A Dental Visit

I spent three hours in the dental chair yesterday from 8 a.m. until a little after 11 a.m. You see, a root canal had gone south on me, so last month I had to have an oral surgeon dig out Molar No. 30 and yesterday I was having the preliminary work done for a bridge.

Since I’m getting older than dirt, and old people often drift back into memories from the past, I hope you’re stay with me while I revisit a few dental experiences that are currently bubbling around in my hardening brain.

I first visited an oral surgeon in 1972 when I was a graduate student in Colorado. Because the lower backend of my jaw hurt like hell and felt like it was trying to give birth to baseballs, I visited a dentist who sent me to an oral surgeon to have two impacted wisdom teeth extracted. A good guy, this kind man only charged me $100 to take out both teeth. I suspect he cut me a good deal because of my whining about how I was only making 85 cents an hour washing dishes in a dormitory at the time.

The second visit to an oral surgeon to unload the other two wisdom teeth occurred in 1975, or maybe it was 1976, in New Orleans, where I shelled out $500. That experience was awful since dry sockets reared their ugly heads after the teeth were extracted, and I ended up spending several days in bed. The only good part of this dental adventure was the Tylenol laced with codeine which, looking back on it, made reading Stephen King’s “The Shining” a truly terrifying experience.

Back to the present. The oral surgeon here in rural NC charged me $1,041 four weeks ago when he carved out my cracked Molar No. 30 that had had a root canal in early 2022.

I’ll spare you my rant about inflation, but I do want to share a few comments regarding how half of the $1,041 bill paid for 15 minutes of Deep Sedation and 15 minutes of General Anesthesia.

I’ve been told that this Deep Sedation is also known as “Twilight Sleep” and that it can be downright weird. Because of various chemical interactions with homosapien hormonal juices, the unconscious person receiving this kind of IV infusion can talk and even hold a conversation with the oral surgeon.

Holy shit, that’s nuts!

If you think that’s crazy, get this: My regular dentist told me today that when he was in dental school, “just for fun,” he and a fellow student during their oral surgery class would occasionally gather around some poor slob having a tooth removed. They’d question him, and he’d tell them all kinds of things. My dentist wouldn’t tell me any specifics about what they’d hear, but I mean, seriously, I bet the guy’s Id would be blabbering secrets and stories you could probably write a Proust novel about.

I’m a pretty mild old guy in my dotage, but given the nature of my fading memory and the mysteries of my Id in my 20’s and 30’s, I shudder to think what I might have said during my Twilight Sleep last month…

Well, we won’t go there. Happily, no officers of the law stood next to the dental chair with handcuffs and Mace when I regained consciousness so perhaps I merely recited passages from Hamlet or lines from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock until the surgeon told me to shut up.

But I ramble.

Back to the narrative.

Anyway, yesterday my dentist poked, prodded, and removed with various drill bits and dull chisels substantial pieces of Second Bicuspid No. 29 and Molar No. 31 so they would hold temporary crowns. Next month, the temporary crowns will be replaced with permanent crowns which will be attached to something called a bridge. The bridge will apparently cover the thumb-sized hole in which Molar 30 resided for about 70 years.

On the off chance you’re having trouble visualizing a bridge, just think of the bright orange structure that connects San Francisco to Marin Country, California. You know, the Golden Gate Bridge.

Speaking of bridges, now that I’m totally committed to diligent dental hygiene during Act V of my life, I inquired about how to floss every night around this bridge. Because she works with many elderly patients whose memories retain information the way a sieve holds water, the dental assistant promised to provide me with a full tutorial when the actual bridge was permanently installed in my mouth.

“I’ll tell you all about flossing your bridge once we cement the final appliance into place next month,” she informed me

Seriously, I didn’t care much for that word “cemented,” but I’m going to withhold judgement until I have more information.

Oh, jeez, I see I’m about to wander off the timeline of this narrative yet again. So sorry. At least I caught myself this time. Chalk it up to neural misfirings probably caused by remnants of the lidocain or whatever numbing med the dentists use these days to make your mouth feel like you’ve swallowed a space heater.

Back to the narrative and proper timeline:

His assistant, whose pronouns about which I failed to inquire, then took something like 18 impressions with gooey Silly Putty-like stuff that stuck to my beard, my inner cheeks (my mouth cheeks, not my butt, silly!) and possibly my tonsils.

All kinds of other things happened in my mouth during yesterday’s visit, but it’s getting late and I need to shut up even though I’m sure you would love to read another 25,000 words or so.

So, to make a long story short and to put those still reading this out of their misery, at the end of the appointment, as the assistant was cleaning the gum area below one of the temporaries my lower lip was accidentally jabbed and sliced open with some kind of sharp stainless steel tool. (Probably, possibly, a descendant of instruments used during the Spanish Inquisition?)

WTF! OMG! You should have seen the blood!

On second thought, no, I’m glad you didn’t see the blood. Gushing from my poor old lip (yes, having lived this long I can call my lower lip old) the oxygenated red stuff was all over my beard, all over the front of my shirt, all over the floor, and I fear some may have splattered on the ceiling!

Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.

Yeah, in the interest of full transparency in these terrible days of lies and exaggerated versions of what’s presented as Truth, the above was more than an slight exaggeration.

In reality, a quick dab with some kind of dental blood thickener sealed the tiny cut, and I was directed to the billing office. I gave thought to requesting a 10% discount since the blood loss had caused my lower lip to droop well below my chin but decided against doing that and instead kept a stiff upper lip and paid the bill without confrontation.

(Ha, don’t you love the way I drilled down — so to speak — to the clever last line of the previous paragraph about keeping a stiff upper lip? I mean, seriously, wasn’t that the funniest thing you’ve read in the past five minutes?)

Moral: Take care of your teeth when you’re young and/or don’t live too long if you still have a daily jones for Tillamook Mountain Huckleberry and Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.

Finally, you heard about the award won by the dentist, didn’t you?


Well, he won a plaque.

The Nature of Time and Shakira

Here’s hopefully a little amusement as well as the latest important news from CasaDay…

In a frustrating attempt to impede calcification of my old brain, I’ve recently taken to watching YouTube videos about the nature of time. I wish I could report intellectual progress and a deep understanding of this important topic that affects each of us, but, alas, I’m more confused than ever.

I mean, seriously, the video I watched last night posited a one-on-one causal relationship between time and space: If there is no space, then there’s no time. Or something like that.

I tried to wrap my head around this concept.

No luck there.

In fact, I’m confident I’d have an easier time super glueing the big toe of my right foot to my left ear.

I guess I’ll quit worrying about the entire topic and just glance at a clock when the urge to understand the nature of time again raises its ugly head.

I mean, seriously, why do I feel this compulsion to understand the nature of time? It’s an absurd goal, actually. Especially since my kids are grown, my wife and dog are happily reunited in the Great Beyond, the lawn’s mowed for this week, the 22-year old air conditioner is still running, and Colombia’s super star singer, Shakira, recently kicked her husband out of their home for cheating on her.

Although I can’t swear to the truth of this, rumblings are making the rounds that I can expect a call from Shakira this weekend because she wants to date a mature writer of paperback thrillers, especially one trying to understand the nature of time.

From the mean-spirited and negative social media comments about what I considered a fabulous performance at the 2020 SuperBowl, I know Shakira’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but from personal experience, I also know watching one of her music videos in the a.m. is as invigorating as three cups of coffee:

I was unable to find a video of Ms. Shakira pondering the nature of time, but she may not be as open as I am to sharing intellectual activities online. In any event, I’m here to help her in any way I can!

Speaking of cans, I’m now thinking of a certain popular product from Dinty Moore that contains real potatoes and carrots in a thick brown gravy with large chunks of mystery meat.

And that thought triggered an important realization, the realization that using “beef stew” as a password is a pretty stupid choice because it’s not stroganoff.

With that said, I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and fun weekend with family and friends.

Zero to Sixty

Like most old farts, I have multiple topics that I could bitch and moan about, but I’m going to tack my ship of rants in a different wind for a change and share a fond memory from 1967.

You see, once upon a time a zillion years ago, during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I was a cub reporter at a daily morning newspaper in Huntsville, Alabama.

Though I usually wrote feature stories, penned obituaries, or reported on local high school sports, my editor charged me one night with proofing the classified ads because the usual proofreader was out sick.

The typesetter, a prankster with a mean sense of humor, typed in a classified ad for a car: “It goes from 0 to 60 as fast as you can shit.”

Yes, he purposely left out the “f” to see if I’d catch the error and fix it while proofing. He knew if the error wasn’t noticed and corrected the proofreader would be in for a tongue lashing from one of the bosses.

Keep in mind this tale I’m telling occurred back in the day before computers, before word processing, before auto-correction, and before all the other modern stuff that more often than not makes life harder these daze than life was in the good old days.

Well, given my eagle eyes for English errors and typos even at the ripe age of 20, I did catch the mistake, but… given my own appreciation for pranks and fun, I didn’t fix the error because I thought it was hilarious.

The next afternoon when I came in for work, I was not only chewed out by the editor but was also called into the publisher’s office. Both of my bosses were already familiar enough with my sense of humor as well as my almost OCD approach to words and writing to suspect I’d probably let the ad run as typeset.

They were right, of course, and because I’d grown up guilt-ridden and honest as Old Abe, I owed up to my bad decision, confessed without breaking into a laugh, apologized, and swore that would be the last time I’d let “shit” pass for “shift.”

Consequently, I got off pretty lightly with only two minor ass chewings.

And that’s a fun memory that bubbled up in my fevered old brain this Wednesday afternoon for no apparent reason other than perhaps neurons misfiring between my ears this fine spring day.

Happy Hump Day, dear friends!

No Fool Like an Old Fool

Due to an abiding fear of being cancelled and kicked off the internet for good, I’ve never posted a word about politics, but I’m going to break through my fear and write briefly on important news recently regarding the House of Commons.

For the uninformed, poorly educated, or simply ignorant, the House of Commons is a key legislative body in England. England is a country which isn’t physically attached to Europe but close enough to France for a really good spitter.

With that background, we smoothly transition to the news that captured my attention and inspired this little rant:

You may not be aware of this since it didn’t make the network shows (though it certainly should have given its importance), but British Member of Parliament Neil Parish, 65, has resigned his seat after admitting he had been watching PORNOGRAPHY on his smartphone in the august chamber of the House of Commons!

Apparently, MP Parish’s smartphone is pretty freaking dumb for not reminding him PORNOGRAPHY is best viewed in the privacy of one’s locked closet or bathroom, and preferably late at night after the wife and kids have hit the sack. (Important disclaimer: I make this “best viewed” suggestion from a common sense perspective and NOT from personal experience!)

Speaking of hitting the sack, when was the last time the bottom of your grocery bag split open out of the blue, dumping your eggs and bottles of Geritol and Dulcolax Saline Laxative onto the asphalt? I had that happen to me when I was 71 a few years ago, and I got so mad I actually hit that sack over and over again.

Kapow! Kapow! Almost split open veins in my old knuckles from the forceful blows before I regained my senses and chilled.

I mean seriously, plastic grocery bags are supposed to be more difficult to rip apart than telephone books. And here the lousy sack holding my eggs, Geritol, and Dulcolax Saline Laxative gave way on nothing but a whim.

Speaking of whims, you probably thought Neil Parish, 65, logged onto a PORN site on a whim in the British House of Commons instead of listening to boring details about important legislation, but if that’s what you thought, YOU ARE WRONG!

You see, according to the story I read, Mr. Parish, 65, said he was trying to look at a tractor website, but stumbled into a porn site with a similar name and watched it for “a bit.”

Yeah, I bet.

With that kind of sensible explanation don’t you agree with me that it’s almost impossible to believe Neil Parish, 65, isn’t a member of our own House of Representatives? Lord knows he’d fit right in with many of our hallowed politicians who present us with equally believable explanations regarding their own rare lapses of judgment.

I don’t know about you, but I visit a website informing me of up-to-the-moment news about tractors on a daily basis. If I don’t do this, I start going through withdrawal.

I mean, seriously, old dudes like me and Neil Parish, 65, could end up quivering on the floor with a brain hemorrhage if we don’t get a regular fix of what’s going on in the tractor world.

I will give MP Parish credit, however, since he, according to the AP story confessed to the BBS: “My biggest crime is that on another occasion I went in a second time. And that was deliberate.”

Perhaps the moral of this sad tale is to not go in a second time?

Or maybe the moral is more simple.

To wit, there’s no fool like an old fool.

Drier than Pretzel Sticks

Gosh, 2021-2022 has been such an odd winter weather-wise here in rural North Carolina with me wearing shirt sleeves one day and a heavy parka the next.

For example, I wore my favorite muscle shirt (yes, I still enjoy showing off the python-like biceps I was known for back in the day) this morning when my little dog Cricket and I walked a mile between showers, but that was about it because the clouds were threatening more rain, and my umbrella wouldn’t cover both of us.

You’re right. I should feel guilty for staying dry under the umbrella when my four-legged companion gets soaked. But I don’t feel guilty enough to cover her with the umbrella while getting soaked myself.

This selfish behavior is no doubt something I’ll have to answer for in the Great Beyond when it’s time for my life review, a phenomenon reported by those who have undergone near death experiences. I don’t know whether or not to believe the NDE reports, but I do find them comforting in some respects.

Of course, because I hate to think humanity is alone and the only intelligent (ha, right!) species in the gargantuan universe, I also used to find alien abduction reports comforting, at least the ones with the friendly alien encounters and not the creepy outsiders from the Ring Nebula or certain reptilian DC politicians who stick needles in the abducted on weekends for fun.

Good Lord, I believe I just lost track of where I was going… could this be an early sign of cognitive disintegration?

You see, I was going to write an extended treatise about the odd winter weather so far in 2022, but, actually, I don’t know enough about meteorology to expound on the topic.

And, yes, now that you mention it, you’re right: I would never write about climate change because of my deep fear of being cancelled by social media pests and insane influencers who would disagree with my point of view.

That’s not to say that I have a point of view regarding climate change, but I mean, seriously, at age 74 I can’t take a chance at cancellation.

No kidding, I need friends more than ever.

Do you know how many old men living alone fall down every year and end up drier than pretzel sticks when somebody finally finds their withered bodies seven months down the road?

Do you know how many geezers I’m talking about are found each year in this tragic condition?

Well, I don’t know either, but you can be damn sure it’s a lot.

So hold tight to your friends and don’t say or write stuff that pisses them off because in these crazy times you can end up ostracized just for refusing to reveal your gender pronouns to an inquisitive stranger in the grocery store checkout line!

Believe me, you’re going to need friends one of these days when you’re older than dirt.

Of course your friends may be older than dirt too, and if that’s the case they may not have the strength to help you up when you fall, so I’d counsel making pals with some younger folks too, just in case.

Speaking of cases, have you been following Sarah Palin’s lawsuit against the New York Times? It was postponed, you probably read, because Sarah came down with Covid and then found herself photographed eating without a mask at a restaurant.

From what I understand that image was published in over 326 newspapers world-wide.

Eating without a mask on.

Can you imagine?

Jeezuz, the gall of that woman!

Oh, that reminds me… on the subject of gall, my good friend Bill Beachy during a memorable poker game one evening in the late 80’s (or maybe it was the early 90’s) suddenly went all in with his winning hand and stake of $2.73.

Weirdly, as he raked in the pot of almost five bucks he happily started lecturing on how Gall was a region of Western Europe first described by the Romans. He informed us that it was inhabited by Celtic and Aquitani tribes, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, and parts of Northern Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany, particularly the west bank of the Rhine.

But I digress. For those interested in more knowledge about this region of Western Europe, you can call Bill or else visit Wikipedia. Call Bill. That’s funny. Ha ha ha, it makes me think of Better Call Saul. Hmm, now I’m wondering if Saul rhymes with Gaul?

I know, I know. I know it’s hard to believe, but there may be one or two of you still reading this mess who are wondering where I’m going with this latest bit of nonsense.

I understand, believe me, because I’m wondering where I’m going with it too.


Well, rather than trying to crack the nut of this difficult conundrum, I think I’ll restrain myself and go downstairs and plop this week’s laundry in the washing machine.

I actually enjoy doing laundry these days.

Do you?

If you don’t, give it a try. Putting stinky muddy clothes into the machine isn’t all that much fun, but, gosh, there are few things in life more satisfying than taking the warm laundry out of the dryer, hugging it close to you on cold winter days, and then folding it on your tightly made bed.

You did tightly make your bed this morning, didn’t you?

If you didn’t, I’ll gently share with you what my dear old dad, a former Marine, used to tell me: “If a dime won’t bounce six inches in the air when you drop it on your tightly made bed, you haven’t made it right.”

Good old Dad. He had more wisdom than Ronald Reagan had jelly beans.

Speaking of jelly beans, I went to order some this morning on Amazon and learned that that bastard Jeff Bezos is jacking the yearly price of Prime membership up by 17%.

Seventeen percent!

Can you believe the greed of that guy?

I mean, seriously, I understand how difficult it must be to exist with only $175,000,000,000 in the bank, but for Pete’s sake, give the little guy a break and don’t bump the Prime price through the ceiling

And Bezos should do something about his warehouse employees who don’t have enough time to take a bathroom break during work hours.

I mean, honestly, who wants to take an old orange juice container with them to pee in at work because there’s not enough time to run to the bathroom in one of Amazon’s huge warehouses?

And no, I’m not exaggerating about the size of Amazon warehouses. If you don’t believe me, you can confirm on Wikipedia this quote about Amazon’s largest warehouse: “As of September 2021, [it’s] the Wilmington, Delaware, at 3.8 million square feet. That’s large enough to fit 66.6 football fields inside. The five-story warehouse has a footprint of roughly 640,000 square feet on the ground, which is nearly 14.7 acres.”

Can you imagine having a full bladder when the urinal (or hopefully clean ladies’ toilet) is 66.6 football fields away?

I mean, yikes!

Well, now that I have that little rant about the world’s second richest man out of my system I guess I’ll stop and pull my clothes out of the dryer.

I wish you a happy weekend with friends and family.

And be sure today to tell those you love that you love them.

A New Orleans Ghost Story

I’ve embedded at the end of this post a picture of the house my beloved late wife Ellen and I lived in for our first seven years in New Orleans, starting way back in 1973.

This classic house had four apartments. Two on the first floor and two above. Our crib was on the second and third floors on the right hand side of the house.

Ellen and I enjoyed really good years in that old place.

Some hopefully interesting details about the house:  The landlord said it was built in the 19th century by a rich sea captain for his beautiful young wife. At the time (and still true today after checking Google Maps) this was the only house in the surrounding area with three stories, and the captain included the “widow’s walk” balcony outside the third floor so his beloved could watch for his ship coming up the Mississippi River when he returned from whatever voyage he’d gone on.

As legend would have it, the captain raised a special flag to the top of the highest mast of his ship upon getting close to New Orleans so his wife, who must have spent a lot of time on the third floor balcony pining for his return, would know he would arrive home soon.

I don’t know if she would then rush to the kitchen to prepare red beans and rice with a side of gumbo. Maybe so, maybe no.

Ellen and I couldn’t see the Mississippi River from the third floor balcony when we lived there because the area had been developed to a point where the view was blocked, but The Father of Waters was probably about, maybe, a half mile directly in front of the house. 

I swear this next part is true, though it might sound like a writer’s fabrication.

During our first month in this apartment on Tchoupitoulas Street, Ellen saw the ghost of the captain’s young wife in the middle of the night, standing over our bed and staring down at us, visibly angry.

Ellen was frightened and physically shaking when she woke me up to tell me what she’d just seen, that the captain’s wife was practically in a rage that we were in their bedroom.

That she held her pale white arms over her head, her hands twisted into angry and shaking fists!

“Her eyes were pinpoints of hatred,” Ellen explained. “I’ve never seen anyone so angry.”

Geez, I’m getting goosebumps right now revisiting this memory.

That was the only time anything that might have been supernatural occurred, thank goodness, but our apartment often seemed to vibrate with ancient memories from all those who had lived in it before us.

Almost fifty years have flown by as I type these words, and now I find myself alone with ancient memories.

I still occasionally dream about this apartment, a small but truly wonderful place for a young couple to call home in a crazy and fascinating city.

Oh, one more thing. At some point, the owner of the apartments in this historical home in New Orleans converted them into four condominiums, and the last time our little apartment of 960 square feet was up for sale at few years ago I vaguely recall the asking price was around $411,000.

We paid $175 a month rent in 1973, gradually going up to $250 when we moved right after Ellen got pregnant with our first son, Josh.

A buck sure doesn’t go as far as it used to, eh?

Ellen and I lived in this wonderful house for seven years in the 70’s
Click here to see 3D movable map of the apartment and surrounding “shotgun” houses.

A Fish Story

Back in 1977 when my beloved late wife Ellen and I were living in New Orleans my visiting uncle stayed at our house for the weekend after a long spell of fishing for tuna off the California coast. A deep sea fisherman his entire life, he was tired that day, but not so tired that he couldn’t tell an interesting story.

Since I’ll soon be older than dirt, I decided to share this tale rather than taking it to the grave with me. So, without further preamble, here we go…

“Twenty some year ago, when I was 28,” my uncle said that long ago weekend, “I was working off the California coast on a tuna boat. We lucked into a fabulous school of fish, and we were hauling them in as fast as we could move. I’d gotten married a week before and was wearing a heavy gold wedding ring my new wife purchased for me. Unfortunately, I hadn’t yet had time to get the jeweler to resize the ring, which was too big for my finger. Downright loose, in fact.”

My uncle sighed before continuing. “It was raining that day and my hands were slippery with fish slime. We were working furiously. So I snagged a tuna with the grappling hook, and my wedding ring slipped right off my finger and fell into the ocean. I was tempted to jump in after it, but it was already too late. I knew from the weight of the gold that my ring was on its way to Davy Jones’s locker.”

“Gosh, that’s awful,” I said. “Did you tell your wife?”

“Oh, of course I did. She was upset, but she knew that accidents happen on fishing boats, and she told me we’d get another one after payday.”

Uncle Lance took a sip of a cold beer and sighed again. He shook his head, and it was obvious his mind had drifted back to the day he lost that ring.

Though I was anxious to hear the next part, I didn’t say anything.

A few moments later, my uncle came back to the present, smiled the biggest smile I’d ever seen, looked at me, and said: “Chet, I bet you can’t guess what happened last week when we were fishing the same area and happened on another large school of tuna.”

Anticipating something incredibly cool, perhaps even unbelievable, I told my uncle, “I don’t know. Tell me.”

“Well, after we had a good ten dozen fish onboard, it was time to clean them. I picked out the largest one — gosh, it was a gargantuan blue tuna, must have been at least thirty years old — inserted my knife, started cutting, and, mercy, you’ll never guess what I found inside.”
“You can’t be serious. You found your wedding ring!”

My uncle smiled more broadly and said, “Nope. I found Jimmy Hoffa!” He then slapped his knees with his hands and laughed until I thought he’d have a heart attack.

Utility Bill Rant

Here it is the fourth day of March, 2021, and I find myself annoyed, very annoyed.

In fact, I suppose I’m verging on pissed off, if you’ll excuse my French.

Speaking of France, I’m wondering what kind of asphalt they use on their streets since apparently the French military can drive tanks through Paris during a big parade that weigh something like 62 metric tons each without ripping the macadam into something that looks, but certainly doesn’t smell, like zucchini shreds?

Anyway, I’m extremely annoyed today because, you see, I sat down at my desk a few minutes ago to pay a utility bill, and, as usual the past several years, the tri-folded sheet of paper that has at its bottom the section to return with payment to the folks who provide me with electricity is screwed up.

I mean, seriously messed up and totally unacceptable.

How so, you ask?

Well, the tiny tearing perforations on the “return this part” of the bill are almost exactly 1/16th of an inch away from the second fold of the tri-folded sheet of paper!

Consequently, if you’re a neat freak like me, when you try to remove the bottom 1/3rd of the sheet from the whole sheet, you always end up tearing on the damn fold instead of being able to precisely and cleanly (and with a barely discernible but still satisfying sound, if your hearing is still functioning at a decent level) tear on the perforations, the way God means for these “return this section” sections to tear.

I mean, seriously, we put guys on the moon more than 50 years ago with an onboard computer that had 1 millionth of the power of a chessy $8 smartphone and yet we don’t have the technology to line up the folds and the perforations on a doggone utility bill?

Gimme a break!


Now, it’s entirely possible you may be thinking that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill because I’m either an idiot or entering my dotage, but that’s not the case.

This is a serious issue that impacts serious people, and I think something needs to be done to lick this problem.

Speaking of licking, I’m also on the rampage this morning because once I end up with a “return this portion” that looks like it was cut up by John Wayne Gacy, I have to put it in an envelope that came with the bill.

A $#@%$#@%$ envelope flap that doesn’t have enough glue on it to actually stick to the back of the envelope to which it’s supposed to stick.

I mean, honestly, in my annoyance I’ve already mouthed up a thimble’s worth of spit over the damn misalignment of the “return this portion” fold and perforations, and yet even that much saliva doesn’t produce enough moisture to seal the flap to the back of the envelope because no doubt the bean counters at the utility company have apparently purchased cheap envelopes with a glue that wouldn’t bond two fleas together, even if they were engaged in coitus.

Speaking of coitus… oops, best not go there, better save that one for another day.

And the worst part about trying to seal envelopes by licking glue that doesn’t work is that stubborn guys like me (yes, in the interest of full disclosure, I admit to a streak of obstinacy) have occasionally suffered paper cuts on their tongues in vain attempts to properly seal envelopes that won’t seal unless you resort to spending big money on roll after roll of Scotch tape.

Speaking of tapes, lately I’ve been reviewing my Watergate materials and noted with interest that John Wesley Dean truly had a remarkable memory. Of course, I do too, even in my early 70’s, and, to this day, I can still recall watching Dean testify while his lovely wife Maureen looked on lovingly.

But I digress.

Anyway, now that I’ve drained some of today’s grumpy old man vitriol from my arteries, let me conclude by pointing out that about half of the population of what used to be a pleasant place to live — the United States of America — currently believe we’re making America great again the other half think the opposition is dragging the U.S. to the darkest corners of hell.

But as far as I’m concerned, we’ll never be great again until we fix the problems with our utility bill statements and envelopes.

Oh yeah, if you — like 99.99% of the population of the earth — haven’t already done so, I hope you’ll treat yourself to one of my three novels (very creepy thrillers). Dropping a few bucks on my fiction will help me replenish my hoard of Scotch tape. Grab one, or, even better, all three, right now at https://amazon.com/author/chetday

Driving to New Orleans

My late wife, the lovely Ellen Schoenberger Day and I stuffed everything we owned in my 1966 VW bug in the summer of 1973 when we began our move to New Orleans after attending graduate school in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Probing my old brain this afternoon here in rural North Carolina as I wander through my memory palace more than fifty years later, I happily report that I can still vividly recall driving into northern Louisiana in our un-air-conditioned Beetle in early July and remarking to my young wife, “Man, it’s really hot.”

Speaking of hot, did you ever wonder about what’s really in hot dogs?

I got curious about this once because there was a time in my life before I hopped on an extended health kick when I found nothing more delicious than a hot dog on a bun smothered with onions, mustard, and a generous serving of cheap chili.

“I can’t believe you eat hot dogs,” the beautiful Ellen Schoenberger commented one date night after a movie when I pulled my VW Bug into the local fast food joint for a post-cinema treat. This, of course, occurred before we roped together at the hitching post in 1972. “Are you not curious about the real ingredients?”

Well, actually, no.

No, I wasn’t at all curious.

As far as I was concerned, ignorance was bliss regarding Ft. Collins’ local Wienerschnitzel, an American fast food chain founded in 1961 and well known by aficionados as the World’s Most Delicious Hot Dog Chain.

I mean, seriously, if one got too curious, eating a hot dog or jellied moose nose or a brick of liver mush one might realize that consuming such delicacies might even gag a maggot.

Indeed, that kind of curiosity has been the downfall of many gourmets over the centuries.

And, of course, you know what happened to the cat that got too curious, don’t you?

Well, according to “Schools and Schools,” an O. Henry story, “Curiosity can do more things than kill a cat; and if emotions, well recognized as feminine, are inimical to feline life, then jealousy would soon leave the whole world catless.”

But I’m wandering too far afield of where I’m supposed to be heading, aren’t I?

Back to wieners and what’s really in them.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO): “The raw meat materials used for precooked-cooked products are lower-grade muscle trimmings, fatty tissues, head meat, animal feet, animal skin, blood, liver and other edible slaughter by-products.”

So much for ever enjoying a tasty chili dog again, eh?

Anyway, so Ellen Schoenberger Day and I have just driven through Shreveport, Louisiana, and we’re on a straight course for New Orleans, and I’m bitching about the heat, constantly complaining, “Man, it’s really hot. Can you believe this heat? Hell can’t be more than eight degrees hotter than this. And I bet you a dime to a donut that the humidity down there is less than what we’re experiencing. Seriously, it’s really not. I mean, seriously, can you believe how hot it is? Feel my forehead. I’m burning up. I’m having trouble breathing.”

I recall my young wife’s evil smile as she sympathized, “My poor baby.”

Ellen, you see, had earned her BA from LSU, and both of her parents were from Louisiana, so she knew (but didn’t proffer full disclosure to me when she decided to do her doctoral work at Tulane) the kind of heat and humidity that we had in our future.

As we drove further and further south (it’s 327.3 miles between Ratchet City and The Big Easy), I’m fantasizing about life in a blast furnace and thinking, “Thank God we’ll cool off in an air-conditioned house before nightfall.”

Speaking of air conditioning, I bet you didn’t know that a guy named Stuart W. Cramer coined the term “air conditioning” in 1906. Well, he did just that in a patent claim as an analogue to “water conditioning,” which was at the time a well-known process for making textiles easier to process.

Water, ah, yes… well, back to our journey to New Orleans…

Three hundred twenty-seven and point three miles later, I’ve lost maybe 18 pounds of water weight from sweating, and we pull into the driveway of my wife’s Grandmother’s home in Old Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans.

Nana Beydler, you see, owned a lovely old shotgun home typical of this part of New Orleans/Metairie.

For those not in the know, a shotgun home is a long house built for the three days a summer in southern Louisiana when a slight breeze cuts through the unbelievably brutal heat and humidity and passes through the front door and straight out the back door.

If you find this hard to visualize, let me put it another way: you could enter Nana Beydler’s shotgun home and walk a straight line that’d take you from the front porch, through the living room, through the dining room, through the kitchen, and out the back door to a small yard. In Nana’s home, the bedrooms and bathrooms were off to one side of the long barrel of the shotgun.

Anyway, as I stumble out of our VW in Ms. Beydler’s driveway, now thoroughly dehydrated and slightly crazed from carping for hours and hours about driving through humidity a man could cut with a butcher’s cleaver, I remark to my wife, who has — unbelievably and extremely annoyingly for me — not even broken a sweat, “Thank God! Finally, I can breathe some cool air.”

Then, lord love a duck, as I literally stumble up three steps to the front of Nana’s home, I realize that only a screen door separates me from the porch and the living room.

And NO cool air is issuing from that living room through the screen door.


Not even a wisp as tender as a first kiss.

“Can it be true? Can this actually be happening?” my fevered brain screams to itself. “WTF! She doesn’t have air conditioning! Arghhh!”

And then this lovely little old white-haired woman comes to the screen door, opens it, and bends down on one arthritic knee to help me find my feet from where I knelt in agony because of the heat and humidity, and says, “You must be Chet. I’m so happy to meet you. I’m Nana Beydler.”

I try a polite greeting in return, but by now I’m so dehydrated my tongue is the size of a brisket and only weird Lovecraftian sounds come out: “Drkaj ughs mysls…”

“He’s pretty hot, ” my wife translates, “and he’s been grousing about the heat and humidity ever since we drove through Shreveport. What a baby.”

“Oh, then let me put the air conditioner on,” Nana replies. “I wasn’t going to waste money using it today since there’s such a nice breeze blowing through the house, but if he’s not man enough to take the heat…”

Her voice trailed off and she kind of shook her head while tsk tsking to herself at her granddaughter’s poor choice in men.

Ellen and Nana each take one of my arms and pull me to my feet.

At this point, I’m gravitating between guilt over Grandmother Beyder’s next electricity bill and gratitude for the inventor of air conditioning — while simultaneously pondering heat stroke and possibly even death at the tender age of 25.

So they lead the now distracted and deeply ruminative me to an armchair in front of a window unit that is soon blowing cool air over my fevered self.

I’m thinking about offering to pay one-thirtieth of Nana’s power bill when it next comes in, but since Ellen and I only have $430 to our name I selfishly decide to let a sweet old woman drop part of her monthly social security check to help keep her new grandson-in-law from melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Speaking of the Wicked Witch of the West, Wikipedia reveals that “She has a pack of wolves, a swarm of bees, a flock of crows, and an army of Winkies” at her disposal.

Learning this information from my favorite online resource kind of freaked me out because when I was a boy, a kid down the street used to refer to a certain part of his anatomy as “his fun-loving Winkie.” Yeah, seriously, he had named a part of his body with such pride one could hear the capitalization of the W in the name from three blocks away when he was bragging about it.

Anyway, after four hours in front of the window unit, my core temperature started to return to normal and I started to come back to myself.

Interestingly enough, I personally have no recollection of those four lost hours, which to my dying day I shall always believe reveals just how close I came to shaking hands with the Reaper.

Speaking of hands… on the other hand, my wife gets a real kick out of telling strangers at parties that during those four hours when I drifted in and out of consciousness, I periodically ranted about Richard Nixon’s visit to China, the launching of the Copernicus satellite, the miner’s strike in the United Kingdom, and various deontological moral theories with a peculiar emphasis on the works of Immanuel Kant.

I’m pulling your leg about Kant, of course, since I’ve never had the smarts to read, much less understand, his many contributions to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics.

Lack of smarts notwithstanding, I will pat myself on the back for surviving our July drive and subsequently living and loving the next twenty-four years of our lives in New Orleans, the Crescent City that has wonderful people, fabulous food, and amazing ambiance.

Finally, speaking of New Orleans, I hope you’ll bang on the link below and treat yourself to one of my three novels (wickedly creepy thrillers), each of which is set in my beloved city. Dropping a few bucks on my fiction will help keep me and my little dog Cricket in beans and kibble this coming week.


Supermarket Specials

Yesterday the supermarket down the street from our house had five apples entombed in a styrofoam and cellophane container with a “Today’s Special” sticker touting the nice price of $1.99.

Since the cheapest apples at this store usually go for a minimum of $1.89 a pound, my hand suctioned up this deal the way a hungry frog’s tongue curls around a fly.

You’re perhaps wondering if there was a catch to this nice price for five apples wrapped up tighter than a plastic surgeon’s $3,500 tummy tuck.

Well, heck, I’d bet a dime to a donut you know as well as I do that any produce with a “Today’s Special” sticker on its styrofoam and cellophane container probably has a problem.

And this special offer did have a problem.

You see, even though these five apples were encased upside down, I could tell one of them was a bit long in the tooth because it had wrinkles all over it; wrinkles, as you may or may not know, often being a result of too much time in cold storage. This fact, of course, holds true for apples as well as for Golden Agers Like Me Struggling to Live Sanely in Modern Times.

Speaking of my fellow Golden Agers Struggling to Live Sanely in Modern Times… no, wait, we best not venture down that twisty road today.

So, yeah, anyway, one of the five apples carried sufficient wrinkles to pass for a prune if it had been 85% smaller.

From previous experiences with reduced price produce, I knew this wouldn’t be a great apple but I also sensed that the wrinkles weren’t yet deep enough to disqualify it from consumption.

And the other four apples looked just fine.

I mean, seriously, a buck ninety-nine for five apples. Who could turn down such a deal?

So, at this point, I’m thinking… Hmm, four of the apples look like Fuji’s, but I’m not sure about this wrinkled one. It’s bigger than a Fuji and thumping it suggests crispness, but I can’t count on that satisfying solid sound since thumping on a Red Delicious often suggests crispness too, when, in reality, biting into one of them is akin to chomping down on half-cooked pork belly.

Hmm, I’m pondering, really wracking the old brain cells now, pushing my cognitive powers to the limit, what kind of apple might this be?

Still maintaining much of my mental acuity (I was having a good day!), I turned the package in multiple directions but much to my annoyance couldn’t find a little identifying sticker.

Then, whoa, revelation strikes me with the force experienced by Paul on the Road to Damascus.


Wait a second.

I think Saul traveled that road, didn’t he?

Or was it Paul?

More intense brain wracking, neurons transmitting so intensely that sparks may well be flying around in my skull box.

Finally, as my cerebral matter settles down to a crawl and finishes its fiery review of Acts 9:1-19, I recall the correct name: yes, yes, it was Saul.

Hmm, that particular name has the potential for a writing project, doesn’t it?

Maybe even a TV series?

Better call my agent.

Oops, that’s right. My agent dropped me after my second novel flopped in 1989, and I no longer have a New York representative to take 15% of any money I make from dipping into my endless river of words.

Well, so, let’s put that TV series idea on the rear burner for another day, too.

Back to identifying stickers.

I know, I know… now I have the explanation — it’s the two produce guys, and they’re dressing up their jolly times at work by messing with me again!

You see, both of the two chaps who man my local supermarket’s produce section have good senses of humor as well as perhaps traces of sadism because they far too often hide (or even remove!) the tiny identifying stickers that now mar the natural skin of most produce.

(Note: though I see some utility to planting identifying stickers on produce to help high school students who — warning: PC word change for Modern Times coming — wo(man) the scanning technology at the check-outs, the cynical old fart in me wants to know why so many young people in Modern Times can no longer tell the difference between an avocado and an artichoke. I mean, seriously, what’s being taught in homes and schools these days?)

Anyway, back to the apples entombed in the styrofoam and cellophane container. At least for now, I’ll spare you my rant about how annoying it is to have a seventeen year old grocery bagger — who looked me up and down as if I were Bob Dole drooling over Brittany Spears in that 1998 classic erectile dysfunction television commercial — ask me if I need help carrying out my order.

Containing the ex-boxer in me, the urban legend fighter who allegedly once sparred eight rounds with Pee-wee Herman, I politely reply, “Thank you, no,” the look on my face implying that I still retained sufficient physical prowess to get a single grocery bag containing five “Today’s Special” apples entombed in a styrofoam and cellophane container and a bottle of “Easy Go” laxative out to my car without dropping it or tripping and landing on the asphalt of the parking lot and then having to push the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” button on my Life Alert bracelet.

He smirked at me.

I happily report that I didn’t respond by smacking him aside the head with the bag containing those five “Today’s Special” apples entombed in a styrofoam and cellophane container and a bottle of “Easy Go” laxative!

Yes, age does help one learn to contain oneself, doesn’t it?

Well, that’s not really true.

You see, as I ramble around in my 70’s, I find it harder and harder at times to contain myself… this narrative being a perfect example, as you’ve no doubt already noted to yourself with a long sigh and a tsk-tsk to remind yourself to write sharp prose instead of wandering rants whose destinations might well even elude upcoming AI (artificial intelligence) algorithms.

Speaking of wandering, the other day when I was having trouble finding my way home after my morning walk, I got to thinking about how hikers can use the sun and their wristwatches to determine direction and thus properly navigate their way. So I looked at the sun and then at my wrist, but, damn it, my digital watch lacked hands and was thus no help at all.

At that point, because I wasn’t watching where I was going, I almost tripped on an apple core that some fool had tossed out of his car window while driving through our neighborhood.

Ah, yes, speaking of apple cores, I did manage to find my way home from the grocery store (thanks to a technological marvel that I do admire rather than despise — a GPS system) and promptly took into the kitchen my little bag of groceries containing the “Easy Go” colon product and the five apples entombed in their styrofoam and cellophane container.

With great anticipation, I tore open the cellophane, grabbed the wrinkled apple that didn’t look like the other four nice Fuji’s, turned it right side up and found the little identifying sticker!

This was a tremendous surprise because the sticker ID-ed this apple as a PINATA.

A pinata!

What the hell?

I thought a pinata was a painted paper-mache representation of an animal or person or some other thing containing toys or candy or Mardi Gras beads or some other kind of cheap crap that kids hit with baseball bats until it broke open and they could then push and shove each other to get at the goodies. Kind of like Halloween when rabid children push doorbells until old grumps like me are ready to cut their own throats with butter knives just to get a little peace and quiet while we’re trying to watch old Lawrence Welk reruns on the Aged Fart streaming service.

But, I digress.

Back to the kitchen and the pinata apple, which I sliced with my favorite knife… ah, it sliced like a crisp apple should slice, with a firm white flesh (no, I’m not thinking about the Bob Dole commercial again), an apple flesh that suggested a terrific eating experience soon to come.

So I took a big bite out of that first nice slice.

Hmm, not bad, I thought.

Almost as good as a Fuji.

But then, alas, I noted an aftertaste that I didn’t care for.

I can’t adequately describe that taste, though gargling with Listerine mixed with garlic Hollandaise sauce comes to mind. As you no doubt know from reading the Wikipedia entry, “Hollandaise sauce, formerly also called Dutch sauce, is an emulsion of egg yolk, melted butter, water and lemon juice. It is usually seasoned with salt, and white pepper or cayenne pepper. Hollandaise is one of the five mother sauces in French cuisine.”

Anyway, I didn’t care much for the taste of the aged pinata apple.

I mean, honestly, I didn’t gag or puke or anything, but I’m not going to write home about the taste, either.

Of course I ate the entire apple because, after all, I’d paid close to 41 cents for it, and here at CasaDay, where we live on a fixed income, the still beautiful Ellen Schoenberger Day and I don’t waste 41 cents.

I mean, seriously, 41 cents goes a long way these days.

Think of all the things you can buy for 41 cents…

Hmm, the only thing I can think of are my five apples no longer entombed in their styrofoam and cellophane container.

Anyway, speaking of apples, that reminds me of the time before I fell head over heels for the lovely Ellen Schoenberger Day, a time when I dated a girl named Eve (whose father owned an orchard in Washington state) who caused me all kinds of problems… but I’ll save that story for another day.

P.S. Check out my novels at https://amazon.com/author/chetday