Bill's Blither

Location: Cheshire, Connecticut, United States

devilishly handsome, screamingly funny, overly modest

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Aunt Fannie, Me, and the Cops

This is another tale with the continuing theme of me doing NOTHING WRONG and ending up in deep trouble. As usual, the Fates have conspired to have me in the right place at the wrong time and nonchalantly lowered the boom--again.

My wife's Aunt Fannie died at age 98, and I was dutifully fulfilling my marital obligation (not THAT obligation,dummy) by driving her to NY for the funeral. First a bunch of people attempted to lift the old lady to sainthood by recounting her good deeds (she had to have SOME in 98 years) and glossing over her dictatorial reign over her children (and my wife) for the first 3/4 of her life. In her later years she doted on her grandchildren and various semi-strangers, possibly in unadmitted atonement. ( I, as one of the few inner circle people willing to point out her bullying tactics, played mainly the role of family outlaw who committed the unforgivable sin of removing my wife to Connecticut, away from this woman's influence). I should point out in fairness here that she was a talented and somewhat ruthless businesswoman, who was successful and wealthy. At the service I restrained myslf from making any negative remarks.( "Liar, liar, pants on fire" doesn't have the right funerial cache) and then it was time to drive to Long Island for the burial.

I dutifully offered a ride to two nice women, my wife's cousin-in-law and an older cousin for whom Barbara had worked in her teens (whose husband, by the way, created the interrobang). I lined up behind the hearse and 3 limosines, several cars pulled in behind me, and off we went. Aside from the car behind me banging into my rear bumper on 96th street, (which I graciously waved off) things proceded peacefully until we reached the Triboro Bridge.

At the toll booth disaster struck. The hearse and limosines drove through in the EZ-Pass lane and I blithely followed, assuming some arrangement had been made for the rest of us to pass through the toll. Bad assumption. I realized this as the (fortunately soft-materialed) gate came crashing down on my windshield. A cop materialized out of nowhere and yelled "Pull over". I did, and the following discussion (?) ensued:

Cop: "Show me your license and registration."
Me:(pointing)" But, officer, I was in that funeral process..."
Cop: "Not my problem, now give me your license and registration."
Me: "But I don't know the way to the..."
Cop: "Again, not my problem. Hand me your license."
Me: "But..."
Cop: "The next words out of your mouth better be yes, sir and those better be the only words I hear from now on"
At this point it registered that my wife's fingernails were tearing a hole in my arm.
Me: "Yes, sir". (I'm not completely stupid).
I should point out that the cop was at the most 21 years old and I doubt if he was shaving yet. I think that if I punched him out like I wanted to, he (and his uniformed friend watching) would have beaten the snot out of me, and my wife would have helped them.
Cop: "I'm not gonna give you a ticket, but you gotta pay me the toll."
I reached into my pocket and pulled out the required 4 singles and two quarters and held them out to him.
Cop: "Those bills are a mess. Flatten them out before you give 'em to me."
I almost lost it, but my wife's nails and the 2 women in the back seat kept me quasi-sane. I paid him and drove off, thereby avoiding being the first person in history to get a ticket while driving in a funeral procession.

For those of you who are concerned, we found the cemetery. The funeral home had given us written directions (a fact which I'd forgotten) in case we got lost. Actually, I raced to the cemetery and somehow beat the procession there. Lucky us, we got to stand out in the cold longer than anybody else.

So, once again, trying to be a nice husband and helpful family member I end up in the soup. If I could just remember to be the rotten SOB that Aunt Fannie thought I was, I'd probably stay out of trouble. I should have dropped my wife off at the funeral and had a few pops at one of the watering holes on 3rd Avenue. Then I would never have been anywhere near that dumb-ass cop.

There is no justice.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Strange Things Are Happening

I've just finished an interesting account on Colleen's blog about a guy named Carl whom she feels acted in a somewhat bizarre manner by routinely walking around barefoot in the snow. I got to thinking, however, that strange behavior is in the eye of the beholder and often makes perfect sense to the performer of the deed in question. here are a few personal examples:

(1) I was three. My grandmother's garage door had been left open and George (who was supposed to watch me) was doing something in the back yard. In the garage were a variety of different colored paint cans and some brushes. I thought the plain white garage was boring-looking and proceeded to redecorate it nicely with multiple hues. George returned. He seemed upset, possibly angry, with my exterior decorating choices. See, made sense to me, seemed strange to George.

(2) I was 14. There was on the New Milford green an olive-drab World War 11 Sherman tank displayed on a slab of concrete. This vulgar demonstration of militarism must have offended my sense of propriety, or maybe once againI just didn't like the boring color (see above). So some like-minded friends and I stayed up very late one night, snuck out, and painted the tank a very rosy pink. The next day several people seemed quite disturbed over the incident. They may have been in the American Legion, or maybe just didn't appreciate the feng shui. I overheard someone speculating on how strange the whole event was. Conversely, it made perfect sense to me.

(3) I was 18, a freshman at Yale. A group of us were playing a nice game of strip poker, when someone decided we needed to go out to get some fresh air. The problems in doing this were multiple, (a) the 9 of us (5 guys, 4 girls) had little or no clothing on, (b) it was November, (c) we were on the 4th floor and our path was a foot-wide ledge circling the building, and finally (d) the Shubert had just let out and the theater-goers looking up at us were definitely overly curious (like it was any of their business). Still, it seemed like a perfectly sensible decision at the time. The police and Dean Whiteman disagreed. I heard a policeman, shaking his head, describe us as "weird kids". I say chacon a son gout. That's what makes horse racing.

So I suggest we give Weird Carl (of the frozen feet) a pass on his behavior. Maybe his feet get hot easily. Maybe he's allergic to leather. Maybe he's making snow angels from the bottom up. I don't know, but as the optimistic old joke goes , "with all this sh-t around, there must be a pony here somewhere".


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My Man Cheney, or It's Hard To Imagine a Bigger Dick

I've just finished reading the Huffington Post article revealing the apparently scandalous assignation between Dick Cheney and our Ambassador to Switzerland, Pamela Willeford. It seems that part of the motivation for the cover-up of the Whittington shooting may have been the fact that the hunting party consisted only of Cheney, Whittington, and two women not their wifes, Willeford and Katherine Armstrong. Prior to being whisked away by the Secret Service, Pamela told police that she was standing next to our noble VP when he let loose his misdirected salvo, and is therefore the only actual eye-witness except the victim and Cheney. Armstrong was in the car (not "hunting", if that's what shooting people is called vice-presidentially). Aside from some attempts to obfuscate the fact that there had been some alcohol consumed by the shooters, she was an innocent (maybe) bystander.

What I can't figure out is, where is the official inquest? A man was shot. He has already suffered a heart attack as a result of the shooting, and could conceivably die. At the very least there was negligence, possibly criminal, involved. If there was alcohol imbibed, and it contributed to the "accident", there are possible grounds for a felony indictment. The doctor minimized the seriousness of the injuries until the heart attack forced it into the open. The whole thing stinks like hell, even and especially born-again hell. I hate the arrogance as much as the unstated lies.

I couldn't care less whom Dick Cheney screws, as long as it isn't me or the Nation. I leave the sub-rosa relationship with the Ambassador to Dick, his wife, and maybe the Almighty which this administration keeps mixing in with their politics ( although I don't think the Big Guy gives a rat's ass about any of it). My problem is , why does our VP get to be above the law? If you or I went off, chugged down a few, and then shot somebody, you damn better believe we'd be spending some of our leisure time in the pokey until somebody figured out what actually happened. Big Dick, on the other hand, has stated that his position in life exempts him from even responding to questions about his behavior, criminal or not. Is that a born-again thing or a vice-presidential thing? Then again, does it matter? He's a Big Dick either way. How the hell do we elect these guys?


Monday, February 13, 2006

Suburban Utopia

Ever since our office moved to Glastonbury, I've felt like I'm working in Lake Woebegone without the Scandinavians. Everyone, adults and children both, projects the attitude of being "better than average". Not obviously (that would be below average) but subtly and relentlessly.

Friendliness and slightly supercillious helpfulness abound unendingly. If you have some difficulty, count on some ubiquitous smiling samaritan to offer a hand. If one more person comes up to me and says, smarmily "Can I help you, sir?", I'm going to scream until their ears break.

All the woman are blonde, pink-cheeked and pretty (not beautiful, that would be intimidating). They all smile, friendly but not inviting, not aloof but a little removed. They meet your eye as you pass on the street and smile, but the smile passes right through you. I never felt frozen, just a little chilled. I keep wondering where the guy with the cookie-cutter lives (probably in Stepford), or maybe the look is learned at Glastonbury High and polished after marriage.

Everybody is a little rich, upper-middle but not upper-upper. Even the air is New England WASPy. Calvin would have felt justified, because everyone acts as if they're bound for Heaven. The air of slight, but never overt, superiority pervades everywhere. I've never felt so....Jewish.

And where do they hide all the people of color? Mike the bartender is not only the only Black man I've met, he's the only one I've SEEN. Maybe they could find some successful Black lawyers and doctors to fit the town mold. They better be Congregationalists. though.

I just figured out why those white cars were out to get me, I wasn't driving a Lexus. Maybe I could make 'em believe my Mazda is a loaner. Or I could learn to fit in better. I just can't get that icy friendly smile down, though.


Friday, February 10, 2006

Golden Gloves

At my last graduate class, one of my fellow classmates announced that he'd bought a piece of a boxer (human, not dog) and that he had some free ducats to next Saturday's bout. The fighter is contending for an obscure championship (Junior Bantamweight division of a three-letter organization I am unfamiliar with). He weighs 112 pounds, which I can match with the heft of my left arm and give change. If he wins, however, he becomes a top ten ranked boxer and will then fight for much higher prize money, and much more return on my classmate's investment.

Now I haven't been to a prize fight in over 35 years, and I'm not basically a violent man unless somebody insults my wife, my politics, or the Red Sox, but I am an egocentric, somewhat exhibitionistic SOB. These character traits got me into a lot of trouble in my youth, and my obtaining these boxing tickets reminded me of a prime bit of stupidity from that era.

I was 16 years old and spending a vacation in southern Illinois with my very permissive grandmother. A group of us found an ad announcing preliminary bouts to determine a local representative to the Golden Gloves in St Louis (or Chicago, maybe). Since one of our little band was a cute brunette who had previously not given me the time of day, I decided to impress her her by bragging about my non-existent boxing prowess and declaring my entry into this contest.

Short term, this was good thinking. The young lady in question acknowledged my right to be in her presence and life was great, until I had to make good on my brag. How bad could it be, right?

I went to the local gym and had one of the gym-rats show me how to throw a jab and learned a little about footwork. Now totally prepared, I bought a helmet, gloves, trunks,a reinforced jockstrap and a mouthguard. Send me in , coach, I'm ready.

On the day of my first match, I was nervous. The little brunette was there with some of my friends (one of whom had provided the fake ID to prove I was 18, an entry requirement). My opponent was as nervous as I and even less experienced, if that were possible. When the bell rang, I ran to the middle of the ring and swung as hard as I could, unbelievably connecting somewhere on his jaw. I kept swinging until the ref stopped the fight. I had made the biggest mistake in my life, I advanced to the next match.

I then fought a black guy who beat me up unmercifully for three rounds but the obviously biased ref (who was also the judge) awarded me the win. Totally unfair, but this was Mark Twain country in the '50s. Next came Armeggedon.

The guy's nickname was Philley. He was left-handed and very fast. By winning twice I had unfortunately reached an opponent with a lot of skill and training. When the bell rang, I tried to throw my famous, newly-learned left jab. By the time I brought it back in, I'd been hit at least 15 times. I didn't think anyone could hit that hard. Fortunately, I don't remember anything after that first flurry. My friends told me later that I lasted 40 seconds, but I'm just as glad the last 30 have been erased from my memory. None of my facial bones were broken, but all of them felt that way.

I'd like to tell you this all had a happy ending, but no chance. The young lady told me (correctly) that I was stupid to get in the ring and that I deserved what I got. Unsurprisingly that ended our non-burgeoning relationship. I'd also like to tell you that this taught me a lesson about shooting my mouth off about things I know nothing about, but you all know that to be a gross untruth. Bottom line, it was just a bad idea. You've probably guessed that I've had a few of those.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Vignettes of the Week

This has been an interesting week, with a lot of Seinfeldishly small events combining to make my cup bubble over.

(1) My grandaughter Kyly, age 5 (almost 6, she states proudly), presented me with a home-made Valentine. " Kyly", I said, "We have another important holiday to celebrate. My birthday is the day before Valentine's Day. I'll give you a special prize if you can tell me how old I'll be." She thought for a minute, her face scrunched up in concentration. Finally she asked, "Papa, how old are you NOW ?" She then brilliantly added one to the unfortunately astronomically high answer and claimed her prize. Einstein must have started like this.

(2) Preparatory to my upcoming operation, I've been asked to give two pints of my blood in case a transfusion is needed. I received an official form instructing me to start taking iron pills a week before they suck out my blood. This form further advised me to take Metamusil to offset the effects of the iron pills. Now, I'm willing to endure the pain of knee surgery, the phobia of watching a blood-thirsty phlebotomist gleefully depleting my vital fluids, the excruciating pain of rehab, but I'm damned if I'm going to admit to being old enough for Metamusil. So I went and bought out the stock of prune juice at Stop 'n Shop instead. F--k 'em, anyway.

(3) Remember the Yankee fan who wanted to show me her NYY tattoos? If you recall I turned down the offer. Well, today Mike the bartender (a witness to the conversation) weighed in with his opinion that I'd risen considerably in his esteem by my refusal to view the sullied flesh. His quote, "No one else has had the guts to tell that woman to keep her shirt in her pants." Either he admired my rudeness or he's a Red Sox fan.

(4) I've had a casual, COMPLETELY INNOCENT relationship with a young faculty wife. This has consisted of meeting in the late afternoon before class for coffee or a quick bite (of FOOD, you idiots). Yesterday I received an E-mail saying that we couldn't meet because her husband was jealous. I've dealt with jealous husbands before (running as fast as I can is the best course of action, I've found), but never from a position of absolute innocence. Maybe I should be flattered, the guy's at least two decades younger than I am. Or outraged ("how could you THINK that I ....."). And how come I'm always in trouble for NO REASON ?

As I said, it's been an interesting week of non-events.

I'm not sure that I want something significant to happen, I can't seem to find the time.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Navel Battles

I've just finished reading Colleen's blog on which there is pictured an enthusiastic young woman with her navel peeking out. I don't quite understand the latest fascination with the female midriff, so I'm going to give you my observations and then hope some of you can explain to me what I'm missing..

First of all, navels are funny looking, and to me sort of anti-erotic. Even assuming it resides in an area that doesn't unattractively bulge (which in America today is a large assumption with the average female dress size ranging between 12 and 14), the shape is at best an object of humor, not titillation. Poets have raved about the curve of a lip, a bosom, or a derriere (think of Jennifer Lopez...poetically please), but who I ask you has ever swooned at the swirl of a navel. The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders famously expose their navels, but there's not a red-blooded male alive who's staring at their tummies. When I look at new-style outfits with low-slung pants and high-cut tops, I'm looking at the edges not the middle (waiting for a drop or rise that unfortunately never comes- I keep on hoping, though).

Also, women's body parts that men look at tend to be functionally erotic (see last paragraph for examples). I haven't found a woman yet who has whispered in my ear, "Baby, drive me crazy, blow in my navel". A belly-button's practical use ends when we part from our mothers at birth, the exception being to bring gales of laughter from my grandkids by puffing on it to make a flatulent sound. This is what I'm thinking about looking at a woman's navel, hardly behind closed doors thoughts.

Maybe there's a whole world of navel fettishers that has somehow passed me by. If so, someone clue me in. If not, ladies, pull down your shirts, and expose something more interesting. It was so much more fun in the "burn your bra" era.


Friday, February 03, 2006


It has just dawned on me that one of the benefits of my upcoming knee surgery is that I will be able to dance again. Not that I was ever Fred Astaire on the dance floor ( I'm much taller than he is ) but I was enthusiastic in my attempts at terpsichorian performance. My partners would probably complain that the effort was on their part to keep their tootsies from being mashed, but this never dampened my conspicuously over-zealous flailing and stomping, especially if I heard a song like "Shout" boom out over the floor.

All this has an involved history. I couldn't have arrived at this pinnacle of smoothness and grace without arduous training. This started at age 7 when my mother began her relentless attacks on my masculinity by enrolling me in a tap-dance class.

An effeminate guy named Donnie and I were the only males among the 20 or so hoofers in the class. I was issued shiny patent-leather shoes with clickety metal taps on them and learned dances called the Waltz Clog and the Buck and Swing while little girls constantly giggled at me. Excruciating.

Recital time. I was forced to go on stage with seven simpering young females, dressed in tails, a top hat and a cane. I was so nervous that I peed my fortunately black pants. Apparently our performance was, however, spectacular enough to send the crowd of 200 relatives into a minor delirium. This reaction did not prevent me from being scarred for life by the experience. I did, though, manage to control my overwhelming urge to bash the unguous Donnie in the head with my cane. It was the first experience in my 7 years at attaining a measure of self-control.

My mother's next attempt at emasculation through the medium of dance was to enroll me in Mr. Allingham's Ballroom Dance class. This lasted through 6th and 7th grade. Mr. Allingham had a male child he called Muffin (need I say more). Aside: Muffin maintained that moniker all the way into adulthood, and became an accountant.

Ballroom dancing included the Waltz, the Foxtrot, the Lindy-hop, the Cha-Cha, the Mambo, and the Rhumba, none of which did I perfect to Mr. Alligham's satisfaction. Picture pairs of sweaty,pimply-faced adolescents pressed up against each other and told to act graceful. The only thing I remember accomplishing was the art of concealing a hard-on from my partners. Tricky, especially when dancing with Sherry, a mammalially over-extended young miss who had discovered sex years before the rest of us. I had no chance, of course, but she provided many sweet lubicatory dreams.

My dancing in college (this had nothing to do with my mother) was like a precursor to Patrick Swayze, without the rhythm or urbane smoothness. I met my later-to-be-two-year-sweetheart Taffy at a Mixer (remember those?). I attempted a "seductive" move by inserting my leg between hers and twisting her into a Dip. She responded predictably, breaking into hysterical laughter at my fumbling effort (you know, it's not coincidental that "hyster" is derived from the feminine). I've always wondered why my greatest successes with women occur when I've mortifyingly embarrassed myself.

My last dancing disaster occurred when my wife was on a business trip and I let myself be dragged off by a too-young lady to what she called an "underground" Rave. In a moment of non-lucidity I was persuaded to experiment with a tablet she later identified as "ecstacy". I remember feeling really good, but I don't recall anything at all about dancing. Since I was by a considerable margin the oldest person there, my efforts did not go unnoticed by the other folks on hand. I was told later that I was possessed of amazing energy and, of course, enthusiasm. Peculiarly, no-one mentioned skill or talent. It seems that Ecstacy is a lousy stimulant for short term memory, which may be fortunate for my embarrassment quotient, assuming I have one.

So after I get bionicized, knee-wise, look out world. Fred, Ginger, Gene, Cyd, even Mikhail, be prepared to be eclipsed. As you can see, I'm a finished product.