Friday, February 28, 2014


This is Tuffy. Tuffy is very excited because his family is moving to Chicago. What Tuffy doesn't know is that he isn't going with them. They are leaving him behind. I have babysat Tuffy before, for ten days at a time. He is the sweetest, most affectionate guy you could want. He is fully house broken and crate trained. He also only has three legs, and I am afraid if animal control gets a hold of him he will be put down. If you have room for a dog like this in your home leave me a message at

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Today was eye doctor day. I don't like eye doctor day because it means I have to listen to Mark whine about driving me there, and it means I will get my eyes poked and prodded. I also don't like eye doctor day because it also means I will have to sit in a waiting room with a lot of people who bother me. Now don't get me wrong, it isn't personal, but I don't like being stuck in a room with nobody younger than I am. I also don't like being in a room with a bunch of babies, or teenagers, or middle aged white men. I like diversity. The problem with this eye doctor is that he is in Boca Raton, a city often referred to as god's waiting room. Yesterday I was in that waiting room. It was a very large room filled with shuffling, coughing, hacking old people, pushing aluminum walkers around with tennis balls on the legs. One of the ladies had what I assume was the latest model aluminum walker. It had little wheels on it that turned every which way instead of tennis balls. It was the talk of the waiting room. Another feature of the waiting room was the young lady who would step in and call your name when it was time to see the doctor. More often than not the person being called had fallen asleep and had to be awakened by their wife/husband. I had to be careful not to fall asleep in the waiting room because Mark had left me there to go shopping at the Boca Mall.
"Make sure you have your old man phone turned on." he told me, "I don't want to come back here before your ready to go home!".   
There was one other problem with that doctor's waiting room. It had bugs. Honest to god, it had bugs. First there was the bug crawling on the back of my neck that I attributed to Mark eating in the car. I squished it and flicked it across the room. It was when I had already sat there for an hour and found one of the same bugs crawling on my arm, that I realized the bugs were indigenous to the waiting room.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Please and Thank You

There was the incident at the Target return counter when Mark told the girl, "I don't want to talk to some little nobody with a name tag. Get me a manager!". And then there was O'Hare Airport where Mark told the young lady who was instructing him that he had waited in the wrong line, "I'm not going to take this from some flunky dressed like a McDonalds counter girl. Get me a manager, somebody in a suit!". Most amusing was when we were on a train in Germany and we had entered through the wrong car. As we struggled with our suitcases to make our way to the first class cars, a large woman blocked Mark's path. "Hey, Ava Braun! Get the hell out of my way, you fahrvergn├╝gen schwein!".

Yesterday morning Mark was stomping around the house bitching about the mailman again. It seems that two packages that he was expecting hadn't shown up and he was pissed. "I'm going over to the post office and give them some hell." He informed me. Knowing a good story when I saw one, I tagged along. What a let down. Mark was, for Mark, very restrained. Even when the manager came out front to talk to him and gave Mark attitude, he was restrained. He got in a few quiet cracks about Mr. O. our mail carrier, but all and all Mark was polite. There was no story, nothing funny for me to write about. I think he's catching on to me.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bette the Biter

There she is, coiled on the pillow, waiting to strike the first hand that dares to try and move her. It's Bette the Biter. Sitting in the living room I'll hear the squeal of Mark cursing her. In the middle of the night, in the darkness of our bedroom I'll be startled awake by Mark's curses. It's Bette the Biter, and Mark can't seem to avoid the razor sharp teeth of that ten pound terror. I don't know what it is between those two. I've tried to explain to Mark on how to approach a sleeping dog, how to let her know that you are coming and that she is going to have to move. For some reason it isn't working for Mark. Usually in the evening, before he retires, Mark has to request that I move Bette off of his pillow. Of course there is that old saying "Let sleeping dogs lie." Sure, you can let them lie there on your pillow, but then it wouldn't be your pillow. So that saying doesn't apply. Bette doesn't bite me, which makes me believe she has heard a different old saying, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you." I learned how to move a sleeping dog from Chandler. He's eighty pounds, has very sharp, huge teeth, and once I tried to move him while he was sleeping. He said no. So I learned that you have to talk to them, you have to tell them that you are coming. Once I awaken him, Chandler will move on his own. As for Bette, after I talk to her a bit and scratch her head, I can pick her up and move her. I'm not sure what Mark is doing wrong. Maybe it's the way he announces loudly "I'm coming in Bette. Don't be surprised."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Floor Show

Fort Lauderdale Home Depot, November, 2013.

            "Okay Mark, let's get in and out of here. All I need is a light bulb and an extension cord."
Five minutes later, Mark comes looking for me.
            "Alan, Alan, come over here and look. They have our floor on sale."
            "Our floor?"
            "The same floor we have in our bedroom."
            "You mean the floor that I ended up installing with my bad knees, bad eyesight, and high blood pressure?"
            "We need to replace the floor in the living room. I'll pay for the Pergo flooring if you..."
            "Absolutely not! I will not install another floor. If you want that floor you have to find somebody to install it, and install it cheap."

Despite my objections, the Pergo flooring was purchased and has been sitting on the floor of my office in boxes for over three months. Living in South Florida, you have to get used to service people and handymen who never return calls. You have to get used to people who advertise themselves as handymen, yet seem to spend most of their time avoiding the job offered. My first try was the handyman that I had used previously. I must have been lucky the last time he came to work for me, because ever since I have not been able to get him to return my calls. Maybe it was something I said. Anyway, my second try was the brother of an acquaintance who quoted me a price equivalent to paying him forty dollars an hour. I will not encourage such frivolity with my money. My final try was the guy who cleared my yard of all the overgrowth (I was desperate). Of course he doesn't install Pergo floors. He clears weeds out of the yard. So I am down to my last option. With my bad knees, bad eyesight, and high blood pressure, I will attempt to install the Pergo floors in the living room and dining room. I will do it in my own time, and on my own terms. My very first course of business will be to de-clutter the living room and dining room. I have already emptied Mark's china cabinet. I've asked him to point out which of the hundreds of things he had in there (which he hasn't touched in years) that I can throw away. Mark's answer was to point to the one thing, among the hundreds, that belonged to me.
            "How about your grandfather's beer stein?"

Friday, February 21, 2014

Hockey in Soldier Field

Despite the balmy breezes and the faint aroma of night blooming jasmine that rides them, I am tired of living in Florida. Even though I can plant blooming flowers, and walk my dog around the block in shorts and a tee shirt in February, I am tired of living in Florida. I am tired of the extremely high price of hurricane insurance, the threat of those hurricanes, the bugs, the rats, the unrelenting heat and humidity eight months of the year, and I am tired of the guns that make every encounter with assholes scarier than they should be. Most of my family live in the Chicago area, most of the friends I have left live there too. When my last two drinking buddies move away from here next month I will be condemned to sitting at the bar with only Mark to talk to. I do that all day long anyway. So my plan has been to sell my house here and move back to Chicago. Yes, I know that Chicago has gun problems, mostly in bad neighborhoods, but at least my family wouldn't have to travel far to my funeral. Over the last twenty five years I have missed out on seeing all sorts of family occasions, celebrations, and nieces and nephews growing up. What I really miss are the things to do in a big city. If I lived in Chicago, every Sunday in the fall I wouldn't have to scramble to find a Bears game on the internet. I could go to Wrigley Field and watch the Cubs blow a lead in person. There are world class museums there, and theater.

I have been trying to sell Mark on this idea for eight years now. First there was the crash of the housing market that delayed things. Then there was the fact that Mark has issues with his health. Still, I have been able to get Mark to look at such a move more approvingly by pointing out that Chicago has much better health care. All I needed to push this thing ahead was for global climate change to do its thing. I have been waiting and waiting for the average temperature in Chicago to climb to a more livable degree. This winter has not been very helpful. I thought that I had almost got Mark to agree to such a move, and then I turned on the weather channel by mistake yesterday. Fifty fucking mile per hour winds? More cold and snow after what had been there was turned into a giant Slurpee this week? Maybe when we are up there next August the weather will be great, and Mark will have forgotten all the horror stories he saw on the evening news this winter. Or maybe I will just have to get used to talking to Mark when we go out drinking.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Love Story

I have a bad habit of falling in love with my clothes. I get a crush on a particular item and I wear it until it dies. I still remember with great fondness a pair of snug fitting, brushed denim jeans I had when I was seventeen. I wore those to work at Jewel Foods, to school, and every opportunity in between. I felt elated when they would come out of the dryer, and loved that dryer warmth as I quickly pulled them on. I can buy ten pairs of shorts, dozens of socks, and shirts, but if it doesn't feel right it will languish in my dresser drawer. My love for a particular shirt is why I have so many photos of me wearing that rainbow, ribbed shirt. I loved it. This sickness even encompasses my choice of socks. I have one pair of socks that I save until the right day, when I feel I'll need maximum comfort. I'm not sure why I like that pair best, I have two dozen other pair exactly like it. Also in my drawer right now, I have at least seven pair of shorts. Out of those seven I wear but three, and of those three, two are simply stand-ins until my favorite comes out of the laundry. I am wearing that pair right now as I write this. Unfortunately this, my favorite pair of shorts, is not long for this world. A few days ago while pulling them on I thought I heard a rip. Not a loud rending of fabric, but a barely audible rip. It wasn't until I put my favorite pair of shorts on this morning that I realized I had blown the ass out. I am very sad that I will now have to go on a shopping excursion to find another pair that I can fall in love with. Especially since I still have two pair in my drawer that I have not worn since I walked out of Marshall's fitting room months ago. Oh well, at least I know Mark will be happy. We're going shopping!