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Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I'm not a particularly litigious person, and when I fell on the ice at the train station and tore my rotator cuff, I was prepared to take it in stride. Which is ironic, because I couldn't even take my stride in stride, and that's why I fell on the ice and tore my rotator cuff.

At the time I did not know I had injured myself, figuring that my well-rounded ass had absorbed most of the blow, padded from years of being spanked by my parents, teachers and boy scout leaders. I was not even in the boy scouts.

I thought I simply hurt myself. I even played tennis the next day. But the more people I talked to, the more they convinced me that I should be seeking a large settlement. I have a personal injury for god's sake! An injury is so much more personal when it happens to YOU. I have both pain AND suffering. Does anyone skip the pain and just have the suffering? I may be entitled to large sums of money!

Which lawyer should I go to? I see them on TV: the one with the big handlebar mustache? The lawyer who makes a big show of donning an extremely large hat while he is talking? What about the TV barrister who fills the entire screen with his big, fat, read-headed, bearded face, talking about personal injury while invading my personal space? Maybe Cellino and Barnes, with their pretty song? I sang it in the shower, and then I slipped and fell, but it was my own shower, so I settled out of court. The lawfirm Weitz & Luxenberg specializes in mesophelioma. I heard about their website on the radio: weitzlux dot com. But on the radio it sounded like " white sluts dot com," so I did check out that website, but it was all about lawyers and other boring crap.

Some lawfirms specialize in these weird drugs or operations that caused weird problems. "Did you take Risperdal? If your teenage boy took Risperdal and grew female breasts and started lactating, contact us immediately!" If I had female breasts when I was a teenage boy, I don't think I would be so quick to part with them. Who knows when I might see another pair?

"Did you have vaginal mesh?" The very thought of whatever that is made my head spin. But then I thought about it a little more and thought, hey- if it keeps the damn deer out then I'm in favor of it.

"Do you have 'Non-24?'" YES! I think I do! What is it? "'Non-24' is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder." Where those stupid bugs come by every 17 years and make such a racket you can't sleep? I HAVE THAT! "If you are blind and either can't sleep or have chronic sleepiness you may have 'non-24.'" I'm not blind usually, but when I'm asleep my eyes are closed and I can't see a damn thing! I THINK I HAVE NON-24! OH MY GOD!

"Do you burst out crying, or laugh uncontrollably?" You might have pseudobulbar affect! They used to call this: somebody with PMS watching their kid's driving test. But now there is a clinical name for it, and they are trying to convince people that they have it, so they can create a market for prescription drugs. "Don't call them crazy!" the commercial implores. "Around the bend? Perhaps. Screw loosey? Maybe."

Drug companies are hard at work every day creating pills to cure stuff. Sometimes they have the pill first, and they are left to figure out the stuff that it cures. After a little bit of testing in the lab, it turns out that there are a few side effects. The pills cure your pseudobulbar affect, but you may suffer from acne, shingles, dog bites, sunburns, sideburns, earthworms, bed-wetting and "non-24."

"Also, occasionally death." They include death right after the headaches and listlessness. They figure if the headaches and listlessness didn't kill you, death certainly might, so they had better mention it. However, it is only occasional death, so it's not like I'm dying all the time, just once in a while. By the way what a tease it is to say the word "listlessness" right in the middle of a long list.

Aren't they aware that every commerical like this is going to spawn a zillion hypochondriacs who think they have this condition? Everyone knows at least one hypochondriac at work. I had a co-worker one time that used to wipe down the phone with disinfectant before using it. "Hey you never know where that phone's been," she would say. I said, 'It's always been right there." I think she was afraid that germs might be transmitted THROUGH the phone.

"Is this Rene?" "Yes, whom is this?" "Never mind that, Rene. Do you have any open sores at the moment? And by the way it's: 'Who is this?'" "I do have a paper cut where I tried to file my nails into the wrong folder." "Would you mind holding me next to your sore for a minute?" "Wait a second- is this an air-borne germ?" "So? You were born in Piscataway."

The eighties called: they want their cooties back.

Anyway, I did end up going to a lawyer, about two months after the fact. "Were there any witnesses?" he asked. "YES- I saw the whole thing." I said. "The other side might try to assert that you did something to cause the accident," he said. "You mean something stupid?" I asked. "That might be easy to prove. They could have a parade of witnesses waltz through to testify that I do more stupid things every day than most people do in a week." "Were you tripping when you fell?" he asked. "No," I said, "that wore off in the 70's." The lawyer declined to take the case, but If one of the witnesses fell and injured himself while waltzing through in a parade he could have had a whole new case.

Incidentally, as I was researching the syndrome of "non-24," I came across the following sentence: "The majority of patients with non-24 are totally blind, and the failure of entrainment is explained by an absence of photic input to the circadian clock. However, the disorder can also occur in sighted people for reasons that are not well understood." I could well understand why this was not easily understood this. PLUS, as I was reading this, my foot fell asleep. Coincidence?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Every morning for the past fifteen-and-a-half years before I left for work I have walked across my front lawn with a good friend of mine, stopped for a moment, turned and walked back. I gave her a tasty snack, and she thanked me with two kisses on the cheek. I sat down and fixed her beautiful red hair for a few minutes, and then stroked with my hand the results of my grooming while discussing with her how I would like her behavior to be for the rest of the day.

I have every reason to believe that that small amount of attention had made her life a little longer and my own life a little better.

For those six to eight minutes each day I did not watch TV, listen to the radio, use a mouse, use a phone. I did not multi-task. I did not text, I did not sext, I did not message. I did not plan. I did not stress. I did not fret.

I expected little in return. I got by far the better end of the bargain.

Thank you for being my friend.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Jesus Christ are we done with this goddamned winter yet? I'm sorry to yell but this has just gone on far too long. I'm sick and tired of it. I'm actually sick and tired because I have a cold, but if we are still blaming colds on the lack of warmth, then I can go back to yelling at the winter. I never knew that HELL could be so friggin' cold. If I wanted to live in Syracuse I wouldn't have bothered to graduate.

I've been living in the Northeast all my life and have seen my share of rough winters. Every year the TV weathermen and weather chicks, who get paid by the idiotic phrase, come up with a new one every year. They made up the term, "Wind Chill Factor" so that they could tell you that it's cold AND windy. "Dew Point," is a cocktail of numbers brewed together that pilots use for judging the possibility of icing. I have used the formula to evaluate cupcakes and it works. "Real Feel Temperature" was invented for those to whom the actual temperature did not feel real enough.

This year they have come up with: "The Polar Vortex." It sounds to me like they spent a lot of money on the word "vortex" and were waiting for another word to come along to use with it. It sounds pretty high tech, like it should be flying around the mountains of Pakistan flushing out terrorists. Next year if we had a "Polar Vortex Matrix," it wouldn't surprise me.

All this harping on how cold it is and the fact that it's going to be EVEN COLDER TOMORROW made me intermittently sad and angry, sometimes violent, and almost always cold. I call this the "Bipolar Vortex."

They say that we are losing our polar ice caps, since all the snow has migrated down here to my driveway. Every day brings a new snowstorm with it. As the snow fell gently around the property, making nary a sound, a peaceful smile came over my face. "Isn't it beautiful?" I ask my wife. "Our cable's out," replies my wife. "FUCK THIS CRAP!" I ejaculate.

To get back the romantic mood I attempt to start a fire. In a nick of time, I remember to start it in the fireplace. Some crumpled newspaper (I start with the unfinished Monday New York Times crossword puzzle, which was harder than usual), a little kindling strategically placed, some logs stacked to allow the flow of oxygen and VOILA! Nothing. "You have to heat the draft," says my wife, romance still in the air. "I know you have to heat the draft. Or is it the other way around?" I reply, a hopeless romantic.

Of course I forgot to bring the firewood inside to dry. I suggest that we might use one of the kitchen chairs. "When was the last time we had more than three people sitting in there?" I query. By this time I have burned about four months-worth of newspapers, giving the illusion of a blazing inferno and also singeing off my eyebrows.

I remember that there is a ton of dry firewood under the eaves from hurricane Sandy, in the form of a 20-foot uncut tree trunk. My idea is to feed it into the fire perpendicularly, a little at a time, over the course of about 14 hours. My wife gives me a little look with her eyes that might mean that she thinks I am a genius.

Meanwhile I have run out of newspapers and I am burning our past tax returns. You are supposed to save them for ten days. Or is it ten years? Oops. The ashes from the paper have almost reached the top of the fireplace, and our carbon footprint has swelled to Wilt Chamberlain size. Remember when Wilt Chamberlain said he slept with 20,000 women? How the hell would he remember them all? I'm thinking he slept with the same slut maybe 6,000 of those times and didn't even remember. "Wilt the Stilt" they called him, but they only mention the one stilt. How did he stand up, unless....?

So now more smoke is coming out the front of the fireplace than is going up the chimney. "When was the last time we had the chimney cleaned?" I ask. "Sixteen years ago when we moved in," she replies. I remember my wife called a chimney sweep company, and I was kind of expecting a British bloke with a top hat. Instead, this little Spanish guy showed up who looked small enough to scale down the chimney and scrub it by hand. I asked him if he could sing or tap dance, but he didn't seem to speak any English. I broke into "Chim Chim Cher-ee" to get him started. "Chim chim-a-nee, chim chim-a-nee, chim chim che-ree!" I sing, but he looks like he is pointing to his crotch. In retrospect, I realize now that he wanted to use the bathroom. I don't know where he ended up going, but now that I think about it, our damper was damper.

I hear the plow guy outside, so I head out to see if he wants some hot chocolate. But he is already gone, and so are most of our driveway lights. He has plowed the blacktop into a perfect sheet of ice, like a zamboni. So I have to sprinkle rock salt, and as I descend the 45-degree ski slope of our driveway, I realize I am sliding inexorably down towards the mailbox. I am still tossing the salt granules as I go, and it looks like a weird wedding reception.

But here we are in April, and March came in like a lion, stayed like a lion, married, had cubs, and ate the lamb. But at least finally enough snow has melted around our mailbox so that we could retrieve our newspaper from January 3rd. You know what the headline was that day? "Snow Blankets Area!" It sounded so warm in print, but would have been warmer if a blanket had blanketed the area.

Incidentally, the polar vortex is actually a never-ending cyclone that pushes air masses around near the North and South Poles. It represents a constant low-pressure area, so if you can get a job there, not much will be expected of you.