Thoughts on Walking Through the Neighborhood at Dusk.

kids

When I was but a slippy youth, impelled by lusty flush

To run and skip and hide and sing like any careless thrush,

The boys and girls around the street joined in my serenade,

Or fought with clods of earth or set up stands for lemonade.

 

The slightest hint of mildness in the weather caused adults

To open all the windows for some gossip (or insults).

We yelled our silly heads off as we scalped each other like

The Westerns on the TV, or went on an oval hike –

 

Around the alleys, past trash cans just full of won’drous tripe,

Scuffing on the clinkers as we rolled a broken pipe.

Mrs. Berg put up a sign that said “Stay Off The Lawn”.

Old Benny on the corner drank his Schlitz and gave a yawn.

 

Cranky Mrs. Hannigan put out her wash to dry

(They said she beat her husband so until he’d start to cry).

Nozzles on the hoses sent the dew upon the grass,

Held by men in t-shirts with their arms as stiff as brass.

 

The cavalcade of bikes and trikes and hopscotch-playing girls

Made the sidewalk squirm just like a box of baby squirrels.

To sit inside when sun and wind made love to all the trees

Was just about as stupid as a snort of anti-freeze.

 

Even Mrs. Henderson, as old as Herbert Hoover,

Smiled upon the bedlam through the chinks of parlor louver.

The noise was a cocoon that wrapped the neighborhood in fleece;

Underneath the woofs and tweets there lay a modest peace.

 

Today – today, I walk by neighborhoods and cul de sacs

Where fam’lies park their minivans and figures made of wax

Sit inside the windows playing games intensely bright

While the beauty of the world fades into unmourned night.

 

The quiet doesn’t cheer me or promote much peace of mind.

The lack of noise, like lack of sight, is something dull and blind.

The yards are neat and comely, and the children are well-bred;

A lemonade stand here would get you handcuffed by a Fed.

The “Bad” Mom.

(Inspired by a story by Aimee Blanchette)

My mother never loved me, cuz she never would supply

Me with probiotics or a knotted Windsor tie.

She often tucked me into bed and left me in the dark

Without a bedtime story—which I think was pretty stark.

 

I always felt neglected when Art Linkletter was on;

She wouldn’t bother to get up and fetch me a pecan.

And when I said a bad word I did not get therapy;

A bar of soap inside my mouth was good enough for me.

 

She liked to use Chef Boyardee when she was in a rush,

And poisoned me with sugar in my cereal and mush.

She let my laundry pile up, let my shoe laces all fray.

You never would mistake her for a stainless Doris Day!

 

She gossiped with the neighbors when I needed a nose wipe,

And didn’t care when I ate apples green and quite unripe.

My mother fell down on the job of making me behave.

I’m sorry to report that she was NOT the perfect slave.    

My Old Man Was a Bartender.

bartender

My old man was a bartender who pulled a lot of beer.

He never thought of wine without a strong blue collar sneer.

Twas nightclub stuff, or made in vats in ethnic basement holes,

And anyone who asked for it was cursed down to their soles.

 

He’s gone to where bartenders go – at least he’s off his feet.

I wonder if he’s sipping red while angel choirs bleat?

More likely he is pouring Bud for all the damned in Hell,

And still refusing vino to his thirsty clientele.

 

I do not shed a tear for his departure, to be frank.

He left me liking beer while thinking wine was sour swank.

But how can I develop any character at all

If I do not with some Chablis occasionally sprawl?

 

Cues to a Bad Relationship — 35, to be Exact.

jiggs

 

  1. You only stroll hand in hand when you’re handcuffed together.
  2. You give her flowers when she has hay fever; she gives you chocolates when you are on a diet.
  3. If you’re not arguing, you’re asleep.
  4. You take taxis everywhere, because when either one drives the other has hysterics.
  5. Your wedding plans not only include a prenup, but a set of the Marquis of Queensbury Rules.
  6. You treat each other with so much exaggerated courtesy that others suspect you are trying to kill each other with kindness.
  7. You both join a church just to learn more about what hell will be like for each other.
  8. Your prospective in-laws have contacted Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not about you.
  9. You’re already in arbitration about who’s in charge of the TV remote.
  10. You get along fine, when you both have laryngitis.
  11. In the grocery store you both ask for sour grapes.
  12. You have “I’m sorry” tattooed on your arm, and she has “I told you so!” tattooed on the back of her shoulder.
  13. When you go out for dinner, you not only ask for separate checks . . . but separate tables.
  14. You begin to wonder if you can have a soul mate without a soul.
  15. Any room you’re in together needs air conditioning.
  16. You not only rub each other the wrong way, you give each other splinters.
  17. You may be evenly yoked, but you keep spitting out the bit.
  18. ‘Teamwork’ sounds like a type of punishment to you.
  19. You know exactly where you want to hold each other’s funeral – and when.
  20. The only way you can hold your tongue is to pretend it’s the other one’s throat.
  21. You can’t imagine living without him or her – but you’d like to try.
  22. You are right for each other in all the wrong ways.
  23. You’re not a couple, you’re a chain reaction.
  24. You work well with a crosscut saw, because when one pulls the other pushes.
  25. Curiosity takes the place of romance.
  26. The volume of communication rises the longer you are together.
  27. You can forgive the past, but not the future.
  28. You are ready to take your relationship to the next level, and hope that there will be a deep cliff nearby.
  29. You’ve both learned a new language – sarcasm.
  30. You no longer shave every day, and neither does she.
  31. It started as puppy love, then went to the dogs.
  32. Your partner is still your mirror image, but cracked and with the silver lining gone.
  33. You are two minds with but a single thought – mayhem.
  34. You use the word ‘tolerance’ with each other when what you mean is ‘indifference’.
  35. You know you have finally found the right person to be with – yourself.

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The Unemployed Father.

Unemployed father and his son.  Lindsay, California.

Daddy takes me to the park, he always does the dishes;

On rainy days we stay at home, watch DVDs with fishes.

He pours the milk on cereal, and gives me too much sugar.

He wipes my nose real carefully, to get out ev’ry booger.

He tucks me in most ev’ry night, and likes to tell me stories

Of wizards, knights, and giants who are seeking greater glories.

O, I am happy daddy’s home while mommy works a heap.

But why is it when no one looks, my daddy has to weep?

layoff

Soupy Green Jello; Thoughts on Keeping a Pregnant Wife Happy and Yourself Sane.

greenjello

I have eight children, and have survived to tell the tale.  How did I do it?  Come along on a backward-looking voyage of discovery, mateys, and I’ll tell ye:

  • Looking back, I recall the initial euphoria my wife Amy and I experienced when the tests came back positive for our first child.  We lived in a student apartment off-campus, and before I left for classes each day I would walk out into the back parking lot to pick a rose blossom from a straggling tea rose bush that came over the fence, to leave on her pillow.  One morning I was in a hurry and didn’t bother with the blossom.  That night Amy asked plaintively “Where was my rose today?”  That’s when I learned never to leave out the little things in a marriage, especially when your wife is experiencing her first pregnancy.
  •  After college, with more babies coming, I felt a heavy burden to provide for my growing brood.  I often worked long hours, depriving myself of the company of my family at dinner time in order to achieve my career goals.  I thought my so-called sacrifices were all for my family.  One night, as I came in the door dead-tired and suffering from indigestion from yet another evening meal of a hamburger and French fries, I discovered Amy playing with the children on the living room floor while through the kitchen door I could see a pile of dirty dishes in the sink.  My first reaction was to gruffly ask why the dishes weren’t done and the kids asleep – it was past their bedtime.  Then it struck me – Amy was having all the fun, and the dirty dishes signified nothing, while I threw away my chances to tickle tummies and give horsey rides.  I joined in the horseplay, finally helping Amy put the kids to bed at a scandalously late hour, and then she and I did the dishes together.  The next morning I slept in late and got to work, not late, but not early either.  And that night I left at quitting time and came home to meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy, with plenty of soupy green jello for dessert – compliments of my five-year-old daughter, who had worked on the recipe all day under the direction of her pregnant mother.  That night the kids got to bed on time and I produced the stretch mark cream I had picked up on the way home to rub on my wife’s stomach.  There is nothing as sensuous as rubbing your wife’s extended tummy with stretch mark cream.  From that day on I never stinted on my attention to wife and kids, and watched with satisfaction as my career slowed down to a saner pace.  Now I was having fun as a father and husband – cuz your career don’t give you hugs, baby, and you sure can’t go to bed with it.
  • One final point, mateys. You can’t always predict when stormy weather is coming.  The hormonal and physical challenges of pregnancy are enough to turn an angel into a snarling fiend.  It happens, and, after the initial surprise and shock, you deal with it.  Rose blossoms becoming more expensive, I started leaving Junior Mints on her pillow each morning.  If the mint remained uneaten when I got home, I knew the storm flags were up and watched my step.  If the mint was gone, it was smooth sailing.  That little tip off saved us many a brawl.  Our kids will tell you it was not always peace and harmony between us, but the long voyage turned out to be prosperous and successful after all.

sailing