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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.

 

W.B.’s Resolution: Find a Rhyme for Penguins

5 Jan

by Roger White

 

Ah, my cosmic cohort, mi altruistic amigos, another calendar has been trash-binned. Another yuletide has been yuled, another new year’s staggered through, another den full of pine needles and confetti swept up, another damn wrinkle found in the mirror. This can mean only one thing: It’s time to hear from the great Willie Bartwhat a nightholin Cowper, former poet laureate of south Hudspeth County and professor emeritus at the Fort Stockton Night School for Girls. The legendary W.B. has agreed to grace us with his poetic rendition of thoughtful resolutions for the year 2015.

 

Please understand, my existential adherents, as I turn this forum over to W.B. that the professor, while still brilliant and incisive, tends to wax a tad eccentric of late. Prof Cowper, a true Renaissance man, spent the greater part of his life as an inventor-philosopher perfecting a type of home insulation crafted from radium-coated asbestos. Take this into account as you glean what pearls of wisdom you can from Dr. Cowper’s musings. I give you the renowned Willie Bartholin Cowper:

 

“Now that 2014’s gone and a new year is before us,

Let’s make some resolutions—because some rocks are rightly porous.

 

“Let’s vow to argue less, to see the other’s position,

Walk a mile in another’s shoes, but don’t catch his foot condition.

 

“Know that Republicans are simply Democrats with their insides turned out,

And Methodists are actually Baptists with a bad case of gout.

 

“Let’s eradicate Ebola with sarcasm and unmanned drones,

Let’s toast the Kardashians with mint tea and scones.

squirrel bagged

“Make an effort to floss more, text less, and put the lid down,

Above all, avoid the squirrels in the road on the east side of town.

 

“Let’s vow to remember what’s important in life,

It’s not fame or fortune or having a trophy wife.

 

“No, it’s about family and friends and love, goodness knows,

And finally squeezing that pimple just under your nose.

 

“Let’s resolve to drive friendlier, to let the other guy in,

And reol nancemember that Nancy Reagan had very weak shins.

 

“Let’s keep foremost in our minds that inside we’re all the same,

Except, of course, for the Norwegians—we all know their little game.

 

“Take time in this new year to stop and smell the roses,

And forget you saw your mother-in-law in just her pantyhoses.

 

“Fill your days with things you love, put petty squabbles aside,

And remember—your sister’s poodle likes to drink formaldehyde.

 

“Be kinder to your neighbors; being friendly’s not that hard,

If you recall, they’re the ones who saw you passed out in the yard.

 

“Be more like little children—worry less and play more,

But try hard this year to blow less snot on the floor.

 

“Be there when your kid learns to ride her first bicycle,

But trust not that new proctologist with hands like icicles.

 

“Don’t be so body-conscious, so you’ve gained a few pounds,

Your hiney is your cushion—it’s meant to be round.

 

“Take your wife out to dinner, or if she’s out of town,

Take your friend’s wife to dinner; we know she’s been around.

 

“Walk a few blocks when you can; clip your nose hairs often,

Eat the pickles in the side drawer before they start to soften.

 

“Tell your mother that you love her; tell your stepdad he’s the tops,

Find your nephew’s medication before someone calls the cops.

 

be a pepper“Consume more uncooked greens, learn to brush behind your molars,

Drink more Dr. Peppers; drink fewer Coca-Colers.

 

“Keep your poise, keep your cool, keep your sense of humor,

Have that weird mole checked—probably not a tumor.

 

“So look for the good in people, but watch for the bad in penguins,

And remember through life’s journey—nothing really rhymes with penguins.”

 

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 Would Shake Your Hand, But . . . Ebola, You Understand

21 Oct

by Roger White

Dear Diary: Day 37 of my quarantine finds me gazing out at the swath of graceful oaks and maples that crowd the greenbelt beyond my back yard. Two slender brown squirrels skitter and climb among the lower branches of the trees with effortless agility. They chatter excitedly as they chase each other and run from the marauding blue jays. The jays can’t stand the squirrels. They see them as interlopers who invade their got itfeeders and scavenge the seeds and nuts on the ground before they can harvest them. Jays are natural bullies, and the squirrels are their foils, carefree clowns both aloof and contemptuous of the great birds’ status as authority figures of the suburban greenery. You can see in his eye as the large male jay tracks the movement of the squirrels bounding below him: “Why, I oughta…”

I wonder if the jays and squirrels worry about ebola.

And there it is. I realize now I can’t do one thing, engage in one activity, carry one thought in my mind, for more than three minutes without being drawn magnetically back to the dreaded “e” word. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeebola. (Picture here the Swiss dude in lederhosen and Swiss hat blowing on an outrageously long alphorn in that cough drop commercial.) Out of an abundance of caution, I’ve been sentenced to weeks of isolation because of my tangential exposure to the deadly virus du jour. You see, I was in the nuff saidDallas area recently to visit my mom, and I happened to stop in for a soft drink at a south Fort Worth gas station. Come to find out that the cashier at this gas station had recently been in the same movie theater as a guy whose son played on the same soccer team as another kid whose mother had been in the same Walmart as a woman who’d washed her car at the same car wash as a man who had been on the same airplane as the father of a girl who attended the same high school as a kid whose grandmother’s hairdresser rode on the same bus as the accountant of a guy who had changed a tire for a woman who’d played canasta with the aunt of a guy whose sister drove past the hospital where the whole ebola thing started here in Texas. So, yike. I’m practically at death’s door here.

Har. Don’t get me wrong. Ebola be bad. Lord knows we have to panic about something, so it might as well be a nasty virus from across the Big Pond. Better than the usual hyped tripe from the cesspool of politics. HOWDY, coughBut I do believe we’re taking it just a tad too seriously, no? I saw a Facebook post that summed it up nicely: More people in the United States have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from ebola.

And yes, I kid on the quarantine. In actuality, I was gazing out my rear window watching the squirrels tease the jays in a conscious effort to avoid my TV. I’m a television junkie, I freely admit, which creates a twisting cognitive dissonance in me wee cranium due to the fact that I truly and completely loathe the media. If today’s media aren’t the cause of all things evil, then they’re most definitely exacerbators of it. Members of the media foment more distress, disharmony, and dyspepsia than any other group of humans on the planet other than politicians.

Case in point: ebola. As a test, the other night I got out a lovely, unopened bottle of Jack black and decided to play an updated version of an old fraternity game. I sat in front of the tube with a shot glass, the bottle of Jack, and the remote. The game: Roam among the cable news channels, stopping for just a few minutes at a time on each channel, and guzzle down a shot at each utterance of the word ebola. I started the game at approximately 7:15 p.m. By 7:41, I was schnockered. I was so hammered that I somehow found myself standing inches from the TV, watching the halftime of a football game, though I wasn’t sure how I got to that channel. Vision was fuzzy, so I can’t be sure, but I swear the halftime band marching around the field had formed itself into a giant ebola virus. There’s no escaping.

Ah, for the good ol’ days, when all we had to worry about was ISIS and gun control and the president’s secret socialist agenda. Sigh.

 

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.

So That’s Why They Call it the Poop Deck! OMG!!!

14 Feb

by Penelope Ashe

 

Editor’s note: While “This Old Spouse” columnist Roger White continues his recovery yowzaand convalescence from male breast-reduction surgery, guest columnist Penelope Ashe has agreed to offer her wacky, offbeat observations and unique comic stylings with her very own “From Penelope’s Pen.”

 

Hi, out there!!! Penelope Ashe here!!! First, let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Penelope Ashe, and I am an XX-year-old divorcee living in Bastrop, Texas, with my two adorable poodles and one snarky, mean old cat. You didn’t really think I was going to tell you how old I was, did you? Hahahahaha!!!

I have an online associate’s degree from Belford University, I was an actress and singer in Houston (actually, the suburb of Sealy!) for several years (Shakey’s Olde Time Dinner Theatre), and I have my own Pinterest following in the disciplines of scrapbooking and merkin weaving. My friends and family have always told me how funny and witty I am, so when I found out about this chance to write my very own funny column, I just couldn’t resist!!!

Well, anyway, enough about me, on to the humor!!! Are you ready???

Did you hear about that cruise ship that got stuck in the ocean without any power? OMG, it floated around in the Gulf of Mexico for days, while passengers had to wait in line for like ever for food—and they had to do their business in buckets!!! I guess that gives a new meaning to the word “poop deck,” huh? Hahaha!!!

And what’s up with that Charlie Sheen character? OMG x 2!!! What I don’t understand is that after all his misbehavior (do you really think he drank real tiger’s blood?), he gets another zillion-dollar contract to star in another TV show?!? Do you think if I acted up sheenlike that that I would get my very own TV show? Maybe something like “Here’s Penelope” or “A*S*H*E”—get it? (Like “M*A*S*H” except a little different.) By the way, did you know that they have a sitcom in the Philippines called “Ful Haus,” based on the all-time classic American show “Full House”? Isn’t there a law? Anyway, with Mr. Sheen being a total wackjob like he is, I don’t blame his brother, Emilio Estevez, for taking a stage name.

How about poor Lance Armstrong, huh? Everyone in this part of the world pretty much worshiped the ground he rode on until all the steroid accusations against him were proven to be true. We had a Lance Armstrong bike path, Lance Armstrong Avenue; everybody wore his little yellow wristbands, etc., etc. And now everybody in and around Austin rides their bikes wearing their aerodynamic helmets and faux Lancecompetition outfits, looking quite ridiculous if you ask me. I’m sure many of them would have given their left you-know-what to be Lance Armstrong—which is real funny if you know that Mr. Armstrong only has one you-know-what? Hahahahah!!! And now Lance has admitted that it’s all true—Lance was lanced with hypodermic needles more times than a drug addict. I guess you could say he was a drug pedaler. Get it???!!!

You know, for some reason, every time I try to actually say “hypodermic needles,” I end up saying “hypodeemic nerdles.” I always thought that would be a great name for a garage band. The Hypodeemic Nerdles!!! What do you think? Anyhoot,….

Can you believe the Pope is heading off to retirement? I didn’t know they could do that? Can you just picture him in a baggy bathing suit, long black socks and sandals, with his tall Pope hat on, scouring the beach with his metal detector. I guess now that he’s no longer on the job, they’ll call him Ex Benedict. Hee hee hee!!! Like the breakfast.

Apparently, we just missed being hit by a giant asteroid, only by a few hundred miles or look outso. Did you hear that? Whew!!! That would have been a really rocky end, huh? It would lend a new meaning to getting really stoned, huh? Talk about getting stuck between a rock and a hard place!!! Hoohooooo!!!!

Well, I guess that’s all for now, readers!!! If you want to join my Pinterest site for scrapbooking, just tweet #penelopespals@283, and I’ll be sure to reply. Air kisses and e-hugs!!!

 

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. Penelope Ashe, author of “Naked Came the Stranger,” is a part-time cosmetologist at Sue’s Salon in Cement, Texas.

Falling Off My Very Own Personal Fiscal Cliff

31 Jan

by Roger White

 

Pardon me while I faint. KLOMP!

 

Whew. Okay, I’m back. You see, I just checked my bank balance after the deposit of my first paycheck of 2013. I was anxious—fretting is the better word—over what sorts of new and exotic deductions would further erode my take-home income this fine year. But I had no idea it would be this bad.

 

Well, my Social Security deductions went through the roof; health insurance coverage for my family soared like a Roman candle (ooh, ahh); and we just added our oldest daughter ouch ouch ouchto our automobile insurance coverage because she’s of that age so new and terrifying to all parents. Lindsey’s actually a good driver, but try telling that to a car insurance company. To car insurance companies, teenage drivers are like the proverbial golden geese, except with braces and acne and blue jeans full of holes.

 

Holy smokes. Counting federal income tax, Medicare tax, dental insurance, life insurance, anti-insurance insurance, death insurance, dismemberment insurance, dismemberment cleanup insurance, disability other than dismemberment insurance, retirement, retirement insurance, and, of course, insurance against not having enough insurance insurance, I’m practically taking home less actual money than if I wasn’t working. Counting cost of gas, car upkeep, work clothes, lunches, the imposition of regular hygiene, etcetera, I do believe I’m virtually paying for the privilege to go to work.

 

Wha? Wha happen? How did it get to be like this? I thought that after about 30 years of the daily grind, I was supposed to be doing at least okay, relatively speaking. And speaking of relatively speaking, I’m certainly glad my relatives are speaking to me, because I may very well have to hit them all up for some low-interest loans. These be hard times, people. And the weird part is, my family’s not extravagant. We really don’t have any corners to cut to re-mash our household budget because all of our cuttable cutting cornerscorners have already been trimmed long ago. We’ve cut so many corners that every piece of furniture in the house is circular. We’re so bent on cutting corners that we switched from Saltines to Ritz crackers. (Get it? No corners. Bah-doom boom.) We’re saving coupons, taking cold showers, eating at home, bundling services—you name it. We’ve bundled so many services that AT&T provides our cable, phone, internet, water, electricity, sewage, and even medical and pharmaceutical needs, I think. The last time I was on the phone to the AT&T technician in India about a cable outage, he reminded me that I needed my regular allergy shot. That’s how bundled we are. I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch just about every day, and I’ve worn the same dress shoes since Bush was president—the first Bush, that is.

 

Yes, if this first measly paycheck of the new year is any indication, my little family has barreled over our own personal fiscal cliff. All we’re waiting for is the big thud. I’ve actually sought out assistance to soften the thud. I’ve been to many an online “cost savings” site. They all say about the same thing. Buy store brands. Duh. We’ve been doing that forever. And I must say, “Everything’s a Dollar” brand beer is quite the sacrifice. They say to use up your leftovers and freezer foods. We’ve done that. Just last week, we Our Gourmet Joeused up our last can of Manwich and our final jars of Tang powdered orange juice and Taster’s Choice instant coffee, all circa 1972, I believe. Another savings tip from these online cost-cutting gurus is to buy only what’s on sale. Well, we tried that one, but now we’re stuck with 30 jars of gefilte fish, 10 pounds of leeks, and two dozen turkey necks.

 

Who’s up for pot luck?

 

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.

And Now the Rest of the Story

16 Oct

by Roger White 

You know who I miss? Well, yes, I do still pine for Irene Ryan. Granny wielded a razor wit and a mean shotgun—or was it shotgun wit and a mean razor? Whatever. And you just couldn’t beat her possum stew.

But no, my point was that I miss Paul Harvey. If you’re not dilapidated enough to remember him, Paul Harvey was a radio broadcaster who for years and years mingled news, opinion, urban legend, and cleverly disguised product plugs in a quirky one-man show he called “The Rest of the Story.” I didn’t always agree with his politics, but Harvey was funny and sincere. He sounded like one of your slightly deranged uncles telling oddball stories by the campfire.

 

Harvey transitioned to that great studio in the sky in 2009, and in the years since I’ve come to realize he left a huge hole with his passing. News cycles today are so unrelentingly fleeting that no time is allowed for follow-up. You get a headline, a couple of paragraphs of story, and no more. Then it’s on to the next bath-salts-induced-face-eating story. I say it’s time we slowed things down a bit. I say it’s time for more in-depth coverage, for broader, more extensive, more thoughtful deliberation of the day’s events and trends. I say it’s time for another Paul Harvey.

So, friends, followers, and finagling philanderers, I give you Carlos Carlos Moore.

Carlos Carlos is an old pal from journalism school (North Lamar Street Continuing Adult Ed) who found his niche with a show he calls “Moore to the Story.” His hour-long format has been running on Matamoros’ K-PUTA radio for 22 years. I called up my old classmate to see if he’d be willing to put a bit of his talents down on paper, and he graciously obliged, so without further ado, here’s a sampling of “Moore to the Story.”

“From Santa Fe Springs, California, comes this disturbing item that’s made news around the world recently: A 62-year-old employee of the local Bumble Bee Tuna plant was found baked to death in the facility’s giant steamer oven. It remains unclear how the man got into the industrial cooker, but officials are tentatively ruling the death an accident…

…but there’s ‘Moore to the Story.’ Agreeing to be interviewed on the condition of anonymity, an assistant plant manager at the Bumble Bee facility said that due to declining tuna harvests in recent years, select Bumble Bee plants have been ‘retiring’ lesser known employees, particularly undocumented workers, in this manner to fill production quotas. Cans of tuna supplemented with these special ingredients are shipped mainly overseas. In a possibly related story, a spokeswoman for the New Delhi Board of Trade commented at a public hearing last week how her daughter texted her during school lunchtime to ask if tuna fish had fingernails.”

“From the French news organization BVA comes this bit of dirt. According to a new poll, one fifth of French citizens say they don’t wash on a daily basis, and almost 4 percent say they avoid soap and water more than once a week. The study also found that approximately 20 percent of French people don’t wash their hands before eating, and about 12 percent don’t wash their hands after using the toilet…

…but there’s ‘Moore to the Story.’ In a recent interview for his latest biography, actor Sean Connery, a self-confessed ‘germaphobe,’ said he had known since early childhood about the unsettling personal proclivities of the French and that he avoided close encounters with them whenever possible. Connery admitted that during the filming of the 1968 British western “Shalako,” he donned a full-body condom and antibiotic face shield in his scenes with French starlet Brigitte Bardot.”

“From ABC News’ ‘Good Morning America’ show comes this ‘passing’ fancy. As if the bizarre allure that the rare Indonesian gourmet coffee Kopi Luwak holds over some fanciers isn’t enough, Anantara Resorts in the Maldives Islands has introduced its select Black Ivory coffee. For those unfamiliar, Kopi Luwak is made from coffee berries eaten and excreted by small Asian critters called civets. At about $2,200 a pound, Black Ivory, passed through the digestive tracts of Thai elephants, has now one-upped—or should I say ‘sur-passed’—Kopi Luwak as the caca coffee du jour…

 

…but there’s ‘Moore to the Story.’ Our research team has spanned the globe searching for café concoctions even rarer and more exotic. So far, we found two blends on opposite sides of the world we believe are worth taste-testing: In south central New Jersey, a secretive underground cabal of coffee connoisseurs brews an aromatic, nutty-tasting cup made from an exacting process. First, a half-can of Folger’s red-label beans is marinated in automatic transmission fluid in that big puddle under the Fremont Avenue Bridge, near the Camden tracks. Then the beans are left to soak precisely an hour and a half in the urinal trough at Big John’s Bar up the block. The locals call it Jersey Joe. Insiders’ tip: Grind slowly with cinnamon and rosemary for that perfect touch. For a change of pace, coffee gourmands in the northern Ukraine offer this zesty java that literally leaves your tongue tingling. Called Oblast Blast, the recipe for this epicurean extravagance is quite interesting. A gross of beans is shipped to the lone remaining citizen of the ghost town of Pripyat. This man, named Vedislav, sucks on each bean individually for one minute then lays each bean out to dry in the street. There the beans cure for six months—in the shadow of the deserted Chernobyl nuclear plant. When the beans are a nice day-glo green, they’re mixed with asbestos and ground for consumption. Oblast Blast, by the way, has a remarkable shelf life.”

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.