Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Making ME Smile: Sneak Preview, quick, take a look....


By Leon Tchaikovsky

“I laughed so hard, I peed myself. I think this book is subsidized by the adult undergarment industry.”

“If you have to read one book in front of you, read this one.”

"As one paid to recommend books, while I never read the book I am paid to endorse, I can most highly recommend this book."

To ME,
Who appreciated how laughter improves life and health.
(No, I am not so vain as to dedicate a book to myself. ME is her initials.)

Dear ME,

In this day of Twitter and e-mails, I am glad to have received an actual e-mailed letter from you. I am glad you wish to be my Internet “friend”. I don’t spend much time on these Internet social connection sites. An intern created some Internet spaces for me so I could “connect” with the outside world.

As a person figuring out the 19th century in time for the 21st century, I have my doubts about Internet outside world connections. Why do outsiders need to hide behind an expensive machine to write me inane dribble? Some days, I curse Al Gore for inventing it.

I connect just fine with the outside world. In fact, the outside world connects with me too much already. If one wishes to speak with me, come to my office, or telephone me. What happened to communication where you can hear someone’s voice and see their faces?

Often, one learns more about what is being said by the tone of the voice, or a twinkle in the eyes, or the ears flaring red so much they give off steamed heat. What happened to communication between parties in real time? Today, people speak in 140 letters or less, or in short spurts, texting or Twittering, or Tweeting, whatever it is called. (I thought Tweeting was a cartoon character).

You are the first, and so far, only person who has befriend me on the Internet who discussed anything in more than a few words. Granted, it is great finding old high school and college friends from the ancient past (I recall students who had slider rulers. Not that I could use one. Today, you find slide rulers in museums as tools no one remembers for what they were used), and becoming “friends” again. Yet, that is all they want to do: add you to their collection of friends.

That must be the name of the game: collect as many friends as you can get. When I was young, we collected baseball cards. Now people collect “friends”. Can you trade friends? I’ll give you, from my site, two friends from the audio visual club for, from your site, one Yogi Berra?

I am glad to have heard from so many old high school and college buddies. I responded to their “Friend” requests and sent letters telling the how my life has been. Most responded with a quick note, often stating they will “write more later”. I wrote back. You are the only one who did “write back later.”

Your writing means the world to me. When I saw you wanted to “friend” me, my heart skipped a beat. At my age, the heart does that. If there is anyone in the world I most wished to hear from you, it is you. I know, to you, I was one of those nerds who admired you from afar. You were the Prom Queen, the cheerleader, the one on whom every guy and a few girls, even some straight ones, in school had a crush. Yet, to me, you more than some beautiful fantasy that held people captive and then was discarded when the next fantasy woman came along (although, to be fair, I hear you were the town’s top fantasy until cable television came to town.)

You were that friend whose locker was next to mine, who sat next to me in Science classes (because they designated lab partners by boy-girl in alphabetical order and our last names were alphabetically closest. If we had different last names, we probably never would have become friends, so fate intervened, but what is fate, other than dealing with who is there before you?)

We spoke to each other every day. We told jokes through classes. You were what brightened my day, every day, through high school. I was the new kid in high school, and you were my first and practically only friend. It was just, at the end of the day, I went on a school bus to a farm far away and you walked home to where you lived the life that the most beautiful girl in school lived. For all those laughs and conversations, I will always remember you.

They’ve been playing songs from our high school days on the “oldies but moldies” radio station. E-mailing you has made me think about matters I haven’t recalled in 35 to 39 years. These songs, some of which I haven’t heard or, if I heard them, I didn’t bother listening to them, in over three decades. Memories are rushing back.

One of these memories is probably a stupid one to mention, because it may seem meaningless when you read it. Yet, it means the world to me. Let me first state, meaningless things can mean something, if you know what I mean. For example, I recall when something my late wife told me. (See, wives, sometimes we husbands are listening.) She observed she could first tell she was falling in love with me when I did something so simple, something so small that I never, at that time, gave it another thought. It was when we began dating, and it started to rain, and I put my hand above her head to keep the rain from falling on her face. The look of me protecting her from the rain is something she always remembered. So, I guess we are prone to determine entire relationships from single moments that let us see who the other person is. All this time, we men think we can impress women with tales of great feats, and all the time, what women want is to be protected from the rain.

You were the first girl I ever fell in love with. OK, 13 year old love. It, though, is the kind of loves that never ends, like Charlie Brown always waiting for the little red hair girl to sit beside him. Poor Charlie, he never got to kick a football either, yet neither did I as our high school didn’t have football, but I digress.

We never went out on a date or even kissed, so it wasn’t that kind of love. So when your husband finds this e-mail, he may be reassured that I am not and never was a threat to your relationship. I am not and never was a Communist, but that’s another inquisition. I know it is your husband and your children that you love, that is the way it should always be, and that’s the way it always will be. I am just sort dork from high school living thousands of miles away writing stupid things on a computer.

We were seat mates and lab partners in Freshmen Science class. The teacher was showing some movie about something that was probably gross, like frogs with their guts hanging out in places where the frog, if asked, would have seriously questioned . We find dissected frogs grosser than those stupid slasher films where teenagers too stupid to live run one by one back into the barn where the guy with the chain saw demonstrates human internal organs for our educational purposes. I guess maybe it is because we realize the poor frog really gave his life for cinema.

There was a moment during viewing frog interiors I’ve never forgotten. I could see your reflection on the movie projector. You had the loveliest face and most beautiful hair I ever saw. You saw me looking at your reflection, and you smiled. That was the greatest moment in the life so far that a 13 year old ever had. Of course, you were probably smiling thinking “cool frog guts.” Still, you did smile.

I have made it my mission, as long as you wish to receive them, to continue making you smile. I hope these e-mails bring some laughter to you. I now have a purpose in life.


Dear ME,

Hello, ME. Wait, I thought I was me. Am I writing to myself? Have I gone senile and I’m talking to myself even when I write e-mails? Maybe that will become the next senility test: whether you spend time sending yourself e-mails, and responding back.

I think it is cool that your initials spell “ME” and that you go by that.

I saw the current photographs you posted on the Internet. I know that we haven’t seen each other for 35 years, and over those years, we change. We get older and fatter. Now, how do I hide that fact from you?

You look great. You were beautiful in high school and you continue looking great.

Yes, as you mentioned, you and my late wife would have loved taking long hunting safaris together. Too bad you never met. With respects to Groucho Marx, the two of you probably would have found an elephant in my pajamas, and then bought it.

I timed it once: time spent getting shoes for my wife was two and a half hours. Time spent getting shoes for me: 30 seconds. We walked into the men’s shoe store, my wife saw a pair she liked on display, I tried them on, they fit, and we bought them.

I learned that many women are gatherers. Such women need to gather many different kinds and color of shoes, try them on, carefully calculate until you’ve found that perfect pair, buy them, take them home, and then return them.

Your comment about shoes making your butt look fat confused me. What is the Physics involved where a shoe enlarges the size of one’s butt? I know every woman understands this concept upon birth, but we men cannot comprehend this. Unless there is a tube running from the shoe through your pants legs that someone inflates the back of your pants, I have no idea how this is even possible.

This also reminds me of that question that women have for which there is no correct answer. “Does this make my butt look fat?” For thousands of years, and with millions of responses, no man has ever found a correct response. Not answering is an incorrect response. My intern told me he once found an answer when his wife asked that question. His response was “no, it is your fat butt that makes your butt look fat.”

That is also an incorrect response.

It is great hearing from you. But (and that is with one “t”), I am sorry we are separated by distance. I loved the photos. You look great. And, no, your butt does not look fat.


Dear ME,

Your stories about Catholic religion classes were amusing. You ought to be proud that you challenged a nun so much that she then changed her name so the two of you wouldn’t have the same name. That is actually powerful, and you used that power against a nun, which is rare. Sorry comic book collectors, but super powers are usually reserved for nuns. I have heard stories of the 4’10” nuns who would use the power of God to stare at a 6’ student and make his body fling across the room. You were brave to stand up and question a nun.

Not counting my wife changing her last name, I never heard of anyone making someone else change a first name. I bet it was you, years ago, who convinced that attorney from Hawaii Barry to change his name to Barack. Wonder what ever happened to him?

I’ve had problems with my name. Back when I was in Alcatraz (as a tourist, as you probably presumed something else), I had a tour guide who used to be an Alcatraz prisoner. He stated his name is “Whitey”. He added that his real name is “Leon”, but he hates that name, and that he used to beat up anyone whenever he heard that name. He then asked me what my name was. I replied, “what a coincidence, my name is Whitey, too.”

Several years ago I did once see a child whose parents may want to think about changing his name. He was a cute kid running around, yet I kept hearing his parents yelling at him “Saddam, stop running”, “Saddam, come here.” Yes, if you’ve named a child “Saddam”, you may want to consider calling him by his middle name.

My family has Catholic roots. We were excommunicated, though. The priest said the best thing our family could do for the Catholic Church was to become Protestants. In fact, they decided they best we could do for Catholicism would be to go wreck havoc on the Baptists, but they realized the Baptists probably wouldn’t take us. So we become Congregationalists, as it seems they will take anyone.

I also have Jewish roots. Great, I have centuries of both Jewish guilt and Catholic guilt in my genes. For some reason, I even feel guilty telling you this.

I do remember the old church. I recall one time the minister was finished speaking and sat down. A little child couldn’t see to where the minister disappeared, and he screamed out “where did God go?”

One of my all time favorite child stories happened during an air flight. The flight attendant came to the part where she announced that our seats can be used as flotation devices. A child screamed out in delight “this plane has a pool?”

When you debated a nun who claimed that animals do not have souls, I want you to know I agree with you. In fact, I agree with Will Rogers, who was told that there were no dogs in Heaven. He replied, if that is the case, then when he died, he wanted to go where they go. This also reminds me that W.C. Fields stated he would rather be dead than in Philadelphia. I lived for several years in Philadelphia, and, in reply to Mr. Fields. I offer no argument.

When I first moved to Philadelphia, I spent hours walking around the streets of Philadelphia trying to figure out what people in Philadelphia do for fun. Finally, I found a Philadelphia and I asked “I’ve been walking the streets of Philadelphia for hours looking for something to do. Tell me, what is it you Philadelphians do for fun?” He replied “you just did it.”

There used to be parking lots around Philadelphia. You could park your car for free. The only thing was the lot wasn’t responsible if the car was stolen. I asked the lot attendant how he makes any money. He replied “simple, we steal the cars.” Seriously, it turns out that one of the largest owners of parking spaces was a tow truck operation. As soon as the time expired, they towed the cars away and that’s how they made their money.

I grew up with a dog family. Fortunately, we had a farm with many acres they could run on. We had the father dog, the mother dog, we kept one from the first litter, and from the second litter, my mother wanted to keep one puppy and my father wanted to keep another puppy. By sticking to their guns, we wound up keeping both. Growing up with five dogs, I didn’t realize until I went to college that clothing does not naturally come with dog hair.

Dear ME,

Yes, I did hear about your marriage shortly after graduation. I recall that you were the first classmate to marry. That was no surprise, as you were the most popular. I am sure there were lots of guys, a few gals, and even castratos chasing after you.

I didn’t know the circumstances of your marriage until many years later. It was funny, because I was discussing how things have changed over the decades. Parent’s Night at school used to mean a night when students would bring their parents to school. Today, it’s a night where the students bring their children.

I have met a 25 year old grandmother. When young kids get pregnant, their children grow up with early pregnancy as their norm. Teen pregnancy is becoming more common. When we were in high school, we worried about the water fountain breaking. Today, kids in high school worry about their water breaking.

I once had a woman ask me questions regarding a form that had been returned. It seems a bureaucrat was confused because she had four daughters listed, and she had given all four daughters the same first name. She then added “I tell them apart by calling them by their last names.”

When I was discussing our classmates with a friend once, she also noted how times have changed. She noted there had only been one pregnancy in our class. Simultaneously, I blurted out a name, and she blurted out another name, yours.

Maybe there were two pregnancies in our class.

My family has Catholic roots. We were excommunicated, though. The priest said the best thing our family could do for the Catholic Church was to become Protestants. In fact, they decided they best we could do for Catholicism would be to go wreck havoc on the Baptists, but they realized the Baptists probably wouldn’t take us. So we become Congregationalists, for it seems they will take anyone.

Even though they had been excommunicated, my Grandfather seemed to retain some roots to Catholicism. I remember my Grandfather watching the news when it was reported that a bomb had killed several people in Belfast. My Grandfather comments how terrible it was that such senseless killings were going on in Ireland. More details came through about the incident, to which my Grandfather then added "well, at least those killed were Protestants."

People used to whisper about such things as pregnancies back then. You could not state such things out loud or else children would learn they weren’t delivered by storks. The pro-stork lobby was quite strong then. I have no idea what you went through, especially in a rural area during a more conservative era. The bulk of what you faced occurred after we graduated, I left town, and we no ran into each other every day. I wish I wish there to have heard what you had to say. I wouldn’t have judged.

I remember the principal shut down a school play for being obscene. The obscene line was one where a doctor tells a father that his daughter “is a virgin”. The principal considered the word “virgin” to be obscene. I observe how repressed a school must be that they didn’t want us to even learn about virginity. Which probably explains the students who dated the teachers: they were never taught any better.

Of course, today, to kids today, you were a trend setter. What I will note is how well things worked out. You have been happily married for 35 years and had wonderful successful children who have jobs and families of their own. That is what life is all about. Didn’t mean to get philosophical, but yes, that is the answer to the question of what life is about.

There is a Native American tale that the secret to happiness is that you are born, you grow up, you find a spouse, you have children, your children grow up, your parents die, and then you die. The reason that is the key to happiness is because human misery is traced to breaks in that pattern. No one should ever judge you, especially when you have found and lived the key to happiness.


Dear ME,

I am heartened (which I think means I am glad and not that my arteries are hardening) to learn I can make you laugh. I thought I could do that in high school (I have vague recollections about a school newspaper and writing jokes). I am in a serious environment that represses laughter. It is against work policies to laugh. The union agreed to that, I think, in return for dental benefits.

So, thank you for opening up the opportunity for me to find reasons to cause laughing. They say that laughter has health benefits. It releases endorphins or something that actually makes you feel better. There are other ways to get endorphins, but I can't tell you that until you are older and you bring in a permission slip. The nuns state I can only tell you that you can get endorphins from running, exercising, and throwing students across the room.

A flight magazine had an article that endorphins are many times more powerful than some pain medications. So, laughter is good for you. In fact, I checked my benefits plan, and we are allowed to laugh after work. We got that in place of a health plan.

How is the pearl business? Did you see the cartoon last week that did a joke about pearls being from irritated oysters? If not, then you have no idea what I am rambling about. I thought of you when I saw it. Plus, you ask me, I should think the oysters would be more than irritated when you kill them and remove their pearls.


Dear ME, (not me, you. You know who.)

It is interesting how our parents and their friends recall World War II and never want to speak about it. Yet, our friends who served in Viet Nam won’t shut up about their experiences. One of my veteran friends explained the differences this way: in World War II, almost every guy of age went to war. Few felt that what they did wasn't anything special compared to what others went through. Plus, back then, once you joined, you usually stayed in until the war was over. When you returned, there was this sense of putting it all behind you. Viet Nam was a different war where people had tours of duty and their stories were often unique.

My military career was shut short by the luck of the cards, literally. I was non-scholarship ROTC, which meant I the option but not the obligation to serve as an officer but I had the option to enter the Army as an officer after college. I took a course in Nuclear Military Strategy. I thought that would be neat: being in charge of nukes. It was an easy course because there is only one strategy one can take: to never use them. What a job that would be: to be in charge of something that could destroy the world and you are to sit there watching it sit. What bothered me is there were quite a few of my classmates who were thinking of what it would be like to fire one. Just for the fun of it. Oops, Soviet Union, sorry about that. We’ll build you another city to replace that one. Sleep well knowing those are the guys with their fingers on the launch codes.

A teacher once brought in some exterior components of a nuclear bomb. A student came in late and thought the bomb was a trash can and, while running to her seat, threw her used coffee cup away. I just remember her action when the teacher turned to her and announced “you just threw your coffee cup away in my nuclear bomb.” And thus a new flavor of specialty coffee was invented.

There was some strategy card game a Military Science Professor had us play. He assigned each of us to be different countries. I was assigned to be a small country that could tilt the balance of power. I figured out that the assignment was to make a deal to create an alliance with a powerful alliance should they could win the game. After all, I thought it was just a game. When I did that, some of my friends on the other side of the alliance felt betrayed. Hey, I was young and innocent. We know young guys never betray anyone. (Which reminds me, I was supposed to meet a woman at a coffee shop after that class. I forgot all about it. I hope she isn’t still waiting for me.) It literally was the lords of discipline: these students came up to after class, stated they could never trust me, and politely suggested I leave ROTC because if I were ever their lieutenant leading them into battle, I would be the first casualty. I decided it best to go into something safer, and that is how I became an alligator wrestler.

I did learn a life lesson from that. Once you pick a side, stick with it. Unless you find a reason why that side is not what you thought it was, never abandon your friends and associates. It is more respectful to stand besides your friends until the end then to abandon them. What is victory is you’ve lost the respect of your friends? Plus, the winning side shouldn’t trust you once they suspect you are only someone who will abandon them when the going gets rough.

As I work in policy fields, this doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind on an issue if I learn more facts or gain a new perspective. It does mean, though, that I distrust people who flip flop on issues or candidates solely to be on the winning side. Don’t trust such people. They don’t care about issues but only themselves.

A friend of mine saw a nuke once. Someone had pointed on the side of it “your pizza, anywhere in the world in ten minutes.” Remember, if you ever see a nuclear bomb, don’t throw your coffee into one.

This reminds me of a friend of mine in college whose uncle literally experienced an old joke. The old joke goes “where is the best place to be when a nuclear bomb explodes?” Joke answer: “somewhere where you can say “what was that?” Her uncle was a farmer outside of Hiroshima who one day was working the fields when he heard something that threw him to the ground and we stood up and said ‘what was that?” Fortunately, he lived for many decades afterwards. Many others can’t make that same claim.

A friend of yours and mine served in the Air Force during World War II. He only recently told me something I never knew. He was assigned to one of the planes designed to drop the nuclear bomb. His crew wasn’t selected. As I started in the beginning, we’ve known him for decades and he only recently will talk about it. I hope more World War II veterans will open up and discuss their experiences. This is an important part of history I hope is captured.

Another friend served in the Navy during World War II. He was in Papua New Guinea where there still were cannibals. He remembers being at a market and someone was selling the leg of a dead Japanese soldier. One day everyone was called back onto the ship because three sailors were missing. The cannibals had eaten them. Airstrips were built for planes to land and refuel. To keep from being eaten, gifts were given to the local cannibals. When the war was over, the planes stopped landing. This also meant there was no one bringing them gifts. The cannibals wanted the gifts to continue, so they did the one thing they could think of to try and bring the gift giving back: they built a new airstrip.

OK, some humor with some disturbing images. But, anytime you see a disturbing image, just put down the photograph of me and you’ll feel better

I recall a friend telling me how she and you were in one of those bicycle gangs that terrorized town. You put baseball cards into the spokes so the noise would frighten little old ladies. I believe you robbed liquor stores together or something. (I am just kidding. You would never rob a liquor store if you were under aged.) Were you associated with the Blood or the Crips? I need to know so if I ever run into you, I need to know to wear the correct shirt color. I don't want to get killed here.

Speaking of the Crips, I had a friend who was once crossing the street to the beach in Venice when a number of girls jumped out of a car and beat her up, and then fled. They announced to her that she had just been beaten up by the Crips. When I heard that, of course, my first thought was “I should get her a t-shirt that reads “I got beat up by the Crips and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” Of course, cooler thoughts later prevailed. I realized I could sell more t-shirts if they read “My friend got whacked by organized crime, and I all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” Aren’t I the sympathetic friend?

Dear ME,

I cheated on you. Well, that is how we men are. After vowing to try and make you smile, I made someone else smile. I assure you, it was meaningless, I didn’t mean for it to happen, and it will never happen again. If you know my jokes, you can certain it will never happen again. Please don’t judge, but it was a man, too.

I went to meet Placido Polanco. Of course, I am certain you are quite familiar with the Philadelphia Phillies third baseman. I know this because I read in a magazine that one of the most common thoughts during intimate moments involves recalling baseball statistics. So I realize that most women know that he his career batting average is.303. No idea how that would be a turn-on, but, who am I to judge?

Anyway, a guy in front of me called him “Placebo”. I believe the guy must be in some medical test program and he must be in the group getting the placebos. Anyway, Placido got upset that someone butchered his name. I then calmed him down and thanked him for being here. He felt better and smiled. Sorry, I know I promised all smiles for you, but, it happened. If it will help, I will share this with you: he also has hit 90 home runs.

Well, off to see Mika Brzezinski. At least I know there will be no duplication of that name mispronunciation disaster. After all, she has one of the common Polish names that everyone knows.

We often face cultural problems. I recall a friend who says he went to Scotland and a female baggage handler helped him to his room. Apparently, there is a slight difference in sentence structure used there. The baggage handler wanted to know if he wanted a knock on his door as a wake-up call and she asked “knock you up in the morning?” Imagine how that could be misconstrued.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, he learned it is an incorrect response to reply “no, knock you up in the morning.”

It is good to catch up on old friends. Did you know some of our classmates squatted in an old ice house on the dairy farm run by my Great Uncles? Yes, earn a high school diploma from our school and you can live in an abandoned building with no electricity. One of them was in the Honor Society. Her parents must have been so proud. Anyway, it turns out they were doing more that communing with nature. They were growing marijuana. I guess even living off the land and being with nature also requires some source of income.

They made one major miscalculation. Cows love to eat marijuana plants. Imagine my Great Uncle’s surprise when a group of hippies approached him in anger because his cows had eaten their pot plants. As a bit of advice, it is not a good idea to complain to the landlord when you are illegally squatting on his property to gripe that an illegal substance you are growing without his permission was eaten by the cows that belong there. Hopefully, this is advice you will never personally need, but, just in case, I pass it along.

Wonder what marijuana does to cows? Do they start tipping themselves? Do they chew and think “this grass is really better than grass, if you know what I mean?”

My Great Uncles were the last dairy allowed, under a grandfather clause (which apparently applies to great uncles as well), when the sale of raw milk was banned, dairies already selling raw milk were allowed to continue. Theirs was the last dairy left that sold raw milk. I asked some experts who informed me that the pot could have affected the milk. Well, that explains the upward spike in sales that week.

I also like how your pearl company puts out an alternative energy newsletter. I figured out what that is all about: you only care about the environment in order to protect the oysters so that you will have enough pearls to sell. Save the pearls, save the world.


Dear ME:

I regret joking about men cheating. It was a joke, but, in defense of men, the 95% of men who cheat make the 5% of us who don't look bad. I never cheated on my wife. Also, I never made many people laugh, so I didn’t run around making others laugh. There was a large petition delivered to me regarding that subject and a cease and desist order from the World Court. I am glad you appreciate my humor.

My contribution to the world of male-female relationships is twice I was told by women that they appreciated being with me for who I am and what we discuss. Of course, I am not sure how I was supposed to feel as they continued on to tell how they were sex addicts and that meeting me made them realize that they no longer had the desire to sleep with every man they meet. Well, I guess I can get a job someday of curing women of nymphomania just by meeting me.

One of our classmates should have met me. She told me how she was arrested for trespassing while nude. Remind me to someday search for the legislative study that created that law. She stated she had met a guy and passed out on his couch while he left for the day, only to learn she was in his girlfriend’s apartment when, to the surprise of all involved in this story, the girlfriend unexpectedly came home earlier than expected.

The girlfriend called the police and claimed a naked woman had broken into her apartment. When the police came, our friend couldn’t find her pants or underwear. She told me of the humiliation of being arrested and booked at the police station while wearing no pants.

I suspect she may have had a problem with substance use, as I pointed out that I presume the girlfriend probably quickly figured out that her boyfriend had cheated on her, hide her pants, and then called the police and spitefully reported her presence as a break-in. After all, how many burglars break into an apartment, take their pants off, lose their pants, and fall asleep on the couch? Granted, there have been several cases of this in a few states, but overall it is a rare occurrence.

When I suggested that the girlfriend had stolen her pants, this appeared as a revelation she hadn’t before considered. I asked her “were you wearing wants when you entered the apartment?” She told me had thought the boyfriend had taken her pants as some sort of trophy. So, either the guy was stupid enough to leave a pant-less woman in his girlfriend’s apartment, or the girlfriend stole the pants. Or, and this does happen rarely in a few states, a pant-less burglar broke into the apartment while she was sleeping on the couch and stole her pants so he would have pants when he left.

What I find amusing from this story (as if there were no amusing parts prior) was how many police officers came to check on her for weeks afterwards. It is good to know that the police force wishes to keep updated on the welfare of all pant-less women booked in their facilities.

From this, I learned: don’t cheat, or you may be find yourself half naked in a police station.

Of course, I remember your naked story. There was a high school newspaper poll. The question was “what was the worst trouble you ever got into”? Your answer was “when I got naked playing doctor with the boy next door”. Of course, you and the boy next door were five years old then and it was all completely innocent, although I still suspect some five year old boys know more than they let on.

The boy next door was asked the same question and read your answer, so, his reply was “last summer with ME”. It was a good joke, so that people would think you were teenagers and not five year olds playing doctor.

The principal, though, thought the answers were obscene and banned distribution of the high school newspaper. So, you were an early victim of censorship.

This was the same principal who didn’t approve of the word “virgin.” I would hate to see if he were principal today. I could be wrong, but I hear stronger words than “virgin” on television and songs today. I heard a song the other day where “virgin” was the only part that wasn’t obscene.

Not only are times changing, but today’s youth has little time perspective of history. I mentioned how a first cousin was killed in World War II, and he asked “were you two close?” How old does he think I am? I wasn’t even born then. I realize that college students have no idea when historical events happened. I can get away with telling them about my adventures when the Italian Air Force bombed Pearl Harbor to start the Spanish American War, which obviously was fought between Spain and Italy over whose wine is better.

When I was 35 years ago, I was with a college student intern who went into a fast food restaurant. He ordered a burger and shake. I said all I wanted was a coffee. The teenager at the register then repeated back the order: “one burger, one shake, and one senior citizen coffee.” I am not a senior citizen now, and I certainly wasn’t one when I was 35 years old.

Well, I will leave you with this present. Do you remember when people named stars? You would send in money and you would get a certificate back announcing that a star in a planet had been named according to your wishes. I fear that somewhere up there is a star named after Pee Wee Herman. People would name a star for a loved one (Pee Wee named his star himself) and would lie on the ground at night and look in the sky knowing that an entire star was named after someone loved, while the company doing this would be laughing all the way to the bank.

So, since I am cheap, I name a star for you. No, I am not paying anyone. This company only printed a list of names for unnamed stars. When this is published, I have as much right to claim a star for you. So, the next unnamed star to the direct right of the Pee Wee Herman Star: that is your star.

I hope all the residents of the ME solar system can pronounce your name. It’s not like you have an easy name like Brzezinksi.

How are things there? I miss living in a small town north of yours. Did I tell you I was the town’s first born baby of the year in 1956? Of course, I was born very early that year in October. Not only that, but I got the award for the first born after January 1 the year before. My town was so small that every Halloween I would win the school’s costume award for both funniest and scariest. It always bothered me when I won these, as I never wore a costume.

You are about a week older than I am. So, let me know when your birthday is and I’ll try and remember to add a year to my age around a week later. I don’t celebrate birthdays anymore. I am so old, someone tried to give my ear birthday pulls, someone witnessed this, and she was arrested for aggravated assault.


Dear ME,

I appreciate learning all about our classmate gossip, 35 to 39 years after the fact. I was out of the loop. I can tell you all the gossip about who I dated.

You will recall what a teenage nerd loser I was back then. Of course, today, that has all changed. Today, I am an adult nerd loser. My father taught me something important I had never realized. I learned how girls are just as scared and self-conscious as are guys and how it is hard for them to express that they are interested in boys. The girls who liked to tease me and stick pens in my back were actually trying to get my attention. The girl who used to walk past me all the time and say “I don’t have time to snub you today” really wanted to talk. My father explained how these girls were hoping I will notice then. So, he gave me a pep talk, told me to call, ask girls out, and I would be pleasantly surprised to learn that girls were waiting for me to call.

My father was a liar.

I asked practically every girl in our class out. Number of girls in our class that accepted: zero. This, of course, only made me self-conscious because now I also spent every day facing large numbers of girls who had turned me down. Those pen jabs in the back might not have been playful teasing after all. I now realize the pen jabber was trying to slowly kill me.

Not to worry, my father explained, because there were also girls known as junior girls. My father told me to try asking them out. Certainly there was a junior girl who would jump at the chance to date a senior.

My father lied, a lot.

There are sophomore girls. My father told me that definitely any sophomore girl would be honored to go out with a senior guy.

I learned my father was a serial liar.

OK, how about freshmen? Well, wouldn’t you know, that actually worked.

Which, in retrospect, makes me ask this question: what was her parents thinking? You are the mother of daughters: would you have let your freshman daughter date a senior? Even I wouldn’t let myself date myself, and I kind of like myself . OK, so I learned later she is a lesbian and maybe her parents were glad any guy took notice. But, still, date a senior? Someone should have called social services, but I digress.

The sad thing was I learned years later that I was the nice, respectable boy who she brought home to have dinner with her parents and take her out. Then, afterwards, she would slip out at night and date a biker guy her parents disliked. Maybe the rumors she is a lesbian were wrong.

My parents were friends with the parents of a college girl. Our parents thought we would make the perfect couple. My father actually drove me to Williams to spend the weekend with his friend’s daughter.

Am I the only father in our class who pimped out his son? Someone should have called social services, really, honestly.

By the way, and maybe you already learned this as a parent. If you ever want to kill a young romance, set the two of them up together. No one wants to date someone their parents arranged. As soon as I met her, the college girl made some things clear: I was to tell our parents we had a great time together, but that she would have nothing to do with me the entire weekend.

For the official record, we had a great time together. Someday I hope to actually meet her.

As an aside, the college girl got married several years later. Her parents brought her and her husband to me over to meet me and my parents, and to gloat. They were married and lived happily ever after, until her husband was later arrested for raping a girl in the park. I just rub that fact in every now and then.

I also like to rub in a fact to a mother who wouldn’t let me date her daughter because I wasn’t Catholic. Her daughter later married some guy in a religious cult that is cut off from civilization. So, how did that not dating non-Catholics rule work out?
So, other than being a beard for a cheating freshman, my high school experiences were not that exciting.

I presume, due to your pregnancy senior year, that you dated. You were one of two pregnancies in our class. Well, and I believe you can at least partially back me up, I had nothing to do with either of them. I note that both pregnancies were of distant cousins, so maybe it runs in the family. Your side of the family.

I am not sure how we are related. It seems everyone in town at some point married into the family of every other family. My Great Aunt once explained it to me. I believe we are Ninth Cousins, Three Times Removed (one time involuntarily.) One thing I note is how people told me to ignore all the tales my Great Aunt told. I have been discovering, more and more, how accurate she really was. I wished someone had written down all her stories. She was a walking history book of our town. Maybe if I can remember some of her stories, I will tell them.

I do recall one story of my Great Grandfather, who was her father. He was one of the first people in town to buy one of those new fangled horseless carriages. The state issued license plates for this automobile craze, beginning with “A1”, “A2”, etc. It seems they realized this fad was lasting when they hit “Z9.” So, someone got the bright idea: let’s issue double letter license plates, like “AA1”, “AA2”.

My Great Grandfather got “FU2”.

Today, you couldn’t get that plate if you asked for it as a vanity plate.

I also remember the tale of the woman in town who hated airplanes. Any time a plane would fly overhead, she would grab her pots and pans and bang on them to chase the airplane away. Hey, it worked. Everytime she did that, the airplane flew away.

We lived in a weird part of the country, didn’t we?


Dear ME,

Thank you for the encouragement. I am positive, though, in high school I was viewed mostly as a geek. That was the standard teasing I received. I will note that I don't feel singled out. I believe everyone gets teased in school. I pretty much observed to ignore it. It was those who let it get to them or who fought it had problems with it. Plus, I was a geek. You hear all the buys boasting about the girls they got---of course, you know 90% of their boasts were fiction, but you also know 10% were real---and you haven't even gotten a date, you know reality.

One part of high school I hated out were the guys who teased cruelly. There were some who tried to stand up to them, and they literally beat them down. I learned the secret to survival in high school was to respect everyone and to blend into the background. The bullies literally would beat up kids they didn’t like, take their money, and there was some ritual of which I never saw but all I knew was the victim was dragged in the restroom, you would hear the toilet flushing several times along with the victim’s screams, and then the victim would emerge with wet hair. What really got me was the coach would often be in his office and see this happening, and he never entered to stop it.

This was wrong, I felt. Yet, I didn’t know what to do. I wrote about it in the high school newspaper, without naming any names. I was called into the principal’s office and asked about the details of what I had seen.

I felt proud until I quickly observed something: not one thing changed. The bullies continued victimizing and no one stopped them. For years, I wondered if the bullies ran the school.

Later, I understood what this was all about. Then several years later, I really understood what this was all about. The abusers called the victims “fags”. I understand a fag is a British cigarette, but for some reason, some guys don’t like British cigarettes in the locker rooms and therefore they need to be extinguished with toilet water.

Many years later, I ran into one of the former tormenters and I felt I had to say something. I stated I thought what he had done was wrong. Then I discovered the real truth: he and most of the abusers were what are known as “homosexuals”. I understand a homosexual is a person who likes to take British cigarettes to bed. The way homosexuals hide their cigarette preference in high school is to prove they are not homosexuals. They do this by beating up fags.

What happened to open, honest communication? Seriously, people get along so much better if they talk first being attacking, and then they may realize there is no reason to fight. I have also recommended this as an ideal for international relations, but people just laugh away that suggestion.

I signed up for the high school plays when I realized there were cast parties. I was trying to fit in, and since I wasn’t being invited to any of the high school parties, so I knew they had to include all the cast at the cast party. I have some vague recollection that my character was a visitor who married the most beautiful woman in the village, and that they cast her role well. I just can't remember who that was.

Tryouts were a trying time (which is probably why they call them tryouts.) I approached the stage with full confidence, told myself to be myself, and I sang the best I ever sang. I remember the director then shouting: “alright, stop fooling around.” When he realized that is how I sing, I note I received a non-singing part.

You know, I never realized this in high school, but in college, I learned that most guys in high school drama are considered to be “fags”. I did not know that. I am just glad when I was in the school play that I didn’t get beaten up by the homosexuals.

In a way, I am glad I spent high school oblivious to stereotypes. Why stereotype people when each person should be considered for who they are? Also, that is why I believe I was never victimized. Unlike a lot of guys who tell of their school experiences, I was never beaten up, pantsed (although shouldn’t that word be “de-pantsed ”, and no, I never had guys sneak up and pulls my pants down. Now, I had girls who did that to me, but no one wants to hear those stories), extorted, etc. I tried to be friendly to everyone.

By being friendly, people are friendly back. I recommend that in life. It works. Hey, I was even friendly with the girl who used to stab me with her pen all the time. Maybe being friendly saved my life. Or, maybe there is some pen fetish with women I never got.

This actually helped me in college. A group of angry women who had dated thousands of guys in my college wrote out a list of men who wronged them. Their list also included a list of guys who were good to date. Now, I am sure the listing was perfectly random, but I was listed first on the list of good guys to date.

I will be signing autographs later this month.

That, again, is my secret to receiving respect. You respect people, be honest with yourself and honest with others, and they will be honest and respect you back.

Unless they’re you’re stock broker, but that’s another topic.


Dear ME,

I am back from Los Angeles. In LA, everyone is a star. Your waiter, cab driver, desk clerk, etc. were all movie or TV stars. Someone once said you can go up to anyone in LA and ask "so, how's your screenplay coming along?" Sadly, some of the "stars" have fallen on hard times. The one I spoke to has been struggling (and this is public; I would never disclose anything private) with being bipolar. I find it amazing that she has been to both the South Pole and the North Pole. I was more amazed at how much was willing to speak to me, as I am no one. But, then, I also realized, she hasn't worked much in years and probably, especially after having been someone who used to get much attention, appreciates some current attention.

I never knew your story about the team locking you in the men’s locker room and leaving you there as they went to practice. I wish I knew then as I would have talked with you about it. That has to be one of those, obviously, traumas that you still remember. I could never figure out if Coach was oblivious or if he really didn't want to know, as his office was just outside with a window facing the locker room. I guess maybe you let some "boys will be boys" stuff go past, but there were points where it went beyond roughhousing into inappropriateness, and he never did a thing. I did mention, first to one of the teachers and then the principal, how one kid was constantly getting beaten up, sometimes fairly viciously, and I thought it was wrong. I still never saw Coach do anything about it.

You ask what the smell was in that locker room. It, sorry, you don't want to know. Just pretend it was dead skunk, and you'll feel better.

Do you remember which player came back and let you out? See, there are some good guys out there.

I understand why you did not say anything. You were probably scared things would be worse if you got them into trouble. I wasn't there, but if Coach came out and accused the team because he knew there was a female there, why didn't he pursue to get to the bottom of it? If he knew they were hiding a cheerleader, why would he then lock you in the room? Well, now you understand how we men think: we generally don’t. But you probably already knew that. I feel very sorry for you.

I also am going to go out on a limb and speculate: I presume you had a lot of unique problems. You were, and still are, the prettiest gal in town. We can excuse some youthful behavior to youthful ignorance, yet I presume you were mistreated a few times. Plus, before the Women's Movement of the 1970s, we males weren't particularly instructed in respecting females as humans. (You are human, right? I think there are a few males who think females are a sub-species.) I hate to admit it, but I recalled walking past you once and there were a bunch of guys holding you and, and another guy hit you. I couldn't tell if this was quasi-consensual roughhousing or if something more serious was going on. (Yes, I did say “quasi-consensual, because we men presume women love nothing more than to be harassed by large numbers of immature guys, especially if they have been drinking large amounts of alcohol). I do remember wondering, had they not let you go when I walked past, what would I have done? I would like to think I would have said something, and I was the wise cracking type who would have said something. I am sure with my words they would have seen the error of their ways, followed by their inviting hymnal singing with a group of singing nuns. Other times, I wonder, would I have been just like Coach and just walked by and let people continue hitting a girl?

I do know a few years later after wondering about this, I was put to the test. I was walking down the streets of Philadelphia and there was a girl fight and a bunch of guys were standing around cheering. One girl had the other pinned down and was banging the other girl's head on the sidewalk and she was bleeding. I went to the nearest pay phone and called the police. Should I have done more? I knew stopping the fight would have been pointless, especially me the 90 pound weakling against a bunch of pro-girl fight watching guys, each of whom singularly weighed more than me and collectively still managed to weigh more than me. There are police usually within a few blocks away and seconds later the siren went off and everyone scattered.

People need to learn to treat others with respect, even strangers, and even people being victimized. That will makes things betters all around.

By the way, I no longer am a 90 pound weakling. I am now a 190 pound weakling.

This reminds me of an old joke of mine. A newcomer is advised not to walk about the streets of Philadelphia because they are worried about the crime, to which the newcomer responds "don't worry, I won't rob anyone."


Dear ME,

Yes, if you see a crime, it is best to let the police know and don't try to stop it yourself. The police usually have more weapons. Not that I carry any weapons. I know some senior citizens who are armed and ready for a foreign invasion. So, watch out for those senior citizen clubs. The veterans of World War II are ready for World War III.

I did not know Coach very well. I remember having the impression all he cared about was soccer. All we ever did in gym was soccer. I remember one day he announced the School Board or someone told him he had to spend time on another sport. He threw out a football and told us to kick it around like a soccer ball. I also remember everyone got one turn at being quarterback. I remember this because I quickly realized I couldn't remember who was on my team, so I didn't know who to throw it to, so I ran the ball. I also didn't want to be tackled, especially since we were not wearing any equipment (who wears football gear when playing soccer?) so I ran away from anyone who ran towards me, and I kept running all over the field who what felt like an hour or two until I accidentally scored a touchdown. I think I told everyone I had practiced that play for years.

Which reminds me: about that locker room smell. That is one of life's jokes. Just when guys become interested in girls, they are given smells to repulse all females. This is nature's idea of a practical joke. Guys actually smell like pigs while women have perfume which, ironically, is made from the sweat of pigs. Yes, a pig smells better than a teenage male. Guys get to buy deodorants which claim we have to fight women off when we wear deodorant, which, ironically, is the opposite of why guys want to buy deodorant. In sum, none of this makes any sense.

I also remember one of the guys from a foreign country thought I looked like the LTD florist when I ran and he always called me "LTD man". Which I am sure the teachers thought he was saying "LSD", which probably explains the frequent searches of my locker.


Dear ME,

If you need ever drive through Pennsylvania, let me give you some tips. Remember, pot holes are your friends, they are to keep drivers alert, and if you hear a backfire, it probably is a backfire, but keep your eye low behind the wheel---just in case.

I love the photographs of your dog. I used a photo of a collie as a default photo once. People look at me all the time and say "you look so much better in your photograph." I grew up with five dogs. I didn’t realize until I went to college that clothing does not naturally come with attached dog hair.

If you want to see some relatives, drop by my mother's sometime (of course, ask her first). There is a family cemetery near our house. You know, if you were looking for a burial plot, it is open to any family member...

My mother thinks ahead. My Christmas gift one year was a headstone. It was funny, because people started asking her how sick I am. Which, of course, most people have thought I've been sick since the first read my writings in high school, so...

I do recall my first school paper joke. It went something like "the school cafeteria today denied responsibility for the 30 students who feel ill during lunch. According to their official statement, their illnesses were probably "just due to something they had eaten” .Not sure why that seemed funny. The cafeteria workers actually were overworked and underpaid and, worse yet, they had to eat school food for lunch. Where I work now, our cafeteria was closed recently due to "inordinate amounts of mouse droppings." And what are ordinate amounts of mouse droppings?

Then I did a column reporting on the updates of the Bored of Education who supervised the school district as led by the Superman of School. My apologies go to your father if he was on the School Board at that time, but no actual School Board member was harmed during the making of that column. I also got away with printing that the name of our high school was the “is High School" as the censors did not get the double reference. What was sad was, at the time, I never realized then how true that was. All that time, I thought that smoke in the boy's room was cigarettes, and, no, I have since figured out that cigarettes, unlike today, are not smoked with hookahs. Nor were class friends country boys smoking self rolled cigarettes. As long as we weren't using words like "virgin" or talking about taking our clothes off in doctor games, the Administration was otherwise happy with our conduct.

Your town is more exciting than my town. Do me a favor. If you check with your local post office, ask if they have postage stamps? Also, call a bar in town and ask if they have beer. If you get a positive answer to either of those questions, your town is ahead of mine. It was bizarre. I went to the post office to mail a packet and then I asked to buy some stamps. They are out of stamps. OK, I guess that happens every now and then. As I was walking away from the post office, I noticed a sign in the local bar. It read “out of beer”. The lack of beer does not upset me personally, but, I have to admit, while I have seen the post office out of stamps, as every now and then some business or political campaign comes in and buys them all up. But I have never heard of a bar not having beer. Did some business or political campaign come in and drink all their beer? I realize that today my city will be full of sober people unable to write anyone about the lack of beer. This may be a sign of the apocalypse.

You mention how can leave a bike in a yard and a car unlocked in your town. You may do the same thing in my town. Of course, it will be stolen, but one can do this. In fact, the bike can be chained to a tree and the car can even have a police boot on it, and they both will be stolen and the car found stripped a day later. I remember a few years ago when a local police officer even stated that illegal auto parts here was a major industry. Need any hubcaps?


Dear ME,

I am glad to learn you can buy beer and stamps there. So, you have many alcoholics? Well, we have many stamp collectors.

This is a joke, and not real, but the only unusual communication I used to tell people I ever received was from God. God called me and said "Leon, don't do a thing. I'll handle things myself." I am sure that joke would have gone ever well with Sister Mary Whoever.

My intern is in happy. He got to meet Paris Hilton. Well, he got to glimpse her for three seconds as she walked by him. He works security at a store and she appeared there. I don't know if he is pulling my leg or not, but he claims the store has a contract with her that includes she has to dress appropriately when she makes her public appearances at these stores to publicize her cologne. He claims she was, well, dressed more like you were when hanging out with that Jeff kid. One of her assistants was sent off to buy her panties. What I want to do is: whose job at the store was it to check whether she was wearing panties? How do you even hire such a person? What past experience is relevant? How do you advertise for such a position? This will definitely be worth a chapter in a Human Resources book someday.

Are you by any way artistic? I am looking for an artistic person interested in designing book covers for no pay and no reward except having his or her name slurred for the credit of designing the book cover. It seems like I used to know lots of starving artists. Now they are all rich and expensive artists. It can be simplistic art, never special. I am casting my scouting search on a wide net, and who knows who knows someone. I thought I would ask. Don't worry if you don't know anyone. I recall you can sing and act, but I don't know if you ever did art. I don't even recall you doodling in class, as I am sure you were paying perfect attention to every word the teachers said. Hey, maybe the person can design this book cover, which, if that happens, would mean that anyone reading this will then say “hey, those cheap people didn’t pay the artist?”

Did I tell you of my recent experience with the judicial system? Someone asked if I would be a character witness in his trial. I replied that I would be glad to state he was very devoted to both his mistresses and he put them both on the payroll. For some reason, I wasn't called as a character witness. I really wanted to help...

By the way, the post office had stamps the last time I was there. We are entering the 21st century. Your t-shirt has probably been delivered and chewed to shred by the neighbor's dog. I hear they make nice chew toys.

This reminds me of the time I wrote a friend who was also a stamp collector and told him I found a bunch of stamps in the attic I was going to use but the blimp on the stamps were printed upside down, so I threw them all out. There are stamps like that from a misprint that are worth a lot of money. He freaked out and didn't realize I was only kidding. Of course, I am sure he thought I was crazy anyway. He lived across the hall from me freshmen year in college. We used to conduct scientific experiments. We would take store bought food and food from the college dining hall and put them outside our window sills. The bugs would eat the store bought cookies and leave the dining hall cookies alone. He always knew the college was out to kill us. College was hard and there was a lot of studying. As a joke during studying boredom, I decided to take some tea bags (also from the dining hall, and also theorized to be part of our college's plan to slowly poison us all) and taped them to my ceiling. Of course, word got around I had done that. So I pretended to be a pretentious artist and starting telling everyone that it was part of an art project. I meant it as a joke. A few days, an Art Professor and some art students came by to see my art work. I made up some fancy stuff about how it symbolized something like the merging of nourishment and art and how objects one doesn’t normally see as art can indeed become as art. Of course, it never occurred to any of them that I wasn't even in an Art class. I guess I could have gotten an A.

Well, I'd start putting tea bags on the ceiling, but now that would probably only get me early retirement.

We both know that all modern history begins with the month we both were born. I presume we were born the same year and we are the same age: I know some people skipped a grade or repeated a grade or take a few years off after graduating third grade to tour Europe.)

Speaking of coincidences, my mother out of the clear blue told me about our pet praying mantis. I was born in New York City and when I was a baby my father found a praying mantis and fed it insects. She said it lived quite awhile in our apartment. So, our first pet was a praying mantis. This sounds like one of the old city stories: we were so backwards, we had a bug for a pet. I have visions of my parents taking our praying mantis for daily walks, keeping me behind of course to guard the apartment. I can think of the neighbors stopped by and complimenting them on the pet praying mantis, and mentioning how their pet beetle is getting along. Then, of course, there is the annual Praying Mantis Show in Madison Square Garden. I hear there are over 200 kinds of praying mantises (or is that manti?) I anxiously wait each year learning which kind of praying mantis will be declared the Best in Show.


Dear ME,

I am slowly entering the 21st century. I have bought my first digital camera, against my wishes. I like to take photographs, take them to the local drug store, return a few days later, and have photographs I can hold and see. Unfortunately, the local drug store announced they no longer are developing film. They tell me no one develops pictures anymore. Everything is now done on the Internet, from reading news, viewing shows, and I believe one can perform minor surgery.

I bought a digital camera and happily tried to take photographs. The camera would not work as it said it needed a new battery. It seems the temporary battery they put in cameras have a shelf life of five seconds and I kept my finger on the button for six seconds. So, I have to buy a new battery for the camera. Already, I am not happy with this new technology.

I took some photographs. I was glad to see that it was rather simple to figure out how to transfer the photographs from the camera to the computer. I say "figure out" because the instructions made no sense. It has some multistep process involving items I have never heard of and have no idea what they were talking about. Instead, I looked at the wire, saw that one end plugged into the computer, the other plugged into the camera, I switched the camera on, and suddenly all my photos were on my computer.

I put my photographs on something called Flickr. Now, I have a "flicker" is what you do what a bug lands on you, you flick 'er. I remember Flicka was a horse with a TV show. Only TV realized later that a talking horse would be better so Mr. Ed came along. Back to discussing the photographs.

Somehow, there is now a divide between the 21st century me and the 20th century me.

20th: I see my photographs, but I can't hold them.
21th: What do you need to hold them for? On a computer you can make them as large or small as you want. Who needs to hold something in order to see it?
20th: Yes, but what about keeping them?
21st: They're on the Internet. If they're on the Internet, they're kept.
20th: Yes, but what if this Flickr person forget to pay a tax bill and the site is sold to an evil photograph hater who removes all the photographs. Then the photographs will be lost forever.
21st: Yes, but what is something happens to your hard copy photographs? Then they are lost forever.
20th: It is just that I want my photographs to be found, like I enjoyed finding photographs of my ancestors. They will find my hard copy photographs in the boxes into which I have carefully randomly thrown them?
21st: Believe me, no one is ever going to want to find your photographs.

So, as I adjust to this new feeling, I send you this struggle between the me who wants life to be like it was back when I lived where I grew up, versus the me in the 21st century is a hustling bustling city that, while still behind the times, is slowly entering the 21st century.

Meanwhile, I pass along a good story. I once flew to New Orleans, where I was informed the airlines had sent my bags to St. Louis. The airlines actually paid for a cab driver to drive the bags to New Orleans from St. Louis. Someone had a better story: her bags were lost for a week and when they were discovered, there were three hours away. The airlines hired a cab driver to drive her bags to her. Yet, she had bought some shad roe that had definitely spoiled. She even told the cab company they could throw them out, but the cab company said that was against the rules. So, some poor cab driver had to drive for three hours with stinking fish smell in the cab.

Also, since the trial is over, did I tell you about my recent almost court experience? I was considered being a character witness for an accused person. I wasn't certain why I was under consideration. I met with the lawyers and I tried to think of what I could possibly say in defense of this person. After all, he was a very nice man who was devoted to both his mistresses as he put them both on the payroll. Plus, I knew he worked late a lot, as do I, but I have no idea what he was doing in his office. I just knew he was there because his cigar smoke would go through the vents into my office. For some reason, they did not call me as a character witness.

I do want you to know I received an email that the class reunion picnic is being moved from the lake to someone's house (Liddy: no last name given, but, how many Liddy's are there in town?) . So, I guess even if you don't know who Liddy is, drive around that road until you see a large number of drunk 50 year old people hanging out, and that is probably is the place. Even if it isn't, any large gathering of drunks 50 year olds still might be interesting to check out.

I went to early elementary school in another state. I am amazed to see how well they all stuck together. I actually receive more news from my classmates in first through third grades. I don’t know if it is cultural and there is something to some communities sticking together better than others. Yet, it seems our most of our classmates wanted to get out of town and few seem to have kept in touch very well. Is that your sense?

Anyway, someone wrote how the “first joke” in class was said by me in first grade. The teacher asked what is “one plus one” and I responded “bunny ears.”

For the longest time, I could not even figure out how that is even funny. It is odd, and perhaps that makes it funny. So, I tried the joke out on first graders. I went up to them and said “do you know what one plus one is” and then I would say” bunny ears.”

The first graders rolled around in hysterical laughter. I wish I had been a stand-up comic and could have an entire front roll of drunken first graders. OK, maybe not drunk first graders, as there may be laws against that, but if I could have a group of people laughing at anything that silly, I’d been a stand-up comic star.

Then, I remembered something. What are we taught in first grade? “A bunny has two ears.” They teach us to associate numbers with things we see. A boy has one nose. A bunny has two ears. A car has three tires. (I grew up in a rough neighborhood.) So, when the teacher asked “what is one plus one”, the joke is to answer the other part of the association and reply “bunny ears.”

Incidentally, I remember my first girl friend. Her name was Virginia. We were engaged to marry during our Kindergarten years. I think we wanted to hold off until after we both completed Second Grade to get married. Unfortunately, I moved away after Kindergarten. I always wondered what it would be like to track her down after all these years, except, well, back in Kindergarten, we were not smart enough yet to know each other’s last names. So, Virginia Last Name Unknown, if you are still out there, I am sorry about the broken engagement. I hope you didn’t wait much longer. It is alright if you went ahead and married someone else. I don’t think that makes you a tramp, just because you stepped all over my heart and ran off with some other guy, probably in First Grade, as soon as I left. Probably some guy who could wiggle his ears. I couldn’t wiggle my ears. All the ear wiggling guys got all the girls back then.

My humor reemerged during our high school years, as you may recall. For some reason, during Science, you may even remember the teacher holding up some igneous rock and asking “what kind of rock is this” to which I replied “bunny ears.” Yes, the material was old, but it still got the laughs.

I wrote a humor column for the high school newspaper. When I went to college, I tried to write for the college humor paper. I sent them numerous submissions. They only printed two jokes. I kept sending them more and more material. I noticed that most of the college humor paper was written by two guys and they kept telling me I wasn’t funny. Eventually, I decided they were right and I gave up.

Several years later, someone compiled a book of great college humor from all the college humor magazines from their very beginnings. They selected three jokes from the entire history of my college. Two of the three jokes were my two jokes.

Well, maybe I never made it in quantity, but I like to think I made it in quality. Still, as I look at all the writers of college humor magazines who made it as movie and TV writers, I sometimes wonder if I lost out on a chance to do what they do. I am self-critical enough to realize I am not always that funny. Yet I have often read what others are writing and realized they aren’t always that funny, either. So, I wish I could have had my chance to be unfunny along with the rest of the humor writers.

I will leave you with this joke: Question: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Answer: Bunny ears.


Dear ME,

I remembered one silly thing from our school days. Remember back when you had 11 fingers? I know you tried to hide that, but, yes, I remember your dark secret. Of course, for years, you could hide this because most people in our school could not count that high. They only had 10 fingers and that was as much as many of our classmates could count.

OK, I know you have 10 fingers. (To be honest, I am only presuming this. I never actually counted. We men were gentlemen back then and would never ask such personal questions.) Yet, I remember how this worked. It only really worked with the stoners, which was great because the stoners were so stoned they actually would begin thinking they really had 11 fingers.

Count your fingers and add a magic “A” after counting each finger. Count “1A”, “2”, “3”, and so on as you count each finger. Surprisingly, some people and some stoners will magically wind up counting on all 11 fingers. This was often amusing until some stoner would then rush off and cut off a finger. That lowered the amusement.

Now, every now and then you would get a smart stoner who counted 11 fingers who would still disbelieve it. This required the confirmation test. You would tell them to count their fingers background. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6. They would then be told “and five on your other hand makes 11.” This often would settle the matter and the stoner would slowly adjust to a life with 11 fingers.

The key to the first trick is easy. By adding “A” to the count, many people without realizing it will skip the number “8”. They will count “7A, 9A, 10A” and then, to their horror, they will realize their parents lied to them all their lives when they discover they could they have 11 fingers. The confirmation test is, of course, for people who skipped Math class a lot which fit well for most stoners.

This worked well until we came across that one classmate with 12 fingers, but that’s another story.

Speaking of stoners, were (are) you friends with the girl who used to sit in my lap before classes? This fits the malicious gossip that even I don't believe, but maybe you can set me straight. Someone told me she was a stoner. I never saw it, but then I didn't know her that well. I think back, and the best clue I have that she might have been was I remember she used to sort-of flirt with me outrageously. I now realize that the only person who would do that would be someone who was stoned out of her mind. Yet, she also always did her outrageous flirting in public, speaking loudly so all around could here, and then she would sit in my lap. I figured it was some sort of an act, as I knew she had a boyfriend and couldn't possibly be seriously interested in me. I never figured out if she was mocking me or what, but, you might remember her doing it as I think she did it in one of the classes we were in together. I figured it was some kind of joke. Oh, well, I also figured it was my job to make people laugh, so, play along. Besides, when you are a nerd, you realize to take any attention you can get.

One guy who got attention was a friend who was on the college Ultimate Frisbee (copyright name: if you say the name over 100 times you have to send them a dime) team. I believe he holds the record, because I suspect he may be the only person or definitely one of the few to ever do this, of being the greatest college athlete to smoke cigarettes during a game while on the playing field, playing. Back then (to show you how times have changed), if the Frisbee was downfield from him, he would light up a cigarette and take a few puffs. In the history of sports, I have never seen anyone else do that. Can you imagine if someone tried to do that today? Fans can't even smoke inside the stadium. Can you imagine what Coach would do if one of the soccer players smoked during a match? Although, knowing him, he might have looked the other way...

Your observation on Coach is on target. Gym class for us guys was basically him throwing out a soccer field onto the field and letting everyone run around. Quite a few I believe were even playing different sports, but no one cared. Kick a ball and every now and then run after something, a soccer ball, a Frisbee, an imaginary butterfly...After you wrote what happened to you, I am more convinced he preferred being oblivious to what was going on. Less paperwork, perhaps?

Do you remember our field trip? Some high schools go to Europe to see art museums and ancient ruins. Our field trip was to go two towns over to see the movie “Fiddler on the Roof.” Refreshments were not included.

Dear ME,

How is it I take four days off of work and there is eight days of work on my desk? I want Jane Goodall to come in and study the habits of paperwork. I believe it breeds at night.

I went to the Los Angeles Times Book Fair. Someday, my collection of Americana, books, and photographs will go to the historic society. They plan to hold a huge bonfire, I'm told.

Due to my diverse interests, I was probably the only person to go and see and get autographed books from both Trisha Yearwood and Sarah Silverman. Usually their fans are on opposite sides of the road throwing rocks at each other. Me, everyone throws rocks at.

I have hung out with some interesting people who have done some work in the entertainment world. They do not find it at all glamorous. I think when you are in something, you see all the warts that public does not see. I don't find government and politics all that glamorous, but people in entertainment aren't familiar with that so they find that interesting (the poor souls, they are really started for outside information). Still, the stories are funny, and I will try to repeat some. Like they time someone did voice over for a Japanese movie and they sent Japanese technicians who did not speak English except to say "again". So, after multiple voice-overs through a movie, they had had enough and started using swear words and making stuff up. When the first print of the movie came out in America, they used the swear word version as the English language version. I want a copy. They probably should have kept that one on the market: it would probably sell more.

There were also the sad moments. One friend told us about being on a TV show when she was young and all the pressures it caused her and betrayals. Ironically, being on TV made her unpopular in high school and she says no one hang out with her. Plus, now that is much older, few jobs come her way because people only remember her for when she was a child actor. Hollywood puts you on a pedestal, strings you up as a hero, and then kicks the pedestal out from underneath you. I also fear she now has a drinking problem. I ordered a drink and she asked to taste it, liked it, and drank the whole thing. I ordered another, and she asked to taste it, and then she drank the whole thing. No wonder I don't drink: I never get the chance.

As far weird times, one of our friends had a Marines cap on. A total stranger came up to our table and announced "do you know what the definition of a real Marine is?" I thought he was quite rude and I feared trouble was brewing. He then continued "a Marine is someone who, when left on an abandoned island, with no other forms of life, you can return in two weeks, and the Marine will someone have found a way to get the clap.”

Well, back to the, now 10 days of work. How does that pile of paper keep growing like that?


Dear ME,

What you and the Selectmen do is very important. It is public policy most directly affecting people. Keep up your good work. Remember, people depend upon you. Which you know, because they know where you live and will complain to you and the Selectmen when they are in line at the grocery story, pumping gas, and, here in Harrisburg, at 1 am when they are drunk and you have a publicly published phone number.

The oil slick is tragic. So that is where black pearls come from. I learn something every day.

In New Orleans, you can get your fish cooked "blackened". I guess with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, now all their fish comes "pre-blackened." That is why you can never ruin cooking fish. If you undercook it, you tell everyone it's sushi. It you overcook it, you tell everyone it is blackened.

Did you get an invitation to the class reunion? If not, do you want one? I already told them what weekend I can't make it so they can hold it on that weekend. I saw a list of attendees and I didn't see your name. Maybe they haven't updated the list. I hear a lot of people stated they were coming once they put me on the "not attending" list. It is now safe to attend.

You visit the kids and they put you to work? You need a better agent. They should be letting you relax and serving you. Give them this email and have them call me to negotiate better visiting terms.

Tomorrow, I leave for a few days to a strange, exotic world called Manhattan. I hear it is a small island off the New York coast. I wonder if it has any beaches. I am sure the water is fine there as it is nowhere near the oil spill. If you don't hear from me, it is not that I am not thinking of you, but it is because I am not near a computer. I will try and get to one and check messages. I am worried about our future young. I go to hotels and I see young people spending their entire vacations in the hotel's computer room. Oh, well, I hear the computer rooms in hotels in Paris are lovely this time of year.


Dear ME,

I am writing this while traveling as I am thinking about absolute nonsense. This is similar to what we did while in our high school classes. I may have been a nerd in high school, but I never was accepted by my fellow nerds. You see, I didn’t watch “Star Trek”. In fact, not only did I not watch it, but I believe we lived in a part of the state back then where we could not get the TV station that showed “Star Trek”. What a culturally deprived childhood we had. Tell that to your children as they can’t find anything on their 200 stations on their TV sets. We only had three networks back then (not counting PBS, which no one watched), but we could only get two of the three networks.

When I finally did see “Star Trek”, I realized a critical fact that all my nerd friends failed to observe. These reenactments of a Captain’s log were a bit farfetched. According to these records, once a week, for half a year, over a two year period, Kirk, Spock, and Bones (a suspicious nickname if ever I heard one) would take a companion onto a planet that had never before been explored by anyone from Earth. The reports always claimed that some creature never before identified would kill the companion while Kirk Spock, and Bones would return unharmed. Sorry, but I believe a more logical explanation (and even Spock should agree this is more logical) is that Kirk, Spock, and Bones had their own special way of disposing of officers they didn’t like.

Scotty was a con artist. He had it made with job security. Only he knew the mechanics of the spaceship. To keep his job, he’d get an urgent message, put down his coffee and newspaper, announce to whoever was contacting them that the ship was about to blow up and it would take a miracle to save the ship, press a button, and then return to his coffee and paper. This is what they teach Engineering students.

Chekov was on the show to allow Americans to know we can trust Russians. Chekov was never allowed to do anything important. They didn’t really trust Chekov.

As an aside, I am getting worried. A man just sat next to me wearing a t-shirt proclaiming “my waitress gave me crabs.” I asked if the shirt advertises a crab shack somewhere. He replied “no”.

After viewing a few science fiction movies, so I can understand nerd culture somewhat, I want to provide advice to alien cultures. This comes as heresy to my fellow nerds. Yet, how do we know that alien cultures are bad? Don’t aliens have souls, too? (Sister Mary Whoever would have me kicked out of her class, pronto). Who says aliens who were exposed to radiation and wear black are all evil? Think of what they have had to overcome, especially not having any bright colors to wear. If that were the definition of evil, all the Amish living near Three Mile Island might have strong objections. Don’t we have any sympathy for beings that developed deformities from all that excessive radiation? Besides, when they arrive and announce they want to “rule the universe”, what exactly does that entail? Will the fact that Earth is listed on some map as part of their federation, a map that only they and a few of their friends and enemies will see really matter to us humans? Plus, maybe have some positive contributions. Maybe they’ll collect our trash better and build roads with fewer pot holes.

Why do we take sides in galactic wars according to what side has better looking warriors? Maybe these good lookers are snobs who want to torture other species before eating them, pollute the planet, endanger lives carelessly, and kill each other over solvable disagreements. But, enough about us humans.

By the way, Colonel Sanders told me that fried Ewok tastes delicious.

How did English get to be the universal language? I know we expect everyone in every other country to speak English, but, on other planets as well? English is not even the dominant language on Earth. Just once I’d like to have seen Kirk, Spock, and Bones land on a planet and find the humanoids speaking Russian. That way Spock can turn to Kirk and explain “that is why we brought Chekov”.

I also want to advise alien cultures to fix those small design flaws on their spacecrafts. I know they probably have things built by the lowest bidder. Still, if you have a craft that can travel around galaxies carrying thousands of people that can ward off nuclear weapons from hundreds of attacking vessels, the whole ship should not blow up because someone gets a lucky shot with something that looks like a handgun. Seriously, if your spaceship can explode in one giant blast, there is a serious design fault. Even the Titantic took a few hours to sink. If one can build a shield against nuclear weapons, spend the extra bucks and correct that design flaw.

I would also recommend that aliens not put timers on bombs. From my observations, the human brain is conditioned to dismantle a bomb at precisely one second from detonation. If there was no timer, especially, again, one printed with numerals used on Earth, the person detonating the bomb will be throw off. Or, maybe aliens could fool us. They could have a timer claim a bomb will go off in five minutes when in fact it will explode in three minutes. That way, we’ll be saying something like “I have plenty of time to detonate this bomb. Why, I have three minutes, five seconds…”

Space aliens need to work on their communication skills. When speaking to humans, don’t breathe deeply while talking menacingly. We’ll just presume it is some kind of sex offender speaking. They would do better if they could find more diplomatic negotiators.

These deep voiced communicators should not tip their plans. Do not tell humans you are going to attack in a certain number of minutes. That always gives us enough time to mount an effective counteroffensive. Instead, surprise us. If you announce you are going to attack us soon, the Captain will only call down to Engineering. The Engineer will inform the Captain of the inferiority of the Earth spacecraft and how there is only a one in a million shot that could blow up the alien spacecraft. The Engineer will inform everyone on board there is no hope, push a button to shoot off some small gun, the alien craft will explode, and the Engineer will go back to drinking coffee and reading newspapers while mumbling “suckers”.

Why are we so frightened of aliens, anyway? The Earth is two thirds water and covered by sky. If a spacecraft came to Earth, they are more likely to be fascinated by our fish or our birds, or as they will note them, flying dinosaurs, or aardvarks, or as they will note them, no idea where these came from. For your sake, I hope they won’t want to take away any oysters. Those pearls are yours.

I should think studying dogs would be more fascinating than studying humans. We spend most of our time sitting in a chair and then falling asleep in a bed. An alien could write us up in a short briefing report. Dogs would require several more pages of notes.

Time for the in-flight meal. I hear they serve a great friend Ewok.

This is probably too much discussion about nerd topics. Maybe now I understand why nerds weren’t that well liked.

Dear ME,

Happy bridal shower. Yes, we have sent some strong winds your way. The good news about strong winds is they literally blow by quickly. Hopefully they will be gone before the bridal shower happens. Although, as a guy, why do they call it a shower? As I understand it, no water is involved in this process. All I know is, guys are not allowed in and the women do a strange ritual and the bride to be comes out with a lot of presents. So, on behalf of future presents, may your daughter have a great non-water shower.

The winds are strong. There were 60 miles an hour. This presented a problem at our local baseball game. We have a knuckleball pitcher who throws the ball at 40 miles an hour. Poor pitcher, every pitch he threw came right back to him. Every batter he faced walked. We then put a pitcher in who could throw into the wind, but that wasn't much help. The first batter bunted and it went over the fence for a home run. It was the first game that had to be called on account of the weather, because all the balls went flying over the fence and into the river.

I expect a full report on this famous chicken coop. I am sure the guy building it would give you a tour. The good news is, I doubt it would take more than an hour or two to tour the chicken coop. I always say this: if you're spending more than two hours touring a chicken coop, you are just spending too much time on that tour.


Dear ME,

A friend warns against dating 29 year old females. While I suspect he exaggerates a tad, he claims all his first date conversations with 29 year old have some variation of the following conversation: Him: “What are your interests?” Her: “Marry me. Impregnate me. Give me a baby. You’re not getting out alive this evening until you’ve given me a baby.”

I suggested maybe he could avoid this by not asking what their interests are. Instead, ask what they studied in school. He told me the conversations then went like this: Him:” What was your major in college?” Her: Marry me. Impregnate me. Give me a baby. You’re not getting out alive this evening until you’ve given me a baby.”

I still refused this to be true. So, I tried a conversation myself. Me: “What are your interests?” Her: “I am planning on becoming a nun.”

Incidentally, that is an actual conversation I had in high school. The first girl I ever kissed then told me she was planning on becoming a nun. This is not the best thing for the male ego to hear. A guy kisses a girl and she decides to become abstinent for the rest of her life. The Catholic Church should have hired me as a nun recruiter.

We are always proclaiming days to honor people. I checked, and today is Phineas Hockenhairy Day. He is being honored for turning 100 year old. He attributes his longevity to walking one mile. He hopes someday to actually finish reaching that mile.

Instead of giving people an official day, I believe we should give people official Fifteen Minutes. As Andy Warhol stated, we will all be famous for fifteen minutes. Let’s do so by official proclamation.


Dear ME,

I observe human behavior. In high school, this was easier. Teen age behavior mostly consisted of silly, goofy, and hideous. I witnessed an interesting event today. While a couple was walking down the hallway, a man was holding a baby. The man tripped. As he fell, he instinctively held the baby out to break his fall. I checked, and fortunately, there were no physical injuries. Yet, I could read the facial expressions on the couple. The woman’s face read “I am never going to let you forget that you used our child to break your fall” and the man’s face read “my life, as I know it, has come to an end.”

Thank you for suggesting I may find someone. At a book fair, I saw an author who is a relationships expert who I hope we never use to negotiate with foreign countries on sensitive subjects. She turned to me and stated she doubted anyone who date me, and then asked how that comment made me feel. Well, having officially been declared un-dateable, I guess I could either spend thousands of dollars on the plastic surgery she recommends all beautiful people should get, or just admit that I will never be acceptable to wealthy relationship experts. I know this much: I am not buying her book. If her plan is to shock people into buying it, I have a shock for her: I hope people leave her book alone.

I remember a guy at work brought his young daughter to work. I remember her looking at a secretary and telling her over and over again "you're pretty", "you're pretty". Then she walked around, looked at me, and ran back to her father and told him "he's scary." So, be prepared for the face that scares small children. . I don't mind scaring people, but I get worried what I look like when total strangers come up and ask if I need medical attention.

Remember the true meaning of Christmas, which, according to my friend from Jersey, has something to do with three wise guys visiting a couple Mary and Joey


Dear ME.

It was great seeing you. I always say good friend should get together once every 25 years. You look fantastic, and I truly mean that. You have retained your charming looks. More important is you have kept your happy and positive attitude. I remember how you always brightened everyone’s day. Thank you for holding onto that cheerfulness, especially as time has shown us reasons not to always be so happy.

Seeing you reminds me of an old joke. A man about my age walks through the woods when a frog hops up to him and says “kiss me, and I’ll turn into a beautiful princess. “ The man picks up the frog and puts it into his pocket. The frog yells out, “didn’t you hear me, I said, if you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.” The old man replies “at my age, I’d rather have a talking frog.” The great thing with talking with you is I got both the talking frog and the beautiful princess.

Until you mentioned it, I had totally forgotten who your boyfriend was freshmen year. I did know it at the time. I recall our lockers were near each other, and I would always go to my locker, and your boyfriend was always there with you. You know how much that upset me? You see, the two of you were always standing in front of my locker and I couldn’t get to it. Seriously, I knew he was a lucky guy and I am sure seeing someone hugging and pawing you (where was that censorship minded Principal when I needed him?) made me envious. I perhaps was even jealous.

Of course, men don’t get jealous. That’s in our handbook. We don’t cry, we don’t get jealous, and, as you have noted, we wait until the chest pains we’ve been having for the past week as so bad that we can’t stand it that we then casually mention something. I am just glad they got our mutual friend to the hospital in time.

My advice to you is to continue thinking positive. Which, hearing how positive you are, I am sure that will help improve your health. I had relatives who believe in positive thinking who never saw a doctor and both lived to be 95. I had a neighbor who lived until he was 116 who did see doctors, except he outlived most of them. There have been medical studies that show a positive attitude helps. So, be positive. Also, laugh at my jokes. They say laughter helps improve health. So, laugh, you hear me, laugh. Don’t make me go over there and make you laugh.


Dear ME,

It was interesting discussing health issues. I don’t know why it is we men hide our health problems and never discuss them and avoid seeing doctors. Fortunately, I am not like that. I even admitted upfront that I was having bad allergies. Of course, the fact I couldn’t breathe and was sneezing and hacking probably gave you a clue. You may have wondered why my skin was turning blue. It does seem we need oxygen.

Of course, your friends probably wondered why I gave weak handshakes. I think I may have slept on my right arm wrong, as I haven’t had any feeling in it for a few weeks. I am sure it is nothing serious. Nor anything to do with the inability to breathe, which I am sure has nothing to do with the chest pains I’ve been having the last few weeks. I probably slept wrong.

I do see there is one thing that upsets you: mice. You may not want to eat at our cafeteria at work. It has been shut down twice in recent months for "excessive" mice, which makes me wonder, how many mice are "not excessive"? Now, I know you are maybe too young to be told this, but, you see, when there is a baby mouse, there is also a mommy mouse and a daddy mouse. There also will usually be a few cousins. Sadly, we probably live with more things that it is best we don't know we live with them, and this young guy didn't take a lesson in "keeping hidden". While a cat may be better, you actually may have an advantage in having two dogs. Mouse make nice late night doggie treats.

This next line is serious: I now know what the snake I saw at work eats.

Well, I have to get back to work. You know how we men are. Our work comes before our health. I am just glad I have no health problems. I have to run. I see a white light. I wonder what that is; maybe we have some electricity problems in the building.


Dear ME,

I would love to hear any funny stories about things children say. I was thinking of two funny things children said. Twice, I have been at adult parties, where the hosts are trying to impress people due to their work. Once, one of the guests had a daughter, about five years old, and one of the guests brought his five year old son so they could play together. Apparently the two did not get along and were fighting, and in the middle of the adult party, we all heard the five year old daughter screaming "men aren't good for anything, not even sex."

Incidentally, that couple later did divorce.

Another time a little boy, maybe about three years old, was going around an adult party proudly showing off his Ken doll. He would present his Ken doll by saying "my daddy". After doing that, he sat down in the middle of the room, and bit the head off the Ken doll.

Come to think of it, that couple later divorced as well.

Crazy times. I met with someone I've met before, so I may have already mentioned him, but he has the job I always wanted. He is an Assistant Deputy Undersecretary of Defense. Now, that is the greatest job title ever. Before the meeting, I kept asking our intern questions like "do you speak Korean", "are you a sharp shooter?" (she is a deer hunter), and "do you think you can blend in a North Korean community despite your blonde hair?" I think she was relieved to discover the meeting was about something totally unrelated to volunteering her for espionage work.

I got an email from our friend’s cookie company. They are selling Red Sox and Yankees cookies. I ordered some for the office. I just fear, since her company is in Boston, that I don't dare eat the Yankees cookies.

One thing I have noted in the cycling is I am getting better at it. I pedal faster and faster over time. I don't think I'll be entering any races, although I might win if I am the only there not using enhancement performance drugs and they strip the crown away from everyone but me.

You are not one to worry about your weight. You look great. It is something I have noticed. People such as yourself who look great worry about their weight, which maybe helps explain why you look so great. Meanwhile, those who need to lose weight are always defensive about not needing to exercise. "I'm naturally big boned." (I never knew bones contained several inches of flab.) "The body needs some fat and sugar." (You forgot to mention the body also needs the other two major food groups, egg yolks and vanilla flavoring.) These are the same people who argue that each cigarette costs them five minutes of their life, but if they spend seven minutes smoking it, they come out two minutes ahead.

I put in an order of clear weather for your daughter’s weeding this weekend. It looks like that order is being processed. I maybe should have also specified cooler weather, but, one doesn't want to overdo these orders. Happy wedding. (What is the correct greeting for weddings, anyway? Congratulations on attending a wedding? No, that doesn't sound right...)


Dear ME,

I have to deal with large numbers of people with dementia, but enough about my co-workers. Seriously, it is sad to see. We have one semi-retired person at work who telephones and then call again five minutes later asking the exact questions, totally forgetting he already called. Sadly, that is different from Alzheimer's, which sets in should he not know what a telephone is used for. Now, I can’t use my telephone, but I know what it is used for. I have seven buttons with names on them and, here is where they really get you, four buttons that have no names on them so it is like a total surprise to see what happens when you hit them. I transferred a call yesterday, and was very proud of myself. I have no idea how I did it or how to do it again. I was all prepared to say, "sorry, but you have the wrong number. Try calling this number." The phone also has a life of its own. Every now and then it will decide to dial up someone and call them. Suddenly I will hear voices, and I am not going crazy, because the voices are real. It is someone speaking through my phone that my phone has decided, totally on its own, I should speak to.

We used to have a coffee machine that we had to rid off because a secretary was convinced it was possessed by the devil. It would make coffee and then start shaking and spew out coffee all over the place. That is how well things work around here. Remember, our office is run according to the lowest bidder. Usually they cut a corner or two, such selling us self-dialing phone calls.

This reminds me of someone who had a voice activated phone. He could yell "call the Administrator", and the phone would self-dial the Administrator's number. He was trying to get it the phone to dial by voice command, and it kept replying "I'm sorry, I don't understand your request. Please repeat it." He got so upset he finally cursed at it, "Jesus Christ". Then the phone began ringing. He went to hang up, but I stopped him, telling him "wait, I want to hear who answers."

I am very glad your daughter’s wedding went well. I am sorry all the weddings you have attended so far have all resulted in divorce. Did you attend any weddings of any of our classmates? I don't know who married who. I know I was invited to and attended a grand total of zero weddings from people I knew from high school. So, if they were getting divorced, it was your fault, not mine. Although, I suspect it was not your fault every wedding you attended ended in divorce. Our class may have been destined that way. I remember our yearbook had something like a "best couple" award in it, and the class voted for a couple that dated from Freshman year through Senior year and then broke up right before the photo was taken. So much for our “Best Couple”.

I recall that the Prom King and Queen were you and the boy who talked you into playing doctor with you at age 5. Of course, after that doctor scandal, I am sure that was the only thing that prevented you two from also being the Best Couple. That, and again, you can correct me, I don't recall the two of you being a couple, but being just good friends who get naked in front of each other/

I also remember a girl and I were voted Most Talented. Which, by the way, it never occurred to me until someone in my fraternity found the yearbook that there was a second interpretation to the term "most talented". For the record, this girl and now were never “talented” together.

There was one guy in my fraternity who went through my yearbook who kept asking "who is this?" It was always a picture of the same girl. He told me he would love to meet jer. He also was very wealthy. I did years later run into her and I told her this story. Her husband did not seem too pleased to learn that a millionaire had the hots for his wife.

By the way, this same guy called me up the other day to chat. He is not married, so, hey, if you run into Judy and she's now single (did you go to her wedding?), well,,,,

I am glad you get your pearls from China, where we know there are no environmental problems whatsoever.


Dear ME,
I am glad the dogs are fine. Incidentally, the dogs thank you for agreeing to live in their world. You think you built your home with air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter for yourselves, but the dogs know it really is all for them. They are quite loving and have agreed to let you live in the house with them. I am sorry it costs so much to take your two dogs to the vet. The vet’s father was the vet for our five dogs when I was growing up. We know how expensive it can be. My father says we put the vet’s daughter through college. Now that she has taken her father’s place as the town’s veterinarian, I hope you will see your dogs get the best quality care for her. Her children deserve to go to a good college.

I went to Valley Forge yesterday. The guide at Washington's Headquarters actually told us of the great men that have passed through these halls, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Belushi, etc. Yes, if it wasn't for John Belushi, who knows what the country would look like today without him. In fact, as I recall, after Washington sailed across the Delaware River, he turned to his troops and yelled those famous words that won the Revolutionary War, "food fight!"

Maybe that explains why our high school never hired me to be a History teacher.

On our way back, we stopped at a place that sells shoofly pie before. Now, I don't expect that you know what it is, because it is primarily a central Pennsylvania dish. Yet, one would think after living in central Pennsylvania for most of one's life that one would have come across shoofly pie. Of course, I don't think I helped matters by stating that they use only the best shoe flies when baking these pies. A shoofly is a molasses pie. It is sort of like a crack pie only with molasses instead of brown sugar. It is like crack pie, there is absolutely nothing good for you contained with the pie, which is why is tastes so good. The Surgeon General just recommends you don't swallow it.

I also attended a lecture on China. One of the speakers told how she was from a “small city” of only 19 million people. There is an old Chinese saying that if you sit on the banks of a river, you will eventually see the bodies of your enemies float past. I always fear my enemies are waiting downstream for me to float by.

Thank you for signing your emails “Love, ME.” I appreciate that. It reminds me when someone used to sign her emails “LOL”. I didn’t know what that meant, so I guessed it meant “lots of love”. When I later found out it meant “lots of laughter”, I realized she didn’t love me, she was laughing at me the whole time.

Love, Leon

Dear ME,

I am sorry the order your company needed from China did not arrive on time for an event. If I ever write a book on business, I believe I will create a new Law of Business. When dealing in international commerce, the ability to speak English decreases the more a deadline is missed.

You have the right to be furious. Or, as they say in China, well, I don't know what they say, because I can't speak Mandarin or Cantonese, which is what I suspect is being said now.

I am glad you found a place that offer a good lobster bisque. When I go to a restaurant, the soup of the day is always something like cod liver and squid ink.

I am not familiar with a Big Y. Is it owned by the same company as A&P? So, the further done the alphabet, the higher the prices go? I guess you should be glad you are not getting a Big Z.

I am sorry my recent discussion made you hungry. I will avoid discussing these bread and butter issues with you and tell you about the honey of a deal I saw at the local store while beefing up my office supplies. Orange you glad I didn't mention food?

Later alligator, which reminds me, they sometimes do have alligator soup. This reminds me of one of my all time favorite road signs. It had a stick figure holding a smaller stick figure over the creek next to the road with a stick alligator figure with its mouth open about to eat the smaller stick figure, with a big slash across it. Yes, it was the international "do not feed your children to the alligators" sign. Just in case you were planning on dangling your children above the alligators.

For some reason, I recall was when Congressman John Anderson was running for President in 1980 and he went inside the Faculty Club across the street from my fraternity. Some of the fraternity guys were drinking beer outside the fraternity and began speaking to the Congressman's security detail. They invited them inside, and to my surprise, they came inside and had some beer. (Obviously, the Congressman was assigned the low level security. They are not Secret Service but extra Treasury agents stuck with this assignment, and you can tell they were bored stiff with it.) Of course, I will always remember the famous words when one of the Treasury agents looked up from his beer and announced "you do realize, if someone shoots the Congressman, we are all in a lot of trouble." Fortunately, the Congressman emerged safe. In fact, I wonder if the agents got in trouble, as he left before they went back to get him.

Of course, I don’t “hang” only with Presidential candidate security details. I remember once seeing a man who was dressed like a bum walking the streets of New York City shouting out to invisible people. Yet every once in a while, he would stop, and do a back flip. I remember thinking to myself: You have to have talent to even be homeless in Manhattan. I usually see the most incredible people in New York City. I remember years ago a guy flashed a poster of Marilyn Monroe. I doubt Marilyn could see anything, so I am not certain what his point was, but, I wasn't going to ask him. I remember another time when the police had shot and wounded a suspect, and lots of tourists were gathering around taking photographs. Yes, next show in an hour, stick around. I think all that eating at Pop Tarts Restaurants affects the minds of New Yorkers.

We are behind the times, so we are having a St. Patricks Day Parade today several days after St. Patricks Day. I will believe we are really behind the times when the parade ends with Santa wearing green at the end of the parade. It should be fun for all the kids. I hear they throw little bottles of whiskey to all the children. Just kidding. The kids sneak the bottles out of their mommie's purses.

Soon I will go out and see the parade. I saw a vendor setting up selling Hannah Montana hats. I have to confess, as I have never watched the show, but does Hannah Montana have anything to do with St. Patrick's Day, or is this guy just stuck with several hundred hats from a cancelled TV show he can't get rid of?

This coming weekend will be a big test: I will be in Chicago. Will I survive Chicago. Or will I not make it across the street in time before rush hour traffic pushes me into the river.

I recall you were raising children during the disco and punk rock periods, but did you ever buy or listen to much disco or punk rock? I always liked seeing the 70s and 80s music crowd after they got married, and how their music changed from "Purple Rain" to Barney the purple dinosaur. Or the punk rockers as they changed from "London's Calling" to the baby's crying.

One of my favorite Hollywood stories is of a director who didn't quite understand how the world works....literally. He was directing a scene where the lighting was off because of the Sun. He was heard barking out the following orders: "The Sun is in the way. Someone, move the Sun."

Love, Leon

Dear ME,

A few minutes ago, the work was ordered to undergo an emergency evacuation. I immediately chose this time to email you. I figure, in case this is the last email I send, I want it to be to you. Before you think too highly of this decision, I have to now be honest and admit the reason for the evacuation is a water main break and due to a lack of water, the sprinklers will not work in case of fire. Yet, there is also no water where I live, so I might as well be here than at home.

So, how is the weather there? We had a record rainfall of almost four inches on Saturday. This was the alltime record, breaking the one day record set in 1929. And I lived through it. I suspect our pipes are not living through the experience and they literally are bursting at the seams. So, due to our having too much water, we have no water. I know that sounds like something Yogi Berra would say, but it is true.

I read something about oyster beer and I thought of you. If I hear of anyone finding a pearl in their beer, I will have them send the pearl to you. Oyster beer? Ice cream beer? What is the world coming to?

Well, if there is a fire and I don't realize it and I don't survive because the sprinklers don't work, it has been nice knowing you. Yet, to be honest, I suspect I might still be here tomorrow. I might be all wet, but, people have thought that of me for some time ago.

More rain is coming this afternoon. Yeah! We love rain!

I am glad you had a great time on your vacation. How does it feel to be back? Does part of you still wish it were back on vacation? I always feel the same way we I travel, especially since part of me, usually my luggage, is still where I left.

It will be great seeing you soon. Whatever you agree to will be fine with you, except, possibly, for throwing me in the river. I might veto that. Dinner is on me, which, of course, means I will probably spill whatever I order onto my shirt. It also means it is my treat, because I am sure it is no treat otherwise watching me spill my food.

Love, Leon

Dear ME,

I am back from a few days of vacation. The first day I arrived I was a part of history. They got more rain on any one day than since 1899. Next time, I am going to stand in a shower all day and just save the money. Fortunately, the weather the rest of the time was perfect. Warm enough to never need a coat yet no so warm that I melted. Not, of course, that I melt since I am in no way related to that wicked witch. I went to a Halloween horror event that uses movie sets. Now, most people go because people jump out and scare you. I just ignore them. I like to walk through the sets and see the sets. They recreate sets from horror films and hire teenagers to jump out and scare you. Teenagers only scare me when they are texting while driving.

I also bought a MacBook.  I can't figure out how to get the MacFries with it.  Learning to type in Apple is like learning a whole new language.  I used PC for so long I now realize that even if Microsoft language is more complicated, I at least could already speak it.  Now I have to learn that Safari means Internet Explorer.  I at first was worried: how could Apple survive without having the Internet connected.  Now I learn it is a Safari, while made me wonder where all the wild animals are. My wonderment does not include all the Apple users in counterculture bars writing radical thoughts; those wild animals, for the most part, have had their shots.

I note Apple has a weird autocorrect. I wrote "how does this machine turn on" and I misspelled "machine" so this MacBook corrected it to "how does this mating turn on".  I believe you might have had a different interpretation of what I meant to type.  Yet, I am at that level.  I bought the MacBook ad returned for a lesson in how to use it and "how do you turn it on" was my first critical question.  I don't now why, but I think actually being able to use a product can be useful.

Love, Leon

Dear ME,

   Well, I don't know about anyone else, yet I am having a great Mother's Day today. Our local soup restaurant sometimes has a unique soup offering that I will go and try, if only so I someday may be sitting in a retirement home bragging "why, back in my day, I ate soup with snails in them."  Well, I received an announcement from the soup restaurant that today they indeed would be having Escargot Soup, which is French for "we are going to trick you into eating slimy snails by using a fancy word instead of snails."
   Of course, since today is Mother's Day, I wondered what type person would take a mother to eat snails, because nothing say "Happy Mother's Day" than "here, eat some snails."
   Anyway, I arrived and was informed there were no soup today.  Yes, the soup restaurant had no soup.  Even they admitted the irony.  I could not quite catch the quickly worded explanation yet I could pick up something about the early morning chef, the girlfriend of the early morning chef, and when the owner arrived he had to throw out all five pots of soup.  Maybe I don't want to know the details.  So, there being no soup, the owner put together this wonderful Mother's Day brunch
   Sadly, there hardly was anyone there.  Because, as I said before, I believe most mothers would respond in the negative when offered to eat snails on their day of celebration.  Few people were there.
   So I had a great brunch, thanks to women's aversion to snails and to a chef with a questionable social life.  
    How is your day?

Dear ME,

I am very sorry to hear your company has folded. While it is nice that your employer has walked away and let you sell the remaining inventory for what you may get for it, I do realize this has to be a shock. You are selling off the last of what has been your employment existence for several years, While many others who have lost their job have had worse terminations, it has to be very strange for you. You are doing as much work, if not more since you are the only employee left in the company, and you are selling and shipping things off at far less than you are used to charging, While you get to keep the money, that is a product that you will never sell again, Once the business is gone, it is gone for good.

Onto brighter things: disease, starvation, floods, hurricanes. I guess that is not helping. I do sympathize with you and your plight, What is happening to us? We live in the longest sustained period of high unemployment in national history, yet it certainly is not a romanticized one, The Great Depression that we read about and hear about in song and in books was far worse times than what we have to go through, yet it should also be noted that while a about a third of everyone lost their jobs, they were able to find new jobs within a few months. We are in a strange new place. There are not as many of us out of work, yet once you lose your job, it takes far longer than ever to find a new job, People are on unemployment for over a year and still not finding anything.. They are exhausting their benefits and left without any source of income, 

I realize this is a scary world. I am trying to find a way to make light of it and to make you smile (take my job, please) Yet I realize this is not a time for humor. Which is sad, because I am one who has found any depressing time, even a funeral, to be time when people need levity. “Wow, he looks better as a corpse than he did in real life, He should have died when he was alive.” At least the dead have a set future. It is scarier to be alive and not know what the future holds.

I will remind you that I know you and I know you have great abilities and anyone who refuses to hire you is a fool. I also know that doesn’t help in a reality when there are hundreds of people applying for every vacancy, It almost seems as it lucky random people are the only people being hired. If this is true, that I pray that your random number gets chosen.

I do believe that somehow there is a recognition of your hard work and your abilities. May some glimmer of that seep through so that you find a great new job. After you have that new job, I hope you may sit back and relax and wonder what it was you were so worried about.

Until that happens, I realize that your life is nothing but one of worry, How will you feed your dogs? How will you feed yourself? How will you keep your house? I sometimes wonder when people sit back and criticize those who abandoned their pets and walked away from their mortgages and abandoned their homes that they, in some cases, those decisions were made of necessity, and at great heartache, and with no alternative. As for me, I could abandon my house, but my dog would come with me.

I am reminded of a man I used to pass frequently on the streets. He was on the streets with a sign begging for money. One day, there was a dog with him, The dog stayed for some day, Then the dog disappeared. I feared for the dog, and hoped  it had not been killed or run away and that the man on the streets who seemed to care for it would never see it again, I was so overjoyed when I saw the dog returned.

I then realized, I cared more for the dog than I did the man.

Love, Leon

Dear ME,

I like how someone found a photograph of me in the 4th grade pointing at a model of a volcano. I forgot that I was once a young volcano expert. Although, at the 4th grade level, my knowledge was probably basically “here is a volcano” and then to point at it. I remember the teacher would then put something she set fire to that would cause something to overflow onto the model volcano. Thus we learned that lava flows from volcanos. See, and I can remember such stuff.

The photograph reminds us of our youth and innocence. (Well, I was innocent. I don’t know about the rest of the class. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) One of the girls in the photograph today struggles with multiple sclerosis. It is sad that diseases strike so many. Some of our classmates have passed away. One girl in the photograph was murdered. While I can remember being in the 4th grade and believing that there could never be as much pressure anywhere else in the world than the pressure of studying for school tests, maybe it is just as well that we did not know what cruelties awaited us in this crueler than we imagined world.

I was a Safety Patrol person then. Yes, someone thought it was a good idea to sen 4th and 5th graders out to stand in the middle of the street and stop oncoming traffic in order to allow other students to cross the streets. In retrospect, I now think they chose us for Safety Patrol according to who they thought they would miss the least. Today these use adults as Crossing Guards, although I am not sure how well equipped some of them are. I suspect some of them are not as sober and also should not be stepping out in front of oncoming traffic and stopping it. At least we Safety Patrol were more sober, except for perhaps that student were always carried around way too much glue that could be used for art projects.

One of the best moments of 5th grade was when my mother brought home my first dog, Laddie. He was part collie and part miniature collie and grew to be about a three quarters collie size. I know you love dogs so you know how special dogs are. I was sad when you lost yours. I know that sadness.

I remember walking Laddie. Or, as the neighbors remember, Laddie walking me. He was a strong dog. He once jumped on a woman and snagged a thread on a woman’s dress. She got very upset. She sued us. What I did not know until decades later was our attorney advised we pay her since she was the wife of the local Cosa Nostra boss. At least Laddie could sense who deserved to be snagged. Today the boss’s daughter wants to open a casino and the boss insists he has nothing to do with his daughter’s business nor should anyone see any connections between his political contributions and the awarding of casinos. Personally, I fear too many people lose too much money they could not afford to lose at casinos. They also take a lot of entertainment money out of the local community and other sources of entertainment tend to fold. If your retirement plan is to get rich at the casino, I would advise you develop and follow an alternative plan.

I will state one good thing about casinos is most have decent restaurants. Sadly, local restaurants lose out to casino restaurants, yet I will give the casinos credit. Most of them look nice and see to be kept clean. Remember, those casinos did not get to looking so nice by paying out winnings.

Love, Leon