The Wanker on the Train


I look up an notice a woman across the car is reading a hardcover book.

I look at the cover, and notice the title of the book is “The Wanker”

Got me wondering, was it a fiction, or was it a biography?

Was he a A: wanker in the literal sense,
or was he
B: a wanker in the figurative sense.

If, A: Who caught him red handed (pun absolutely intended)? Was it the author of the book? Was it the wankers mother? Where was he caught? Under what circumstances?

If B: What did he do to deserve the title of “Wanker”. Who had he wronged? The author?

Perhaps the wanker was the protagonist of the story. Maybe he wasn’t really a wanker, but he got tired of people calling him that.

Or maybe he enjoyed his identity and wanked proudly…..

Maybe it was an autobiography

So I took another look at the book cover. And realized it was written in script and the title was “The Wonder”.

Yeah I think I need some sleep…..

All that speculating for nothing.




Saw a guy with two medium size pizza boxes.
The one on the top had “HOT PIZZA” printed on the side.

The other one had been altered with a Sharpie to read “NOT PIZZA”

Made me laugh. I am too easily amused.

I wonder what else he got.

The Cup Game on the Subway

Little while ago, I was on the subway. It was late at night, and it was one of the trains with the sidelong bench seats that faced each other on either side of the car.

As I live the stop before the terminus at 207th Street, the further uptown you go, the more the train empties out, especially that late at night.

So, eventually, it’s just me and a handful of other people.

The train turns, and out from under a bench rolls a cup. It was one of those heavy duty plastic ones.

So eventually, as the train moves it starts rolling back and forth in an arcing motion. I am watching it, and depending on he motion of the train, sometimes the arc increases, sometimes it decreases. Sometimes it makes a complete circle.

There was this other guy on the opposite bench, and he is also just sitting there, watching the cup. So the two of us have been watching this cup, arcing and circling for a few minutes.


ROB: OK, here’s the game: Don’t move your feet. Whoever’s feet this cup touches first wins the game.

GUY: OK, you’re on:

ROB: Ready, set, go!

So for the rest of the ride, we’re sitting there, cheering the cup on as it approaches one of our feet, the train lurches at the critical moment and changes the game so the cup rolls close to the other one’s feet, yelling at the cup when it rolls in the wrong way.

I think it came very close to each one of our feet, but I had to get off before the game was concluded.

But it was absolutely fun spending the last few minutes of my ride playing an impromptu game with an absolute stranger.

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.

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.

Cockroaches and Red Wine

I have a horrible gross story:

Mary & I often split a bottle of wine.

So we did that this evening.

Now a couple of years ago, I made a bar shelf. From scratch. I designed it to have stemware hanging down from stemware rails. One of my projects.

I hang the martini glasses and the white wine glasses from these rails. Bowl down.

I keep the red wine glasses ON the shelf. Bowl up.

We had red wine this evening.

I am drinking the red wine, and I realize there is something solid in my wine as it approaches my lips.

Could it be a piece of cork from the bottle? Some solidified sediment?


Remember when I said that all large buildings in New York City have cockroaches?

There is no glamour in spitting out a dead cockroach.

And less glamor in drinking the rest of the wine in the glass.

Lady Business

Mary sometimes gets free samples of things in the mail. She’s good that way.

Today she got a free tea bag and two small boxes of feminine products.

Included in the boxes of “lady business” were also some recipes and four “Coloring pages for Adult Ladies”.

Seriously. That’s what they called them.

MARY: Well, let me look at those recipes for ladies on the rag!

ROB: Aren’t you going to color, some?

She never ceases to crack me up.

Genie in a Bottle

Guy is walking on the beach, and finds a fancy looking bottle.

Well, he picks up the bottle and just for kicks, he rubs it.

A genie pops out and says,”Because you have freed me, I will grant you three wishes. What is your first wish?”

The guy thinks for a second and says,”I wish I had a billion dollars.”

The genie says,”Check your bank account. You now have a billion dollars in savings.”

The guy gets out his iPhone and goes to his bank account and sure enough, he’s a billionaire.

The genie says,”What is your second wish?”

The guy says,”I wish I had a mansion on the French Riviera”

The genie says,”Check your pocket. You will find the deed to a mansion on the French Riviera. What is your third wish?”

The guy thinks and thinks, but can’t think of anything. Thinks some more but draws a blank. Finally he asks, “Can I think about it for a little while?”

The genie says, “Of course. When you have decided, just say your wish out loud”

The guy thanks him and goes to his car. He’s in a really good mood and he’s singing along with the radio. A commercial comes on, and he sings along: ” Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner….”

The Little Old Lady I Thought I Killed

There is a nice little old lady who lives across the hall. She walks a little dog, and has probably been living in the building for sixty or so years.

I refer to her as “the little old lady I thought I killed”

This has a backstory:

About six years ago, the little old lady asked me for help. Turns out, the carbon monoxide detector in her apartment kept beeping. She was short, so she asked me to stand on a chair and silence it. She couldn’t find the super, so I agreed to do it.

When I pushed the “silence” button, it kept beeping. I expressed concern that perhaps it kept beeping because there was carbon monoxide present. She said, no, it always does that, and then asked me to take out the batteries.

Again, I expressed concern, but she assured me it did that often, and she was going to get a new carbon monoxide detector soon.

So I reluctantly took the batteries out.

It was the day before Mary & I were to go to Florida for a week. All through the trip I kept thinking about it and was worried that I may be indirectly for her carbon monoxide poisoning. I considered calling the super to ask him to look in on her, but I didn’t want to seem like I was being nosy. I also didn’t want to rat on her for fooling with the carbon monoxide detector (NYC code requires a working CM detector in each apartment)
It bothered me the entire Florida trip.

When we got back to NYC in the evening, I looked up at the windows to her apartment and they were dark. Her apartment was always quiet, but when we passed her apartment, it seemed especially quiet.

I had aired my concern to Mary before, but she didn’t seem that worried. She pointed out that when we got back there would be a bad smell if she had been dead for a week.

The next day, I was standing in the hallway wondering what to do; should I ring her doorbell, call the super, call the cops……….
and her door opened, and out she came with her little dog on a leash.

“You look lost” she said

All I could say was, “Did you get a new carbon monoxide detector?”

She looked sheepish and said,”No.”

“You should get the super to put one in. You don’t have to pay for it. It could save your life.”

Three years years later when they put in hardwired carbon monoxide detectors in all the units, I breathed a sigh of relief.

And that is the story of the little old lady I thought I killed.