Thursday, May 25, 2017


I got an email from a friend in Fort Lauderdale, we'll call him...  umm.. Dennis. Now Dennis is a sweet guy, and I'd do a favor for him and his partner/husband/lover (Not sure what terminology they prefer.), no problem. The email read as follows.
"Hi, How are you? I hope all is well with you.
I need a favor form you, please email me  back as soon as possible.
dennis "

I, of course, sent him a snappy reply.
"The favor is to just email you back? Well, that was easy.

I should have known by the first message that Dennis' email had been hacked. Dennis is an educated man who would never ask for a favor form me. He also wouldn't have capitalized the word Regards, and not capitalized his own name. But I didn't even think twice about all that. A little while later I got a reply from Dennis.
"I am having such a frustrating ordeal right now.. I need to make an urgent deposit to a Doctor today, but I'm out of town until Friday. This deposit is for my Sister In-law who has an inflamed gall bladder. She's having a surgery today, because her condition now is very serious.
I need your assistance, please I need you to help me make this payment,  I’ll reimburse you once I get back on Friday, I promise!
Please let me know if I can count on you...
dennis "

First of all, Dennis has his significant other to make an urgent deposit. There is no way he would need me, a distant friend, to get involved in his sister-in-law's surgery. The only deposit I make with such urgency is usually right after my coffee in the morning. Secondly, a Gall Bladder operation is not "serious". My nephew just had one, it was out patient. They poked four holes in his side and pulled the thing right out. What happened is that my friend was hacked. Somebody got his email password and is going through all his contacts trying to scam money. It didn't work. But here's the thing, the scammer has my email address and because I responded, he knows that it is good. I fear I might be hacked next. So listen up my friends. I do not have a sister-in-law who needs surgery. Nor do I have a brother-in-law in need of surgery. If any of them do need surgery, that's what all that wedding bullshit was about. I don't ask people for money. Not my family, not my friends, not strangers on the street. I don't get into monetary trouble when I travel, I don't need money wired anywhere, and I don't know of any doctor who asks for deposits before surgery. I don't care if it sounds like I'm desperate for you to send money somewhere to save me. Don't do it. Just pretend you don't know me and tell the email scammer to fuck off. If in the off chance that the email is really, truly from me, and I am really asking you for money, tell me to fuck off anyway. It will amuse me.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


The Flowers

I'm not the most energetic person, so when I get a bug up my ass to do some work around the house, that is newsworthy. First off, I mowed the lawn and planted some flowers among the bulbs in the garden. I was just trying to fill in the gaps and provide some color between the end of the tulips and the start of the lilies and gladiolas. After digging, planting, digging some more, planting some more, and getting myself quite dirty, I was satisfied. Somebody else was not, and that somebody berated me for not grouping the flowers to his liking. (I can't use a certain person's name again because I've been forbidden to write about that person. And no, it's not Mark 😉) 

The Window
My next project was to fix the broken window on my tenant's porch. It blew out last January during a storm. I quickly tacked a piece of cardboard over the broken window after the storm and it had been that way ever since. Now, with the window fixed, our home doesn't look like a crack den and my tenant can enjoy the lovely view of our alley.

The Bench

Next up, that somebody's park bench. Somebody in our household, can't say who, bought a park bench that the somebody wanted out on the front porch. I have to admit, it is nice. Trouble is, I had to assemble it, and I am not a patient man when it comes to assembling crap from China. Now that somebody can sit out on the porch and watch all the goings on here at our end of our street. In other words, the somebody can now be the busybody.

The Hammock
Finally, there is the hammock. A hammock was purchased for the backyard. I put that thing together and I like it, especially after a day of yard work. I can now lay out there and watch all the planes fly over on the way to O'Hare Airport. And when I'm not using it, somebody can lay in it and bitch about how I'm planting the flowers all wrong.

Monday, May 22, 2017


You get a bunch of old gay men together and inevitably the talk will turn to how great the old bars were forty years ago. Fact is, they were. The bars were more fun, I was more fun, and life was good. The thing is, I could sit at a bar and drink for hours without ever having to get up and go to the bathroom. It's a fact that I'd fall off the bar stool drunk before I would have to go relieve myself.

Yesterday Mark and I went over to an old friends house for a cookout. I had four beers during the course of the evening. Now if I had drank four beers forty years ago, I would have been drunk. I wouldn't have had to go pee, but I'd be drunk. For some reason that has flipped. Now beer goes through me without even stopping to say hello to my kidneys. For every beer I had at my friend Dave's house, I had to pee twice. Yet despite all that beer, I didn't even get a buzz. Nothing, it was like I had been drinking soda. On the way home it was more of the same. We live only a short drive away, but by the time we pulled into the garage I had to pee. Which I did. I then fed the dogs and walked them. Once around the block with Scout and I had to pee again. Once more with Chandler and I had to run back so I could pee. Somehow I was peeing more out than what had gone in. As bedtime approached I thought about my mom and what she used to tell me hours before I went to bed, "No more water for Alan." She was right of course, she was the one who had to wash those sheets. And may I add one more thing to what my mom used to say, "No more beer for Alan tonight."

Friday, May 19, 2017

Just Call Me Cornholio

When our family first moved into our house on Ravinia Drive in Tinley Park, I remember corn sprouting here and there in the back yard. I was probably two or three years old, but I distinctly remember my parents explaining that our house had been built where they used to grow corn and some of it was just now growing. That could make sense if a wayward corn kernel had germinated a couple of years after being plowed under by the home builder. I also remember always having a family garden out behind the garage. In my mind, corn was king in that garden. To this day I am fascinated by corn and the Midwest. And by corn, I don't mean the corniness of the WGN Farm Show that used to be on in the morning, or Bozo, also on WGN. That was corny. I mean the vast fields of corn you see when driving through Illinois. Corn as far as you can see. And it is so easy to grow. You stick a little kernel into the earth and a week or so later little plants poke out through the soil. During the course of the summer those plants grow tall, tall as an elephant's eye. So this spring I wanted to plant a short row of corn in our garden. Mark said no, don't plant corn. He insisted that it is too ugly for his back yard. I planted the corn anyway. Seriously, I was thrilled yesterday when I walked outside and there it was. My corn, poking its little shoots out through the earth. Now all I have to do is fight off the bunny rabbits, the crows, and Mark, and I'll have some sweet corn grown right here in my back yard, in the middle of the city.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

City Kids

Photo by Vivien Maier

When I was a kid, my Mom and Dad would send me to Grandma and Grandpa's house in the city every summer. For one week I would get to experience the super fun and excitement of city life. That included the stench of the Chicago Stock Yards, going on the rounds with Grandpa to all the neighborhood bars, and hanging out with my cousins, Rich and Tim. You have to realize that I was an innocent little suburban kid. In my world we wandered all over Tinley Park, unmolested, unhindered by any worries other than the hobos by the train tracks. (I never saw the hobos, but my mom assured me that they were there.) What I found a little disturbing about my stay at Grandma's house, were the city kids. They were much harder than the kids I knew back in Tinley Park. They smoked cigarettes early in life, they cursed freely, and they could be dangerous. You could not just leave things laying around the yard in the city. They wouldn't be laying there for long. All you had to do was take your eyes off your bike for a minute and it was gone. Over at Sherman Park, at the swimming pool, I learned about not swimming over to the "colored" side of the pool. I almost got drowned by making that mistake. Segregation was (and still is) rampant in the city. Grandpa always instructed us to never, ever go past the viaduct. Of course the white kids in my grandparents neighborhood already knew this, and they also had many names for the people who lived on the other side of the viaduct. My grandparents neighborhood was called Back of the Yards. Named for being on the far side of the stock yards from downtown.

Here's the funny thing, I now live in the city, as I did for twenty years during the 1970's and 1980's, and I don't find the kids around here as hard or scary as the city kids I saw back in the 1950's. I don't think the kids are softer or less jaded and savvy. I think I've just grown up and become accustomed to harsh behavior. Seriously, I don't think the kids have changed. In fact the kids around here seem to be pretty normal to me, except for the little girl next door. She's tough. My dog Chandler barked at her through the fence when we move in here, and she walked right up to the fence and told Chandler, "I'm not afraid of you." She then proceeded to bark right back at him.