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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.

 

 

 

I Give You Sniglets for the New Age

2 Nov

by Roger White

 

Remember sniglets? You have to be at least kind of ancient if you do. Sniglets, the brainchild of 1980s comedian Rich Hall, were simply described as “words that don’t appear in the dictionary but should.” They’re concocted terms used to define everyday phenomena—usually petty annoyances or ridiculous inanities of life that we all experience but don’t think about enough to actually attach a real word or phrase to them. Like backspackle, which is, of course, the ah the spacklemarkings and smudges on the back of one’s shirt from riding a fenderless bicycle. Or giraffiti, which is vandalism spray-painted very, very high. Or one of my personal faves: slopweaver, which is someone who has mastered the art of repositioning the food on his or her plate to give the appearance of having consumed a good portion of it. Teens are marvelously adept slopweavers.

I started pondering sniglets the other day at work when, for the umpteenth time (is “umpteenth” a sniglet?), one of the little protective rubber coverings on my stereo’s earbuds came off in my ear and I didn’t notice—until a coworker pointed out to me that it looked like I had a cockroach nesting in my left ear.

Ah ha. There should be a word for that, I thought. And then, as I pondered sniglet possibilities for my plight, it hit me that we need a whole new crop of sniglets for the 21st century. So, herewith, I give you a jumping-off point of Sniglets for the New Age. These are just sniglet proposals, mind you. I think Rich Hall or somebody has to officially bless them in a ritualistic sneremony or something for them to become official. And as always, I welcome your snig-gestions:

  • Burst Responder: a person who blurts out a response to someone who’s talking on their cellphone because the responder thought the person was talking to them.
  • Adcenta Previa: those frustrating ads placed in front of the youtube video you want to watch.
  • Spellhole: the maddening state you find yourself in when your mobile device keeps insisting on correcting your text spelling when you don’t want it to.
  • Asdfjkrunge: the collection of food crumbs, bits of dust, cuticle washy washytrimmings, and other tiny specks of detritus you have to empty out of your computer keyboard from time to time.
  • Coughartle: the noise made, particularly by cube-environment workers, when trying to mask the sound of passing gas.
  • Tootretort: snarky comment or question posed by annoyed coworker who knows damn good and well that somebody just coughartled. Example: “Is there a gas leak?” or “Did somebody burn the popcorn again?”
  • Textnesia: that troublesome realization that you forgot who or what you were texting in the middle of text conversation.
  • Cell Squeenge: when two people in a cellphone conversation attempt to talk at the same time and end up hearing nothing and saying, “Hello? Hello? Are you still there?”
  • Vinylstalgia: a baby boomer’s angst at the lack of albums and old-fashioned record stores in today’s world.
  • Illoleracy: the absolute dearth of language skills shown by today’s teens and young adults who have been raised on “lol, ur kiddin, rofl, brb…” etc.
  • Faceplant: when you share a post on Facebook that your friend received 102 likes on, and you end up with three likes—and two of those are from you and your mom.
  • Proselyposting: the annoying habit of some Facebookers to hallelujahcontinually post how much they love Jesus/God/Yaweh/Allah/The Dude/Eric Clapton and that if you love Him/Her/Them also you must “like” and “share” or you’re going to Hell/Lake of Fire/Perdition/The Abyss/Cleveland.
  • Screenscramble: that moment when your boss suddenly pops into your cubie, and you have to frantically pull up a document on your computer screen to make it appear as if you’re working and not farting around on youtube.
  • Budplug: I almost forgot. This is what I came up with for that tiny rubber earbud covering that gets stubbornly stuck in your ear without your knowledge.

 

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.

 

Faith and Begorrah, They Have Old Dog Homes!

5 Jun

 

by Roger White

 

Well, Faith and Begorrah, you can learn something new every day. Sometimes that—and little chocolate donuts—is the only thing that spurs me to drag my sagging carcass out of the sack most mornings.

LCDAnd speaking of learning something new (and in the true spirit of the stream-of-consciousness rambling rhetoric this forum prides itself on), do you know where the term “Faith and Begorrah” comes from? Or from which it comes, to avoid a prepositionally ended sentence?

From what I’ve been able to gather, “F&B” is a traditional Irish epithet that roughly translates into “By Gosh!” The Irish, of course, being a true Almighty-fearing people, didn’t want to come right out and say “By God!” when exclaiming some revelation or sense of amazement, so “F&B” was used to avoid taking the Supreme Dude’s name in vain and thereby summoning the furious wrath of the All-Knowing One. Kind of like how we say “Jeez!” to show astonishment (or when we smack our thumb with the hammer) to be able to quasi-curse without perturbing the Head Cheese. I believe it was W.C. Fields who used to exclaim, “Well, Godfrey wcfDaniels!” to approximate the G-D swear words. It’s all a bit silly, if you ask me. I mean, do we really think that (a) we’re putting one over on the Omniscient One; and (b) they’re actually keeping a Heavenly Tally?

Me at Pearly Gates: “So, St. P, do I get in the club?”

St. Peter: “Well. You did say ‘Jeez and Crackers’ six-hundred-seventy-two-thousand times. And don’t think we don’t know what that’s about.”

Me: “Aw, Jeez.”

St. Peter: “Ya see? That’s what I’m talking about.”

Me: “Sorry.”

St. Peter: “Oh, go on in. But we’re watching you.”

Aaaaanyway. Original point coming. I opined “F&B” earlier because I received a very kindly response to my recent column about aging pets and comedian Louis C.K.’s “countdown to sorrow” routine about pet ownership. I pondered why we don’t have any old pooch’s homes. And by golly (oop), we do have them!

Reader Elaine Courtney sent me this:

“Hi, I read your column today, and as I do most weeks, enjoyed it. (Most weeks? Hey.) Dogs are my favorite subject, and I mostly rescue seniors. The reason for that is I don’t want a dog to outlive me. My oldest is Baby, a 14-year-old Shih Tzu. He is now snoring away beside me. I have three other ShihTzus, two Corgis, and one recent find, a 14-year-old Basset-Corgi, whose momma went to assisted living in March. I’ve had to say goodbye to two seniors in the past three years …. It is very difficult to let them go, but they all had several years of a great spoiled life that they might never have had.  It’s usually a circus around here, but I love my dogs, and I am lucky that I work from home.

dog-retirement“Two things: One, there are several senior doggie retirement centers around the country, and it is such a great service. I would love to do that myself. I once thought of opening a pet cemetery, but that ran out of steam.

“The other thing I wanted to mention is your Bubbie, I hope you find a good residence for her. Hopefully, that decision is much further down the road. I do older adult services, helping people with errands and chores so that they can remain in their homes or even just have company, someone to play Scrabble with.

“If you need that kind of assistance for her, if it would make her or your life easier, let me know…. Oh, and cute picture of the labradoodle puppy in your article!!”

Well, that photo was provided by Editor Will. Kudos, Will-man. And thank you, Elaine. You’re a sweetie. Payola’s in the mail.

 

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

Call Me a Goober. I Don’t Get Uber.

2 Mar

by Roger White

 

OK, my fellow aficionados of the absurd, before we slice into the juicy prime rib of this here column, let’s settle the squabbling once and for all: What color are these words? Do you see blue type on a black background or gold type on a white background? I’ll give you a minute. No, Leonard, fuchsia on lime is not a choice.

who gives a

Apparently, because of one silly photo of a dress that was e-passed around the globe in about, oh, twelve seconds, everything we knew and believed about how we human types perceive color is right out the window. I heard tell that there were acts of gun violence in many cities and more than a few divorce proceedings initiated because of this stupid dress.

Fox News even reported that Turkneckistan declared war on neighboring Rosannadannastan over this garment argument. Citing an anonymous source, Fox claimed that the dress was to be worn at a Democratic fundraiser and that the current White House Administration is to blame for all the hubbub. As the Fox anchor concluded, “Thanks, Obama.”

Anyway. That’s not my rant for this episode. (It’s blue on black, by the way.) No, the rusted bobby pin stuck in my lower craw this time out is this Uber phenomenon. If you haven’t heard of Uber, it’s an app—started in California, of course—that magically transforms any Tom, Dick, and Hot Rod Harry with a set of wheels into a taxi cab driver. Here’s actual wording from the Uber site: “Got a car? Turn it into a money machine. The city is buzzing, and Uber makes it easy for you to cash in on the action. Plus, you’ve already got everything you need to get started.”

So, if I may extrapolate, I need nothing more than my derelict little Ford Pinto, some free time, and a desperate desire to make some cash without really working in order to chauffeur my way to riches? What a fantastic concept! What could possibly go wrong?

ruh roh ruber

Hmmm, let’s see. If you’re the guy behind the wheel—we’ll call you the Uber-er—it’s all easy money—until you get summoned to the lower east side of town to pick up a half-dozen Hell’s Angels, whose request is something like, “Just drive us around town for a while, lights off, and DON’T look in the back seat! Got it?” Or, say you’re the one looking for a ride—you’re the Uber-ee—and you get picked up in a two-tone primer and day-glo yellow ’63 Impala by a dude with a patch over one eye and a tattoo of Jeffrey Dahmer on his bicep. “Um, Sixth Street, please. Wait, um, downtown’s that way. No, wait!”

waitYou see my concerns. The threat of death and dismemberment aside, did you know that if you—the Uber-ee— opt for the Uber route during a time that is considered “high demand,” you will be charged what the smiling Uber people (Uberites? Ubereeenos?) euphemistically term “surge pricing”? Yeah. So, say you’re having little luck getting an honest-to-gosh taxi at 3 a.m. on New Year’s, and you punch up Uber on your phone thingy. It’s only a five-minute ride from the bar to your house, but you’re a little tipsy—and besides, your neighbor used Uber for the same trip only a few weeks ago, and it was only $25. Uber to the rescue! Your Uber driver is a tad odd and smells like onions and cat litter, but he gets you home in one piece. You whip out two twenties, feeling generous, and your cat-litter-smelling-cabby laughs. “That’s $675, lady.” Yep, surge pricing.

You see her concerns.

If I may extrapolate further, where will this lead? Will we have Uberfied air travel soon? I can see the Uber site now: “Got an airplane? Got at least a student’s license? Turn your Cessna into a money machine. The nation is buzzing, and many people—especially those on cartel payrolls—need transportation fast! Uber makes it easy for you to cash in on the action. Plus, you’ve already got everything you need to get started….”

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

Of OCD and Toilet Paper and Rubber Donkeys. Nik Nik.

30 Jan

by Roger White

 

How does one know if one’s quirks and little idiosyncrasies are just mildly neurotic tendencies or behaviors that qualify as borderline OCD leanings—or perhaps even activities that could be viewed as sliding down the scale to full-blown dementia? Nik nik nik nik nik.

ocd me

I understand that we are all creatures of habit and that regular routines and daily patterns bring a sense of structure and comfort into our lives. Nik. But taking a half-hour every morning before I can begin work to make sure that my original redline Hot Wheels on my desk are all facing the same direction, at precisely the same angle, and in the same order (by date of manufacture, beginning with the earliest first—from my aqua Beatnik Bandit on down the line) may be a bit excessive, I’m beginning to think. Nik nik nik.

 

Around the house, I find that the needle on my anxiety meter begins to bounce if I don’t adhere stringently to certain customs, such as the following:

 

  • Folding the dishtowel that hangs on the oven handle just right so that one side of the towel hangs precisely even with the other.
  • sil vous plaitTurning the little ceramic French waiter who stands on our stove to the wall so he can’t beseech me with his little ceramic eyes to glue his lost, broken hand back on.
  • Religiously rescrewing the cap on the toothpaste tube in my daughter’s bathroom every time I’m in there. Little slob.
  • Making sure when I refill the TP rollers throughout the casa that the paper flows under the roll and not over. It’s an aesthetic thing. I’ve always been an under man, even though I know that hotels prefer the over position so they can make those fanciful folds in the paper. Pshaw. That’s just pretentious snobbery. It’s gotta be under. Nik.
  • Or zealously remembering every time that I pet either Ralph the dog or Max the cat to immediately seek out the other, un-petted pet if he’s in the room to give him the exact same amount of strokes so that neither of them feel inferior or somehow less loved.

 

Is this behavior normal, a tad askew, or downright wack?

 

There’s a little green, guitar-playing rubber turtle I keep next to my computer, the turtlesand he tells me, in his sing-song voice, that this is all quite ordinary and that I should remain calm. This turtle, Larry, is the sole surviving member of The Animals. This may be changing subjects in the middle of a column—or it may not, considering the topic at hand—but here is the story of Larry the turtle:

 

When I was a kid, I created a tiny rock and roll band out of my gumball-toy animals. I called them The Animals. I fashioned tiny, little instruments—guitars, a standup bass, a full drum kit, piano, and amplifiers—out of index card paper for them to play. I even made tiny, little cardstock albums with sleeves. Their manager, Irving, was a tiny gray plastic gorilla, and he drove them all around to their gigs in a little blue plastic VW bus. Nik nik. Their opening song for every gig was “Get Ready” by Rare Earth because that was my favorite 45-rpm record at the time. My friend Gary and I would set them on their shoebox stage, I’d put on the Rare Earth record and hit the black light, and the crowd (my stuffed animals and other toy creatures) would go wild. The Animals were big. They even had a yacht—a red plastic boat I’d float them around in during my nightly bath.

 

Now, at the time our family had an actual boat—a small, used four-seat outboard we would take to Lake Benbrook on the weekends. On one outing I decided to take The Animals to the lake for a high-seas adventure. For the trip home, I left them in their little craft in a seat of our family boat. When we got back home, they were gone. Somewhere along the way, they’d blown out—a tiny, little gumball-animal version of Lynyrd Skynyrd. I was inconsolable. So distraught was I that my dad actually drove me all the way to the lake, and we slowly retraced our path from the water onto the road back home. Can you believe we the survivorsactually found their little red boat in the grass on the side of the road? Nik. I recovered a few of the boys, but the rest were hopelessly lost. The band gamely tried to go on, but it was never the same. Some retired or went on to everyday gumball-animal life with the other toys. Some descended into a downward spiral of alcohol and drug abuse. The little rubber donkeys were the worst. Little rubber donkeys cannot handle their toy liquor.

 

My counselor says I have to stop now. I feel better. Thanks for listening. Wait, where is everybody? Nik. Nik nik.

 

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

 

Episode XXIL: In Which I’m Overwhelmed by a Moving Experience

6 Aug

by Roger White                                                                              

 

So last week I was scrabbling along, no major curves along the path, no sudden obstacles, no tremendous forks or other life-altering cutlery in the road. Then PLANG, it happened. (I feel it necessary to interrupt myself here, apologies to my train of thought—that’s quite all right, don’t worry about it—why, thank you—don’t mention it—you’re too kind—get on with it already—that the overused onomatopoetic term “BOOM” is not only overused but doesn’t actually apply to me. I don’t hear BOOM when a seismic event wobbles my world. I hear more of a metallic PLANG, not unlike being smacked in the mug with a long piece of aluminum siding.)

 

So anyway, PLANG, it happened.

PLANG

I was asked to help a friend move.

 

Now, don’t be mistaken—the experience itself was not traumatic. Just tedious. The process of gathering, wrapping, and boxing every single solitary item of your earthly existence and carting the whole mess to another location is unadulterated first-world hell, but that wasn’t what PLANGed me.

Side note: One comes to understand who one’s true compadres are come moving time. Only real buddies will show up to devote an entire weekend helping you tote your box springs, fold-out sectional, appliances, underthings, attic crap, and shot glass collection from hither to yon. The old “a friend in need” adage, yah? Yah. I’m thinking of pitching these nifty sayings to U-Haul for display on their trucks across our fair land:
igotit igotit

A friend moving out is a friend no doubt.

A friend relocating is a friend ingratiating.

A friend moving furniture is a friend who’s been earnedfersure.

Or something.

 

End of side note.

 

No, what smacked my visage into a flattened cartoon face shaped like a long piece of aluminum siding was the flashback. Travel with me, won’t you, way back to 1973. Your vision’s getting wavy as harp strings carry you away to plaid polyester land. Don’t look down. Damn it, I told you not to look down! YAPR 67es, those are saddle shoes you’re wearing, with heels the size of an 8-track tape player. Take a gander around. Spiro Agnew has just resigned from the Veep’s Office. On TV, William Conrad is nabbing crooks, usually by sitting on them, as Detective Frank Cannon; Tony Orlando and Dawn top the charts with, yech, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon.” And out of nowhere, Mom and Dad have called it quits, meaning that little eighth-grade you must bury all your possessions in cardboard coffins and follow the parental unit of your choosing to every apartment, trailer park, and government-subsidized housing complex this side of Tulsa. And you have to say goodbye to your dog, Cricket, because it’s been determined that she’s too much to care for in all the hubbub.

 

Oh, the horror.

 

Yeah, I recall those times as the Years of Living Transiently (YLT). Never did I feel unloved or hungry or victim of any of the true terrors that so many youngsters must endure. After about the third move in less than a year, however, I learned not to unpack fully but to simply shift my more immediate necessities to the tops of my boxes. I’m sure that kids of military parents share a similar memory of quicksilver logistics. My wife’s gypsy-like youth was comparable. You live like a MASH unit, always on alert for immediate evac.

 

Through all the moves uncounted during my YLT era, though, I also learned that no matter how many times you move, you never get it quite right. Every time you pull up stakes, you say to yourself this is going to be the one where I’m uber-organized. Socks here, books in this box, bowls over there. Then you end up throwing everything anywhere it fits. When you get to your new abode, you open a box and find it has a can of motor oil, floss, and toilet paper. Another box has detergent, silverware, three bags of old Doritos, and your high school copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.

 

Martha The ManSame goes with your moving-in process at the new place. As you’re unpacking, you determine that you will be the epitome of efficiency, the Martha Stewart of domestic organization (except for the jail time). So you organize your cereal boxes by bran content, your CDs alpha by artist, your spices as they appear in the song Scarborough Fair, and so on. And, of course, this all goes out the window the minute you eat your first bowl of Trix.

 

So this, my being PLANGed by a YLT flashback, made me realize this is likely why the wife and I haven’t moved since 1992. My daughters say it’s boring never to have relocated once during their lifetimes—to which I say, “travel with me now waaay back…”

 

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.

 

 

 

…Only to Find Gideons’ Flatscreen

23 Jul

by Roger White                                                                              

 

Well, I’m back, my fellow existential exam-takers. Just flew in from the far reaches of my psyche, and, boy, are my neural dendrites tired. Actually, I’ve been in Baltimore, but it’s about the same.

 

Although I was encamped in the city’s trendy Inner Harbor for bidness purposes, I did partake of some of the local tourist fare, which involved, in various proportions, many images of Fort Wipken WayMcHenry, the grave of Edgar Allan Poe, mounds of Maryland blue crabs (and all the accompanying crab hammers and pliers and crab-innard removers and bibs and things), and thousands upon thousands of orange-clad Orioles fans. Note: Every third street, boulevard, and/or quasi-large building in Baltimore proper is named for Cal Ripken, Jr. There’s Cal Ripken Road, Cal Ripken Way, Cal Ripken Hair Restoration Clinic, you name it.

 

For those of you non-baseballites, Ripken, nicknamed the “Iron Man,” played for the O’s for something like 173 years, and he holds the major league record for consecutive games played. He Call Calsuited up and took the field for—seriously, now—2,632 games without so much as a potty break, or something like that. Anyway, the folks of Baltimore worship the guy. There’s even an Our Lady of the Shortstop Catholic Church near Camden Yard, where parishioners bless themselves with the sign of the 8 and refer to themselves as Cal-tholics. OK, not really. I kid.

 

Anyhow, the city its own self wasn’t nearly as crime-infested as I had pictured it. For many years, Baltimore carried a not-so-savory reputation with regard to one’s personal safety. The pro basketball team wasn’t called the Baltimore Bullets for nothing. They were going to be called the Baltimore Brick Upside the Heads, but they couldn’t fit it all on the team jerseys. However, I must say that during my brief stay near the Chesapeake, I was accosted not once—unless you count the very large, very moist man with the Phil Spector hair and leopard-print thong singing Paul Anka’s “Having My Baby” at the top of his lungs. I wasn’t sure if he was panhandling, making some sort of pro-life statement, or on the run from the Cal Ripken Clinic for Mood Disorders, but I ponied up a fast fiver and got the hell out of there.

 

A bit off topic from Baltimore per se, but I have to report—the Spouseman not having lodged at the finer inns on my own dime for a good while—that I was thoroughly gobsmacked with regard to one particular aspect of my accommodations. Hotels, I have come to conclude, are absolutely convinced that their guests cannot go one fraction of a second without access to a television. Gads, man. There was a TV in the bathroom—built into the mirror, mind you—a TV in the elevator, a tiny telly on each treadmill in the fitness room, a TV on every wall of the lobby, several in the bar, TVs in the restaurant, etc., etc., etc. CNN, Fox News, and General Hospital were everywhere. Live with Kelly and Michael was practically ubiquitous. I didn’t really need that last sentence to make my point, but I enjoy using the word “ubiquitous” whenever possible. I can be obsequious, dare I say insouciant, like that sometimes.

gotta have

With the preponderance of boob tubes, I found it a tad ironic when I read the little sign in the john that instructed me to please reuse my towels. The hotel explained on its quaint recycled-paper missive that it was trying to help the planet and save money—which would, of course, keep their rates lower—by asking that visitors gently reuse their towels during their stay. I kinda figured they could save a bit more if they gently stopped cramming high-dollar television sets into every conceivable space they could find. I, for one, do not require a flatscreen, high-definition TV built into my toilet paper dispenser.

 

On the plane ride home, I actually considered writing to the hotel manager about my concerns, but the tiny little TV in the seatback in front of me was gently playing an Andy Griffith Show rerun. So I got sidetracked. It was a really good one, though. The one where Aunt Bee enters her kerosene-flavored pickles in the county fair…

 

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.