Monday, December 15, 2014


My Annual Hanukah Card

Actually, I usually post my “Eight Myths of Hanukah” on here this time of year, but after a dozen or so years, I decided to post "My First Annual Hanukah Card." If you search the archives at right, you can find my “Eight Myths of Hanukah.”

Every year, I get one of those Christmas cards from an old friend in Florida, telling me about all that has happened, most of it bad news. "My shop burned down." "Mother had another stroke." "My live-in lover is getting a sex change … again." I have lost track of whether he/she is a him/her this year or not.

I don’t want to hear all this drama, and I wouldn’t share so much drama. Isn’t the purpose of the annual message to show off how your life is more fabulous than anyone else’s? What fun is there in sending a message if you don’t make everyone else feel bad about themselves?

So, I decided to write my own card to the seven or eight people who actually read this blog. Here goes.

Dear Friends,

I hope this message finds you in good health and happiness as you live the life of your dreams. If not, I hope you find a peaceful way to end it all with little pain and mess.

My dog, Rose Marie, continues to be the light of my life. She brings me such joy and is there for me, as I am for her.

Translation: We are in a co-dependent relationship.

While I have not found my soul mate, I did manage to have sexual relations with a variety of men in their prime, who rocked my world on a regular basis throughout the year. So many men, I can’t remember all their names.

Translation: I got laid once ... I think. I’m not exactly sure there was actually anyone else in the room.

I am continuing to work at my dream job where I am responsible for all the communications at the highest level of government and am called upon to offer my expertise, affecting foreign policy on a daily basis.

Translation: I still work as a contractor spitting out communiques like watermelon seeds and have no clue who, if anyone, reads them.

I travelled extensively throughout the year, seeing things you wouldn’t dream existed.

Translation: My commute to work means I spent almost 900 hours stuck in traffic, seeing people do everything from putting on make-up to picking their noses to masturbating.

I created a lovely outdoor living space where I can enjoy spring afternoons, summer nights and fall foliage.

Translation: I shoveled snow, mowed grass, and raked leaves.

I expressed my true feelings to one of my neighbors.

Translation: I flipped her the bird when she complained about my dog taking a piss.

My social life continues to be interesting and full of new and exciting people.

Translation: I binge watched American Horror Story, Orange Is the New Black, and every season of Adam-12 on Saturday nights.

People continue to seek my counsel and advice as I am a beacon in the community.

Translation: A stranger asked me how to get to M Street.

And finally, I continued to enjoy good health and happiness on this journey we call life.

Translation: I didn’t die.

Happy Holidays!


Rose Marie and Milton

If you like what you read, buy my books –


Monday, November 10, 2014


I loved when it was Mother’s turn to host her Tuesday night Mah Jongg game – so much so that I wrote a book, On Tuesdays, They Played Mah Jongg, which led to my being asked to write the introduction for the soon-to-be-released book, Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game: A Collector's Guide to Mah Jongg Tiles and Sets.

Yes, those were two shameful plugs. Get over it. I live in a trailer, drive very old cars with manual everything, and only buy store brand products. It is either this or Kickstarter.

Anyway, I loved it when it was her turn to host because of the buffet. All the women worked, so this was also their chance to have dinner when they were not in play. They had five players, and Mah Jongg is played with four hands. The fifth bets on which of the four will win. I think six dollars was the most you could lose, so if you lost six dollars, you were at pie, which meant you couldn’t lose more but could keep playing. Sometimes they served pie, which made it even more delightful.

Aunt Anita was always accused of cheating when she was the fifth. None of these women were my aunts. My mother had no siblings, so all these women who were my biggest influence were called Aunt. But that is not the point here. Aunt Anita was also accused of never putting out any food. Well, that is not entirely true. She would have a bowl of those jellied orange slice candies and a liter of Pepsi. Unfortunately, Uncle Walter, her husband, would drink all the Pepsi before the girls arrived.

I don’t know if any of this is true, or if these women were exaggerating. Mother was known to tell a fib or two to make a point … or hide a secret.

My experience with Aunt Anita was that she was always generous with her time and things. When I was typing my last term paper for college, my Royal electric typewriter exploded, even sending off a few sparks. Mother was on the phone with Aunt Anita at the time and casually mentioned that my typewriter just exploded while I was finishing a paper. Aunt Anita promptly hung up. Fifteen minutes later, she was at our door with her own portable electric typewriter. No one asked her for it. She just showed up. That was the Aunt Anita I remembered.

Nana died one week before my college graduation. After the week of shiva and the graduation ceremony, people no longer stopped by the house. One day soon after, Mother was writing thank you notes, and there was a knock at the door. Aunt Anita dropped by unannounced to check on Mother, and she stayed and kept her company all afternoon while Mother wrote the notes, just to be sure she was ok. Aunt Anita never said a word. She just sat there with Mother. It was perhaps the most touching act of friendship I had ever witnessed.

I remember Aunt Renee saying one time, “Anita will give you the shirt off her back. Just don’t ask her for money.” I really didn’t like when they talked about her like that.

Nana lived below Anita and Walter in the late 1950s in Stewart Gardens, and according to her, they would fight about money every night. Nana would light up a Kent cigarette and listen to them until she got bored, then she would bang on the ceiling with a broom stick. Nana had no room to talk. She could squeeze a nickel until the buffalo farted.

Anyway, one night it was my mother’s turn, and she went all out with enough food for a Bar Mitzvah. Tuna salad, egg salad, smoked fish salad, bagels, potato salad, pound cake, fresh brewed coffee in the Sunbeam 30-cup percolator. Jews sure do love their white food. The only thing with any color was the coffee. Oh, you thought I meant Caucasian.

Aunt Anita arrived first, followed almost immediately by Aunt Renee, who upon seeing the food yelled with delight, “Oh my God, look at this spread.” Didn’t bother Aunt Anita one bit.

I will never forget that. Of course, Aunt Renee had an advantage. She owned a deli for God’s sake. Before buying the deli, her husband worked at a furniture store, and rumor was all the nice things in her home fell off the truck as it passed by her house. It was decades ago, so the statute of limitations has run out.

Well, nothing changed for the next decade or so. Food was served, Pepsi was consumed, and they all remained friends.

Then, they hit their fifties, and all of a sudden everything changed.

Aunt Cis developed a hiatal hernia. She couldn’t eat anything with roughage or that would irritate her throat, so she brought her own dinner. Mother had a heart attack, so she couldn’t have anything with fat or cholesterol, and Aunt Anita? Oh she could eat anything, but unfortunately, she died soon after. It was a sad time.

But, the tragedies didn’t stop there.

There were no more buffets. Two things affect Jews deeply, death and a lack of food.

Due to all the dietary restrictions, the ladies who Mah Jongged were brown bagging it. They had to switch from coffee to iced tea, and decaffeinated at that.

I used to joke about how one couldn’t keep up with who could eat what or which. I thought I was funny, making fun of these post-menopausal women.

One should never joke about post-menopausal people because some day one will become one of the post-menopausal people. Karma is a bitch.

It all started around age forty-nine.

I farted.

I know that is no big deal. However, I never farted. I came from a family who farted all the time, but I never farted. I was not like them. I shit a lot due to irritable bowel, but I never farted. I could never understand how people could fart without shitting themselves. My friend, Danny, calls that sharting.

But, I farted. I didn’t just fart once. I couldn’t stop farting. It was awful and painful and uncomfortable, and of course, smelly.

What was happening to me? What did I do to myself? They weren’t just little farts. Oh no, I never do anything little. These were loud, long, wind shear farts.

When I sneeze, I wake up the dead in the next county, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that what was coming out the other end was just as noisy and disruptive.

I kept checking my drawers to see if I shit myself. I didn’t. I was just farting. Non-stop.

I then had to examine my diet. I haven’t missed a meal since 1962, so this was going to require some serious investigating. Then, I found the culprit. Pasta. To test out my theory, I had a plate of spaghetti.

I farted. I farted all night. I felt as if my insides were going to explode. Technically, they did.

So, I cut out pasta.

Then, I farted again.

Now what? Another inquiry was conducted.

Could it be bananas. I thought they only made monkeys fart. I ate a banana.

I farted.

I hate farting. Some people enjoy farting, but I hate it. The worst part is I don’t fart in daylight. No, I fart at night. How am I supposed to sleep with the sheets flapping all night long?

When I do doze, my farts wake me up. Oh hell, they wake up the neighbors.

Rose Marie sleeps under the sheets, so I kept checking to be sure I hadn’t gassed her to death.

I stopped eating pasta and bananas … and whole wheat bread, cauliflower, beans, cottage cheese, chocolate, cake, pie crust, sour cream, plums, walnuts, and any kind of lettuce, and the list just kept getting longer and longer.

I could just eat what I wanted and fart to my heart’s content. But, I’m single, and if I had any hope of getting married, I needed to nip this fart problem in the bud.

I finally managed to alter my diet enough to eliminate the eight-hour farting spells. But, with that came another problem.

Eating out.

I recently visited my friends, Danny and Mike, in Michigan, and they picked this restaurant with one of those weird menus where all the dishes are made with dozens of ingredients – seventy-five percent of which make me fart.

I picked something and picked at it. Danny made fun of me, saying I couldn’t eat anything and how could anyone cook for me because I am so picky. Then, he leaned to the side and farted, right there at the table.

I wish I was as comfortable in social situations as he is. It takes a brave man to be a pig in public.

Milton Stern is a writer and columnist and thinks he is a humorist:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Stand in Line or Unplug Completely?

Last week, the iPhone 6 was released, or was it the 7? Maybe it was the 8. I don’t even know which one I have anymore. As you can tell, I was very excited about the release of yet another expensive phone, which will be obsolete and replaced two times before you finish reading this.
Did our parents or grandparents go through this hassle? Nana had an avocado green, rotary dial wall phone for as long as I can remember. She died in 1985 having never owned a push button phone. Grandma had a white table top rotary phone for as long as I can remember, and she died in 1992 also having never owned a push button phone.
I remember when my mother had the phone company replace our flesh-tone rotary phones with white push button phones, so we could have that wonderful feature “Call Waiting.”
I hate Call Waiting.
I think there is nothing ruder than Call Waiting. “So, what did Marge say … oh wait … I’m getting another call. Hold on.” In other words, I will talk to you until someone more interesting or important comes along.
Dear Abby, who is also dead, said when one is put on hold by Call Waiting, only wait for thirty seconds then hang up. I still do that. I don’t know how many times I have been called back and heard, “Did I disconnect you?” No, asshole, I hung up.
I never take the other call. I hate being interrupted, so I just let it ring.
I have a friend who calls, and if another call comes in, automatically says good bye and hangs up. He is more of an acquaintance now that I think about it.
I have another friend who when the Blue Tooth ear piece came out refused to go anywhere without wearing his. He wanted everyone to know he had this thing in his ear, and when he got a call, he would loudly start the conversation to be sure you knew he was on the phone. The conversations weren't even interesting.
I have a neighbor who always has her Blue Tooth in her ear. She is walking her dog at 4:30 am while wearing that damn thing. Who is calling her? We live in a trailer park. The only calls we get that early are when Scooter needs bail money.
I am the only person I know who will let a phone ring if I am having a conversation with someone. I have never said, “Hold that thought; I need to answer this.” I had a boss who found this disturbing. She would be talking, well more like barking, and my phone would ring. I would ignore it. That is why they invented Voice Mail. Ironically, this same woman would always interrupt me when I was on the phone.
None of this is relevant anymore because everyone texts these days. I still talk, and when I do, it is on one of five rotary phones I have in my house.
Back to the lines. Mother didn’t wait in line to trade in her flesh-tone phone. By the way, flesh-tone is more like cadaver-tone. The phone man came out and exchanged them for us. We also leased the phones. They were warrantied and weighed a ton.
I never stand in line. If I go to a restaurant and there’s a line, I leave. If I am at a car club event or Bar Mitzvah and everyone is standing in line for the food, I wait until everyone has gone through the line. Why stand? The food will be there when they are done.
I also hate being behind people at a buffet, especially when there is a sandwich assembly thing going on. People are so stupid and rude. Just pick up your meat and bread, slap some mayo and mustard on your plate, grab some tomatoes and lettuce, and keep moving. You don’t need to completely assemble your sandwich while standing in line and hold up everyone else.
The worst are the half people. You know these people. They take half of everything. They cut bagels in half, muffins in half, donuts in half. No one eats the other half. I repeat, NO ONE EATS THE OTHER HALF. Just take the whole goddamn thing! They are just trying to act demure as if they have never eaten a whole donut. Please. I can see your ass. Everyone on the East Coast can see your ass. You’ve eaten a dozen donuts while watching The View.
How did I end up talking about food? Oh right. I’m Jewish. All we care about is food – regardless of the venue.
“Aunt Ida, I went to a Klu Klux Klan meeting last night.”
“What did they serve?”
This is about phones and our planned obsolescence.
The iPhone reminds me of the 1955 Chevrolet. This car was so perfect they redesigned it the next year and the year after that, and for 59 years, they have been trying to recapture the essence of the 1955 Chevy.
I understand technology is essential to an ever-changing world, but do we go too far? What can this phone do that mine doesn’t? I can call, text, check Facebook every five seconds to see if another picture of Rose Marie got any likes, and I receive emails – 90 percent of which are ads and junk.
The worst part is the expense. Grandma and Nana had a gas bill, an electric bill, a water bill, a phone bill, and rent. That was it. The television was broadcast free over the polluted air waves and received by their antennas. They even got up to change the channels. They didn't need 600 channels. No one needs 600 channels.
I have the above bills plus an iPhone bill and cable bill, which includes fees for Internet and phone. I love my cable bill. I wanted to cancel my cable land line at one point (replacing it with an old fashioned land line), and they said my bill would increase by $50 a month. I wanted to cancel 596 of the 600 channels I receive, and they said my bill would increase another $50 a month. I am paying for channels I have never watched to save money?
I hate bundling. My life is one big bundle of wires. The more bundling and wireless I go, the more crap I have plugged into the walls.
And now, you expect me to wait in line for a phone I don’t want or need?
What I really want to do is unplug. Completely unplug.
If I got one of those converter boxes for the television, I could watch the five channels that broadcast my shows. I could pay for internet access alone, and with the Roku, I could watch other shows as they are released. I would get rid of the DVR. Is it that important that I never miss a show? I could wait for the show to appear on Hulu. I could get a normal land line.
Well, I did the math, and basically, I am screwed, and so are you. To get a normal land line, I need to pay for installation of phone jacks in three rooms, since the kitchen has the only phone jack. They don’t put phone jacks in houses anymore. I had to buy a brand new home. Getting rid of the cable and going with only internet access and Hulu and Netflix would end up costing more.
Why don’t I just watch whatever is on my five channels when I am awake? I used to do that before they invented the VCR. Maybe I should get a VCR? I wonder if my Betamax is still in the shed?
I could be really radical, and I could get rid of the iPhone and not have any cell phone at all. I lasted 42 years without a cell phone. Yes, I was the last guy to get one.
Or, I could just sit here and kvetch.
But, don’t expect me to stand in line and kvetch. I do my kvetching sitting down.
Before you unplug, order my books:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


The older I get, the less tolerance I have for people. Dogs, yes, people, no. I also thought dog owners were better people than non-dog owners, but this past year has taught me even assholes are allowed to adopt pets.
From the moment I adopted Miss Rose Marie, I have encountered everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. For those who don’t know, she has three legs. She’s fine. All of you only have two, which is why she feels sorry for you.
“What happened to her leg?” You ask.
“Nothing.” That has become my answer. “Nothing.” If you think that is rude, it is much better than what I want to say, “None of your fucking business.”
Then they get insistent. “Her leg, what happened?”
I look down and say, “Nothing. Her legs are fine.”
“No, I mean she’s missing one leg.”
“Yes, I know.”
“What happened?”
Then I usually get, “Asshole.” “Jerk” and even “Faggot.” Yeah, I got that from a kid. Lovely. I can only imagine that one’s parents.
People stop their cars to ask me what happened to her. They never say hello. When I refuse to tell them, they tell me I am rude. I’m rude? Seriously?
What if I were walking with a disabled child, and someone stopped his car and asked, “What’s wrong with him?” Who would be rude?
What if I had one leg and someone stopped to ask me what happened? Who would be rude?
To those of us who have pets, they are part of our family, and your nosy questions about our pets bother us. Of course, 99 percent of you reading this wouldn’t be so rude.
One day, a bus driver slowed down, opened the door and said, “I don’t know what happened to your dog, but I just want you to know she is beautiful.”
Now, that is an appropriate thing to say.
I just don’t understand the fascination with her missing leg. I am more fascinated with the parts she has. I can’t do anything with a missing leg.
I have experienced this before. Miss Serena Rose Elizabeth Montgomery went deaf at eleven years old and blind at twelve. For the last two years of her life, I would carry her across the street when we were out for a walk. She could smell grass, so I was always sure to have her walk on my left with the grass to her left, but curbs and streets were an obstacle.
Once after carrying her across the street, some smart ass said to me, “What? Is your dog too prissy to touch pavement.”
I said, “No, asshole. She’s blind and deaf.”
I know. One of these days, somebody is going to punch me in the mouth.
When I first adopted Miss Esmeralda Rose Alice Ghostly, she was thin and her teets were sagging due to being a puppy mill bitch for eight years. As I was walking her around the armpit of Maryland, otherwise known as Rockville, somebody screamed at me, “Did you breed that dog enough? You should be ashamed of yourself.”
I was dumbfounded. I flipped him the bird.
I know. One of these days, somebody is going to reach over and break my finger.
While Rose Marie is a magnet for rude and nosy people, she is also a dog to be feared.
She isn’t aggressive or rabid. She walks on grass, and she has only three legs. Fear the tripawd on the lawn!
Take that in for a minute.
Yes, she walks on grass.
Before I go on, keep in mind, Esmeralda lived in the trailer park with me for a year. I walked her at least six times a day. This takes me back to Mount Pleasant, which is neither a mount nor pleasant, discuss. I used to walk Serena at least six times a day, and I can’t begin to tell you how many people were concerned with how often I walked my dog. Again, whose business is it anyway? I lived in an apartment, and that was how she got her exercise.
Why is everyone so fascinated with everyone else? Do I criticize how you raise those future serial killers?
Where was I? Oh yes, Esmeralda in the trailer park.
No one ever gave me grief about walking her. Esmeralda had four legs, but she was very timid and she would walk right next to me, never behind, never ahead. She didn’t sniff. She just walked. She did her business and went on.
I also am one of the few people who cleans up after his dog. In my neighborhood, there are no swales. That is the grassy area between the sidewalk and the road. Apparently, it is a Florida term like lanai. This means they do their business in a yard. I am a good citizen, so I make sure she does her business as close to the sidewalk as possible. That way I am not standing in someone’s yard while she puts herself in a north-south position to pinch a loaf.
On Rose Marie’s adoption day, I walked her every ninety minutes to get her used to the neighborhood and going outside. She was house trained in twelve hours.
Sidenote: If you adopt a dog, walk it every ninety minutes the first two or three days, and he or she will be house trained quickly. Making a dog sit in a cage for five hours or just hold it for five hours is not house training. When I was an adoption counselor at a rescue organization, I can’t begin to tell you how many people would bring a dog back because it couldn’t be house trained.
“What did you do?”
“I made him hold it for four hours in his cage, but he went anyway.”
“Can you hold it for four hours?”
“You just answered your own question.”
Also, a crate is a cage. Call it what you want, but it’s a cage. I refuse to say crate.
This world is full of idiots, and I have to live in it.
Anyway. Back to Rose Marie’s first day.
I walked by a dog-owning neighbor’s yard, and she came running out. She saw my little three-legged dog, and she said, “You need to keep that dog off my grass.”
Rose Marie was just sniffing around and had already gone near the mailboxes.
“Oh, she’s just sniffing around.”
Then she hesitated and said, “Well, the vet said my grass has fleas, so you don’t want her on my grass.”
“What do you do with your dog?”
She didn’t have an answer.
A few days later, I found out she thought my dog had leprosy and her dog would catch it and lose a limb. I wish I could make this shit up.
I decided to keep Rose Marie off her grass in case her dog had moron-cooties.
Then, we had another winter from hell. This was Rose Marie’s first winter. She loved it. We couldn’t spend enough time outside. The only problem was finding a place to poop. Peeing was easy as that is a squat, but with only one front leg, she needs to find a place where she can keep her balance while in pooping position.
The easiest thing about having all that snow is cleaning up the poop. You can scoop all the snow around it or, better yet, it just sits on top of the ice. It is much easier than trying to clean it up on a wet un-mowed lawn. You dog owners know what I mean.
One neighbor actually had some exposed grass in her yard. Again, Rose Marie had already done her business, but she wanted to feel grass under her feet, so she walked on the grass. No sooner had she taken a step when this ancient battle axe came running out her door.
“Keep that dog off my grass.”
“She is just walking on it. She isn’t going to do anything.”
“I don’t care. Keep that three-legged dog off my grass.”
My jaw dropped. I froze, which was easy since it was six degrees with a wind chill of minus twelve.
We moved along.
Do you know that bitch had the nerve to wave at me every time she drove by after that?
One day, she was having trouble unfolding her husband’s wheelchair after she retrieved it from the back of their Ford Escape. I walked over and asked if she needed help. While I unfolded the chair, Rose Marie stepped on her grass, and she said, “Keep your dog off my grass.”
I locked the chair for her, looked her in the eye and said, “Go fuck yourself.”
Her husband thanked me. Poor guy. He had to screw that at some point.
Then the piece de resistance happened. I got a call from my dog walker telling me someone called the police on him because Rose Marie walked on his grass.
Before I go on. We rent our lots. This grass, crabby, weedy, dandylionee as it is, belongs to the park, not us. We mow it. There is only one descent lawn in the entire park, and the lady who lives there has a dog and doesn’t care if I take a dump on it.
Again, I was dumbfounded. The police thought the neighbor was ridiculous, but they had to answer the call.
We never found out which neighbor called, and no one has stepped forward.
But wait, there’s more. Just last week, I was walking Rose Marie, and she peed on the common area of grass near the mailboxes, and a neighbor, another dog owner, who never walks her dog, just lets him pee and poop in her driveway, yelled at me about letting my dog pee on the grass.
“Where is she supposed to pee?”
“In your yard. Pee kills grass.”
That did it. I was done.
In front of a couple of neighbors, who were retrieving their latest issue of Redneck Monthly from their mailboxes, one of which was the flea lady herself, I calmly told this wrinkled, chain smoking dog owner (who is probably younger than I am) – yes, she also owns a dog, “Dog pee killing grass is the oldest wife’s tale in the book. Dog pee kills ants. It is a natural fertilizer. In order for it to kill grass, the dog would have to pee in the same exact spot for two months straight at least three times a day. And another thing. She was born this way. She has no disease that your mangy, flea bitten, non-exercised, neurotic yappy dogs can catch. Leave me and my dog alone. I clean up after her, which is more than I can say for most of you. I will walk her where I want, when I want. And the next one of you who calls the police on my dog walker better grow a pair and step forward.”
Then I snapped my fingers, turned on my heels, and Rose Marie and I sashayed up the walk.
The following Sunday, as we walked by the wrinkle’s house, she yelled over to me, “Good morning.”
I pretended I didn’t hear her, so did Rose Marie.
If you want to pee on my grass, visit my site first, and by one of my books:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

People Can’t Read … or Listen

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who spends the entire time formulating a reaction to what you are saying but doesn’t actually hear what you are saying?

Do you tell someone something, and then you hear that person tell someone else the same thing, only to hear it told completely wrong?

Are you a writer who gets letters to the editor about columns you’ve written, and they supposedly quote you or put words in your mouth you never said?

If you answered yes, you are I.

The other day, one of my four bosses – the joys of contract work is the blurring of the chain of command – asked to see me, and he said, “Well, do I have hell to pay?”


“You said, if I you weren’t offered this position, there would be hell to pay.”

Let me be clear. I have NEVER said “hell to pay” in my entire five-plus decades on this planet. I have said some pretty nasty things and made some pretty idle threats using language that would make a crack whore blush, but I have NEVER said “hell to pay.”

He even said he had a witness. Well, the witness proved him wrong.

By the way, the position was eliminated when the alcoholic abandoned it, so there wouldn’t be a way to offer it. Therefore, there was no hell to pay, imagined or not.

This is my life.

When one is loud and opinionated – Who? Me? – one spends a lifetime being misquoted.

A few years ago, I was in a meeting with a hotel representative planning a conference with someone from my organization who is known to be pretty shady. I said, “For every 50 nights we reserve, there should be a comp room; therefore, we should have three comp rooms since we have reserved 160 nights.”

Before the hotel rep could say anything, Mr. Shady yelled, “We aren’t giving rooms to the entire board!”

I thought, where in my sentence did I say “board”? There he was getting ready to react to something that wasn’t said, but reacted anyway. Well, one shouldn’t do that with me because my next comment was, “When did I say board? Did anyone in this room hear me say board? Now, you need to shut up because you have been given a free room, meals and drinks for five years without informing anyone in the organization, which is essentially stealing from us as that was our room, food and drinks. It says so right here in this contract in black and white that they have provided you these things.”

Some people forget I actually can read. They also forget I actually listen … when I want to.

Growing up, family members would ask me to recall conversations. What always amazed me was what they didn’t remember. My mother was famous for selective memory. My father on the other hand had no listening skills. He would hear a sentence on the news and go off without any context.

Reporter: “A man riding a bicycle was hit by a truck during last night’s thunderstorm.”

Dad: “There go the Russians, screwing with our weather again.”

OK, he was one aluminum hat short of a trip to St. Elizabeth’s.

Recently, I wrote a column about the mid-1970s, mid-size, rebadged Plymouth Fury for Hemmings Classic Car. In the article, I mentioned how I remembered watching The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno and Clint Eastwood were guests on the show. Jay Leno mentioned that Clint Eastwood drove used Plymouth Fury police cars.

A few days after publication, I received a letter forwarded by my editor. The author said in an angry and condescending tone intended to get me in trouble that I “specifically mentioned Dirty Harry driving Plymouth Fury police cars,” and I was wrong. He then went on to set me straight (good luck with that) and listed all the cars Dirty Harry drove, none of which were Plymouth Furys.

Well, I kind of freaked out at first because I am a huge Clint Eastwood fan, and I have seen all his movies, and I know Dirty Harry never drove Plymouth Furys, but had I accidentally said that and it was overlooked by the fact checkers? I did an electronic search of the publication and the words “dirty” and “harry” never appeared.

You now have proof I don’t write for a porn magazine. Think about it.

I was furious. My editor said this was normal, so I laughed about how I was sitting at home getting angry in a room with Rose Marie while eating egg whites and Brussels sprouts (I am always on some weird diet).

However, I decided to write this illiterate car nut and let him know I never mentioned Dirty Harry in a letter that thanked him for supporting our publication and reading my column. He responded that he equates Clint Eastwood with Dirty Harry and that was the excuse for the mix-up. Never once did he apologize or admit he was a moron.

My favorites are doctors. I have been to too many doctors who don’t hear a word you say. They just think you are crazy or they are waiting for a break to look up what they think you said on the internet. Recently, I had to change primary care physicians after going to one who would look up symptoms on Google images; he didn’t even use WebMD, which always leads every symptom to cancer.

I especially appreciate the doctors who act as if they don’t have time to listen and just want to see the next patient, so their day will end soon. I had one who seriously heard nothing I said, and when I asked for a prescription for estrogen just to see if he was listening, he gave me one. I was an emotional wreck with tender nipples for months, but the hot flashes did subside.

When I went to my current doctor for the first time, he listened to every word I said, which almost gave me cardiac arrest. And, he heard me when I told him that, too.

My faith in actually finding people with listening skills was restored.

The saddest part is when you put information in front of people, and they choose not to read it. I edit and write a car club newsletter. Recently, I included an article about an upcoming event – The 25th Annual Orphan Car Tour. I included it in two issues of the newsletter, meaning it appeared for two months.

Ask me how many emails I got from people in the club, who have access to the newsletter and get emails announcing events that essentially said, “Hey, did you hear about this Orphan Car Tour? You should write something about it for the newsletter.”

I especially enjoyed the post on Facebook, where a member wrote, “The car club should promote this Orphan Car Tour.” He then included a link to last year’s tour!

A board member wrote, “I wish I still had my Corvair, or I would go.” I about spit up.

Instead, I responded, “That is last year’s tour. This year’s tour has been written up in the newsletter for two months now. A Corvair is not an orphan. Why in the hell do I bother?”

When I posted pictures of the tour on Facebook, which by the way, no one from the car club attended, one comment was, “Oh. Was that today?”

Maybe someday, I will find somebody who can read.

If you can read or listen, visit and buy a book.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Don’t Use Me to Check Your Balance

If you are into drinking games, drink a shot every time I say crap or drek in the following!

When I lived in Mount Pleasant, which was neither a mount nor pleasant – discuss, there was a bodega on the corner owned by a nice Korean family. I don’t know if they were North or South Korean. They had different hairstyles, so I am assuming South. Also, a bodega refers to a Latin owned store, but we called this a bodega. What is the Korean word for Bodega? Sijang is the Korean word for market. So, let’s say they owned a sijango.

Anyway, one day I went into to pick up some items, and amazingly, they always had everything. I mean everything. This place was one-third the size of my home. The customer before me left with no bag, and the owner said, “Don’t use my store to check your bank balance!” Apparently, the person kept taking away items in hopes of getting his debit card approved, and when he reached the magic number, decided to forgo any groceries.

I asked if that happened often, and she answered in the affirmative. I wondered why they didn’t go to the ATM. Then I thought about it. These are the people I end up behind at the ATM. They punch every key hoping to get cash, and even when the machine tells them they are broke, they keep trying until I usually say, “It is obvious your card isn’t working; mind stepping aside?”

I think it would be easier for them to rob a store with a pocket potato.

These same people end up in front of me at the Metro kiosk. They keep slamming their Smartrip on the reader and will not accept the fact that it has no funds. “Just jump the turnstile already, I have to get to work!” That is the first time I have written turnstile, and I had no idea it was spelled that way.

Not only do people check their balances in the most annoying way, but also they gauge the market this way as well.

Here is an example. How many of you shop on eBay? How many times have you bid on something only to see that the reserve is ridiculously high? When someone sets a reserve at a wishful level, they really have no intention of selling the time. They are just testing the waters. They may tell you they refuse to take less than what they have invested in the item, but that is bull shit.

If you really wanted to sell something, you would start the bidding at a reasonable price and have no reserve. That is what I believe.

Do you go to garage sales? The people may be trying to make a few bucks selling all their old crap to you, so you can have new crap, but the real reason for a garage sale is to get rid of the old crap without having to haul it away.

Years ago, when we would hold rummage sales for charity, around 1:30 pm when the crowds died down, a Fred Sanford type would show up and make us an offer on all the remaining drek. We would take the offer because the whole point was getting rid of the drek. It was already donated by people who didn’t want it, and we didn’t want it either.

I have never held a garage sale, so I don’t know if this still happens. I am the guy who donates his crap to charity or a dumpster depending on how crappy my drek is.

If you really don’t want something anymore, are you going to price it so high, no one else will either? Some people do because they think their shit smells better than your shit. Well, darlings, all our shit stinks, and the same goes for our old, crappy drek.

I am not a hoarder, and I hold no sentimental attachment to objects. I have a table that belonged to Nana. It is a nice table, but both Esmeralda and Rose Marie chewed away at one of the legs. I have it in my bedroom, where you can’t see the leg. I only keep it because it makes a great night stand. However, I would put it on the curb as soon as I found a table with two drawers that could replace it. If Nana were really attached to the table, she would have taken it with her when she died.

I had a Greek boss tell me once. “You only own one thing your entire life – the plot where you are buried.” You don’t even own the casket. Your family will be making payments on that until they pick out their own then their kids will make payments, and so on, and so on. It is like Heather Locklear and her Faberge Shampoo.

Wow, I am really aging myself. Perhaps, I should only shop for furniture with a lid?

This market research doesn’t just apply to clothes, furniture, National Geographics and unintentional sex toys. I think it happens most often in the hobby world – especially car collecting and the like.

Antique car prices over the last several years have become ridiculously inflated. This, of course, is a discussion for another time. As many of you know, I write a column for Hemmings Classic Car called “Detroit Underdogs.” I focus on the cars you can still buy for less than $9,000 and be a part of the vintage car hobby. Personally, I think $9,000 is still way too high.

Some call these cars crap. Well, any queen can drive a Cadillac. It takes a real man to show up at Pebble Beach in a Ford Granada.

Browse the car classifieds such as Hemmings, eBay or Auto Trader, and you will see that even the most mundane daily drivers from our respective childhoods are listed at very high prices. If you go to a vintage car insurance site, you will see the values listed for these cars are still realistic. That means, if you buy a Mercury Monarch for $18,000, your insurance company will give you an agreed-upon value of about half that amount. And if you do buy a Mercury Monarch for $18,000, you won’t be able to drive it because the men in the white suits will come and take you away with a net.

Around six months ago, a man listed a 1961 Rambler American Super four-door sedan with 16,000 original miles on a Rambler Car Club site for sale for $4,000. The car’s only options were full wheel covers and automatic transmission. It was a radio delete car with no driver’s side rearview mirror either. Had it been all original, he might have sold it for that price, but it had been repainted at some point, though not very well but, granted, in the original color. There were dings, a dent and lots of thin areas in the paint. It is better to be all original with dings and dents than repainted with them. The bottom had its share of surface rust, the engine and transmission leaked, and the engine compartment needed some serious cleaning and detailing. The spark plug wires weren’t even a matched set.

At the time, a Rambler guy offered him $3,350 for the car. Considering the seller bought the car for $2,500, that was a pretty good offer. Also, a 1961 Rambler American Super four-door sedan in #1 condition, which means, flawless, pristine, concourse quality, or in laymen’s terms, fabulous, is valued at $3,125. In #2 condition, it is valued at $2,750. This car was a #3, and I will be generous and say closer to a #2 than a #4. It was going to need at least $2,000 worth of work and the addition of a driver’s side rearview mirror to make it safe enough to drive in modern traffic.

He refused to let it go at that price because he wasn’t quite ready to sell it yet. When he told me this, I decided not to make an offer but did tell him to contact me if he ever did decide to sell it.

So, why did this shmuck list it? You know why, and he got his answer.

Six months go by, and I get an email asking me if I am still interested in the 1961 Rambler American. He contacted the first bidder, but that guy went ahead and bought an AMC Hornet Sportabout instead. I wonder if he bought that beautiful, all original, mint green one I saw for $2,750? See? The deals are still out there.

He should have sold the Rambler when he had the chance.

We exchanged a few emails on the car, and he sent me a picture of the original owner standing next to it. He told me how he had to sell it because his kids were in braces and the expense of owning an old car was not a good idea now.

When will people learn that their personal financial situation does not figure in the actual price of an item? After all, I didn’t fuck his wife, so those aren’t my kids, and their teeth aren’t my responsibility. 

I should whine that I have to maintain a mobile home lifestyle with Rose Marie at my side.

Knowing already what his answer would be, I explained the condition of the car and what it needed to be road worthy. I offered him $2,800, which was more than the value of a #2 condition car, and it was $300 more than he paid for it.

His answer was he couldn’t let it go at that price, and he was going to keep it.

If his kids’ braces were that important, he would have sold it and saved himself the expense of insurance, registration, etc., for a car he didn’t need that was going to cost him money in repairs if he wanted it to remain roadworthy. So much for straight teeth.

Fortunately, I saved myself four hours at the MVA (Maryland’s version of DMV, which is still a pain in the ass) had he actually said yes.

Yuckduck had no intention of selling the car, and he also knew his asking price was still way too high.

I wanted to say, “Don’t use me to check your balance!”

If he contacts me again, I am going to offer to shove the car up his ass.

Visit to see what else I write.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Rules Are Not Made to Be Broken

Dr. Sheldon Cooper is right. If we don’t follow the rules and keep things in proper order, the entire world will dissolve into chaos, and we might as well just forage for food and kill or be killed. At least that is how I feel after this past weekend’s snow storm.

For the last two winters in the Trailer Park, we haven’t had much winter weather, and I complained. Me and my big mouth. On Friday, the meteorologists predicted we would get a dusting of one inch of snow on grassy areas. I shouldn’t be angry because the television meteorologists are usually drama students who couldn’t make it in New York or Hollywood, and I don’t know about your home town, but all of them here are Gay! I know firsthand. Don’t worry about how I know, just know that I know.

What we ended up with in Jessup was around six inches of snow and freezing temperatures creating an ice rink on our streets in the ‘hood. One of the 400 rules, which first attracted me to this community, was that your walkway and the sidewalk in front of your house were to be shoveled no more than eight hours after the snow ended. I would like to report that most of my neighbors complied, but I cannot.

Curiously, everyone shoveled their driveways, creating mounds on either side, but on my street, only three of us actually shoveled the sidewalks in front of our homes. I was the youngest. The other two have a combined age of 162, so there was no excuse for what Rose Marie and I encountered.

To compound matters, the park management hired a redneck with a Ford F-250 Super Duty and a snow plow attached to the front to clear the streets. Well, he managed to pile all the snow onto the sidewalks and create a sheet of ice on the street. What is the use of plowing if you don’t treat what you leave behind?

I have never been snow climbing or glacier climbing or whatever extreme sport involves climbing up icy mountains, but after this weekend, I don’t feel a need to add that to my bucket list.

Rose Marie with her three legs managed quite well and like all dogs enjoyed the weather. She also carried around her share of ice chunks. She loves ice cubes, so this was an ice cube buffet for her. I, on the other hand, with only two uncoordinated legs, managed to slip and slide and fall a few times. Do you know what they call a Jewish ballerina? A klutz!

The last time I had to deal with a situation like this was when Serena Rose Elizabeth Montgomery was alive, and we were hit with a huge snow storm in DC in March 1999. Serena died before Snowmaggedon in 2009; she must have known it was coming. The 1999 storm was another one that caught everyone off guard, so streets weren’t cleared. In Mount Pleasant (which was neither a mount nor pleasant, discuss), drivers were leaving their cars all over the place, and the streets weren’t plowed. However, everyone in the neighborhood shoveled their sidewalks. The problem was you couldn’t walk across the street because of the snow banks and cars left every which way. I called the police to complain about all the abandoned cars and the unplowed street. They came out and plowed the street, but did nothing about the abandoned cars.

I then learned of the city policy that if a car is parked in front of your driveway or let’s say some moron left his car in gear, causing it to roll downhill into your car, not causing damage but keeping you from getting out because every time you moved, his car moved, it was your responsibility to have the car towed, not the city’s. Can you believe that?

I once parked in the driveway because Serena was having a health crisis and I needed to get her to the vet (the psychos upstairs had the use of the driveway, and I usually had to park on the street). When I came out, there was a car parked on the street blocking the driveway. I didn’t know whose it was, and when I called the police, they said it was my problem. Yet, when I parked 22 feet from the corner rather than 23 feet, they didn’t hesitate to give me a $50 parking ticket. Get this. It was right after they passed the law that you could park 15 feet from the corner. Did I fight it? You better believe it – just as hard as I fought the speeding ticket someone got using plates I had turned in to the DMV. That gem of a situation took three trips to DMV and two trips to court to prove I didn’t own a white Toyota Rav 4. Did they care that the plates were stolen, probably by a DMV employee? No. When I moved to Maryland, I obviously didn’t turn in my DC plates. I didn’t want to get a ticket for driving a Hyundai Accent through a red light on New York Avenue.

Anyway, when I made it out to 16th Street during the March 1999 storm, I noticed the street was plowed with all the snow piled up on the sidewalks. I was just amazed at how much they did to make it easier for drivers to get around, yet pedestrians had to traipse through an obstacle course. What made me angrier was they kept telling everyone to stay off the roads. Bitch, the roads were the only safe place to be!

So here I am 15 years later, and I am dealing with the same issue. I have to walk Rose Marie, so she will go pee and poop. By the way, that whole thing about dogs pooping in a North-South direction? So true! Rose Marie always faces North or South. My toilets face West, which may explain my irregularity.

Everyone made sure they could get out of their driveways, but few made it possible for us to walk. What I did notice was that the older the resident the more likely the sidewalk was cleared. One thirty-something smart ass said as he saw me sliding around, “You should get spiked shoes.” And in the next breath, “I need to go get a snow shovel.” Really, dude?

One of the first things I bought when I moved in was a snow shovel. It was July, and I got a Lowe’s employee to drive one of those forklifty things with a ladder, so he could climb onto the top shelf to get me one. I am sure he had a few things to say about the OCD queen who just had to have a snow shovel ready when the temperature outside was 92 degrees.

Well, the rules said shovel your goddam sidewalk, and I follow the rules.

I should thank the selfish thirty-something because when we returned home I remembered that I had bought a pair of soccer cleats back in my Mount Pleasant days to help me negotiate the icy conditions when walking Serena. They still fit, and I was finally able to walk without falling on my face. I always fall forward. I even have a scar on my chin from falling on my face. This makes no sense, since I have a large built-in airbag in my trunk.

One other thing happened during that 1999 snow storm. I was walking back from the market with bags of groceries, including three dozen eggs in preparation for Passover. I couldn’t tell where the road ended and the sidewalk began, and I slipped and fell on my face, breaking all the eggs. Some driver, who was able to get through because the main road was paved and treated, laughed at me. If I could have moved fast enough, I would have mooned him.

I managed to get out this past weekend, since the roads were cleared of course. Then, another unfollowed rule popped up. Why is it so difficult for people to brush the snow off the roofs of their cars. You can do this with a broom, people! I really don’t appreciate having ice projectiles hitting my truck and windshield while I am going down the road. These same people would be pissed if their windshields were damaged – the narcissistic bastards. I consider this the height of inconsideration.

On Sunday, I had to meet my publisher at a Starbucks in Chevy Chase, Maryland. I expect when I go into a coffee shop to find adults either having conversations or working on their laptops. What I found surprised me, and now, I know why I rarely go to Starbucks.

I know it was a crappy snowy day, but why are you bringing your little obnoxious loud children into a coffee shop? Is this how you entertain them? Take them to Chucky Cheese or Gymboree or that place with the box of balls they can play in. Oh wait, I go to the place with the box of balls – well the one with a sling and a recovery room.

Not only were there a dozen kids in there, they were all over the place. I ordered a large coffee, which confused the barista because it wasn’t a double half-caf espresso latte with a cinnamon stick, nutmeg and a hint of whipped cream resembling a cumulous cloud. As I turned, holding my extremely hot cup of coffee (how the fuck do they get it so hot?), a child charged to the counter in front of me. I almost burned her. Then I went over to the cream and sweetener station, and this yuppy mother kept reaching back from her table for napkins and pushing me out of the way because her ill-behaved devil spawn spilled something. She was giving me dirty looks because I was apparently in her way. Then her kids proceeded to run all over the coffee shop to the annoyance of the few mature adults in the place. My mother would never have allowed this or taken us to a place like this had they existed in prehistoric times.

They think they are perfect parents because they brought their kids to Starbucks. Seriously? You were two lazy or self-absorbed to take them where they could be entertained and not disturb people who were looking for a quiet place to work or have a conversation.

The rules clearly state that kids do not belong where adults go to escape. Period.

This is nothing new. These “mother of the year” parents have been around for decades. When I waited on tables in an upscale restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia, in the 1980s, we had such a mother, who was pissed when we expressed our concern at all the food her unruly children had thrown all over the floor and the mess they made of the booth, upsetting all the diners around them. She yelled, “You should be ashamed. Your restaurant does not cater to children.”

I responded, “No, we don’t. They don’t have wallets. And, if you don’t control your children, I will.” I actually got applause.

Follow the rules, or we will continue to dissolve into world of chaos! And, shovel your goddam sidewalks! And, brush the snow off your cars! And leave your horrible children at home with a babysitter … or a wolf dressed as a grandmother. You decide.

Can you tell I am already over winter?

Follow me, join me, tell your friends. Happy New Year!