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Bigly, Bigly Shakeups in My Own Personal White House

1 Aug

by Roger White                                                                              

 

DATELINE—THE WHITE HOUSE(HOLD), AUSTIN, TEXAS

 

In another abrupt move that has apparently become the modus operandi of the White House (that being the house in which ersatz columnist/pseudo-blogger/psoriasis counselor Roger White and family reside), Second-String Dog and Assistant Canine Communications Director Boney Scarapoochy has resigned his position just days after being assigned to the post. Scarapoochy declined comment on the sudden departure; however, when asked about the situation within the White House, Scarapoochy said only, “Rough.”

 

This latest WH shakeup comes only days after White House Chief of Yardwork Staff Rieeince Amoebus and Kitchen Press Secretary Shawn Slicer resigned their positions under what some observers are calling “unsettled circumstances.” Several reports indicate that since his exit Slicer has been seen on occasion smoking cigarettes and talking to buildings on the grounds of Shoal Creek Clinic.

 

The White House comings and goings of late follow a familiar pattern that began in January, when Acting Family Attorney Allie Yates was fired when she made it clear that she would not defend the Whites’ sweeping insulation ban. White had called for a total ban on all attic insulation from particular countries and announced plans to construct an enormous wall along the home’s southern property line to keep out raccoons, possums, field mice, coyotes, and progressive liberals. On the heels of Yates’ departure came the swift exit of Domestic Security Adviser Michael Phlegm in February. Phlegm was ousted when it became clear he had misrepresented his dealings with ambassadors from the rival Circle C neighborhood.

 

The White House revolving door of staff shakeups continued in May with the firing of James Klomey, the home’s director of the FBI (Flatulence, Belching, & Incontinence) and in July with the resignation of Wally Shrub, director of the family’s Office of Neighborhood Ethics. Shrub left soon after stating that the family’s home and reputation are “close to a laughingstock” compared to other domiciles with similar personality-addled heads of household.

 

Despite the rash of firings, resignations, departures, and refusals to accept appointments to high-level positions within the WH, family adviser Smellyanne Blondeway insists that the home is being run like a well-oiled machine. “The home is being run like a well-oiled machine,” Blondeway said, unblinking and immobile while apparently reading from a script. When asked to elaborate, Blondeway added, “The home is being run like a well-oiled machine.”

 

First Lady Susan White did note that newly hired White House Handyman and Overall Fix-it Technician G. Gordon Tiddy was “doing a wonderful job maintaining the interweb connections and things.” She went on to comment that not only are the house’s computers running better than ever but that the “interwebs” connections are so finely tuned currently that all internet activity in homes within a two-block radius of the White House are available for viewing in the home, as well.

 

The White House’s Mr. White emphasized that there is absolutely no chaos within the home, as “the failing Oak Hill Gazette and other liberal rags claim in their fake news.” White went on to say, for no apparent reason, that “I know words. I have the best words.” He added that he does not attend family financial meetings because, “You know, I’m like a smart person.”

 

Roger White is without a doubt the most brilliant, most unbelievably fantastic person with the name of White in the history of everything. Bigly. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

Wanna Know Who You Really Are? Spit Here.

5 Jun

by Roger White                                                                              

 

So the wife finally convinced me to do this ancestry DNA thing you’ve probably heard or read about. Ya know, you send in your DNA sample to this mad scientist type place somewhere in Utah and a few months later you get to find out you’re not Scotch-Irish like you’ve been told since you were 3 but are in fact one-fifth Bosnian-Herzegovinian with a touch of Latvian Orthodox and a slight dusting of the Saskatchewan Moose Jaw Clan. Which is probably why your family just said you were Scotch-Irish and left it at that. Much simpler.

Anyway, one day the wife hands me this cardboard box and excitedly proclaims, “Here’s your kit! Time to provide your sample!”

I was instantly horrified. The only “samples” I’ve ever had to provide for medical/research purposes involved either (a) needles, blood, and pain; (b) sitting alone in a room with a tiny container, some tissues, and a “men’s” magazine while trying hard to think sexy thoughts; or (c) forcibly going to the bathroom and then, while completely mortified, placing my uncomfortably warm “sample” into a tray in the wall of my examination room while praying to God no one opens the tray from the other side of the wall while I’m providing my uncomfortably warm “sample.”

To my great relief, I found out that the ancestry guys just wanted my spit. For a moment, as I self-consciously began earnestly trying to hock up a nice loogie, I eyed Ralph asleep on the floor and pondered what the results would be if I gave them a vial of elderly long-haired dachshund saliva. “Dear Mr. White,” I envisioned, “from your unique DNA sample, our labs have concluded that you are eight-tenths Old World German with a family history of hunting badgers and an unusual tendency toward heartworm. For long-term health, you may consider drinking less from the toilet and going for ‘walkies’ at least three times a week.”

But no, I diligently hocked up my sample, sealed my little vial, and we both shipped off our DNA data in hopes of discovering if great-great-great-great-great grandpappy was perhaps Nebuchadnezzar II or Spike Jones or whoever.

We have since been in the “waiting phase,” while—according to the company literature—the DNA lab experts and biochemists in white labcoats spend arduous weeks attempting to deconstruct our respective spittles down to the double-helix level and painstakingly extract our ancestry information. A substantial part of me thinks that in reality, there’s a big basement room in Provo somewhere with a giant wall map of the world and a bunch of guys in t-shirts and sweatpants armed with darts.

“OK,” a rotund guy yells out, still munching a pizza crust, slouched at his chair. “Watch out. This one is for, let’s see, this dude’s name is ‘White.’” He reaches into a coffee can full of darts, takes a dart and heaves it at the wall. “Rocko,” the guy yells. “Where’d that hit?”

Rocko takes a swig of Miller Lite from a longneck bottle and shuffles over to the map. “It’s in the middle of the damn ocean. Try again.”

The rotund “lab expert” sighs and throws another. “Bingo!”

Rocko burps and leans down to inspect the dart’s landing zone. “Bolivia. Somewhere in the middle of Lake Titicaca. Wow.”

“How ’bout that? Bet the guy never knew he was one-quarter Titicacan. OK, watch out, here goes again…”

I’m hoping that’s not how it goes, but the cynic in me can’t help but think the whole thing is at least a little bit scammy. I did read somewhere that the results aren’t 100 percent accurate and that some folks tend to be over-identified Scandinavian for some reason. I guess Scandinavian is the default heritage, kind of like on the Magic 8 Ball how more times than not the answer is “Results Hazy. Try Again Later.”

 

Roger White is a four-sevenths Scandinavian freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely six-elevenths Creole wife, two half-Sri Lankan daughters, a full-blooded Obesian dachshund, and a cat that refuses to provide a sample. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

When the Bra Comes Off, the Day Is Done

10 Apr

by Roger White                                                                              

 

So I saw something on Facebook the other day posted by a friend of a Facebook friend’s mother, who is the friend of a friend-in-law’s friend, and it made sense, so I “liked” it even though this friend of a friend-in-law’s friend isn’t really that friendly to me at all. In fact, he’s a bit of a jerk. Anyway, the post went something like this: “In my house, when the wife’s bra comes off, that means it’s the end of the day.”

Wow. That’s one of those statements that is so right on the money that you thought it was always out there but it took someone to verbalize it for you to realize the profundity. Kind of like how when you first heard the song “Yesterday” by The Beatles, it instantly sounded as if it had always been there, since time immemorial. Those occasions are singular and exceptional. When Paul McCartney reached up into the ether and pulled down the notes and lyrics to “Yesterday,” he was delving into that rarified eternal stream of thought that few have access to yet all mankind knows it’s been tapped into when they hear it. You can just picture cave men and cave women sitting around the tribal fire nibbling at the last remnants of roasted yak meat, and they’re softly singing:

“Yester-ugh…

All my ugh-ugh seemed so far away,

Now it looks as ugh they’re ugh to stay…

Oh, I bel-ugh in yester-ugh…”

 

Or something. You get the picture. Well, it’s the same in my mind with this guy’s epiphany regarding his wife’s intimate apparel. I’ve been cohabitating with female types since I was born—first with a mom and two older sisters, and now with a wife and two daughter units—and I’ve known almost instinctively since I was a toddler dodging discarded support garments that bra removal means, as far as a woman is concerned, the day is officially over and it’s time to kick back.

Now, I can’t claim to know just exactly what goes on inside the female cranium, but, like I said, I’ve been around this species my whole born days, so I have a bit of a notion. Ya know, like how a ranch hand who has been around horses his whole life knows pretty much what a horse is thinking. Hmm, maybe I should rephrase.

You see, I had to wear a tie at a couple of jobs in my sordid past, and I absolutely hated it. Even the clip-ons. It was so restraining, so binding, so…corporate. My thinking has always been that ties are a man’s bra. They’re just there for show and to keep your neck from sagging.

Well, like I mentioned earlier, I can’t claim to precisely comprehend the complex workings of the fairer brain, and, indeed, this was confirmed when I related recently my theorem about men’s neckwear being the equivalent of women’s chestwear. Upon hearing this hypothesis, my dear spouse choked on her mist green chai tea latte and gave me one of those looks like I have cat poo on my head.

So, recently, being the quasi-curious home scientist that I am, I put my theorem to the test. That’s right, I did something I haven’t done since I was eleven and was going through a very short, confusing phase that involved my mom’s sparkly lip gloss and listening to a lot of Wayne Newton. I put on a bra.

I must say, at first it felt reassuringly snug and comforting—like a hug from an old friend. An old, peculiar and sometimes inappropriate friend. Yet after walking around the house and stretching a bit, I began to get it. To be blunt: Bras suck. They pinch, they poke, and this one in particular did nothing for me. It revealed way too much side/chest flab, and I won’t even begin to go into the horrifying man-cleavage difficulty.

So. To wifey and all you female species types out there, I get it. And ties are not a man’s bra. Only a bra could be as uncomfortable and restraining as a bra. So I say to you ladies, “Danke schoen, darlings, danke schoen…”

 

Roger White is a, uh, a human living in Austin, with his recently bewildered spouse, two horror-struck daughters, an obese and gas-addled dachshund, and a cat recovering from Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or don’t.

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.

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.

 

Did You Remember Siblings Day? Hmm?

12 Apr

by Roger White  

 

I generally make it a point to remember special occasions and days that have deep meaning to those around me. Ya know, like our kids’ birthdays, our anniversary, Bulk Trash Pickup Day, Hunter S. Thompson’s birthday, Texas Independence Day, Saturday. However, a special occasion sneaked up on me the other day and clonked me on the cranium. I think it left a scar. I was greeted with a hale and hearty “Happy Siblings Day!” by my older sister Karen. And verily I say, I was flummoxed. Gobsmacked even. Smacked right in the gob.

right

Siblings Day? First of all, is that the best term they could come up with for one’s brothers and sisters? Siblings. The word puts me in mind of little, tiny baby otters not quite formed into otters yet, so they have to stay back in the otter nest until their appendages grow and form into real otter appendages. You can just hear the National Geographic voice-over guy in his proper British accent as the camera zooms in on the otter nest: “Here you see the unformed neophyte otters—siblings as they are known—struggling to find nourishment…”

 

Anyway. I had no idea that April 10 was National Siblings Day. Did you? I felt immediately guilty for not remembering it, and then I felt immediately embarrassed by thinking my leg was being yanked upon. So I looked it up, and lo, spake thus Google:

“Siblings Day (sometimes called National Siblings Day or National Sibling Day) is a holiday recognized annually in some parts of the United States on April 10, honoring the relationships of siblings. Unlike Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, it is not federally recognized, though the Siblings Day Foundation is working to change this.”

 

the empireThe Siblings Day Foundation? Something tells me this whole kaboodle is underwritten by Hallmark greeting cards. Hallmark was surely the brains behind Grandparents’ Day and Children’s Day, too. I must chortle. Children’s Day? EVERY DAY is Children’s Day!

 

Again, anyway. I apologized to my older sister Karen for not commemorating uh, Siblings Day, and therewith wished her the happiest of uh, Siblings Days. My oldest sister, Kathy, did likewise. I figured, ya know, being siblings, we should celebrate like siblings should. So I sent Karen a photo of some chewed gum. In all my childhood days with middle sister Karen, the memory that stands head and shoulders above them all is that Karen would become violently ill at the sight of chewed gum. No one knows why. But Karen and I fought like rabid weasels when we were kids—and vestiges remain. I figured it was appropriate.

 

She returned the favor with a copy of that damned photo of me urinating in their closet during a sleepwalking episode from my prepubescent days of high anxiety. Well played, Sis. Well played.

 

So. My point is this: I forget. No, wait. Do your best to stay apprised of upcoming days of commemoration and specialness. Or something. To help you along, I give you the upcoming special days of April:

 

  • April 15 is Income Tax Filing Deadline (ITFD). Send your accountant a nice, handy implement. Like a spatula or an earthworm. If you don’t have an accountant, go to the TurboTax website and under “Contact Us” insert the link to the Charlie the Unicorn video. They will appreciate this.

 

  • April 15 is also Father Damien Day, observed in Hawaii. On April 15, 1889, Father Damien died of leprosy on the island of Molokai. He cared for sufferers of this disease and continued his missionary work on the island until he was little more than a shrunken torso. Damien was also the Son of Satan, as portrayed in “The Omen.” Connection?

 

  • billApril 18 is Patriots’ Day in Maine and Massachusetts. Patriots’ Day marks the battles of Lexington and Concord, which were fought near Boston in 1775. Patriots’ Day should not be confused with New England Patriots Day, which celebrates the under-inflating of footballs and stealing of opposing teams’ signals during any given Pats game.

 

  • April 21 is San Jacinto Day, celebrated here in ol’ Tejas. If you don’t know what San Jacinto Day is, then you need to move to Oklahoma.

 

  • April 22, speaking of, is Oklahoma Day, observed at Barry Switzer’s house. We need to do more research on this occasion, but I think it involves great stacks of $20 bills and brand new Corvettes.

 

  • April 25 is Confederate Memorial Day in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi. This is the day that 17 rednecks, all cousins, get together and celebrate the last vestiges of slavery by yelling “Yeehaw!” at the top of their lungs and shooting shotguns at small mammals.

Dead tree with curved branches in Denmark

  • April 29 is Orthodox Good Friday. It is also Arbor Day, which is observed as a state holiday in Nebraska, where they worship the one tree that grows in the state of Nebraska in a field in Hickman, south of Lincoln.
  • April 30 is the last day of Passover. What I know about Passover involves hiding matzoh crackers and drinking wine. I do know some of the Jewish food of the Passover season is darn good. My wife concedes that gefilte fish is basically the Jewish Spam, but don’t knock the matzoh ball soup.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a mildly obese dachshund, and a middle-aged cat with Esptein Barr Syndrome. For more of “This Old Spouse,” visit www.oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

Prine Was Right: Blow Up Your TV

4 Jan

by Roger White

 

“Blow up your TV, throw away your paper,

Go to the country, build you a home…”

—from “Spanish Pipedream,” by John Prine

 

I work for an education association, whose ebb and flow of timelines, lull seasons, and get-it-done-yesterday crunch times generally follows the public schools calendar. This does not mean I get the whole summer off or that I have to take some sort of final exams every semester. But it does mean I get a nice chunk of time off during the Christmas break. Or should I say Holiday Break, or Winter Break, to be properly PC. But if I say “Winter Break,” then I’m accused of waging war on Christmas—whatever that is—by the anti-war-on-Christmas people, whoever they are. Seems there are an inordinate number of highly sensitive, easily offended, extremely angry subgroups of people out there these days, and almost any topic—from eating a hamburger to wearing a headscarf to saying “bless you” when somebody sneezes—is now an emotional mine field of potential hurt feelings and mob-mentality retribution.

reallyFor example, overheard at a local Wal-Mart recently:

“Dammit, Zebulon, these friggin’ Moslems is takin’ over the place. Look over thar, in home improvement. Dang scarf-wearin’ terrurist jee-haddys…”

“Yeah, I here ya, Jebediah. Hey, Zeke! Lee Roy! We got us a … wait, that’s my mom in the scarf. She didn’t want nobody to see her curlers.”

“Oh. Well. That’s awright, I guess.”

But while we’re on the subject, wouldn’t the term “Winter Break” be considered offensive to those folks who deem autumn as their favorite season? We have Spring Break; we have Summer Break; and now with the newly christened “Winter Break” we are kicking poor, unloved autumn to the curb, aren’t we? We have no “Fall Break.” I’m pissed off! This is War on Fall! Anti-Autumn Armageddon! I’m organizing a protest! Where’s Fox News?

OK, wait. Once again, I digress. Anyway, yes, so this lovely fortnight of vacation I get every, uh, late December allows me the blessed opportunity to back away from the grind. To sit in the backyard with a fire in the fire pit, a warm drink in hand, and nothing on my mind but determining how to get the (insert your preferred holiday here) boxes down from the attic without upsetting the raccoon family that has taken up permanent residence up there.

I have found that during this heavenly lull I tend to watch less news on TV and scarcely come near the computer, which is where I usually receive my daily dose of terror, misery, innuendo, and fear-mongering via CNN and other websites.

And despite the season’s family dramas, gift-hunting mayhem, and traffic gridlock gnashing of teeth—not to mention the annual overdose of turkey, libations, and too much party silliness—I find that my anxiety level and blood pressure go way down. Two weeks without Trump, Cruz, Clinton, terrorist plots for world overthrow, Planned Parenthood bombings, Dow Jones doom and gloom, the affluenza teen, Bill Cosby revelations, and viral cat-in-the-microwave stories tend to hit me like a soft pillow in the face. The crap the media spews at us 24/7 isn’t our world.

And all you have to do is turn it off. You can blow it up, if you’ve a mind, but just hitting the “off” button will suffice. Aaah. That’s nice.

So why take only a (insert your preferred holiday here) break from the muck and the madness? I was never much on New Year’s resolutions, but I believe I have one for 2016: Less CNN, Trump, Hannity, msnbc, Fox, and all those “World’s Most Extreme Terrible Things” shows—and more backyard reflection. More walks, more friends, more board games. If you still have the old Aggravation board game gathering cobwebs in the closet, pull it out, dust it off, and get the kids around. It’s fun.

Don’t have Aggravation? OK, Monopoly then. Just try to ignore the fact that Monopoly is based on properties in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a town practically owned by…you know who. I’m tellin’ ya, if that candy-haired blowhard gets anywhere near the White House, I’m moving the family to…

Time out. Breathe. Forget Monopoly. Stick with Aggravation. Or the backyard fire pit. Aaah, there we go.

aggravation

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