The Eggheads

I blogged a while ago about how I was able to avoid an expulsion from public school by being transferred to a Lutheran school from 5th to 8th grades. I stood out as one of the “charity kids” because I received a grant to go to the school. Every class had 1 to 2 kids who were given this grant due to poverty. Back in the early 70s, it was very easy to tell the poor kids from the better-off kids. It was our clothes.

Nowadays, it’s hard to tell the poor kids from the better-off kids. Many of them wear the same clothes, carry the same phones, and tend to act the same way. It wasn’t like that 40 or 50 years ago. Poor kids were so obviously poor back then and generally wore used clothing or hand-me-downs, nobody had cell phones, and we definitely acted different. The better-off kids usually let us know they were better off.

It took me a while to make friends at that school. Not only was I the new “charity kid,” but I was also just a new kid in 5th grade who didn’t grow up with the other kids from Kindergarten on up. The other kids also somehow found out I had been going through an expulsion from my old school. Some of the reason they talked about was true, but a lot of it was exaggerated. For example, I had accidentally hit a teacher, but the rumor mill had me attacking a teacher. That rumor might’ve given me a respectful reputation in high school, but in 5th grade, it made me a bad kid.

It took me writing a long 70-page story and reading it to the class to get some kids to like me. It also helped that I was a straight “A” student, I very seldom caused trouble, and I finally listened to my dad and avoided fights. There were 3 kids in particular that I made friends with. They were nerds and didn’t quite fit in with the others either. They called themselves “The Eggheads.”

These guys had been looking for a fourth Egghead and I seemed to fit the bill. You see, they each had the brand new Bic 4 colored pens and they needed someone to represent blue. What they did during class was pass around a sheet of paper and each of us would write a sentence and accompany it with an egghead drawing…or stickman drawing for those of you who don’t call them eggheads. It was fun, tolerated by the teacher, and for some reason, it drove some of the other boys crazy that we would do this. They were constantly trying to steal the paper from us because they were convinced we were writing bad things about them.

Eventually, we got smart and developed a code that only we knew. After that, all of our writing was in code. Even if we weren’t writing bad things about those boys before, we sure were now. We also made fun of a few of the girls. Basically, the more we were made fun of, the more we made fun of them. It gave us a secret power to know they were driven crazy because they didn’t know what we were writing about them.

I loved being a part of the Eggheads. It was the first time in my life I belonged to a group. These guys didn’t make fun of my deaf parents like many other kids had in my past. They asked questions about it, but only out of curiosity, not ridicule or disbelief. Also, even though I was younger and smaller than everyone in my class, they didn’t seem to care. This was the first time in my life that my brains were valued more than my athletic ability…which wasn’t much to brag about.

Childhood can be tough on those of us who are different. Other kids can be extremely cruel and if you’re alone, life can suck. By finding this group that accepted me, it actually set the path for me to learn how to be accepted where ever I would be. That included high school, college, the army, and everything afterward. I no longer thought my life sucked, but rather, it became fun and interesting.

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That Lever on the Left (Reblog)

Like a number of other people, I get frustrated at certain things while driving. Lately, I’ve been frustrated even more than usual. Some of that I can blame on slowly turning into a grumpy old man, but I have to believe some of my increased frustration is valid. Of course, through the years, traffic has increased just about everywhere. Also, of course, due to population growth, the number of idiots has increased just about everywhere…and they drive.

I remember a few years ago, when I was cut off by a woman in a luxury SUV, I found an opportunity to share my frustration. It turned out she was going to the same store and I parked near her. I’m guessing she knew I had been behind her because she gave me a dirty look when she looked at me after getting out of her vehicle. Up until that point, I knew I probably wouldn’t have said anything because I can sometimes have a quick temper and nothing makes it quicker than a confrontation with somebody so obviously WRONG. Her dirty look changed my plans.

ME: I think your turn signal is broken.

HER: I don’t think so. I think you were following me too closely.

ME: Before or after you swerved in front of me in my lane? Do you know what a turn signal is?

HER: Are you being a smart ass?

ME: I’m trying not to be…you know that lever on the left of your steering wheel?

HER: I don’t have to listen to this! (She began to stomp towards the store. I followed right behind).

ME: That’s true…you know that round thing you put your hands on when your driving? (No answer, just stomp, stomp, stomp). Ok, do you know what a car is? (Apparently, I struck a nerve. She stopped and turned around, a little red in the face).

HER: I KNOW WHAT A TURN SIGNAL IS!

ME: Oh! Good! That will save us some time! Um, do you know how it works?

HER: For YOUR information, I didn’t need it! I know exactly where I’m going!

Ok, let that sink in. Yes, I embellished the story…just a little, but that last comment from her “I know exactly where I’m going” is a direct quote. I’ll repeat, A DIRECT QUOTE. She has a license. She actually passed a test at some point in her life to get that license. This should scare you because I’m pretty sure there are others like her…men…women…and they’re breeding. It’s kind of like a zombie apocalypse, but instead of the whole body, it’s just their brains. This might only be a theory, but I know there are a number of you reading this, nodding your heads, and thinking about some of the zombie brained people you already know. Just remember, THEY ARE BREEDING!

Of course, there are other scary things that happen while driving. Have you ever pulled up to a red light, looked over to the car in the next lane, and suddenly realize there appears to be no driver? After a closer look, you determine there is a driver, but all you can see is a pair of hands on the steering wheel? Then you do that thing while sitting in your car…you know, that thing? That thing where you try to get taller while sitting and craning your neck forward to get a better angle? Good, now that we’re on the same page, we can go on. After doing that thing, you see the top of a short old person’s head? Or maybe they’re not old, just short? Or maybe they have like really, really long legs but an extremely short torso? Or maybe…well, I think you get it. All you can see is knuckles. That’s scary.

Another scary thing is the swerver. Swervers like to show up during rush hour. They’re the ones that seem to think that by constantly switching lanes, especially if you’re barely reaching 5 miles per hour, they will get to their destination before everybody else? After an hour of this, don’t you want to laugh at them, or flip them off, as you pull up next to them at the exit ramp? After all, although the swervers serve to keep you awake during the traffic jam, they are annoying because you’re always watching them to see if they’re going to swerve in front of you again…and they are usually from the zombie brain species evolving (or should I say, devolving) in our midst. How do I know? THEY DON’T USE THEIR TURN SIGNALS! That’s how.

There are plenty of other examples. The person who pulls up only a couple of feet behind you at a red light, on a very steep hill, and you’re driving a stick? The person you were kind enough to let in front of you and then they slow down to half the speed limit? The person driving at night that keeps tapping their brakes…and nobody is in front of them? I could actually go on for quite a while, but I think everybody reading this has plenty of their own examples.

Now for all you zombie brains who might be reading this, I apologize if I offended you. I had no intention of degrading anybody in this post. Seriously, I mean it. There’s enough of that going on in the world today. But, as long as I have your attention…you know that lever to the left of your steering wheel?

Bill Collectors

Bill collectors are a strange sort of people. They’re not bad people, they have a job to do. I just don’t think I could do it. I’m too much of a softy…I think. If they are nice people, they almost have to put on a different persona when they make their calls. They learn this in their training. This segment is called “The customer is always lying.”

Granted, these bill collectors deal with some very shady people who are actually lying and trying to get out of whatever they got into. They also deal with people who are really trying but due to one thing or another, they’re in a bad way. They can also deal with people like me, who just forgets to pay a bill on time on occasion. The problem is, they treat everybody like the first sort…liars, whether it fits or not.

ME (answering the phone): Hello?

BILL COLLECTOR: This is Sally (said in a foreign accent). I’m calling from the Acme Electric Company. Can you make your payment today?

ME: Oh, I’m sorry. I just paid the bill online earlier today.

BILL COLLECTOR: So you can’t make your payment with me today and avoid a late fee?

ME: Um, I just told you, I paid online earlier today.

BILL COLLECTOR: We can avoid sending this to collections if you can make at least a partial payment today.

ME: Um, hello? Can you hear me?

BILL COLLECTOR: There’s no reason to get hostile, Mr. Dazeodrew.

ME: I’M NOT…I mean, I’m not getting hostile. I just told you that I paid the bill.

BILL COLLECTOR: So, you’re saying that you paid the bill?

ME: That would pretty much sum it up, yes.

BILL COLLECTOR: You don’t need to get sarcastic with me, Mr. Dazeodrew.

ME: Look, all I’m telling you is that I paid the bill!

BILL COLLECTOR: If you keep that tone with me, Mr. Dazeodrew, I’m not so sure I can help you avoid a late fee.

ME (after slamming the phone down on the table): ARE YOU NOT HEARING ME?!?! I PAID YOUR BILL ALREADY!!!!

BILL COLLECTOR: Good news, Mr. Dazeodrew! If you pay your bill with me today, I can waive the processing fee! How much do you think you can pay today?

ME (steam coming out of my ears): I. Paid. Your. Bill. Today. On. Line.

BILL COLLECTOR: Oh, I see you already paid online earlier today. I’ll make a note of it so you don’t get any more calls. Is there anything else I can help you with, Mr. Dazeodrew?

ME: Um, no…you were most unpleasant…

BILL COLLECTOR: Well I thank you for that compliment, Mr. Dazeodrew. We strive to make this a pleasant experience for all our valuable customers. Have a nice day!

ME: Good God…

This was unpleasant enough, but there’s always more. Two hours later my phone will inevitably ring again.

ME: Hello?

BILL COLLECTOR: This is Mary (said in a foreign accent). I’m calling from the Acme Electric Company. Can you make your payment today?

This part they learned in their “pushing your customers buttons” segment. It’s very effective…

Immovable Objects and the People who can't see them (Reblog)

I was talking with my youngest son and he told me a funny story about a shelf he built for their entertainment stand. He’s always looking for ways to make his house organize better so he built an add on shelf for their games and movies. Along with his partner, they have two other roommates, so keeping the place clean and organized is important for their sanity.

Anyway, he built the add-on and sat down to play a game. One by one, he watched as each one of his house-mates walked into the shelf. The funny part was after each one walked into it, they sat down with my son to see if the next one would walk into it. Now that’s entertainment! There’s nothing better than to laugh at somebody as they attempt to hurt themselves by walking into things that are clearly in front of them…but they can’t see it. Seems to happen a lot with people and the scary part is that it can happen when they’re driving…not so funny.

COP: So, what happened?

DRIVER: I was just driving and they appeared out of nowhere!

COP: So, let’s get this straight. You were driving and the building just suddenly appeared…like it shot up straight from the ground or something?

DRIVER: Yeah, that’s it! Straight out of the ground! Weird, huh? Wait, is that a breathalyzer?

Ok, sometimes it is funny as long as they’re not really hurt or they didn’t hurt somebody else. In my family, it seems to be a thing…not to drive into stuff but to walk or run into stuff. I’ve broken my nose 3 times running into stuff…like fists or hands or a heel of someone’s shoe while tackling them from behind. Yeah, I just helped that foot right into my nose.

Each of my brothers had a run-in with immovable objects when they were younger. Since they were my older brothers, I found it hilarious each time.

When we were very young (I barely remember it I was so young) we used to sit around in the living room in our underwear on hot days, watching tv. One very hot evening, we were watching Disney (I do remember that part) and were very immersed into the show. My dad, as a joke, looked towards the front door and yelled out, “Hi!” as if somebody were there. My second oldest brother was always uncomfortable with the whole sitting around in his underwear thing and had a fear that someone would see him. I think my dad knew that. As soon as my dad greeted the invisible person at the door, my brother jumped up and ran into the apparently invisible wall next to the hallway door. It was hilarious! He cried, but he wasn’t really hurt…except maybe his pride.

My oldest brother topped that one, however…they always were so competitive…and found his invisible immovable object at a wedding party at a church. God kept him from getting too hurt, but that was about all God did for him.

When we were kids, my mom loved to dress us all alike. It didn’t really bother me being the youngest, but it sure bothered my oldest brother. He hated it. This comes into play after the “immovable object event.” All of us kids were playing tag and running around the church. My brother was “it” and he was chasing about a half dozen of us. We each ran through a glass doorway and had just enough of a distance that when my brother came around the corner, he saw us all on the other side. That’s all he saw. He obviously missed the part about the glass. You guessed it…he ran right through it. We started to laugh until we saw the blood. He cut his nose, his arm, and his leg. Blood everywhere. All of us kids were in awe. Not him. Instead of crying or reacting to the blood, all he could think of was, “Good, now I won’t have to wear these clothes anymore!” I told you he hated dressing alike.

Now for the sad part. While he was at the hospital getting stitched up, my mom and aunt went to Kmart and replaced all his clothes…with THE EXACT SAME CLOTHES! You see, they hadn’t finished taking pictures at the wedding and my mom was so obsessed with dressing us alike, it was a sickness. She couldn’t handle the thought of one of us being out of place. Of course, looking at the pictures after they were developed, one of us was still out of place. There was just no way to disguise the fact that my brother had bandages on his nose (like 5 stitches), on his arm (like a dozen stitches), but his leg bandage and stitches (another dozen or so) were hidden. What couldn’t be hidden was the very large scowl on my brother’s face…he really hated dressing alike, or have I mentioned that already?

Possible moral of this story? There really should be laws in place that make it illegal to put up invisible immovable objects. If we had such a law, that building would’ve never sprung up in front of that driver, my brothers would’ve never ran into that wall and through that glass, and my son’s housemates wouldn’t have been so entertaining.

The Poop Post

Sooner or later, it all comes down to poop. Poop is the end result of many processes, both literal and figurative. Poop is also often used as an expletive, although various synonyms are also used like crap, feces, and sh*t amongst others. It can have religious meaning like “Holy Poop!” or an expression of unhappiness like “Oh Poop!” Old-time sailors were so fond of poop that they even named a deck after it.

I’ve also heard that parties were incomplete unless you invite a “Party Pooper.” You know, that one person who brings everybody down and ruins a perfectly good party. We even had a song for it. It goes:

Every party needs a pooper,

That’s why we invited you!

Party Pooper! Party Pooper!

Obviously, poop is important enough to be a part of our everyday lives. We have medications that help us poop more and poop less. Other medications soften our poop and certain foods harden our poop. Poop can also come in various textures and colors…but we’ll just leave that observation where it is…this is supposed to be just a poop post, not a sh*tty post.

Poop can be endearing at times, for example, when we talk about babies…or more specifically, when we talk to babies.

ADULT: Did you go poopies? Did you? Did you go poopies?

BABY: Um…wah? Whaaaaaaaaaaa!

ADULT: You did, didn’t you? You went poopies!

Then a little later when the baby becomes a toddler.

TODDLER: MOOOOOMMMM! I went poopies in the pot!

MOM: Oh! What a good boy you are!

Then comes grade school when it all turns around.

OTHER KID: You’re a Poopy head!

See that? You went from a good boy to a Poopy head! No wonder kids are so confused about poop!

I remember camping on the Wolf River when I was a kid. I went with my best friend’s family on a boating trip and we spent the night at a bend in the river. His family slept in the boat while we pitched a tent on the shore. The first thing we noticed was all the huge piles of poop. With our young imaginations, we talked ourselves into believing it was bear poop. We were eager to see a bear.

The next morning, we woke up to the sounds of crunching outside of our tent.

ME: Hey, you hear that?

FRIEND: Yeah…

ME: Do you think it’s a bear?

FRIEND: I dunno…should we look?

ME: Um, yeah.

We slowly unzipped the tent and took a peek. Cows. There were a dozen cows grazing around our tent. They were pooping. Had we been more attentive during our “Types of Poop” class, we would’ve anticipated this. Of course, I’m just kidding about the class…

I could go on and on about poop, but I think this is more than enough to convince you of this universal truth…poop happens.

Soldier for a Day (Reblog)

My dad was drafted in about 1950 when the Korean War was really starting to take off. At the time, he was a farm boy living in Central Wisconsin. He had a 6th-grade education and lived with his mom and stepfather on the farm his real father built. His dad died about 9 years earlier and his mom married the first man willing to take on both the farm and the kids. My dad’s stepfather was a cruel and sadistic man and even crueler to my dad because he thought my dad was inferior. If you’ve read some of my previous blogs, you’ll remember that my dad was deaf.

Anyway, my dad was drafted and was to report to the military processing station in Milwaukee. They even gave him a bus ticket to get there. Even though my dad was deaf, he didn’t have a choice but to report. He was actually happy to get away from the farm for a couple days and get away from his stepfather’s cruelty.

When he arrived at the military station, he just followed the other draftees around because he obviously couldn’t hear the instructions. The guy next to him introduced himself and when it was sorted out that my dad was deaf, he laughed and laughed at the absurdity of it all. He also helped my dad listen for when his name was called to go in for the physical. When the time came, my dad went into the physical room and sat in the chair provided. When he looked at the doctor, he could tell the doctor was agitated and yelling something at him. I imagine it went like this:

DOCTOR: Did I say for you to sit?

MY DAD:

DOCTOR: Are you not listening to me?

MY DAD:

DOCTOR: What are you? Deaf?

It took them a few hours to sort it all out. When it was determined that my dad was indeed deaf and not faking it, they told him he could leave. My dad found a piece of paper and wrote, “I have no money.” Then a hat was passed around to collect enough for a bus ticket and my dad was on his way to the bus station. It was about a mile walk so he took in the sights on his way through the city. He made his plans.

When he arrived back at the farm, he went right to his room and started packing his things. His stepfather interrupted him and asked what he thought he was doing? The last thing his stepfather wanted was for my dad to leave the farm. He was needed for all the work the cruel man didn’t want to do. Once again, I imagine it went like this (with some sign language, of course):

EVIL STEPFATHER: What do you think you’re doing?

MY DAD: Leaving.

EVIL STEPFATHER: No, you’re not.

MY DAD: Yes.

EVIL STEPFATHER: Where do you think you’ll go?

MY DAD: Not your business.

EVIL STEPFATHER: You’re too stupid to do anything. You can’t leave. Put your things back.

MY DAD: No.

Apparently, after the exchange of words, his stepfather started to pull clothes out of his bag. My dad pushed him away. His stepfather swung and missed. My dad swung and caught him square in the nose.

When my dad got back to Milwaukee, he found a job right away working at a slaughterhouse. It was an awful dirty job, but it was his. He no longer had to put up with the cruelty and abuse and now it was time to take measure of himself.

Years later, after I had left the service after 8 years, my dad would like to joke that he was a veteran just like me…only he served a little less time. One thing I do know, however, is that if my dad could’ve served, he would’ve. He’s honorable that way and I couldn’t have wished for a better nor greater father to bring me through life. I miss him dearly.

Binge Watching

My wife and I don’t watch the television very much. There have actually been times where we’ve gone up to two weeks without turning it on at all. Every now and then, however, we get the urge to watch a movie. Of course, we have an assortment of movies we own and watch once a year or so, but occasionally we’ll watch something new.

We also have binge-watched certain shows. The ones that come to mind are “That 70s Show” and “The Ranch.” To me, they are basically the same format. Not only do we have a lot of the same actors in both shows, we also have circle time. In “That 70s Show,” circle time comes with a haze of smoke. None of the characters are ever actually seen smoking weed, but it’s assumed that’s what they’re doing. In “The Ranch,” they just swap the weed for whiskey. Also, they both feature cranky old men with goofy kids…or younger adults. My wife and I just love these shows.

Another show my wife and I have binge-watched is “Everybody Loves Raymond.” It doesn’t matter what kind of sense of humor you have, this show is very funny and seems to have laughs for everybody. We didn’t even know about this show until we saw some clips at a Couples Retreat with our church. The guest speaker had a number of clips that worked well with the marriage theme he was promoting. The clips made us laugh so naturally my wife and I sought the show out when we got home.

We also have other shows we binge-watch on our own. I have binge-watched “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Northern Exposure,” and “Law and Order,” um, all of them to include the “SVU” and “Criminal Intent” variations. There are other shows on my list to binge-watch eventually if I can find them. These include “Riptide” and “Simon and Simon.” I’m sure to add many more as time goes and perhaps I have more time to go with it.

Lately, I’ve been binge-watching “Criminal Minds.” It’s not a serious binge, but rather an excuse to wind down after working so late into the night. I’ll watch one or two…or three…occasionally four…I’ve done five shows at a single sitting. There’s a lot of these shows so I’ll be doing this for a while since I’m only in Season five. It’s one of those shows that make me think.

I either like shows that really really make me think or else shows that allow me to not think at all. The not thinking shows are for when I just need an escape from reality for a while. These include the first shows I listed as well as certain movies. “Dumb and Dumber” comes to mind for the no thinking involved shows. So does “Joe Dirt” or almost anything with Adam Sandler. These shows are just pure entertainment and unreal enough to qualify for absolutely no expended brain cells.

Bottom line is, we live at a time where we don’t necessarily have to wait a week for the next episode of many shows. We can just wait out the season and watch them all at once. Also, it’s not a big deal if we miss an episode of anything…we can just watch it “On Demand” the next day or so.

We’ve really come a long ways from having only two or three stations to choose from. I almost miss the days where you had to adjust the piece of foil wrapped around the antenna to get the least amount of snow on the television screen. Well, maybe not.

Memory Songs

It’s funny how a certain song can come on the radio and suddenly take you back to a specific memory. I have a lot of songs that I associate with certain events or people. Some songs are good, some are bad, and some were bad but now feel nostalgic.

Some songs will remind you of specific things that will only have meaning for yourself. Other songs might remind you of certain events and others have the same memories. A good example of this is certain songs from CCR (Creedance Clearwater Revival). Their songs were used a lot in movies that depicted Vietnam. When you hear the song, you suddenly flashback to that time period or thoughts of that specific movie. A lot of us over the age of fifty have this memory.

Most of the songs that were performed at Woodstock give us memories of the hippies and free love and VW vans and so on. Even though our memories vary somewhat, many of us have similar flashbacks to that time period even if we didn’t attend Woodstock.

I have a lot of specific songs that take me back to my youth. For example, “Crocodile Rock,” by Elton John makes me think of my very first girlfriend in grade school. Her name was Susie. We never did more than hold hands, but the timing of that song and the name of the girl always takes me back.

“Second Hand News” by Fleetwood Mac always reminds me of a second-hand story by one of my friends in my preteen years who said a certain girl sang the verse, “Why don’t you lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff,” before making out with him. I don’t know if this is true or not, but the flashback is always the same.

Some songs will change the memory on you because they get associated with something different later. For me, a good example is the song, “I’m a Believer.” I know it was written by Neil Diamond, but it’s The Monkees that made it big and my memory used to flashback to Saturday mornings when I would watch The Monkees. Then as an adult with kids, Shrek came out. The band Smashmouth re-recorded it for the movie and now when I hear the song, I think of my kids.

Other songs or bands set your mood. Whenever I hear the band Boston, I want to go play frisbee at the park by the lake. When I hear the album “Joe’s Garage” by Frank Zappa, I want to return to Boy Scout Camp and play Sheepshead above the Quartermaster Building. For those of you who don’t know, Sheepshead is a card game widely played in Wisconsin. You learn it as a kid and play it until you die. Great card game.

I could easily go on and on about this subject, but there’s too many songs and memories and not enough blog to fit it all in. I will definitely revisit this in future blogs because if you are anything like me, flashbacks to simpler times is comforting. I think that’s why we pick certain music to listen to. We all need that comfort once in a while.

Maple Bar Car (Reblog)

This last winter, we had a snowstorm. I know a good number of you reading this are saying, “So what Mr. Dazeodrew? We get snowstorms all the time…sometimes in July and we have to walk to school in it, uphill, both ways!” First of all, if you’re remembering a snowstorm in July where you went to school, I might not believe you. Of course, since my blog posts are filled with all kinds of embellishment, I’ll keep that opinion to myself. I wouldn’t want to be labeled a hypocrite…

Anyway, we had a snowstorm. In Western Washington, while it’s not unheard of, it’s not very frequent. When I lived in Wisconsin, I might’ve used that July snowstorm story, but on the Left Coast, no. This snowstorm dumped about 20 inches of snow in 3 days. It was an event over here. Along with the fact that the city I live in only owns half a snowplow (don’t ask me to explain it), we were snowed in. It was deep enough that my wife’s car couldn’t move from in front of our house.

Now those of you that have read my other blog posts know that I would do almost anything for my wife. I’ve mentioned that she’s pretty and smells good so I am completely under her spell. The cool part is, she does stuff for me too! We have a very giving relationship and that makes me want to please her even more. The difference with our giving is, she does all the little things to make me feel content and happy. I, on the other hand, will sometimes go to the extreme to make her happy. Getting her coffee every morning for almost twenty years is a little thing. What I did during that snowstorm was extreme.

It was the third day of the snowstorm when it happened. My wife mentioned that she craved a maple bar. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I’ll explain. It’s a long John donut with maple frosting and very crave-able, apparently especially during a snowstorm. I hated the fact that I couldn’t move the car and get it for her, so I decided to walk to the store that had her favorite maple bars. I checked to see if they were open (many stores were not) and put my boots and winter jacket on. I was determined to get this for her.

Of course, the store was a little over a mile away. Of course, the 20 inches of snow was wet and slushy. Of course, the trip took a little longer because I had to dodge “soon-to-be stuck” vehicles (I actually helped push two of them along the way) and very deep water in the tire ruts left behind. It was messy. All this prompted me to take a different less traveled way to the store and brought me through what we call “the auto mall.” This is where about a dozen dealerships are congregated together to make auto purchasing easier. As I sloshed through the snow, slush, and water, a light bulb went off in my head. I really didn’t want to walk back.

There was only one dealership that was open and only a small number of people were actually working. Thankfully, one was a salesman and another was a paperwork specialist. They almost seemed shocked when I came walking through the door.

ME: I want to buy an SUV or truck.

SALESMAN: Do you have a preference?

ME: Yeah, I’d like it to start and drive.

SALESMAN (after a brief chuckle): Okay…we’ll just see what we can see under the snow.

We walked back outside and trudged through the lot, every now and then stopping to wipe snow to see what kind of vehicle was under it. Then one pile of snow caught my critical and experienced eye.

ME: What’s under that pile?

SALESMAN (clearly not liking the adventure anymore): Which pile?

ME: That pile. (I began to wipe the snow).

We cleared most of it off and I took a good look. It was a dark blue 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee with very low mileage and all its service paperwork. The price looked ok, but I hesitated just a moment before committing. Then the sky opened up and a beam of sunlight shot down to the Jeep. A choir of angels began to sing. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” I shook the snow off my head.

ME: Did you see that?

SALESMAN: I saw your face go funny…how long have you been walking in the snow?

ME: I’ll take this Jeep.

I drove off the lot about 15 minutes later. I went to the store, grabbed a maple bar, then drove crazily home with my new used four-wheel-drive.

ME: Here’s your maple bar.

WIFE: Oh! Thank you! I can’t believe you walked all the way there and back just to get me a maple bar.

ME: Um…

Anyway, we needed a second vehicle.

Basketball Jones

When I was a kid, I was one of the worst basketball players around. I had a very poor shooting technique to go along with my short stature. My vertical leap just barely qualifies as a leap, um, maybe. My coordination is questionable and my basketball judgment is poor. Still, I played and I tried. The only things I had going for me is my defense (my short stature enabled me to steal the ball from taller players easily) and a very strange uncanny hook shot from 30 feet or more away from the hoop.

Being short, my jump (for lack of a better term) shots were easily blocked and trying to drive to the rim was out of the question. I found if I hooked my shot, it went higher in the air and was less likely to get blocked by taller players. The shock on their faces when my circus shots went in was always priceless.

OTHER PLAYER: What was that?

ME: My hook shot.

OTHER PLAYER: Is that legal?

ME: Why wouldn’t it be?

OTHER PLAYER: Um, I dunno. It just looked weird.

Upon reflection, my hook shot does look weird. I got so good at it, however, that it became my main and only weapon if I played. My accuracy with these shots was nearly legendary. One of my sons, who grew up to be a half-foot taller than me, still marvels at the only shot of mine he couldn’t block…and he actually could jump.

It’s been a number of years since I’ve played, but I can tell you about the last time I attempted a layup. It was probably 23 years ago. The shot actually went in, but my Achilles tendon was sacrificed during the attempt. It snapped cleanly in half when I made the greatest leap in my life, um, probably a good 15 inches off the ground. It was a good leap! I just missed dunking the ball by only 3 feet or so! It was my moment of basketball glory!

After the operation and year-long recovery, I resolved to never jump like that again. I was back to my famous hook shot as my only weapon. The positive thing about that was not only my accuracy but the fact that since it was my only shot, my defender would guard me more tightly from further away from the rim and it usually opened a clean passing lane to teammates. I became an unselfish teammate out of pure necessity.

Now on defense, I was a beast. Like I said, being short had a distinct advantage when I played against taller players. I became pretty good at stealing the ball when they would do their giant dribbling. Of course, sometimes I would misjudge and commit a foul, but that was just part of my game.

REF (after blowing the whistle): Foul on Dazeodrew!

ME: What do you mean foul! I stole it cleanly!

REF: No, actually, you mauled the poor guy.

ME: How do you figure that?

REF: Not only do you have the ball, but you also have his shirt, one sock, and I’m not sure what you did with his shoe!

ME: Oh sure, be all nitpicky about it!

So, as you can tell, I didn’t pursue my basketball dreams that I had as a kid. With refs like that, I don’t think my style of play would take me very far. Maybe another sport…

SIDELINE JUDGE: FOUL! FOUL!

ME: What do you mean, foul?

SIDELINE JUDGE: You tackled the opposing player!

ME: He had the ball!

SIDELINE JUDGE: This is tennis, you idiot!

Sigh…maybe sometime I’ll tell you how my golf outing went…it’ll be a short story because they won’t let me back on the course. Seriously, though, how do you not tackle a guy wearing bright red pantaloons?