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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.

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.

Dad’s ‘Stairway to Summer’

3 Feb

by Roger White

 

Now that we’re in the dead of winter, and those despicable, horrid, scorching temperatures of mid-July are long gone, I truly miss those despicable, horrid, scorching temperatures of mid-July. This always happens, and I always know it’s going Zepto happen. I am now officially sick of winter. I dreamed of grilling out in the backyard recently. This wondrous dream was even set to music—à la Led Zeppelin. I call this wondrous nocturnal fantasy “Stairway to Summer.”

 

Note: If you can’t play “Stairway” in your head as you read this, this will make no sense to you whatsoever and you will become convinced that my mind has been eaten by worms. The latter may be true, of course, but read on if you will:

 

“Stairway to Summer”

There’s a daddy who’s sure all that sizzles is gold,

And he’s grilling five pounds of heaven.

 

When he gets there he knows if the propane is low,

With a card he can get more at Walgreen’s.

 da grill

Oooh, oooo-oooh, and he’s grilling five pounds of heaven.

 

On his grill there’s some mush, but with his handy wire brush

He scrapes and, oops, he just lost one patty.

 

In a tree by the grill, there’s a songbird who sings,

And, uh oh, the bird just soiled another patty.

 

Oooh, oooo-ooh, and dad’s grilling three pounds of heaven.

 

There’s a feeling he gets when meat falls through the slats,

And his spirit is crying and bereaving.

 

In his thoughts he has seen the grill smoke through the trees,

And the voices of those who stand drooling.

 

Oooh, oooo-ooh, and dad’s grilling two pounds of heaven.

 

And it’s whispered that soon, if you use a big spoon,

You can salvage those patties in the fire.

 

And a new day will dawn for those on the lawn,

And the backyard will echo with laughter.

 

Did anyone remember ketchup?

 

Oooh, oooo-ooh, and he’s grilling a half-pound of heaven.

 

(picking up the tempo now)

 

If there’s some gristle in your ground chuck,

Don’t be a dumb schmuck,

It’s just a sprinkling of tendon.

 

Yes, there are two paths you can go by,

But to use care,

Well done’s safer than rare.

 dead patties

Oooooh, but it makes him wonder.

 

His head is humming on his fifth beer,

But have no fear,

The wifey’s calling him to slow down.

 

Dear Daddy can you smell the gas now?

You’ve burned a whole cow,

Your burgers are lost on the whispering wind.

 

(kicking it in!)

 

And as we settle down to eat,

Everything’s ready but the meat,

 

There sweats dear Daddy in the heat,

Who shines bright red in drunk defeat.

 

Did all that sizzle turn to ash

grill oopsIn a propane-fueled flash?

The answer comes to him, behold!

There’s fried chicken on the stove,

So let’s have that last Michelooooob!

 

Ooooh, and dad’s scraping the burnt remnants of heaven.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

In the Beginning Was the Couch. And the Couch Was Good.

31 May

by Roger White

Ah, my dyspeptic disciples, sometimes you get a sign from the Guy in the Big Comfy Chair in the Sky. Ya know what I mean? Here’s a for instance: I’ve been recently wrestling with the idea of introducing to you, my ferromagnetic followers, the tenets of the nonsectarian sect I’ve founded to provide guidance and succor in this chaotic, troubling day and age. We all could do with a hefty dose of succor, don’t you think? (It’s a noun, not a verb—get yer minds out of the gutter, people.) I worried whether the time was right, however. It can be a bit of a touchy subject, forming a new religion, so I’ve been waiting for a sign—an epistle from the ether, as it were. And, lo, I received it just last weekend.

My lawnmower died.

Understand that mowing and edging and weedeating and trimming and all that lawn-related labor is one of my top-five most feared and loathed things I must do on a Suburban Sisyphusquasi-regular basis. I hate my yard, and my yard hates me. It’s mangy, weedy, and irregular, and a great swath of it is at such an angle that I feel like Sisyphus with a side-bag Snapper. That’s right. Suburban Sisyphus. Good name for a garage band, eh? Anyway, I swear I can hear the dandelions cursing quietly at me whenever I go to the mailbox. So when my trusty 4.5-horsepower bit the dust, sputtering to its smoky demise that cloud-covered Saturday, I realized it was a sign. A sign from Yawn-weh to now spread the word.

You read it right. He is Yawn-weh, second cousin on his mother’s side to the mighty Yahweh. I was shown the light and way of Yawn-weh one weekend afternoon as I napped on my couch long ago. Yawn-weh, the Great and Relaxed One, revealed unto me the one true path: Sedentarianism. It is only through this slow, steady course of life that we are able to throw off the onerous burdens of today’s world. Brother, are you weary of hurrying through your day, of tweet-text-iPodding every nanosecond, of rushing from chore to chore, of manically attending spin classes at Planet Fitness? Then I offer you the sanctuary of Sedentarianism.

Yes, my apoplectic adherents, the supreme Recumbent One can bestow upon you the peace of mind you once had—like that summer when you were 11 and you had just eaten three bowls of Trix and you had a whole Saturday morning full of cartoons waiting for you and you had nothing else to do that day but make water balloons. You can have that feeling now, if you join me. Sedentarianism has but one true tenet, and it is this: Doth it really need to be accomplisheth? If it can be done tomorrow, then tomorrow it shall be. And, my brethren (and sistren), since tomorrow never kinda like thisreally comes, then whatever does it really matter? Why not forget it and taketh a nap? I liken this unto Occam’s Razor. It is the mysterious principle known as Yawn-weh’s Barber.

The way is not for everyone, my friends. But if the path of Sedentarianism appeals to you, I can send you a pamphlet. For now, just let me leave you with this. As I fell from my couch, roused from my vision that special day, I spied what appeared to be a stone tablet on the coffee table near my head. It was round; I realized it was one of my drink coasters. Something had been inscribed on it, and it read thusly:

The Six Suggestions of Sedentarianism

  1. Thou shalt not spill thine beer.
  2. Thou shalt not hasten.
  3. Remember the Weekend, to keep it slowly.
  4. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s remote.
  5. Thou shalt honor thy sofa and thy pillow.
  6. Thou shalt not bear false tweetness.

I’m still working on deciphering the meaning of VI, but the first V are the words I now live by. In fact, I’m planning a June 21 visit to the holy city of Toledo, Ohio, to mark the first true pilgrimage of Sedentarianism. June 21, as you know, is the first official day of summer. And Toledo, Ohio, is named after Toledo in Spain, I think, Devout Sedentarianwhich is where historians believe the first official use of the word siesta came into being around 1655. With summer being the holy season of Sedentarianism and siesta being the most revered of Sedentarianistic activities, what more glorious way to honor his Horizontal Holiness than to nap the afternoon away in a Toledo city park? Later we may get ice cream. Write me if you want to join the flock.

Oh, and my name is now Rog-reesh Metta Whittite. Roj for short. Peace. Love. Rem.

Roger White Rog-reesh Metta Whittite 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.

My Uvula Has a Beer Belly

22 May

by Roger White

 

I understand about growing old, and I don’t mind it, really. No, really, there are a few perks that tag along with decrepitude. Like being able to take a nap any time of the day without having to explain yourself. Or the well-practiced art of feigning random episodes of deafness when the wife has her chore list out. Oh, another biggie is the ability to dodge zzzzzhelping the neighbors with any heavy lifting. That’s a personal favorite.

 

“Oh, look, hon,” says the wife one glorious Saturday afternoon. “That new couple across the street bought a new hutch. Go over and see what you can do. They need help getting that big ol’ thing out of their truck.”

 

The glorious day turns dark. “Yes, dear.”

 

I toddle over.

 

“Hey, there, young fellah,” I rasp, sounding in the terminal throes of emphysema. “Need a hand?”

 

“Well. If you think you can, sure!”

 

“Okay, now,” I wheeze. “I’ll hop up in the truck bed and push her your way.” I go to climb up in the truck and freeze, back bent double. “Uh, oh.”

 

“You all right?” the wary young couple inquires simultaneously.

 

“Darn it. Ol’ war wound.”

 

“War wound? Vietnam?”

 

“Yep. Battle of Inchon.”

 

“That was Korea.”

 

“Oh, yeah. Korea.”

 

“Well, look, mister. You go on home and rest your back. We can get this. But thank you, anyway!”

 

I toddle away as the gloriousness of Saturday brightly returns.

 

Alas, some very real maladies have visited themselves upon me with the piling up of the years, and these are the things that make me ponder my mortality. My weekly stab at playing tennis, for example, has been indefinitely curtailed because of some vague pain in my lower neck that feels like I have an angry lobster attached to my spine. I went to the doc about it; he felt around for a while, wrote me a scrip for steroids, and sent me on my way. Well, I have a big mat of chest hair now and I’m prone to wild fits of road rage, but roidsI’ve yet to feel any relief from the spine lobster. Doc thinks I’ve torn my trapezoid or something. Sounds like a circus injury, I know.

 

Another aging ailment (AA for short) that has come to squat upon my person is flab. Funny word, isn’t it? Flab. Flab is something I never suffered from as a kid, as a teen, or as a young man. If anything, I could have used a little extra body acreage. I was always skinny as a pipe cleaner—and about as shy. Yes, that is correct. Pipe cleaners are notoriously shy. Anyway, as the seasons have passed and I’m now in the autumn of my years, I’ve noticed my leaves turning brown and…wait, wrong metaphor. I’ve noticed a bit of girth round my midships. The wife insists my beer intake and stubborn sedentarianism are the culprit, but I cling to advancing age as the true cause. By the way, that’s a new religion I’m starting—Sedentarianism—but that’s for another column.

 

The upshot of this is: I’ve a bit of a muffin top, you see. Well don’t stare.

 

The thing of it is, it’s not just our outer bods that fall victim to flab. Noticing that I’ve been yukhaving trouble staying asleep for any considerable stretch lately, I’ve set myself up for one of those sleep studies. Wifey seems to think I have a flabby uvula. Sounds naughty, I know, but no, we all have uvulas, fellahs. It’s that dangly thing in the back of your throat. Mine is apparently sagging into my breathing passage and clogging me up at night. Yes, even my innards have grown old and tired. My uvula has a beer belly.

 

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.

 

I’m Just Rollin’ Along, Like My Dog

26 Mar

by Roger White

Ralph Cooper White is our family dog, and he is all there, let me tell ya. What I mean when I say he’s all there is that what we have is one royally rotund, prolifically plump Fat Ralphpooch. Now, dachshunds are called weenie dogs because of their unique resemblance to foot-long frankfurters, but as weenie dogs go, Ralph is more of a cheese danish. A round, brown, long-haired morning pastry of a hound. Actually, he’s more like a hairy little UFO. But we’ve been trying.

In our efforts to slim Ralph’s frame down to a reasonable facsimile of a normal dog’s, wifey and I take him on nightly walks in the neighborhood. Ralph takes his own sweet time during these forays, so much so that we practically drag him down the street. My dog read dogwife told me, however, that we shouldn’t rush him; she read somewhere that to a dog a daily walk is somewhat akin to reading the newspaper. It’s the dog’s time to relax, his opportunity to unwind. If that’s the case, then Ralph nightly reads the entire Sunday double edition of The Wall Street Journal, cover to cover.

Ralph does just about anything to stall the walking process. Sniff this, pee on that, observe the trees, bark at the squirrels, look in neighbors’ windows (wait, that’s me), etc., etc. But the one delaying tactic he uses that drives me nuts is his stubborn habit of rolling in junk. Not just any ordinary junk, mind you. Ralph loves to execute full body rolls in nasty, smelly dead, decaying things—mainly worms.

It makes you think twice about letting your pooch sleep in your bed when he carries the lingering odor of rotten death with him. Many times my wife will wake up in the middle of the night and smack me in the head. “Honey, honestly!” she’ll scold.

“It wasn’t me! Ralph just moved up next to your head!”

Wondering if perhaps Ralph possessed some oddball fascination with either mutant stink or death and putrefaction, I got online and found that this is actually quite a normal behavior. I shall quote from the ASPCA for Kids Site: “Rolling around in stuff that makes people want to barf—be it dead squirrels, poop or rotting garbage—is an instinct that comes from dogs’ wolf ancestors. Scientists don’t know for sure why dogs have that instinct, but they have a few ideas. The most popular theory is that dogs roll yuuuuckaround in the yucky stuff to cover up their natural smell, giving them camouflage and helping them be sneakier hunters. Another idea is that dogs are putting the funky smell on their bodies so they can alert other dogs to what they found. (When other dogs sniff your dog, they’ll get the exciting news that there’s a dead animal nearby.) Still a third idea is that dogs love to shimmy on gross things to claim them as their own—they don’t want any other dogs getting in on that prime piece of grossness.”

Hmm, interesting. So somewhere down the line, a fat cheese danish of a wild wolf rolled in dead stuff, too. One theory holds that Ralph slathers his body in an odor to throw others off the track, eh? I could use that myself. Say, if there was a scent I could ensconce my body in to avoid weekend chores. Men would pay good money for such an aroma, believe me. I imagine it might smell like sweat and wood shavings or something chore-related—maybe grass clippings and grease. I could see it in use:

“Honey, would you fix the . . .” Sniff, sniff. “Oh, never mind, you must be busy.”

Hot dog! Of course, another theory is that dogs roll in dead stuff to stake a claim. If a scent like this worked at the office, this might also be a money-maker. At my workplace in particular, any time someone makes fresh coffee, there’s a land rush on the coffee pot. It’s every man for himself. But—what if they made a scent so powerful, so reminiscent of it's juanJuan Valdez and mountain-grown Columbian beans that every worker big and small would step aside, knowing instinctively that you were the rightful heir to that first aromatic cup of joe? For that privilege, I would roll myself in any old nasty smell. 

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.