An Unbearable message to an unbearable decade

Dear 2000, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9:

Bugger off.

All of you, you dirty, rotten, no good, low down, two-timing, yellow-bellied, double crossing, back stabbing, snakes in the grass.

I didn’t think 2009 could be worse than 2008 but do you know what? It was! It just goes to show you that it’s never safe to set your expectations. I don’t use this forum to vent my troubles. I choose to leave out the dreary stuff. Plus, I was raised to pretend that everything is okay, even when it’s not. Don’t talk about it and perhaps it’ll just go away.

[Ms. Daisyfae, do you think that’s an Ohio/Midwest thing? I’ve always considered that mine was a problem of geography.]

But take my word for it, 2009 was no picnic for me or the people around me.

Ten years ago, Mrs. Wife and I welcomed the new decade wile dancing at Bruce Springsteen’s New Years Eve party. It’s one of the top five nights of my life. Tonight we’re in the family room wrapped in the red blanket and watching Ed Harris tear his guts out as Jackson Pollock.

Okay. As Mr. Bukowski put it, scramble two.

Happy New Year to my readers. Your attention is a gift to me.

Very bad parenting skills

We visited the Cleveland Science Center. I’ve never been a big science center kind of guy but when you’re in Cleveland in December, you either have to find indoor activities for the kiddies to burn off their energy or suffer the consequences.

There were some really cool exhibits. They had a working Theramin. That’s the device that makes weird spacey sounds when you wave your hand near it. It’s featured in Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys. They also had a plasma tube. There’s an electric current running inside and if you touch the side of the glass, the current attached itself to your fingers.


How neat is that?! I called 3-Year Old Daughter over. I wanted a picture of her grasping the tube. I thought it would make for a nice blog photo. She reached up and lightly touched it with the tip of her index finger. I wanted her to have a better connection so I pressed her palm against the tube.


WAAAHHHH! Daddy you PINCHED ME! AAaaagghhh! I want MOMMY!

Do this, don’t do that,
can’t you read the signs?

Five Man Electrical Band


Teach your children well (about Romanburgers)

I introduced 8-Year Old Daughter to one of Cleveland’s finer culinary offerings. This…


…is a Romanburger. As of this writing, you cannot buy one in either New York or New Jersey. You have to go to Cleveland and get them at Mr. Hero.

You take two cheeseburgers made from beef of questionable quality, lay them side-by-side in a soft Italian roll on a bed of lettuce, tomatoes and onions, gently sprinkle on some of Mr. Hero’s Italian “oil’n spice,” slather it with their “special recipe” mayo and then (here comes the game-changer) you lay on some grilled Genoa Salami and Italian Luncheon loaf.

That’s right. It’s a cheeseburger with grilled lunch meat. Pure genius. You want to lick the screen, don’t you? It’s trademarked, so don’t get any ideas.

Mrs. Wife said, “That looks gross.” 8-Year Old Daughter approves. I rest my case.

* * *

Random observation: Drivers in Cleveland signal their lane changes about 80% of the time. A big gold star for you guys!

Try not to let this happen to you

When visiting my family in Cleveland, we always stay in a hotel. We are certainly welcome to stay at my sibling’s house, but nobody really has the room to accommodate a family of four and staying in a hotel makes life much easier for everyone. The first few times we did this, I think my mother was insulted that we didn’t stay with her in her tiny condo. But as the years passed, she eventually agreed that it made sense.

We usually get a suite at the Hampton Inn. It has a separate living room, bedroom and small kitchen. The Daughters can go to bed at their usual early hour and we can shut the bedroom door, which allows us to stay up for a while and gossip about the day’s events.

There’s a free breakfast served in the lobby and we’ve been coming her for so many years that the two elderly breakfast hostesses, Peggy and Loretta, know us and make a big fuss when they see The Daughters. They’re like two junior high school lunch room grannies. Two days ago, Peggy seemed so genuinely and weirdly overjoyed to see the girls that Mrs. Wife and I were a bit taken aback.

The best part of staying in a hotel is that we can leave the room in the morning with beds unmade and towels in heaps on the floor and when we return in the afternoon, it’s as though elves came in and waved magic wands and restored the room to it’s pre-wrecked condition. Do you suppose that would happen if I stayed at my sister’s house? Nay, I can assure you, it would not.

The sad part of this happy scene—the part that breaks my heart every time we come here—is the couple who provide the maid service. They are an elderly man and woman who, I believe, are husband and wife. And when I say elderly, I mean that they look to be in their 70s. The man walks hunched over and they both always look so beat and tired. They shouldn’t be working at all, much less going from room to room making beds and cleaning toilets. I can only assume they do this because they have to.

Nobody should have to live like that when they’re septuagenarians. What’s wrong with this country? The hotel is part of the Hilton chain and when I consider the fact that that nitwit Paris Hilton, who does nothing and is nothing, is living indirectly off of the labor of these two, it makes me wretch for the injustice of it. I can’t stand bumping into them but I always do.

The Bar That Time Forgot

We are in lovely Cleveland visiting family. This is the first holiday season without mom around. I thought it potentially could have been a sad and dreary trip but it’s been none of that. Quite the opposite, actually. I am happy to report that my sister has nailed my mother’s marinara sauce recipe. When I close my eyes, I could swear it came from mom’s kitchen. It tastes like home.

One of my best friends who I grew up with got involved with drugs and ended up in jail for a short while. This nonsense didn’t occur until he was in his 40s. Prior to that, he had never been in any kind of trouble. It was a shock when it happened. He was divorced but he has a son, a solid job and friends and family.

Then he met a woman who was devastatingly attractive, extraordinary in bed (by all accounts) and, unfortunately, a drug addict. A lethal combination.

Many a good man has been put under the bridge by a woman.

Charles Bukowski

We met for drinks. He told me a few funny stories about his parole officer. He had a hard time finding work after jail but eventually he did, and his life has stabilized. He’s a smart guy and I can’t imagine him relapsing.

We met at a pub that turned out to be packed. There were no seats at the bar. I hate that. It was Saturday night so we should have expected it. The older you get, the more you grow to appreciate an empty bar. There’s a direct correlation between how crowded a bar is and the ratio of patrons who will inevitably annoy you. Multiply by a factor of 5x if there’s a TV showing a sports event. This equation does not apply if there’s a live band playing.

He said, “You want a bar stool? I know where we can get a bar stool.” We drove to a bar whose exterior looked like painted cinder blocks. There were two cars in the lot and I’m sure one of them belonged to the barkeep.

We walked into a massive cloud of cigarette smoke. Like most major cities, Cleveland has a ban on indoor smoking, but I was told that nobody cares what happens in this place. It fell off the map. There were only six other people sitting at the bar and they were all chain smoking. A few of them were there alone and sported mullet haircuts. It’s a Cleveland bar that’s stuck in a time warp. You can bet your ass we got seats at the bar. I ordered Budweiser because I was afraid to order anything fancier than that.