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Help, I’m Suddenly Single, and I Can’t Get Up, or Down, or Anything!

13 Feb

by Roger White

Operator: “911, what’s your emergency?”

TOS: “Well, um, my wife and kids are gone. I’m not sure what to do.”

Operator: “Gone? How long have they been missing?”

TOS: “Uh, well. They’re not so much missing. They’re just, you know. Gone.”

Operator: “I don’t understand.”

TOS: “You see, my oldest daughter is doing a study abroad semester in New Zealand, and my wife went with her to get her set up over there. They’ve been gone almost a full day now. And my youngest, well, she is away at the University of Arkansas. I’m all alone.”

Operator: “I see. Are you in any danger?”

TOS: “Well. I’m hungry. And I think the microwave is broken. And the washer is making a sound like a wounded coyote. I’m a little scared.”

boil-what

Operator: “Calm down, sir. I need you to remain calm. How long have you been married?”

TOS: “Uh. Twenty-uh. Twenty-six years. Why? The washer’s growling now. I think it’s angry. Oh, God.”

Operator: “Relax, sir. Just breathe. Breathe deeply through your nose. Slow, steady breaths. Has your wife been away for any extended period of time during your marriage?”

TOS: “Huh? I . . . well, no. I don’t think. Uh, wait, she went to visit her sister once a few years ago, but I stayed with relatives then. Why?”

Operator: “Sir, you’re experiencing OFSW. Do you have a paper bag you can breathe into?”

TOS: “OS – what? I’m starting to see spots.”

Operator: “OFSW. Over-Functioning Spousal Withdrawal. Are you drinking liquids? You need to stay hydrated—and remain calm.”

TOS: “Well, I’ve had some beers. That’s liquid.”

Operator: “No, sir, you need water. Drink a glass of water, with nothing else in it. And find a place to sit down.”

all-alone

TOS: “OK. OK, I’m sitting on the floor now. I have the dog’s water bowl. Ralph looks scared, too. He doesn’t look so good.”

Operator: “Ralph? Who’s Ralph?”

TOS: “The dog. He’s looking at me with this panicked expression, like he did when we had ringtail cats in the attic. Take it easy, boy.”

Operator: “Are you OK, sir?”

TOS: “I think. We’re sharing the water bowl now. Ralph was really thirsty. This water tastes like kitty litter.”

Operator: “I need you to listen to me, sir. Do you have anything in the fridge to eat? Vegetables, cheese, any frozen dinners?”

slurp

TOS: “I’m at the fridge now. There are some Hungry Mans in the freezer. The salisbury steak kind. My favorite. But like I said, the microwave isn’t working.”

Operator: “What about the oven?”

TOS: “The what?”

 

Operator: “Never mind. What seems to be wrong with the microwave? Maybe I can help you diagnose it over the phone.”

TOS: “I don’t know! The button and the thing with the deal, when I push it, nothing happens and then I get this beeping warning thing and the light goes off, and, and … I don’t know!”

Operator: “Sir, breathe into the bag. Slowly. Let’s just forget about the microwave for now. Look in the crisper.”

TOS: “The whatter?”

Operator: “Crisper. The crisper, sir. It’s the drawer in the fridge that has vegetables, you know. Green things like lettuce and broccoli.”

TOS: “Green things? Wait, let me look. Oh. Hey, I’ll be darned. So that’s where the carrots are. I thought maybe she bought them fresh every day or something.”

Operator: “OK, good. Take out a carrot and . . .”

TOS: “[Crunch, crunch.] Not the best thing to eat, but it’s all right, I guess.”

Operator: “Did you wash it?”

TOS: “Wash what? Hey, Ralph likes carrots! How ’bout that? I need meat, though. And the beer’s gone.”

Operator: “Are you starting to feel better, sir? How’s your breathing?”

TOS: “Uh oh. The washer’s starting to walk toward me. You should hear this thing. Sounds like a John Bonham drum solo.”

Operator: “You may have overloaded it. You put in just one load, didn’t you?”

TOS: “Well, everything that was dirty. And my coat. I had to stand on the load to get it all in. Wait, I can see suds now. Oh, man, here it co—.”

Operator: “Just try to stay calm, sir. We have an OFSW officer on the way. Sir? Sir?”

TOS: “Bllbbbblb.”

Roger White is a freelance hermit 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.

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.

 

 

 

Andrew Tackles Yak Parts–and a Letter from Ralph

10 Aug

by Roger White

So I’m parked in the den the other day, sprawled on my comfy couch, watching my favorite TV show not shot in black and white or from the 1960s—that being “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”—when I notice Ralph the dog strolling by with something in his mouth.

I’m in a state of continual amazement, by the way, at the things this guy puts in his mouth—Andrew Zimmern, not Ralph the dog. Have you ever watched this Andrewshow? Andrew’s job, apparently, is to travel the world, find every culture’s most unusual and/or disgusting food, and eat it. He’s ingested everything from pig brains, camel head, and cow rectum to just about any and all arachnids and nightcrawlers known to mankind. He’s also consumed the “man parts” of just about every earth creature on four legs. Yeah.

Two of the most repulsive things I’ve ever seen Andrew scarf down, however, were something in the Philippines called balut—fertilized duck eggs, complete with half-formed baby duck tendons and feathers and appendages—and a fetid, rotten fish dish in Alaska called stink head. I think I could smell this stuff wafting balut oohup through the television. Stink head is exactly what it sounds like: fermented fish heads dug up after decaying in the ground for weeks and served on a platter with a side of botulism. To quote Mr. Z, “I’m never eating that again as long as I live. That’s really, really harsh. Ammonia, rotted flesh, spoiled onions. All these flavors come to mind.”

But Andrew does get to tour the planet on the show’s dime. And who else can say that they’ve eaten the testicles of the native species of every continent on the globe? OK, let’s leave that one alone for now.

Anyway, not the point. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I tend to ramble in this forum. But come on, people, that’s my schtick! Just trying to keep the conversation lively.

So I interrupt my watching Andrew tackle fried yak penis in China to reach down and see what Ralph the dog dropped near the couch. It looks like a note.

It is a note, scrawled simply but legibly:

“Deer Dad,

I luv you and Mom like you were actual dogs, and you are extreemly good to me, but some issues I must bring to lite. They are the following:

Ralphie1. I reelly hate it when you get impatient when you take me out to the yard to “do my bizness,” as you so quantely put it. Pooping on command is no picnic—and yelling at me when I go in the house becauz you haven’t taken me out in six hours doesn’t help any eether.

2. Wouldn’t you be fritened of a cat that was bigger than you? Max is si-cotic, man (sp? I don’t have google). Pleez stop telling me to “man up,” whatever that means, and get Max therapewtic help with his anger issues.

3. Pleez refrane from tugging on me to get me to stop smelling something when you take me on my walk. This is my time; this is me reading the sunday paper. Besides, did you no that we dogs possess up to 300 million old-factory recepters in our noses, compared to about six million in you humans? And the part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analizing smells is, praportionally speaking, 40 times greater than yours. Chew on that.

4. Why yell at me when I bark at the cable or peezza delivery guy? I don’t know these guys. If you have somebody coming over, let me know, will ya?

5. And listen, I have gas just like you, so there’s no call for scolding me when it happens. Yours don’t smell like rozes, eether, ya know. And this whole blaming me when you know you did it routine? Getting purty old.

I love you guys, serioshly, so pleez take this in the spirit intended. And pleez pass this note on to Mom. Luv, Ralph the dog.”

Damn. I didn’t know Ralph could write. His spelling could use some work, however.

 

Roger White is a freelance human living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely spousal human, two precocious offspring humans, a very obese but mannerful dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

Suburban Worldsick Blues

27 May

by Roger White

 

With a tip of the hat to a master chronicler of the American age, it must be noted that Bob Dylan never lived in a 3/2/2 with central heat/air and two and a half mortgages during a time when, by all appearances, our society is on the verge of utter decay—all viewable with the click of a mouse or touch of a pad.

 

So I give you “Suburban Worldsick Blues.”

 

Perry’s in the Capitol, railin’ against abortion,

I’m lookin’ at my taxes thinkin’ it’s extortion,

The man in the trench coat shootin’ up the school halls

Says he got bullied so everybody must fall.

 

Look out, dad, the economy is bad,

God knows what we did, but the country’s on the skids.

 

You better duck down, turn page, watch out for road rage,

Another mass swhyhooting, another senseless rampage,

Sterling’s on his cell phone reminiscin’ ’bout slavery,

Miley’s twerkin’ onstage, scandalous behavery.

 

Look out, mom, Gotta stay calm,

Soldiers in Kabul dodging roadside bombs.

 

Get sick, get well, they’re laying off again at Dell,

Are we winnin’ whatever war, it’s gettin’ kinda hard to tell,

Presidenidiotst says our healthcare system’s unfit,

All Congress says is where’s your birth certificate?

 

Well, Hormel, GM organizin’ recalls,

Bad meat, bad brakes, pickets down at town hall,

Daughter’s college fees call for medical sedation,

Building border walls to stifle immigration.

 

Look out, pop, no tellin’ where it stops,

Younger daughter’s boyfriend working at a head shop.

 

Mortgage underwater, excess beer consumption,

Viagra wants to help with that erectile dysfunction,

The factonoworkry just made a Chapter 11 declaration,

School board says it’s gonna teach divine creation.

 

Text tweet online, your selfie looking so fine,

Kids in Bosnia steppin’ on old land mines.

Icebergs meltin’, droughts killin’ all the wheat,

Just global warmin’ lies of the liberal elite.

 

Well, get dressed, get stressed, face the day’s traffic mess,

Oops, your job’s just been outsourced to Bangladesh.

Don’t follow leaders, take pills for all the cedars,

Find yourself a new position as a Walmart greeter.

 

Look out, mama, you’re dyin’ from the trauma,

Increase yer Prozac dosage, tune in the dalai lama.

 

Well, jump down a manhole, filibuster gun control,

thebardThink I saw a shadow up there beyond the grassy knoll,

Headin’ to the car, another day in the loony ward,

Shakin’ yer head ’cause the vandals keyed yer new Ford.

 

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

143a.

 

Question for the Ages: Do Snails Get Mad?

31 Mar

by Roger White

 

So I’m sitting on my front porch on a gorgeously sunlit Sunday morning, while Ralph the dog slinks ever so farther into the fringes of the yard and out of my line of vision. He does this so he can stealthily nose through, roll around in, and snack on various dead bugs, worms, and other dogs’ indiscretions in our yard. And to think we let him sleep in our bed with us. Max the fat cat reasonable maxsimilelazes next to me, casually observing a snail making glacial progress across the sidewalk. I begin watching the snail, as well. The little guy is near the edge of the walk, mere inches from the luscious black earth of our garden. It must have taken this tiny gallant gastropod all of this morning and most of last night to ooze his way this far from the driveway, judging from his slimy trajectory, and I marvel at his determination. I figure there’s some greater life lesson here, presumably about fortitude and believing in oneself and putting your best foot forward and all that. Although technically, snails don’t have feet.

Well, to be scientifically correct, the word “gastropod” is derived from the ancient Greek term that literally means “stomach foot,” which would indicate that a snail does indeed have a foot formed from its stomach. However, this is an anthropomorphic misnomer, based on the fact that to humans it appears as if snails and slugs crawl on their bellies. In reality, as we all know, snails and slugs have their stomachs, the rest of their digestive systems, and all the rest of their molluscal viscera in a hump on the el gastropodoopposite, or dorsal, side of their bodies. In most gastropods, this visceral hump is covered by, and contained within, the shell. This will be on the test, and, no, Leonard, you can’t be excused, just hold it in.

So, technically, I’m still not sure if snails have feet.

Anyway, um. Oh, yes, well, just as Eddie Escargot is about to reach the promised land, Max the cat jumps up and bats the unfortunate mollusk back across the sidewalk. The little guy sits there, stunned, back at square one. I swear I hear a tiny, little expletive. Another life lesson, I’m thinking. You know, if at first you don’t succeed, Rome wasn’t built in a day, cats are evil bastards. Stuff like that.

I shake my head at Max’s playful cruelty, wondering if he realizes what he’s done. “Was that necessary?” I lecture. “That is one pissed-off snail.”

Then it hits me. Is it? Is that snail mad as hell and not going to take it anymore? See, these are the things that I ponder. This, among many other reasons we won’t go into in this forum, is why I don’t own or manage a productive business, am not a best-selling author, and never made it to the professional tennis circuit. I am engrossed, wifey would say distracted, by matters such as this: Do snails get angry?

one pissed snailMy curiosity piqued, I dash to the computer and google the question, “Do snails get angry?” I’m not really expecting an answer, but you never know.

Sure enough, the query comes up word for word on the WikiAnswers site. Some bozo replied, “No, slugs and snails can’t get angry because they don’t have faces and therefore can’t frown, smile, or laugh.”

Wait a minute. Snails have faces. Don’t they? So I google “snail face,” only to find a host of sites about snail facials, a Japanese spa treatment in which they smother your head in live snails, which is apparently supposed to retard the aging process because of the incredible properties found in mollusk mucus. Tokyo spas are charging $250 to slather your mug in slugs–$300 if you want to eat them later.

But again, I digress. So I dash back outside to see for myself if our torpid little traveler has a face, only to find Ralph the dog rolling all over the poor thing in the driveway. Yes, Eddie Escargot is escargone. I pick the little guy up and place him gently in the garden, his final resting place. I swear I see a hint of a grin. Snail heaven. Gastropod Valhalla. Hey, there’s a name for our garage band.

 

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

Keep Your Head Down During the BFF Wars

13 Feb

by Roger White

 

So I stepped out onto my front porch the other day into a pile of brightly colored bikini tops. There were at least six or eight of these sexy swimwear items crowding my front door. My first thought: “Well, it’s finally happened. The neighborhood womenfolk have been spying me working out through my bedroom window for so long now that they just can’t take it anymore. My guns, my six-pack, my dimpled charm—they were simply too much to resist. So the wives and moms of Travis Country collectively lost it and decided to pay homage, Tom Jones style. With the lines to the man“What’s New, Pussycat?” sauntering through my mind, I reached down to take the offerings, half expecting names and phone numbers to be hidden among the intimate apparel.

 

“Oh.” Then it hit me—these were return items in my younger daughter’s ongoing BFF wars.

 

 Let me attempt an explanation. If you are not the parent of teenage daughter types, well, then, lucky you. Let me start over. If you are not the parent of teenage daughter types, you may not understand that drama runs extremely high in this species. In fact, if Mr. Maslow had been raising a teenage daughter when he was developing his “hierarchy of needs” philosophy, then his list of basic human necessities would be ranked something like this: 5. Shelter; 4. Food; 3. Water; 2. Oxygen; 1. Drama. Like so.

 

It seems, if I’ve interpreted correctly what little I could catch of my daughter’s version gossip girlsof recent events, that a certain group of friends are, like, so jealous of a certain person’s ongoing, like, relationship, with a certain boy, so, like, this certain group of friends are giving the cold shoulder to this person until she, like, shows them more attention. As if. Duh.

 

Aha, pals versus passion. The crew versus the crush. I vaguely remember similar situations back in my high school days, and I must say that we handled things very differently. Of course, this was a bygone era, and I was a guy. I recall that if one of our group was lucky enough to actually find a girl who could tolerate him for more than a week, we simply wished him well—and hated him behind his back. Then we followed the unfortunate couple around the school halls making lewd, disgusting noises, and we occasionally hunted down their makeout spot to shine flashlights and blast airhorns. Yeah, we were much more mature about these things.

 

Of course, none of this even remotely applies to me today. These days, as married as long as we’ve been, the wife looks at me after I come home from hanging with my crew (Steve) and sighs, “Oh, you back again already?” Yeah.

 

So anyway, that’s the reason for all the bikini tops on my doorstep. The BFFs are saying to my young one, “Here are your things back. Clothes and makeup trading is, like, off until you come to your senses.”

deardad 

My delicate job in all of this, I’ve found from experience, is to nod or shrug as appropriate and say absolutely nothing. I learned that if I agree too readily with my daughter’s harsh appraisal of Heather, Ashley, and/or Brittanie Anne while the wars are in progress that this always comes back to bite me. Hard. “Yes, you’re right,” I made the mistake of saying one time trying to soothe dear daughter’s hurt feelings. “Brittanie Anne can be pretty snotty.” Of course, during the ensuing BFF truce, I heard my daughter proclaim to Brittanie Anne, “My dad thinks you’re snotty.”

 

Lord help me.

 

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

 

 

Twas Just Weeks Before Christmas

9 Dec

by Roger White                                                                              

 

Twas just weeks before Christmas, and all through the pad

The family was doing its darndest to rouse Dad.

With Thanksgiving turkey still digesting, somewhat static,

I was instructed quite sternly to fetch the tree from the attic.

 

Up there amid the cornucopia of raccoon and rat droppings

notreallymyatticI found the ol’ tree, a few lights, and Yule stockings.

I emerged stiff and sore from all the crawling and kneeling,

Yet I was thankful this time I didn’t fall through the ceiling.

 

We set up the faux fir, still tall but a bit thinning,

Then we threw on the tinsel and bulbs and the trimming.

The wife and I then noticed something odd and perplexing,

Our usually gung-ho helpers were too busy texting.

 

Our daughters, you see, are now teens oh so typical,

Self-involvement in this species has reached levels almost mythical,

So I barked, “If you two jokers want a visit from Saint Nick,

Ya better put down the phones and start decorating quick!”

 

With some grousing and squawking we got the house squared away,

We even found our old snoring Santa to put on display.

Then the tree lights turned off, an infuriating quirk,

’Cause I had to find that one lousy bulb that wouldn’t work.

 

merrydogmaThen the dog decided to start eating all the tinsel,

I pried what I could from his mouth with my pencil.

Our cat then pounced on the tree like a leopard,

Causing the whole thing to crash into Baby Jesus and the shepherds.

 

It was about this time I started debating my sanity

As I chased my tinsel-munching dog, filling the house with profanity.

So the girls hightailed it to the mall for some shopping;

 I caught a glimpse in the mirror, my hair flecked with rat droppings.

damall 

On Visa! On Amex! On Discover and Capital One!

Charge away, charge away ’til the buying is done.

To Nordstrom! To Brookstone! To Abercrombie & Fitch!

Charge ’til my credit rating’s down in the ditch!

 

So I propped the tree upright and shooed the animals away

And opened a cold one; this was the end of my day.

I toasted my loved ones as they drove out of sight,

festivusmanThinking, “It’s Festivus next year—Frank Costanza is right!”

 

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