin.

We had only a couple serious injuries, mostly humorous ones. It’s all fun and games until someone breaks a nail. I was the one who broke a nail and I JUST had them done. I know some guys who get manicures and pedicures. Well I don’t actually know them but I’ve heard of them. I would never get a pedicure and risk the girl going, “Dude you have stuff down there that actually needs to be CURED.” I picture my pedicure crossing over several fields of study… anatomy, geology, possibly botany.

Anyway we warm up and then pick teams. I can make a game out of any number of people. Even primary numbers I can split into teams. If there are 12 people we make 3 teams of 4. One team is at bat, the other two are in the field. I can make a game out of the square root of 2 on one team, an isosceles triangle on another, and a raccoon on another. The triangle pitches for both teams, and supply your own raccoon when the other team is in the field.

So I count the legs of all the people present and divide by 2 two find out how many people are there. I end up with an odd number, so I just count heads instead. I think I screwed that up too unless somebody has two heads.

We had enough to play a game leaving right field vacant, so any ball hit there was considered foul. It wouldn’t have mattered; factoring in our fielding percentage, not having anyone in right field was statistically the same as having someone in right field.

We wouldn’t have had enough for two teams at all except that Norm brought an entire half of a genealogical tree- a ton of cousins it looked like, and most of them were teenagers. They played in a carefree and loose manner, as if they were totally unconcerned about the massive weight of the budget deficit we are going to leave their generation.

One of them dusted me for a home run, I think it was the only one of the game. The kid really tagged it, and I ran it down pretty well, then seemed content to let it just fly past me. I tried to get it ruled a foul ball, but I was playing center field. Then someone else hit another one out there and I was like trying to find my inhaler and asking around if anyone brought a defibrillator.

Even more embarrassing was that nobody from my generation seemed to know which base to throw to. Someone would hit the ball and the infielders would in turn throw to each base that the runner just left. The throw to first base always assumed a 12 foot-tall first baseman. Invariably at every softball field I have ever played on, first base is right next to a patch of poison ivy. Thank god you only get one base on an overthrow, or you could itch and scratch out an inside-the-park home run every time.

I thought my team was going to get shellacked, and I even brought some paint thinner just in case, but after the first couple innings our defense settled in (meaning no one hit any towards me) and the game became pretty competitive. The last couple innings my team really started to come around. Maria lobbed a ball in between three infielders who looked like a meteorite had just landed in front of them and they couldn’t believe it. By the time they picked it up Maria had a chance to round first, pull a hamstring, apply a tourniquet and administer the Heimlich maneuver before she limped into second base. What if she needed a medevac helicopter? I wondered if the pilot would mind stopping at third base- we do have a game going on here. I got a seeing eye single and Dave doubled us in. Next inning Norm led off with a double and three hits and three outs later we tied the game. Then Norm and the family with all the cousins had to leave and the game was over.

Incidentally, the game of softball was originally invented to be played indoors, and the first game on record was thought to be between Yale and Harvard alumni tossing around a boxing glove and hitting it with a broomstick, in 1887. I’m not sure who thought of the idea that the ball should be too big to fit inside my mitt, but it was certainly diabolical. Every play I made in the outfield (another misnomer, since I recorded so few outs there) I caught on the second try, because it immediately bounced out the first time. I tried to get it scored a double-play, which was instantly met with scorn, even by my own teammates.

Provided by website-hit-counters.com site.

Friday, August 6, 2010



Every year I like to go to the Jersey Shore by myself, to recharge my batteries. I suppose I could get a battery charger here at home, but I wanted to see if I could find the dangerous and highly ubiquitous cast of “Jersey Shore,” and maybe get into their crowd. I wasn’t sure what Snookie looks like; when I think of a Snookie, I picture something a plumber might use, for what I don’t know. I didn’t know how to find “The Situation” either. I have run into many different situations in my time, some with my car. It could look like anything. So I figured I would rummage around, look for a little trouble, and let them find me.

The beach seemed like a great place to start. I love the Jersey shore. We have been to some beautiful places in the world: Ibiza is gorgeous but the beaches there are rocky. The Caribbean has lovely warm, water but usually no waves. In Cape Cod and Maine the frigging water is so cold your nipples freeze and break off. We went to the visually stunning volcanic black beach in Santorini, but no one there factored in the reality that the color black does not reflect heat, it absorbs it- it is like running over the coals in a motivational seminar only without the increase in confidence. The New Jersey parks have nice, clean sandy beaches with good waves, boardwalks and let’s not forget the girls with big hair and nails, and a lot of bad ink.

My wife hates going to the beach with me because I insist that we pack EVERYTHING. I take two knapsacks, since I take two naps. We take two coolers, because we are 2 cool. A Milwaukee Sawzall seems extraneous at first glance, but you’d be surprised how often it comes in handy. Cooking supplies are a must- people are stranded at deserted beaches all the time with no food. Speaking of which I think I sprayed myself with Pam instead of sunscreen.

I actually saw fewer bad tattoos than usual. One girl had pictures of two bluebirds on her lower back, flying south. Maybe they had a nest down there. The lower back is a very popular tattoo destination- a girl had one that said “dance,” her way of furthering the arts (she furthered the arts farther down than usual). I guess the idea is to put your message right near your ass, where people are looking anyway, in order to get the most saturation. How long before girls start selling corporate sponsorships?

At one section of the sand people were surfcasting, and I have to tell you the difference between surfcasting and doing nothing at all is not much. I resisted the urge to tell them that if they want to liven things up try broadcasting.
I overheard one guy say, “Dude those waves are SICK!” I thought the surf seemed well-behaved, and I can’t imagine what that wave must have done to that guy other than pull his shorts down.

There was a sign that said, “SWIM BETWEEN GREEN FLAGS ONLY.” Between the green flags was nothing but sand, so unless I’m a complete idiot that sign was totally unnecessary.

I heard a lot of parents yelling at their kids- don’t stick your finger in there, don’t put such-and-such up your nose, don’t get sand all over this or that. The kids were generally allowed to play whist or read the Times, and not much else.
Many girls had gone out of their way to find suits that showed the maximum amount of skin legally allowed at the beach, and then spent most of their time stretching the material to cover the exposed skin.

It got late and I was getting cold- thank god I brought a turtleneck sweater and my slippers. I hadn’t seen Snookie or The Situation, so I figured I might try the local drinking establishments. At Bar Anticipation the band was good, although they played the exact same 28 songs that every other band plays, and someday I will write a separate blog on that sore subject. Luckily I was entertained by a great tennis match on ESPN2. And by great, I mean the two hottest tennis chicks in the world, both over 5’10”, and since they are both Russian neither one speaks a word of English- there is nothing sexier than a girl you have no way to communicate with.

There was one gal there more or less my age, and I considered talking to her, but as I ran the dialogue ahead in my mind I realized how difficult it is to have a normal conversation with me without years of experience. Then I noticed that her looks were striking, and for safety’s sake I got the hell out of there.

Sunday it was time to go home. Usually, using reverse psychology, I plan my exit to hit the most amount of traffic possible. Normally I would theorize that most idiots will leave in the afternoon to squeeze every ounce of vacation possible. The dullwits that leave at night don’t worry me. The morning schmucks will have already left, so I usually leave late morning to avoid the rush. But since it was raining, I had to switch things up 180 degrees. I figured that the evening dickheads will think that everyone has left, and leave early. The afternoon morons will jump the gun and leave in the morning. Knowing that the morning knuckleheads will wait until the afternoon to let the evening asswipes cycle through, I left in the late morning. I still got slammed with traffic, but at least I avoided the morning ass-faces and the numbskulls that leave at night.

The one place I didn’t look for Snookie is the one place I should have looked first: she was detained in the Seaside Heights municipal jail in a town right next door.

Incidentally, while I was relaxing at the beach, the legislature of Bridgewater Township in New Jersey was hard at work. They passed a new ordinance that made relieving oneself in public a misdemeanor crime. It seems to me there are several different ways that one could be considered to relieve oneself. I guess you could try all of them in front of the police station, see which one you get arrested for and rule the others out; that’s probably what Snookie did. I’m not sure if you’re actually relieving yourself if someone else holds it for you, but it’s something to think about while you’re waiting for arraignment.