Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...Chia-Pets???

The Christmas shopping season has officially begun. I saw a TV ad for Chia-Pets yesterday. Yes, they're still around. Which makes me wonder: does anybody really give these things as Christmas gifts?

Would you give this to someone as a gift?
I think we need to forget about the election,
not have a constant reminder around!
This is a teddy bear? I
thought it was a pig!

Every year, I promise myself I will not venture out from Thanksgiving until after New Year's, except for groceries, restaurants, and one very special December event. This year, I made an exception. I thought I'd finished my Christmas shopping--then I remembered one thing I wanted to get for Collin at Walmart. He wanted to get lunch at Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers, which is near Walmart, so....

I was surprised. Walmart wasn't busy at all. But then, it was Cyber Monday. I'm guessing all of the shoppers were online that day. How's that for timing?

Now I'm finished with Christmas shopping. And look what we got at Raising Cane's! Isn't he cute?

For anyone who doesn't already know, Raising Cane's is named for the founder's dog. Animal welfare is the company's favorite cause, and they're selling these White Elephant Puppies to raise money for local animal support organizations. I'm told that our favorite Cane's raises money for no kill shelters. Maybe I'll go buy a few more to give to friends. If you enjoy tender, juicy chicken and love animals, Raising Cane's is the place to eat!

The shopping is done, but there's still a lot to do to get ready for Christmas. This year, I'm doing a Christmas letter. I've never done one before but always wanted to. I'm one of those people who stopped sending out Christmas cards a long time ago. When I was a kid, we got dozens of cards, but as postage prices elevated, there were fewer and fewer cards each year. The consensus was that it was a waste to buy and mail cards that would just be thrown away after the holidays. For the past six years, I had an account with American Greetings, from which I sent ecards. No postage stamps needed and better for the environment. (I wonder how many cards end up in landfills every year?) I closed the account a few weeks ago, when a mandatory password change left me locked out of my account. After a week of frustration and getting nowhere with customer support at AG, I closed the account.

Good time to do that Christmas letter, right? It'll be fun. I hope.

We're putting up the tree on Sunday--on our dining room table. Yep, on the dining room table. We have a small tree--we got it twenty-two years ago when our previous tree was left behind during a move. An idiot cousin who's a Jehovah's Witness deliberately left our tree in the basement at the old place (Witnesses don't celebrate Christmas), as if that was going to make us stop putting up a tree every year. By the time we realized our tree was gone, we were only able to get this little tree at Target, a last-minute purchase. 

There's a story behind Noelle, our little tree, behind why we never replaced her with a bigger tree, but I'll save that for a post closer to Christmas.

If you're wondering why we're putting the tree on the dining room table, we live in a small apartment. Our TV takes up a lot of space, including the spot where we used to put the tree (we're seriously considering moving to a larger place in the spring and buying an even bigger TV). We don't use the dining room table for anything else. I can't sit in the hard chairs for any length of time, and Collin likes the table we use in the living room. He likes to watch TV while eating. The best thing about a tree like ours is that it's not time consuming. Putting it up and decorating it takes a half-hour tops.

It's not like Christmas was when I was a kid, but we're happy with our new traditions. Are you ready for Christmas?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall...The Gilmore Girls Are Back!

I was a big fan of the original Gilmore Girls series--admittedly, I had to catch the first 5-6 episodes in reruns after an author friend told me about it. She said Rory (Alexis Bledel) and Lorelai (Lauren Graham) reminded her of Collin and me. Obviously, she didn't mean the mother-daughter relationship, so I had to assume there was something else in the characters' personalities and/or relationship that made her think of us.
Maybe it was their habit of naming inanimate objects. We give everything a name and a distinct personality.  Maybe it was because, as Luke (Scott Patterson) put it in one episode, the child had a slightly tighter grip on reality than did her mother. (Yep, that's us.)

Anyway, I've been looking forward to this reunion of oddballs. The series ended on an off note, leaving fans wondering if Lorelai and Luke would finally find their happily ever after...if Rory would find success as a journalist...if Stars Hollow would always be the quirky little town Rory's father once described as "one big outpatient mental institution."
The new four-part series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life does not disappoint. Everyone is back, except for Lorelai's father, Richard Gilmore (the late Edward Hermann), whose passing is a major part of the plot. Emily (Kelly Bishop) and Lorelai aren't dealing with their loss, and it's damaging the already complicated mother/daughter relationship. When Lorelai begins to open up about her feelings toward her father and the things she never got to say and do at the end, I could relate. They reflect so many thoughts and feelings I had when my dad died. 

When Rory decides to write a book about herself and her mother, she pays a visit to her father, Christopher (David Sutcliffe), who asks her not to make him too much of a villain in the book. Rory asks him if he was okay with her mother raising her alone. Christopher offers a few reasons for his absence, but none that seem to clearly explain why he didn't stick around, beyond the "we were both so young" defense. It didn't work because they were simply two people--characters--who didn't belong together. 
Besides, Lorelai belongs with Luke. Really. She's a little flaky (okay, a lot flaky) and doesn't take too many things too seriously; he's stubborn, rarely smiles, but he gets her as no one else does, except maybe Rory. Opposites attract and all that.

Rory's most significant boyfriends are all present in the new series: Logan (Matt Czuchry), now engaged and living in London; Jess (Milo Ventimiglia), who seems to still want a future with her; and her first love, Dean (Jared Padalecki), now married with two kids and another one on the way. And then there's Rory's one-night stand with a Wookie....

One of the most surprising things about the reunion series is that golden girl Rory, Yale graduate with a promising future ahead of her at 22, is struggling as a journalist at 32. A book deal has gone south and interviews aren't ending well for her. Every writer can relate to that particular struggle, right?
Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has said she always knew the series would end with four words. Since she wasn't on board for the series' last season, those four words  had to wait until now. The four words, dialogue between mother and daughter after a fantasy wedding in the town square, were unexpected but shouldn't have been, given the show's premise. They not only made for the perfect ending, but left the door open for another series....

Postscript to my fellow bloggers: I haven't been online, except for doing email and occasional forays into Facebook on my phone, since last Wednesday. It looks like I have a lot of blog reading to catch up on!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bring On That Surrogate Turkey!

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I find myself thinking about past Thanksgivings--when Mom and Dad were still with us. I miss those those holidays. I miss them. I even miss the mess, the cleanup afterward, the leftovers that were sometimes left over for days afterward.
Dad was always up first. He got up at the same time every morning for as long as I can remember, whether he was working or not. He always had the same thing for breakfast: bacon, eggs and coffee. My parents were creatures of habit.

Mom would be up and about shortly after, getting the turkey in the oven and preparing the oyster stuffing. It was the only thing she made from scratch. I remember everything she put into it, just not how much of each ingredient. I couldn't make it if I tried, but I loved it. 

Mom was a better cook than I am, but she wasn't one to make anything from scratch if there was an easier alternative. Canned vegetables and gravy, mashed potato flakes, frozen pies, no problem. I buy mine ready to eat or at least microwavable. Sometimes, Collin and I even eat out or buy a prepared meal from a restaurant or grocery store.

I'd get up in time to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on TV. Collin was the only one who slept in. We always had dinner early on holidays, making two meals from the large volume of food. After round two, we'd all fall asleep in front of the TV.

The next day, we'd have turkey sandwiches. The following day, it was turkey salad. By the third day, we were sick of turkey.
We only varied from that tradition once. Dad decided Mom needed a rest. It was just the four of us, and we agreed we would have Kentucky Fried Chicken for Thanksgiving dinner. That was in 1984. I had just signed with my literary agent. She was attending a writers conference--in Texas, I think--and arranged her return flight to New York so she could make an overnight stopover in St. Louis for our first face-to-face meeting. After a mix-up at the airport (it took Mom and me almost an hour to connect with her), we had a wonderful time. 
We didn't get any cookies with ours....

But for a long time after that, Maria gave me a good-natured ribbing about our "surrogate Thanksgiving turkey!"

These days, it's just Collin and me. We either eat out or I prepare a large turkey breast in our Crock-Pot and do the sides (from cans, boxes, whatever is easy) in the microwave. It's fast, easy, and safer than eating anything I could make from scratch. We get a cake or pie from a bakery. And we watch the classic WKRP in Cincinnati episode, "Turkeys Away."

Monday, November 21, 2016

Talking the Talk Doesn't Matter if You're Not Walking the Walk

Last week, I took part in a conversation on Facebook about--what else?--the election. There were several commenters blaming Christians for Donald Trump and his merry band of bigots somehow managing to win. I pointed out that not all Christians voted for Trump and don't share the extremist beliefs of many of those who did support him. Several Christians responded by agreeing with me. One comment had a strong impact on me. The woman  said she believed us, but pointed out that we need to keep saying it, keep telling anyone who will listen, just as Muslims have had to keep trying to convince the world that not all of them are radical extremists like ISIS or other terrorist organizations.

Her challenge stuck with me. When I saw the photo above, also on Facebook, I decided it is imperative that those of us who don't share the beliefs of those who are supporting racism, bigotry, fear, hate and persecution speak out. 

I don't claim to have all of the answers. As I've said before, I have more questions than answers. Doesn't the Bible say man (which I take to mean all of mankind) is created in His image? Wouldn't that mean we're all equal, that one race is not better than any other? If one wishes to nitpick, wasn't Israel supposed to be God's chosen people? 

Didn't Jesus tell us to love our enemies? Did He not respond to those who criticized Him for spending His time with sinners, tax collectors and other "undesirables" that the healthy don't need a doctor; the sick do? Did He not preach that we are indeed our brothers' keepers, telling the rich man to sell his belongings and give it all to the poor? Didn't He say it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God? Or do I have that all wrong?

As a Christian, I'm most certainly a work in progress. I still lose my temper, though not as easily as I used to. When God handed out patience, I must have slept in. I've distanced myself from people who might disrupt our hard-won peace and quiet (I guess that's selfish of me). Love thy neighbor is a tough one when you have next door neighbors like mine. I'm trying to change, but it's not easy. Good thing God doesn't expect us to be perfect. 

As a voter, I often find myself conflicted, which explains why I can't vote along straight party lines. I'm really not liberal, but liberal causes like the environment and social programs that take care of the less fortunate are important to me. Healthcare for everyone and Social Security are important to me. As for gay marriage, that's none of my business. Not my lifestyle choice, but I'm not going to persecute anyone who is gay. I may not go march in Gay Pride parades, but if I were a caterer or a baker, I wouldn't refuse to bake a cake or do the catering at their weddings. I don't think we have to agree with anyone on everything to be friends with them--if we did have to, we'd all be pretty lonely. I confess, I'm not comfortable with sharing a public restroom with a man who's decided he's really a woman. I'm pro-life--but being pro-life shouldn't end with being opposed to abortion. What good does it do to bring children into the world, only to let them starve or be abused or abandoned? How can we turn away families, children from war-torn countries who have nowhere to go? I understand the fear of letting terrorists get in--no screening process is foolproof. But I'm reminded of a conversation I had some years ago with a man from one area church who helped the homeless. I asked if he ever worried he was giving money to con artists.

His answer: "I'd rather be helping five people who didn't really need it than miss one who did."

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sucker-Punched: What Happens When the Gimmick Goes AWOL?


Mike had done some pretty stupid things in the past, but this one took the prize. 

We were home, in California at the time--at our sister and brother-in-law's house. I found him in the living room—with a twelve-foot python. "Are you out of your mind?" I asked, pretty sure I already knew the answer before I'd even asked the question. 

"Nope. Just changing my professional image," he said, trying to pull the snake from his arm. It clearly didn’t want to let go.

I laughed. "The fans already know you're an idiot," I reminded him.

"I want to do a heel turn," he said. The snake was now trying to coil around him. "I'm going to call myself The Cobra."

I couldn't help laughing. "That's no cobra, bro. That's a python!" I pointed out.

He rolled his eyes. "Of course I'm not using a real cobra," he said, more than a little perturbed.  "Cobras are dangerous, bro!"

"Then you can't call yourself Cobra," I said.

"Why not? " 

Mike could be dumb as dirt sometimes. Too many blows to the head, I guess. Concussions really mess with your brain. "Because your slimy sidekick is a python," I said, using logic on the only one of my brothers incapable or being logical. Waste of time. “The audience will be able to tell the difference.”

Mike seemed to be trying to comprehend what I had just said. " maybe I should call myself Python? Is that what you're saying? " he wanted to know. 

"Something like that, yeah," I said. 

He gave it some thought.  "Yeah, okay...that might work," he said finally.

Mike worries me sometimes—most of the time, actually. That boy needs to be looked after.

I was in the kitchen that evening when Mike came looking for me. "We got a problem, bro," he told me.

I grabbed an apple from the basket on the counter and took a bite. "We have a problem...or you have a problem? " I asked, wondering what he'd screwed up this time. Maybe the snake was demanding top billing. Mike would probably give it to him.

"Boris is missing," he said in a low voice.

"Boris? Is he related to Waldo or something?" I asked.

"Be serious, man. The snake is missing!"

That got my attention. "What do you mean, the snake is missing? "

"Just what I said. He's freakin' gone!"

"Gone...where?" I asked. Please mean the damn thing went MIA outside.

"I dunno! I turned my back on him for two seconds and he crawled away!"

"In here? "

"Not exactly...."

Relief.  "You took him outside—"

" the living room!"

"There's an eight-foot python on the loose in Robyn and Alex's house, and you have no idea where the stupid thing might be hiding? " I asked, fighting the urge to throttle him on the spot.

Mike bobbed his head emphatically. "Yeah."

"Okay, let me ask you a question," I started. "Are your life insurance premiums paid up?” 

He nodded. "Sure. Why? " he asked.  "Boris isn't poisonous."

"Venomous," I corrected him. "And even if the damn snake can't kill you, Robyn probably will."

We spent the better part of an hour turning the house upside down, trying to find Mike's new sidekick before Alex and Robyn came home and found themselves with an unwanted houseguest. Alex might be forgiving—but Robyn, who as a rule loved animals, detested snakes. She'd be mad as hell to have one on the loose in her house.

"This is nuts," I told Mike. "It's not exactly tiny. How many hiding places can it find?"

"It'll look for someplace warm," Mike said.  "A closet, a laundry hamper, a bed...."

I halted him. "That thing could be in one of our beds?"

He thought for a minute, then nodded. "Yep."

"Alex and Robyn's bed?"

I sucked in a deep breath. "We're screwed. Big time," I concluded. "First, Robyn will kill the snake. Then, she'll kill you for bringing the snake into the house. Then she'll kill me for letting you bring the snake into the house."

We split up to search the four bedrooms. It wasn't long, though, before Mike came looking for me. He came into the room I was searching and spoke in a low voice. "Found him."

I stopped what I was doing. "Great! Where is he?"

"Robyn's closet."

"What are you waiting for?" I asked.  "Get him out of there."


Was he kidding? "Why not?"

"He's in a real bad mood, Paulie," Mike said.  "Nasty. I can't pick him up until he calms down."

I was at the end of my rope. "And how long is that going to take?"

He shrugged. "I dunno. Tomorrow, maybe."

"Tomorrow?" My voice reached a low roar at that point. "Mike, even if Robyn doesn't kill you, I just might."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My Brain is on Sabbatical, so for Your Entertainment, Here's the Comedy Team of Barack and Joe....

This election has left all of my neurons fried. Also, Collin and I got early Christmas presents today and we've been having way too much fun with them. We both wanted an Amazon Echo Dot, and they were delivered this morning. We couldn't hide them from each other--we were both home when they arrived. Besides, there will be plenty of stuff under the tree on Christmas morning. 

Anyway, in need of a brain break, today, I have for y'all a lighter look at The Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue--Obama and Biden memes! Enjoy, while I figure out if Alexa is eavesdropping or not....

For some reason, that last one has Bad to the Bone playing in my head.... 


Monday, November 14, 2016

Where Do We Go from Here and How Do We Get There?

I watched a segment on CBS Sunday Morning, a story about a county in West Virginia that went to Trump by a 4-1 majority in Tuesday's election. The people interviewed were not the "deplorable" Trump supporters that Hillary Clinton referred to, but a group of blue-collar people desperate to save their town and their livelihood. Most of the residents are coal miners. Three of the county's seven mines have been shut down. The population of McDowell County has decreased dramatically in recent years, as residents went elsewhere to find work.

Photo: CBS News

Like most of us, they demanded change from our elected officials. The Democrats failed to give us that change.

The use of fossil fuel is going the way of the dinosaurs from which it was created and cleaner sources of energy are replacing it, necessary if our planet is to survive--but I feel for these people. They can only think of the survival of themselves and their families. That's human nature. I care about the environment and the economy. Those things are important to our future. But my priorities right now are the things most important to me: Social Security and Affordable Healthcare. 

Both of these things are on the Republican chopping block.

I'm 63 years old. I chose to take Social Security early because frankly, I don't think it's going to be around when I'm 70 or even 65, if the Republicans have their way. I've advised my son, who's now 37, to make other advance arrangements for his retirement when the time comes. I wonder how long I'll be able to get those monthly checks, how much I'll get back of the money I paid into it.

As for health care, the Affordable Care Act has been a godsend. It's by no means perfect, but it's enabled me to see doctors when I need to, to get the medications I need--and there are a large number of them. I take twelve pills each day. I'm epileptic. I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Low thyroid. Arthritis. Glaucoma. Sometimes I think the list of problems I don't have is shorter than the list of everything that's wrong with me.

For the past 31 years, I've been a professional writer, a novelist--which means I'm self-employed. Before that, I worked for a major advertising agency, where I had excellent insurance, provided by my employer. I should have bought health insurance when I sold my first novel--I was making good enough money to do so. But making good money was my excuse, in a way. I just paid cash when I went to the doctor or picked up prescriptions. That was fine--at first. But chronic illness can and does wipe out one's bank accounts. My mother was diabetic and had multiple strokes. She was totally disabled and dependent upon my son and me. After my father's unexpected passing--a massive heart attack following surgery--I had an emotional meltdown, For years, I couldn't write. Eventually, the income from my books dried up, for the most part. I ended up broke and unable to keep taking all of those meds. That took a toll. These days, my eyesight is so poor, I can't read well. My concentration is better on some days than others. And arthritis makes it difficult for me to write or to even use the computer without speech recognition software.

The Affordable Care Act enabled me to get treatment for those pre-existing conditions. It's enabled me to see my doctor regularly, to get my meds and tests when needed. I had a CT scan a few months ago. Because of my insurance coverage, it only cost $49. Without coverage, I would not have had the test.

When I hear people saying they're sick of "free" this and "affordable" that, it angers me. Anyone can end up in a desperate situation. Anyone. People on welfare, people who depend on services like food stamps or  affordable healthcare are not just lazy, not all drug-addicted or mentally ill. They're mostly working class people who can't get a job that pays a living wage, people who have been laid off their jobs, people who are trying but still not making ends meet. Or people like me, who made good money but bad decisions. 

There but for the grace of God go you. Think about that when you're tempted to judge.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Sucker-Punched: Meet the Cantwell Brothers

I've been kicking this idea around for a while now. My dad was a big fan of pro wrestling, and the one thing we did as a family when I was growing up was watch wrestling every Saturday night. We'd have pizza, usually, and the three of us--Dad, Mom and me, would eat in the living room while we watched the matched and often argued with the TV. Today, Collin and I continue that family tradition--today via the WWE Network (special programming, classic matches and special events like the annual Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania) and Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live. I guess it was inevitable that I'd end up writing fiction featuring wrestlers.

I first created the five wrestling brothers, the Cantwells, while working on An Army of Angels (the latest chapter of that story is available on its own site). I was going to write it as a romantic comedy, but that didn't work, so I decided I'd post weekly installments here every Friday. Hope you enjoy it--and for those of you who have seen excerpts I posted previously, hang in there. There will be new material coming up!

Paulie Cantwell

I was in the center of the ring with my brother Mike hoisted high above my head, poised for a body slam. The crowd was roaring. It was great. I love it when the fans go crazy like that. Pro wrestling fans are the most verbal, least politically-correct fans in the world. That's what makes them so great—in my opinion, anyway. This is a crazy life, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Mike was trying to break free. “Come on, Paulie,” he gasped. “This is the third time this week!”

“They love it, Mike,” I told him. “Listen to them!”

“Listen to me, you idiot,” he shot back at me. “I'm your brother!”

“Not here, you're not,” I said, preparing to make my move. In the ring, we weren't brothers. I was the Punisher—no relation to the comic book guy—a Heel, a bad guy, of the first order, and my kid brother was a Face, a good guy known as Pretty Boy. That was a stretch. Mike's a long way from pretty.

“I love you, bro,” he pleaded.

“I love you, too.” Then I slammed him to the mat.


“Was it my imagination, or were you enjoying that, bonehead?" Mike asked when we went backstage to the locker room afterward.

I grinned. "What do you think? "

"I think you're an asshole, " my brother said. "I think you like beating the crap out of me."

"I like winning."

“I was supposed to win.”

“You did.”

“Only by disqualification.” Mike was looking for something in his locker. Pain meds, probably. Who said to be a wrestler means being in constant pain? I can't remember—but whoever he was, the dude was right. Bruises, broken bones, torn muscles, concussions....

I was about to head off to the showers but got sidetracked. The reigning heavyweight champion, Mad Dog Mueller, came barging into the locker room, duffel in hand. Mad Dog is the biggest, ugliest creature to ever walk the earth—three hundred-plus pounds of pure mean and a face that looked like it had been on the losing end of a fight with a meat cleaver. There are few movie star faces in wrestling, but Mad Dog's got a face only his legally blind mother could love. And I'm not sure about her devotion to the beast.

His match was next up and he was just getting there. "You do know you're late, right? " I asked. “You're going to be the cause of the boss' next scheduled stroke.”

Mad Dog glared at me. Most of the heels in pro wrestling are nothing like their ring personas, but Mad Dog really is a world-class jackass. "What are they gonna do, start without me? " he asked, pulling off his street clothes. "I'm the champ.  It's my show."

"Sure it is, champ, " I said, nodding. Mike was looking from one of us to the other but not saying a word. He didn't have to, really. He thought Mad Dog and me were about to brawl right there in the locker room. It wouldn't have been the first time. But no, I had no desire to roll around on the locker room floor with a naked Mad Dog. The other guys might come in and get the wrong idea, y'know?

“Mad Dog--” Mike started.

“Shut up, loser!” Mad Dog wasn't interested in anything either of us had to say. He pulled on his robe--he was one of the few who still wore a robe out to the ring anymore—and hoisted the heavyweight championship belt onto his shoulder with a smug look on his ugly mug. His entrance theme began, filling the arena with eardrum-splitting heavy metal music as he headed for the ring.

"Don't you think we should have told him? " Mike asked as we went out to the entrance to watch.

I grinned. "And ruin the surprise? No way! "

The crowd greeted old Mad Dog with the usual chant: "You suck! You suck!" He leaped into the ring and threw off his robe, his arms outstretched to allow the unworthy a view of his physique, which was a lot better than his face, visually speaking.

That's when the audience—and Mad Dog—realized he'd forgotten his trunks. The idiot was standing in the middle of the ring, in front of fifty thousand people—and—God knows how many watching on TV—butt naked!


"You did this!"  The general manager, Morty Robeson, looked to be more on the verge of a major stroke than I'd ever seen him--which was saying a lot, since the guy had been in a constant state of panic throughout most of the seven years I'd been with the company.

"Did what?" I asked, damn near choking on my own laughter. The audience was still trying to recover  from the shock of getting such an intimate look at Mad Dog, and network censors had been on the phone ever since Mad Dog dropped his robe. "Morty, the Dog's a grown man--that is, he's a grown whatever creature he is. You telling me he needs somebody to tell him to put his drawers on?"

"You distracted him, didn't you?" Morty demanded.

I had to give him that one. "Okay, he has the attention span of a gnat...but he should be able to remember his own friggin' trunks. Anyway, Mike tried to tell him. He blew Mike off."

Mike, standing next to me, nodded. "That's true, Morty. I did," he said. "He called me a wuss."

"Loser," I corrected him. "He called you a loser."

"Yeah." Mike nodded again.

Morty was not satisfied. "We could get yanked off the air!"

"Don't get your arteries in a knot, Morty," I told him. Not that he'd listen. "The Dog was late, for starters. He came cruising in here ten minutes before his match in his usual crappy mood and started shooting off his mouth. Did I know he was headed for the ring without his trunks? Yeah, I knew. Did I try to stop him? No, I did not. Frankly, I didn't think anybody could see anything, even in the front rows. The Dog ain't the most well-endowed guy in the locker room, if you know what I mean."

Morty glared at me for a moment, then stormed off in a huff. I could swear he was growling at me.

"Think we'll get suspended?" Mike asked.

I shook my head. "For what? Not babysitting a giant moron who forgot his knickers? We'd have to get paid extra for that."


There are five of us--brothers, that is. Mike, J.J., Adam, Chris and me. We're all pro wrestlers. It came naturally. From the time each of us learned to walk, all we did was fight. If we couldn't find other guys to fight with, we'd fight each other. I don't remember which of us came up with the idea of making a living at it, but it was a genius idea. Everybody should get paid to do what they love doing. We get to see the world on the company's dime, and we have women throwing themselves at us.

Okay, the truth is that none of us were ambitious enough to get real jobs.

If there's a downside to it, it's that it's hard to have anything resembling a real life. We're on the road two hundred fifty days a year...a different city every night. Try finding the right woman, having a relationship, getting married and having a home when you live out of a suitcase.

In the ring, we're not brothers.  We're rarely even tag teammates. We often find ourselves facing off against each other, and private lives are kept private. When stuff does get leaked, it's bad for business. Gotta keep up the image, you know? The bosses even give us grief if the Faces and the Heels are seen together socially. Try avoiding your own brothers in your off hours. It's not easy.

“Hey, Paulie,” J.J. called out to me from the doorway. “We're headed out to forage for food. Hungry?”

“When is he not hungry?” Mike asked, pulling on a shirt.

Adam spoke up. “We saw a place down the street—Slice of Life. We can walk there.”

The restaurant's name made me laugh. “Slice of Life—what is it, some prissy tea room?” I asked. “Can you see us in a tea room?”

“I hear they have great desserts,” Chris put in.

“Desserts?” Now that really made me laugh. “I need a steak, bro. And potatoes. As much as I love pie, it's not that filling.”

“There's a Burger King down the street,” J.J. said.

Now that appealed to me. Half a dozen Whoppers with cheese might do the trick...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Has Our National Nightmare Just Begun?

I had another post planned for today, but somehow, it no longer seems to work.

 Translation: God Forgive America

Last night, Collin and I were shocked by the results of our Presidential election--but now that I've had some sleep, some time to think about it, I'm not shocked at all. The signs were there all along. The dissatisfaction with politics as usual in our country has been apparent for a long time. The fear felt by so many has been no secret. I've lost track of how many people--myself included--have openly stated we've had it with political correctness. The idea of thousands of Syrian refugees being brought into the US terrifies many, who wonder how many of them could be sent by ISIS. There are millions of people who resent that illegal immigrants come into our country and receive benefits that should be reserved for our citizens and legal immigrants. There's conflict over gay and transgender rights taking priority over others. Public restrooms have become a hot topic. Gay marriage could have been accepted as a matter of live and let live, but it didn't end there. Evangelical Christians, whose beliefs prohibit them from taking part in a gay marriage ceremony, found themselves forced to do so as caterers, wedding planners, etc. To refuse too often resulted in lawsuits that forced some of them out of business. 

Personally, I wouldn't want someone planning or catering my wedding if they felt so strongly opposed to me or to it. I'd just find another bakery, caterer, or wedding planner. Sadly, this has created even more conflict. Live and let live hasn't been an option.

The people demanded change, and last night, we got it.  Both The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert's Showtime election night special were planned to poke fun at the end of this long and often hostile campaign--but found themselves struggling to find humor in the early returns. I think everyone saw early on how it was going to end.

We had as our choices for President the two most unpopular candidates on record--but there was a decided difference. Those who did support Donald Trump were wildly enthusiastic and hopeful. Most of those who supported Hillary Clinton were doing so begrudgingly, having had their candidate of choice, Senator Bernie Sanders, eliminated by the machinations of the DNC in general and one Debbie Wasserman-Schultz specifically. There's no substitute--no fanfare, no celebrity appearances, nothing--for genuine enthusiastic followers.

The lines were long at the polls yesterday. It started to rain as we were leaving our polling place. I feel like the time we spent waiting to vote was wasted. But at least I got lunch at Taco Bell.

So where do we go from here? Collin says he's willing to take President-elect Trump at his word and hope he means what he says about doing what's best for our country. America has survived a great deal. Will we survive this as well? I hope so. I hope Mr. Trump delivers on his promises to bring change for the better. I guess it's a matter of viewpoint. Only time will tell.