Oh, go kiss a frog already

Happy CoupleI’ve written about my junk mail before but lately it’s taken over all of my www-reading attention. For a few weeks every time I click open my Junk Inbox I find yet another woman who has never met me, never even seen me …

… but wants me. Baaaaaaaaaaad.

They can just feel it, every single one of them – that I’m the one. And they know this even though every one of them is writing me from aaaaaaaaaaaall the way in the Ukraine. I may be a little long in the tooth and short on stature, but they don’t know it nor care.

Sheesh – all of this admiration-from-afar is tough, I tell you. I’ve nearly had to splint my left-side mouse button finger, just from deleting all of them off.

Maybe Ukrainian men are more earthy, less refined than us American guys. And seems prone to being a tad generous when estimating their uh, manhood too.

Maybe Ukrainian men are more earthy, less refined than us American guys. Sure seem prone to being a tad generous when estimating their manhood too.

Yup, they know I’m their guy. Or so they tell me. But don’t take my word for it. For example, meet the most recent admirer-de-jour – Anny, or maybe as her close friends call her – Any.

“Hi, Mike”
(OK, so there’s a small issue with my name. What do you expect from a woman who spells her own name two different ways in the same email? Probably a Ukrainian cultural thing.)
“We’ve got only one life to live and I want to live it as good a I can.”
(It’s good to have a life plan. Admirable.)
“I’ve found you and now I can’t imagine how I lived without you for my entire life?!”
(Aw, shucks. I’m sure it wasn’t hard living all this time without me. Hellish, certainly. But probably not that hard.)
“I want to get used to you, I want to learn you, I want to accept you as you are.”
(Uh, OK. So, just exactly what do you mean by ‘learn you’? Not judging of course, just wondering.)
“I try to imagine you and in my own imagination I am already getting used to you: I am used to your eyes, soft and wise, to your hands, to your gentle touch. I haven’t seen you in real life, but inside, in my soul, I already feel how warm and happy your heart can be just from love.”
(My, see me blush. You Ukrainian women sure have a rather direct way about you, don’t you? That’s one powerful soul, er, imagination you got there.)
“I realize that there can be another sitting by your side, touching your hair, watching you, hugging you.”
(Damn, am I glad you brought my wife up here. Thanks, it sure spares me from one of those, shall we say, awkward moments.)
“However I know that, you can’t imagine my confidence, but I know that we can match. I don’t think our silence will help us, so I am here, at (web address.ua), and I hope that you will touch my heart with your letter soon, my dear. Yourth faithfully, Any.”

Count on it, my dearest Anny/Any. You just keep checking yourth mailbox. The letter’s in the mail.

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Spring has dung!

dung hazmat banner

Spring is dung!
Da poop has riz!
I wonder where my damn lawn is …

Yes, it’s that time again. The birds are singing, the daffodils are blooming, the sun is shining, the temperatures are rising …

“Good Lord. They’ve come back again.”

“Who are they?”

“Robins.”

“God save us. It can’t be spring yet. It just snowed a few weeks ago.”

“It was just toying with us. We couldn’t be so lucky to be stuck in an Ice Age. No, we have to live during global warming.”

“You know what this means?”

“Of course I know what this means. Thar’s a ton of dog poop in them thar grasses.”

“Cute.”

“Well, I hate to bring this up again but we wouldn’t have this problem if you didn’t insist on feeding them during the winter. Humans adapt, maybe dogs probably do too. Who knows? We fatten them up in the fall, then cut the food chain and they might think they’re bears. Maybe hibernate even. Like I always say, it’s worth a shot.”

“And like I always answer, you should be shot.”

My wife and I have this conversation every year about this time. When you have a dog and you let that dog out into your backyard two, three, four times a day to “do his business”, the best season of year is winter. And the best things about winter are that it’s cold and there’s snow.

The cold freezes them. the snow hides them. Problem solved. Temporarily.

Because then comes spring. By my learned calculation, one large-size dog produces about 2 cubic feet of poop during the approximately four months of winter.

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as the perfect dog. Yeah, sure thing kid ... and I rode a unicorn to work today. I've never owned one.

Yes Virginia, there is such a thing as the perfect dog. Oh yeah, … and I rode a unicorn to work today.

Now, I have three large dogs. So let’s do the math, shall we?

Exactly right – that works out to 359.74 cubic feet of dog crapola. You see? Those dreary math classes in school were well worth with it.

As you now graphically understand, the “spring thaw” is not a happy time around the Waterman household. At least not out in back of the Waterman household.

But does this stop us from perpetually maintaining a small herd of rather large man’s best friends? Hardly. We are undeterred. Yes, we may be up to our ears in it every spring, but the key to keeping our collective sanity while amidst and up to our midriffs in so much canine by-product is planning. And preparation.

dung suitsYessir, this is how we do it. This is how we beat it. So far, there ain’t been no mountains high enough.

I don’t wanna grow up

young and oldLet’s face it – it sucks to be me. It sucks to be you. It sucks to be most of us.

Because it sucks to grow old.

I’m not talking about the usual reasons. I don’t care that I have gray hair. I don’t care that sometimes when I make up my mind to get up from a chair, my body says, “You must be kidding. Really? Right now?” and doesn’t want to move. I’m not talking about starting to forget things either. What things, I don’t remember.

No, what I’m talking about is as a lot of us get older, an awful lot of us get stupid.

It wasn’t like that when we were young. When we were innocent. When we still saw the world clearly and in a singularly simple, insightful and intelligent way. Bottom line: It is what it is. Keep it simple, stupid old people.

Oh sure, laugh at this kid's answer to this test question. But really ... it does make some deductive sense. You're just too old now to see it.

Oh sure, laugh at this kid’s answer to this test question. But really … it does make perfect deductive sense. You’re just too old to see it.

Oh, we may say some silly things in the early days of our lives. But at that age, most of us don’t do dumb things. We save that until when we get older.

I mean, what good is a detachable steering wheel on your car if you can't detach it? And at speed, of course. Makes perfect adult sense.

I mean, what good is a detachable steering wheel on your car if you can’t detach it? And at speed, of course. Makes perfect adult sense.

No, I do believe we have our best moments, and our best material, when we’re too young to know better. Or too much.

If it's good enough for my lawn, then it's good enough for yours. You know, the kid makes a pretty good case here.

If it’s good enough for my lawn, then it’s good enough for yours. The kid makes a pretty good case here.

But once we turn into adults, it all goes to crap. Not just out there in the yard, but up there between our ears. It starts to build up with age and before you know it you’re not only old, you’re full of it. Crap, that is.

For example, take a good look at this picture. What do you see?

FlintstoneIf you’re young, you see Fred Flintstone, you see the Caveman at his prehistoric best. You see Yabba Dabba Do, Wilma, Barney and Betty. You see funny. And you also see … a cartoon.

But if you’re old, if you’re Kyle Hill, a contributing writer to old, stuffy “Scientific American” magazine, you see something completely different. You look at Fred and his vehicle and your adult, soon-to-be-decrepit mind asks: How does Fred Flintstone stop his car using nothing but his feet?

In his article (yeah he wrote an article and yup, Scientific American published it) Hill estimates Flintstone’s rockmobile weighs 1,980 pounds and can travel at a top speed of 25 mph. Though Fred’s feet may be thickly callused enough to be used as brakes, Hill doesn’t think that’s a realistic assessment. “The worst case is much more likely,” he says. “If Fred pressed and held his feet to the ground, he would most likely lose them.”

Really. How very interesting. A most adult line of thinking.

And damned stupid.

Lord of the Dings

old_farm_truck_in_field I grew up on a farm and though I haven’t lived that way for decades I guess some aspects of the lifestyle never leave you. I’m not talking about raising cattle in my backyard, though there’s been a zoo inside my house for more years than I lived out in the middle of a cornfield.

No, I’m talking about my pickup truck. It’s getting old and there’s talk of trading it in for a new one. I’ve traded in vehicles many times but now that I’m getting as old as an old truck, the idea of giving away the old for something new just doesn’t sit well with me anymore. On a couple of levels, when it comes to my truck.

First, nearly every ding, scratch, dent and crease in that old black behemoth is there because I put it there, doing things that one does with a truck. And a couple more because of what one shouldn’t do with one. You ever see a farmer driving a nice, shiny old truck – he must be raising daffodils. In his living room.

Actually I’m kinda proud of them – my truck and me, well, we made them together. Maybe when it was new and I was younger such vehicular garnishes would have bothered me, but now that it’s old I do believe those dings, dents and other things give it … character.

Like the time I really thought I could squeeze through the slightly-less-than-a-parking-space left between a car and a light pole in a parking lot. I was sure of it – until the right side of the old girl started to lift up as I edged past the big concrete base of the pole and let out an awful scratching screech. I guess not, I realized, but no sense in going back now. Didn’t touch the car or even mark the pole but I found a nice, long, bright yellow-colored gouge creased deep across the lower part of my black passenger and backseat panel doors.

It was pretty near straight. And the doors still opened and closed.

“Look at that,” I said to her. “We got ourselves a racing stripe.”

Do that with a Prius. And be happy about it. I dare you. It’s what separates us farm boys from city folk, I guess. Manure happens – especially to a pickup truck.

And there was the time when I was sitting in another parking lot. Like any other full-size pickup driver does, I was off to the outer edge of the lot, away from most vehicles. I’d also parked so I could just drive away and not back up. Very simple, very easy, very smart. I’d just gotten back from shopping, sitting and idling with no one around me and looking at my sales receipt, when in the corner of my eye I saw movement by my door.

I looked over and down to see the front end of some non-descript Japanese sedan pushing along the side of my front fender, like a runaway shopping cart with an engine. And a driver. The car gently (as much as a car can do) swiped along my front fender and ended up stopped in front of me.

I’d just been hit by a car. In slow motion. And I wasn’t even moving. The driver looked back at me. I was staring at him. And then he started yelling and gave me the finger.

I was stunned. Of course I did what any other normal, red-blooded American raised on a farm would do.

I started laughing. I couldn’t stop. It was so damn ridiculous. I did manage to get out a couple words, though.

“I was just sitting here, you shithead!”

For me, the whole thing was entirely, completely hilarious. For him, apparently it all became very clear. He stopped yelling and took off. And for my wife? Uh, not so funny.

“You didn’t even get his license plate!?!? Why do I ever let you go anywhere by yourself.”

“I couldn’t stop laughing, hon. And it was just the truck – it’s like a white accent stripe along the fender. Didn’t do any real damage, still drives and everything.”

“This is why you should have a gun.”

“Why do I need a gun?”

“You could have shot out his tires!!!”

Obviously, my lovely wife was not raised on a farm.

If she had been, she wouldn’t think I was crazy. About this, or why I really don’t want to trade in my truck. I want to keep it and drive it until it can barely move. But still running enough to let me edge her into the backyard, park her off to the side and just leave her there. That’s how old trucks and other farm machines are laid to rest. That’s where they should go, to slowly rust away. Just like that old GMC you see up at the top there.

Gone, but never forgotten. I’ll even keep the keys in the ignition. Out in the sticks, you do that. You never know when someone, or something, might need it.???????????????????????????????????????

She’s one mastiff con artist

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It’s 3:23 in the morning. I know that because my left eye is staring at the glowing red numbers of the alarm clock that’s staring back at me from my nightstand. My right eye ain’t seeing anything. It’s buried in my pillow.

At 3:22 in the morning I was in the midst of a ferocious battle with some kind of blobby, blackish maybe-alien thing that apparenty wanted to kill me or eat me, not necessarily in that order. Waking up had abruptly ended the fight.

I was half awake and fully annoyed. I could’ve kicked that thing’s ass. As soon as I located its ass.

I wake up a lot at night. A great sleeper? No. A great candidate for a sleep apnea study? Oh, yeah. Poster boy material.

In any case, at this early-morning moment I’m not doing anything but staring down the alarm clock. It hasn’t blinked yet.

The bedroom is dark. The room is at full occupancy. Three dogs, at least two cats. Oh yeah, and two people. Almost forgot. It’s dark and semi-quiet. The at-least two cats are curled up somewhere on my wife. They know better than to take up residence on me. If I’m awake I’ll push them over to her. If I’m asleep I’ll probably thrash them over there. Two of the dogs – the bulldogs – are fervently playing a heavy-breathing, lightly-snoring duet. Their usual virtuoso performance.

The third is awake. It’s Zoe, my bull mastiff. I know this because I can hear the sharp, constant beating of her tail on the floor. Even without looking I know she’s sitting at the end of the bed, on my side and staring at me. Happily beating the crap out of the floor and every now and then whacking a good, solid clang out of the baseboard next to her. If I turned my head I’d see her – just a big blobby, blackish thing, slightly darker than the dark.

She was asleep and on the other side of the room not 30 seconds ago. How the hell does she always know when I wake up?

You're saying this is your bed? You're sure? Well, imagine that.

You’re saying this is your bed? You’re sure? Well, imagine that.

No sense in wasting time trying to figure it out. I’m awake, she’s awake, why don’t we call the whole sleeping thing off. We get up. Walk down the hall to the kitchen. She’s leading the way and I’m stumbling and bumbling behind. That alien blob was a better fighter than I imagined, I guess.

I hit the lights in the kitchen and there she is, in the same spot she always is at these moments. Standing and facing the sliding glass doors, then looking back at me with big brown eyes that say, “open-says-a-me.”

The door is opened and she goes out. Doesn’t matter what it’s doing out there – raining, snowing, fiery-meteor shower – she goes. Waters half the lawn and then comes back. I let her in, she goes by me and straight to a corner in the kitchen counter. Where the “family-size” bag of Pup-Peroni treats sits. Standing and facing the bag, then looking back at me with big brown eyes that say, “open-says-a-me.”

“How do I know you actually did something?”

Thump-thump-thump. She knows I was watching.

“You do know that I don’t have to give you one of these things?”

Thump-thump-thump. She knows I’m bluffing.

Treat paid, I walk out of the kitchen, turn the lights off and say, as always, “c’mon girl, it’s still bedtime.”

It works sometimes … actually hardly ever. I’m halfway down the hall but she’s not behind me. I sigh, turn around and go back. Turn on the lights.

There she is, in the same spot she always is at these moments. Standing and facing the sliding glass doors, then looking back at me with big brown eyes that say, “open-says-a-me.”

Round two. She fertilizes half the lawn, I let her in and she goes … well, by now you know where she goes. And what she’s doing.

“How in God’s name do you pull off doing one and NOT the other? How did you learn how to compartmentilize doing that?”

Thump-thump-thump. She’s not talking.

Now, there was one night when I didn’t get up. Not that I didn’t wake up, but the night when Zoe thumped that tail so loudly it woke my wife.

I laid there, very still, as if sleeping. I know Zoe wasn’t buying it, but my wife did. They went down the hall. I heard the door open, then close, then open, then close. I heard the bag rustle. And then “What, you need to go out again?”

The door opened, then closed, then opened, then closed. I saw the lights go out, heard my wife’s footsteps coming down the hall and then …

Woof.

The footsteps went away, the light went back on, followed by some muffled words I couldn’t quite make out. Sounded a little angry, though. Lights out again, louder footsteps and as she got back into bed, I feigned coming to.

“What was that?” I mumbled.

“Your daughter.”

“Why’d she bark?”

“I let her out, two times in a row.”

“She barked because you let her out twice?”

“No, she barked when I was coming back to bed after the second time. I went back and she was sitting there, waiting for another treat.”

“Really? Strange. You give it to her?”

“She’s not barking now, is she?”

“Huh,” I grumbled as I rolled over. “You sure spoil that dog.”