Second verse, same as the first …

What’s even funnier than a blogger with one titanium knee?

A blogger with two titanium knees!

Well, let’s hope that’s true. As I did just last month, I’m once again heading into the hospital in a few hours for my second knee replacement operation. I figured I’ve been having so much fun with the first one, hell, who wouldn’t want to do it all over again?

And this way I’ll have matching leg scars. Neato.

Just wanted to let you and the rest of my fantastic readers know that I may not be around for a few days, but I’ll be back soon. Definitely before the new pain meds run out – as I mentioned the last time, I do seem to be a more creative writer while under the influence. Let’s see if I can keep the streak going.

So, have no fear, I shall return. And maybe then, with two new knees, I can fulfill my physical therapist’s expectations for me and my rehab. Igor tells me if I work real hard and put my heart and soul into it, I soon will be able to …

… walk this way.

Man is no match for his mother

The grainy, semi-focused security-camera video didn’t seem much different than any other one aired by the local TV news. A man approaches a counter, drops down a bag of Doritos and hands the clerk a couple of bucks to pay for it. Then he reaches under his shirt, pulls out a gun and asks for his change in ones, fives, tens and twenties. All of them.

But then, he glances to his left and freezes. A woman appears at the bottom of the frame. She’s yelling at him, he’s staring at her. She calmly reaches out and grabs the gun by the barrel, pulls it out of his hand and then pushes him out through the door.

Huh?

What did I tell you about playing with guns and pointing them at people?

Life Lesson No. 374: When about to hold up the neighborhood store, first, do your research. Scan the aisles to make sure Mom and/or Dad aren’t shopping at the moment. The would-be robber had been snagged by his mother.

Now, you may be thinking that an event like this is a rarity and you’d be right. But take it from me, the power of a mother over her children is very, very real. And displays of it, even in extreme real-life situations like this, are more commonplace than you might think. Unless you’re a mother, of course.

Not being a mother myself, at least literally, how do I know this? Because I witnessed this power during one of the closest near-death experiences I’ve had so far in my life. And I’ve had a few.

It happened while I was working part-time as a bouncer at a bar in a rather well-to-do nearby suburb. Only problem was the bar wasn’t so well-to-do.

That’s me on the left, played by Sam Eliott, in the bouncer movie, “Roadhouse”. The guy on the right? I taught him everything.

On one side was a large college campus surrounded by affluent residences. On the other was the neighboring town – a mostly farm-based burg. Needless to say, these rather disparate social sects didn’t always mesh well. My job was to see that they didn’t wreck the place or kill each other. But first I had to ID everyone to prove they were humans of legal age and/or indeed truly certified, state-registered humanoids.

Wasn’t a bad job. Routine, really. Me, the bartender and the waitresses sober. Every one else, not.

One Friday night seemed pretty much like the previous ones.

Until the Friday night I saw them.

Well, initially I saw only one. The man coming to the door was big, dark, hairy and scary. And not looking to be in too pleasant of a mood. As he opened the door wide, two much smaller males scurried out from behind him.

They were from the next town. Salt-of-the-earth types, shall we say. Well, closer to dirt-of-the-earth, since most of it was all over them. Plowing was done and it was time for fun.

“Hi guys, I need to see some identification.”

Though I would learn later he was a man of few words, the towering, dark scowling one spoke first.

“You’re kidding me.”

That was followed by a grunt as he walked right by me and straight to the bar.

Being a native English speaker, I quickly translated: Now don’t you worry, kind sir. I assure you that my identification is fine, in order and with me. Thank you so much for asking and have a nice day.

“Don’t take it personal,” one of scurrying companions said with a smile while holding out his license for me. “It takes a while for Johnny to warm up to people.”

“Warm up? From the looks of him, I’m surprised he’d wait that long. Just kill them and eat them raw, like sushi.”

The only other Johnny I’d ever met before this was an American bison my uncle bought one summer to add to his animal farm. He kept him in the bull’s pen at my grandfather’s farm while he prepared its new prairie at his place.

The damn thing was a Mack truck with hair, hooves and horns; the meanest, scariest animal I’ve ever encountered – lions, tigers and bears (oh my), rogue elephants and Sasquatch included. If Johnny’s general dispostion was indicative of the species, and I was a native American when millions roamed the plains, the only way I’d have hunted them was with an M1 tank.

Make that two M1 tanks.

But my grandfather, being the consummate farmer and animal man, within a few weeks had Johnny eating out of his hand and following him around the pen like a hulking black Labrador retreiver on Qualudes.

Everybody else just looked like a bale of hay to him.

So, if Johnny’s companion that night had told me my grandfather had taught Johnny to talk, stand on his hind legs and drink beer, I would have believed every word. Would have to, I was looking at the finished product.

After that, things seemed to settle down to the normal Friday night routine. Man drinks beer. Woman drinks beer. Woman and man see each other. Woman and man can’t quite see each other clearly. Poof – love at first inebriated sight.

But what I also was beginning to notice was that Johnny was drinking beer. I mean, a lot of beer. Given his size, I figured the holding tank had to be pretty big. But, no matter the size of the man or his tank, eventually the beer always, always will conquer him.

I waited. I watched. I prayed. It didn’t work.

One the scurrying ones had reached his limit. Turned and said something to Johnny. I have no doubt he was convinced it was the funniest, wittiest thing ever uttered by one man to another. Too bad Johnny wasn’t one of them.

Time to go to work.

Lord, though I’m about to step into the Valley of Death, located in between these two devils, I pray that I will show no fear, and not pee myself until after I’m dead.

“Excuse me, guys. Didn’t mean to cut through here but Johnny, I noticed your beer there is almost gone. Since I was just passing by, how about I buy you another one?”

“Get out of my way.”

You picked a fine time to leave me, dear Lord.

It seemed that diplomacy and outright bribery wasn’t going to work here. Next: Try honesty.

“I’m afraid I can’t do that Johnny. I don’t know what this guy said or did, but you can’t kill him. And you can’t kill me either. I’m just doing my job. Sucks to be me.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“No I’m not and it’s nice of you to recognize me. I’m the bouncer at the door, remember?”

At this point, Johnny stopped talking. But he didn’t stop glaring at me. These were two not very good signs.

To my left, I could hear the bartender swear under her breath. And pick up the phone.

“Margaret? Sorry Margaret, I know it’s late. It’s me. You’d better get down here. Quick as you can.” She hung up.

Now, not knowing who Margaret was, my best educated guess was St. Margaret, matron saint of bouncers. The bartender had called her to head on down, gather up the remnants of my body and soul and carry them off to that big beer cooler in the sky.

I was just glad to be wearing clean underwear. For the moment.

Then the bartender spoke again. This time to the still-glaring Johnny and as loud as she could.

“Johnny, cut this shit out! I called your mother and she’s on the way!”

Ever wonder what Moses was thinking and feeling when he watched the Red Sea part in front of him? I have. And I know.

Holy crap, it actually worked.

I could have hit Johnny with a sledgehammer tied to the front end of a John Deere and not stopped him as quickly as the words, “your mother”. It was the most astounding thing I’d ever seen.

“You still gonna buy me that beer?”

“Uh, yeah. Of course, why wouldn’t I?”

Johnny sat down, drank his beer and waited. The scurrying ones left, pronto. Must have heard their mothers calling them too. A few minutes later, the door opened and I turned to see who it was. Didn’t quite believe it, though.

No lie, she couldn’t have been five feet tall. She was dressed in a coat, then a housecoat, then probably her pajamas. She looked pleasant, sweet, grandmotherly. And really, really pissed.

She stuck her head inside, found her son and spoke.

“Johnny! Let’s go!”

Johnny didn’t look. Just finished his beer, got up and quietly walked out. I looked at the bartender. She just raised her arms, shrugged, and smiled.

Me? I exhaled.

How now, those brows?

The great thing about the Internet is it puts an enormous amount of information at one’s fingertips.

The worst thing about the Internet is it puts an enormous amount of information at my fingertips.

I have a habit of actually paying attention to every silly little “news” item I come across on the Internet, even though they often make no sense whatsoever to me. And it’s not because these stories would ever be mistaken for being newsworthy. The gargantuan Internet audience’s never-sated hunger for stories, pictures and videos killed the idea of only uploading something newsworthy a long, long time ago.

But still I check each one out. I think it’s a form of jealous self-torture, actually. A sort of twisted ex-reporter’s self-destructive jab to look at these and mutter, “They actually pay people to write this drivel? I must have been in the bathroom when they handed out these assignments. Sheesh.”

Take Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, for example.

The duchess certainly has a lot of going for her, more than enough positives to attract the intense attention and interest of not only the Brits, but the world.

She’s beautiful. She’s married to a handsome prince. She can wear a hat that looks like a hubcap wrapped up with a bow and get away with it. And most remarkable of all, she seems to be a genuinely nice person. Just take a look at her and you’ll realize she exudes a unique, wholesome “the-duchess-next-door” quality.

Yet with all that and more about her, it just doesn’t seem to be enough. Who cares who made her dress, who she showed up with at a party, what she seemed to be saying to Prince William as they boarded a plane, the world really needs to know … how did she get those great-looking eyebrows?

You know, this is ironically funny. I was wondering just that the other day. In fact I said to some friends: “Hey, have you seen the Duchess of Cambridge lately? Whoa-ho, nice pair of eyebrows, eh?”

Be honest – you’d love to look over and see these eyebrows staring back at you.

So, if I noticed them, of course they didn’t get past the ever-intrepid Duchess-watchers and reporters across the pond. According to the UK’s Mirror website, “speculation has been rife about whether she has had them threaded, dyed or slightly more bizarrely, tattooed in.”

Good God Save the Queen! “Rife” you say! This is serious stuff. The Duchess inked?!? Could there be a Her Majesty’s Royal Tattoo Parlor in the basement of Buckingham Palace?

Well, it turns out that they’re not threaded (huh?), dyed or inked. Seems it’s just a tricky makeup move, according to the site.

The duchess “uses Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Powder in Sable and she uses a slanted make-up brush to ‘fill-in’ her brows and frame her face.”

You know, it’s true. Thanks to the Internet, you can learn something new every day. And not only that, it’s news you can use. Blimey!

Of bulls and bulldogs

It’s July 7th and for Pamplona, in Spain’s north region, that means the San Fermin Festival is into it first full day of wild celebration to commemorate St. Fermin, the city’s patron saint. But also more famously, or infamously, this long-running annual fiesta is well-known for … the running of the bulls.

As always, it draws people from not only Spain but everywhere in the world.

A photo taken not too far from the maddened crowd. (Susana Vera / Reuters)

Thousands and thousands of people are happy enough to just drink the wine and revel for nine days. But a few hundred are not completely happy unless they drink the wine, revel and then run away from a bunch of bulls.

A photograph taken far above the maddened bulls and the mad running revelers. (NBC news)

Ironically, July 7th just happens to be one day in another long-running festival that is celebrated daily in my neck of the woods – the Sealy Posturepedic Siesta Fiesta. And while there’s no wine, very little reveling and no patron, matron or New Orleans saints commemorated, it is well-known for … the sleeping of the bulldogs.

You run around these guys and you could trip and hurt yourself.

Not surprisingly, it’s also a festivity that draws its fair share of fanatical followers.

Who needs wine? Could use a couple pillows though.

Just goes to show you that no matter where you look, you can find a spectacle. Party hearty, world.

Farewell, my plasma

Germany: In a study of 2,200 Germans commissioned by the Hamburg-based Foundation for Future Studies, 57 percent of the women surveyed said they’d rather give up sex than television for an entire year.

United States: An iVillage-commissioned study found that 63 percent of the married women surveyed would rather read, sleep or watch a movie than have sex with their spouse.

Britain: A QVC poll surveyed 3,000 Brits and found that one in 10 actually love the television more than they love their partner. According to the Daily Mail, more than a tenth of those polled said they’d rather split up with their significant other than give up watching television.

Any City, Anywhere:

I saw him just as I’d reached the top of the stairs; he was leaning on the wall, right next to the locked door to my office. He looked like he’d been waiting for a while and he probably had, since it was more than two hours past the open-for-business hour painted on my door.

I had two good reasons for being late. The first was I hadn’t had any new work in more than a month. The second was a little closer to home. I’d been at war with the residue  of the previous night, doing my best to exorcise a demon of a hangover that had jumped me as soon as I’d opened my eyes that morning. Six aspirins and a Bromo hadn’t tamed it. Didn’t even slow it down.

But as bad as I felt, it looked like he had me beat – he looked worse. By my guess the last time he’d had a good night’s sleep, Reagan was still in the White House. By the looks of his clothes, that probably also was the last time he’d ironed them.

But rather than feel sorry for him, what was I thinking? Great, another “client” going to use my bill to light his cigarette instead of sending it back with a check. The thought made that damn demon bouncing between my temples start tap-dancing.

“Mr. Harlowe? Philip Harlowe, the private eye?”

“Guilty on both counts,” I mumbled as I shoved my key into the door lock, turning it and the knob and pushing the door open. “Thanks for holding up the wall there.”

“Mr. Harlowe, I need your help.”

“Well, this is your lucky day,” I said as I headed to the coffee maker. “It’s Wednesday and Wednesday is Help Day around here. Had you come tomorrow, you’d be pitching in and folding my laundry. What can I do for you?”

“I need you to find my wife.”

“When you’d lose her? And it might help if I knew your name. After all, you know mine.”

“It’s George, George Finley. She’s been gone for more than two days now,” he said.

“What have you got that I can work with? She leave a note, got a girlfriend, a place or a boyfriend she might run to?”

“Not that I know of,” he said, looking down at a wad of crumpled papers clutched in his hands. “All she, her name’s Beulah, all she left behind were these.” He handed them to me as I sat down at my desk. I motioned for him to take a chair.

I separated the stack. Credit card receipts. For purchases made over a period of a few days and all charged at the same store. Best Buy. Electronics, every single one.

I doubted there were enough Beulahs in the world to equal all of the scribbled Beulahs scattered across my desk.

“You got any idea what she was buying and why she was buying so many of them?”

“Not a clue,” he said. “We, we weren’t talking much lately. She just seemed to want to watch TV rather than even look at me. I haven’t had my hands on the remote in months. She’d just growl if I got near it and snatch it away.”

“Hmmm, odd. What she’d take with her?”

“That’s the strange thing,” he said, the question seemingly shocking him alert. “Just a few clothes, as far as I can figure. But every TV in the house is gone, along with all of the extension cords in the garage.”

“Well, let me look around, ask around and see what I can find out. Now go home and get some sleep and let me get to work.”

“Thank you Mr. Harlowe,” he said as he raised himself up from the chair. “I don’t care what she’s done or who she’s done it with. I just want my Beulah to come home. And hopefully bring along the 42-inch flatscreen too.”

It turned out not to be too hard to track Beulah down. A trip to the Best Buy and a $20 bill slipped to the clerk got me the address she’d given for the delivery of all of her purchases.

The motel owner was only too glad to show me the room she’d rented, as well as give me a copy of the electric bill he’d just received since she’d moved in. I pulled the plugs on the extension cords running out of the room, slid the bill under the door, went back to my car and waited.

Within an hour, a U-Haul truck pulled up outside the room. In less than another one, the cords, the TVs and Beulah were out of there. And on their way home to George, I figured.

I gave George a call and told him he’d soon see a U-Haul backing into his driveway and to take it as a sign that his Beulah would soon return. A few minutes later he called back and told me I was better than Nostradamus. I told him the service was no extra charge.

I didn’t mention his flatscreen. He’d just have to find it on his own, somewhere among the 27 other ones he and Beulah now owned.

Only in America …

… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness … and the inexplicable yet irrefutable freedom to consume 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes …

Joey Chestnut doing the National nasty earlier today.

God bless the red, white and blue. And Nathan’s.

We’re making a list …

Leave it to eHarmony to come up with a concise and clear list of the top 10 complaints men have about women when it comes to dating and relationships.

I mean, who better understands men than an online dating service? It’s not that we men can’t think for ourselves. We just prefer not to think about such things. Actually we prefer not to think about much of anything, if we can get away with it.

So, being a well-trampled man of the world, let’s see if they got this right.

You say potato …  I say french fries …

1. You see us as projects you can fix.

Oh, how we so hate being thought of as just a piece of … a project. We say it and say it and say it again – we can’t be fixed. You’re lucky we even work as well as we do. You want to fix something? Try stopping that dripping faucet in the kitchen. I haven’t got a clue.

2. Your expectations are set by Hollywood and sky high.

Now, if I know that Hollywood isn’t real, then you should know that Hollywood isn’t real. There’s no such actual man as George Clooney. But if your expectations are set on  Dirty Harry or Chuck Norris or Godzilla … well, now you’re talking real. We can work with these.

3. You’re always looking down the road.

Sigh – men don’t look down the road. We don’t look up the road. We don’t need to. We know exactly where we’re going, which also is why we don’t need to ask for directions.

4. You use your emotions as a weapon.

Is that crying? Are you crying?? There’s no crying in relationships!!

5. You have a tendency to be critical.

Tut-tut, we’d really appreciate if you’d take a more, shall we say, positive approach toward us and our manly ways. Instead of knocking us for lying on the couch, drinking beer, dropping crumbs and passing gas while watching TV from dawn until dusk, it might be better to look on the bright side. Maybe compliment us on how dedicated we are to not only do what we do best, but strive and commit to do it better than the rest. Yeah, that’s it.

6. You like to play coy.

We don’t play coy. We don’t play Monopoly, Life, Scrabble, or cribbage either. We like to play poker, though we really don’t know if three-of-a-kind beats a straight.

7. You fixate on what we’re thinking, when you should be watching what we’re doing.

Simple reason for this. If you watch what we’re doing, you’ll see that it’s nothing. Ergo, now you also know what we’re thinking.

8. You don’t understand and/or like our need for alone time.

Yeah, and we’re not just talking about reading Popular Mechanics in the bathroom after dinner. We sometimes like to bang things with our tools in the garage. Or play for hours washing the driveway with a hose. Because we can be sensitive too. It’s a beautiful thing.

9. You have a complicated set of double standards.

As far as we’re concerned, anything more than one standard is complicated. In fact, we’re not even sure we’re straight on that one.

10. You want us to change, and then lose respect for us when we do.

Of course that’s not logical. Who ever said we were logical?