Bigsley and Bernadette: Road Side Attraction

Be reasonable, would you? I mean, what's the rush? Do you realize that birds all over the world would give their right wings to be able to tour House on the Rock? And who knows, maybe there's some rooms available. Well, it probably isn't your style Herman, so I'd advise you continue on, but Bernie, trust me. You are going to forever regret if you don't stop and check this out.


Power of Suggestion

I recently learned 
that my mother thinks it's distasteful, 
all these people always photographing their lunch.  
I don't know why she thinks this.  
Maybe it goes back 
to some ancient Jewish code of conduct.  
Maybe she heard someone she admires
 saying the same thing.  
Maybe she has no good reason to feel this way, 
but just does.

I had never given it any thought 
until my mom mentioned it.  
Now, whenever I find myself photographing my food, 
I feel a little ashamed of myself.


Three Happy People

Annie Dillard, 
at the onset of Pilgram at Tinker Creek, 
"three happy people."

"One collects stones.  
Another -- an Englishman say -- watches clouds.  
The third lives on a coast 
and collects drops of seawater 
which he examines microscopically 
and mounts."  


Bigsley and Bernadette: Twist My Wing

Okay, quit your begging already!  I'll migrate, if that's what you want.  But I like to make good time. No stopping for historic markers, cave tours, or corn palaces.  If I'm going, we're gonna do this right. And Herman, no podcasting.  This is supposed to be a vacation!


The Wheel of Righteous Indignation

A) Any exasperated assertion of a loved one's weakness:  "Why doesn't he ever turn off the lights?!"

B) Justification of assertion with damning evidence:  "He's 'Mr. Sustainability' and he leaves lights on in every room in the house!"

C) Smug assertion of superior moral position. "But I will turn them off and then let it go."

D) Justification of moral superiority with a superior act. "I will accept him for who he is."

E) Inevitable conclusion. "I am better than he is."


Yiddish Lesson #6: Kvetch

"Does she have to keep it so hot in here? I should have worn my bikini. Can you believe the fuss she makes every year? I don't know why she does it. Imagine the expense! Just like a goy. And a wreath?! She's loosing her mind. For New Year's, she's going to some nudist hot springs in California. Believe me, I know. It can only end badly. Have you ever tasted latkes so greasy? And my God, this wine!  It tastes like a sponge. She's my only living relative, that's why. She feels obligated to invite me. Every year it's the same thing. 'Could you pick up some low fat sour cream? Remember, buy the all natural apple sauce. Don't forget the folding chairs like you did last year!' What a kvetch!  I've known some kvetches in my life, but she tops the list. Nothing is ever good enough for her. You bring over crackers and the first thing she does is read the ingredients. She claims certain oils are bad for her. Well, I've been eating those oils all my life and look at me! Healthiest one in the building. I don't go to the doctor more than once a year, thank God! But not her, she runs to him for every little ache and pain. 'My doctor says I shouldn't eat this, my doctor says I should only eat that!' It's enough to make you have to go to the doctor yourself. And the doctors these days, I'll tell you. It's all about money. Not like when we were young and the doctor was a member of the community. A solid citizen. I don't envy the young kids these days, absolutely not. The way the world is going, I'll be glad when my time comes. Unlike some people I know who think they can live forever. As if plastic surgery and crystals and flax seed can bring ever lasting life. And don't think you are going to get any dessert around here. God forbid some refined sugar should cross her lips!"


Thoughts about People #1,776,943




Bigsley and Bernadette: Cult of Herman

"Acapulco?!" choked Bigsley.  "Why not be honest with yourself for once?  You migrate because of peer pressure.  With the advent of modern conveniences, why would any logical bird do it?  It's old school, Baby.  Just surrender to the moment and admit you would rather stay here snuggled up with me and my satellite dish."

Bernadette explained that there are lots of reasons to migrate, the exercise, the change of scenery, the opportunity to mingle with birds of other species.

"And let me guess," interrupted Bigsley.  "It's spiritually enlightening."

"As a matter of fact, it is."

"Well, how about that folks?  She's been brainwashed!"


12/12/12 @ 12:12:12

Twelve ideas,

Twelve reasons,

Twelve seas by the seasons.

Twelve times,

Twelve finds,

Twelve special friends of mine.



There are never any pens in the junk drawer because every time I leave the house, I grab one.  Or two. Or three.  Last week I cleaned out my purse and found fourteen pens.  This is not unusual.  I buy pens in packs, like wolves.  It feels ridiculous to buy so many.  And yet, I often find myself searching for a pen.  Obviously, I am not the only pen hoarder in the house.  I have my suspicions.  Others suspect me. Just last week, two members of my family confronted me about the pen situation.  I blinked at them, hoping they would go away.  I don't like to share pens because not just any pen will do.  Cheap ballpoints suffice for grocery lists or reminders to walk the friend's dog.  Those I generously share.  But Uniballs, Zigs, or APs I do not lend out, even if they were lent to me.


Stories Shared at the Holiday Office Party

A man attending a very fancy affair popped a cherry tomato into his mouth, only to realize, too late, that  it was far too large for his mouth.  Not knowing what else to do, he bit down.  The innards of the tomato squirted out of his mouth and across the table, sewing a line of seeds all the way up an older woman's elegant white dress and onto her naked neck.  This was years ago.  When his colleague inquired whether he had paid for the dry cleaning bill, he paused.  "I never considered dry cleaning," he admitted.  He did though say he was sorry.


A very shy woman was invited out to dinner after work with some colleagues and their boss and their boss's boss.  This was back in the day when people wore suits and ties to work.  And because it was Wisconsin, the dinner was a bratwurst fry.  The very shy woman was seated across from her boss and boss's boss, not the place she wanted to be seated, especially when presented with the prospect of having to put her mouth around a very large brat (as brats in Wisconsin tend to be).  But not knowing what else to do, she picked it up with both hands, put it to her mouth and bit down.  Hot brat grease squirted out the back end of the brat, splattering her boss and boss's boss.  To this day, at all brat frys, she ops for the salad.


Before his high school prom, a man was invited, along with a group of his friends, to his date's house for dinner.  His date's mother served fondue.  The young man had a skewer full of meat on his plate, freshly dipped in barbecue sauce.  When he brought his hand down, he accidentally hit the end of the skewer, flinging the barbecue slathered meat right onto his date's dress.  She was immediately whisked upstairs where all the women disappeared for a half hour.  The guys, not knowing what else to do, continued to fondue.


Bigsley and Bernadette: Preparing for Winter

"Let me guess," said Bigsley.  "You are trying to look silly in order to be ironic."

"What I am doing," replied Herman, "is preparing myself for migration season, something you might benefit from yourself."

"You're right!  I've got to remember to call the satellite guy and get my hook-up before the snow flies."

"I'm talking about getting out of the house for the winter.  I bet you've never been to Acapulco."

"Who needs Acapulco when you've got Oshkosh?"


Yet Another Thing That Seems Like It Should Be Easy But Isn't

Why is it so easy to tell a friend a story, the story say of being seventeen and driving to meet a guy, late for your first date, when into the road jumped a flashing orange stick and your heart slammed into your chest because it didn't make sense until you realized the stick was attached to a man, and the man was signaling with the orange stick to drive into a parking lot where a policeman was waiting to give you a ticket for driving 20 mph over the speed limit.  Of course, you said you didn't realize you were driving that fast, and now it's been so long that you can't remember if you really didn't or you actually did but just said you didn't, though that detail is so unimportant, it doesn't even come into the telling of the story to your friend.  You do tell how you were so scared, you cried.  Instead of the $250 ticket, the policeman offered you, as a first offender, the option of taking a defensive driving class for $75.  It was summer and the class was held downtown and so you cooked up a lie to tell your parents, that you were going to go golfing with that guy, the same one you were going to meet the night you got the speeding ticket, the guy who had since become your boyfriend. (Your friend interrupts the story to laugh at the absurdity of the lie.)  But oh how you would have rather been golfing on a beautiful summer's day, instead of sitting in a bland windowless room in downtown Omaha with a lot of stale looking adults, watching films of fatal car accidents.  Mostly, you were worried about running into your dad who worked downtown, so you skipped lunch and ate a candy bar out of the vending machine.  And when you got home and your mom asked you how was golfing, you said "great" in that same bored way you answered most every question she asked, so she didn't suspect a thing.

Why is a story like this so easy to tell, rolling out of your memory onto your tongue, but when you go to write it down, the story slithers away and in its place arises all kinds of diversions and abstractions, that in the breathless moment of creation appear pithy and interesting, but in the reality of the reader's mind are dizzying and incomprehensible at best?