The Day the Egg Stood Still


In the future, just a few years from now, egg salad sandwiches will be illegal, and anyone caught with possession of one will be sentenced to two years of hard labor and torture, including being locked in a small five by five foot cement block cell with an insurance salesman for an unspecified time.

At first, the public will be uncertain as to the intent of this law, if the newly elected president, Chester B. Chester, intends to seriously enforce it, until during his first press conference Chester detects a dab of egg salad on CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer’s beard. He aggressively interrogates Blitzer, calling him up to the podium where he sticks his nose in Blitzer’s chin and loudly sniffs, finally exclaiming “That’s Hellmans!  I’d know Hellman’s anywhere!  You thought you could slip a little bit of Hellman’s past Chester B. Chester!  Ha!  That’ll be he day!”  He then announces that he is mobilizing the twelfth division of the U.S. Army on a reconnaissance mission to overtake and occupy Blitzer’s beard. ”It’s my prerogative as commander in chief,” he added, before he announced that the rest of the press conference would continue as planned but that he would only take questions about egg salad. “By the way,” he added, “if anybody knows what the word reconnaissance means, please let me know.”

Three hours later, after fielding fifty seven questions about egg salad, Chester returned to what used to be referred to as the oval office.  Chester had renamed the room the Egg Salad Emporium, and in the hallway, he’d replaced all of the portraits of past presidents with tasteful artistic renditions of egg salad. They were tasteful because the canvases were actually made from egg salad, and Chester had already taken bites out of several of them.

“Where’s my secretary of Egg Salad?” Chester barked into the intercom on his desk.

“He’s just arrived,” his receptionist, Alice Tinkerton responded.  It wasn’t common knowledge but in her previous career Alice TInkerton was an engineer who had developed one of Chester’s favorite egg salad recipes.  “I’ll send him in.”

Egg Salad Edwards, as Chester had renamed the man, entered the Egg Salad Emporium and took a seat in the chair across the desk from Chester. In his hands he was holding a portfolio filled with important documents.

“Is that the report?”  Chester asked.

“Yes. Do you care to read it?” Edwards replied.

“Just give me the highlights,” Chester said.

“Well, sir, I am pleased to announce that all egg salad manufacturing plants across the country have been shut down.”

“What?”  Chester’s voice thundered with rage. “Why on earth would you do such a thing?”

“But I assumed,” Edwards replied, “that when you signed the executive order banning all consumption of egg salad, that you also meant to halt all egg salad production, too.”

“Edwards, you fool!  Can’t you see?   And to think I picked you to be my secretary of Egg Salad.”

“Sir, I’m sorry …” Edwards studied his shoes, his head down in shame.

“And to think I even renamed you Egg Salad Edwards.  What was your name before again?

“Um, Joe.  Joe Malone.  From Dubuque Iowa.”

“And what did you do?”

I was a shoelace salesman.”

“Well, I’ll give you 24 hours to get all the manufacturing plants in operation again.  And I expect to double, no triple, their production level. We need a healthy GDESP. ”

“GDESP?”

“Gross Domestic Egg Salad Product.  For a guy named Egg Salad Edwards, you sure don’t know much about egg salad, do you?”

“I guess not. May I ask, sir, if the consumption of egg salad is illegal, why do we need to increase production?”

“Oh, Edwards, Edwards, you are an idiot, aren’t you?”

“I suppose I am, sir.”

“It’s for me!”

“What’s for you, sir?”

“All of the egg salad. All the egg salad in these United  States will be mine and mine alone.  Then we’ll expand until I have all of the egg salad in the western hemisphere.  ‘Ensalada de huevo’ as they say in the Spanish speaking countries. Then …. the world!”

So it begins, the most glorious period in the history of the world.  After declaring martial law, Chester will continue to rule the United States, consuming nothing but egg salad for the next twenty seven years , making the U.S.Egg Salad (as Chester eventually renames the country) the undisputed dominant superpower in the sandwich salad race. Russia will make major advances in chicken salad, and China in tuna salad, but neither will come close to Chester B. Chester and his vast Egg Salad empire.

 

 

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My Poor Befuddled Ass


There are many things that I just don’t understand.

Several years ago, on a cold and rainy day in late February, I was driving through the small town of Mundelein, Illinois.  As I made my way down Main Street, stopped at a traffic light, I saw, out my windshield on the right side of the road, the statue of liberty, standing in the pouring rain, waving to me.

Well, I said to myself, I wasn’t expecting to see the statue of liberty this morning. I quickly went back over the events of the morning, and was able to determine that no alcohol had been consumed.  No controlled substances of any sort were coursing through my veins. I pinched myself and the resulting pain indicated that I was in fact awake and not dreaming.  I blinked my eyes hard, and when I reopened them the statue of liberty was still there, on the right side of my car, in the pouring rain, waving to me. It wasn’t a hallucination.

Finally, it occurred to me that this statue of liberty wasn’t very tall, well under six feet in fact.  I don’t care how high she held her torch, she wouldn’t make much of a beacon for anybody.  Then I realized it was a person standing in a statue of liberty costume, which, in hindsight, probably shouldn’t have taken so long to figure out.

liberty tax service

But here’s the part that I still haven’t figured out.  Why?  Why would anybody stand in the freezing rain in a statue of liberty costume, waving to the traffic that passed by?  It didn’t take me long to see the sign on the building behind lady liberty that said, “Liberty Tax Service.”

Since that day, I’ve noticed every year in whatever town I happen to be driving through in “tax season,” at least every town that has a Liberty Tax Service office, there’s some poor schmuck in a statue of liberty costume waving to the cars.

And every time I see it, I ask myself, why?  So far, I haven’t come up with a good answer, so it looks like I’m going to have to ask someone else.  Here’s what I’ve been able to determine so far:

  • The decision to advertise Liberty Tax Service with a live person standing in traffic while wearing a Statue of Liberty costume had to come down as a directive from corporate headquarters, because all branches seem to have not only their own statue of liberty costume but also their own poor schmuck.
  • For some reason, this has been determined to be effective marketing strategy, because every year the poor schmucks are trotted out.

This is what baffles me.  There had to be a meeting at the corporate office. Here’s the only scenario that I’ve come up with that makes any sense:

(The scene:  A corporate boardroom.  All of the functional vice presidents are present. The last one to arrive is Chet Campbell, VP of Marketing.  Unlike the impeccably dressed and groomed other V.P.s with their neat stacks of papers and portfolios, Campbell is disheveled and unshaven and empty handed.  His shirt is wrinkled and untucked.  He takes his seat and buries his head in his hands. The other V.P.s whisper to each other in scandalous tones:  it’s obvious that Campbell hung one on the night before.  Just then, the C.E.O., an impressive looking guy named Richard Richards, enters the room and takes his seat at the end of the table as a fearful silence overtakes the room.)

RICHARDS:  I’m going to cut to the chase and get right to the point. Things don’t look well. Our earnings are down and we’re getting clobbered by our competitors. With tax season rapidly approaching, the very survival of our company rests on a new and effective marketing campaign.  I’ve asked Campbell to give us his idea for the new campaign this morning. Campbell, the floor is yours.

(Campbell is still resting his head in his hands.  At first, he is unresponsive)

RICHARDS: (raising his voice) Campbell.   CAMPBELL!!

CAMPBELL: (waking up) Huh?  Yeah?

RICHARDS:  The new marketing plan!  Out with it!

CAMPBELL:  Huh?  Oh yeah, the new marketing campaign.  Yeah, well uh, the thing is …

ROCHARDS: Out with it! Let’s have it!

CAMPBEL:  Okay, okay, um, (obviously making things up as he goes), okay, um, what’s the name of our company again?

RIHCARDS:  Liberty Tax Services

CAMPBELL:  That’s right, I knew that.  And we’re what, we’re an American company, right?

RICHARDS:  (growing impatient) Yes, that’s right.

CAMPBELL:  So that means most of our tax customers are Americans, right?   (Richards nods) Well, what do most Americans think of when they hear the word, “liberty?”

RICHARDS:  The statue of liberty.

CAMPBELL:  The statue of liberty, ooh, that’s a good one.  I was thinking of puppies, but the Statue of Liberty is even better …

RICHARDS:  Campbell, do you even have a campaign?

CAMPBELL:  Yes, yes, of course I do.

RICHARDS:  Then out with it!

CAMPBEL:  Well, here’s my plan.  We take, uh, some poor schmuck – we should have at least one in every office – and we, uh, we buy him a statue of liberty costume and make him stand in traffic outside of the store.

RICHARDS:  That’s it?  He just stands there?

CMAPBELL:  No, he doesn’t just stand there in traffic!  That would be ridiculous!

RICHARDS:  So what else does he do?

CAMPBELL: He, uh, he waves.

RICHARDS:  He waves?

CAMPBELL:  Yes, he waves to the cars as they go by.

RICHARDS:  Then what?

CAMPBELL:  Then, he waves again.  Until the day is over, he stands there and waves.

RICHARDS:  That’s it?

CAMPBELL:  Yes, sir, that’s the new marketing campaign.

RICHARDS:  I’m speechless.  Anybody else want to comment?

JENKINS:  As the Vice President of human relations, do you mean to tell me that we’d be asking our employees to stand in traffic while wearing a Statue of Liberty costume?”

CAMPBELL:  Yes.  Why?

JENKINS:  Don’t you think there’s a safety concern?

CAMPBELL:  Well, it wouldn’t be just any employee. It’d be just the poor schmucks.

(A murmur of disbelief and laughter runs through the board room.  Finally, Richards calls the meeting back to order)

RICHARDS:  Okay, enough is enough.  Campbell, in all my years, I’ve never heard such a, a ….

CAMPBELL:  I’ll go clean out my …

RICHARDS:  I’ve never heard such a brilliant plan!!  It’s so simple!  It’s beautiful in its simplicity!  Jenkins, I want a listing of every poor schmuck working for us from every branch office.  Wilson, order us a statue of liberty costume for every store. And Campbell, effective immediately, you are here by promoted to my job!

CAMPBELL:  But what about you, sir?

RICHARDS:  I have no choice but to let myself go.

CAMPBELL:  Huh?

RICHARDS:  I’m firing me, because I didn’t come up with your brilliant plan. You are the one, the only one who can save this company from collapse.

(Then the scene shifts, to the inside of a car.  A man and wife are driving through town and talking …)

WIFE:  So who are we going to get to do our taxes this year?

HUSBAND:  I don’t know. With the capital gains, the inheritances we received, and the complications with our LLC, they’re going to be incredibly complicated.

WIFE:  So we’ll have to find someone who is very good, a very advanced and senior tax accountant.

HUSBAND:  Yes, it’ll have to be someone we can trust ex … wait, what’s that?

WIFE:  Why, it looks like the statue of liberty!   What is she doing?

HUSBAND:  She’s waving!

WIFE:  Yes, she’s waving to us!  Look, there’s a Liberty Tax Service office!

HUSBAND:  Well, problem solved!  I guess we know who’s doing our taxes this year …

HUSBAND AND WIFE TOGETHER: Liberty!  Liberty Tax Services, that’s who!

Finding the Right Words


Daylight was fading as he wandered the unending streets of Word City alone.  He didn’t want to go home.  He lived alone in a cheap one room apartment on the seventeenth floor of a decaying tenement high rise.  The thought of spending another night alone there with no heat or electricity, waiting for the phone to ring, depressed him too much.  He didn’t want to fall asleep again to the sounds of sirens blaring and glass breaking.  Instead, Idiolectal kept walking.  From the park he could see the brilliant high rises and architectural wonders of the east side, where the rich and powerful, the commonly used words, lived and exercised their power.   Words everybody knew and used, like it, this, be, from and they, lived in these towers, behind gated walls, and basked in their importance, knowing how indispensable they were to anyone trying to put together even  a few sentences.

Idiolectal could only imagine what it must have felt like to be that self confident, to be that important.  The best he could hope for were the end of college semesters, when students in linguistic classes had to finish term papers.  He could count on being used a handful of times, and for the week before finals, he was actually able to eat moderately well.

He felt the scorn, the superiority with which nouns and verbs looked down on him with.  He was merely an adjective, and a very specific one at that, A few adjectives, like good and new, had gained acceptance in the main stream and crossed over, and lived quite comfortably.  But the majority of adjectives still struggled to be taken seriously.  Only adverbs, crude and uneducated, occupied a lower rung on the word social latter.  Some adverbs embraced and exploited their vulgarity and made a decent living on the poorly written papers of sophomoric students or the messy novels of novice writers, but they were unable to crack the old world high society of long established verbs and nouns.

Night had fallen on Word City.  Idiolectal walked the streets, hunger gnawing at him.  He reached into his pocket and felt his last two dollar bills.  He could get a candy bar, or a small bag of chips, that would have to hold him until someone wrote him into a story or an essay or whatever, he didn’t care, he just needed work.  Stepping into the convenience store, he almost tripped over the bulk of another word, laying there passed out in the doorway.   The form rolled over to reveal itself, and, to Idiolectal’s surprise, a noun, a female noun lay looking up at him.  She was beautiful, even in her rags, and Idiolectal instantly fell in love.

Her name was Ostinato, and like Idiolectal, she suffered the poverty of neglect.  The two shared a common misery and began an intense romance. Ostinato told Idiolectal all of her  secrets, how she was defined as “a musical figure repeated persistently at the same pitch throughout a composition.”  Idiolectal told her how he was  “the language or speech pattern of one individual at a particular period of his life.”  They shared sound in common, and Idiolectal explained how, being born an adjective, he was destined to enhance a noun.

They married in the spring.  Nine months later Ostinato gave birth to a child, a preposition they named With.  With became wildly successful and made a fortune for the small family.  Together, the three words lived happily ever after.

The moral of the story:  anything is possible with love.

Not a Rock


We were walking on the beach on a warm late summer afternoon.

“Man, do I feel light-headed,” Herb said for the third time.   Then you could hear a “ffffft” sound and Herb’s head unattached from his neck and floated up into the sky, like a helium balloon, until it stopped and hovered there, about twenty feet above us.

“You ain’t just whistling ‘Dixie’,” Norm said, turning to me.  He was right.  I wasn’t just whistling “Dixie.”  In fact, I wasn’t whistling at all.

“What time is it?” Mrs. Clooney asked.

“It’s parsley sage, Rosemary,” Paul Simon answered.  He then pointed to an old man with a long white beard selling bushels of parsley from a nearby vegetable stand.

Art Garfunkel was not amused.  “I’m not amused,” he said.

“He’s right,” Norm said.  “He’s not amused.  He’s Art.”

“I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call him art,” Herb’s head called down from above.   His headless torso stood motionless on the beach.  Finally, Herb’s head stopped floating, and fell back towards the earth on top of his torso, reattaching itself to his neck.  Herb smiled.  “There, much better,” he said.  “Reunited and it feels so good.”

“Yep,” Casey Kasem said, kicking the sand at his feet.  “That head and torso are reunited, thanks to beaches and Herb.”

“You’re still not whistling ‘Dixie’,” Norm said, looking at me.

Once again, Norm was right.  I wasn’t whistling “Dixie.”

The Latest News From Science and Nature


This is the premiere of a new feature, “Science and Nature Headlines,” where I read actual recent articles on the internet and summarize them, to save you more of your valuable time.  The posts to the real links are included:

“Asian Unicorn” Seen in Vietnam for the First Time in 15 Years:  When asked where he’d been, the antelope replied:  “So we were going to lunch when I said, what, Mexican again?  If I eat one more chimichanga, I swear I’ll puke.  I’m a fucking asian unicorn‘Asian’ Unicorn, not a Latino unicorn.  So I said screw those guys, and left by myself for Mr. Wonton’s – they have the best egg rolls – and this fucking nun in  a station wagon ahead of me, she brakes for a bunch of baby ducks crossing the street – so I slam on my brakes, air bag deploys but I’m a fucking unicorn, you know, my horn pops that fucker, and I hit my head on the steering wheel – next thing I know, I’m wandering around a jungle in Vietnam, and they tell me it’s 2014 – say, is ‘Saved by the Bell’ still on?  That Screetch, he cracks me up!”

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/%E2%80%98asian-unicorn%E2%80%99-seen-vietnam-first-time-fifteen-years

Scientists Create Transparent Mice:  Scientist Will Smith:  “I was, in my lab, able to create a new breed of mice so transparent that one of them actually said, to a female mouse, ‘I have a copy of The Notebook that was signed by Nicholas Sparks.  If you want to come by my labyrinth tonight, I’d be happy to show you.’”      http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/transparent-mice-allow-incredible-anatomical-views

What’s the most dangerous place on earth? Turns out it’s seated between two life insurance salesmen on a cross country flight to Eugene, Oregon       http://www.iflscience.com/environment/whats-most-dangerous-place-earth

 

giraffe Why is this giraffe gnawing on an impala skull?  When asked , the giraffe replied:   “Because I much prefer the taste of the Impala skull, especially the late sixties to early seventies sedan models, to the Camaros and Chevelles.  I once tried the skull of a Buick LeSabre, and let me tell ‘ya,  I was in the bathroom for a week.”

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/why-giraffe-gnawing-impala-skull

Strangest genitals on earth:  Whew!  I didn’t make the list! That’s a relief!

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/strangest-genitals-animal-kingdom

 

 

Mea Culpa, But You’re an Idiot


When I was in junior high school, the movie that all the girls went gooey eyed over was a wretched piece of schmaltz called Love Story.   It starred the cutie pies of the day, the very young versions of Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw.  It was most famous for the insipidly bad line, spoken by McGraw, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

I find it somehow satisfying that in the years since, O’Neal went on to become one of the biggest sleaze balls  in recorded history, a major cocaine and sex addict who, at his long-time partner Farrah Fawcett’s funeral, didn’t  recognize his own daughter, Tatum, as he made crude sexual advances toward her.  Oops.  An “I’m sorry” might have been called for at that time.

In order for apologies to be effective, they have to be sincere, and they have to be timely.  In 1995, Robert McNamara, Lyndon Johnson’s secretary of defense during the Vietnam War, publicly apologized for his part in plunging us deeper into that nightmare.  Given that it was about thirty years after the fact, and the enormous toll that war extracted from us in terms of lives lost and ruined and the damage to our collective psyche, an “I’m sorry” from one of the men most responsible comes across as too little too late, ineffective at best and insincere at worst.  If McNamara was worried about how he’d be remembered going forward, he’d have been better off just keeping his mouth shut and hoping he’d be forgotten.

There’s always a controversy whenever it’s suggested that we as a nation apologize to the many groups we’ve wronged over the years.  Whether it’s slavery, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War Two, the genocide of the indigenous Americans who were here first, or for taking “The Six Million Dollar Man” off the air, there’s a lot we have to apologize for.  There is value in formally recognizing the wrongs we’ve done and acknowledging our mistakes.  But like all apologies, they’re worthless unless they are sincere, unless they are accompanied by changes in behavior.

On a personal level, apologizing to someone for something you’ve done can be one of the most difficult things to do.  Admitting you were wrong, taking blame for your own actions, acknowledging the hurt you’ve caused, and serving time in a darkened prison cell with a demented ex-football player turned mass murderer named Leon, are never easy.    It can be just as difficult to accept an apology, because you have to let go of the pain and anguish that was caused to you and loudly sqauwk like a bird.

There are different forms of apologies.  The most simple, and the most sincere, are the two words, “I’m sorry.”  This is much preferred to the expression that somehow became popular in the past twenty years or so, “my bad.”  If someone says “my bad” to me, I’m always tempted to demand an apology for such a feeble attempt to apologize.

“I’m sorry” is actually only the beginning of an apology.  It has to be followed by an explanation, such as “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to cut your nose off with my weed whacker,” or, “my throwing you through a plate glass window was just an unfortunate accident.”   If these examples sound insincere, it’s because most apologies are insincere, and usually occur only after the apologist was caught doing something they shouldn’t have been doing. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to break into your safety deposit box and steal all of your valuable papers and scan them and post them on the internet.”

Then there are those apologies, like McNamara’s, that are motivated by a guilty conscience, and a desire for forgiveness.  These apologies usually end with the phrase “can you ever forgive me?” and put the pressure on the recipient of the apology.  For example, “I’m sorry I stole you car and kidnapped and lobotomized your wife so that she became my sex slave.  I was high on crack cocaine at the time.  Can you ever forgive me?”    If the offended party replies, “No!” he risks being perceived as shallow and insensitive and guilty of holding a grudge.

.Some of history’s most famous apologies:.

A very young George Washington to his father:  “Father, I cannot tell a lie. It was I who chopped down your Cherry Tree.  But it was little Tommy Jefferson who found your stash of Colonial Girls Gone Wild videos.”

The philosopher Socrates upon being sentenced to death:  “So you have deliberated and come to the conclusion that I must die.  Well, excuuuuuuse meeee!”

Nathan Hale prior to being hanged:  “My only regret is that I have but one life to give for my country.   If I had three or four, Hell, even two lives to give for my country, I’d be in heck of a better mood, and I probably wouldn’t have wet myself.”

Jesus of Nazareth, on the cross:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.  Besides, is it really that big of a deal if they put ketchup on a hot dog?”

President Bill Clinton on the Monica Lewinsky affair:  “My deepest regret is that as leader of the free world and the most powerful man on earth, I couldn’t do any better than Monica Lewinsky.   John F. Kennedy had Marilyn Monroe, for cripes sake!  I’ll try to do better in the future.”

A woman in a Chinese Laundry service:  “My husband, some hot shot.  Here’s his ancient Chinese secret …”

55


There’s going to be a new edition of the television series “24,” with Kiefer Sutherland reprising his iconic role of Counter Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer.   Sutherland first appeared as Jack Bauer in 2001, thirteen years ago now.  Now, in 2014, he is forty eight years old, barely younger than myself at fifty five years old.  Some may suggest that he is approaching the end of his window as an adventure/suspense hero, but I know differently.  There are more episodes of heart pounding suspense that confront me as a fifty five year old than one would ever imagine, episodes that should make damn good television.  I imagine Sutherland might not be up for this assignment, and my imagination runs away with me, until I nod off and have the following dream:

The opening credits roll.  “55 – Starring Dave Gourdoux as Jack Bauer.”  The scene opens with the camera panning a dark bedroom.  All we can clearly see is the light from a clock radio on the headboard that says “2:41”  As our eyes adjust to the dark, we suddenly see sheets and blankets moving from one side of the bed, being kicked off.  Suspenseful music begins softly playing as the movement begins.)

JACK BAUER:  Damnit!

(A leg appears as he kicks the blankets off of his side of the bed.  Then we see the silhouette of Bauer sitting on the edge of his bed, his legs now dangling over the side.  We see him rocking back and forth, trying to gain enough momentum to get up and out of bed.  The music swells, pulsating harder and faster.  He finally gets up and stands upright next to the side of the bed.  Then he starts shuffling in the dark.  Before he gets to the end of the bed, just as the music crescendos, we hear a loud crashing noise as Bauer stubs his toe on the dresser cabinet.)

BAUER:  Ow!

(The music begins again as Bauer grabs his left foot and hops about in pain, and falls over in the dark, falling into the clothes hamper with an even louder crashing sound.  From off screen we hear the voice of his wife:)

MRS. BAUER:  Again?

(Bauer gets himself upright and makes his way into the bathroom.  He turns the light on and we can see him, from the back, standing at the toilet.)

MRS. BAUER:  (from off screen) That’s the third time tonight!  (The music abruptly stops as the sound of Bauer urinating into the toilet is heard.)

BAUER:  Fourth!  You didn’t wake up last time.

MRS. BAUER:  Did you make it this time?

BAUER:  (Sarcastically, mimicking Mrs. Bauer’s voice) Yes, I made it this time.  (The sound of the urine stream ends, and we hear the sound of the toilet flushing.  Bauer turns the bathroom light off, we can see only the darkened outline of him as he begins to make his way back to bed. The music begins again, building, dramatic and suspenseful)

MRS. BAUER:  Did you remember to wait for the dribble?

BAUER:  (The music suddenly stops just as Bauer stops.) Oh, crap.  You know, if you’re going to remind me, you could remind me a just a tad sooner.

I’d write more, but I have to pee.

I Saved Boomer Esiason’s Life Tonight


This is a true story.

I saved Boomer Esiason’s life tonight.

Yes, that’s right, the beloved former left handed NFL quarterback, winner of tBoomer Esiasonhe Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 1988 and the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 1995, sportscaster and co-star of the NFL Today on CBS, that Boomer Esiason.  The same Boomer Esiason who took the Cincinnati Bengals to the super bowl after the 1988 season.

And although I like the guy, I’ve never even been that big of a fan.   I mean, I’m from Wisconsin, the geographic center of the football universe, where when cut we bleed not blood but green and gold cheese.  Why would a Packers fan give a rip about some left handed AFC quarterback from Cincinnati?  Don Majkoswki, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers – Hell, even Anthony Dilweg would make more sense than Boomer Esiason.

Yet there I found him tonight, laid out on my living room floor, helpless, about to be ripped to shreds.  Without thinking, without hesitation I leaped into the jaws of death and pulled Boomer out, saving him and his plus twelve on a roll of seven on a short pass guessed right by the defense.

My wife and I had just sat down to dinner when she pointed to the living room and said something to the effect of “Look!   Good God!  That carnivorous monster is about to rip that innocent man to shreds!”

“I must save him!” I cried, leaping into action.

tucker

The menacing beast in a calmer moment, being held by my daughter

“No, it’s too dangerous!”

“Never mind danger!  I laugh at danger!  Ha ha ha!”

(The above may or may not be an exact transcript of our dialogue, but covers the general gist)

I jumped off of my chair and hurtled myself at the deadly beast, reached straight into his jaws and pulled the body out to safety.  Then, using my amazing telepathic ability to control both predator and prey, I was able to calm the hulking menace of a beast down from his frenzied fury.   Turning my attention to the body I had just saved from certain disembowelment, I realized time was of the essence.

“He’s not breathing,” I said.  “I’ll have to do mouth to mouth.”

“What are you talking about?” my wife said, “It’s a card.  It doesn’t even have a mouth.”

A card?   “But it’s Boomer Esiason,” I said.

“That may be.  You must have left the doors open on your bookcase again.”

“Bookcase?”

“Yeah, where you store your old Strat-o-Matic sets.   Tucker must have gotten into them.”

I’ve been a strat-o-matic sports game fan since I was a kid, and have several seasons of the football, baseball and basketball games stored in plastic bins behind closed doors at the bottom of my book shelf in my office.  So it was that I saved Boomer Esiason’s 1989 Strat-O-Matic football card from the clutches of our five month old English Shepherd puppy, Tucker.

So, technically, it wasn’t really Boomer Esiason.  So I let my imagination run away with me. At least I saved the card from becoming a puppy chew toy, and I saved the 1989 Cincinnati Bengals from having to rely on some guy named Erik Wilhelm as their only quarterback

So you can call me hero. You can call me courageous. You can call me nerd.

Just don’t read too much into my attempt to perform mouth to mouth on Boomer Esiason.

boomer89

The 1989 Boomer Esiason Strat-o-matic football card, still preserved in all its glory, thanks to my heroic actions.

d.

 


 

Fun With Telemarketers


I’m one of the few people who enjoy receiving calls from telemarketers.  It drives my wife crazy, but I just love taking up as much of their time as I can.  The key to prolonging a telemarketing call is acting stupid.  I’ve become so successful at it that my wife says it’s not really an act.  She may be right, but I enjoy myself anyway.   I know I’ve succeeded when I get the service rep to put the manager on the line.

The first time I ever got the manager was probably twenty five years ago, and remains one of my favorite calls ever.    It’s not verbatim, but the call went something like this:

My phone rang, and the voice on the other end said, “Congratulations, Mr. Gourdoux, your name was selected, and you’ve just won a free charcoal grill!”

“That’s great!,” I  replied.  “I was just going to buy one.”

“Well, now you won’t have to.   We’re going to have a representative in …”

“I just love to barbecue,” I interrupted.  “Don’t you?”

“Yes, sir, now we’re …”

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Shirley,” she cheerfully replied.

“Well, Shirley.  I love hamburgers on the grill.  And brats.   And hot dogs.”

“Yes, sir, so do I.  Now as I was saying …”

“And ribs!  How can I forget about ribs! “

“Yes, sir, now, we’re going to have a representative in your area giving estimates on new windows.  We can bring the grill with us when we come out to give you your free estimate.”

“Ribs with the right sauce, wow, I can almost taste them already.”

“Yes sir, now when shall we come out to give you your free estimate on windows?”

“I’m sorry, I just purchased new windows.  Plus I’m working pretty late these days.  You can just leave my free grill on my front porch.”

“Sir, I’m sorry, we can’t do that.”

“Kielbasa!”

“What?”

“I just remembered, a smoked Kielbasa is really good cooked on a grill.   Have you ever had kielbasa?”

“No, I don’t ….”

“Oh, you don’t know what you’re missing.  It’s like a polish ring bologna.   It’s really good grilled.  In fact, now that I think about it, that’ll probably be the first thing I grill on my new grill.”

“Sir, I must …”

“When will they deliver it?”

“Well, sit we’ll have some representatives in your neighborhood next week.”

“Excellent!”

“When can we give you your free estimate on new windows?

“I’m sorry, like I was saying, I just installed all new windows.  Just tell them to drop the grill off on my front porch.”

“Sir, I’m sorry, we can’t ….”

“Wow, what a lucky day.  I don’t normally win anything.   And now I’ve won a grill, of all things.”

“Sir, you have to talk to one of our estimators.”

“Salmon.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Have you ever grilled salmon?  That’s something I’d like to learn how to do.”

“Sir, you have to talk to one of our estimators in order to get the grill.”

“Estimators?  Estimators of what?”

“Windows, sir.  I told you that you have to receive a free estimate for new windows in order to receive your grill.”

“I’m sorry, I thought I made it clear, I just installed new windows.  I wouldn’t want to waste any of your time.   Just drop the grill off next week and leave it on my front porch.  “

“Sir, we cannot just drop the grill off. “

“Well, is there a place where I can come pick it up?”

“What?”

“Pick it up.  If you can’t deliver it, maybe I could drive to your distribution center and claim it there.”

“Sir, how are we going to give you an estimate on new windows if we don’t come out to your home?”

“An estimate for new windows?”

“Yes, that’s right; you get a free grill in return for us providing you with an estimate for new windows.”

“Shish-ka-bob!”

“Shish-ka-bob?”

“Yeah, isn’t that what they call it when you cook those skewers of vegetables and meat over the grill? Shish-ka-bob?”

“I don’t know, sir. Now, in order to get your free grill, you have to let us give you an estimate on new windows.”

“So when do you think you’ll deliver my grill?  How about next Thursday?

“You’d like to speak to one of our estimators next Thursday?”

“Oh, no, I won’t be home next Thursday.  We’re going out of town for a long weekend.  You can just drop the grill off on my front porch, I’ll tell my neighbor to keep an eye out for it.  I can’t wait to tell him I’ve won a free grill!”

“Mr. Gourdoux, we cannot drop the grill off!”

“Tell me, does my new grill include a warming tray? Because a warming tray can really come in handy …”

“Mr. Gourdoux, let me put you on hold.”

I then listened to some tape recorded music.  When I was off of hold, there was another woman on the line.

“Mr. Gourdoux,” she started.  She sounded firm.

“Hello, who is this?” I asked.  “You don’t sound like Shirley.”

“This is Shirley’s  manager.”

“Oh, well, Shirley’s doing a great job.   She explained to me how I won a new grill!”

“Mr. Gourdoux …”

“I can’t wait to try it out!  I’m going to get some steaks and marinate them.  You ever …”

“MR GOURDOUX,” she asserted. “YOU HAVE NOT WON A GRILL!”

“What are you talking about?  Shirley said …”

“I don’t care what Shirley said, you HAVE NOT WON A GRILL.”

“Hot dogs, hamburgers …”

Click.  Shirley’s manager finally hung up on me.

. . .

My all-time favorite was the call trying to sell me a credit card, I think it was a Visa card.  It was sometime during the 1990s.  I listened very patiently to the woman’s long winded spiel, agreeing to everything, expressing my interest in the card.  Then it was time to close the deal.

“Now, I just need to confirm some basic information,” she said.  “Your name is David Gourdoux?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“And that’s spelled, D-A-V-I-D, G-O-U-R-D-O-U-X?”

“Well, that’s close.  It’s actually spelled I-G-O-R, S-T-R-A-V-I-N-S-K-Y”

“Your name is Igor Stravinsky?”

“It’s spelled Igor Stravinsky, but it’s pronounced David Gourdoux.”   I’d used this gag before, and it always ended up with the agent slamming down the phone in disgust.  Not this time.   The woman was going to close the deal no matter what.

“And your address is 99999 99th Avenue, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin?”  (the nines are placeholders for my real address.)

“Close,” I said again.

“When you’re ready, sir, give me the correct address”

“Okay, “ I said, “It’s 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.”  The address of the white house.  I could hear her type away.  When she was done, she told me that my new card would be mailed out to me in a week or two.

I know I screwed up the zip code, but that didn’t keep me from imagining Bill Clinton opening up the mail one day to find a Visa card with Igor Stravinsky’s name on it.

It’s Snowing in Twinkle Town


(I thought I’d try writing a children’s story – my kids are grown and it’s been a while since I’ve been around small kids, but I was surprised at how quickly I was able to shift back into their innocence and optimistic outlook.  I imagine this could be quite good with the right illustrator) 

It’s snowing in Twinkle Town!  Look, in the village square!   It’s Mayor McBride!   He’s coming out of Miss Amanda’s House of Hospitality again.  He sure does spend a lot of time at Miss Amanda’s.  Oh, no!  He’s fallen on the sidewalk.  My, my, but it doesn’t look slippery!   Oh, well, it looks like he’s going to take a nap there, in the gutter of the village square.  He sure must be tired!  Look at the snow fall on him.  He should be wearing more than just his underwear in this weather.

Let’s go over to Baker Street and see what wonderful treats Mr. Snodgrass has in his bakery today!   Who’s that man at the counter in the blue uniform talking to Mr. Snodgrass?  Why, of course, it’s Officer McSleaze!   Officer McSleaze sure likes Mr. Snodgrass’s donuts!  But why is Mr. Snodgrass giving Officer McSleaze money?  Shouldn’t it be the other way around?  And why is Mr. Davis from the health department standing outside in the cold?  What could he be waiting for?  Oh my, they sure are a silly mixed up bunch of people!

Out on the edge of town, in his trailer house, Eddie is hard at work.  He is cooking something, and it sure looks good!  Whatever it is, it’s nice and shiny!   Look at the funny suit he is wearing while he cooks.  He’s even wearing a mask!  But Eddie, it’s not Halloween! Meanwhile, Hank is sitting outside.  What’s that in his arms?  A rifle?  But hunting season is over!   Someone has to tell him, because he keeps watching the road.  Maybe he is waiting for a badger.

Now a car comes down the road.   Wait a minute, Hank, that’s not a badger!  Hank shouldn’t be shooting at the car.  That car looks like Mr. Green’s car.  Is that Mr. Green driving?  See the car crash into the telephone pole. See the car catch fire.  Wow, those sure are bright red and yellow flames!  I guess we’ll have to wait for Mr. Molar, the town dentist, to tell us if that was Mr. Green driving the car or not.

Someone should tell Miss Amanda about Mr. Green.   Mr. Green used to have fun playing dress up on Saturday nights at Miss Amanda’s House of Hospitality.  His favorite thing was to dress up and pretend he was Miss Sprinkles!   Golly, that was fun!  Mayor McBride had fun when Mr. Green played dress up, too.  He just loved to play with Miss Sprinkles!

Who will get to be Miss Sprinkles for Mayor McBride now?  I’m sure that the Mayor and Sheriff McSleaze will find someone in Twinkle Town to take Mr. Green’s place.

It’s snowing in Twinkle Town!  Isn’t it pretty?