THE BIG BREAKDOWN

Does it sound funny to say I am waiting for the big breakdown? No, I’m not talking societal collapse, modern politics, zombie apocalypse, Nostradamus, ISIS idiots chipping away at the toes of the Lincoln Memorial or ‘look Maw there done be an army-geddon knockin’ on da dern trailer door go git my 950 JDJ ’. No. I am talking about me. My being. My body. My brain. My moving pieces and parts.

When I first got to college I had no money to my name. I was so short on cash one night my buddy Mike and I found ourselves down in the dorm basement moving the laundry room washers and dryers looking for enough stray quarters to order a late-night pizza. We had to be more creative than the other kids with the munchies who had already raided the better snacks hanging on the low shelves of the hall’s vending machines with a bent wire clothes hanger.

My next year at school I inherited a hand me down beater of an old family car that was fairly dependable until my senior year. At that point, every drive became an adventure because you never knew if it would get you where you were going, or worse, would it get you back. I am by no means a mechanic but I constantly found myself rigging some hose, cable, wire or plug to keep that old rusty Buick Skylark moving.

Whenever they show Florida State University’s picturesque main entrance fountain during football game cutaways, I always flashback to the day I double parked on the circle right next to it while picking up my friend Melanie from her nearby dorm. The car got me there but would not re-start. When I opened the hood and started poking around, small flames started shooting out of the carburetor.

She just sat patiently in the car as I calmly moved in a well-practiced manor putting out the fire with the extinguisher I kept on the floor behind my seat, hitting the engine with some canned ‘Spray Start’ and eventually jiggling and wiggling enough stuff to get it rolling again. She was a trooper for just sitting there and not running for the hills but I assume it was my ‘this happens every day’ demeanor that kept her seated. That truly was my attitude; I was always ready because I was waiting for the breakdown.

Now I find myself again calmly waiting for the breakdown but not to my car. To me. I see my peers all going through stuff. Body parts wearing out and needing replacements: knees, hips, livers, kidneys… decades of goo being scrubbed out cut out of arteries, whole entire sets of misfiring not needed anymore reproductive organs simply removed… gone… you don’t need that stuff anymore. What is going on here?

Diabetes, heart disease, various cancers by the score, strokes…. I have friends my exact age having strokes… STROKES!!! As a kid who the hell worried about strokes? Strokes were for swimming or golfing. I’m suddenly worrying about strokes. You don’t know when the hell a stoke is going to hit. Strokes are like the tornado of human maladies. They come out of nowhere with little warning and devastate your ass.  Your walking to town, smiling away, whistling a happy tune, suddenly stroke. Boom… your down… you’re in therapy for the next two years trying to learn how to walk and whistle all over again or at least figure out how to smile without your lips flapping down to your chin. Strokes suck! And now I worry about strokes. What the hell?

Do I need to start changing things? I still eat bacon whenever I want. Not every day but I do like bacon sometimes. I had some bacon last weekend with eggs. It was good. It’s always good. It’s bacon. Of course, it’s good. I recall my folks eating bacon fairly regularly and then one time I visit them and suddenly no more bacon. My Mom was all casually saying they stopped eating bacon. You don’t just stop eating bacon. Its… well… bacon. Something makes you stop eating bacon. You stop eating bacon because your worried something is going to breakdown. And I am waiting for the big breakdown.

I like coffee. I drink coffee. I drink a lot of coffee. And when I’m not drinking coffee I’m drinking espresso. If there were a decent walk up counter in Dallas, I’d be chugging Cuban coffee too. Again, I remember my parents drinking coffee all the time. Cups with breakfast, cups after dinner, cups with friends. Then one day I stop by and my Mom is a chemist mixing dabs of watered down regular coffee with decaf making just one single breakfast cup for my Dad only. What is going on? Do I need to quit my beloved caffeined to the hilt cups ‘o’ joe? Are my fears alone going to send Starbucks stocks tumbling?

It is inevitable that there will be changes made but are these coming attractions for me or is it the here and now? I feel like I am waiting for the breakdown. Should I be curbing these things. Am I suddenly at some mystical magical age that I need to suddenly stop drinking a beer when I want? Will that help. Or should I just keep doing what I am doing, enjoy my life and deal with it when the  breakdown finally happens?

I skipped my yearly physical last year and was just setting up my appointment for this year. I like sitting in the waiting room checking ‘no’ next to the paperwork’s pages of small printed pre-existing physical conditions. But how much longer will that last? When will the red flags start flying like a China patriotic parade?

Like with that old car of mine, I feel like I am waiting for the big breakdown. But back then I knew one day I would get a good job, get a new car and the worry would end. And it did. Unfortunately, I don’t see light at the end of this tunnel. There is no ‘things getting better’, only the ominous big breakdown.

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NUTSO PI-U

So bear with me today, I am trying to save a buck by not going to a psychologist and instead I’m using my blog for a bit of soap-box self-analysis. You see, I’m nuts. I have no problem admitting it. I’m nuttier then a Jif & Skippy Peanut Butter cake served at the Planter’s factory for Mr. Peanut’s surprise birthday party. And that’s pretty damn nutty.

I do not see this as an issue because frankly, as loopy as I might be, I am no worse then most of the other human’s walking on the planet. Years ago when I realized that its not just me, I started feeling a whole lot better about myself.  The Human collective has more screws loose than a Kia driving on a dirt road. Everybody is bonkers; we just each have our own way of putting the ‘man’ in to ‘maniac’.

If you don’t believe this, just sit in a busy public place for a few hours listening and watching people. You will quickly learn we all are graduates of a demented Ding Dong school. Our heads are all messed up from lugging around more beat-up baggage then a cross-country Greyhound.  Then we drag our unique wonky perspectives, goofy thoughts and strange beliefs to this chaotic party called life, where we somehow try to muddle through it all together as an organized society. Worse yet, while all this is going on we all know in the back of our heads that no matter how we delude ourselves the only real reward at the end of this roller coaster ride is the heavy specter of death.

Granted we might all be a strange bunch but the scariest people of all,  the ones to really watch out for, are the folks that don’t know they are crazy and assume only everyone else is. But I do not mean to sound bleak about our species. The beautiful amazing stupendous thing is despite all this, at heart, most people are nice, kind folks that really just want to share a little happiness.We keep going. We keep trying.  And that is really crazy!

Please do not take all this to mean I’m a depressed lost soul crying for help in from the digital void.  I will eventually make a point here. It’s just before I do I feel the need to pull aside that little rose colored curtain of illusion and expose that wonderful wizard we all want to believe in, as the well-meaning ordinary dude with a groovy green castle that he really is.

A lot of the world we live in we create ourselves and maybe that is a little crazy but that is okay. If that gets you through life with an occasional smile and a sense of purpose, again, that’s a good thing.  I just prefer when folks don’t go forcing their brand of crazy onto me. I have my own already and that is where the headaches normally start.

With that all in mind, I got home from work the other night tired and burned out. My wife and I have recently had a lot of long days where a lot of other’s people have spent a lot of time shoving a lot of their versions of reality onto us. That makes things very draining and last week it seemed to all boil over like an un-watched pot of pasta that messily spews starchy sticky water all over the stove-top before you get a chance to remove it from the heat.

Sometimes the world overwhelms you and all you want to do is shut your brain off to reality. My wife uses the term ‘flop’. Its when you just need to plop down somewhere, block out the real world and ignore the rest of the planet. This allows you to recharge verses explode or basically removes your brain from the heat before it boils over and you spew something you regret.

Within each of our own little created realities everyone has a different way of  brain clearing.  Some folks read a book, take a walk, play an instrument or go for a drive. My wife sprawls on the sofa playing solitaire-like games on her smarty-phone while non-redeeming cable shows, like the ones that have ‘Housewives Of’ in the title, create a somewhat ignored background din.  I think she’s crazy for watching that stuff but that is her brand of flopping not mine.

My version… well.. you will think it is… ummmm… crazy.  My first choice to clear my brain is to take a walk on a beach. Unfortunately there is not really one of  those nearby and strolling next to a lake, pond or puddle just does not have the same effect. So lately when I want to escape from the real world and reset my brain, I play on the computer. Not games, Not social media. Not ESPN or the rest.  These days to decompress I start searching YouTube for old bad music videos and follow the links wherever they take me. One glance at my music collection and you would know that I have always had an ear for the obscure, odd and downright bad, so this is just the logical next extension.

I doubt there are a lot of other folks that would find relaxation in their little self-created universe from this, but let me share with you what  finally pushed me off the heat the other night from my about to boil over mode to my usual smiling Dofus Dan self.

 

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ACTING (UP, AT) MY AGE

Back in High School my girlfriend’s father set her up with a Gold American Express card in her name. It might not have taught her the money management skills he intended but on the plus side she and I did occasionally have some extravagant fun on her Dad’s dime. Money was not quite as free flowing in my house. And ‘by not quite as free flowing’ I really mean ‘not at all’. Or more realistically, ‘not much over necessity’.  Oh I never went ‘without’; I just was not ‘with’ too much.

I always seemed to have some part time job to get extra cash. At one point I was walking dogs for some of our condominium complex neighbors that traveled a lot.  My two best clients included one with an oversized knockwurst shaped fat dachshund that I had explicit instructions to carry down the hall and over to the grass otherwise her belly would get scratched rubbing against the pavement. Oddly enough, I think the dog’s owner had the same issue too. My other primary customer had two old poodles and a yippy yorkie. She was away most weekends staying with her husband who worked 4 hours away in Tampa where he made blitzes for a living.  This may sound like the intro exposition to a Woody Allen comedy but it was my real world.

I worked one weekend as a busboy in a large menu deli style restaurant called Five Dames. A couple of hours after my buddy and I started the owner slipped us each an extra five dollar bill saying ‘we were the hardest workers he ever hired.’ We quickly learned he was not lying. It was a crazed chaotic mess in there that made Animal House seem tame.

There were food fights in the kitchen, constant drug deals in the back room and oblivious owners that had no control of the place. We saw dirty pots reused over again, we were told to re-serve uneaten bread from dirty tables and proudly was instructed to mix yesterdays old cole slaw into white buckets of new as if it were a precious sourdough starter verses a health code violation. The wait-staff drank more cheap house wine then they served and mice nibbled on the hefty bags full of fresh baked bread, one of which got so full he became slow and disoriented enough to get caught by the tail under the foot of our stoned hostess right in front of a large line of customers waiting for tables.

Things became hellish very quickly after our shift ended the first night when the rest of the staff skipped out leaving us two to stay late into the night cleaning all of the evening’s pots and pans. Two days was all I needed to know I wanted no part of the food service industry. When we left the second night we knew we were done and seriously considered nicking a massive jar of maraschino cherries to compensate for them hosing us on our tip sharing percentage. The bottle was so big we would have had to roll it out the back door. I’m not sure what we would have done with all of those cherries but I am sure we could have been very creative. I know what we did with street cones. It might give you some comfort to know that the restaurant eventually closed a year or so after my brief tenure there.

Most of my friends had some type of after school jobs like tearing ticket stubs at the movies, working the McDonalds drive-thru or bagging groceries at Winn Dixie (or Dicks Winnie as we used to call it based of some long-forgotten bad joke).  After my my last horrible job experience I changed course.  Through my Dad’s connections I got a part time job at a local jewelry store.

Everyone there was much older than me. As a punk-ass dorky kid I was certainly no great salesman but I kept the job by always working hard and focusing on doing all the tasks no one else wanted to. Which really is an astoundingly good niche if you are starting in any business. I was trusted with more and more responsibilities as I made a point of listening to each staff member and focused on making their lives’ easier. I wish I could honestly say that I was calculatingly building job security and learning a trade from the inside out, but in reality it just seemed the best route for an incompetent novice to not get fired.

One of the things that helped me most was simply being the youngest in a big family.  I had grown-up listening to older folks from a different generation yammer on and on about their world. Who knew this would turn into a marketable job skill? I was able to relate to everyone and understood the staff’s references, perspectives and old jokes. At the time I had never actually seen the old Jack Benny routine that an older part-timer named Sy, used to constantly quote, but when he said “Si’ Sy Sue”  I knew what he was talking about.  Joe Penner, the wacky over-the-top slapstick Vaudevillian, died 20 years before I was born but I still understood the gag when one of the guys repeatedly said “do you wanna buy a duck”.

I thought of that experience today at work. A lot of the people at my current company are younger than me. Much like I did as a kid, I still practice the hard work part but oddly enough I still seem good at understanding the touchstones of a different generation. Its just the ages have flip flopped and instead of acting older, I’m acting younger. Throughout my career rarely have coworkers ever guessed my age correctly; it used to be they guessed older and now they guess younger. Last month someone said they thought I was 12 years younger then my real age.  Even if they were just being nice, my ego liked it.

But I have to catch myself sometimes because I don’t want to become the old timer ‘Si Sy Sue’ guy that nobody understands. I leave a lot of my asides and comments in my head because I know most of my coworkers will not get my references.  My shared world experiences and view points are very different from those of the Millennials around me. Not better, not worse, just different. I guess ‘acting my age’ is an illusive term for me.

 

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THE BLOG YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ IS TRUE…

Call Officer Joe Friday and his Dragnet Police pals. I need to report a crime. I know that I tried to break some scientific laws but the bigger issue is somebody stole my damn weekend.

I remember Friday afternoon very slowly clicking through its hours, minutes and seconds at a pace that would lose a road race to a sleepy snail and a three-legged arthritic turtle with dementia but the weekend itself was different. I blinked and suddenly my Monday morning alarm clock (also known as my old dachshund’s minuscule 5:00am bladder pang) was calling me out of bed. But screw Einstein and his damn ‘time dilation’ theory, I don’t need to know WHY my Friday afternoon watched clock moved slower than the un-watched time piece that jetted at the speed of sound through the weekend. What I need to know is HOW to break those scientific laws to slow things down.

It was one of those crazy busy weekends that started with the wife and I going out for dinner Friday night and getting home early enough to hunker down through a torrential rain and hail storm complete with blaring tornado sirens. It was still coming down in waves after midnight when I went outside to mess with Snell’s Law of Light Refraction. Obviously lately it has become all the rage to ignore science theory, so I moved all about my yard contorting and stretching myself in all kinds of wacky angles trying to bend the light beam of my cell phone flashlight to go up and back down in order to survey our roof for damage (that’s kinda Snell-ish). I assume I looked like my near blind pup persistently hunting for a squirrel that scampered up a tree days before.

My wife might put up with me testing some scientific light laws, but she definitely did not want me messing with the ones concerning electricity by using our metal ladder to climb atop the house to inspect things during the tail end of the lightning storm. She does the fiances and based on her protests I assume that means my life insurance policy potential payout is not as good as our homeowner’s insurance possibilities. Fortunately we discovered the next day we were luckier than some of our nearby neighbors and dodged any major damage.

An unplanned chunk of our weekend was spent cleaning out the storm debris from my yard and pool. Since the Wife and I were already dealing with outside issues, we also tackled the little task of using over a pallet’s worth of limestone bricks to build a Trump-like wall in front of the flower beds along the front of the house. We built it to be a decorative design feature that will also keep illegal immigrating, undocumented grass from unlawfully crossing the bed’s border to enjoy the benefits of living and growing alongside my U.S. documented shrubberies.

To make things more chaotic I also had an early Saturday dentist appointment and later the Wife and I caught up on some necessary household chores like doing laundry, changed cat litter, shampooing the carpets, vacuuming and mopping floors, airing out rugs… But before you start feeling bad for Slave Labor Boy Dan and his drudgery of chores, we also managed to squeeze in an afternoon-long belated Birthday beer party with friends at a local pub and we did score last minute front row seats for the Joe Walsh /Tom Petty concert.

That weekend we definitely proved that time flies equally speedy when your having fun and when your doing hard labor.  I’m just not sure how to slow that damn clock down. I already try to maximize the length of my days by getting far less than the recommended eight hours of sleep a night. If I stick to my usual five and half  hours a night that scores me two and a half extra awake hours a night or 17 hours a week or 75 hours a month or 912 hours a year or 71,815 hours bonus time for the average lifetime. That’s like getting eight extra years of life.

I once told a friend that I don’t like sleep and that it feels like a waste of of the precious little time I have on the planet. They responded by asking me ‘what I was doing that was so important that I needed extra time.’ Which is a good question. I’m not spending my extra waking hours coming up with any new scientific theories and I have had obviously no luck breaking the old ones.  I guess the world likely will not be too changed by me only getting 5-6 hours of snoozing a night. So does it really matter than if I am using that  time watching stuff on YOUTUBE like the video of  Surfin’ Bird performed live in 1964?   Truth is, I usually use those quiet extra hours to work on this blog and for now, until I can figure out how to slow down the clock a little bit,  I think that is a good enough use of my time.

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THE REST-a RANT

A list of the 50 best restaurants in the world just came out and I can’t believe they again omitted the Jack In The Box down the street from me. Shocking! Maybe its because Jack’s Burger Toppings Bar didn’t feature fresh shaved European white truffles, demi-glace de viande and Snake River Royal White Sturgeon Caviar along side the dried out pickles, limp lettuce and watered down ‘fancy sauce’. Or it could be that they are still using that same scary Grade Z guess-a-meat that caused an E. Coli outbreak a few years ago.

Now my local Jack In The Box might not have been awarded a Michelin Star but I think I once saw a Michelin tire burning in the parking lot while I was sitting in the Drive-Thru line at 2:30 AM debating between the slightly slimy Breakfast Jack sandwich or the flat-out ‘disregard for any self-preservation’ 520 calorie artery-clogging Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich. I mean sometimes you just need two runny eggs, multiple slices of American cheese, fatty ham and greasy bacon all shoved together on a dripping bun sloppily slathered with both butter and mayonnaise. Okay… actually as I think about that… no… I do not think there ever is an actual need for that… unless maybe your prepping for a 6:00 AM colonoscopy while simultaneously recovering from a hangover.

In reality, it’s actually a pretty impressive restaurant list with absolutely no places that serve foods with the word Jack, Slam or Castle in the title. It also is only the second time in that particular list’s history that a U.S. place, Eleven Madison Park, was voted the number one restaurant in the world. You got goose bumps just now, didn’t you?  Yeah, it does not affect me much either. Sure, the Wife and I eat out a lot but I don’t think we are jetting up to New York this weekend to drop $500 a head at E.M.P.’s Hampton’s summer pop-up location to scarf down some sea urchin tongue custard and celery root cooked in a pig’s bladder.  Is that Jack In Box sandwich sounding better yet?

Okay, I admit it. I wish I could just zip up to eat at Eleven Madison Park. That does not make me a foodie snoot-face, does it? Oh crap, I used that word. I try to keep arm’s distance from the term ‘foodie’ because of the bad images it churns in my brain. Everybody eats food, so to say your hobby is eating is like snobily saying I’m an ‘airy’ because I like to breath clean fresh air. It kinda sounds like a pretentiously lame waste of time to master eating as a hobby. Let’s leave it as, I appreciate fine food but more importantly I just like eating.

Sure, I have been to some remarkable restaurants but I don’t think of myself as a food snob. The last time my Wife and I were in New York we dined at the amazing Bouley restaurant in trendy TriBeCa.  “That transcending meal was delicately sublime and exquisite on the palette” but the truth is I’m just as happy standing next to a grubby cart on a city corner snarfing down a couple-a Sabrett dogs with onion sauce and mustard… which we did just a few hours before getting all hoity and toity downtown at David Bouley’s joint which had way more stars and dollar signs next to their Zagat review then there are hot dog buns in a package.

My wife and I also both like to cook but we really do enjoy going out. Trying new places going back to old favorites and even planning road trips around different favorite food stops. I wish that stuff was not so important to me. I would certainly be thinner. My brother Arthur appreciates a good meal but has always seemed to approach food as necessary fuel that should not be fussed over. My buddy Mike has repeatedly said when he was busy he wished he could just pop a food pill and get on with his day.

Just like how I enjoy many different genres of music, I like all manor of food. My high and low brow food desires are equal opportunity. I crave White Castle onion chips just as often as I dream about the foie gras stuffed prunes at Lucia, my favorite 5-star Italian restaurant. I know that Jack In The Box breakfast sandwich is crazy gross but there really are times it is the perfect food.

I admit that I even watch some of those insanely popular food network shows where dining is romanticized to absurd heights.  I am not sure when looking at other people eating and describing food that I cannot taste, touch or smell became popular entertainment? In real life It would be torture sitting across from someone detailing every nuance of a remarkable dinner while not letting me have a bite. There is something truly bizarre about all this, but since I love eating I still watch.

So where am I going and what is my point? Unlike my brother, food is important to me. I eat when I’m sad, I eat when I’m happy, I eat to celebrate, I eat to escape, I eat to socialize and share. It’s a miracle I’m not the size of a house. At the best of times and worst of times, food is always there. I assume there is some societal statement to be made about that or something staggeringly psychologically bad to be said, but with all the other wacky crap floating around the synapses of my wonky brain, is it even worth worrying about?

And what of that restaurant list. Sure, the first thing I did was skim it to see if I had ever been to one of the places. But I can’t help thinking that if everyone’s tastes are different, are those truly the 50 best restaurants in the world for me? I mean, think about how hard it is just getting a group to decide on toppings for a pizza. But the list got me talking, which I guess is the point. Even more importantly, it has made me hungry and this food-lovin’ non-foodie freak needs to figure out what is for dinner. The List.

boulvev

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AN UN-ESKIMO LIKE SPRING AT THE THEATER

Its spring which means suddenly the Wife and I are busy again. We do not purposely stay in, quietly hibernating through the winter. Yet it seems every year when the days are short and its cold outside we find ourselves hunkering down like snowed-in Eskimos. Hmmm, actually I’m no Eskimo expert. I really have no clue if Eskimos hunker or if they ever even get snowed in. I mean, they are Eskimos. They should be well practiced in dealing with snow. I would think if you’re an Eskimo, a few feet of snow won’t stop you from venturing out to the corner Igloo Bar for blubber and fries with a couple of frozen margaritas.

Ooooooooh. I have a hunch that might all be racially insensitive to Eskimos. I would never want to be tagged as anti-Eskimo. Just in case I said something wrong, my apologies to all my Eskimo readers. I will be going Eskimo-free the rest of this blog entry and leave it simply that Eskimos most certainly must be able to better deal with snow then then the folks where I live. Not that I am implying anything near-slur like about Texans either… its just that they are freakshows when it snows. Here in Dallas, if there is an 1/8 inch of accumulated flurries they shut down the schools, people run around outside taking Instagram/Facebook pictures and the local news crews preempt regular programming with highway-side nonstop live coverage because the streets start looking like a Demolition Derby for members of the American Council For The Blind. No wonder my wife and I hide inside all winter.

But all Eskimos aside,  my point is that its officially Spring and as usual The Wife and I are suddenly finding our little world is getting busy again. Like this past week, it just kind of accidentally worked out that we had tickets to three different shows. It was strange to observe how wildly different the audiences were at each.

At the well-rehearsed, but very funny, Steve Martin/ Martin Short show, the crowd was a bit older. Okay, more than a ‘bit’. There was more grey hair in the theater then on a Luby’s cafeteria line at 5:00PM on AARP coupon night.  The well-mannered crowd was seated early and did not move around much. I assume it was because most couldn’t. Half of them had canes or walkers and the other half should have. The only folks getting up mid-show were the bathroom bound older men whose prostates had likely grown to the size of Abe Vigoda’s head.

The only exception was the annoying younger (by this crowd’s median age) woman in her own little world right behind us who found it necessary to comment and talk back to the performers on the stage throughout the show. She got up several times and found multiple ways to pull my wife’s hair each time she shoved herself past the seated geriatrics as she pushed herself towards the aisle. Medical, or any other, marijuana is not legal in Texas but based on her behavior she might have just come back from a road trip to Colorado with an ample buzz and bad case of munchies.

That audience was in direct contrast to the raucous crowd at Kinky Boots, the Harvey Fierstein/Cyndi Lauper Broadway musical we saw about a young but stogy Brit who inherits a shoe factory and the bold drag queen that inadvertently inspires his idea to save the factory by producing quality footwear for outrageous cross dressers. Ooops… sorry… hope I did not give too much away there. Its not like I told you the Jews leave town at the end of Fiddler On The Roof , Tony dies in West Side Story and Springtime For Hitler is a surprise hit in The Producers… oh yeah, and if you are devoutly religiously, keep in mind that The Book Of Mormon is not a Passion Play. You can thank me later; now you don’t have to bother going to the theater and can hunker down (unlike an Eskimo) all winter.

It was a very mixed crowd that at times looked like a gay pride parade marching through an older wall street brokerage firm’s office. As the wackiness ensued on the stage, the crowd was standing and clapping, all hootin’ and hollering like they were getting their soul saved by a hallelujah screamin’ southern preacher in a  Mississippi revival tent. This was not an old fashioned ‘going to the the-atre’ with grand-mum-ma audience. This was a Sesame Street raised A.D.D. fast based modern theater  experience where audiences yell and clap along like they are at a rock concert.  All I could imagine was seeing Hamilton-like crowd reactions at South Pacific. Yo, I’m gonna wash that Busta right outta ma hair, fasho’.

The other show we attended last week was bawdy insult comedian Lisa Lampanelli. The folks there skewed fairly young, mostly female and very rowdy. A large percentage of the crowd made multiple trips to the lobby bars. Heckling was certainly not limited to a couple of clones of the old men in the Muppet Show balcony there. It was pretty much a ongoing free-for-all dialog between the audience and performer and that interaction was almost integral to show’s success.

The odd thing is, My wife and I seamlessly fit into all three of the different audience types. There was not one we felt more comfortable in over the others. I think that is a component of both our personality types that, like a sociologist in a deep cultural study, we seem to adapt to, blend in and enjoy many different situations. There are fears and downfalls to that but overall I think it is a good thing. At a minimum it gets us out of the igloo.

SAMSUNG

DALLAS SNOW STORM

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DON’T LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE TO YOU

I just heard another crack of thunder off in the distance. My dog is laying on his bed next to me and is either too old or deaf to care. I don’t know which so I’m not sure if I should be jealous or not.

If it is because of the deaf part, well that is kinda sad so we can skip that jealous thing.  And, no, even though I do spoil the animals, I have never considered wiring him up with one of those mini hearing aids advertised between the ads for very short-term life insurance and home delivery catheters during afternoon reruns of Matlock and Murder She Wrote on those high number local TV stations. Now if the dog’s ambivalence about the storm is because of his advanced age, that is a different matter.

Big loud rain drops are sporadically starting to plop on the solar panels we recently installed on the roof. They make a different kinda echoy thud then I am used to. Its added a different voice to the usual rain chorus of familiar sidewalk splats, skylight rat-tat-tats and backyard pool splooshes.

So about the dog. If he is not scared of thunder and lightning anymore due to age, it can either be a good thing or a bad thing. The bad side would be if he does not care because he is old and has given up. We have all heard the whispered conversations at funerals about the deceased giving up and not having the will or desire to live anymore. That would not be good if my dear old pup was longing to mark the big fire hydrant in the sky.

Now that I’m thinking about this, why does everybody whisper at funerals?  It’s not like your gonna disturb the dead guy. Actually, maybe we should be yelling and banging stuff just to make sure he is really gone. Mistakes happen; the health care system is not what it used to be. You always hear about doctors operating on the wrong leg or removing the wrong kidney. The next time I go to a funeral I’m going to talk really loud and maybe bring along a pair of those orchestra hand cymbals just to make a 100% sure the guy in the box is just not sleeping as soundly as my dog is right now.

The rain is getting stronger and coming down in noisy waves of varying intensity. It sounds a bit like I’m going back and forth with those funeral cymbals making metal on metal scraping ‘zischen’ sounds then launching into loud quick repeated crashes like the ones that close Dvorak’s Scherzo Capriccioso Opus 66. The cats have moved a little closer to me.  Not that my aloof felines would ever admit they are afraid of the weather; they are giving me that, ‘we are protecting you’ look in between their pretending to be sleeping eye closures.  Meanwhile the cutie canine has not budged.

The other side of my argument about the pup being too old to care is the possible good side. Maybe he has been around long enough, seen enough and lived through enough to just not worry about the thunderstorm anymore. It’s out of his control so it is irrelevant and a waste for him to be concerned. If in fact he has become a Zen Master Pup in his old age, then I am definitely jealous.

Sure as a little kid I too was afraid of thunder and lightning, but for a big chunk of my adult life I liked noisy rain storms. Then somewhere along the way a fear of them has crept into my head. Just like it has with so many other things. Close calls with a handful of nearby tornadoes, the helplessness of hunkering down through the torrid night as Hurricane Andrew wreaked havoc on Miami and having to deal with the headaches and aftermath of damaging hail storms have all combined to make me ill at ease and fearful when nasty weather rolls through. When I sense that air pressure change and see those storm clouds brewing, I obsessively stare at the on-line radar maps, check that my phone is charged and make sure my designated ‘safe room’ has basic survival supplies.

Instead of mellowing me, age and experience have made me more uptight. I guess I could try to put a positive spin on this and say since I have more, I have more to lose, but I don’t like that so much fear has found its way into my world. I have always been a bit of a worry wart but now I worry my worrying is getting worse.  There you go, now I even have worries about my worries.  That’s not good. How much time and energy am I uselessly wasting with worry? Even worse, what life experiences have I missed out on because of fear.

When do I hit that age that things just don’t rattle me anymore? When do I realize that fear and worry are getting in the way of living and enjoying? When do I stop worrying about what other people think of me? When can I live in carefree bliss? Do I have to wait till I am very old and near deaf like the dog before I can worry-free wander with a relaxed smile humming Que Sera Sera?

The rain seems to have ended and I notice a little bit of sun stretching across the floor towards the dog. The sunshine always seems to brighten my spirits. Maybe I’ll take the dog out for a walk. First I better get some sunscreen, my sun glasses and a hat… I’m worried about sun burns, straining my eyes, and that thing on my head might be skin cancer.

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