I’m 21 today. Happy birthday to me.

All growed up lol.

In three days I’ll be a U. S. Marine. Oorah!

Shouldn’t say that yet. Don’t have the right.

At last I’ll be living and working with real men and women.

The Corps will knock the vinegar out of me, the sooner the better. My mom already gave me the haircut. She was afraid if I came home and she wasn’t used to it, she might embarrass herself.

I’ll be starting out fixing jet planes. I never had any luck with mechanical stuff but they teach you. Is a jet mechanical? Propellers are, but jets seem more like rockets. Are rockets mechanical?

I’m doing some push ups, but maybe I should save my strength. If i flush out of training, or whatever they call it, I’ll never get over it. I guess I’d join the Army next but it wouldn’t be the same.

I’ve got an old movie about drill instructors at Paris Island. Jack Webb is the top one. I turn up the sound to get used to all the shouting. I don’t know what the rules are going to be about iPhones and iPads and so forth. They’ll let me know. Probably while calling me “maggot.”

This will also be my first time outside of Valdosta.

Wish me luck!

Diary 01/11/18

Walking along a freeway frontage road today at noon.

Acres of migrant housing have been demolished and are now being replaced by townhouses.

The construction workers on the job, all Hispanic, sat in their cars or next to them, on the street by the current building site, taking their lunch.

I heard mariachi trumpet music. A fellow relaxed in his car, doors open, listening to a mariachi band and playing along at intervals with it. Perhaps rehearsing for a gig tonight.

A Mexican food store and taqueria on the corner, there for years, cannot long survive. All its customers have been displaced.

Man Swallows Severed Human Toe At Bar, Drops Mic, Skips Town

[headline, Huffington Post]

It’s not as bad as it sounds. What I learned: don’t go to the karaoke bar and drink heavily in the middle of an argument with your girlfriend.

I had promised Kathy Sue that I’d put our marriage nest egg in the bank but it was still riding around in the back of my van in a tin cookie box. Since Kathy Sue had earned all the money, she objected to the fact that I couldn’t even make the effort to go to the bank and deposit it.

“You’re taking laziness to a whole new level,” she said.

I couldn’t argue. I’m lazy by nature. But Kathy Sue was up to arguing for the both of us.

And by the way, when did “mike” turn into “mic”? Isn’t that, well, a little girly?

So we went to the Hula Hut and sniped at each other while drinking something called Hut Hooch. When it came time for me to sing, I chose “You Light Up My Life,” but when I got to the part where I go “Finally a chance to say Hey, I love you, never again to be all alone…,” I was looking over at Brenda Poltz, or, actually, down her front, and it set Kathy Sue off.

We had exchanged toe rings for our engagement – you can see where this is going – because Kathy Sue is convinced she has knobby knuckles and doesn’t want to call attention to them. On this occasion, she pulled out the pig sticker that she carries in her purse, pushed up the to stage, leaned over, and cut off my toe, the one with the ring on it. I was wearing flip-flops.

She pulled the ring off the toe, glared at me, and swallowed it.

“I’m flushing you out of my life,” she shouted at me. “Just like I’m going to do with this ring when it comes out again.”

Then she threw my toe at me. I caught it and just to spite her or match her or something, I popped it into my mouth and swallowed it.

Out in my van, I was just arriving at the hospital to get the toe stump sewed up when I realized that I still had the nest egg. Actually, it was more money than I’d had in years, it seemed like, so I tied my handkerchief around my foot, stuffed the foot into its work boot, and just kept on going.

Man put acid in coworker’s shoe

Whatever happened to itching powder? We had some real laughs with that stuff. We didn’t put it in shoes. We put it in a fellow’s drawers.

You don’t see the good old pranks these days. Acid in a shoe? How about the hot foot? I’d tell a guy a joke while my buddy snuck up behind him and slipped a couple of kitchen matches between the sole and last of his shoe and lit another match with his thumbnail and touched off the matches in the shoe. I’d try to time my punch line with the moment the flames reached the shoe and set the guy to hopping. What a hoot.

We never lit shoelaces. That would be stupid.

Acid has a place in the world of pranks, but not in some  guy’s loafer. We would put a little hydrochloric or sulfuric acid, I don’t recall which, in an atomizer and sneak into the girl’s locker room and spray squirts of it over the front of a blouse in two spots. Later in the day, the cloth would crumble away and the girl’s two bra cups would poke out. You could split your sides laughing at that.

Where have all the pranks gone? It’s sad. You used to could walk into a classroom and there would be old spitwads stuck to the walls all over. How can kids go through their youth without shooting spitballs at each other. It don’t make sense.

Our classroom was next to a field with sheep in it. The flies through the open windows were awful. We’d spend hours during boring grammar and economics and arithmetic lessons, killing flies with rubber bands. That’s not a prank, but it’s something I miss just as much.

We had so much energy when we got to school. There was nothing better than running around like maniacs pulling down a guy’s pants and underpants to his ankles in front of some girls. We did that with one wimpy kid and by the end of the day he had made three dates.

You know what’s crazy? Not only is it impossible to find an exploding cigar, you’re lucky these days to smoke a regular one.

I’m  going to burn a bag of  dog poop on my neighbor’s porch tonight, just for old time’s sake.

PHOTO: Giant Man Spotted At Kim Jong Il Funeral

[Headline, Huffington Post, 12/30/11)

I was at Abe Goldschmidt’s funeral, the indoor part, and there was a lady with a big hat sitting in front of me. I couldn’t see a thing. If I were this giant man, I could have looked over the hat. Overlooked the hat. Or, being a giant, I could have asked her in a nice way to remove the hat and she would probably have done it. But as it is, she would have just laughed at me.

Let me make this clear. At 4′ 10″ I am by no means a midget. You never saw a headline, “Midget Spotted at Kim Jong Il’s Funeral.” I’m not saying the malnourished North Koreans are midgets. They compete in international soccer and badminton, and they’ve got all those nukes.

The thing is, if you study the picture, it appears that the giant man is actually a woman, and she is giant. I’m trying to text or tweet her with a contract from Hollywood. Nobody wants delicate Asian beauties anymore. They want Asian women who kick butt, pardon my French. Grace Park of BSG fame? 5′ 9″ Not bad. She was a tough cookie in that show. Several tough cookie clones, actually. But this woman at the funeral? She could step on Grace.

The guys at MGM claim that this giantess is “spotted” and that I’m nuts to throw money at her. So typical. What if she is, well, marred, complectionwise? The studio is going to get her to the plastic surgeon first thing anyway. She can get de-spotted while they’re building up her cheekbones, making those eyes just a little less Korean – there is a limit – and taking stock of that momumental chest area of hers.

There will be giants. And I will be their agent. I will stand on their shoulders. I will take a giant step for Mankind, or at least those who go to the movies. I see a Giant remake, with this babe taking the Rock Hudson role. I see her appearing at the funerals of all the world leaders. What a stunt! Have they buried that Arab in Libya yet? How tall is Big Bird? Is Big Bird a guy or a gal? These days, it don’t matter!

I see a movie with Tom Cruise. They shoot it right, the shrimp looks taller than she is. They can do that.

Thank you!


If you’ve received this email, I owe you a big Thank You!

As part of my RA (Rudeness Anonymous) 12-step program, I am apologizing to you now for my past rude behavior, and thanking you for all that you’ve done for me. Or to me. Or is that the rudeness speaking?

If I’ve said something to hurt or offend you, I didn’t mean it. Well, I meant it, but I don’t mean it now, if you know what I mean. If what I said rang a bell or struck a nerve, I apologize. It’s hard enough being ugly or dumb or an ass without someone like me rubbing it in.

To taunt me, instead of the other way around, simply reply to this email, although RA does not approve of taunting. RA considers taunting to be rude. I myself have  given up taunting, except at sporting events and in arguments with my children.

Remember Jane Smith? That kind-of-shaky, mousy little thing in Accounting? My group called that bullying, what I did. Jane is past all human caring now, but I’m thanking her in my heart. Bully me back if you want to. I spend Friday nights at Budd’s Bar. I’ll be sitting on the last stool to the right. I encourage those I’ve bullied to stop by and give it back to me in spades, from 10 P.M. to 11 P.M. After that, I’ll be too drunk to appreciate what you’re doing and to thank you. In fact, better come between 9 P.M. and 10 P.M. Or earlier.

A special shout-out to those to whom I was obstreperous. I’ve come to hate obstreperosity. I wouldn’t want someone to become noisily aggressive with me, for sure. I laughed at first when the RA group pointed out that I was a very obstreperous person. I thought that they were talking about a disease of my private parts or something! But the joke was on me. Everyone in the group turned on me that night and had me in tears. Tears of laughter at what a bunch of clowns they were, but still!

Mom and Dad: It’s true, what you told me a thousand times. I was born rude. Born with the family rude gene. Lucky for you, that it skipped your generation. You did the right thing, sending me off to “private school” in Wasilla at the age of two, the second you recognized that I had it. But not too soon for me to get in a few zingers before you shipped me out, ha ha! But I’m sorry.

Myrtle Smith: Hi. I’ve been reading over the minutes from your first RA meeting.

   You: Hello, I’m Myrtle. I’m a rude person.

   All: Hello, Myrtle!

   You: I don’t really want to be here. The judge made it a condition of my parole. Looking out over your faces, I see… Hey, that guy is sticking his tongue out at me!

   Me: No, I wasn’t.

   You: How long have you been in this program? Did you just get here, too? Because you’re very ru… Hey, I heard that!

   Moderator: Can we just let Myrtle introduce herself, please?

   You: That little twerp. I thought I was rude. Who’s his sponsor?

   Moderator: I was going to ask you to do that.

   You: The first thing I’ll do is punch him in the face.

   Moderator: Sounds like a good start.

I guess you could call that a “meet cute,” huh, Myrtle? Anyway, I want to thank you for that first punch, and all the punches that followed. Thank you for being there for me at my sister’s wedding, when you knocked me out before I could respond to that “Speak now, or forever hold your peace”  thing. Thanks too for that shot to the head you gave me at my Dad’s funeral. I wasn’t at my best that day. They still won’t let me back in the cemetery to visit Pop’s grave.

To the doctors and nurses who participated in my rude-gene replacement therapy, hey, it was a long, hard road, during which, yes, I harassed a few of you, and nagged, and waxed vituperative, and lacked restraint with respect to raspberries and derogatory, racist, sexist, ageist, and anti-religious remarks, together with generally awesomely bad behavior, but I guess we can look back on it all now and laugh, huh? I’ve only been able to cadge the email addresses for three of you. Please pass these thoughts along to the other forty-eight involved in the project. Getting that damned gene out of every strand of DNA in my body, especially from all those billions of neurons in my brain, what a slog! Oh, and I want to thank the thousands of rude rats and mice who gave up their lives in our nation’s top laboratories to make the procedure possible. And remember: if I hadn’t been as rude as I was, I might not have accumulated the billions of dollars required to cure me. So cut me a little damn slack! Especially you, Nurse Ratchett, you know who you are. Take off that uniform and go find a job as a domatrix somewhere. Just kidding.  🙂

To all my RA friends, thank you and goodbye. Now that I’ve been cured of my rudeness, I’m off to CSNA (Can’t Say No Anonymous), which meets upstairs in the church rec hall.

And finally, a reminder to all of you that annoying is not the same thing as rude.

My Life As A Mime

We lived in Flatfield, Iowa, next to a grain elevator. I was playing in the backyard with my mom when Silo #67 blew. It was one of those corn-dust explosions. The concussion ruptured my mom’s’ eardrums. My dad was standing outside the company headquarters at the time. He lost his eardrums too. In that moment, my parents were rendered deaf as a couple of scarecrows (as we used to say there in Flatfield).

My drums were spared because at the critical moment, I had my fingers stuck hard in my ears, to block out my mom’s scolding after I had soiled the sandbox. Unfortunately for me, whirling metal flak from the silo removed both of my hands at the wrists, which were cocked up in a way to support my fingers in my ear holes but which also inadvertently presented clean targets for the bladelike projectiles.

My fingers remained in my ears, but I could still hear my mother’s cries of dismay, even if she couldn’t.

Being a tough farming family, bred over the years from hardy immigrant stock, my mom and pop and I healed up and went on with our lives. Flatfield was set out on the plains where every farm had someone on it missing a digit or a limb, the toll taken by harvesters, axes, and the like. My parents learned signing for the deaf; I learned to use my new hooks. As I could not sign without articulated fingers,  I took up charade-like gesticulating as a way of communicating with my folks.

Thus began my lifelong career as a mime. Through mime grammar school, mime middle school, mime high school, mime summer programs and tutoring, mime college, and mime graduate school, all paid for with state and federal disability scholarships, as well as a few shekels chipped in by our local Lutheran church, I took as my major “Make ‘Em Laugh.” Counselors urged me time and again to consider the dramatic side of miming, but I felt that my greatest challenge lay in generating giggles and guffaws using only my hooks, my stumps, my wits, and my God-given talent. My parents supported me fully in this, although they were rarely able to figure out just what it was that I was trying to tell them.

Throughout school and thence out onto the street as a busker, I faced one relentless enemy, the mercy laugh. It was always present, merciless (as opposed to merciful), a specter that haunted me. Or does that metaphor even make sense? I credit my strength of character for my early successes as I struggled at school against those awful sympathetic titters. Children can be cruel.

Out on the street with my diploma in my hooks, I took up professional busking at the top, on 12th Street and 3rd Avenue. Few mimes, even the best of them, dared face those stoney financial faces heading to and from their labors in mahogany-lined offices, those investment bankers so used to screwing their fellow Americans (pardon my French) for a living.

I could handle the flinty hearts, but I couldn’t take the sympathy. Even those fiscal gnomes bathed me in it. In no time, I found myself retreating to 42 Street and then, as the weather grew colder, to 75th. Finally, I reached rock-bottom, miming on 102nd and Baldwin for a couple of homeless winos and a bankrupt dope fiend. The authorities found me in the gutter, covered with the Style and Home & Garden sections of the Sunday paper.

I began my rehab at the center on Soldiers Island. The staff fitted me out, at taxpayers’ expense, with the latest in new and improved hooks. I performed for the vets there, who were returning from the war in pieces. Amputees of every description. No need to worry about sympathy from this group.

And among them, an Army babe missing both her arms. Helicopter crash. She had a great laugh and a great body, what was left of it. I couldn’t wait to get my forearms around it. Plus, she discovered that she had a little thing for mimes. A lot of the servicemen around were hitting on her, but in addition to my profession, I had my proficiency with prosthetics going for me. After all, I’d been using hooks all my life. Inez (for that was her name) had further to go, needing arms as well as hooks, but she was a trouper, always ready for a laugh and a little bump and tickle.

Rehab complete, we moved in together, on the other side of the river. Inez  went back to law school and I started working the terminal-children wards at hospitals around the city. I got a lot of laughs from the kids and the staff with my hook-and-balloon act. Hooks popping balloons by accident never gets old. Neither does accidentally sitting on your hook, or a little innocent toilet humor, wiping with the hook.

We married, Inez and me. We had a couple of kids and as they grew up, it was good to have someone with hands around the house.