NOTE: I think I wrote this already, but if you’re using this to study for the History Advanced Placement Examination, the only college you’ll get into is Klown Kollege. Or you’ll be confused with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The below is meant for entertainment (hopefully) use only.
The Age of Cool Dinosaurs
Brought to you by theBiden Administration
Hand Over Your Wallet
Following the mass extinction of the Permian Period brought on by Thanos, the remaining Avengers gathered together in New Yo….oh. Wait. That’s not right. My bad.
Anyway, the life which was left poked their heads out of some burrow, turned to their neighbor and asked, “Hey, WTF just happened? Ooh, the smart-ass dimetrodons are gone. Cool.”
They really shouldn’t have been too cocky, though. Because, even though they didn’t know it (calendars hadn’t been invented yet, after all), they found themselves at the doorstep of the Mesozoic Era. It was during this multi-million year period when the really big (and, let’s face it, cool) dinosaurs were born (Hatched. Whatever. I don’t know. Do you know? I didn’t think so. Shut up).
And eat them.
The Brontosaurus (which nerds now call “Brachiosaurus”), Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Pterosaurs, Coldsaurus, and Tyrannosaurus (among many others. I’m just sticking with the “saurus” theme. You’re welcome.) made their appearance on the world stage during the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods.
NOTE: The Bidenosaurus was banished from the dinosaur world, despite offering free massages to juvenile T-Rex’s.
This included the Velociraptors which nobody really heard of until Jurassic World.
During this time frame, mammals begin to evolve themselves (not humans yet, despite that painting of cavemen fighting raptors with machine guns on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel). Since they were so small, they were certainly no match for their lizard (or whatever they were…they may have been proto-birds, Kryptonians, or ancestors of Al-Qaeda…who knows?) neighbors, though.
Lucky for the mammals that they were small and thus, mostly immune from the next mass extinction caused by an asteroid strike (or bad clams). The climate changed abruptly from a mostly humid, tropical, frankly uncomfortable, world (you know, a lot like Disney World in August). A lot (probably most. Too lazy to look it up) of the life was wiped out.
Yeah, of course, the neat dinosaurs were killed because they could not survive in this new environment. And they forgot to pack warm coats.
Frikkin’ asteroids, amirite?
This brought the world into the “Cenozoic Era.” It was here when newer and bigger models of mammals emerged onto the scene.
Sensing the coast was clear, apes slowly began to crawl down from the same trees they crawled up when some random punk dinosaur decided to pick on someone smaller than them to impress the lady dinosaurs. Deciding to stretch their legs, these proto-humans began grunting a common language, fashioned rocks into tools, became lawyers, and decided to stroll into that neat-looking garden with the neat-looking tree in the middle.
Where they were killed by Adam and Eve.
Believe it or not, we are still living in the Cenozoic Era. This means that, Betty White notwithstanding, we’re relative youngsters in what is by far the shortest geologic time period in world history. Geologists, archeologists, anthropologists, paleontologists, masochists, taxidermists, Scientologists, botanists, gynecologists, phlebotomists…whatever…
state that this era won’t come to an end until after another mass extinction.
In our last installment, life (well, animal life. Please forgive my raging Floraphobia), began to emerge from the sea onto the primordial ooze (I love that phrase. Reminds me of a girl I knew in high school) in the Cambrian Epoch (Era…whatever). Or was that from the primordial ooze onto the land? Whatever. I’m not sure.
Anyway, the first critter to sally forth upon terra firma (which probably wasn’t very firma) was a charming little rascal called Perdepes Finneyae (FULL DISCLOSURE: If you think I actually knew that name and didn’t have to look it up, you give me much more credit than I deserve. I’m mostly winging this, but occasionally I’ll need to look something up. I think its modern cousin is the “Lungfish.” Or Whoopi Goldberg). Anyway, it could breathe air, as well as live and breath underwater. I think we call them amphibians. Or Aquaman.
Life went on evolving for millions and millions of years (or roughly the lifespan of Keith Richards). The Pre-Cambrian gave way to the Cambrian Epoch which eventually gave way to the Paleozoic when its lease ran out. The Pre-Cambrian was noted for swamp muck and not much of anything else except for some life in the oceans, like starfish, algae, and the boring trilobites.
Next up was the Paleozoic Era (fewer letters to type than ‘epoch’ so I’m going with ‘era.’).
It didn’t last all that long. Relatively. But, it was marked by a rush of life moving from the oceans onto the land. Starting with the aforementioned goofy lungfish milling about the ferns, we begin to see (well, not ‘we,’ exactly. Maybe Betty White, though. She’s pretty old) more advanced forms of life culminating in a dinosaur looking thing with one hell of a back grill.
It was during this time that the major land masses of the Earth, moving around on their tectonic plates, collided together to form a Super-Continent known as “Pangea.” Many people in the past doubted this actually happened, but archeologists digging in what would eventually become Mara Lago, discovered fossils wearing MPGA ballcaps.
Anyway, it was all for naught (or is that ‘nought’?)
when the Earth suffered its first mass extinction at the end-naturally-of the Permian Period (which was actually kind of fortunate, because the dimetrodons could then avoid going to Math during Third Period).
No one knows what caused this extinction (a comet, plastic straws, gender dysphoria, or volcanic instability), but what became known as the “Permian Extinction” wiped out over half the life on the land and nearly everything in the oceans.
They probably should have worn masks.
Bet it sucked, though.
Especially, for the tough-guy dinosaurs who never got a chance to rumble with the Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor.
Next time…the Mesozoic and Cenozoic. Starring cool dinosaurs.
Preface. Or “Prologue.” Or “Introduction.” Or “Forward.” Who TF knows? Just read, already.
I have always wanted to write a history of the world. Yes, yes…sigh…I know. It’s been done plenty of times. Even by Mel Brooks. As cool as that movie was.
No, I wanted to write my version of the history of the world. Trust me, while I may change some small elements of the past millions of years (e.g., I’ll bet “Xerxes the Great” didn’t have a kid brother named “Herschel the So-So”), it will be done solely in the pursuit of comedy or whatever this is.
I’ll leave the major bits intact, though. For instance, Rome was sacked (hee hee hee…sacked) by the Goths, who were an actual “barbarian” tribe, not a group of angst-ridden teenagers who painted their faces black, sported multiple piercings, and dressed head to toe like Morticia Adams.
Hmm, come to think of it, that’s pretty good. I may use that.
I’ll pretty much rely on that which I’ve gleaned from my education by the good sisters of Saint Stanislaus Elementary School and the Stratford, Connecticut, public school system.
NOTE: Now you know where to forward your strongly worded letters of protest.
Since I’ll be relying on what I’ve already learned, there will be a minimum of scholarly research. Mostly because scholarly research requires scholarly work and, well, screw that. My point is, I am positive I’ll get some things wrong along the way. Meaning, sue me. If you’re using what you read here to ace the History Advanced Placement to get you into an Ivy League school or a good table at Red Robin, I can’t help you.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll turn this into an actual book someday. That would be a lot of fun and will give you the two of you who read this a chance to tell the two who buy an actual book that you were here on the ground floor of a Nit Nat History of the World.
Just don’t hold your breath. You’ll die.
Oh, one more thing. I’ll no doubt insult pretty much all elements of society here. So, don’t get your knickers all in a twist. If I haven’t mentioned your favorite target of scorn and derision, be patient. I’ll get to them eventually. Except those who behead people. Because behead people.
Just kidding. I’ll get to them, too.
“Go ahead. Jump, infidel frog, jump.”
So, check your brain at the door and prepare to be educatedentertained whatever this is.
A long time ago, defined as 14 billion years (give or take a billion or, for evangelicals, last weekend), there was a cataclysmic explosion the likes of which wouldn’t be seen until Chris Christie fell while chasing that ice cream truck in front of a Trenton Dunkin’ Donuts (talk about your basic conundrum).
The result of this massive explosion was that the cosmos began racing outward at breathtaking speeds (once again, think Chris Christie and the ice cream truck) towards the outer edge of the universe where it will no doubt meet Arya Stark.
NOTE: If you don’t get that line, watch the last episode of Game of Thrones. Hey, I can’t do everything here.
For some reason, some things decided to remain. No, I don’t get it. Why would anything hang around after such an explosion? Sounds like a crappy neighborhood, if you ask me. Stephen Hawking would probably know, I suppose but, well, you know.
No one really knows what happened, mostly because no one was alive back then, with the possible exceptions of Keith Richard and Betty White.
So, with that in mind, let’s just chalk it up to…
Anyway, the bits of cosmic jetsam left over by the kaboom coalesced into the planets, moons, and suns of which we are familiar (even Pluto, that Mickey Mouse planet). Some would be hot, some would be cold, some would be in the pot nine days old. Some would be gassy (those planets never get invited to Planetary Barbecues) and some would be punchlines for junior high school kids (e.g., Uranus).
One such planet we named “Earth,” because, seriously, who else would do it? This didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense because most of the planet which was third in line from Hot Bright Thingie (an accurate, if clumsy, moniker) was water.
The infant Earth went through billions of years or an afternoon (once again, evangelicals) cooling down, solidifying what little ground it had, and putting up curtains until something in the water (which was maybe hit by lightning or fertilized by aliens) decided to get jiggy with themselves and reproduce.
Reproducing was probably pretty difficult, though, because Barry White music hadn’t been invented yet. Anyway, reproduce and multiply they did until we see the oceans teeming with life: fish, seaweed, Aquaman, primeval mob hits, you name it.
Eventually, one of these fish, growing weary of being munched on by prehistoric sharks (which would go to evolve as lawyers) or wanting to escape Mrs. Fish, decided to give what looked like legs a try. So, with great effort, he (okay, I’m assuming gender. Shut up) heaved himself on the shore and became our great-great-great-great (insert a shitload of “greats” here) grandfather.
He actually would have preferred identifying as a great (and so on) grandmother, but his neighbor, Caitlynopitheticus, already cornered that market.
Not only would this set the stage for the future of the planet, it goes a long way toward explaining why Great-Aunt Edna looks like a fish.
1. (n) Annoying tendency to say in 500 words when 10 will do.
2. (n) Seizing on one innocuous factoid and turning it into an overly long screed.
3. (n) www.nitnats.com
This past week, I’ve been watching my cousin’s dogs and house while he takes his family on vacation in the middle of nowhere. It’s a lovely, quiet place (his house, not the middle of nowhere. Which I’m sure is lovely in its own way) with a beautiful waterfront view, relaxing pace of life, and clean sheets. Too soon, though, I’ll return to the rat race of home. Of course, since I’m retired, said rat race consists of little more of waking up for breakfast before it’s time for lunch.
It’s a struggle.
Anyway, this peaceful solitude has caused me to be reflective on many issues. You know, when I’m not taking advantage of the many streaming services he has on his television (in case any of you are interested-you pigs-no porn). Those things cost money, yo.
For instance, what is the meaning of life? Is the president a demented muppet with oatmeal between his ears? Should I bother watering the plants when a tropical storm is on the way?
And, most importantly, why is the “#” on a telephone keypad called the “pound” key? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to call it the “number” key, instead? I can certainly understand why “*” is called the “star” key, because it looks like a star (even though I think it looks more like an asterisk). In any case, the asterisk looks a helluva lot more like a star than a “#” looks like a “pound.”
Isn’t the symbol for “pound” supposed to be “lb?” Yes, I know, Mr. Smarty-Pants Dead Language Guy, it’s an abbreviation for a Latin phrase, “Lardassius Buttocks” or something like that. I could be wrong, though. But, as anyone who knows me, I’m generally too lazy to figure out the exact meanings of things. Which is pretty darn pitiful in this day and age of “Google,” “Yahoo,” “Duck Duck Go,” and “Bing” (which surprisingly, has nothing to do with the deceased crooner).
Even so, I’m guessing that sticking an “lb” on a keyboard already cluttered with numbers and letters would be confusing. You could imagine the mix-ups which might ensue while trying to dial phone sex (as I’ve heard some people do). You might end up with a “Lardassius Buttocks” breathing heavy in your ear, asking, “Are you gonna eat that?”
Still, it bothers me that it’s called “pound.” Although, I must admit, it could be confusing calling it what it really is:
“When you’ve completed your transaction, press the ‘number’ key.”
“Number key!!?? What the hell are you talking about?? They’re all numbers!! Which one do I frikkin’ press!!??”
Considering this, I realized that the good folks at AT&T, Bell Atlantic, and Wal-Mart had to call the “#” something. The word “hashtag” hadn’t been invented yet. I mean, use of the word “hashtag'” not the word “hashtag” itself. You know what I mean. Shut up.
Although, it’s probably a good idea that in places like Twitter, that cesspool of hatred and butthurt censorship, the common practice is to use the word “hashtag.” Can you imagine if something like #sand was pronounced “Pound Sand”?
Since calling it the “TIC TAC TOE” key would be silly or calling it the “Cartesian Grid” key would be both silly and pretentious, they flipped a coin and went with the “pound” key.
I’m just happy they didn’t go all metric on us and call it the “kilogram” key.
What I’m saying is, go right ahead and continue to press that “pound” key with confidence. All things considered, it’s probably a good thing your phone uses “#” instead of “lb.”
Because, if it did, you might have to worry about dialing up the ghost of Orson Welles for phone sex.
UPDATE: Because I couldn’t resist, I did look up the origin of why it’s called the “pound” key and how the word “hashtag” came into common usage. Not surprisingly, the internet once again held the key to great knowledge. It really is a fascinating write-up (okay, not particularly) and has something to do with the British and, no shit, the “lb” designation. Still, I don’t feel like getting into that whole mess here.
After all, I’m going to double check whether my cousin has a porn streaming service hidden somewhere go outside and revel in the glory of nature.
As the two of you who read this blog may have noticed, I usually follow up a “Dust Bunny” with an “Observation.” I don’t particularly know why, I just do it. Maybe it’s an OCD thing. Not so this week. Since Father’s Day is in a couple days, I thought I’d offer up an homage to a man who became a father to my brothers, sister, and I. Too many years have passed since he was in our lives and the only fathers left among us are…us. Still, we remember those special men who were fathers to us. Incidentally, my brothers and I have found that we’re too old to play wiffleball anymore.
The idiot in the White House can wait another week, after all.
“Kids, I’d like you to meet Ray.”
Reluctantly pulling my eyes away from a Star Trek rerun, I regarded the unfortunate soul standing in our front doorway.
Raising his right hand, he gave the five of us a cheery, “Hey, guys.”
Without a word, I nodded and returned once more to the TV.
As unenthusiastic as my greeting was, it was better than what he got from the others. My brothers and sister pretended they didn’t hear him or our mother.
Slowly lowering his hand, Ray turned to our mortified mother and shrugged.
“Well,” I could hear the irritated edge to Mom’s voice, “we’re going out for a few hours. Don’t forget, church tomorrow.”
Fixated on Kirk’s trouble with tribbles, I heard them step to the door.
Vainly hoping for anything, Ray said, “Nice meeting you.”
Coldly deciding I wouldn’t give in, I called, “Bye, Mom.”
I guess you could say our first meeting had gone about as well as Donald Trump at a BLM rally.
The past few years had been rough for our family. Even though we didn’t know why, it was plain that something was terribly wrong between our parents. From muted snarls in the living room to flying ice cube trays in the kitchen, we knew our world was whirling apart.
Deciding that raising five children on her own was far superior to living with a man who was the embodiment of Ralph Kramden, Archie Bunker, and Fred Flintstone, our mother finally asked our father to leave. Before she asked for a divorce.
It wasn’t easy. She had her hands full, whether fighting with my sister over joy-riding in her boyfriend’s black primer Volkswagen or helping my little brother make papier mache puppets of the Founding Fathers. Through it all, though, she pulled off the single parent role as well as anyone.
Even so, it was clear Mom craved more than a life of runny noses and missed homework assignments.
Steeling her nerve, she convinced a man at work that dating a woman with five kids really wasn’t much worse than a prostate exam from Edward Scissorhands.
We kids, on the other hand, treated the newcomer as an invader. Our father, while given to belching in church and scratching his back with a fork, was still our father. How dare our mother replace him?
I’ll give Ray credit. Ignoring our sullen indifference, he continued to try to foster a relationship with us. Even after they got married and he became our stepfather, we stubbornly refused to let him get any closer than the milkman.
Still, Ray would go out of his way to ask us how our day went when he got home from work. Whenever we struggled with homework, it was he who insisted on helping us. Rather than bark out commands for yard work, he’d pick up a rake to help us.
“Wow,” my brother whispered to me one Sunday as we yanked weeds, “I never saw Dad out in the yard when football was on.”
I watched Ray scoop a handful of muck from underneath a garbage can. Hmm, come to think of it, neither did I.
One of the games we played constantly throughout the summer was wiffleball. From dawn to dusk, my brothers and I smacked a little white ball with a little yellow bat all over the yard. It wasn’t the World Series, but it wasn’t smoking cigarettes and playing in traffic, either.
The only problem with playing as much as we did was that we tore up the yard. Our constant shuffling on the pitcher’s mound and at the plate had worn the grass away to two rock-hard patches of dirt.
Needless to say, this drove our mother crazy.
Of course, we still played, ignoring her pleas that we go to the park. She never understood that the real fun of wiffleball was that you had to play around backyard obstacles. Swimming pool, picnic table, trees-all enhanced the fun factor.
One afternoon, I was engaged in a heated contest with my brother. Already jacking one off the dog to the base of the pine tree for a double, he’d sent another whizzing by my head like a rocket-ship. You could say I was in trouble.
Suddenly, from inside the house came a shrill, “Are you two playing wiffleball in the yard again? You’re tearing up the grass!”
My brother and I looked at each other. We shrugged, figuring she’d eventually come outside if she was really mad.
As I began my windup, the back door banged open. Ray stood on the porch, frowning at the two of us. Oh, great, I thought, she sent out her muscle.
Just when we figured the game was over, he held up a three-foot length of broomstick wrapped in electrical tape.
“Looks like someone needs to teach you two how to play.”
Ray beat us. What’s more important, he became part of our family from that day on.
We all grew up, moved out, and raised families of our own. Even though we lived in different parts of the country, we never failed to return home to visit our mother and the man who became father to five kids.
Even when Mom was taken at an insanely early age by cancer, it was Ray, or Poppy as he became known to our kids, who was there for us. He may have thought onion dip was fancy cuisine and Howard Stern was Masterpiece Theater, but he was the epitome of a real man and father.
When he succumbed to cancer himself, we were overwhelmed with grief at the loss of someone who had guided us into adulthood and sadness that our own children wouldn’t come to know the man.
The pain eventually faded, of course, as we all went about our lives. We still missed them, but life went on. Life has a funny way of doing that.
Several summers ago, our families got together for the 4th of July.
For old time’s sake, we decided to have a wiffleball tournament in my backyard, which I called Poppy Memorial Park. The games lasted all day and even included my son and daughter, who were the same age as we were when we started playing so long ago.
Slowed by too many years and too many beers, we couldn’t best the youngsters, especially my son. As he fired the final out past my wildly flailing bat, he raised his arms in triumph and strode triumphantly to where my wife was setting up supper.
Pulling her attention from the grill, I heard her shout from the deck, “Look what you did to my lawn! Couldn’t you go play in the park?”
I followed her outstretched arm. The grass where we’d played had worn away to two raw patches of dirt.
As my eyes began to water, I wondered if she’d mind if I cut up a broomstick.
The two of you who read my column last week, Till Unmasking Do Us Part, know where I was Memorial Day weekend. For the multitude who did not (and probably aren’t reading this, anyway…in which case, how would you know and what’s the point?), I was in Blacksburg, Virginia. No, I wasn’t drinking beer and roasting weenies (especially my own) in celebration of the unofficial beginning of summer.
Okay, I was drinking beer. More than my share, but that’s neither here nor there.
No, I was at the home of Virginia Tech (NOTE: unpaid plug for the Hokies) to witness the marriage of my second child to a woman who hasn’t yet come to grips with what kind of family she married into.
Anyway, as the COVID pandemic begins to loosen its grip (along with the ludicrous face diaper mandates), it was a return to the type of celebration that we had all grown used to. Sure, there was no dancing or type of rituals you’d normally associate with a wedding reception (e.g., throwing of the bouquet and garter), but it didn’t matter. Everyone had a great time regardless, lack of a chicken dance notwithstanding.
Two more family weddings will follow at the ends of June and August. And, even though they will be held in the asylums of New York and Washington, a good time will no doubt be had by all. Especially me. Both my son and daughter are married, don’tcha know. I can go to these weddings as a guest and not have to be one of the role players of the event. Not that being father of the bride and father of the groom were onerous tasks, mind you. It’s just that I had to maintain some some semblance of dignity and gravitas, is all.
The fact that I won’t be able to stay up all night partying is actually a plus. The earlier to bed you get, the less partying you do, the better any hangover.
Before I continue on with my point (trust me, there will be one. I think), I must mention my daughter’s nuptials last September. Thumped by restrictions wrought by the pandemic, her wedding at an oceanfront hotel in Virginia Beach had to be cancelled. Instead of a planned grand affair (and grand it would have been), she and her husband said their vows on the actual beach, accompanied by direct family only.
A lovely event, to be sure. Even though it didn’t come close to being the type of celebration she had planned, I’ve no doubt that in years to come she’ll look back on it with fondness. I know her mother and I will. After all, she wed the man she loves and that’s really all that should matter. Not watching her father mangle the Hokey Pokey. As funny as that would have been.
So…both of my kids are married. I’m now left with the feeling of “Jeez, where’d did the time go?” I remember ignoring my own parents when they told me that youth is fleeting and that one day I’ll be staring in the mirror, wondering who it is who’s looking back at me. And what’s up with those eye bags?
PFFFTTT! Well, what do the old people know, anyhow? I’m was in my 20s, don’tcha know, acid jeans, moussed hair, and my own bad self.
Well, here we are. The brown hair has turned white, the smooth face has become a road map of wrinkles, and, to tell you the truth, those are eye “suitcases,’ rather than ‘bags.’
Mind you, there are other signposts to “late middle age” (I refuse to go gently into that good night of senior citizenry and call it that, AMAC membership notwithstanding), but that’s none of your business. Let’s put it this way, fiber has become my friend, my knees make more noise than a mariachi band, and I generally need a nap after a good fart.
I remember the terrors of potty training, keeping britches on my daughter, and kindergarten. Luckily, kindergarten cured that “britches” thing.
Likewise, the “talk,” first dates, and driving lessons.
NOTE: We pause now for this brief story. At nine o’clock on the night my daughter got her drivers license, she asked me to drive her to the store. I started to reach for my car keys, hesitated, and said, “Yeah, I’m going to bed. There’s the keys.”
I also chuckle when I recall how worried my son was when he fretted he would only be as tall as I.
High school graduations gave way to college graduations which gave way to first jobs and first houses.
I watched with great pride as, along the way, they became adults in their own right. My heart would swell, if proper cardiac care wasn’t such a concern nowadays. If the purpose of life is to give the world something of yourself, someone better than you, well, mission accomplished.
Although, it wasn’t until I watched our son walk down the aisle that I realized that his mom and I were now the older versions of the flashiest models in the showroom. Much like Tevye in Fiddler On the Roof , I’m left thinking “Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play?”
Yes, yes, I know quoting lyrics from an old movie is exactly the type of thing you’d expect from a …ahem…older gentleman. Shut up.
Okay, sure, I realize this sounds like a pity party for the young man I once was. You know, that’s not it at all. It’s all good because, on the contrary, this is a joyful celebration that my little girl and my little boy have found love. An added bonus? While certainly not a requirement, they’ve found it with two remarkable people. I eagerly look forward to the journeys they will experience as they make their own way through the wonders of lives together.
I’ve had my turn. Let’s see what they can do. I bet they do better.
Sure, one day, they’ll find themselves in the same spot as I (while people speak of me in the past tense). They may have kids of their own, they may not. In any case, however, I hope with all my heart that they will, as do I, look back fondly on lives well-spent.
After all, that is the way of things.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not ready to check out just yet. I still have lots I want to do.
For instance, I wanna do something about these eye suitcase things.
The following is a story from my past. I’ve always enjoyed telling this to those too slow to escape one of my tales and I still get a chuckle out of what turned from an easy fix into a porcelain disaster. Even more importantly, it’s a beautiful day outside and, with a little tweaking, this is ready to go. Since this happened, my daughter is now a married woman of 26 while I’m a divorced man of 62 who ironically is once more living with his daughter. Time flies.
Hearing this, I stopped short at the bathroom door. Peering in, I saw my two-year-old daughter pointing excitedly at the toilet. Upon seeing me, she grew more animated and jabbed her pudgy little finger toward the bowl.
Aw, wasn’t that cute? After what seemed like a lifetime of noxious diapers, pungent baby wipes, and soiled sheets, my little girl was starting to get that whole potty-training thing down.
NOTE: As I draw closer to my mid-60s, this may be her future as she takes care of me. And you thought life didn’t have a twisted sense of humor.
“That’s right, sweetie,” I smiled, “that’s where you go ‘poo’.”
Ignoring the bewildered look on my daughter’s face, I scooped her up and went off in search of my wife. “Honey!” I cried, “You can throw away those Pampers!”
Lost in my enthusiasm, I ignored my daughter’s continued cries.
The following week, while riveted by the fascinating “Origami Death Match” on ESPN, my wife stormed into the family room, a scowl crossing her face.
“Toilet’s still stopped up,” she declared. “You really have to do something about it this time.”
Reluctant to pull my eyes from the Chinese team’s truly stunning rendition of the Last Supper made from yellow stickies, I shot back, “What, again? I took care of it!”
“Jiggling the handle doesn’t count.”
Of course, I knew she was right. When it came to repairing things around the house, I wasn’t exactly Bob Vila. I was actually more like Lou Vila, the guy who lived with his collection of cans under the I-95 overpass.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m always willing to try. After all, there’s something primal about strapping on a tool belt and launching headlong into a challenging do-it-yourself project. My testosterone pumping at maximum levels, I pound my chest, secure in the knowledge that, with my bare hands, I could fix everything from a broken heart to the crack of dawn.
Or, with the same bare hands, dial the phone for an actual repairman.
Sadly, as much as I like to identify with my pioneering forebears, my forays into the world of the “Fix-It Man” usually ended in disaster and frenzied calls to an electrician, plumber, carpenter, or doctor.
Of course, determined to maintain my inviolability as a guy, I always complained that it was really my wife who so hopelessly screwed the whole thing up that we had to call for help.
Like barbecuing, bowling, golf, and auto repair, familiarity with tools and their uses are what separate men from the animals.
Well, those and recliners.
So, it was with no small amount of trepidation that I took on the task of fixing our only toilet. I knew that one small slip on my part would place the family’s entire lavatorial capability in the, no pun intended, dumper.
Desperately hoping to reenact my early success, I pulled the flush lever. Watching the water slowly swirl down the drain, I jiggled the handle a few more times, hoping for the best.
As I watched the water leave the bowl about as slowly as in-laws at Thanksgiving, I knew this was going to take much longer than I feared. I grabbed the Plumber’s Helper-hmmph! Some helper! Where’s the butt crack?-and began to violently plunge up and down like some manic Dutch milkmaid assaulting a butter churn.
Water went flying everywhere. I jammed the plunger in as far as it could go before yanking it free in the hope that whatever was impeding the water would be thrust out onto the floor. At the same time, though, I wasn’t all that keen about actually seeing what that clog was.
Out of breath, I ceased my exertions. Moving the plunger out of the way, I looked into the bowl to see what, if anything, I had dislodged. All I saw, though, were tiny, rusty flakes that no doubt had been ripped from the pipes by my efforts. Other than those, there was nothing in the water to indicate anything had been stopping up the flow.
Hmm, time to give my original trick another shot, I thought. Maybe the clog had been loosened somewhere down the line and all it needed was another flush…
This time, the water went nowhere. Frighteningly, it rose to the rim of the bowl, threatening to overflow onto the floor. Frantically grabbing towels, dirty laundry, or anything else I could lay my hands on-Oh, no! Not my Jokes for the John!-to sop up any overflow. Luckily, the water stopped just short of the rim before slowly receding to its normal level.
OK, that didn’t do a darned thing. At this point, I knew the problem couldn’t be resolved by an amateur. A clog of this nature cried out for an expert who was highly skilled in the plumbing arts. Yes, a professional was needed to get to the bottom-once more, no pun intended-of this situation before a family was left without any means to flush away their problems-ok, pun intended.
In other words, it was time for me to tinker around with it and see what I could do. I didn’t know much but, what I did know is that I’d have to remove the bowl.
Dutifully securing the valve which fed water into the tank, I checked to make sure what kind of wrench I’d need. Normally a vise grip or channel locks with a rubber band would do the trick but I knew that it was vitally important to use the right tool. A wrong wrench thingie could shatter the fragile porcelain into a million pieces.
Passing my wife on the way to the garage, I assured her that I was on top of things and there was nothing to fear.
“You mean unlike that time you cleaned the fireplace and set the house on fire?”
Ignoring her, I kept on going.
“Or the time our old furnace fell out of your truck and into the middle of Main Street?”
Finding what I needed, I strode back into the family room. “Completely different situation,” I said and headed toward our bathroom.
“Yeah, you’re right,” she called after me. “This time you’re working on our only toilet. Want me to call the plumber now?”
I frowned. What kind of respect is that, I thought. I mean, it’s not like I screw up all the time. After all, I installed a dimmer switch in the living room. No, wait, the insulation caught on fire…bad example.
No, I got it! I wallpapered the entire kitchen! And, you can barely tell I put it up upside down.
I gently removed the plastic caps which lay atop rusty anchor bolts. May have a little trouble getting them off, I reasoned, so I determined to go extra careful. My wife was right about one thing, at least. This was our only toilet.
I eased the correct sized wrench on one of the bolts and paused. Now, which was it again? Righty-Tighty or Lefty-Loosy?
Momentarily confused, I wanted to make sure I got it. All that razzing I got from my wife left me a little frazzled as I pondered which direction to turn the wrench.
I got it! If I’m looking down at a bolt, I have to go right to loosen a bolt!
Confident, I pulled at the nut. But, instead of watching it ease itself off its bolt, all I heard was a barely discernible cracking sound.
Half a second before the entire toilet bowl exploded into pieces, leaving me only with a rusty nut gripped firmly by a Sears Craftsman 1/2” combination wrench.
NOTE: “Rusty nut.” Feel free to insert a double entendre.
“What the heck was that?” I heard from the family room, shortly followed by the stumbling footsteps of my daughter as she came to investigate what had exploded in the bathroom.
Wanting to cry, I knew I’d done it again. I sat back on my knees and tried to figure out my next step. I realized I had contributed yet another chapter to the book of my shortcomings as a repairman who can’t even remember how to get his nut off.
NOTE: Another double entendre. Free of charge.
My daughter’s eyes grew wide as she took in the devastation that littered the floor, the walls, and in the bathtub where she kept her seemingly hundreds of Disney action figures (Disney action figures!?).
As I peered into the empty maw of the toilet outflow pipe, I at least saw the source of the clog. Nestled among the porcelain shards was a toothbrush, baby’s comb, half a wad of Kleenex, what looked like a bag of Twizzlers, and, grinning insanely up at me, a little plastic Winnie the…
My daughter clapped her hands and excitedly squealed, “Pooh!”
Yes, sometimes what comes out of the mouths of babes isn’t necessarily crap.
WARNING: When trying to come up with a column for today, I was faced with a choice of addressing hard-hitting news or dementia in Washington, D.C. I chose this. The following contains absolutely zero intellectual value. Unless you’re a marine biologist.
Sources: Wikipedia, National Geographic, a sixth-grader named Stewart
The narwhal or narwhale (that’s what Stewart told me anyway) belong to the species Monodon Monoceros (Latin for “Watch Out, This Bitch Carries Mono”).
It’s a medium-sized whale (not unlike Oprah) which lives year-round in the Arctic (after its distant relatives, the manatees, got all uppity and kicked them out of their Tampa winter homes for laying around and eating all the fish).
One of two species of whale in the Monodontidae (there’s that ‘mono’ word again) family, along with the beluga whale (who knew?), they are distinguished by being punier than their snotty cousins, the sperm whale (who really have no reason to feel superior. Given their name and all).
In addition to the lack of a true dorsal fin, they possess a characteristic long tusk which extends from a hole in their upper lip. Primarily a male feature (as if a penis wasn’t enough), they aren’t actually “tusks” at all, but some kind of weird-ass tooth. Which makes them a target for ridicule by fish and even squids.
Evidently-drunk medieval Europeans confused this tusk as the horn belonging to the legendary unicorn. Which had no business swimming. What’s more, they believed this horn had magical powers which could cure melancholy, poison, plague, and the Moors. But, since Europeans also believed that elves caused genital herpes, it’s kind of hard to take them seriously.
The purpose for this narwhallic snaggle-tooth (I just made that up) remains a mystery. Differing theories hold that it may have something to do with mating, breaking through dense pack ice, capturing prey, scratching the itch of friendly sea lions, or for advertising. Although, most reputable biologists now refute its use for catching food.
These creatures are found in Canadian, Russian, and Greenland Arctic waters, Seaworld, and with Buddy the Elf. A specialized predator, their diet consists primarily of benthic fish (NOTE: I have no clue what that means. Feel free to look it up).
Narwhal have been hunted for millennia by native Inuit people (the Polynesians having long since left because the beaches were much better in Hawaii) for their meat, ivory, skin, blubber, and as conversation pieces for igloo coffee tables. However, this practice has dwindled due primarily to a shrinking herd, conservation efforts, evolving cultural practices, and the fact that Door Dash now delivers to the North Pole.
Other predators include killer whales (which aren’t whales at all, but particularly bad-ass dolphins), polar bears, and the occasional confused mountain lion.
Master of the Northern Ocean (if sperm whales are on vacation), Denizens of the Deep, Bucktoothed Whipping Boys of the Whale World, Scourge of Benthic Fish.
Or, as Qaanaaq, Tribal Elder and Noted Inuit Crazy Person, likes to call them, “Nanooq lamooq na attatook hanni boof.”
Or, “Beast In Front of Whom One Must Never Bend Over.”
But, I could be wrong.
DISCLAIMER: A lot of the above is probably definitely not true. Especially that “Qaanaaq” business. But, elves probably do cause herpes. At least that’s what Sister Mary Ignatius of the Yardstick told us in Religion and Marine Biology class.
NOTE: The following has very little to do with Vietnam. As you read further, you’ll see what I mean. In fact, I know very little about Vietnam, apart from where it is and that a fat Marlon Brando once waddled around its jungles while a thin Martin Sheen went mental there. I did coach a soccer team with a man from Vietnam once, though. He was a real nice guy who had mad soccer skills, even though I questioned his penchant for using punji sticks during defensive drills. What’s more, I had a devil of a time understanding him (although, to be fair, if I tried to order lunch in Ho Chi Minh City, I’d probably get a rectal exam. Unless that’s part of their culture. Who am I to judge?). Anyway…
As you’ve no doubt surmised (snooty word for “figgered out”), I often look at things in a, shall we say, wiseguy kind of way.
If I see something which strikes me as funny, I’m of course going to make things worse by pointing it out or even correcting what I think was a slip of the tongue, grammatically speaking (medically speaking is a whole ‘nother ball of wax).
That being the case, though, I have cut down on pointing out the verbal and spelling gaffes of others, even though I thought I was being cute by doing so. I came to the conclusion that I was being somewhat of a douche.
However, I still notice the odd bits of life. So, if you throw me a softball that I just can’t help putting over the fence in a double entendre kind of way (especially in a double entendre kind of way), I probably won’t be able to help myself. It’s a sickness.
So it was this morning with my underwear (no, NOT by what was in it. Although…). As I was getting ready to start my strenuous day of lounging about, I read the care label on my skivvies (boxer briefs, in case you dig knowing that sort of thing).
Hey, I left my cell phone in my room.
I saw that they were “Hecho En Vietnam.” (Language Tip: This means, “Made in Vietnam” for those who took “History of Flan” in high school instead of language classes or who are too cheap to buy Rosetta and the Family Stone lessons).
It caused me to wonder. Is underwear-making such a complicated science that it needs to be shipped overseas? Or is it so damn simple that the Vietnamese can handle it? It’s obviously a money thing, but for cryin’ out loud, it’s only a cloth pouch for the boys, not sex robots.
As I looked at it further (I was still busy doing bidness, if you know what I mean), I saw that, under the English writing, were washing and care instructions in Spanish.
Why not Vietnamese? Or do the Vietnamese not wear underwear? Or, as I suspect, are the Vietnamese so smart they don’t need to be told how to wash their frikkin’ drawers? I don’t know, maybe a combination of the two. Going “commando” can be liberating, after all.
And why Spanish? Do people assume that Hispanics need to have that kind of information while white people don’t?
I further noticed the following (in English and Spanish): “Cool iron if needed.”
Excuse me, who the hell irons their underwear!!??
I didn’t even press my tighty-whiteys in boot camp. And they made us shave our chest hairs.
On further deliberation, I guess maybe you’d want starchy drawers if you were visiting Michael Jackson’s gravesite (oooh, sorry. Too soon?). Plus, what if you got into an accident?
“It’s hard to tell what caused this horrific accident, Sarge.” “Any evidence of speeding?” “Not that I can see.” “Drinking?” “No, but his skivvies were wrinkled.” “Well, there’s your answer!”
So, maybe I oughta plug my iron in because there’s no sense in having creases in my “gotchies.”
But, first, I think I’ll give that guy from the soccer team a call. Maybe he can give me some advice.
The following could be considered wildly irreverent. Could be? Please accept my apologies in advance. I just hope Hell has visiting hours so you can come see me.
As a test of how much I learned in school, I’m not going to consult Google, the entrails of an owl, or Mr. Fineman from across the street.
I’m also too lazy to open a book.
A good lot of you are preparing for Easter, which is observed the…let me see if I have this straight…first Sunday after the full moon which occurs after the spring equinox (or whenever the calendar says).
Recognized by Christians worldwide as the most sacred day in their calendar, Easter is a time to reflect on the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a carpenter’s son from Nazareth.
NOTE: Not all Christians mind you. The Eastern Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, or Romanian Orthodox Episcopate know-it-alls use the Julian Calendar (don’t get me started) so, by their reckoning, Easter is a week later. I think. Meh. They’re just showoffs with funny hats anyway.
Gathered together as one (augmented by “twice a year” Christians checking off the first of their churchly obligations-the other being Christmas), they ponder the awesome mysteries of their faith. And how exactly a bunny could lay eggs.
But did you know (okay most do), that Jesus was a rabbi? That He, along with his followers, was in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, one of the most sacred days of the Jewish calendar? No, he wasn’t Catholic, despite what Sister Mary Gregory of the Titanium Yardstick tried to beat into you.
In fact, as I write this, it is “Holy Thursday,” the night Jesus and his disciples partook of what Christians call “The Last Supper” (so that’s where Da Vinci got it from!). In reality, this was a Passover “Seder.”
Despite what Cecil B. De Mille would have you believe, The Ten Commandments, while playing on ABC annually on Easter Night (God knows-no pun intended-when it’s on now) is not an Easter movie.
King of Kings? Yeah. The Robe? Okay. Ben-Hur? Sure. Ben Gay? Now you’re being silly.
But, The Ten Commandments? Oy.
Passover is a Jewish (I think we’ve already covered that) celebration which commemorates the exodus (so THAT explains the book) of the Hebrews from Egypt, way back when Betty White and Keith Richards were teenagers.
They were led by Charlton Heston, who if he’d only kept his trap shut, could have eventually become Pharaoh (or at least Vice-Pharaoh) and freed the slaves. Along the way, he could also have bagged the hot Nefertiri (not to be confused with ‘Nefertiti.’ Who was in The Mummy. But, she was hot, too. Plus, she’s not dead now, either). Then, Ramses (aka Yul Brynner), inventor of the prophylactic, wouldn’t have donned the royal loincloth and bedded Anne Baxter.
But, noooooo, Moses just had to schlep out into the desert, raise some sheep, marry Lily Munster, open the Midian chapter of the NRA, and meet God (who did not look like George Burns).
Moses, heeding a divine call (not of nature necessarily), decided to go back to Egypt to free the slaves. Imagine Ramses’ chagrin when the “Big Mo” barged into meetings of the Pyramid Planning Commission, waved his stick around (double entendre intended), and ordered his BFF, Aaron, to turn goats into chickens. Or grass stains into dazzling whites.
Moses warned (well, after God sent him a text) that a series of plagues would be visited on Egypt: frogs, locusts, boils (eww), bloody water, the Pelosi Pox, irritable bowel syndrome (double eww), etc. Each were meant to convince Yul Pharaoh to “let the people go.”
They were actually starting to work, too, until Ramses looked at the latest Gallup poll numbers. Figuring he had to satisfy his “pro-slavery” base, his heart was hardened and he called the whole deal off.
Well, Moses eventually had enough of this crap. He told Ramses that the first-born of Egypt would be slain in punishment for enslaving his people. This included (spoiler alert) the Pharaoh’s own son!
NOTE: I think this was true, at least according to the movie. The film industry was pretty truthful sixty years ago. Even though I didn’t think monkeys could fly, Hollywood wouldn’t lie to me. Is it any wonder I have trust issues?
The Hebrews, feeling pretty damned cocky, painted goat (or sheep?) blood over their doors. They felt quite safe that death would “pass” them “over.” (Get it now?). Mostly because Death got wicked skeeved at the sight of blood.
So, they hung out while the “Destroyer” (depicted by a red cloud. Special effects were kinda cheesy back then. After all, “Industrial Light and Magic” hadn’t been invented yet) went from door to door seeking out Egyptians who won a lottery they hadn’t reckoned on. It was accompanied by a couple of Mormons on bikes who figured it “couldn’t hurt.”
The Hebrews sang songs, prayed prayers, played “Old Testament Yahtzee”, and ate unleavened bread called “matzah” (because Dominos stopped delivering at 10).
When the day dawned and Ramses saw the mess (“Now, we’ll never get that blood out!”), he ordered Moses to pack up his shit and get the hell out.
NOTE: Ramses may not have said ‘shit.’
So, Moses jumped for Joy (his sister-in-law) and convinced everybody to pack their toothbrushes and a change of underwear (“So, where is it we’re exactly going, Mr. Fancy Pants Big Shot?”). He wasn’t exactly sure where they’d be going, though. Unfortunately, Aaron had turned his map into an origami whooping crane.
Bottom line, the Hebrews finally left Egypt. Along the way, the Egyptian Army went for a one-way dip in the Red Sea, Edward G. Robinson talked a lot of smack, Aaron was forced to make some seriously effed-up looking calf, they all got jiggy with their bad selves at the base of Mount Sinai, Moses saw a wicked cool light show on the mountain, and had bread fall out of the sky for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (“So we couldn’t maybe get a nice brisket instead?”).
They were finally allowed to enter the Promised Land after 40 years (the prior tenants had a wicked long-term lease).
Since I’m sure I’ve put you to sleep by now, let me finish by saying that Moses wasn’t even allowed to enter with the rest of his people (he didn’t get his wrist stamped).
He had to watch while Joshua (played in the movie by John Derek. Before he got fat, married Bo, and died) led his people into…Canaan? At any rate, someplace the Iranians would get all hacked off about eventually.
I think it had something to do with smacking a rock to get water. Which was a mistake.
Because, as we all know, paper, not water, covers rock. Now, since I’m probably in hot water with Christians, Jews, and Muslims, I’d better start packing for Purgatory.