He With the Droll Manner

ROB: You have a very droll manner about you.

COLLEAGUE: Droll??

ROB: Yes, droll. Oddly funny in a dry sort of way.

OTHER COLLEAGUE: What about me; Am I droll?

ROB: Yes, actually. You’re very droll.

THIRD COLLEAGUE: I’m droll too, right?

ROB: No… I wouldn’t say you were droll….. you’re more….

THIRD COLLEAGUE: Passive aggressive?

ROB: No, not passive aggressive. Just….

OTHER COLLEAGUE: Just an asshole?

ROB: No, not an asshole. You’re humor is a little more direct.

THIRD COLLEAGUE: You’re saying I’m a clown.

ROB: Nah, clowns creep me out.

THIRD COLLEAGUE: I don’t creep you out?

ROB: Not usually.

THIRD COLLEAGUE: Not USUALLY????

Easy There, Jizzy!

ON THE FORTY SEVENTH FLOOR:

ROB: Wow, look how high we are. Great view.

TEMP WITH ACCENT: Yes, it makes me feel jizzy.

ROB: Makes you feel what?

TEMP: Jizzy. When you look at something and it makes you excited.

ROB: Um……..

TEMP: Makes it hard to walk straight if you get too jizzy.

ROB: OK…..

TEMP: Like spinning in circles……

{CLICK}

ROB: I think “dizzy” is the word you want. Dizzy. With a “D”.

TEMP: With a “D”?

ROB: Yeah, you must never say “jizzy”. That means something else.

TEMP: What does it mean.

ROB: Um…. google it sometime.

LATER:

TEMP: Hey, I googled “jizzy”! It means…

ROB: I know what it means. You don’t have to…..

TEMP: Jizzy is a singer. See?

(shows me the google result on his iPhone. Sure enough, there is a metal singer called Jizzy Pearl)

ROB: Who in their right mind would go by “Jizzy”?

TEMP: Maybe he looked down and it made him feel jizzy.

ROB: Dizzy. Dizzy. With a D.

How to Wear a Tuxedo (or How not to Look Goofy in your Prom Photo)

Because prom season is right around the corner, I am going to give a little primer on how to wear a tuxedo

Unfortunately, many of us when we look at our prom photos, we look somewhat dated and goofy because, tuxedo rental places will often go with current trends, rather than the traditional look that is the tuxedo. The style of the traditional tuxedo has not changed in over one hundred twenty years, and there is a reason for that.

To put it simply: A tuxedo was for all the men to have a uniform look so as not detract from the attire our dates and other women wore. It is a simple elegant look, with little room for interpretation. Flamboyancy in men’s formal wear equates to upstaging the woman you are with: an almost unforgivably gauche, base faux pas. In essence: A tuxedo is a uniform, not a costume.

If you are of prom age, there is no reason you cannot look sharp in a tuxedo. There is also no reason that twenty or thirty years down the line for your prom photo to make you cringe.

So here goes:

A: Try to buy, if you can, rather than rent. Rental grade tuxedos are not as good quality as “owner grade”. Rental grade are designed to be repeatedly altered to fit different body types. Moreover, they often follow current trends which will result in a dated look years down the line.
At the end of the day, it is not that much more expensive to buy, and could even be less. Make sure you know your measurements and you can even get one on eBay, that was perhaps worn once. When you get it, take it to a reputable place that does alterations and adjustments so it fits your body like a glove. Do some research for a good quality tux. If you go on eBay, you’ll find a ton of high quality tuxes made by companies such as Armani, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, for a very good price. Most of them have only been worn once or a few times. Some might even be new without tags. You’ll get a deal comparable to renting.
You may not be done growing after your prom, and if you are absolutely positive you will never wear that tux again, you can put it back on eBay (but don’t expect too much for it: remember tuxes are cheap on eBay, even good ones). You can hand it down to your younger brother for HIS prom. You can give it to a younger friend with similar measurements. Since a traditional tux is so timeless, theoretically you could give it to your son for HIS prom!

B: Your tux should be 100% wool. This sounds counterintuitive, especialy during the warmer months that proms are often held. However, tropical weight wool breathes.
Synthetic fabrics do not. A tux that is 100% tropical weight wool will always be cooler than one that is polyester.

C: Almost without exception, your tuxedo should be black. Sometimes a trend will come in where people will wear novelty colors, fruity colored lapels, or variations on the tuxedo colors. Not appropriate.
Remember: A tux is not a costume. Solid black is the only appropriate color for a tuxedo with one notable exception:
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day it is permissible to wear a white or cream tuxedo jacket if the event is outside.
A prom is close enough to Memorial Day that a white or cream jacket could slide by, if the prom is outside. However, you always run the risk of looking goofy. Your prom might be the first time you have ever worn a tux, and this is not a look you want to do without practice. In addition, a white or cream jacket is extremely limited for its future use. Do so at your peril.
I recommend sticking to solid black.

D: There are only four appropriate styles for a tuxedo jacket:
1: Single breasted notch lapel jacket
2: Single breasted peak lapel jacket
3: Single breasted shawl lapel jacket
4: Double breasted peak lapel jacket.

A tailcoat is not a tuxedo and is not proper attire for a prom.

Your safest and most versatile option of the four is a single breasted notch lapel tuxedo.

Ideally, your tux jacket should be unvented. However, the double vent is reluctantly acceptable. The single vent jacket is more akin to a blazer or sport jacket, and is inappropriately informal for a tuxedo.

Rental places might try to sell you weird cuts of tuxedo jackets, capes, crazy coats etc. You might see a celebrity stretching the limit of the tuxedo. Avoid the influence. Stick to the four types of tux jacket.

Remember: A tux is not a costume.

E: Your tuxedo pants should match the jacket perfectly (100% wool, black). Rental places might try to do mix & match with the pants. A tux is a matching set.

The tux pants can be pleated or flat front (flat front provides a cleaner line). They should have a 1 inch black satin stripe down the side of each leg. They should not be cuffed, but be tailored with a 3/4 break.

You never, ever wear a belt with tuxedo pants. Indeed, tuxedo pants should not even have belt loops. Suspenders are an option if they are attached with buttons, not clips. Suspenders should only be black or white.

F: The tuxedo shirt is always white. It will have a bib front (an inverted horseshoe shaped panel) with pleats or piques ( a little uniform texture). It is always 100% cotton, so make sure you get it ironed well, perhaps even starched. The collar is either a traditional lay down collar or a “wing tip” collar.
Instead of buttons, the front is closed with studs and the cuff are closed with cufflinks. This is called a French Cuff.

You can even get away with wearing a traditional white shirt as long as it has French cuffs, as long as it is white and 100% cotton.

G: You have a choice of either a waistcoat (vest) or a cummerbund. Both should be black and 100% silk. The vest can be white, however it is more traditionally black. I prefer the vest in that it gives more freedom of movement, and looks better should you chose to remove your jacket at some point. Make sure your vest is a formal vest. It can either be an open back or a closed back. I prefer the closed back, in that it is an actual vest and looks better if you decide to remove your jacket.
Rental places might try to sell you a vest/cummerbund that matches your tie. This is tacky, unless the entire ensemble is black.

H: While the “pre-tied” bow tie seems to be prevalent these days, you should go for a self-tie bowtie: that is one you tie yourself. It’s the one thing that is going to make you look really sharp, as opposed to a kid at a prom. It takes a little practice; there a number of youtube videos of how to do it online, as well as other online resources. But the result will look great.

While a black bowtie always looks great, there is a tradition to choose a tie that either matches or compliments your date’s attire. Both are acceptable as long as you avoid loud colors or novelty patterns.

While the only correct tie to be worn with a tuxedo is the bow tie, there is a very prevalent trend of wearing a standard straight tie with a tuxedo, even among more traditional sets. It is reluctantly acceptable, as long as the knot is a well executed full Windsor.

I: Your shoes should be plain black lace up dress shoes with very understated soles. 100% leather. Either cap-toe balmorals or plain toe balmorals. Top siders are out of the question, as are loafers. They should be well polished. You can also choose patent leather shoes (aka skirt-lookers), but they have no use outside formal wear, and run dangerously close to looking like a costume.

J: Minimal Jewelry. If you must wear a watch, it should be plain and understated. The reasoning is that for such an event you should not be worrying about the time. To wit: leave your Apple Watch home. You might think a big, heavy Rolex will look cool, but not with a tux!

K: Don’t wear white socks.

L: Avoid novelty items such as top hats, canes, monocles or anything else that turns your tux into a costume. Click this link to see some cringeworthy things to be avoided .

M: Don’t be cute and wear jeans, Chuck Taylors, Timberlands, or any other off the wall fashion statement. I mean you can, if you want; it’s your prom, but you’ll probably look at your prom photo ten years later and think,”What was I thinking?”

Just remember what the purpose of a tux is: to make your date look good. Remember it is a uniform, not a costume. If you wear a tux correctly, you can’t go wrong. You’ll see guys at the prom inappropriately dressed, or wearing a tux incorrectly. That’s their problem. Twenty years up the road, you won’t cringe at your prom photo, but they might at theirs!

Here is another link that backs up what I just said. There are a couple of minor variances, but the gist is the same, just in case you don’t take my word for it!

Surgery: Gentlemen Must Wear a Tie!

CRAZY DREAM LAST NIGHT:

Dreamed I was about to undergo surgery, but I was in my regular street clothes, and the anesthesiologist was about to put me under.

But he handed me a couple of pills and told me to take them.

I said, “Wait, arent you going to give me an IV or a mask?”

The anesthesiologist said,”No, they don’t work as well as the pills. It’ll be a little while before the pills start to kick in, so just take a walk. When you start feeling sleepy, come back here and lie down on the table. You’ll pass out and we’ll get to work.”

So I went out for a walk. I didn’t want to stray too far from the hospital, just in case I started feeling sleepy. I didn’t want to pass out in the street, so I walked around a few hours. But I didn’t feel sleepy.

So finally I went back into the hospital, found the anesthesiologist and said,”Doc, I don’t think these pills are working. I am not sleepy at all!”

The anesthesiologist says,”I can give you two more, but I’ll have to take your drivers license. Can’t have you passing out at the wheel!”

So I walked around a few more hours, but didn’t feel sleepy at all. Went back to the hospital and I told the anesthesiologist this. He told me to come back the next day in business attire.

At this point, I was really pissed because I just wanted to get this over with, and it seemed like I was jumping through a lot of hoops that went nowhere, but the next day I came back. I opted for a more casual look.

And when I got there, there were a whole bunch of people in business attire who said I was underdressed. I explained I was just here to have surgery, but they told me that to see the doctor I needed a tie.

Finally I just got fed up, went home and waited for whatever ailed me in the first place to kill me.

The Last Animal I Ever Rode was not a Horse

Today, I am going to tell you the story about the last animal I ever rode.

First off, you have to know I have never, in my life ridden a horse. There is no particular reason: I am certain if presented with an opportunity to ride a horse, I would ride a horse, but it is not on my active bucket list.

I am not a horsey person. I divide animals into two categories: Capable Of Killing You and Not Capable of Killing you, and horses fit squarely into the first category. I know there are people who are all about horses. They read horsey publications. They know all about the breed of horses and famous horses and horsey behavior. They have horse decor in the their homes like horseshoes and things that look like saddles. They read “Black Beauty” and watched “Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken” as a child. Some will show up at the Hampton Classic wearing riding boots, a riding coat, riding pants, a hat and even carrying a little riding crop, without any intention of riding a horse that day. I guess it is some kind of solidarity. My friend from school actually had a barn with three or so horses. His dad raised horses. I tried to give them a wide berth. It’s not that I dislike horses; it’s just that those hooves could give you a powerful kick, and those square teeth could give you one helluva pinch. No, I did not want to hand-feed that horse a carrot. Where there are horses, there are also flies. And sometimes bees. Which I am allergic to. Truth be known, I am wary of any animal larger than a cat.

Now, I have ridden other animals. I have ridden a camel (he was on a leash and led around a compound at the Bronx zoo) I think I was about five.

I rode a pony (doesn’t count as a horse) when I was a little kid, too. He was hooked up to this little round contraption with about six other ponies and made a few circuits.

I have ridden a giant tortoise at an animal preserve in Berkeley, CA when I was a really little kid.

And yes, I rode an elephant at the (ten years defunct) Catskill Game Farm when I was a little kid. They put you on a platform on the elephant’s back and you ride with about five or six other people. I threw up on the elephant.

And then, another elephant, when I was about nine. My family and I were out for pizza. The pizza place was at the end of a strip mall (locally called “Jamesway Plaza”, after the anchor store), where they often set up suspicious looking carnivals in the parking lot, with sketchy characters operating rickety rides at inappropriately inflated prices. When we were kids and asked to go on the rides, the answer was always a non-negotiable no. In retrospect: Rightfully so. What kind of parent would put their kid’s life in danger and pay money to do it?
In fact, back when Six Flags Great Escape in Lake George was called “Storytown”, my dad used to call these outfits “Rip Off Town”, and then sing:
🎶 Rip-off town, Rip-off town, the fun’s not really at Rip-off town….! 🎶” to the tune of the Storytown commercial.

But anyway, while we were having pizza, I looked out the window of the pizza place and saw an elephant in the parking lot. No carnival set up or anything else. Just an elephant.

I said,”Hey, an elephant!”

My mother thought I was pulling her chain, but outside, some entity or another had set up this makeshift arena in the parking lot and was offering elephant rides. There was this big, ten foot elephant, clomping around the arena (which really was just highway cones and ropes), with a big flat platform on its back where there were about six people sitting. And nothing else. No carnival, not even an animal truck or trailer.

Just this one-man show with an elephant being led around the parking lot of Jamesway Plaza in this ad-hoc enclosure.

So after pizza, we were able to convince my parents to let us ride the elephant. So with three other people, my brother, sister and I got on the flat platform on the elephant’s back and rode the elephant around about four circuits of the roped area. It was surprisingly underwhelming.

And you know what? I started feeling guilty. Here you have this huge, intelligent creature, ten feet high, being led around the parking lot of a shitty strip mall so people could ride his back, five or six at a time. Being taken from one town to another like a freak show, by a seemingly unregulated one-man outfit. In Upstate New York, which is about as close to an elephant’s natural habitat as the moon. In retrospect, I wonder how that was legal, or if it WAS even legal. The elephant was gone the next day, onto the next town. I wonder how they got him there.

I’ve always had a soft spot for elephants even if they are very easily in the “Capable of Killing You” category. I know that any large animal with four legs that can be trained is often used as a beast of burden somewhere in the world (you can’t train a zebra). But you know: I am not a fan of elephant’s even being in zoos or circuses. They’re not here for our amusement.

Human beings are a notoriously ungrateful and self entitled species, and an intelligent animal such as an elephant should not be used as an object for our amusement. They should be allowed to live autonomous lives in their natural habitat, free from the threat of large game hunters and poachers. Elephants, to me, are hands-off animals.

Truth be known, I am not a big fan of zoos and not a fan at all of circuses. I thought it was long overdue when Barnum and Bailey decided to close up shop. I don’t like animal exploitation, and clowns freak me out.

I am conflicted about zoos. I tolerate some of them as a necessary evil: to protect an endangered species, and to provide education about them for the rest of us. And I am only slightly comfortable with the ones that have made a significant effort to replicate the animal’s natural habitat.

That elephant I rode more than thirty two years ago was the last animal I rode. I don’t know if elephant rides are even a thing now for kids, in this litigious world. I seriously doubt you could just set up shop in a parking lot with an elephant and start selling rides without the some kind of agency swooping in and putting the kabosh on it. And imagine the protestors.

Now if given the opportunity to ride a horse, I probably would. But it would have to be the slowest, least imaginative, most compliant horse in the herd. A horse that would just let me ride him without putting up a fuss. I wouldn’t want one of those Hampton Classic horses that can jump hurdles. A horse that can jump hurdles is a horse that can buck me off and stomp me with his hoof. There is no denying a horse is capable of killing you, but I wouldn’t want to ride a horse that knows that.

But if there is a horse that fits that low bar, yeah, I might ride him. If given the time and opportunity.

If You look at the Lamp in the Bathroom, You’ll get Sucked Down the Toilet!

Today, I am going to tell you about why, when I was a little kid, I was afraid to look at the overhead light in the bathroom.

In fact, if you looked at the light in the bathroom, you would get sucked down into the toilet and drown.

That’s a pretty odd fear, but it has it’s roots in Irish folklore.

For those who don’t know, my mother is from Northern Ireland. She grew up in Belfast, but many of her relatives lived in very rural areas, where she would often vacation. And, as you know, Ireland has a lot of folklore.

When I was a little kid, my mother was still less than ten years stateside. My mother did, and still does, often use Irish vernacular in her speech. One of her figures of speech was to use the work “bog” for lavatory.

That’s pretty common.

“Is somebody in the bog?”

“Does anybody need to go to the bog?”

She often even referred to toilet paper as “bog roll”.

So at that age, I thought the words “bathroom” and “bog” were pretty much interchangeable.

Sometimes I would say “I need to go to the bog”.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense.

Now the reason the bathroom was referred to as “the bog” was that in rural Ireland, where, many years ago they didn’t have indoor plumbing or even an outhouse, people would go relieve themselves by the bog outside the house (as in swamp). Irish terrain has no shortage of boggy land, but the only reason to be anywhere near it was to relieve one’s self.

Therefore, originally “going to the bog” was, quite literally, going out to the bog to answer natures call.

Now, the peat in the bog emmitted a certain gas, and the gas caused a strange light to rise up from the bog in the distance. There had been cases where, somebody went out onto the bog to investigate the light (perhaps after consuming some alcohol), sunk down into the mud, and didn’t come home.

Irish superstition attributed this odd light to the “Will O the Wisp”: a mythical being that would lure you toward the light, and to your death: In the bog. Legend had it that if you looked at the odd light, you would become mesmerized, sink down into the bog, and never be seen or heard from again.

I was a kid who took things very, very literally. My mother was very good at telling stories, and I believed every one of them. My mother told me this story. There was my understanding of the word “bog” in household vernacular to mean “bathroom” or “toilet”. So my take home was this:

There was a strange being that lived down the toilet. If you looked at the light in the bathroom, it would set into motion a chain of events where the being would drag you down into the toilet, drown you and you would never be seen or heard from again.

So anytime I would go into the bathroom, I would always make sure to keep my eyes away from the light. I would only turn the light on when absolutely necessary. The light was over the mirror, so when I would brush my teeth, I’d always make sure to keep my eyes down toward the sink.

Because if you looked at the light in the bathroom, down into the bog you would go!

I think when I was about five, I finally got smart to the truth, and it made “going” a whole lot easier, without that extra step of having to avoid eye contact with the lamp in the bathroom.

But in Ireland (at least in some parts) they still do use the word “bog” as slang for bathroom. Years ago, my cousin from Ireland was visiting. There was a restaurant in Albany called “The Cranberry Bog”, and this struck him as just about the funniest thing all day.

Exotic New Jersey

Today, I am going to tell you the story about why New Jersey holds a special place in my heart, (aside from the obvious: Mary is from New Jersey, indeed was in the 1995 Miss New Jersey pageant, and was 1995s Miss Vineland, NJ)

See, when I was a kid I loved going places. I’d go to Boston a lot to visit my dad’s family, and had been to Ireland a few times to visit my mom’s family. Every now and then my dad would go away on a conference and sometimes we could come along to exotic places like Utica, NY and Williamsport, PA, where we’d drive a few hours and stay overnight. Not only that, but when relatives would visit different places they would send me postcards.
(I think of how conscientious they were: I don’t think I have ever sent an extended family member a postcard. From anywhere! But these were the idyllic late 70s/early 80s)

When I was five or six, I got a postcard from a relative who went to the Jersey Shore. It looked like a great place: a lot of fun and really far away. So I announced I wanted to go to New Jersey. It was on my five year old’s bucket list of places I really wanted to go. If somebody at that time had asked me where I wanted to go more than anywhere else, my answer would have been “New Jersey”. All because of that postcard.

Well, something serendipitous happened. New Jersey had legalized gambling in 1978, but only in Atlantic City. But there was serious talk about bringing gambling to the Catskill Mountains in upstate NY. My dad taught at a community college at the foot of the Catskills, just south of Albany. Were gambling to be legalized in New York, and were casinos to open in the Catskills, it was highly likely the community college where my dad taught would begin to offer programs related to the operating of said casinos.

In the summer of 1981, just a few months after I got that postcard, the community college decided to send my dad on essentially a scouting mission to Atlantic City to observe the casinos and their management. Perhaps there was a conference there as well, I’m not sure. All I remember, at age five, is learning my dreams of going to New Jersey were about to be realized. And I was over the moon.

So, we all got into the car: my parents, my sister and my brother (who was only two) and drove the 5-6 hours down to Atlantic City. I am not sure how much the community college was going to pay to put my dad (and fam) up, but it obviously wasn’t much, because we didn’t stay on the boardwalk. We stayed in one of those little one-level motels on the road leading into Atlantic City, which had a kidney shaped pool right in the parking lot. The kind of motel Mary would refer to as a “No-tell motel”. The kind of motel that, today, if it would pop-up on my search for accommodation on hotels.com, I would say “Noooope!”.

But to six year old me, it was absolutely perfect. Two double beds: one for my parents, one for us three kids (my brother was small enough he could easily fit in), a COLOR TV, and a pool! Later that evening after a dinner (no doubt inexpensive), we went out to walk on the boardwalk which really was made of boards! We went on the Steel Pier, where we got to ride the Ferris Wheel, and we got to see the ocean and the jellyfish, which was no little thing to a kid who lived 120 miles inland.

The next day, however my dad went to his project, leaving my mom alone to entertain three kids. We weren’t far from the boardwalk, we had the motel pool, and my mother had the car. I remember the Playboy Club had just opened, and my mother pointed it out.

“Oh look! There’s the Playboy Club! All the ladies who work there have to dress up as bunnies! They’re called Playboy Bunnies”

On the first level, there were plate glass windows that offered a view directly into the club, and true to my mother word: there were buxom cocktail waitresses with short skirts, bunny ears and tails, carrying trays full of drinks. I was amazed and fascinated.

“That’s enough, Robert. Time to see something else”

I wasn’t ready to leave…….

“Robert!”

Later in the afternoon we swam in the tiny pool in the motel parking lot, where the lifeguard let me play with the life ring, and later when my dad came back and asked how we spent the day, I answered “We saw the Playboy Bunnies!”

We went home the next day, six hour drive home, but it really was the best trip ever, and for some time after that I thought New Jersey was one of the best places. In fact, when I became aware of “New Jersey” jokes, I wondered if they were talking about the same place.

And, short of a few flights out of Newark Airport, and a job interview for a teaching position in South Brunswick, and going through it on a train on the way to Philly, I wasn’t back to New Jersey.

Until I met Mary. Who not only was from New Jersey, but was from South Jersey. South of Atlantic City.

Eventually, it came time to visit her mother for the very first time, who had retired and bought a house in Sea Isle City, a small city on a barrier island between Atlantic City and Wildwood. Mary is frugal, and figured out long ago, the most economical way to get to South Jersey was to take “The Casino Bus” down there.

Here’s how it works: Bus companies (Greyhoud, Academy etc) operate in collaboration with the casinos. The bus goes directly to a given casino, you get a portion of the fare you paid back in a voucher, which must be played in a slot machine. Used to be, they’d simply give it back to you in rolled coin. But old people would go down to A/C for the day, not gamble, pocket the rolled coin, so the casinos got smart to that.
After riding this bus a few years, and seeing some of the characters who ride the bus, I have referred to it as the “Compulsive Gambler Bus”

But the first time, I got on the bus with Mary, and as we approached Atlantic City, I remembered the trip when I was six. I looked at the row of crappy motels along the road into the city (many of which are out of business, boarded up, and ready to fall down) and wondered which of them we stayed at. I’ve made this trip many times since then, and still wonder which motel it was.

I should mention I don’t gamble. But for somebody who doesn’t gamble, I have been in Atlantic City a lot the past thirteen years, simply because it is enroute to visit family. Because it is a requirement you play your bus ticket refund, I have obligingly done that, and on my first trip to A/C, I won back $80. Last time that ever happened.

Atlantic City has fallen on hard times. The Playboy Club is long gone (demolished in 1999). It is impossible to see Atlantic City through the idyllic lens I had as a six year old. It’s in rough shape. Mary & I have often found better means of getting to South Jersey than the “Compulsive Gambler Bus”, although almost all our trips there route through Atlantic City in some form or another. And every time, I remember the joy I had at age six of getting to go to exotic New Jersey.

And every time I go to South Jersey with Mary, I always feel like I am going somewhere special. Because I am. Because family is there now. So it should only be apropos our marriage certificate is a New Jersey certificate.

Say what you will about New Jersey. I have no complaints. Mary: the love of my life came from there.

PS: Our cat is named Jersey, too.
This was because when Mary & I were getting ready to adopt a cat, the New York ASPCA had such crazy stipulations and restrictions (such as not adopting out single kittens, and requiring your employer’s phone #, and leave to inspect your home), we decided just to go across the bridge to NJ and adopt him, where the red tape wasn’t as stiff.
So we called him Jersey.

HOW TO DRINK ABSINTHE

Pour a teeny teeny amount in a glass or snifter.

Drip very cold water over a spoon. Let it louche (cloud). If it doesn’t louche, you haven’t added enough water.

Sip slowly.

DO NOT HAVE SECONDS FOR AT LEAST TWENTY MINUTES.

Seriously. Absinthe has enough of an ABV it can fuck you up very fast with very little.

After twenty minutes, you may have very cautious seconds. And lasts.

Why You Should Always Bring Your Own Bags to Costco

Today I am going to tell you the story about how I learned that you should always bring your own bags to Costco.

It was 2003, and I was recently separated. Ex wife got the car. That was ok, though, because I was getting ready to move to NYC. I lived in New Haven, CT which had pretty good transportation, as well as Metro North (commuter rail), and I was in NYC several times a week.

I had a membership to Costco, and at some point I realized I needed to pick up a few things. The last time I went to Costco, I went to the one on North Haven CT with the car. But I didn’t have a car anymore.

But there was a Costco in Port Chester, NY, (in Westchester County) just a few steps from the train station. So on my way back from rehearsal in NYC, I got off at Port Chester, and headed over to the Costco. I couldn’t get too many things, because I had to carry them back on the train with me, but I didn’t need that much.

So after I got my things, I lined up for checkout, and asked the cashier for paper bags.
“We don’t have bags, but if you need a box, there are some over there”

She pointed to a few flatbed carts against the wall with an assortment of cartons. So I rolled my cart over there and started rummaging for a box of the right size. But no matter how I looked I couldn’t find the right size box. Either it was way too big, or it was so small I would need two, defeating the purpose of a box.

Until I reached way at the back and found the perfect box. Almost perfect. Right size and everything. Except it was a big, industrial size box for Always Sanitary Napkins. With wings.

Not only that, but it was written in big, pink letters all over the box, in that feminine looking script, and even had a picture of the actual object on the box. Now I had been married, and was well aware of that kind of thing. I saw my son being born. I did not have hang ups. But there was no way I could bring myself to carry all my stuff home by hand in a big, 2 foot, Always With Wings box with enormous pictures of sanitary napkins on it. It just wasn’t going to happen.

So I quickly put the box back behind the other boxes and kept looking. But I couldn’t find a box that was as good for the job. And every time I would sift through a few boxes, the Always box would reappear, and I would quickly conceal it behind the other boxes. I could feel myself blushing, either because I realized I was twenty eight, and shouldn’t be embarrassed about that kind of thing, or because I might actually have to use the box.

Eventually a Costco employee came up to me. She was a heavyset, pleasant looking woman and asked if she could help me. I answered I was looking for the right box for my stuff, but couldn’t find.

“Here, let me help you!”

And she sifted through all the boxes and produced the Always with Wings box.

“This is PERFECT!” She had a big smile on her face.

“Um, well, I don’t think it is right. I don’t think it is exactly the right size……….” I stumbled

“No no no, it’s an absolutely perfect box!”

And she started putting my stuff into the box, where it all fit perfectly.

Well, I muttered a thank you, and slunk out of the store, those pink letters like a flashing neon sign. I tried to turn the box so that the side advertising its former contents faced inward, but it was printed on all four sides.

I made it to the station platform, which was unusually crowded and tried to be circumspect to see if anyone was staring at the box. The train came, and, again it was unusually crowded. I tried to find a seat, and there was one seat in a four-seater at the end of the car.

There were three girls about twenty sitting there, who saw me, took one look at the box and burst out laughing. I hoisted it to the overhead luggage rack sat down, the girls snickering at me. Not only that, but since the train was crowded, the conductors were communicating with each other over the PA system about punching everybody’s ticket (they used to do that on the older trains)

One of them said over the PA: “Be sure to get the guy with the Always Box. He got on at Port Chester!”

I could see the conductors coming down the car looking for the box. And the guy attached to it.

“Oh there you are. They told me to look for the Always guy!”

That made the girls laugh even harder, and I tried to be a good sport.

Well, I made it back to New Haven, but I still had to get back to my place. Downtown New Haven was more crowded than usual, too, because it was Parents Weekend at Yale. So I had to parade all my stuff in the Always With Wings box several blocks up Chapel Street: the main drag in New Haven, which was swarming not only with Yale students, but their families. With the box with the bright pink letters and the lovely illustration for everyone to see.

Even though it was just a box, a box that had once contained a regular item, an item that as human beings we should be well used to, it felt like the world’s longest walk of shame.

Moral of the story:

Always bring your own bags to Costco (or BJs) or you, too, might end up with the Always With Wings box.

Stop Thinking That, or You’ll Go to the Crazy House!

7 YEAR OLD ROB: So, Mom. Space goes on forever and ever and ever, right?

ROB’S MOM: Yes.

7 YEAR OLD ROB: So there is no end, right?

ROB’S MOM: That’s right

7 YEAR OLD ROB: So there’s a forever after, right?

ROB’S MOM: That’s right

7 YEAR OLD ROB: So that means there was a forever before, right?

ROB’S MOM: Stop thinking about that, or you’ll make yourself go crazy!

I knew if you went crazy, you’d have to go to the “crazy house”, where they’d shave of your hair, cut your head open, take out a piece of your brain, give you electric shocks, make you wear a straightjacket and live in a room with rubber walls. I didn’t want that.

So, if I’d catch myself thinking about all that stuff, I’d think “Wow, I’d better stop thinking about this or I’ll make myself go crazy”. And i would try to stop thinking about it.

But I’d still think about it a little, then wonder, “Have I thought about it enough to make myself go crazy? And if I did, how do I hide that so my mom won’t drive me to the “crazy house?”