Friday, September 17, 2010


I was sitting at one the outdoor tables at my local Whole Foods Market, enjoying my morning coffee and making some notes for another story I’m working on. Every so often I would hear, “Aawwwwww,” followed shortly thereafter by, “Oooh” and a sharp yelp.

As the sounds got closer, I stopped taking my notes and waited to see what it was all about.

Within minutes, the cutest beagle puppy I’ve ever seen, was happily strolling along. As it came within arm’s reach of me, I instinctively bent down to pet the happy bundle of fur. I heard myself uttering, “Aawwwwww,” like so many before me had done. He and I became “best friends forever” if only for the fleeting minutes of that moment. And I’m sure he had collected BFFs all along the sidewalk.

His owner, an elderly lady with a cracked face, a deep frown and a scowl that could frighten a vulture, sullenly walked passed, retractable leash in hand. She had no greetings for the many people who had instantly fallen in love with her beagle. Just a sour look.

As she would reach about twenty feet away, without looking back, she would harshly yank on the leash, snapping the puppy away from his admirers.

I heard myself say, “Oooh,” in reaction to the dog being yanked at leash end, as the beagle let out a sharp little yelp.

It quickly scurried ahead, until it reached the next dog lover who said, “Aawwwwww,” and made yet another BFF.

Again, within minutes, I heard the reactive “Oooh” and the innocent little yelp.

I looked at the guy at the table next to mine. “I wonder why she has such a lovable little pup when she’s going to treat it like that?” I asked.

“Witch’s brew,” was his half-serious response.

I hoped, for the puppy’s sake, that he would be able to soften her heart before she hardened his.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


As nonchalant as I tried to be, he caught me staring at his legs. I smiled rather weakly and said, “They almost look real.”

“Thanks,” he said simply, nodding at what he undoubtedly considered one of his wiser decisions. “I’ve been wearing them for eighteen months straight and they’re still as good as the day I put them on.”

By “put them on” he meant tattooing socks on his calves.

“Won’t they eventually fade?” I asked.

“Yeah, they do somewhat,” he answered. “But I’ll just get them darkened.”

“Why’d you do it?” I asked.

“I just hated wearing and washing socks and having them fall down and, you know, just the whole hassle,” he said. “So one night, feeling sort of numb from a few hours of drinking with my buddies, I figured for some short-term discomfort, I’ll get a lifetime of freedom.”

I nodded, with a half-smile on my face. Not in any sort of agreement with his decision, but I guess in that, “I’m so grateful I’ve never been that drunk” sort of way.

“A lot of people think I’m nuts,” he offered. “But we’ll see whose laughing when the price of socks goes up.”

“Wow,” I thought to myself. “The best reason he can come up with to justify his drunken decision is to hope the price of socks goes up?”

I boldly went where no man had apparently gone before, and asked him, “So what do you do when you want to go swimming?”

“What?” he said blankly.

“You know, go swimming.”

“What?” he repeated, still blankly. “Umm, I don’t swim.”

“Well, I guess that’s a good thing.”

“Uh, yeah,” he said, still looking rather blank. “That’s, that’s a good thing.”

I thought about crying because I had no coffee until I met a man with no forethought.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


He sat in his car, idling in front of me while we waited for the train to pass. It was one of those four engine, fifteen-minute-minimum-wait trains.

Occasionally the breeze would blow the blue haze in front of me that seemed to get thicker with each passing minute.

The biggest sticker on the back of his bumper stated: Save the Planet. It’s everybody’s responsibility.

I’m assuming he bought the car used, never looked in his rear-view mirror, and was illiterate.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Photoshop alteration by Mr. Eclectic

I noticed three things about her. As she walked through the door, her fallalery was at once inescapable, prismatic and almost blinding. The longer she stayed, the more apparent her appetency became. And finally, the logorrhea with which she was obviously afflicted, seemed to be of no bother to her or her friend, but of great disdain to everyone else around her.

So now that we’ve covered three of this week’s words to know, let’s take a closer look.

The door opened and with almost simultaneous movement, just about everyone in the restaurant shifted their gaze to the twenty-something woman walking through. Perhaps the most glaring statement of her apparel was the tie-dyed tank top with the words, “F#&K MINIMALISM.” It was roughly hand-applied with a rainbow of glitter and outlined with appliqu├ęd shards of plastic jewels. There were at least a half-dozen chains around her neck, an equal number around each wrist and ankle, rings on every finger, a nose-ring with a chain looped to an earring, at least a half-dozen studs in each earlobe and just to mix things up a bit, some makeup that looked like a hybrid of goth and high fashion. Her shredded jeans were garishly pockmarked with plastic jewels, as if to compete with her similarly shredded and decorated jean purse. To say she was bejeweled would be a gross understatement. There was no doubt that she was deeply committed to her tank-top’s proclamation. (And if you haven’t figured it out yet, fallalery is showy articles of dress.)

The restaurant served up a limitless buffet, and though her appetite was more Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” than Aesop’s “The Ass and the Grasshopper,” her body was more wisp than whale. It was almost entertaining to watch this little lass pile up full plate followed by even fuller plates followed by overloaded plates of food enough to give a sumo wrestler a stomach ache. Yet she consumed it all with nary a hiccup or burp. In the universe of all-you-can-eat buffets, she was the dark hole from which no crumb could escape. It wasn’t so much that she seemed to eat anything and everything, but that she kept eating and eating and eating. (Think you know what appetence is? It’s a craving, as in, she had an appetence for eating).

And what about her logorrhea? Let’s make this one easy. Break up the word logorrhea into its two parts. Logo, an alteration of the Greek word logos, meaning words. And rrhea, as in diarrhea, as in diarrhea of the mouth. That’s right, little miss “notice-me,” the anti-minimalist in fashion and the pro-maximumist in eating, was also someone who wouldn’t or couldn’t shut up. That’s right, she was talking when she came, she talked while loading up her plates, she talked with food in her mouth. Thank God she occasionally took a breath in and drink once in a while. She talked while paying her bill and she talked while she walked out the door. She talked while heading toward her car and continued talking after she got in her car. And as if to punctuate her nonstop soliloquy, the rear end of her car was plastered with bumper stickers full of more and more words.

As the din of her dining blissfully faded and I reflected on the ripple effect of her presence, I realized a sad truth. She was not the stone that created the ripple. Rather, she is the ripple. And the stone that caused her is the gluttony that surrounds us all the time.

Okay, so she was perhaps more a rogue wave than a benign ripple, but the fact remains that in America we are living in gluttonous times.

Think about it the next time you walk into a grocery store. Or you want to buy a car. Or you contemplate the size of government.

Or maybe you just want to collect the different kinds of quarters issued by the U.S. Mint since 1999. Think it's maybe a dozen or so? Try more than a hundred. More than two hundred if you count each quarter produced in the Denver and the Philadelphia mints (each quarter is stamped with the letter of the mint, making each one slightly different). It started with a new quarter for each of the fifty states releasing five designs per year over ten years. And as if that weren’t enough, the U.S. Mint decided to release 6 more different quarter designs last year to commemorate Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia.

Still not enough different quarter designs?

This year, the U.S. Mint launched its America the Beautiful program which eventually will issue 56 more quarter designs, with each mint giving its lettered difference.

Not satisfied yet? How about adding the Mint’s silver proof sets. Or maybe the silver bullion quarters might satiate that appetence.

No longer do we wonder when enough is enough. We now begin to wrestle with when enough is still too much.

It’s long past the time to simplify, to unclutter, and to unburden our lives. But that’s okay. As the old saying goes:

Better late than never.

Monday, September 13, 2010


It’s Monday the Thirteenth. Don’t forget to chuckle.