Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Hello, my name is Simon... and I love to do drawer-ings"

I wish there were something quite philosophical I could say about this, unfortunately the occasion seems to be one of 'what you see is what you get'. While doing a number problem in a crossword puzzle book this morning, I got bored and began to doodle.


Graphic artists and designers (not to mention mathematicians and English teachers capable of spelling the word correctly without the benefit of Spell-Check) worldwide are, as we speak, laughing their proverbial asses off, knowing of my existence and the omnipresent threat I pose to their livelihoods.

My mother would be so disappointed.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Is that you, Aunt Gussie?

The Thought For The Day:

The whole idea of civil war escapes me, frankly... doesn't being civil rather defeat the purpose?

Ah, yes, the calendar reminds me that it is once again August, the official start of the family reunion season. I've been informed by my significant other that we'll be hosting the Annual Church Family Reunion this year. Given the attendant circumstances with my health, I am scarcely capable of containing my glee. Oh, joy, thy eternal countenance fills me with blather only circumspectly containable.

The prospect of providing a venue for such an event is... well, it's terrifying, actually. If past experiences are a reliable indicator of future actions, it will be necessary for me to devise a battle plan capable of anticipating most anything, and carrying out a formatted scenario of plausible deniability.

Since I have to do it anyway, I thought I might as well share my list of necessities for such a gathering. That way, if any of you are faced with the same task, you can't write and say, 'Bubba, why didn't you warn me?'. Consider this my contribution to the betterment of family relations throughout the country.

Tips For Organizing Your Family Reunion

  • Start early. There is no substitute for good planning. It's been my experience that about 30 years is sufficient.

  • Go shopping downtown and pick up a few books, CD-ROM's, planning guides or practically anything that will put off actually starting on your task. The whole process sucks, actually. Changing the date of the reunion at the last minute is acceptable only if the channel cat's are really, really biting well down at Jones' Pond or if you haven't seen that particular edition of Seinfeld. If you totally can't figure out how to work the VCR (and how many of us can actually say we can?), have the wife call everyone... folks tend to get a little surly when they've scheduled their vacation around the reunion and spent a couple of grand on non-refundable airfare.

  • There's really no point in giving out a fake address, especially if you live in a town of under 10,000 population... all it'll do is give them the opportunity to build up a good snit and a healthy buzz before they show up inclined to want to fight.

  • If you know more than one family is coming in from out of town, be sure to book some rooms at hotels nowhere close to each other.

  • Prepare a list of "Family Scandals We Just Don't Talk About" and send a copy to everyone who'll be attending. Also, laminate a hundred copies of the list and post them in conspicuous places throughout the reunion area.

  • If possible, try to schedule the event at a local lake. This way, accidental drownings will take on an air of legitimacy.

  • If family members wish to bring fiances or 'special friends' of other ethnicities or sexual preference, be considerate of their wishes. Then, lose their invitations on the way to the mail box. Trust me when I tell you that you're doing them a favor.

  • Ask every family attending to contribute $50 to help defray the costs of the extras such as fireworks, ammunition, bail bondsmen, etc. Once everyone's money has been collected, take it down to the track and bet it on a horse you think has a chance of winning or use it for a couple of lap dances at Horny Hooters. You're entitled to one last celebration before you lose everything.

  • It would probably be best to have some food available as well as beer.

Getting yourself arrested should only be considered as a last-ditch effort to avoid attending. Remember, the wife knows when you're asleep and has access to the key to your gun cabinet.
Well, that's all I can think of at the moment. Good luck with it... remember, one reunion properly planned will keep you from ever having to do it again.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Poison, Politics and An Offer Too Good To Pass Up

Well, another ten blissful hours spent at the Harry S. Truman VA Hospital today, having various miracles of medical science introduced intravenously, and, I must admit, administered painlessly and professionally. While there, and within earshot of three other compatriots enduring similar regimens, I co-mingled the ethos of at least two different racial components, three different regional backgrounds, and, apparently, three different political party affiliations.

I learned (not necessarily from the same proponent) that John McCain is the absolute right man for the best interests of our country because he's the only candidate who'll back our military, that John McCain is obviously the wrong man for our country because a vote for him is a vote for eight more years of Bush diplomacy, that Barack Obama has a lot of great ideas but shouldn't be elected because he's black and can't be trusted, that Barack Obama is obviously the only person in America who'll look after the working man and he's only half-black and besides, he was raised by his white mother, and that neither John McCain or Barack Obama should be trusted, and that we should write in Ross Perot (if, indeed, he's still alive, which became a discussion that caused the nurses to ask us to quiet down).

Note to Bob: A Veteran's Administration Hospital is probably not the right place to discuss politics, especially if all the proponents are strapped to IV's.

I found a card in a 1998 copy of Stars & Stripes that I filled out and sent in. It was good for $25,000 of term life insurance for only $2.95 per month, with an option for up to four times that value for only $11.80 per month; so at some point in the future, my wife will be $100,000 richer. In my mind, it's a bargain, so I joined the AARP. I can honestly say that I'd be proud to join an organization like the American Association of Retarded People. I'm sure there'll be no problems with my application... I know I'll qualify with flying colors!

I'll tell you what, folks, I'm feeling so good that I'm going to try to go back to work tomorrow. I've been laying around feeling sorry for myself for long enough. The shock has come and gone and I need to feel useful again. Consider me open for business-- thank you and God bless!


PS-- On a different note entirely, I'd like to pass along this information that I experienced a little earlier today:


I hate it when people forward bogus warnings, and I have even done it myself a couple times unintentionally. .. but this one is real, and it's important. So please send this warning to everyone on your e- mail list.

If someone comes to your front door saying he or she is from the Health Department and checking for ticks due to the warm weather and asks you to take your clothes off and dance around with your arms up, DO NOT DO IT!! THIS IS A SCAM!!

They only want to see you naked. I wish I'd gotten this yesterday.

I feel so stupid...

Friday, August 01, 2008

Detritus In My Junk Drawer

Well, kids, I thought that since I'm not writing anything new, I'd give you something to chew on a little...

Detritus In My Junk Drawer

“Did you know that a human head weighs eight pounds?”

The woman in the pale yellow dress lowered her copy of McCall’s and stared at me as I sat across the waiting room from her. “What?” she asked, as much in astonishment as truly questioning.

“I asked if you knew that a human head weighs eight pounds”, I replied, holding up the copy of AMA Journal.

“That’s what I thought you said,” yellow dress replied and raised the magazine to its original position. Moving slightly sideways in her chair, she demurely re-crossed her legs, staring daggers at me, making sure that I didn’t mistake her adjustment to be a come-on.

“That’s about three-and-a-half kilograms in Canada or Great Britain,” I continued, a grin now starting to emerge.

Again, the magazine lowered. “Well, isn’t that fascinating? A man who can do arithmetic conversions in his head and then spout them indiscriminately as though anyone in the whole wide world might give a damn. I think I’m going to swoon…”

Before I could respond, the attendant opened the sliding glass door and spoke. “Mr. Church, the doctor will see you now.”

“Well, duty calls…” I quipped, tossing the magazine back onto the pile. “Listen, I’d love to stay and chat, but you know how it is when you’re crazy… just know that I’ll always cherish our little unconsummated seduction…” Getting up, I leaned forward, took her hand in mine and tried to kiss it, causing her to yank it away in disgust. Feigning astonishment, I then walked to the door and turned the handle. Glancing back and seeing that the woman still insisted upon frying me in the oil of her eyes, I blew her a kiss and half-whispered, half-spoke, “I’ll still respect you in the morning…” and disappeared into the inner sanctum.

Eat shit and die, creep, Teresa Terwilliger thought to herself as she raised the third finger on her right hand towards the door, just eat a whole bag of fucking shit and die of a fucking shit-hemorrhage. Teresa’s unconscious tic even now caused her to sneer and shake… her anger management session promised to be challenging, if she made it that long without tearing up the waiting room and running out the door, screaming like a banshee.

The therapist’s room more closely resembled a law library. Not a single sink blemished the décor, and had there not been a posh leather sofa next to the desk with the prominently displayed plaque announcing Doctor James Wyrick, MD, one might not have been able to distinguish the psychiatrist’s office from the member’s lounge at any first-rate country club.

James Wyrick, a large gaunt man wearing a brown herringbone tweed jacket and silk bow tie, bounded to the door, right hand extended, to meet me. “Hello, Bob”, he said, pumping my hand like the handle on a poorly responding pump handle on a cold winter’s day. “It’s good to see you again. Please make yourself comfortable.”

Sitting down in the large captain’s chair behind his desk, Dr. Wyrick put his bifocals on and turned a page on his yellow legal pad. Glancing at his watch and writing the time in the upper left-hand corner, he asked, “How can I help you today?”

“Jesus, Doc, you sound like the clerk at Home Depot. ‘Uh, let’s see… I’ll take a sack of eight-penny nails and one of those nifty five-pound sledges’.” I stopped and held my hand up. “Wait, you don’t need to write that down, do you?”

Doctor Wyrick fished a tamper out of his pants pocket and began cleaning the bowl of his pipe. “Bob, your attempts at wit aren’t impressing me at the moment. How much time do you figure we’ve spent dancing around the issues? Let me re-phrase my question, hopefully in a form that will impress you enough to allow you to get on with it. Is there a particular condition or occurrence that you don’t understand and would like to discuss?”

He didn’t light the pipe, but puffed on it as if he had, his attention once again focusing on one particular spot on my forehead, invisible rings of nether-smoke mingling with the thoughts, the perfect antiphony to conversation yet to come… hopefully.

“Make it go away.” I responded.

“Pardon me? Make what go away?”

“The undertoad. Make the fucking undertoad leave me alone and go bother someone else.”

“I see… the undertoad…” James Wyrick coughed, stalling for recognition yet to come.

Silence rushed into the room, collecting everything into its mouth and holding it inside, huge eyes of wonder staring at the world.

“You don’t know what I mean, do you?” I said.

“Haven’t the foggiest notion”, Dr. James Wyrick admitted.

A snort emerged from my mouth as he nodded his head, “Yea, that’s what I thought. I must admit, though, it’s nice to hear a medical professional admit that he doesn’t know everything.”

“You’re an intelligent, intuitive man, Bob, I’ve long known and acknowledged that much. Why don’t you try to explain it to me.”

“Well, James, have you ever read The World According to Garp?”

The doctor took off his spectacles and reached for the handkerchief in the lapel pocket of his jacket. “No, I’m afraid that I haven’t… and please, don’t refer to me as ‘James’; you’re my patient, and I prefer to keep our relationship professional.”

“Okay, then you call me ‘Mr. Church’, then. I prefer to think of you as a pompous dickbreath who doesn’t give a flying fuck about anything except the $400-per-50-minute-hour fee that he steals from people who mistakenly and laughingly expect to get something for their money. Only my friends call me ‘Bob’.”

“Go with that, please… why are you so antagonistic toward authority?”

Grinning, I shook my index finger at the doctor. “Oh, I’d almost forgotten—you’re good. I’m going to have to watch out for you. Anyway, the undertoad, according to John Irving, is a concept of perceived anxiety, I think, towards some unseen force that threatens to take over someone’s life. In the book, a five-year-old boy living near the ocean was warned by his parents to be careful of the water’s undertow, which would pull him under the water and out to sea, and he would never again see his family. Being five, he conceived of a giant, green, amphibian beast living underwater with huge frog’s eyes and mouth capable of swallowing a small boy in a single gulp. Thus, the undertoad was born.”

“Very interesting… please tell me more.”

“I need you to kill the motherfucker—or at least make him get off my back and go play with someone else.” My arms were now on my knees as I sat forward on the sofa, wringing my hands as I spoke.

“Why do you feel the need to curse?”

“Why? Does it offend your virgin ears? Why don’t you curse? How can you listen to problems all day long and not curse? Honestly, doc, I think you ought to be seeing somebody about that.” After pausing, I looked directly at the man sitting across the desk from me and replied, “Shee-it.”

“Mr. Church, whatever my psychological problems may be, they have little to do with helping you. Could we stay focused on you, please? As you so eloquently pointed out, you’re paying for my assistance.”

“Touché… my bad.”

Leaning back on the sofa, I extended my right leg and reached into my pants pocket, pulling out a pack of Marlboros. Tapping the bottom of the unopened pack several times with my finger, I adroitly spun it around and removed the cellophane wrapper and tore off a small section of the foil. Again turning the pack upside down, I tapped it, allowing one cigarette to protrude from the end. Taking it into my mouth, I suddenly noticed no ashtrays visible. Worse, the doctor merely stared at me disapprovingly, reinforcing my hatred for society’s prohibition of smoking. Putting the cigarette back into the pack, I sat back on the sofa and folded my hands in my lap.

“Thank you, Bo—er, Mr. Church, I very much appreciate your help in my never-ending crusade to avoid any reoccurrences, on my part, of a habit that I now find repugnant.”

“Sure thing, doc, anything to help a guy out.”

“Let’s talk about the smoking a bit, shall we? How much and how often do you smoke?”

“Well, given the fact that damned near everyplace forbids it, not nearly as much as I’d like, that’s for sure.”

“Do you hold out any hope of quitting?”

“Well, about the same hope as I have of playing pick-up-sticks with my butt cheeks or watching a one-legged ballerina at the Bolshoi dancing to Swan Lake.”

“Do you see any possibility that smoking may be your undertoad?” The doctor didn’t look up from his pad as he wrote.

“Actually, I think the undertoad makes me smoke, so he can kill me faster.”

“I see… tell me more of this undertoad. You seem as fascinated by his presence as you seem afraid. Could it be that you’re substituting nicotine as a curative for some undefined pessimism or angst?”

“Is it really pessimism if it comes to live with you and refuses to move out, if it takes over every reality in your life and leaves your refrigerator empty, never once paying for any groceries? If, in a jealous rage it strangles any joy that might happen to knock on your door, dragging it into the basement and throwing it into a dungeon where it butt-fucks that joy every day while it cries out in pain and agony, is it still undefined?” No emotion accompanied my words, causing Doctor James Wyrick to stop writing and stare at his patient.

“Why do you think I have the power to kill him? Don’t you think that’s your job?”

I sighed. “I guess it’s a little like hiring a hit man. I’d love to kill it myself, if I could, but it’s too tough for me. That’s why I’ve hired you.”

“Talk to me about joy, Mr. Church. Give me your definition of the concept.”

“Joy… for me, joy is the feeling you get upon hearing that somebody you hate just died… preferably prematurely and after a prolonged period of unendurable pain and suffering.”

“Okay, now define ‘contentment’, please.”

“Oh, that’s easy, doc… that’s when you find out through the grapevine that the good-looking girl who won’t go out with you has never had an orgasm and can’t afford a good shrink, so she decides to become a nun.”

“Would you say you’re a relatively happy guy?”

“Who, me? Of course I am! I’m only here because I have way more money than I’ll ever need and while walking by this morning, I noticed that your Mercedes needs new tires.” I no longer looked at the doctor. Picking up James Wyrick’s letter opener, I leaned back and cleaned my fingernails, outwardly contemptuous of all I surveyed.

“Mr. Church, I can’t help you until you at least acknowledge you have a problem. It is not enough for you to walk in here, time and time again, and berate or belittle me and everyone else you contact. You express the desire to lose your anxieties but you don’t seem to understand the causal relationship between your attitude and your appearance to the world. Or, if you do, you choose to ignore it. Frankly, I consider you far too intelligent to continue your self-destructive habits without full knowledge of what you’re doing.”

The pad and pen, apparently useless and returned to their place on the desktop, functioned as a pretend ashtray as James Wyrick, MD, dumped a shadowy pile of ashes from his pipe. “You’re at war with the world, Mr. Church, and since you insist upon being a one-man army who doesn’t listen to the generals you’ve commissioned, it is my opinion that you’re headed for defeat. Your enemy is both vast and powerful, and is using weapons you’ve provided. No one could ever dislike you nearly as much as you dislike yourself. Once I treated a woman who felt she was undesirable and unattractive, so she took very small doses of rat poison on a daily basis, in hopes that she’d eventually just fail to wake up. Meanwhile, she receded further and further into her own little world and eventually ended up in a long-term care facility, suffering from irreversible coma.

You seem intent upon committing suicide one day at a time, but instead of taking the poison yourself, you’re trying to feed it to a rat-resistant public. Once they get a taste of it, they reject the provider. Could they point it out to you? Yes, they could and probably do, but after awhile, they just assume that you don’t intend to stop, so they just shut the door and ignore your presence. You see, Mr. Church, most people will meet you half way on many issues, but you can’t punish them for it.”

“So you’re suggesting that I invented the undertoad and I’m feeding him and providing him a place to sleep?”

“No, I’m not saying that you invented him, but does it matter? He’s real and he’s got you convinced that joy and contentment can only be accomplished as the result of other people’s misery. You’re feeding his insatiable need for power, and until you either kill him or find a cell to confine him, he’ll continue to ruin your life and the lives of those closest to you. I can’t help you, Bob, but I can show you how to help yourself.”

“Oh, yea? You can kick him out?”

“No, you have to do that… but I can show you how to drain the swamp.”

“Okay… it sounds feasible, I guess, but if it doesn’t work, do I get my money back?”

Shaking his head in despair, he sighed and threw both arms on his desk. Without looking up, he pointed at the door. “That’s all for today… and please try to avoid speaking to Mrs. Terwilliger as you depart. I’d consider it a personal favor.”

Some people are so touchy…