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Friday, November 20, 2015



     Last year I went to the doctor and I asked him what's new, and he says with a frown, "The bird flu." I ask him, "Where did it go?" And he says, "where did what go?" He looked at me like I was crazy and I looked at him like he was nuts, then he said, "Did you already have a shot or would you like a shot?" And I said, "It's a little early in the day but the idea is growing on me." He took out a little rubber mallet and started hitting me with it.

     He told me that influenza deaths are on the rise this year. I said, "Oh my god, they should be concentrating on that instead of the flu!" Then he frowned again, and looked in both of my ears with that microscope-looking device. He said he didn't see anything, I assume he was looking for my brain.

     I got my flu shot last year, but I'm a year older now, and I heard that the symptoms of the flu are exacerbated by aging. Now I'm not one to sit around exacerbating all day, so I went to get my flu shot.

     They were offering them where I work, so I stood on line, and they gave me a form to fill out as I waited, which had a bunch of questions on it. The first question should have been: Did you bring your glasses with you? Answer: NO. The form asked if I had a condition known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, but if I had something known as that I certainly didn't know it.

     There are people at work who think I'm crazy for getting the flu shot, because they think that the flu shot gives you the flu. These are the same people who think you can catch a cold from being cold. They probably also think you can catch whooping cough from a whooping crane, or chicken pox from a chicken. Actually, I'm not sure you can't.

     So I sat down next to my nurse. There was this whole flap about a Miss America contestant using the fact that she was a nurse as her talent. She walked out with a stethoscope around her neck, and I thought she was going to do something cool with it, like use it as a yo-yo or slingshoot something with it or something, but instead she just started yakking about being a nurse. And people on the internet who don't have any hobbies started asking why she had a stethoscope if she's not a doctor. Well of course she has a stethoscope, so she can count the number of steths coming out of my chest, although I could swear I can hear Kings of Leon coming out of the earpieces.

     I asked her if it was going to hurt, and she said not too much.
"Not too much? What do you consider too much? On a scale of one to ten, what is the pain between?"
"It's between your shoulder and your elbow," she deadpanned.
"Would you say it's like somebody stomping on your foot if they did it on your arm?"
She said, "I would say it's more than a tiny prick but less than getting run over by a car, although I wouldn't know anything about getting run over by a car."
She told me to roll up my sleeve, the shot goes right in the upper arm.
"Don't you think it might be too muscular up there? You might not be able to insert the needle because of my biceps?"
"No, not at all,"she said.
"You didn't have to say  the 'not at all' part." I offered. "Isn't there somewhere else you can give me the shot, like Aruba?"
But before she could answer she was assaulting my arm, and I yelled out in surprise.
"That was just the cotton swab with the alcohol on it."
"Could you put some into my coffee cup?" I was going to stall for a little while, maybe ask to see her credentials, where she went to school, ask if she knew any yo-yo tricks with the stethoscope, etc., but she said she was already done.
"Wow, I didn't feel any pain at all!" I exclaimed.
"I can keep trying." She said.

Friday, November 13, 2015



     My friend Bill has been a Somers resident for about a decade or so, and like me, grew up in Chappaqua. There he became involved in something that has become a community institution. It's called Take It Or Leave It, and it's part swap meet, part recycling center, part museum and part block party.

     It happens every Saturday morning from 9:00AM to 12:00PM from May to November. People show up with things that have been lying around their house or garage for so long the original patent has expired. For example, a wife might come by with a VCR that has been flashing 12:00 ever since a power failure in 2007. Town residents rummage through the articles, and almost always find something they need, even if it's not what they came for. For instance, a husband might find a VCR similar to one that went missing a week ago, which was working just fine as far as he knew.

     Bill told me it was a win-win situation, so I went over there expecting to win something. Which I didn't, thank you very much, but I did find a thriving, bustling circle of people who each had something to gain from what started as a nifty idea and has grown into a social happening.

     There were all kinds, shapes and colors of people there, and all sorts of merchandise. Sports equipment- there were lots of balls. There were more balls than debutante season in Savannah, Georgia, and this sentence could have come out way worse.

     There was a wake board, which was good because 9:00AM on a Saturday is awfully early. There was a huge children's Busy Box that kept me occupied for a little longer than is prudent to say. There were cassettes, there were record albums. Did you know that Yo-yo Ma put out a record with Bobby Mcferrin? I can make up a lot of stuff but I couldn't make THAT up.

      Looking around, I was reminded of the time my wife tried to throw out a garbage can. It's not as easy as you'd think it would be, and I thought I noticed smoke coming out of the ears of the trash collector. Could they refuse our refuse?

     While I was there, one woman showed up with a stroller and no baby, another woman had a baby and no stroller. They both left happy. Let me clarify that they exchanged the stroller, not the baby.

     Someone left a Kaypro II, which was the first transportable computer ever made, from the early 1980s (I looked it up). It looked like it might have been transported from the Smithsonian, but don't you know? Somebody took it. Probably someone who had a Kaypro I and was looking to upgrade.

     Take It Or Leave It is like a tag sale, only with a slightly smaller profit margin. Then again they don't have to pay for the tags. I held a tag sale when my mother died and found the experience slightly demeaning. You could be selling a set of King Louis XV chairs for a dollar, and people will dicker with you.
"Will you take eighty cents for these? The yard sale down the road has them for 60 cents, but I'm already here."
"These are original Louis XV chairs!"
"If they're so great why is he getting rid of them?"

     I asked Bill what was the weirdest thing they had ever accepted, and he said without hesitation, a cow inseminator, used for the purpose of fertilizing cow eggs. Which does answer the age-old question of which came first, the cow or the egg, but doesn't answer the question, "Am I going to need larger toast with this breakfast???"

     Bill (and I and probably plenty of others) would love to see a version of Take It Or Leave It in Somers, and he would love to hear from anyone who is interested in this idea- it runs with about six dedicated volunteers and the good graces of the town. You can reach him at wihaku@gmail.com. I waited around a little while longer hoping that someone had a pizza they were no longer using, and possibly the unused portion of a Coors Light 12-pack.

Friday, November 6, 2015



     Being a suburban commuter can result in some of the darndest sights, and this is certainly one of the darnder ones, and I swear to god the first two paragraphs are true: I was grabbing some coffee before work at the coffee cart on 57th Street, when my coffee guy picked up his iphone and started videotaping me. I was very flattered, but I realized that I hadn't been into hair and makeup yet, or done any preparation in the green room or anything. But I was about to give it my best until he put up his hand and waved me to the side. When I looked behind me, I saw that an endless parade of beauty queens was streaming out the door of my building, complete with sashes and tiaras.

     They came down the steps in single file and boarded three buses, although I would swear they went out the back of the bus and back into the building through a side door, because they just kept on coming. Don't we have only 50 states? Or 51 or something? Was this the beauty pageant where they include Guam? Does Puerto Rico have a Miss, too? I didn't see Trinidad and Tobago, but I heard they were no longer together. I saw Tobago out with Caicos recently, which is no longer speaking to Turks.

     Thank god the buses didn't park next to a subway grate, or all of them would have left Manhattan without their heels, a rookie mistake. I noticed that one of the girls had a sash that said, "Washington, DC." Is that a state now? That would mean we had TWO Washingtons, which is confusing, unless one is a sequel with Bruce Willis in it.

     I didn't know which pageant they were from, so I yelled out to one of them, "Miss America?" And she said, "No! I live here and I don't miss it at all!" I wanted to ask them each a question: "If you could choose any single issue that presidential

candidates today are are discussing in their platforms, what would it be, and why?" I wanted to get a jump on picking the winner, maybe place a bet or two with my bookie. I tried it out on Miss California, and she said, "Presidential candidates are wearing platforms? That's hot." I couldn't repeat the question fast enough to all the others before they got on the bus, and I actually didn't know the answer myself.

     I knew it wasn't Miss Universe, because all the candidates looked like they were from Earth. One girl was very short, so she may have been from a dwarf planet.

     Things have certainly changed since the pageants of yesteryear. For instance, some of the ladies looked like they may have had some work done. I detected a nose job, several bust enhancements, a new rear fender, and one of the contestants admitted she had her kitchen remodeled. My coffee guy also had a nose job by the way.

     They all have handlers now, who tell them what to do and say during the pageant. I think that would be the perfect job for me. The first thing I would say is, let's see the face you're going to make when they announce the winner, and it's YOU. You burst into tears with this UGLY face of surprise and abject weeping as if they didn't cut the thorns off of the roses, and everyone in America looks at you in horror and says, "WHOA! THAT'S not the face we voted for!" So you need to come up with an expression that says, "Check this out! I just won Miss America, yet one second later I am still gorgeous!"

     The "Swimsuit Competition" is now called "Lifestyle and Fitness," I guess to judge how well the bathing suit fits. For those of you scoring at home, it counts for ten percent of her composite grade, even if it only covers five percent of her body. By the way, if you're scoring at home, turn of the television for goodness sakes.