jimagain

Rants & ramblings of the disaffected

Archive for the month “July, 2011”

I UNDO! Love & Second Thoughts

Have you ever wondered, knowing what you know now, would you do it all over again? …or would you run?! What if you could go back in time, what, if anything, would you change? What if you could press the UNDO button on your marriage?

After twenty years of an unhappy marriage, a disgruntled husband goes back in time to undo their relationship…and despite his best efforts and against his best judgement, finds himself falling in love all over again with his contentious spouse-to-be.

“I guess it’s her disposition that I find most irritable about her. I can’t find fault with her looks. But if beauty is skin deep, ‘grouchy’ goes all the way to the bone. We used to be close, be affectionate, now it seems we just drift farther apart. The only spark that remains in our marriage is the friction when we’re together.”

Fast forward to the past, before we met.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Oh no! It’s her! I can’t let her see me.” The rules are plain. I duck behind a corner and press myself against the wall as I scan frantically for a place to hide. It’s a dead-end and there’s no where to…wait! There! A large trash can along the wall, it’s only half-full…can I fit inside? Uh, it reeks…but I’m desperate! Coffee grounds, a banana peel, this is so disgusting but there’s no time for hesitation. I dive in, holding my breath, settling amongst the sundry items of refuse. Not a moment too late! I can hear the staccato of her heels clicking on the tile floor as she approaches, then…slowing her step as she nears. “Did she see me? Does she know I’m inside here?” I panic! “Uh! What’s that …in my hair? Gross! She just tossed her gum on top of my head!” I raise slowly out of the can still wearing that banana peel on my head and stealthily watch her as she walks away... “Whoa!” I mutter to myself. “She looks …incredible! No wonder I fell for her.” A big silly grin wraps itself around my face. “Wait! What’s wrong with me? How can I forget all the grief she’s caused me …I mean …going to cause me down the road?” Yes, we do have a few good times together, punctuated by long periods of her sullen, moody demeanor, trying to placate the implacable, those endless mind games, the psychological arm-twisting…”What was I thinking?”

Now…I know what you’re thinking! What’s the problem?  I don’t usually go to this much trouble to avoid a good-looking brunette…but that sexy young thing sauntering away down the hall is going to be my ex-wife one day in the not-so-distant future. A moment later, I climb out of my awkward refuge-in-refuse, several pairs of gawking eyes staring me in disbelief. So maybe you think my reaction is a bit extreme?

Yes, she is gorgeous, long dark hair, a wry smile on her the corner of her mouth…so why am I running the other way? Because I know how it all turns out!

– – – – – – – – –

“Oh no! There I am! I’m about to meet her for the first time…am I too late?” That’s me racing down the hallway, bumping into several suddenly inverted pedestrians in the mad dash to beat me to the point-of-no-return, the time and place when we…

Oh, sorry about that. Maybe I should explain. Freeze frame. Sorry, I had to hit the pause button so I can bring you up to speed about what’s going on. [ people lay chaotically sprawled out across the floor in random disorder; one or two still suspended up-side-down in mid-air ike a cartoon ] You see, twenty years ago to the day, we met for the first time…and fell in love. she was beautiful…I was desperate. I’m in my mid-twenties by this time and by now, I’ve worked myself up to a frenzied state of panic. I’m afraid that I’m going to be single for the rest of my life and the thought of being alone terrifies me. Turns out that I do meet a gorgeous girl and we get married in a couple of years…but that’s about the best our marriage will ever get…and it goes downhill, the longer we stay married. We both hang in there, I’m not sure if to see if we can make it work or just to torture each other as long as possible, which brings me to why I’m here today, back in past. If I just knew then what I know now…which is why I’m sprinting down the corridor. Don’t get me wrong; she’s a great girl, probably would have made some other guy a great wife. Everybody says she’s so much fun…all my friends love her. All her friends like me. But I’ve come to the conclusion we’re just wrong for each other, only I figured it out about twenty years too late. The chemistry’s all wrong now and we clash like a cheap suit.

That’s why I waited in line for that stupid device you might call a time machine. Some disgruntled attendant standing behind a formica counter scans my molecules into some energy canister. A push of the button sends me hurtling through some worm-hole until I make some quantum leap through a time portal …don’t ask me to explain how it all works, I just get confused…which is why I just pay the ticket and let someone else operate the transdirectional metaportation devices. Ha! I can see by the look on your face you don’t believe me! Precisely why I didn’t tell you sooner! Unfortunately for me, the Brotherhood of United Metaportation Operators has gone on strike, leaving me stranded in your backward technologically deficient moment of time. Maybe I should have just bought the “Time Travel For Dummies, guide?

“Time?!! Oh no! The time. I’ve got to hurry.” Time to hit the Resume button.

If I could just get there in time, I could warn myself… This is where it gets complicated, not the technology stuff. No, it’s all that emotional stuff between a man and a woman that still leaves modern man scratching his ‘ba-hooty’ wondering what happened. You see, time travel is pretty much common place now with no more than a raised eyebrow than faxing a document was in the early twenty-first century. but we still don’t understand women!

Want to know how a relationship works out? Most of us just try it on for a few years…if it gets messy, just go back in time and make the whole thing un-happen! Sounds great? But there are…rules about this sort of thing.

Rule Number 1: You can’t disturb the past, like, you can’t tell yourself that it’s really is you, back from the future. We have to be…ah…discrete! And there are a few…accidents that happen from time to time but most can be covered up, erasing the memory of the incident or if too many people witness it, then the “agency’ can always pass it off as a UFO or some paranormal disturbance. The pulp magazines at the check-out aisle love these stories. Those are the two most common excuses when there’s a ‘glitch’. And of course, you can’t slip yourself a hot stock tip to yourself in your previous life, the IRS enforces that one pretty close. Most people who do go back in time, go to straighten up some big mistake they made in the past that seems to screw up their future, and most of those are…related to that strange thing we call love. You can go back and UNDO your love-life, sort of like a “retroactive pre-nuptial extraction.” Some prefer the term, “pre-crises post-espousal intervention.” I tend to think of it more as a “pre-connubial utero-inversion” or un-birthing a marriage.

That’s why I’m here. You see, there was this gorgeous young girl I had met and we eventually fell in love…and then we ruined everything. We got married! That little thing they say about love being blind, it’s much worse. “Love’ isn’t blind because you can help the blind but there ‘aint’ much hope for ‘stoo-pid!” I mean we all can look back and see the things we were too willing to overlook when we were dating but somehow managed to switch off that rational part of or brain that said, “Are you sure this is what you want?” Instead we focus so much on how the other makes us feel! Then when it all falls apart, we ask ourselves, “What was I thinking?” But that’s just it; we weren’t thinking at all. We let our hormones and emotions run away with us until…the new wears off, then we take each other for granted. And all those little quirks that used to endear us to the other, now they drive us apart. We make concessions and we compromise, then we make a list of all our pet peeves. Pretty soon, our relationship gets put on life support and then eventually we put up a “Do Not Resuscitate” sign on the heart.

At first, it was illegal to go back to the past and meddle with our former love lives but it got to where there were so many doing it, it was sort of like trying to stop illegal immigration. As long as the technology was there and the money was right, you could undo any relationship. Turns out it’s cheaper than getting a divorce but without all the turmoil. So what does government do? When they can’t stop something they regulate it. They passed laws, they taxed it, but when they put it under some monstrous government beauracracy, that almost killed it right there. Yep, if you want to bury something, bury it under a myriad of convoluted regulations, obscure nomenclature, and mounds of senseless paperwork. It isn’t an offical beauracracy until they gave it some awful acronym. “FBI”, “IRS”, and “FEMA” was already taken so they had to call it FARTT, for Federal Agency of Regulated Time Travel.

If that wasn’t bad enough, things really went south right about the time when the lawyers smelled a buck! Yep, if there’s a way to exploit something, leave it up to the lawyers. There is a special breed, they call them ‘tort’ lawyers! I think they call them that because it’s descriptive of their tactics, like dis’tort’, con’tort’, ex’tort‘, and ‘tort’-ure! They started advertising their services like a snake oil salesman on a Sunday afternoon! “Have you been wronged at love? Let us help you!” Now, let me interpret for you…when a lawyer says they want to ‘help’ you, what they mean is, they want to ‘help themselves’…starting with a huge cut off the top. Seems like lawyers are always the first hogs in the feed trough!

“Well, I’ve got to go and try to talk myself out of making a really big mistake before it’s too late. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.”

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Thy Visitation

Unexpected!

She met me at the door
as I dashed up the stairs
hurrying, scurrying along my way.
I came upon her unaware…

at her unexpected appearing, where
…she stood there waiting for me!

my mind in hectic disarray
cluttered with hasty thoughts,
impatient details clamor for
my attention, too distraught
to think.

Suddenly she was there!
standing to meet me,
waiting to greet me.
An unexpected visitation,
a welcome interruption…with a
sweet smile upon her lips!

Instantly my consternation
turns to pleasant elation
Sweet unexpected presence!
welcome distraction,
delightful interruption!

– – – – – 2nd – – – – – –

He met me at the door,
too busy to pray
hurrying, scurrying about my day
I came upon Him unaware…
at His unexpected appearing. There
…He stood patiently waiting for me!

My mind had been in hectic disarray
cluttered with hasty thoughts.
Impatient details prevent
my meditation, too distraught
to think of Him.

Suddenly He was there!
Standing to meet me,
waiting to greet me.
An unexpected visitation,
a welcome interruption, He…
brought a smile to my weary face!

Again my consternation
turns to rapture & elation
Sweet unexpected Presence!
my welcome distraction,
delightful interruption!

I resort to thy throne,
satisfied by thy consolation,
enthralled, refreshed…
by thine unexpected visitation!

27 April 2008

Ten-thousand Lives

History Tells

It’s a grim scene, a young man to be excecuted by hanging, charged with espionage. Such is the senseless ravage of war that so often cuts short the young life in it’s prime. Facing the gallows with resignation, he spoke of giving “Ten-thousand lives” if necessary. Before his life was taken; a dying man’s last regret somehow becomes fulfilled.

DNA: the strand of the living. A pool of common genetic material from all of humanity has been drawn, connected across the generations. One life, one event reaches out across the span of history. Perhaps the young man was granted his dying wish?

An ancient text reads, “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.” ( Deuteronomy 32:7 ). History is more than dates and insignificant trivia dredged up from days long past. to be appreciated, it must be viewed from the persepctive of those who lived it. History cries out, it tells a story to those who listen.

Pascifists and Rabble-rousers

These are the times that try men’s souls.” A young man writes with passion at a wooden desk, an oil lamp flickering in the background. He pauses to reflect, then continues. “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” The scene progresses to a printer busy at work, reading the words out loud as his assistant sets the type. “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” Next we cut to two men standing on the street corner, one reading a pamphlet out loud to himself as the other listens intently. “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.” One or two gather to listen until others crane to hear. The man reads the words out loud to a raucous but uneasy crowd, lifting up his voice. “Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”

British soldiers march In the background, eying the boisterous gathering.

Two things there was no shortage of in the colonies in those days; pacifists & rabble-rousers, with the masses caught up in the middle. The climate darkens with the prospect of war. Whatever your opinion or side; the outcome seems inevitable.

The Pool of Human Experience

This thing we call, DNA: could it be more than random groups of complimentary base pairs connected by hydrogen bonds and wound about a double helix frame of phosphate and ribose? How do codons and indels and RNA primers work together to express that code? We understand the basic concept of the exchange of genetic material that takes place between parallel sets of chromosomes during meiosis, expressing unique physical traits and characteristics. But what about personalityand behavior? How little do we know? How much deeper does this current run beneath the surface in the course of humanity? Are experience and behavior, personality and pre-dispositions somehow simultaneously copied and transcribed and reproduced along with the physical traits; handed down from one generation to the next? Perhaps?

Into The Lair

A man sitting alone in the crowded tavern is a admission to the fact that he’s out of place, he doesn’t belong. In a place where men go to meet and share a drink, a man by himself attracts attention. This young man sits silent, listening. Under normal circumstances such an aberration would be politely ignored. but these times are anything but normal. The country is at war. a large force overseas is stationed in the city. This is a war of neighbor against neighbor, Whigs against the Tories and Loyalists, the pacifists and those clamoring for war. It is a civil war, a revolutionary war. This is a time of war and everyone is a suspect.

Background: New York falls to the British about mid-September, 1776 . As Howe draws the noose, Washington narrowly escapes. A young man volunteers to go behind enemy lines in order to spy on the British. He knows all too well the risk should he be caught.

One man sits and watches. “Hello? What have we here,” he asks himself. “Sitting alone, is he? And why, pray tell does a man sit alone in a tavern unless… he’s not from here.” He takes a sip from his glass. Could he be a spy? A few ales later and some idle talk from some of the regulars, eager to talk at the prospect a free draft…

“He’s a quiet man, they say.” Only recently has he begun to frequent the establishment. They talk in hushed towns against a raucous din of noisy patrons spewing out ale along with the news of the day. “Mostly he just sits and listens as people talk. Says he’s a teacher of sorts. Just recent arrived. Not from here, he is.”

“That so?” Later on he joins the lone patron.” Mind if I join you,” he asks, then sits before he can consent …or object.

“Not a bit, Sir.”

He seems a bit nervous, the young man. His new found companion appears to be more than a bit tipsy. “So what’s a man like yourself here alone in a crowded tavern. Not a good place to be alone, I think.” He grins. He watches his manners and conduct. Obviously he’s well-educated but I think naive. He’s a spy alright but not a good one. Let’s see if he’ll take the bait.

He lowers his voice in the crowded tavern to voice his displeasure at the politics of the day. Feigning his allegiance to the American colonies, he seems bitter. “Lost my business to the King. Confiscated for lack of payment…” he leans in close “…taxes,” he says! “Thugs and robbers, the lot of them. I have information,” he offers. “…troop movements and the like. How’d I’d love to share it with those rebels after what they did…” The trap is set. He arranges a hasty meeting with his contact. Later that night the stranger is apprehended by the Queen’s Rangers. Interrogated by General Howe himself, he is charged as a spy.

The Substitute

The scene cuts to a school in New York. A young man enters a classroom. The substitute teacher has arrived. It’s cold outside. He wears a scarf wrapped tightly about his neck.”Who are you,” the class demanded? “Perhaps it is I who should be doing the asking. Who are you,” he countered? “For the next two days I will be your substitute teacher. You can call me, ‘Mr. H’. I see by the lesson plan, we’re studying the Revolutionary War.” I’m going to jump in with an excert from a play by the name of, “CATO”, holding up his well-worn copy. “A play, they ask? How boring is that? “Boring.” he replies? “Have you read it?!!” Ignoring their protests he begins to read. His words rise to compete with his audience. Passion rings from his words as one by one they fall quiet. Mesmerized, caught up in the fervor of the words.

How beautiful is death, when earn’d by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? What pity is it

That we can die but once to serve our country.

This play helped serve as an ideological inspiration to the American cause during the war. These words inspired General Washington during Valley Forge; besides him, we think also inspired Patrick Henry to utter, “Give me Liberty or give me death!’ And one other, an apparent reference from the remarks of Nathan Hale in his last words as he went to the gallows.

“How do you know so much about history?”
“Mostly from reading eye-witness accounts. That’s the answer I’m going with,” he smiles. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

Two days later, the regular teacher returns to class and the myterious substitute slips away as quietly as he appeared.

At The Gallows

It’s a grim scene at the gallows to watch an execution. The young man conducts himself with resolute firmness and dignity. He is resigned to his sentence, unapologetic to the end. He makes his last remark, defiant. His is not the first young life lost to war. Lives lost, interrupted are a casulty of war. Cut short by a bullet or a bayonet or in this case… a hangman’s noose. That’s what wars ultimately do.

Before he dies, he utters words that still live on. He has a regret, not that he had been caught or he had been sentenced to death so young. His regret is of a different sort. As we listen to his words we get the sense that as unpleasant as his fate may be; given the choice he would do it again if need be. His regret is that he only has one life to give. Accounts vary but something to this effect. Should he have ten thousand lives to live, he declares that he would readily give them all. “Ten thousand lives,” he said. And then he is summarily executed. Spectators witness the grisly scene. Witnesses, gripped by what they saw that day record the event for posterity. This sacrifice, given once will be told again. Rehearsed, recounted, and perhaps even …re-lived?!!

The Dictates Of The Past

Who are you?

No, really. Who are you?

Surrounded by our modern environs, besieged by mind-numbing television in a culture satiated with entertainment; operating under the pretense that science can explain all the mysteries of life. I suppose it may be easy to convince yourself you are a mere random act of chance and not something deeper, a product more of design than chance. A healthy dose of skepticism should alert us that we may know so little of what we only assume. Perhaps your roots go deeper than you comprehend, perhaps you are more closely connected -wired- to the past than you suspect. Is it possible that memories may not be inherited from one generation to the next? Just maybe the thread of DNA that runs through our genetic flow, runs deeper than we realize. Maybe an exchange of genetic material gleaned from our past progenitors, an undercurrent in the gene pool carries you along in its tow. Perhaps it dictates more than the color of our eye or the complexion of our skin? Does your past still exert an influence over you, stronger than you understand? Maybe this explains why we’re so unique and yet so similar? Do we inherit more than physical expressions of our progenitors? Maybe history does indeed repeat itself, not a script we act out verbatim as mindless drones but predispositions that run deep within, exert more power than we realize..

At one time, simple blobs of protoplasm were sufficient an explanation to satisfy a man inclined to believe that life could be so simple, or so simply explained. Some say love is merely a combination of certain hormones and the physiological interaction of the sympathetic nervous system. Is it mere chemistry? Or is there more to it than neurotransmitters and biochemical reactions? Maybe what we call science is less than the perfect knowledge we assume it to be, is instead an oversimplification of more profound truth we have yet to comprehend?

Everyday Heroes

I see them everyday. soldiers. Just ordinary people whose lives have been interrupted, preparing to deploy overseas. Most come back. Some return but not the same as they left. Some do not at all.

“Here,” she says, handing him a letter. “This came for you today, looks official,” she says. “What is it?” He reads to himself in disbelief, lips moving silently. His heart drops, he pauses. Then with somber expression looks up. “Orders,” he replies. “These are my orders. My unit”, he pauses… “were being mobilized. Afghanistan.” Winded by the news. They embrace. “I’ve got to go,” he says. She nods but doesn’t let go.

Most return, some do not.

Inconclusive

A few days later the FBI show up at the school to investigate the recent substitute teacher. “We’re not at liberty to discuss the case. A couple of agents are discussing the matter in private. “Who was he? And why would he impersonate a teacher?” The other agent replies,”Can’t say that we know just yet. Maybe he’s an idealogue of some kind. Maybe he had some agenda. We’ve got some background check information on him but not much more. The information we gathered so far indicates he was a veteran. Here’s his the file with an I.D. card. According to this, let’s see, last name…” pauses… “Hale …he was a captain,” Pausing again… “but that can’t be right?
“Why not?”
“Last year, about this time… he was killed in action in Afghanistan.”

True Love & Fleas!

Meet Larry & Steve. Two brainy single guys -nerds suspended in an indefinite stage of post-pubescent juvenile development. They’re both a couple of players; other than the fact neither has had a date since junior-high, nor have they matured much since then. Two single guys with aspirations of dating and making out… But reality can be unkind when it comes to delusional states of mind. Previous dating experiences can only be described as “crash-and-burn” scenes.

Here is a recent conversation that took place.

“I’ve had a girlfriend before.” “No, you haven’t!” “Have to!” “Dude! They don’t count if they don’t consent to being your girlfriend.” “She knew,” he countered. “She didn’t suspect…” “She had a restraining order filed against me!” He said that a bit too triumphantly. Then he sighed loudly. “You’re right. We need therapy”

These guys are losers, a couple of nerdy computer geeks. Two room mates. How bad can they be? Let’s rewind to last week… The set up… hereafter documented as Pathetic Dating Event #11;

He and his date are alone; or at least that’s what they want her to think. The roommate? He’s behind the door, trying to video tape the ‘play by play’ as it goes down so they can analyze their technique. “They do it in football,” he reasoned. “We should be at least as committed.” “We should probably be committed,” he mutters.

The conversation goes downhill as soon as she arrived. She seemed suspicious. “Where’s your …friend?” “Who …my roommate?” “Oh! Is that what you guys call them now?” “Uhm, ‘they’? You mean ‘they’,” …he pauses, as in …?” “Yeah. Isn’t he …you know …?!!” He throws open the door -infuriated. “I am not gay!” She looks down to see the video camera in hand. She smirks. “Drat! She outsmarted us!” He attempts to hide it behind his back with a sheepish grin of a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie-jar.

Larry cracks under pressure, blurts out. “Can you have a little courtesy here? I’m trying to seduce you… Oh crap! Did I just say that?!!” She smiles. It’s a smug smile full of gloating, a condescending look of a higher intelligence as it toys with inferior forms of intelligence. “Looks like a permanent condition that afflicts the male gender. What we have here boys is a classic case of ‘Testosterone-induced Stupidity’. “You guys have it bad.” And then she left.

Apparently Male Pattern Stupidity is a genetic disorder.

Yes, two stupid guys will do just about anything to impress a girl. Larry has an announcement. “I’ve finally got Melanie to agree to go on a date with me!” “How’d you do that?” “She made me sign a waiver agreeing to never ask her out again, if she said yes” By now you’ve surmised that Larry is a little more than vain. He just wants an excuse to make out with a real ‘hottie’! “She’s bonafide,” he says! “A bodacious babe by any standard. And I’ve got to really impress her if I want to take this to the next level. I’ve got to show her my sensitive side. Chicks dig it!” “Whoa,” Steve interrupts. “Promise me you won’t say ‘chicks’ in front of her! Please Mr. Sensitive?” And then, “So what’s your strategy? “No,” screams Larry. “No ‘strategies’ Steve! That’s how the video camera fiasco came about. He pauses in deep thought.

“I’ve got it. Tonight’s the big night. So here’s my plan! We adopt a dog from the shelter…” “Wait,” interrupted Steve. “I don’t get it? Adopt a dog? That’s your brilliant plan?” “Moron! He thumps his head, I’m gonna’ play the sympathy card. Girls love that kind of stuff.” “So when she sees your ‘sensitive’ side, she going to throw herself at you?” “Precisely! It can’t lose!” “I don’t know. What do you know about taking care of a dog?” “Hello!” He thumps his noggin. “It’s a dog! A dog is no match for an intelligent thinking man. We’re IT systems analysts. How much trouble can one dog be?!!

“To the shelter!”

The guys go to the shelter to shop for a cute little dog. But all they have available is this one over-sized Great Dane. It’s a large, black ten-month old puppy weighing in at a hundred pounds. When he stands up on his hind legs and puts his front paws over Larry’s shoulders, he stands six foot tall.” They’re standing face to face. “Perfect,” exclaims Larry. “This is not a ‘dog’, what we have here is a four-legged, furry ‘chick’ magnet.” Steve thumps his head. “I told you not to call them, ‘chicks’!”

The girl at the shelter is suspicious. She overhears them whispering loudly, stares at them in disbelief. “Do you guys know what you’re getting into? A dog requires a certain level of…” she pauses to look at them both. She was going to say ‘responsibility’ but for some reason unknown to her she finishes her sentence, “…uhm, maturity” It’s a condescending look of pity. They both look at each other and grin. “High fives!”

Day One: Enter the new arrival.

Things quickly go wrong and by the end of the day their pad they once proudly called the ‘Babe Lair’ has been trashed. -Yes. These two losers actually named their apartment the “Babe Lair“. Unbeknownst to our two Don Juans’ the first step in doggie-psychology is inaugurate the home turf. Before they can react, stunned disbelief seizes the squeamish pair of rookies. The new un-named canine domesticate, hereafter referred to as Roommate #3, performs an intestinal bowel function system check on the carpet. “Eww!” “Whoo-ah!! Well, …uhm everything works. Quick! Get a pooper-scooper.” “Dude?!! That’s huge! Get a back hoe!”

The dog has a busy afternoon; he chews up the couch, poops in the front yard. He’s demanding, constantly underfoot, he clings like saran wrap to their every move. Larry’s sitting on the couch. The new canine co-habitant is intruding into his personal space with his head in Larry’s’ face, …drooling.

The rambunctious dog continues to run amok through the house like a four-legged two-year old misbehaving. They stare in disbelief. “Dude? Do you realize you just went from single to being an unwed father of an overgrown two-year old …with no sex in the process?” “Steve. Don’t depress me.”

“Dude? Where’s your couch?” “He ate it,” pointing to over-sized dog sprawled out across the remnant of his furniture.

A bit later… Steve is irate. “Give me that pillow,” he scolds and snatches. “You sleep on them, you don’t eat them!” “Dude?” He puts hand on his shoulder. “Were you just lecturing ‘the dog’ ?” Like a child, Steve counters. “He started it! He chewed my pocket pencil protector!”

Finally the pandemonium calms. It’s a brief respite during the melee when the dog is sprawled out across the entire couch …sleeping contentedly. Larry’s sitting on what’s left of his recliner, Steve-on the corner of the end table. Larry philosophizes. “Stupid dog,” he exclaims out loud! “You eat your food out of a can! How lame is that? He glances over to Steve who happens to be eating cold spaghetti-o’s out of a can. He looks up to see him paused, spoon to mouth; looking a bit sheepish. “Sorry man.” “That’s OK.”

Later Larry falls asleep on what’s left of the couch. In anticipation of the big date, he’s having the perfect day dream. He’s dreaming about …Melanie. They’re sitting on the couch together. She’s leaned over licking the side of his face. He’s in ethereal bliss! Suddenly she barks out loud. His eyes spring open to discover he’s been getting a giant dog-slurpee. “Gross!”

Meanwhile, back to the ‘Babe Lair’ his date shows up, looking gorgeous and hesitant. The moment she steps across the threshhold, the dog leaps up from sound asleep off the couch, pouncing like a ninja from across the room; planting two huge paws across her sternum. She gets knocked up and off her feet like a rag doll hurtling backwards down the steps, landing in the hedges. He helps her up, brushes her off, picks the stems and leaves out of disheveled hair…. “I am so sorry.” “Look,” he beams proudly in a feeble attempt to change the subject. “We’ve adopted a dog from the shelter. He’s a rescue!” She immediately starts sneezing. “I’m allergic to dogs. I hate dogs!” “You hate dogs?!!” Sneezing! “I hate dogs!” Another loud shrill sneeze! Things go downhill from there. He sticks his face in her personal space and drools on her leg. “Oooohhhh, yech!!” While they’re frantically wiping slobber off her leg, the dog chews her shoe. Finally she storms out angrily. On the way out, Larry jogs to the door. “Be careful where you step, There’s …” Before he can finish, the ear-piercing sound of an irate debutante, squealing in rage! Steve finishes Larry’ sentence “…doogie-doo everywhere!” They pause. “That …went well” “Better than last time,” See Pathetic Dating Event #11.

So his date is blown. She is not coming back. The house is a disaster zone. No girl will set foot in the house. And now they’re stuck with Kong-zilla. Life gets more miserable. And so ends Day One.

Day Two: Disasters in Dating.

It’s a gorgeous spring day in the afternoon. Steve is walking -the dog in the park, which is just a ruse for his true intent; trolling for prospects. He encounters one. Hello, he thinks to himself! “Hey,” he says. What’s your… “Stop right there,” she holds up her hand. “I can see right through you, you’re so transparent. You’re one of those guys that stoop to any low to pick up girls. So you got a dog just to impress girls while you toss out cheesy pick up lines.” “No …that’s so not true!” “OK …what’s his name?” “What are you a lawyer?!! “Yes. I am and I’ve been hit on too many times by desperate guys like you to fall for this ploy. So what’s his name,” she challenged? “Uh, it’s…. it’s Big …Daddy …Love? So …how did you know? She rolls her eyes and leaves abruptly. I can almost see it. A referee steps out from no-where to blow a whistle. He throws a flag. “Loss of yardage. Fumble. Delay of game.” Meanwhile Steve is booed off the field while fans throw food. I think it’s time to return to the “Babe Lair’ for another can of spaghetti-o’s.

He’s depressed. Larry: “What’s up? Another crash-and-burn?” “Why do you say that? Am I still flaming? Yes, you could say that!” Larry smiled. That’s the best you could come up with, “Big daddy Love’? He looks at his watch. “Hey? What time is it?” “6:30? Its …6:30 in the afternoon. So?” “So it’s time …to take him for a walk.” “A walk? now?” He looks bewildered. “You know, the jogger! Remember the hot one in the sports bra! She always runs by at 6:30. “Oh yeah. Her! The one we oogle through the window with the binoculars!” And then, “You go, I’ll get the binoculars. I think I’m better off on the fantasy side when it comes to girls.” “So they both leave, one taking the other for a walk.

“There’s she comes. Cute girl jogging by; she’s getting close, …closer.” She smiles weakly at him as she approaches. He smiles back at her. Hey, he thinks! This ‘dog’ sympathy card thing could just work out!” She’s a few steps away. His heart pounds. He’s drunk with the prospect of success for once! Suddenly …the dog jumps up and pushes her into the bushes. ( he’s just being protective, he tells himself )! “Uhm, look …big guy.” Dog is panting proudly. “Just a note. Do NOT rescue me from babes! So much for being a furry cute chick magnet. Tell me the truth, did my mother hire you to make certain I stay celibate?!!”

Day Three: Topsy-turvy.

There is an apparent tear in the fabric of the universe today. Some unexplainable dark event has upset the entire equilibrium; throwing reality, as we know it, up-side down. Steve has met a girl. At the grocery store. She loves dogs and she’s sitting on the couch beside him. They’re sitting close together. “He’s beautiful,” she says rubbing his ears. “What’d you name him?” “Uhm, Spot. we named him Spot! Come here, Spot!” “Spot’ inexplicably runs off. “But he’s a solid black dog,.. why would you name him ‘Spot’?” Normally Steve has struck out by this time but she’s a sweet girl that falls for the pathertic type.  He’s sitting there waiting for an intelligent response to her question when she leans in and gives him a kiss. More kssing follows. Just then you-know-who comes up from behind them as they’re totally engrossed in each other and temporarily locked in lip-to-lip ‘smooch-mode’; ‘Spot’ barks loudly. Startled, they and the couch fall over backward. She gets up off the floor. “You know, I think I’ll go now. Call you later!” He’s still laying flat on his back but manages to weakly raise his hand and wave to her as she bolts for the door. “Man, I am so bummed!” ‘Spot’ returns to give him a consolatory ‘wet-one’. “OK, I get it. I’m sorry I couldn’t think of a better name.”

Day Four: No Refunds.

After much debate they agree to take the dog back to the shelter but Larry hesitates. He turns to leave, then sees the girl from the shelter. “Look, there she is. We can’t admit she’s right. Quick, hide!” “Too late!”

“You’re here to return your dog to the shelter, aren’t you? Well, you managed to last three days… that’s two days longer than I thought you’d make it. Fill out this paperwork. I’ll waive any fees we would normally collect. Don’t feel bad,” she consoled. “That’s the fourth time he’s been …uhm, returned.”

He looks down at the dog, dog looks up at him. He pauses. “I’ve changed my mind.” She: “Are you sure?!!” “Dude?!!” He puts a hand on his shoulder, “Melanie hates the dog. He ate your couch! Bail out!”

He can’t bring himself to do it. “No, he says. I’m keeping him.” He turns to walk away. Mr. Post-pubescent Poster Child suddenly took a huge step towards …maturity. ( I know. Go figure. I didn’t see that coming either! ) A step later… the dog nudges him back toward the girl from the shelter. He says to the dog, “What? Her?!! Are you trying to fix me up? Just stay out of my love life.”

Ironic, he should say that!

And then he turned back. On a complete lark, he asked her, “Would you consider going out some time?” She paused. “OK!” “I understand if you don’t want… Wait? Did you just say, Yes?!!” “I think so. Call me sometime. Here’s my number.” “Dude, as they were walking away! “Did you just get a date?” I’ll set up the video camera…” “Steve?” “Yeah, man?” “You’re not invited this time.” “Maybe she’s got a friend?” As they left with Roommate #3, he asked, “You think you can help me come up with a real name for him, …besides ‘Big Daddy Love’?”

The Devil in The Top Hat

A stranger steps out of the shadows in the night to accost a gentleman and his lady friend. The man is carrying a large bag, tightly grasping it’s handle. Apparently something valuable is inside. They are alone late at night meandering along an alley near a shipyard. Not particularly smart of either of them; considering the hour is late, the fog heavy, and this is a crime-ridden area frequented by desperate men. The brute standing before them is brandishing a large caliber black powder pistol. A large knife is tucked in his waist band.

“Give me your money!” The demand, albeit lacking in eloquence, it is simple and direct.

The traversing pair interrupted, immediately freeze. The gentleman studies the menacing figure blocking their way. He grips his satchel a little more tightly. “A predictable request.” And then he adds, “Are we to assume we are in some sort of peril?”

He points his weapon at them in response. “I too am a businessman,” he says. “I propose to relieve you of that heavy wad of bills you are carrying in exchange of course for sparing your life.” He points to the leather satchel in his grasp.

“It’s a viable offer but it would seem several assumptions have been made on your part, Sir. You assume because of my attire I am carrying a large sum of cash. And you assume it is we who are in peril and not yourself? Perhaps it would be naive of me to not anticipate that once I hand over my valuables, you nonetheless will kill me, leaving you at liberty to impose yourself on my fair young escort. After all she is a member of the weaker sex and with me out of the way you are at liberty to have your way with her? Is this not so?”

He grins toothily as he nods his large head, tipping his large top hat in mocking gesture but in such a way as to not take his eyes off the prey. He is no novice to his trade.

He continues. “Now that we have established your intent let us dispense then with these assumptions. Since I may have arrived at the last hour of my life, I am curiously beset with an urge to negotiate with the devil in the top hat.” He then grinned and tipped his own hat to his adversary. “I have a proposition to make you instead. I Sir, am a businessman, a merchant of sorts; not unlike yourself, since we both apparently deal in lost souls. Hence I have a counter offer to make you. What say you entertain my barter for your merriment? Suppose I were to offer you the objects of your desire but with one twist. In the course of this transaction, suppose we were to eliminate one integral part of your equation. I propose to give you my very large sum of cash as well as hand over my fair companion in full consent to the natural conclusion of the gratification of your urges. After all the money is a goodly sum and she is very fair, a woman to fulfill your manly appetites. And all this is done without the commission of a crime on your part. In exchange, all I ask from you is for you to allow me to retain possession of this one paltry satchel with its …contents. Tonight, Sir, would appear to be your lucky night, would it not?”

The villain hesitates, then counters.”And in the spirit of fair business, I then propose a counter-offer; I will take your sum of cash, the girl, and the contents of that bag.” He fidgets, nervously brandishing the weapon. “It seems as if you have nothing left to barter with.”

“But I do, and with one remaining stipulation. If you allow me to retain my satchel then I will allow you to keep your soul. If you are unable, however, to carry out your transaction, then I hold your soul in default as collateral. Do you agree to my terms?”

This time the blood runs cold in the hasty assailant. “My soul?!!” For one brief moment he is seized with apprehension, as if now he is the one now being accosted. Valuable time has been lost and the thug is anxious to claim his bounty, a goodly nights haul by any means. He arms his weapon to broadcast the finality of his offer. “Hand them over, now!”

“Be that as it may,” he concedes. “Then may I present you with your newest acquisitions.” He removes his wallet and her petticoat. His mouth drops as he hands them both over to the surprised thug. He grabs her, one burly hand grasping her petite wrist, and then the wallet. That turns out to be a fatal mistake. She smiles coldly. As he reaches for the wallet, at the opportune moment, she strikes in one efficient lethal motion. A sharp knife she deftly procured from her nether garments quickly applied to his fifth rib, ends the robbery and his life. He collapses silently in a heap at their feet.

“It seems my friend, you made several assumptions tonight, all of which were wrong. It was you who needed protection …from her.” He reaches down to extract something that belongs to him from the would-be assailant; his soul. Reaching into the cadaver, he extracts a dark, shadowy object in the form of it’s previous owner, one that struggles and moves about like a sheet in the wind. He placed the writhing entity inside the heavy bag he has been clutching. Reaching into his coat pocket, he retrieves a slip of paper which he presses into the palm of the deceased. He tips his top hat to the fallen in a final gesture. “This, Sir, concludes our bargain. It has been a pleasure doing business with you.” Last seen, the pair step over the fresh corpse to continue their journey, disappearing in the shadows, reappearing at the next lamps’ dim glow.

The next morning…

… a crowd has gathered. The man leaning over the body lets out an audible gasp. “Here now, what’s this?!!

“What is it Inspector?”

“The eyes are gone from this one too! Ah! Another note,” he declares matter-of-factly. He reads out loud, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Pardon My Ad-lib: Deborah Kicks Butt!

The Take Charge Woman’s Guide To Getting Things Done!

Behind every good woman …there’s probably a lazy husband! …or at least one at home sitting on the couch. All kidding aside, history is no stranger to women who weren’t afraid to step up. Most of us have heard of Joan of Arc but may not know about other lesser known heroines, including this one. But enough regurgitating history.

I may be guilty of reading between the lines here but this woman is one of the unsung heroines. Sandwiched in between more familiar names, two chapters in a book that most people won’t find time to read, you will find her. Deborah. And you probably said out loud, “Who?” I’m talking about the original take-charge, go-to girl who didn’t sit back and wait on the men to do something. She was the only female judge in Israel, which meant she was a political and military leader among a nation of men.

After twenty years of oppression by Jabin along with the captain of his army, Sisera, Deborah had had enough. She ordered her associate Barak (Judges 4) to go defeat Sisera, whose army happened to have 900 chariots of iron. Barak, being the shrewd tactician he was, promptly balked. “What?!! Have you lost your mind? (Pardon my ad-lib!) He’s got 900 chariots of iron! That’s 1, 2, 3…899, 900 chariots to none!” “Fine,” she sighs, “I’ll do it myself”

So much for delegating!

Deborah was the wife of Lapidoth, so like most wives, she knew better than to ask her husband to do it. “I can’t even get him to take out the garbage!” (Again, pardon my ad-lib!) Of course he was sitting on the couch with the remote in his hand, watching ESPN. “Hubby? Would you mind running down to the grocery store to get a dozen eggs …and while you’re out, can you defeat Sisera and his army for me?!!” And he said, “Okay honey. Just as soon as the football game is over!” So she had to go do it herself. The bottom line is never send a man to do a woman’s work!

“Never mind,” she said, “I’ll do it myself.”

She picks up her cell phone. “Barak?!! Yeah, this is Deborah. I’m picking you up in ten minutes. Put on your Big-Boy pants.” She pulls up in her SUV after dropping the kids off at school. “Get in! Those Canaanite’s are about to get it!” So Barak rolls his eyes and climbs in reluctantly. “There’s no where to sit,” he whines. “Move the car seat, ” she scolded ” and buckle up!” So off they go! No, you don’t mess with a soccer mom! Especially when she had to cancel getting her hair done to take care of business.

Meanwhile back at Jabin’s headquarters, one of his underlings nervously pulls at Sisera’s elbow, “Um, Captain …excuse me, Mr Sisera?!!”

“What is it? Can’t you see I’m watching ESPN?”

“Um, Sir, we’ve got a situation. CNN’s reporting this woman rabble-rouser has stirred up some kind of uprising. They’ve got 10,000 recruits rallied at Mount Tabor. They’re saying they’re going to kick your boo-honkus…”

“A woman you say? Hmmm,” he scratched his bearded chin? “So what you’re telling me is that we have ten thousand men led by one woman? Hmmm …probably fight like a bunch of girls! This is going to be too easy,” he gloated. “She’s gonna’ wish she were still baking cookies when I’m done!” So Sisera hopped in his gas-guzzling Hummer and rode off to battle. Unfortunately for him things aren’t going to work out the way he expected.

Meanwhile back at the scene, Barak was already biting his nails. “We’re in deep doo-doo,” he fretted. “He’s got chariots, 900 chariots of iron! B-i-i-i-i-i-g heavy chariots,” he gestured widely, “…made of iron! And horses too! And all we have is…”

“The Lord!,”

“Wha..?”

“We have The Lord,” she corrected the beleaguered Barak. “And lots of mud!” She smiled.

“Why can’t we have The Lord …and 900 chariots of iron? Barak is still ranting. “Sisera and his goons are on their way over here and we don’t even have a plan. Maybe if we grovel and tell him we’re sorry he won’t be too mad?!! I can’t believe I let you talk me into this fiasco! And …I’ve got mud all over my new shoes,” he whined picking up one of his muddy number tens and pointing at his foot. “How are we supposed to fight in all this mud? She rolled her eyes. “Man up,” she chided. While a frantic Barak is busy having a melt-down, Deborah calmly deploys her troops up to the top of the mountain. “Wait for the trumpet,” she tells them.

Meanwhile, back at the house…

“Hey Dad? Where’s mom?”

“Huh? Momma? I think she’s shopping …oh, and she had to go kick the Canaanites butt.”

“Oh. I feel sorry for the Canaanites!”

“Me too!”

Meanwhile back at the battle… one of Sisera’s underlings is pulling at his elbow again. “What now, Sisera roars, “How’s the battle going? Have we routed them yet?” “Um, not good Sir,” he grinned sheepishly. “The chariot-drivers are complaining their chariots are stuck in the mud on the banks of the River Kishon. And the horses…’ he said excitedly, “they’re are all tuckered out trying to pull those heavy chariots up the steep mountain-side.” Sisera fumed. “Call a tow truck,” he bellowed, “and get them unstuck!” “We tried that but their cell phones can’t get a signal up there! Sir, they’re kicking our boo-honkus!” Shortly after, his army has been routed and Sisera has to flee on foot to escape.

“How’d you know…” Barak gushed, “that their chariots were going to get bogged down in the mud like that? “You turned their strengths into weakness!” “Oh,” she brushed it off non-chalantly. “I pulled up a map on Google and saw their weak spot. They trusted in their chariots and we trusted in The Lord!”

Right after Sisera and his group of thugs were routed, Deborah had to go. Barak hollered, “Hey, where you going? The camera crew just got here. We’re gonna’ be on Oprah!” “I gotta go get supper,” she said. Meanwhile Barak was busy telling the news reporter how he outsmarted Sisera.

Back at the house. Deborah walks in the door.

“Honey?!! Where have you been? What’s for supper?”

“Don’t worry. I ordered pizza.”

After it was all over, she went on Facebook and posted Judges chapter 5 on her status.

– – – – – –
By the end of the day, Sisera had to jump out of his Hummer and ran away like a little ….I was going to say …girl but that’s a poor analogy. I guess he ran away like a full-grown man, which is what he was …sort of. A bit later he met an untimely demise. Seems like another woman had to step up to finish the job but that’s another story.

Tubing: Up The Down-side!

I went ‘tubing’ the other day. For those who are not of the outdoor persuasion, let me tell you just what that is, in case someone tries to talk you into making the same mistake I did. Tubing is sort of like going canoeing…without the canoe! It’s what you’re doing when you’re floating leisurely down a peaceful scenic river while sitting in an inner tube. What could be more idyllic, more relaxing, more…miserable!

Let me say from the beginning that I personally have nothing against boats or swimming pools myself. Either would have been preferred to floating down a creek in nothing more than an inner tube. Like a lot of other people who made bad choices, I had come under the influence of the misguided masses.

“It will be fun,” they said.

And to think that I believed them! These were the same people who had pretended all those years to be my friends. It was just another example of mass hysteria overriding individual common sense.

“I don’t think so,” I protested while groping for an excuse. Next thing I knew, we were all beginning our perilous expedition. So much for my resolute determination.

At least the scenery was nice, other than the fact that there were a lot of stumps and logs in the creek; some visible, others lurking beneath the surface. All of which made it somewhat hazardous, especially considering the mode of transport. When you’re ‘tubing’ you’re basically floating along down the creek sitting in an inner tube, which has no bottom, thereby leaving your bottom exposed! That’s not a good combination in view of all those submerged logs and stumps hidden underwater. So your just floating along blissfully unaware with your bottom poking out. That’s sort of the equivalent of searching for a lost thumbtack…barefoot! Along the way I met a log and we became ‘intimately acquainted’ without being properly introduced! I suppose it was nature’s equivalent of a visit to near-sighted proctologist.

Aside from absorbing massive doses of ultraviolet radiation which inflicted painful third degree burns and losing all feeling in my numbed posterior, it was an enjoyable experience. Did I mention the frantic bouts with mobs of pesky insects? Once, I just laid there helplessly drifting along, unable to move, while two mosquitoes dueled over my soon-to-be corpse. The whole ordeal made me realize that the concept of ‘roughing it in the great outdoors’ is vastly overrated. If you enjoy being wet, cold, tired, dirty, and itching in places you can’t even scratch; then the outdoors is the place for you; you and all the other gluttons for punishment. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that it’s all a contest to see who can endure the most discomfort while pretending to be having the time of their life. If you admit that you’d rather go home than prolong your agony, you lose. I would have much preferred to view the scenic beauty from the comfort of my recliner while sitting in front of the television. 

What can I say? Being miserable has never been my idea of having fun.

The one thing about tubing is that it gives you lots of time to think, about important things like…how much longer do we have to endure before we get through? Or, how many days will I be in intensive care before I recover from this nasty sunburn? Before it was over, I may have momentarily lost touch with reality. I think I was even hallucinating about…fish. And why not? Wasn’t I intruding in their habitat? I could just imagine them swimming around beneath us as the fish go about their usual business.

As I grappled to retain my diminishing sanity, I found myself wondering what the fish thought whenever a group of us ‘tubers’ passed by overhead. You know? From their perspective.

“Do you wonder if fish talk?” I blurted out loud to no one in particular. “I wonder what they would ‘talk’ about?”

“He’s babbling again,” I heard one of my friends whisper to the other.

“Delirious,” agreed another while twirling her finger about her head in little circles!

That’s when I thought I heard the fish talking!

Two fish swimming along in the creek, one suddenly exclaims to the other, “Ugghh!”

“What? What is it,” said the other?

“Don’t look up! There goes another ‘butt’ floating overhead!”

“Ugghh,” the other fish protested! “Now that’s a disgusting sight! I hate it when those ‘tubers’ go by.”

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