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Friday, May 27, 2011



After we had amassed what we deemed a sufficient amount of cat hair on our laps sitting around in front of the TV watching “Cops” on a Saturday Night, the wife and I were looking to get out of the house. We prefer to see live music- if the band is good there are no complaints, and usually they do not perform rap music or techno music, so we are spared at least that. If the band is horrible, it’s even better.

Last Saturday, the local Holiday Inn was just the place to go for cocktails and dancing. Dancing is a great way to stay in shape, so we avoid it, but the cocktail part appeals to us greatly. The band was a wedding-style combo with a female lead singer. They were fairly annoying, but on the whole not too objectionable for the genre. But then we noticed him: there he was, resplendent in a satin jacket with a red tie, his tastefully graying hair coiffed in a ‘70s mobster style. He did not sing, nor did he need to. He snapped his finger, elbow cocked at the same height as his head. He smiled in response to an imaginary joke. He pushed up air with both hands above his head to raise the roof. He cha-cha-cha-ed, he mambo-ed, he rhumba-ed, he samba-ed, all without the unnecessary bother of a partner. I knew this had all the ear-marks of a magical evening. Little did I know that my ears would actually be marked by this experience.

Then he sang. He piped into “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch” with all the zeal and alacrity of someone test-driving a Lamborghini on a road with a bridge out. He was at least an entire whole-step sharp. No one in the band seemed to notice it, or they may have been used to it. No one on the dance floor noticed it; they had other things on their mind, perhaps like what might happen if the roof were to suddenly raise. My wife and I noticed it, and we looked at each other, wide-eyed and making the same face that signifies the presence of seafood that longs to go back to the sea.

He was undeterred. He pointed to fictional friends in the audience. He soft-clapped along to the music during the solos, with the microphone in his hand. He closed his eyes on the high notes, palm upstretched towards the heavens. He winked. My wife thinks he winked at her, but I think he winked at me. This guy could wink, and it’s not easy to pull off convincingly (when I try it I look as though I popped a contact lens). He did not ooze charm so much as he oozed ooze. He looked like Will Ferrell doing an impression. He was unctuous, fatuous and gratuitous all at the same time. When the song was over we clapped, because we enjoy music sung off-key. He asked us to tip the waitresses and bartenders, since they work so hard, even though they didn’t seem overly taxed by industry when I went to get a drink.

What was this man doing there? He did not play an instrument, although he may have at one time. And that one time was all it took for someone to take the instrument away from him. They did not even trust him with a tambourine. Seemingly useless band members down through the ages have always been given a tambourine, as long as they promised not to make any noise with it, and had big cans. From Suzanne Crough in the Partridge Family, to Wrangler Jane in The Termites, the tambourine has always been the traditional prop for those with little musical talent. Which makes me wonder that when Bob Dylan musically asked the Tambourine Man to play a song for him, would he have known which song it was? It’s awfully hard to tell on a tambourine.

When they finally called “last call” and turned the lights on I felt cheated, mainly because I had just ordered a drink.

Incidentally, Melody Patterson was only 16 years old when she played Wrangler Jane on F Troop the first season. I rank her second in the “Who is the Hottest 60’s Television Babe” contest: 99, Wrangler Jane, Jeannie, Mary Ann or Samantha?? The Indian tribe in F Troop was named the “Hekawi,” when they became lost one time and, after someone asked “Where the heck are we?” was misheard to say, “We’re the Hekawi!” What I did NOT know is that the name of the tribe was originally to be known as the “Fugawi,” but the censors nixed it once they heard the backstory…

Thursday, May 5, 2011



So the doohickey that I clean the dirty dinner plates with is apparently known as a dish mop. It looks a little like Phyllis Diller, only it's funnier. In our household, the wife cooks splendid meals every night, and the husband eats them, usually while yelling at the Yankees, an untidy combination. When I lift up the plate after dinner, there is a ring of salt and pepper that looks like a lunar eclipse. There are remains of a carcass (a zebra?) littering the table, and a brown-looking sauce that may have been once been red. Afterward the dishes go in the dishwasher, and the pots and pans fall under my jurisdiction. Lately my dish mop is resembling one of those over-zealous reporters who is too stupid to come in out of a hurricane. All the mop hairs are on one side, and only half of the pots and pans are clean.

My wife tried to get a new one at the supermarket, and there were none to be found. It's possible that there are politics involved, and somebody is not greasing the palms of our district's dish mop sales reps. We have run into this before with Cocoa Krispies. No one will stock them anymore- they are toast. Luckily we can still find bread, or bread would be toast. We looked at the hardware store, the drugstore, even the deli, no luck. Dish mops are just not in style anymore, possibly because people now do all their dish mopping online.

Which gave us the idea to look online for a dish mop. I told her to look for a "Dishmop Town," "Dishmop City," or any dishmop municipality. "DishMopsRUs.com." or a "Just Dishmops," or even "Just Dishmops, Too." We finally turned to Amazon. Yes, they had dish mops, but only in bulk. You had to buy 600 dish mops, at a total cost of $3,000. We kept looking, and eventually found one for sale, for $5.99. It was no Phyllis Diller. More like a Janeane Garofalo, not even in her prime, or a Moms Mabley. But we bought it, and with tax, shipping and handling, came to $19.29. We also got an extended warranty for $25.00, should anything go wrong within the first year. It should be here in a couple weeks, and by then I will have a lot of dirty dishes to clean.

There used to be a thing called the "Fuller Brush Man." It was a salesman who came door-to-door to sell cleaning products to a wife whose husband was not home at the time. The husband, as the theory goes, would return to find the house clean, and the wife would have a few new uses for brushes that would make your head spin. I mention this only because I would bet anything that the salesman would have had a dish mop in his sample case. But someone figured out that they had brushes at the store, and that was the end of the Fuller Brush Man.

Every time I turn around there is a new television ad for an innovative plug-in device that makes your house smell of something different than whatever it smelled like before. Now there is a motion-activated stink-swapping device that springs into action whenever you pass by, and releases a little volcano plume of potpourri into the air. I thought to myself that if the people in that commercial only had a dish mop, their house probably wouldn't smell so disgusting.

So I go on, making do with a pot scrubber, or playing dishwasher roulette, where I guess if an eating receptacle is dishwasher-safe. If I remove it after the dry cycle and it looks like it's from a Dali painting, I lose.

ps: The thing finally arrived, and because there was nothing else in the website photo to compare it to, we couldn't have known that it was only four inches long. Any five inch pots will have to fend for themselves. In all fairness, Phyllis Diller is also much shorter in person.

Incidentally, even though Alfred Fuller died in 1973, the Fuller Brush Company remains the largest employer in Barton County, Kansas. When we were young children our mother used to smack us on the behind with a hairbrush when we misbehaved, approximately 20 hours out of the day. As far as I know, the hairbrush was never used on hair, and photos of me during those years confirm this.