One Flew Over the Dentist’s Chair, or Butch Cavity & the Periodontal Kid

27 Sep

by Roger White

 

Having been raised in front of our family’s trusty old TV set and in the darkened imitation-butter-smelling theaters of suburban Anytown USA, I often find myself comparing personal life situations to those on the screen. And yes, there really is a “Seinfeld” skit for approximately seven-tenths of the events of my life, big or small. Serenity now!

Recently, however, I found myself mired in a swirling mélange of three movies at once. And it all started at the dentist’s office. I had broken a tooth, you see. It fell apart while I was flossing, of all things. You know you have serious doubts about the strength and durability of your pearly yellows when you crack a tooth by flossing. I imagine that pretty soon my molars may start nice-teefusescrumbling while eating pudding. In that event, I’m just gonna pack it in and head off to the old gummers’ home.

Anyway. It took a few days to get an appointment, so I suffered through the interim by stuffing a tiny ball of chewed gum in my fractured fang. That way, I could keep from shredding my tongue on the ragged remnant of my poor tooth. The dentist said it was a clever temporary fix, but he feared I may have caused an infection. I would find out, he mentioned in passing, as he began to pump my gums full of anesthetic. Infections, he said, tend to render anesthetics and numbing agents ineffective.

There wasn’t much of anything left of the old tooth, so the decision was made to extract. Shouldn’t take too long, he said.

Thus began my descent into the Seventh Circle of Hades. Dente’s Inferno.

Brother, either I had a bad infection, or my tender pie hole is the most sensitive mouth this side of the Susquehanna. For a mindblowing, life-flashing-before-my-eyes, expletive-spewing one hour and thirty-five minutes, the poor Spouseman suffered through the worst pain I’ve experienced since Daughter Number Two nailed me square in the cajones with a sharply hit, line-drive softball. Why do they call them softballs, anyway? That thing felt pretty solid to me.

So through the pungent dental haze of grinding and cracking and tugging and groaning I found myself transported to the movie Marathon Man. I was Dustin Hoffman, supine and at the mercy of former Nazi prison camp dentist Laurence Olivier, who was drilling into my defenseless teeth all the while smiling is-it-safeand calmly asking me if it was safe.

“It’s safe! It’s safe!” I hollered, but the torture continued.

Eventually, finally, dentist man had his prize, and I had a mangled mouth and a prescription for some hefty pain meds. The pharmacy guy advised that I eat something with these pills, but eating something—anything—was out of the question. The inside of my mouth looked like a bad Picasso.

Thus, later that evening, in considerable agony, I weighed the nuclear-powered pills in my hand and found myself suddenly in the movie Catch-22. The catch, in my case, was the fact that I needed something substantial in my belly in order for the meds to bestow the blessed relief without terminal nausea; however, eating was impossible because of the very pain I needed relief from. See Heller, comma, Joseph. I scarfed down the pills and dispatched a quick prayer to the digestion gods.

The meds slowly eased the agony enough for me to fall asleep. But.

Sure enough, in the wee middle of the night, I woke up sick as my old tabby cat after a heavy catnip bender. Getting out of bed was no easy feat; the world was spinning worse than an old Iron Butterfly video. I felt my way to the bathroom, took a step toward the toilet, and promptly passed out. The next thing I remember was my dear wife screaming at the top of her lungs. I managed to peer open an eye, and suddenly I was in the movie Helter Skelter. From my vcarrieantage point sprawled on the floor, the bathroom looked like . . . , well, let’s just say it weren’t pretty. I hadn’t seen that much blood since the prom scene in Carrie. Or Helter Skelter, take yer pick. I had apparently konked my noggin on the sink on the way down. Sinks and foreheads don’t mix well.

I took the next day off work to rest, heal up, and catch up on Seinfeld reruns. Fittingly, it seems, the first one I tuned in to was the episode in which Jerry is accused of being a rabid anti-dentite because of his skittish reaction to dentists. Indeed. I was able to funnel some warm soup into me in order to prevent the pain meds from bursting forth violently from my bod again.

When I checked my e-mail later that morning, I found one of those robotically-dispatched surveys from the dentist office, asking me about my recent experience. Was I satisfied? Was the office clean? Etc., etc.

I typed four words: “No soup for you!” Not sure why, seemed to make sense at the time. Probably the pain meds. Not that there’s anything wrong with them.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

Are We Not Men? We Are Creatures! (Of Habit)

12 Sep

by Roger White

 

I sometimes wonder when I’m in private places—like making my choice-of-urinal decision in the men’s room at work or standing buck nekkid in my closet pondering the day’s wardrobe selection—if I’m being secretly spied upon by sociologist types through two-way mirrors or microscopically sized drones or what have they. I sometimes wonder this not because I’m of the mind that sociologist types are pervs necessarily (though they very well may be), but because I believe sociologist types could glean much human behavior information from observing everyday folks in their solitary moments.

We are creatures of habit, and nowhere are these habits more noticeable than when no one is noticing. Wait. Did that make sense? (writer breathes into cupped hands here, smells no whisky, continues on)

Take, for example, the urinal selection process. At my workplace, there are three urinals in the bathroom. Whenever I heed nature’s call at work and I see that nobody else is in the can at the moment, I instinctively go for Urinal #1 or Urinal #3. Urinal #2—the one in the middle—is never an option, unless

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

urinals 1 and 3 are caked in hideousness and chewed gum and random bits of human effluence. This natural selection process takes place on a subconscious level, I believe, for 91.73 percent of males because the great majority of males do not prefer to stand directly next to other males when doing their business. It’s a personal space issue.

My theory on this matter seems to be verified whenever I am Guy #2 in the john because Guy #1 is almost always at Urinal #1 or Urinal #3, leaving the other end urinal open so his personal space is not violated, either. The 8.27 percent of males who blatantly flout this societal convention and unashamedly bare their wares at Urinal #2 are for the most part raging extroverts or adamant alternative lifestyle proponents. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I have a PowerPoint presentation on this theory available for viewing if you’re interested. I wonder if women experience a similar phenomenon with stall selection?

The buck-nekkid-in-my-closet-pondering-the-day’s-wardrobe procedure also bears out my creatures-of-habit theorem. Try as I might to vary up my workaday wardrobe, it’s always the same: Monday is my dour brown checkered shirt/black slacks; Tuesday is the infinitesimally cheerier light brown checkered shirt/black slacks; Wednesday is humpday blue and gray decisions-decisionswith the faux cashmere socks; and so on. It can’t be helped. And truth be told, there is a bit of comfort in the consistency. Somehow, I feel that all is right with the world when it’s Wednesday and I’m standing at Urinal #3 in my faux cashmere socks and Fred is at Urinal #1 intentionally avoiding eye contact with me and my wares, as I am with him and his boys.

Now, the problem arises when one is contentedly minding one’s business, following creature-of-habit protocol, and someone else—no matter how unintentionally—ignores or outright runs roughshod over one’s creature-of-habit comportment. Hall passings are a good example. At work, we have these inordinately long hallways. They’re a pain when trying to get from place to place—say, when you’re making your way urgently to what you hope is open Urinal #1—but in reality, these extraordinarily lengthy halls are conducive to maintaining creature-of-habit equilibrium. When all are cooperating, mind you. We all know that everyone walks on the right, with opposing traffic passing on the left. If, for some reason (e.g., texting one’s daughter to get the hell up and get to class; looking down to double-check proper fly closure; etc.), you find yourself walking on the left, these long, long hallways give you plenty of advance notice to get back to the right before oncoming traffic on-the-rightcreates confusion. The difficulty arises when an opposing hallwalker is not observing the stay-to-the-right covenant. When clearing of the throat or dropping one’s keys fails to alert this wrong-way yahoo, options immediately become either (a) zipping to the left, which usually causes the wrong-way walker to parry your move and results in an awkward dance; or (b) walking so far to the right in an attempt to protect your lane that you actually begin generating heat and friction against the wall.

My habit in this situation was almost always to hug the wall—until in one instance the terrible friction actually caused my faux cashmere socks to catch fire. What I do nowadays is pretend to forget something and beat an immediate retreat.

Is it just me, or are these things universal?

Oh, btw (which, for you dinosaurs unfamiliar with social media, doesn’t mean “bob tickles wimmen”—it means “by the way,” I think), grand prize winner in our semi-quarterly Quizzical Quotes contest last edition was Mr. Greer Tedford. Or maybe it was Ted Greerford. I forget. Congrats, anyway. Greer won some wonderful parting gifts and a lifetime supply of Aunt Mildred’s Dehydrated Water in Cans.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

 

 

That’s Right, I Invented Tokémon Woah.

1 Aug

by Roger White

 

It hit me—almost literally—the other day just how pervasive this Pokémon Go craze is when my daughter yelled at me to stop the car (in the middle of the road, mind you) as I was driving in our neighborhood. Panicked, I slammed on the brakes, fearing I’d unknowingly plowed over a squirrel or baby deer or a neighbor kid or two.

 

“Wait! Wait, I almost got him,” Lindsey ordered. She had her cell phone aimed at a stand of trees beyond the curb.

 

“What? What is it?” I cried, scanning the area for a gray fox or some rare albino ocelot or something.

 

uh, Magmar“It’s Magmar. There, I got him!”

 

I kept eyeing the trees to our right, hoping for a glimpse of the magmar, whatever the heck a magmar was, until the driver behind me honked at me to get my butt in gear.

 

“Magmar?” I asked, waving apologetically at the driver’s one-finger salute to my traffic faux pas. “What is that? Like a roadrunner or something?”

 

My daughter scoffed at my ignorance. “Magmar, Dad. He’s a Pokémon dude. Looks kinda like an angry duck on fire.”

 

Lord. “You mean I almost got us rear-ended for that silly game?”

 

“Not silly, Dad. Magmar’s very important. He could help me take over a gym.”

 

I shook my head in amazement. I wondered what the most horrifying development of the year was: the prospect of the lunatic Donald Trump becoming the leader of the free world or our country’s absurd obsession with risking life and limb to capture imaginary cartoon characters. I’d heard the stories of people getting hit by trains and walking off sheer cliffs in blind pursuit of these Pokémon creatures, but I presumed they were cautionary myths. Not so, apparently.

 

Lindsey gave me a layman’s tutorial—Pokémon Go for Dummies—whereby she explained that there are three teams of different colors: Team Mystic, Team Valor, and Team Instinct. Players join a team based on whether they think they’re brainy, strong, or intuitive. The object of the game is to capture creatures that pop up on one’s cell phone while one is out and about in the real world, then battle each other at places called Pokémon gyms. I asked Linz if they had a Team Dad, wherein players could capture beers throughout one’s house and battle to take charge of the couch. No response.

whatever

This got me thinking, however. What if we came up with a local version of Pokémon Go? Ya know, Austin being Austin, how ’bout something like Tokémon Woah? Think about it. You could have Tribe Willie, otherwise known as Acapulco Gold. Members of Tribe Willie would be guided by music, a somewhat relaxed attitude toward paying one’s taxes, and simple pleasures—like sittin’ ’round in their underwear. Then there’d be Clan Kinky, or the Grandaddy Purple Tribe. Folks drawn to Clan Kinky would be inspired by satire, matzah ball soup, and delusions of living in the governor’s mansion. And then, of course, you’d have Clique McConaughey, or Tribe Redbud. Redbud Tribe members would be moved by such things as UT football and nude bongo-playing. Alright, alright, alright.

 

Now, the object of Tokémon Woah would be to venture about the capital city in search of various Tokémon creatures, such as Budzilla, Panama Red, Buzz Lighthead, Bong Bong, Roachymon, Spliffowak, Ganjasnorf, and the like. Once you capture a Tokémon, you pluck out any wayward seeds and take your Tokémon to the nearest Tokémon CrashPad, where you compare your Tribe Willieparticular Tokémon with those from other tribes. Once it’s established which tribe has the smoothest Tokémon Woah, that tribe enjoys dominion over the album selection for that CrashPad. No Stairway or Free Bird, however. Any playing of Stairway, Free Bird, or any and all Styx selections is grounds for immediate CrashPad banishment.

 

I got really stoked about this. I went so far as to fax my game proposal to the offices of Mr. Nelson, Mr. Friedman, and Mr. McConaughey. I got two “Cease and Desist” orders and a handwritten response that simply stated, “It’d be a lot cooler if you’d leave me the hell alone.” Hmm.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

Texas President Norris Asks U.S. to Reconsider ‘Texit’

5 Jul

by Roger White

 

DATELINE: University Park, Texas; November 16, 2019. A scant six months after Texas was granted full secession rights by U.S. President Hillary Clinton and Congress, Texas President Chuck Norris has officially petitioned the United States to reconsider the Texas Republic’s momentous “Texit” vote and allow the prodigal state back into the Union.

Chuckie and Hillary

The Texas Republic, reeling from skyrocketing unemployment following the loss of more than 200,000 former federal jobs and 350,000 jobs related to former ties with the U.S., was hit with another devastating—and ironic—blow in August when Mexican President George Lopez ordered thousands of border agents to turn back Texans attempting to cross the border into Mexico to seek employment. Lopez also discussed plans with the Mexican Cabinet to construct a protective wall along the Rio Grande to “keep the Texican rapists and criminals out.”

 

Seventy-one percent of Texas voters opted to leave the United States in a milestone election in May 2019—an unprecedented move termed the “Texit,” which came into favor in the wake of the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union in 2016. Members of the “Texit” faction, led by Texas Vice-President Dan Patrick and Texas Secretary of the Interior Alex Jones, pushed the secession movement to success in the polls with promises of a completely rebranded Texas national identity, including such measures as the one man-one woman marriage doctrine, guarantees of government-funded automatic weapons for every household, abolition of left-wing elitist solar and wind power, and the mandatory death penalty for abortion providers.

kiddie guns

“These sorely needed changes in the way of life of true Texans mean liberty and freedom,” said Patrick, a former sportscaster and radio talk-show host. “Leftist intellectuals bent on destroying our way of life use that inflated claim of 179,000 household firearms accidents in the three months since we issued every Texan citizen his own AK-47 assault weapon, but I can tell you these numbers are not accurate. And besides, it’s a small price to pay for liberty. The bottom line here is liberty, and freedom. And liberty.”

 

Norris, elected Texas president shortly after the Texas Congress voted to move the new nation’s capital from Austin to University Park near SMU, cited growing “minor issues” problematic to the fledgling country—such as the estimated $100 billion unpaid water bill owed the United States for continued fresh-water supply, an almost total loss of international commerce brought about by a worldwide boycott of Texas goods and services due to the nation’s stance on gay and women’s rights, and a nationwide health crisis caused by Texas’ ban on environmental protections.

 

“In time, I am sure we Texans can find solutions to these trivial inconveniences,” said Norris, as he signed a presidential decree to transform every third high school in the Texas nation into maximum-security Prison Highpenitentiaries to fully house the nation’s burgeoning prison population. “But we feel that, given our close ties to our former country and knowing how the U.S. has lacked for decent Tex-Mex food and has suffered from practically zero decent NFL draft picks this year, it is time to reconsider our affiliation with the U.S.”

 

One issue that may stall progress in Norris’ talks with the U.S. is Clinton’s call for the immediate stand-down of Texas troops, which have maintained a tight ring around the breakaway state of Austin since June 2019, when the former state capital pledged allegiance to the United States and voted to secede from Texas. Weeks after Texas national troops surrounded the besieged city, Clinton called on U.S. air power to drop food, medicine, and supplies behind the “Fajita Curtain” into designated drop zones in the former Texas capital city.

 

The watershed incident that prompted Austin’s split with the Texas nation, according to Austin Governor Willie Nelson, came when Texas Attorney General Ted Cruz announced the nation’s new mandatory 30-year prison sentence for possession of marijuana. “They’re outta their minds,” Nelson said in a press release. “My entire band is locked up in Round Rock High School now—I mean Round Rock Maximum Security Facility No. 3.”

 

Latest word is that U.S. President Clinton is favoring the return of the Texas Republic into the American fold, with the conditions that Texas change its motto from “Don’t Mess with Texas” to “We Messed Up, Texas” and formally apologize to the nation for Nelson Bunker Hunt, the Enron debacle, and Rick Perry.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

Phil at the Alamo and Starbucks on the Moon. Really.

20 Jun

by Roger White

 

So have you been reading lately about the papyrus scroll uncovered by some Harvard professor a few years back? The prof claimed this scroll proved that Jesus had a wife. Yeah. There was supposedly a Mrs. Christ. She apparently didn’t say much, according to the scroll, but she dutifully followed Hubby and the gang around, making sure the Lord washed his Hands after healing lepers and imploring Him to go easy on the water-into-wine business on weeknights. I do believe Mrs. C would be the only person on the planet who could exclaim “Jesus Christ!” and not be accused of blaspheming. She could merely be telling the Almighty to get his Big Feet off the coffee table. (Caps for reverence, of course.)

Jesus' Old Lady

Well, come to find out the scroll was a fake. Some hustler in Florida somehow convinced the Harvard academic that it was the real deal. The tipoff was probably the college-rule blue lines and the three-hole punches found on the papyrus. I guess Ivy League standards aren’t what they used to be.

 

Even though The Gospel According to Mrs. C was proven to be a hoax, it did stir up my dandruff a bit. So I conducted some keen investigative snooping around on my own. And wow. You would scarcely believe what sorts of little-known truths are out there on the interwebs. Herewith, then, are just a few of the Spouseman’s Little-Known Historical Truths Found on the Interwebs (SLKHTFOTI):

  1. John the Baptist was really a Methodist. John, whose middle name was Wesley, actually used the “sprinkling method” with Jesus, and later they had covered dishes and cake. They took a dip in the Jordan simply because it was really hot out that day. (This was the Middle East, you know.) –from http://www.cletusbiblesalesandtractorparts.com
  2. Former Genesis drummer Phil Collins was indeed at the Battle of the Alamo, as he has insisted. Two sketchings—from two different witnesses of the famous siege—have come to light, both of which show a bald man with rimless spectacles and a baseball cap peering over the The Philimofront wall of the old mission. In one sketch, he appears to be holding a flintlock rifle, but in the other he’s holding what look to be nylon-tipped drumsticks. Additionally, as Santa Anna began his assault and the Mexican buglers played “El Degüello,” which signaled that no quarter was to be given to the Alamo defenders, Texican defenders responded with a rousing chorus of “In the Air Tonight.” –from http://www.larrythemystic.com
  3. When astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the moon in 1969, they discovered several alien artifacts—all evidence of which has been kept secret by NASA ever since. A deep-net website run by an anonymous former NASA restroom cleaning technician contains a grainy image of what appears to be an alien drinking vessel held in Aldrin’s hand. On the vessel is a bizarre inscription—ΔÇ ξ  ⊗⊇⇔  ∂♥♦∧∧—which has been translated by cryptographers as the Martian equivalent of “Starbucks.” –from http://www.interstellarjanitor.com

moonbucks

There’s more, but I have a home and a family.

 

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that we had a couple of winners from the previous edition’s Quizzical Quotes Contest #16A: Mr. Leonard Baumel, who opted not to share his mailing address with me (and can you blame him), so he forfeited his rights to a goody package; and one Kathy Berry, who did share her mailing address, so Kathy will be receiving some terrific oldspouse parting gifts, an old jury summons, some overdue parking tickets, and whatever else I can scrounge from the junk drawer.

 

I could take up a lot of space and give you the answers to the QQ quiz, but if you didn’t happen to read the contest questions from the last edition or you don’t care a quarter of a whit, then who gives a rat’s patoot. If you do give a rat’s patoot and are burning for the answers, you can e-mail me at roger.white@tasb.org. Put the words “Rat’s Patoot” in the subject line so the Spouseman will know it’s not spam or more naughty photos from that scary lady in Vermont.

 

Until next time, kids. Keep the freak flags flying and don’t cut your hair unless absolutely necessary.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

The Squirrel Who Came in from the Cold

24 May

by Roger White

 

My spidey sense tells me of late that the critters in our attic are not Rocky Raccoon and his pals this time around but creatures far more cunning and insidious: squirrels. Yes, those habitual loungers and loiterers of college campuses and street darters who run straight in front of your car and then suddenly become bewildered as to their destination. That’s right, those squirrels.

 

Three clues have led me to determine that these little bushy-bottomed, nut-chomping rodents have replaced the raccoons as our most recent non-rent-paying top-floor dwellers: (1) the scratching, nesting, wire-chewing, and squirrel squatterscurrying sounds are more lightweight and frenzied (but still as annoying as a Twisted Sister album); (2) that high-pitched chittering and jabbering can be coming only from squirrels—or my mother-in-law (I can’t tell whether the critters are having wild parties or heated family disagreements up there); and (3) they have a spy squirrel who sits on the roof, tipping off the squirrel squatters when it’s safe to come and go.

 

I’ve gone over every square, round, and triangular inch of our humble abode’s perimeter, and for the life of me I can’t figure out how these tiny little tramps are getting in. I do know, however, that they employ that scout squirrel on our roof. Not unlike a tower guard, scout squirrel sits there keeping an eye on the human enemy. He chatters out signals decipherable only by other squirrels as to our whereabouts.

 

“Chich-chip-chich-chipchip-cheech!” scout squirrel screams when I near our bedroom window. Two pack members in the grass nod. One of them gives the “OK” sign, and they dart off giggling into the woods.

scout squirrel

“Get lost, ya little snitch!” I yell, banging on the window.

 

Scout squirrel sneers and runs away, chattering. “CHIP-CHICH-CHEEP-CHIP!!” Which sounds much to me like the squirrel version of “Your mother!”

 

And if you don’t think squirrels and other animals are smart enough to act as spies, think again. I read in the news not too long ago about a vulture that flew into Lebanon from an Israeli nature preserve and was captured on suspicion of spying. No kidding. An Israeli game warden who kept tabs on the bird tracked it to a southern Lebanese village. Then the Israelis started getting reports that the bird was being held by locals who suspected it was a spy because it had Israeli tags and devices. Turns out the vulture was part of a conservation project to restore the raptors in the Middle East and had a GPS transmitter attached to its tail. The poor bird was finally released when the locals were assured it was “not carrying any hostile equipment.”

 

OK, not a spy but it could have been. Just like the time last year when the Palestinian group Hamas claimed to have captured an Israeli dolphin equipped with spying devices. They knew it was an Israeli dolphin because of dolphin spythe waterproof yarmulke on its head. All right, I made up that part. The Israelis denied that the animal was sniffing around Palestinian waters on porpoise. (Insert groan here, if you will.)

 

But get this, declassified documents from the 1960s revealed the CIA’s attempt to wire a cat as a listening device, using its tail as the antenna. True story! The project, dubbed “Acoustic Kitty,” was abandoned after the cat was sent into a park to eavesdrop on purported bad guys but was run over by a taxi before it could get into position.

 

And then there’s this: In 2007, Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency reported that they had broken up a British squirrel spying ring. Fourteen squirrels were reportedly captured by intelligence officers in the border region of Iran, each allegedly sporbrit squirrelting listening devices. The British Foreign Office reacted characteristically, stating “The story is nuts.”

 

Aha! I would bet good money that our home’s scout squirrel is a surviving member of that British squirrel spying ring! Now that I think about it, his chattering has a certain accent to it, and his teeth, ooh….

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

How the Interwebs ‘Mowed Down’ the Postal Service

10 May

by Roger White

 

My old friend Gary, whom I’ve been best buds with since the early days of the LBJ Administration, recently retired after almost 40 years with the US Postal Service. Forty years of doing just about anything is admirable in my book, but working 40 years for the post office—and staying as sane, calm, and level-headed as Gary’s always been—is cause for a bit of hoopla and commemoration. So I sent my pal a celebratory retirement package: a 1/24 scale Three Stooges work truck model ready for assembly. Gary always did like working on car models.

 

postman dudeThrough the years, Gary has been the consistent yin to my yang. I’m a bit of a prone-to-histrionics type. When I’d be crying my 12-year-old eyes out because the Cowboys lost in the playoffs, Gary would be the one to remind me that it was just a game, that we’d get ’em next year, and, hey, isn’t a good time to get on our bikes and ride to the DQ for a couple of ice cream cones. That’s surely one of the reasons we remained such good friends over the years. I was the wild-eyed schemer; Gary was the voice of reason. Gary’s even-handed demeanor, I would bet, is also one of the reasons he never “went postal” working 40 years for the postal people.

 

I bring up my friend because I was thinking the other day how Gary timed his retirement just about perfectly. The USPS, like so many other entities, has been dealt a real body blow by the internet. The number of people conducting their business by hand-delivered mail has declined precipitously in the era of e-mails, texts, and Facebook. Then again, the list of industries and career paths adversely affected by the rise of the interwebs is a long one. Think about it: jounaughty magrnalists, photographers, newspaper and magazine owners, authors, publishers, literary agents, press workers, encyclopedia salespeople, recording artists, record album designers, music store owners, phone book companies, map makers, taxi drivers, camera makers, processed film manufacturers, travel agents—and let’s not forget the print porn industry. OK, never mind about the print porn. Young men now have more closet and bottom drawer space. But anyway, the list goes on. We’re in the midst of an economic revolution of sorts. And we all can’t work as Walmart greeters.

 

So back to Gary. The notion that my friend retired at just the right moment came to me when I read an article the other day that the postal service of Finland—financially in dire straits as are postal services of just about every country around—has gone to drastic measures to try to stay afloat. Posti Group, which is what the state-owned Finnish mail service is called, has decided that to help make ends meet, they will, in addition to delivering the Finnish mail, offer to mow people’s lawns once a week for a tax-deductible fee of about $148.

 

“The idea for the lawn-mowing service came from mail delivery employees themselves,” said Anu Punola, the service’s director. “We believe many customers will be happy to outsource lawn mowing when we make it convenient for them to do so.”

 

Mmmyeah. That’s thinking way, way outside the post office box. Somehow, I just don’t see it flying here in the good ol’ US of A. My postal delivery guy is friendly enough, but I can’t picture him at my door like so:

 

“Hello, Mr. White, you need to sign for this package.”

 

“Oh, thankspostal mow.”

 

“And by the way, your driveway shrubs are looking really shabby. You want a trim and an edge for an extra fifty bucks?”

 

I could see them delivering pizza, though. That just might work. “Here you are, Mr. White, jury summons, five credit card offers, Victoria’s Secret catalog, utility bill, Pottery Barn flier, and double pepperoni with mushroom, hold the anchovy.”

 

In order to survive, I envision other such services embracing the concept of double duty. For example, I edit a magazine (yes, the print kind), and I write for a newspaper (yes, the print kind). How much longer these publications will remain the print kind is anyone’s guess, but I figure it might help keep subscriptions coming in if we could figure out a way for these periodicals to be made from material with the consistency of toilet paper. Talk about double dooty. That’s something that e-magazines and e-newspapers just couldn’t match, I do believe.

 

Yep, Gar, you retired at just the right time, old friend.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely spouse, two precocious offspring units, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.