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.

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

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.

Debit Card Nightmares in Modern Times

I woke up on a recent Monday to a phone call picked up by my land line’s answering machine with the Caller ID reading “Fraud Detection” and a recording stating my name and the correct last four numbers of my debit card.

The recording gave a “reference number” and said to call their 1-800 number immediately because my debit card had been put on hold due to a suspicious charge.

Though I hesitate to reveal so much about myself, I am getting old, I do not trust computers even though I’ve used them since 1985, and I’m almost pathologically paranoid about phone calls like this one. I’ve also started to shrink, which is apparently yet another of the endless joys of aging.

How do I know I’ve shrunk, you ask?

Well, even though it’s none of your business, I know it because I recently ordered a pair of blue jeans from Amazon, and the 29″ length that used to be perfect for my stubby little legs is now two inches too long, which brings to mind a couple of lines from T.S. Elliot’s wonderful poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled

Sorry, I’m wandering. Let’s return to the suspicious debit card charge reported to my answering machine.

But first a little back story to this latest problem so typical of the frustrating Modern Times in which we’re all imprisoned.

You see, being an old school guy, I’ve always refused to use a debit card and only acquired one a month or so ago because my late wife Ellen had repeatedly told me over the years: “Chet, the day is coming when you’ll need a debit card for an emergency and, besides, it’s way past time for you to join the 21st century. Nobody writes check anymore.”

Well, long story short, a month ago I decided she might be right about the possible emergency, so I went to my bank and left with a debit card, put the card in my wallet, and promptly forgot about it since I pay bills with my checking account and buy groceries with cash.

I figured the debit card would get even less use than the cell phone Ellen also talked me into attaining a couple of years ago “in case of an emergency.” Being a frugal old man even then, I purchased a cheapo Tracfone unit and a 30-minute a month plan for $10 a month.

Since I tend to write more than I talk, I figured thirty minutes a month would be more than enough time and, besides, the minutes rolled over. Well, I called my wife once on this phone from the grocery store parking lot when she was still alive just to see if it worked. It did. And that’s the only time I’ve used it.

Out of curiosity, I logged onto the Tracfone website a few minutes ago to check my stats. My minutes have indeed rolled over. Believe it or not, I’ve accumulated a few minutes shy of 90 hours of available talk time. Ninety hours! Are you shitting me? What on earth am I going to do with 90 hours of available talk time on a flip phone that has spent 99.99% of its life on the desk in my home office?

Oops, sorry, I’ve wandered away from the debit card problem, haven’t I?

Let me refocus…

So, back to my recent early morning freak-out when, kaboom, I wake up to a scary recording from an alleged “fraud detection” service. Because of my paranoia, I didn’t trust the recording, even though when I researched the phone number online it appeared to be a legitimate third-party company that detects debit card fraud for numerous legitimate banks and credit unions.

Well, nobody’s ever accused me of believing anything the first several times around, so I scratched my old skull and thought for ten or fifteen minutes about what I should do next.

I quickly ruled out suicide or going back to bed and pulling the covers over my head, though I’ll admit to kinda liking the latter option.

A quick hour or so later I came up with a plan. My old brain was humming that day!

Here’s the plan I came up with: Using my head for something other than a hat rack, out of an abundance of caution, I did NOT call the number the recording said to call but instead looked on the back of my debit card and found an 800 number to call that went directly to the debit card department of my bank.

How smart is that??? LOL!!!

I mean, seriously, I may have lost a step or two in terms of 100-yard dashes (unless I’m running to eat and then I’m faster than ever), but the old braino can still light up neurons like the Fourth of July when it has to solve a problem.

For Pete’s sake, the phone number on the back of my debit card HAD to be legit, right?

And, yes, I dialed it and quickly realized it was a safe number.

You see, after waiting on hold to lousy elevator music (why can’t any of these companies play Frank Zappa or Metallica or something interesting), I finally hooked up with a nice customer service lady.

Well, I guess I should rephrase that since I didn’t actually “hook up” with this nice lady. I mean, seriously, you can’t hook up via phone. And besides I’m an old widower now who needs a haircut, a shave, and a hot bath. I’m not exactly the catch of the day.

I’m kidding about the hot bath. I continue to grab a shower every Saturday night, just as I’ve done for the past seventy years or so.

Hahaha, I’m kidding there, too. I may be old, but I’m clean.

Drat, I’m drifting again. Where were we? Oh yeah, the catch of the day.

Speaking of the catch of the day, I’m wondering if my local market’s going to have fresh gefilte fish on sale this morning? They had shark fins available a month or so ago, but the mall’s sushi joint beat me to that one as well as all the prime sashimi. In case you’re wondering, according to Wikipedia, “Gefilte fish has the texture of a dense matzo ball, but for those who aren’t familiar with all of these Jewish foods, think of gefilte fish like a fish meatloaf. In fact, it doesn’t even really taste like fish. If ‘fish’ wasn’t in the name, you may not even know what it was made of. As for taste, it’s pretty mild.”

Darn, now I’m getting hungry for a dense matzo ball meatloaf.

Anyway, the nice lady I’m not going to “hook up with” proceeded to ask me a slew of questions to confirm my identity. My paranoia didn’t like having to answer these questions, especially since some of them went back decades regarding details about cars and houses I’d owned in the past.

As an aside, it’s true. Today my fear that privacy no longer exists was confirmed because the nice lady had access to databases that obviously knew EVERYTHING about me.

You see, before the nice lady would reveal to me the details of the suspected fraud on my debit card, she asked me my height, to make sure it matched what their database said was my height on THEIR copy of MY driver’s license.

I told her my driver’s license said I was five feet and seven inches tall, but in actuality I’ve apparently shrunk a couple of inches because the 29″ inseam blue jeans I’d ordered recently from Amazon had to be sent back since the lengths were about two inches too long. Either that or else the blue jean company had mislabeled the length, which, of course, in our Modern Times of gross incompetence could certainly be the case. She said that was okay either way, that shrinkage was a physiological fact of life, and, indeed, quite common in old men, and that I shouldn’t worry about it too much.

Appreciative of her caring words, when I stopped tearing up I was a few minutes later able to answer her next question, which was to provide her with the last four numbers of my driver’s license, along with my entire Social Security number.

Luckily, I had my wallet at the phone with me so I was able to provide the right figures. This of course could have been an embarrassing pain in the ass if I’d not had the forethought to have close at hand my wallet containing my driver’s license and Social Security card. I mean, seriously, do you know how difficult it is to keep nine non-sequential Social Security numbers in a 73-year old brain?

I’ll tell you how difficult it is. It’s akin to performing heart valve surgery with an associate’s degree in carpentry, not that there’s anything wrong with an associate’s degree in carpentry. I mean, seriously, Jesus probably had one of those from the community college in Nazareth when he was still living with his family, right?

Anyway, by this point, I was pretty exhausted mentally, but things got worse…

You see, I was further embarrassed when the nice lady gave me four numerical options as to how much I’d paid for my home. Given that it was 22 years ago when I bought this dump, I narrowed the four choices down to two and then guessed at the right price. Yes, yes, I know how absurd it sounds to not recall how much I paid for a house.

A house, for Pete’s sake!

We’re not talking about how much I paid for a pair of blue jeans that were two inches too long. Even an old fart should have enough memory left to recall how much he paid for an entire house. I mean, seriously, WTF!!!

Well, I could not dredge that figure up for the life of me, though I was able to discard two of the four options since one number was enough to buy, on a good day, a couple of cases of Tootsie Roll Pops; and the other option was totally out of the ballpark for my cheesy neighborhood. You should see this neighborhood. My God, it’s really gone downhill over the years. Why, just the other day…

Never mind about that.

Back to the nice lady and her many questions that I had to answer to prove that I was the real Chet Day and not some weirdo imposter trying to defraud the debit card fraud department of a national bank.

But, honestly, how on earth do they expect a Golden Aging Senior like me to remember stuff that happened 22 years ago? I mean, seriously, I couldn’t remember where I’d put the box of bran flakes this morning when I feared I was in for potential constipation issues because I haven’t been consuming sufficient fiber lately.

Well, I can happily report I found the cereal after only five minutes going through various cupboards.

If you think that’s impressive, what ’til you hear this: I found the milk almost instantly. It was in the refrigerator!!!

When the nice lady was finally satisfied I was the real Chet Day, she revealed that the debit card charge that had been flagged as suspicious was for, get this, 77 cents and payable to CBNOnline in Canada. Even though I’ve basically lived on the Internet since late 1999, I’d never heard of CBNOnline in Canada, and I told her so.

I then asked if she’d ever heard of CBNOnline, and she said she thought CBN referred to the Christian Broadcasting Network.

“Well, shave Santa with a butter knife,” I exclaimed, “that proves it wasn’t me.”

“How so?” the nice lady asked.

Long pause as I thought about asking her to check one of her database for the answer because surely if she had a copy of my driver’s license, she also had to know my religious preferences, though I’ve made it a habit for the past 55 years or so to check the “unaffiliated” boxes on all the damn forms we have to fill out in these absurd Modern Times.

Speaking of damn forms, I propose to you that the day rapidly approaches when we’ll have to fill out some stupid form at Chick-fil-A if we want a slice of pepper jack cheese on our spicy chicken sandwich. They’ll probably want a thumb print at the bottom of the form, too.

While we’re on the subject of thumbs, for reasons I don’t comprehend I always think my thumb is on the left side. On the other hand, it might be on the right.

Anyway, by this point in my dialogue with the nice lady at my bank’s debit card fraud department, this whole deal was getting really, really absurd and crazy because…

1) I’ve never used this debit card; and

2) I would never use a debit card or a credit card of a gift card for a charge of 77 cents. I mean, seriously, can you think of anything today that costs 77 cents? I can’t. In fact, I doubt that a guy could buy a single peanut M&M for 77 cents in 2021 America.

Anyway, before I turn this into a major 22,413-word rant about Modern Times, the 77-cent charge — thanks to the third-party fraud detection service that contacted my answering machine — had not gone through. That made me happy. Now I know how Jeff Bezos feels when he checks his bank balance!

I then had the nice lady cancel my debit card, which made me even happier. I made sure the cancellation actually occurred by having her confirm to me at least seven times that no new card would be mailed to me, indeed that I never wanted to see another debit card for the rest of my days.

Now, I know the person reading this rant is a good person because you’re still reading this endless rant, and because of your goodness you’re possibly feeling sorry for this nice lady, maybe even thinking she needs a raise if she has to put up with ranting old fools like me who refuse to adjust to Modern Times.

Well, you’re probably right about that, and I’d be okay with giving her a raise because she was patient, especially when I rather aggressively roared, “Why do you keep asking me all these damn questions? I’m the real Chet Day. I’m not some scam artist stupid enough to call a major national bank’s fraud department to try to steal money from a debit card! I mean, seriously, how dumb would you have to be to try to defraud the fraud department of a major bank on an insecure phone connection? Does this actually happen? Are there really people stupid enough in Modern Times to attempt such a heist?”

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I did indeed go on and on in this vein for probably twenty or thirty minutes, and, yes, you’re right, maybe the nice lady did think I was a “little off” because I was ranting rather excessively about the unending aggravations of Modern Times, but, hey, it’s her job to be sensitive and understanding, right?

And besides, before she picked up, an automated voice told me our conversation might be recorded, and I’m always hopeful during times like this that the recorded conversation will work its way up the corporate ladder until a CEO or CFO commits to change you can believe in. Hahahaha. LOL. ROTFLOL! Fat chance of that, right?

Well, anyway, I mean, seriously, far too many people are overly sensitive these days. For example, just last Tuesday, I almost got my head bitten off because I was arguing about identity pronoun usage with the bagger at my local grocery store when a young woman behind me interrupted our analysis and did everything but whip off her mask and beat me to death with it.

I guess she didn’t know I’d been an English teacher in a former life and that I was legitimately interested in identity pronouns and how the usage of many of them have changed the past few years. God knows, I wasn’t trying to trigger a fellow shopper who believed in her heart the sensitive subject of gender pronouns in the prison of Modern Times was off limits to old men buying milk and bran flakes.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that I keep milk in my refrigerator? And speaking of bran flakes, have you watched the movie Constipation on Netflix? Probably not. You see it hasn’t been released yet.

Anyway, everything worked out on my end with the debit card, but, seriously, I am getting too old for this kind of excitement starting at 8:15 of a morning in our exciting Modern Times.