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How to Get Out of Bed – A User’s Manual

Irish Bar (2)In my spinach days, “when I was green in judgment: hot in blood,” I spent my time tending bar and playing music – mostly for free beer and tips – I wasn’t all  that good.   But, getting the day started in the morning was at times a challenge. The following is how my INTJ-Systems-Oriented personality dealt with the problem of the dreaded “morning after.”

 Morning Procedure (MP) 1 – “Getting Out of Bed” (V3.R2.7)

 1. Consciously realize and accept the fact that you’re conscious

No… this is not a dream… it’s the start of another day… you have three choices at this point:

1) embrace it ==>

2) accept it ==>

3) close your eyes and go back to sleep <END>.

2. Stick your nose outside the blankets

If it feels cold, this is God’s subtle way of telling you two things: 1) it’s winter – cold, dark, and miserable; 2) God doesn’t want you stumbling around screwing up creation. Go back to sleep <END>.

If not, proceed to the next step ==>

  1. Do a systems check
    1. Wiggle toes then bend knees. Does everything seem to be functioning correctly? If not, you’re paralyzed… or you blew step one and are still asleep… give up the struggle and accept oblivion <END>.
    2. Does wiggling your toes and bending your knees cause considerable pain. If so, you’ve Rip Van Winkled and are now over sixty-five, on social security, and retired… go back to sleep; you have no place to go <END>.

If not,

3. Check your head. Does the slightest movement cause you excruciating pain? Is your tongue glued to the top of your mouth?Hung Over (2)

If so, you’re hung over; go back to sleep <END>.

If not, proceed to the next step ==>

  1. Environmental check… are you alone?
    1. If not, are you married?

If so, situation normal… proceed to the next step ==>

2. If not,

coyote ugly (2)i.   Try to remember who you were with last night. If this is a person you wouldn’t mind seeing in the full light of day,  proceed    to   the next step ==>

ii.   If not, are you in your own place

1)If so, lie completely still… don’t even breathe…  until the other person gives up on you, or decides you’re not worth seeing in full daylight, and leaves ==>

2)If not, very, very quietly try to collect your clothes and shoes (remember to do a sock and underwear check under the bed). If detected, say one of the following

“Sorry… got an early meeting.”

“Sorry! I jog every morning at this time.”

“Sorry! The CDC doesn’t like me to be outside the isolation ward for more than eight hours.”

“Sorry, I got to get back to the prison before they do a bed check.”

Then flee… flee quickly before the other person reaches an adequate state of awareness to realize what a crock this all is <END>

  1. Slide your outside leg from under the covers and extend the attached foot and toes to the floor.
    1. Floor cold! (See Step 2 above.)
    2. Floor not there!

Try to remember your last memories of the night before… did rock climbing seem like a good idea at 2 A.M. after a few too many beers?

If so, the good news is, you survived… so far… don’t move… hope your cell phone still has a charge and the National Parks Service team that rescues you has a sense of humor <END>.

3. Step on a cat! Do you own a cat?

i.   Yes! Good news is you’re probably in your own bed. The other news… cats tend to be vindictive and do not like to be Angry Cat (2)stepped on… wait for it ==>

ii.   No! Refer to the evasion procedure outlined in Step 4.b above.

4. Floor there, reasonably reachable, pleasantly warm, sans cat. Go to next step ==>

  1. Slide the inside leg out over the side of the bed until the attached foot finds its mate. This will cause the rest of the body to assume a sitting position on the side of the bed ==>

7. Second systems check (Refer to Step 3 above)

8. Assume a standing position.

1. Room spins and shakes. Are you in California?

i.   No! – go back to bed; you’re still drunk <END>.

ii.   Yes! – get under the bed until the room stops moving and something heavy falls on you; worry about how you got there later <END>.

2. Room is stable. Do you remember where the bathroom is?

                       i.   If not, walk toward the light (make sure it’s not a window before you step through) <END>.

ii.   If so, proceed to the bathroom and refer to Morning Procedure (MP) 2 – “The Three Morning S’s.” (V2.R3.5) <TERMINATE APPLICATION>


Pet Restaurant Peeves of an Aging Boomer in the Land of the Millennials: The Unexpected Day-Care Center.

Ever been out somewhere having a nice, pleasant meal, and a day-care center breaks out next to you. You know what I mean…

Misbehaving (2)“Johnny! Stop that!”

Back to adult amusements, while child ignores parent, then…

“Johnny! Stop that!”

Back to adult amusements, while child ignores parent, then…

“Johnny! Stop that!”

Flash the vacuous “ain’t he cute” smile to the other patrons; child still ignoring parent… then…

“Johnny! Stop that!”

Repeat until every other adult in the place is ready to commit parenticide. Especially those who

  • either arranged baby-sitters for their brood and are trying actually to enjoy an uninterrupted adult-to-adult experience; or
  • have long ago sent their own little monsters off into their own lives and have maintained a good hundred-mile formal-visit-when-we-want-but-can’t-be-called-at-the-last minute-to-babysit buffer zone between themselves and the grand kids; or
  • have had enough of little Johnny’s acting out in a public place and the narcissistically inept parenting skills of Little Johnny’s quasi-adult supervision.

I attribute parents turning restaurants into day-care centers on a couple of factors

1. The complete collapse of the baby-sitting industry due to the over-regulation of the workplace by the government, as in,

Did you withhold federal, state, social security and Medicare tax from the babysitter’s payment?Babysitter (2)

Did you have the babysitter fill out a Form I-9 establishing their immigration status?)

and the spread of the personal-injury lawyer plague;

2. The proliferation of parenting books that indicate if one were to ever to discipline the little darling, the child’s is on a straight line to a tower and a high-powered rifle, and it’s the parents’ fault;

3. The solipsism of Millennials, who seem actually to believe that whatever is acceptable in their world is acceptable in the entire known universe, which is of course their world; the rest of us are merely the audience and the laugh-track plays in their heads (which explains why they don’t seem to hear their kids acting up in public).

Now granted, you have to be a little careful with this. As far as their relationship to day-care centers, restaurants exist on a continuum from Chuck E. Cheese to the Pope’s private dining room. So, whereas a certain degree of parenting mayhem should be expected, and is certainly acceptable, in certain types of restaurants, in others it is not.

My darling wife and I occasionally like to go to the local Pizza Hut; they have a good deal on the salad bar and the red wine is palatable. This is also the place where a server offered me a straw with my wine.

Pizza Hut (2)


But, hey! It’s Pizza Hut.

At the best of times, Pizza Hut is a day-care center on testosterone… not as bad as Chick E. Cheese, which I’m sure Dante would have placed in the lower levels of Hell as punishment for career DINKS.

But, hey! It’s Pizza Hut!

My wife and I go there because you can get salad bar, the soup de jour (which in Indiana is considered a soup flavor when the jours are in season), garlic bread and a couple of glasses of wine – with or without straws – for under thirty bucks with tip.

Are your ears ringing for the next twelve hours?


But, hey! It’s Pizza Hut.

Fine Restaurant (3)Would we put up with Pizza-Hut level of family bedlam at our favorite restaurant in town, where the owner, a school trained chef from Bologna, prepares whatever suites her fancy and you’re not getting out of there for less than a yard and a half?

Hell, no! It isn’t Pizza Hut!

Yet, the other day, we were there enjoying Mama Ciao’s cuisine, but in the booth across from us we had a young couple with a new-born in a carry-in bassinette, who wailed through all five courses, while mama periodically shushed the little darlin’, and whose brother and sister, who looked to be no older than seven, squirmed, complained, kicked the table and refused to eat, while Daddy occasionally scolded and threatened between bites of his frito misto.

Eh! Stonat’! Questo non è Pizza Hut!

Now, before you accuse me of being a pedimist, let me state for the record that I don’t blame the kids at all; they’re just being kids. They’re bored out of their little, unsocialized minds and are punishing their parents for inflicting on them what they consider a horrible experience.

Unfortunately, the rest of us are caught in the blast radius, and modern parents seem unable to defuse the bomb.

At Pizza Hut prices, that’s fine. You get what you pay for as the philosopher says. It goes with the territory, like soda straws go with the wine.

 Ma, mi’ donn’! Not in a place where red wine sparkles into crystal goblets; where warm, crusty bread soaks up first-press olive oil; where the ossoboca melts off the bone… and the cannoli… ah… the cannoli… but I digress.

Perhaps I should use an analogy my college philosophy professor used to help us thick-headed undergraduate kerns understand how we evaluate things.

Dirt? Is dirt ‘good’ or ‘bad’? It depends on the context. Dirt in your garden… that’s good. Dirt on your kitchen floor… not so much.

So what about kids.

Kids in the home… wonderful!

Kids in a crowded restaurant… not so much.

Daycare (2)So here’s my offer!

If parents promise not to turn my favorite restaurant into a day-care center, I promise not to eat dinner in their nursery.


Alligator Bags Record-Breaking Family in Florida After Epic Struggle.

Al E. Gator (2)This weekend, a half-ton alligator battled over ten hours before finally bagging an entire Florida family, a record-breaking catch.

The fifteen-foot Al E. Gator, who prefers to be called Al and considers the term “gator” species-ist, caught the family in the drive-up line of a McDonalds along the Apalachicola River near the city of Bristol, Florida.

All Saturday afternoon the hard-pressed reptile wrangled the crew of Big-Mac biters near Bristol and finally brought the entire bunch to a check-in station at Chattahoochee State Park, where they weighed in at an incredible – even by Mickey D standards – 1,011.5 pounds, not counting their rusted-out Ford F-150 short-bed.

The gigantic family of McNugget munchers included Eileen Sideways; her husband and second cousin, Bob Sideways; her first cousin and uncle, Emmitt Radiation; and Ed Zup, who strangely seems to share no DNA with the others.

Al reports that he started his hunt Friday night after the local bars closed, a prime feeding time at the Golden Arches and, using a chocolate thick shake as bate, wound up battling this mammoth catch until late Saturday afternoon, before finally firing the fatal shots.Eileen Sideways (2)

The gargantuan family is the largest ever to be bagged in the state of Florida, beating the former record by over 273 pounds.

Al’s feat may even surpass the record for world’s largest family, which was previously declared to be an 880-pound family of four bagged by a cougar in Texas at a Pizza Hut, according to the National Geographic Society.

The family was so enormous that when Florida Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries biologists attempted to weigh them, they broke the winch assembly designed to lift them.

Al says he’s exhausted by his ordeal, but he’s likely to get out there to hunt again. He isn’t after another record-breaking catch.

“Right now the fairest way for me to say it is that I’ll apply for a family permit again, but I can assure you, I have no desire to hook into anything like this again,” he said. “I truly don’t.”

Allegator Shoes (2)Al refuses to accept any criticism for shooting the family. “It’s not like they’re an endangered species,” he insists. “They’re everywhere… and besides, if I don’t do my part to cull the herd, they’ll just overpopulate and starve.”

Al says he has no intention of eating the family because the high levels of saturated fat would be bad for his health. He will use their hides for a handbag with a matching pair of shoes and a wallet. Besides, despite popular rumor, they taste nothing like chicken.

“Business” and Cell Phones: Another Pet Restaurant Peeve of an Aging Boomer in the Land of the Millennials.

Tardis (2)Back in the day, when you were at a restaurant and needed to make a phone call, you excused yourself, left the table, went to the lobby (or the area right outside the restrooms), entered a device called a “phone booth” (think Dr. Who), closed the door behind you, and did your “business.”

If you received a call while dining out, your waiter informed you and you would repeat most of the steps above.

I imagine society was more “proprietary” about itself back then, as in “I don’t want you in my business and please don’t involve me in yours.”Fussy Lady (2)

Not so much anymore!

I imagine my daring Aunt Mae would be appalled at how we conduct our “business” today. In fact, “business” was a word I heard quite often from her, usually in the phrase, “Mind your own business, Skippy!”

Back then, my “business” as a child was completely isolated from the “business” of adults and especially strangers.

My “business” with adults included behaving, going to church on Sunday, washing my hands and face before meals, not tracking dirt into the house… things like that.

My “business” with my friends was not ratting out my buddies; playing baseball, football, punch ball, stick ball… basically anything played with a ball according to the season; being cool, tough and respected à la James Dean.

As far as my teachers went… don’t talk in line, turn in my homework, study my lessons, and be respectful.

That was most of my legitimate “business” as a kid… and I was expected to keep to it. And, oh, yes… never talk to strangers.

The adults were helpful in this. They wouldn’t talk about their “business” in front of the kids. But, if they had to, it was in whispers… or in adult-code… “Did you hear about Erin Dolan… she’s… well… you know…”

Dick Tracy (2)If ever my uncle, who was an NYPD plainclothesman, was forced to take a call while out at a restaurant, he went to the “phone booth.” When he came back, my Aunt Mae would ask, “Is everything all right?” to which my uncle would nod, or ask the waiter for the check. That was it! What was going on in that world was not my “business.”

Today, everybody’s “business” seems to be out there and everywhere.

It’s the over-loud conversation in the next booth about who’s sleeping with whom, or who just got bad news from a doctor, or who’s lost a job, or whose kid is having problems at school…

The other day, my darlin’ wife and I were having dinner at a local dinner when, from across the room, we heard one of the waitresses say, “I hate that fucking bitch. If I see her again, I’m going to stick a fork in her eye!”

I don’t know. Maybe the “fucking bitch” deserves it. But, I don’t want to know about it!

Then, it’s the seemingly omnipresent cell phone beasts.

I’m not talking about the guy surfing the net or checking his emails at the next table… that’s between him and his date… if she even notices while she’s checking her Quicken accounts to see if she can afford the cab-ride home.

I’m talking about the idiot, who not only has an obnoxious ring tone turned up to full blast, usually a Manheim Steamroller arrangement of a Obnoxious Cell Phone (2)Guns n’ Roses tune, but obviously doesn’t need cell service at all because the volume of the conversation is so loud that the souls damned to Hades can hear it… and having to listen to it is obviously part of their damnation.

What the rest of us poor souls sharing a restaurant with this moron did to deserve this punishment is beyond my eschatological ken.

I was reading a novel the other day, and one of the characters, a private detective / spy of some sort, made reference to a device that can block cell-phone signals within a certain radius. According to this fictional-dick, the device runs on triple-A batteries and can be concealed in a pocket.

I was intrigued.

So, I did a little research on Google et voilà… these devices actually do exist… and the cost is quite reasonable. I discussed a putative deployment of the technology with my better nature… aka, my wife… who was afraid that

1) it’s probably a violation of Federal law or some FCC regulation; and

2) it could block a critical call, like a doctor, lawyer or Indian chief.

So, I have decided – at least temporarily – not to deploy the technology.

EMP (2)But, beware evil doers and morons everywhere… one more rousing cell phone rendition of “The Evil Woman” played on a kazoo in the middle of my entrée may push me over the edge and I will unleash an electro-magnetic pulse that will fry your smart-ass-phone!

Reflections on John Donne and the Passing of Robin Williams.

Like millions of Americans, I was shocked and saddened when I heard of the passing of Robin Williams.

The next day, the news of his death dominated the pages of the USA Today I picked up in the lobby of the hotel where my wife and I were staying. Of course, outpourings of grief and a sense of tragedy filled the pages and posts of Facebook, Twitter and the other social media.

However, after getting over the initial shock, and feeling certainly some pangs of regret, I didn’t see this as a tragedy, not in my life at least.

I have always been a fan of Williams’ work, but I never knew Williams as a person. I knew him only through the characters he portrayed and his public persona.

I’m sure that for his wife, family and friends, his passing is heartbreaking, a great tragedy. I feel a great deal of empathy for those who have lost a husband, a father, a friend.

But again, I never knew the man himself.

With Ebola ravaging Africa and threatening to go world-wide; with Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border bringing about the threat of war; with Islamic extremists slaughtering Christians in Iraq; with Israel again pounding Gaza; with the mad Ayatollahs in Iran and the Stalinist Gilbert and Sullivan generalissimos in North Korea close to getting their hands on a nuke, etc., etc., etc., I was amazed that the death of one man, a major entertainer and celebrity certainly but one man none the less, could receive such strident media attention.

You can assume, if you wish, that the explanation for my lack of participation in this outpouring of national grief is I just don’t get it socially. I’m an old crusty boomer totally out of touch with today’s society.

You can also write me off supposing that, after three tours in Nam and over twenty years as an Army ranger, my emotional responses are shut down or so carefully guarded that even I can’t detect them anymore.

If that’s what you want to believe, I can live with that.

My suggestion to you, then, is stop reading now and rest comfortably in those facile rationalizations. It will save you some time.

I don’t buy it!

One of the valuable legacies of my PTSD therapy is that it taught me how to examine my subconscious and to understand my emotional responses to external stimuli. After some reflection on the matter (there’s not much more to do here in Edison, NJ) here’s what I’ve come up with.

First, as I mentioned before, I didn’t know the man. I do know his characters. So, my sense of regret is not so much for the man himself; it’s for his manifestations in my life through Mork… Adrian Cronauer… the Blue Genie… it’s for Simon Roberts with whom I will not be able to spend more time. In my mind, that’s who died, not an individual named Robin Williams.

This leads to my second point. I’m not really feeling sorry for Williams and the loss his family suffered; I’m feeling sorry for myself!

But, I can watch the reruns. Within a few months I may not even consciously register that the man himself has passed as I watch Parry help Jack Lucas find some closure in The Fisher King with my Arthurian Legends class at Northwestern.

This leads to my third point. In my life, I have lost my parents, a daughter, all my aunts and uncles, a few cousins, comrades in Vietnam, friends, whom I loved dearly and mourn for daily.

I didn’t know Robin Williams.

Certainly, his death stirs up all the feelings that I have for the loss of these others. So, the sorrow evoked by Williams’ death is more about myself in the context of the loss of my loved ones than it is for the loss of the man himself.

In fact, I suspect the unexpected and premature death of this man, with whom we are connected through his characters, cracks the façade of that great act of denial that we all practice… we are forced to remember, even for a brief moment, not only our own mortality, but that it is likely to be “unexpected”… “premature.”

In this way, Williams is “everyman.”

So, for Robin Williams, “Na Nu, Na Nu, Buddy!”

We’ll miss you! Your wacky irreverence helped us forget the problems and tragedies of our own lives so we can get though another day. We hope you’re happier where you are now than when you were here with us. Say “hey” to Orson for us!

For myself and the rest of us, I recall the words of John Donne,

Each man’s death diminishes me,

For I am involved in mankind.

Therefore, send not to know

For whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for thee.