Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

I Will Work to 5 p.m.


It’s a beautiful Friday morning. A spectacular view from my deck

The sun is radiant. The birds are sweetly singing. The flowers drenched in dew.

But I will not be enjoying any of this amazing splendor

For I work from home and I’m due in my office soon

And I am an extremely dedicated employee, so                

I will work to 5 p.m.                                                       

Wow, the sun is so bright I can barely see the monitor

The soft, summer breeze gently flutters the papers on my desk

The view from the window is spectacular too. What a great day it is

But there is much work to be done, and I will do it

Because I am so thoroughly committed to the task. And

I will work to 5 p.m.


Now Mr. Bird is just tweeting up a storm

Just chirping away, since he can enjoy this beautiful day

He is not stuck in his home office doing useful work

He seems really happy, too happy

Shut your beak, Mr. Bird. I cannot join you, because

I will work to 5 p.m.


Oh, it’s so gorgeous outside and I am getting older

I may not have many of these wonderful days left

But there are important spreadsheets to produce

Critical reports to write, and essential emails to send

So even though I am tempted to escape this

I will work to 5 p.m.


Yes, I will work hard and I will work well

Unfazed by the glory before me

There, I have completed some work!

What time is it? Maybe 5 p.m.????

Mr. Clock says it’s only 10:37. This is so unfair, but

I will work to 5 p.m.


Ah, lunchtime out on the deck

The sun is hot now, but the day is exceptional

I finish my sammich and ice tea

Perhaps I can stay here awhile longer

Enjoying God’s beauty and creation, but no

I will work to 5 p.m.


Whoa, my neighbor next door is sunbathing in her thong bikini

Look at how the sweat glistens on her body

Maybe I could go over and visit with her?

I could offer to rub sunscreen all over her body

But I won’t, and she won’t distract me, because

I will work to 5 p.m.


A day like this is for frolicking

For running barefoot through the grass

For stopping to smell the flowers

For basking in the cozy sun

But none of that for me! For

I will work to 5 p.m.


I know the people at headquarters are working hard

Even though I have not received an email or call from them in hours

Look, the report says it is warm and sunny there too!

I’m sure they are all inside producing excellence also

I will not let them down. I will venture on. I will finish the week strong

I will work to 5 p.m.


And look! It is 5 p.m.!

I know it was a bad idea to listen to that Jimmy Buffet song

But it is really is 5 o’clock somewhere                                    


And it’s immaterial that Mr. Clock can be manually adjusted

Who trusts those satellite-controlled clocks anyway? So,

I will work to 5 p.m.


It’s time to bask and frolic in the sun

To listen and appreciate Mr. Bird’s song

To lounge around and enjoy the day

To relax on the deck with something bolder than iced tea

And look! My neighbor needs another coat of sunscreen!

And I am proud of myself, because

I have worked to 5 p.m.!
(Sort of)

Note: I will be taking my traditional summer break to work on editing my third book.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Poor Nathan – Poor, Poor Nathan


The scorching Florida sun was baking me like a potato. The heat index just hit triple digits; my bald head drenched with sweat. My long day on the beach was done.

I longed for the cooling jet of the spray station and my air-conditioned hotel
room. But it would be a most laborious journey back there. My right foot was badly swollen due to illness. I began the trek, every step on the shifting sands was painful.

I just needed to get across the beach to the spray station, an oasis as it were. I craved the cool water pouring over my steamed body, washing all the sand away. I trudged on, foot throbbing, hoping there would be no waiting at that fountain. I was fried, tired, thirsty and in pain.

I was joyful when I spotted the two spray stations up ahead. One was open, the other occupied by a mother and her two small children. I would be able to rinse off quickly and be on my way.

But then suddenly I spot three people off in the distance headed right for the open spray station. Under normal conditions, I would have quickened my pace and arrived there well before them. But I had no pace, I had one speed, a slow slog. I was still fifty feet away, when they got to the open shower. I felt like the Biblical paralytic who was always too late getting to the pool.

My attention quickly shifted to the young mother. She had already rinsed herself and was finished washing her daughter. All she had to do is clean her young boy and that spray station was mine!

But I watched in horror as the boy left his mother’s side and scurried about twenty feet away. I didn’t know his name, but soon everyone in the general vicinity would.

"NATHAN, NATHAN! Come here and get rinsed”, she yelled.

But poor Nathan was being a little snot, and Nathan would not come.

“NATHAN, NATHAN! COME HERE NOW”, she pleaded.

But poor Nathan would not budge. He then turned his back to his mother and pretended not to hear her.

The woman was getting upset and screeched “NATHAN, NATHAN! GET OVER HERE NOW!”

Poor Nathan responded to this by moving another five feet from her, never even looking back.

She screamed, “NATHAN, NATHAN, RIGHT NOW !!!”

But poor Nathan was now being a little $h!+ and didn’t even flinch.
And into this drama, now enters the fat, middle-age, bald guy, perspiring greatly from the agonizing trudge across the hot sand.

What to do, what to do? I could wait for that little $h!+ Nathan to obey his mother and get rinsed, or I could step up, pull that lever and feel the cool water running over my sweltering body.

I suppose the charitable thing to do would have been to join the mother in a chorus of pleas for poor Nathan and wait patiently for him to respond.

Her: Nathan, please come Nathan

Me: Oh poor Nathan, please go to your mother like a good boy. Nathan, don’t be such a little $h!+. Come Nathan, please come. Your mother beckons you, Nathan.

Well, I’m not the nurturing type and who knows how long it was going to take to get poor Nathan over to that spray station?  And the sun was hot. Did I mention the heat and sweat and all that? And my foot ….

So without hesitation, and without even looking at the woman, I walked right over to the shower and turned on the water. And what happened next?

You have never seen a five-year-old run twenty-five faster than poor Nathan did. I actually didn’t see it. I was too busy washing off. But I heard him arrive back at the spray station, gasping for air.

“But it was my turn”, poor Nathan declared. Poor Nathan, poor, poor Nathan.
And poor Nathan was correct. It was his turn, but because he had been such a little /$h!+, he had now lost his turn. And now it was my turn. Poor Nathan, poor, poor Nathan.

Poor Nathan kept protesting, as his mother explained he would now have to wait. Of course, I totally ignored him. Yes, how does it feel poor Nathan when someone ignores you, like you just ignored your mother?  It doesn’t feel very good, now does it? Poor Nathan, poor, poor Nathan.

And then poor Nathan began to cry. Oh, not real tears. It was that fake-y type of crying and a weak attempt at it, I must say. It was so lame, I had to keep from laughing out loud, but of course I kept my head down as I smirked (I’m a smirker). Poor Nathan, poor, poor Nathan.

I finished washing up, neither going faster, nor slower, than I normally would. I turned off the water and left the area without acknowledging the mother or the boy. I imagine poor Nathan did not have to be persuaded much to rinse off this time.

Now you make consider me a big snot or even a big $h!+ for my conduct, but I have no guilt, no remorse. I feel that I was a guru teaching this youth an important truth. And poor Nathan learned a valuable life lesson that day about seizing an opportunity before it disappears. Sometimes these lessons are painful. Not as painful as dragging a swollen foot across the beach, but painful nonetheless. Poor Nathan, poor, poor Nathan.

As I trudged back to the hotel, I couldn’t help to lament over and over again. Poor Nathan, poor, poor Nathan.



Wednesday, June 26, 2019

An Unusual 10-Year Celebration


June 26, 2009 – One of the worst days of my entire life.

The day before, I was deep in my comfort zone. I was sooooooooo comfortable – like sitting in a soft, easy chair with a bottomless bag of Doritos, comfortable. There was no need to try new stuff, meet new people or do anything challenging, because that would require me to leave the comfort zone - and that wasn’t going to happen.

But then Boom! – out of nowhere, I was separated from my job of 16 years. I had done nothing wrong. I was well respected in my trade, but the Great Recession was devastating to the trucking industry.

The human psyche is not equipped to handle a sudden drop from the top to the bottom, especially when you aren’t at fault. I guess I took it kind of hard. I barfed every morning for a few weeks. I was actually losing a pound of weight every day. I was joyous the morning my weight stabilized – I wasn’t going to waste away a pound at a time, I was going to live!

The mental challenge was just as difficult. I was cast out at the very bottom of the job market and there were no jobs. None. My first search on Monster.com yielded one job, that I was marginally qualified for, and was two months old. My old friend Roger, who I reconnected with ten years ago in a job seekers group, reminded me last month that: “We thought we would never work again”. He remembers correctly.

To fill the idle time, I began writing an economic blog in September 2009. I credit the blog with preserving my sanity during this ordeal. And I was writing every week for the first time since college, which greatly sharpened my skills. Writing this blog led to writing my humor blog, which led to … whoa… we’re getting ahead of things.

I also began to network and meet hundreds of new people. Very diverse people, much more interesting than the people I interacted with on most days. (My new friends are great. I love ya!)

But I had to climb out of what seemed like an enormous pit. At the beginning, I looked backward a lot - at the comfort zone, at the good job, at many things. There comes a time, however, when you have to rip off the rear view mirror and cast it aside. The future is ahead of you, not behind, and there is only one direction to move, forward, not reverse.

It took me nine months to secure my first real interview, for a job I was only partially qualified for and didn’t really want. But it was the only opportunity out there, so I went after it full throttle. I was so intense during the interview, that after I got home, I discovered I had literally sweated blood. It’s called hematidrosis and it most often occurs in soldiers before going into a fierce battle. Even though there were more qualified applicants, I got the job.

Yes, I was on my way back, but I was far from where I needed to be.  The next four years were brutal at times. Besides some family sufferings (my mother’s death and wife’s illness), I worked at jobs that were boring and at places where I didn’t fit in. I experienced numerous rejections and failures both at work and in the job market. Even though it felt good to have a job, at times I still detested my situation. It is said: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” That may be true, but what doesn’t kill you still hurts like hell.

However, the hard times help you develop valuable skills that you’re not cognizant of at the time. You learn to be rejected repeatedly, but not stop trying. You learn to keep moving forward, despite being in great pain. And most importantly, you learn how to get up after up after being knocked down, each time spending less time on the ground.

And then after four years of struggle, Boom! My dream job just appears out of nowhere and falls into my lap. No effort, no struggle, no sweat. In a moment, I had I plunged from the top to the bottom and now I had soared from the bottom to the top. Ain’t life funny in that way? After being repeatedly rejected, when you know that you are more than good enough, and being so dead inside, it’s a wonderful feeling to be brought back to life and given a second chance. It’s called redemption, and redemptions should not be wasted.

The last five years of my life have been amazing! But I’m not going to list my accomplishments here. That would be too arrogant. If you want see them, just Google me. Yes, I am now Googleable. If you do Google me, 28 of the first 30 returns are just about me, and 35 of the first 40. No brag, just fact.

Google me ten years ago? Lots of blank pages. I am so dynamic that one woman who knew me on both a business and social basis, thought I was two different people. A scary thought, isn’t it?

During the last ten years I have never returned to the comfort zone. In fact, I have done many things that make me uncomfortable, such as returning to the stand-up comedy stage for one night, just to prove I could do it. It’s remarkable what you can accomplish when you have no fear of failure. And of course, you only lose that fear by failing repeatedly.

At times I think I know how Evil Knievel approached his trade. As I told my friend “Ski” before I published my first book, “I’m going for this. I’ve just spent four years developing an asbestos suit. I may crash, but I will not burn”. And I was right, I have crashed several times, have gotten back up smoldering, and keep moving forward. Because of course, there is only one direction to go.

In the past, in that comfort zone, it was fairly easy to stop me by placing obstacles in my way. Now, it is easy to slow me down, but much harder to stop me. And if you stand in my way, be careful. Sometimes I choose not to go around.

My most cherished achievements are my two books. I had a goal to write a book after I retired, but I ended up attaining that goal nine years earlier than planned. If you had told me in 2009, I would publish a book in 2015, I would have laughed hysterically. One does not try such foolish ventures from the comfort zone.

And if you want extreme discomfort, try writing and publishing a book. It is one of the humbling and ego-bruising endeavors you can ever do. You guys only see the good stuff I post on social media or you read elsewhere. You don’t see the rejections, the failures, the pain. It is said that for an author to be successful, he needs to grow an elephant skin.

That’s why most authors stop after their first book. You have to be a bit crazy to write one book, you are insane to choose to go through that process a second time. What personal qualities do you need to publish a second book?   

Well, you need to be able to be repeatedly rejected, but to keep on trying. You must be able to keep moving forward, despite being in great pain. And most importantly, you must be able to get up quickly after getting knocked down repeatedly.

What’s the most important trait for an author? It’s not the ability to write well, thousands of people can do that. It’s perseverance. And perseverance is not something you get by reading about it, or practicing for. You have to learn how to walk through that fire without getting burned. And yes, there are plans for a third book to be released next year. I just have to let the smoke dissipate a bit more.

My good friend, and successful author, Julie Lindsey, puts it this way: “Only the unstoppable succeed.” Ten years ago, that adjective didn’t describe me. I was stopped, stationary, not wanting to move out of that comfort zone. The place I am at today is so much deeper and richer than where I was before. When I think about what my life would be like now if I had not been so rudely thrown out of that comfort zone, it make me want to ….. Well, you get the idea.

Last night my wife and I went out to celebrate this 10-year anniversary, an
action that at one time would have been unfathomable just a few years ago. We went to an expensive restaurant at a local vineyard. We toasted with the most expensive bottle of wine in the place. I don’t know anything about wine, heck I don’t even really enjoy wine, but this was a special night. When I told my friend Lori about my plan, she laughed and said “What are going to do? Go down the wine list and pick the most expensive bottle?”

Yes, that’s exactly what I did. Because I can. Because after ten years I deserve this. I deserve every drop (even though I did share with my wife). And no matter if I selected a marlow, cabinay, pee-no or cherdinay, (it was an imported Italian red) let me tell you, it tasted sweet. It tasted oh so sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

June 26, 2009 – One of the best days of my entire life.

Monday, June 10, 2019

I Declare Shenanigans on TV Advertising


Shenanigans (def): Devious tricks used especially for underhanded purposes.

Shenanigans In TV Advertising

Case #1

There’s a commercial with “financial experts” advising you to invest huge amounts of money in silver. They say the stuff is cheap and if it goes up to its all-time high you are going to make a boatload of cash. (Of course, it only ever hit that price once, for a short time) Only smart people will in silver, and you are very smart, so buy some smart guy. 

But: These guys are getting paid big bucks to hype silver, just so the silver company can get your big bucks. I hope they actually own some silver, but I can’t image they own much because: SILVER IS A VERY RISKY INVESTMENT! It’s more like spinning the wheel in Vegas than investing in a certificate of deposit.

All they talk about is the huge reward, with no mention of the huge risk. So …

I DECLARE SHENANIGANS!


Case #2

There are several commercials about financial products which begin with older people hearing about some new-fangled type of thing that sounds “too good to be true” but then someone says they “did some research” and found out it was true, and it’s spectacular! Believe it! Believe it! Believe it!

But:  They did no research. None. They are impostors reading a script that says “I did some research”. Did they tell you to do your own research? No, they want you to call now, because that lackey has allegedly already done the research for you. The most ridiculous ad features a wealthy “real” actor, whose home is probably worth $6-million, saying he “did some research on reverse mortgages”. 

Dude, if you mismanaged your multi-millions so horribly that you now need a reverse mortgage, then you are the last person I want to take financial advice from. So …

I DECLARE SHENANIGANS!


Case #3:

This commercial is about a men’s razor with a new whiz-bang design, that of course shaves closer than ever before without irritation! The guy in this ad claims he suffered for many years from shaving irritation but now, “this razor has changed my life”.

But: Hey Pal, Jesus can change your life. All this razor does is improve your shave. If your life is this dull, you don’t need a new razor, you need a new life! So …

I DECLARE SHENANIGANS!


Case #4:

Numerous commercials for pillows, insurance, satellite TV, chicken, etc., where the spokesperson suddenly appears in people’s houses and starts hawking their goods.

But: How did these salespeople get into the houses? Unlawful entry is a crime. And in houses of where people own guns for protection, these commercials would end suddenly!

“My insurance is better … BLAMO!

“Here’s some chicken … BOOM!

“Hey, do you want 180 channels … BLASTO!

The commercial with the pillow guy is creepy because he is somehow magically staring out through the other side of the medicine cabinet. But the woman he is talking to is wrapped in a towel, as if she just got out of the shower. Which means if the guy was peeking out from that cabinet ….. Whoa Nelly! So…

I DECLARE SHENANIGANS!

  
Case #5:

Numerous commercials for weight loss plans that promise to ship delicious (and very expensive) food right to your door! All you have to do is eat the food and the pounds fly right off!

But: Well, I do believe they are telling the truth that if you eat the stuff they send, you will lose a bunch of weight. I’m just not sure what you are eating is real food. I think it is all made from the same high-fiber goop and then “food artists” make it look and taste like something else. So that delicious lasagna they are all excited about is really just a lump of fiber painted red. And if you’re eating that much fiber at every meal, you’re going crap for five hours a day – and those pounds are going to fly right off! So …

I DECLARE SHENANIGANS!


Case #6

The hundreds of prescription drug commercials that promise to improve your life immeasurably if you can fork over some serious cash and survive that long list of terrible side effects.

The people in these commercials look so happy that it looks like they may actually be glad they have the ailment, just so they are able to take this wonderful pill.

But: If fact, they just look too giddy. It makes you wonder what’s in that pill. Could all of these drugs just be different forms of medical marijuana? Maybe they snuck some LSD in there! “Look Grandpa is dancing down the middle of the road through traffic because he just dropped some acid!”

My favorite side effects are “confusion” – how are you going to know that the medicine is causing side effects if you’re confused? And “genital yeast infection in men”. Does that mean the drug causes you to grow a vagina, which then is infected? And if you get this infection, who do you think treats it? You want to clear out the locker room after golf league? As a man say, “Yes I am getting better. My gynecologist thinks it will be all cleared up in a week”.

Something is wrong with all these supposedly afflicted people being soooooo happy. So …

I DECLARE SHENANIGANS!


Case #7

The commercials for new incontinence briefs as “sexy”. I know that the new products are much improved over the old products. Women and men feel better wearing something that doesn’t look and feel like an adult diaper.

But: It is still a diaper, a fancy diaper, but a diaper nonetheless. So don’t go showing it off to anybody and it’s best to still remove it as fast as possible in those “boudoir moments”. It does look better than before, but it is by no means “sexy” so …

I DECLARE SHENANIGANS!

Case #8 

There is a local commercial which shows a senior citizen riding up to her
assisted living apartment on her motorcycle. There is so much wrong here. If you are able to drive a motorcycle, you obviously do not need assisted living. And if you do need assisted living, you certainly should not be on a motorcycle.

But: If you do take the bike out for a spin, I hope you are wearing the briefs mentioned above, just in case you hit a bump.

No! Assisted living and motorcycles do not mix! So …

I DECLARE SHENANIGANS!




Tuesday, May 28, 2019

We Are Tweeting Away Like 12-Year-Olds


My least favorite school years by far were the ones spent in junior high (that would be 7th and 8th grade, for those of you much older or younger).  Everyone was going through adolescence together, with all sorts of changes happening in our bodies and our brains. We were on the way to adulthood, seeking our identity and starting to form and express our unique opinions on the world around us.

And of course, we began to express these opinions about the world which was nearest to us, our fellow students. Junior-highers were (and still are), judgmental, catty, shallow, nasty and malicious about the pettiest things. Some of my classmates were vicious with their comments and actions. I don’t think this rite of passage has really changed much over time.

There was this kid Andrew, who found my weak spot and embarrassed me in front of my peers at every opportunity. I hated it, but I couldn’t stop his insults. Looking back, I should have just punched him hard, right in the face. I didn’t, because I was told it would be “put on your permanent record”. Which of course, was a big lie. There was no record, and what existed was by no means permanent. Of course today, with databases and government surveillance, I do probably have one.

Those junior high experiences are so traumatic that they stay with you for a long time.  Around 20 years later, I heard that Andrew had tragically died prematurely.  And my reaction was:

I’m glad Andrew’s dead.

He was a mean, rotten, S.O.B.

He was an awful person who picked on me, but he won’t pick on me or anyone else ever again, because the bass-turd is dead.

I wonder where he’s buried, so I can go take a wizz on his grave.

Ha! Just kidding. I wouldn’t hold that much of a grudge for that long! C’mon, everything I just expressed was just a joke. Well, everything after “I’m glad Andrew’s dead.”

But the great news is we all moved beyond that vicious immaturity and became pleasant, responsible adults. Well, most of us did. Some people never matured out of this life-stage. They are the people who are the mean, jerks today. They are the people you avoid, the people your old classmates talk despairingly about, and the people who upset you the most. With that bad attitude those people tend to not go far in life. Many times, when people ask me what’s wrong with a person, my reply is “He/she never advanced beyond junior high school”.

But now there is a force, an irresistible evil force. Pulling people back, back to their immature junior high days. Causing them to relentlessly spew all matter of callous, catty, hateful judgmental comments on anyone and everyone throughout the world. Yes, I’m referring to social media, and more specifically
Twitter.

Somehow, someway we have reverted back to being 12-years old, with all of the immaturity that comes with it. We feel the need to be critical about anything and anyone we choose. We are extremely judgmental and petty and everyone is up in everybody’s bidness, and the results are not pretty.

We are swimming in a cesspool of judgements about how people raise their kids, what people wear, how people look, what people do and what people say,etc. Just like junior high!

Look at the hideous thing she is wearing!

Wow, that kid is really fat – and look at his hair!

Can you believe she said that about Kathy?

I think Jeff is such a turd, don’t you?

You have 350-pound guys tweeting that the lousy shortstop should have been able to make that play, when they can’t even exert enough effort to get off the couch.  To this I say: “Hey you! You are an authority on Cheetos, not playing major-league shortstop. So why don’t you tweet about Cheetos instead? Hey, I heard they just came out with a new flavor!

You have women offering scathing criticism about how awful that bombshell looks in that dress. And oh, those shoes! I’m guessing these fashion critics are wearing flip-flops with their hair all pinned up. They couldn’t look as good as the women they diss if they spent three hours a day in the gym and spent $30,000 on cosmetic surgery.  Regardless of what she’s wearing, she still looks hot, so why not keep your catty thoughts to yourself? And now, about that trip to the gym …..

And these Twitter wars eventually result in everyone calling everyone a pooppyhead…

Tweet: You’re a poopyhead

Response Tweet: Oh yeah? You’re a bigger poppyhead

Second Response Tweet: Really? You’re in the Poopyhead Hall of Fame

You see? Twitter and other outlets have made us all return to the halls of junior high school where we can hurl mean spit balls at whomever we choose. And this temptation is pervasive. No one is immune. If we continue on this path, someday even the President of the United States may exhibit this very same type of behavior! Wait, what? Oh yeah ………..

Full disclosure: I am so dog-gone important that I have two, yes two, Twitter accounts. One personal, and one professional.  It is a crushing blow to my ego that after eight years, I have just 288 followers on my personal handle. My professional account has a whopping 275 (ooh, it’s a race). But I don’t tweet much. I guess I just have trouble putting down my thoughts in shorts bursts. Perhaps I would gain more followers if I called more people poopyheads.

Seems to me most of these Twitter-critics should be spending more time on improving themselves instead of looking for deficiencies in others and then tweeting about it. If you have everything in your life running smoothly and you have enough spare time, tweet away! In other words: Get your bidness together before you worry about other people’s bidness. But then, if you have your life under control, there is really no need to make petty judgements about other people, is there?

I realize I myself have made some judgements in this post. You may disagree with them, but if you do, you are just a, just a … super poopyhead!



Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Stick This Right Up Your Asparagus


This week I noticed an article in the Food section of the newspaper trumpeting a new asparagus salad recipe. The first four paragraphs gushed about how great this recipe makes the asparagus taste!  


My reaction: IF YOU GOTTA SELL IT, SELL IT THAT BADLY, IF YOU GOTTA WORK THAT HARD – THEN THE STUFF TASTES AWFUL, REALLY AWFUL.

Now you might be saying, “But I like asparagus”. That’s fine, but when did we start worrying about you, instead of focusing on me? Which of course, is my only concern.

You can eat all the asparagus you want. Preferably in the darkness of your basement, with the vent on, so people nearby don’t have to breath the noxious fumes and have their meal ruined. And don’t forget to clean up the kitchen before you go, including that putrid brown asparagus goop that is always left over.

Does the writer of this article really think they can conceal the presence of asparagus in this salad? No, serve me this junk, and I will eat around it as skillfully as a dog avoids a small pill hidden in his Alpo. My relatives still talk about the Thanksgiving when someone thought it would be a great idea to try a new stuffing recipe, which included mixing pieces of squash in it.

Why, oh why, would someone risk ruining, utterly ruining, Thanksgiving by polluting one of the greatest foods on Earth with a foreign object? They probably read some foolhardy recipe in the newspaper about a brand-new stuffing dish that would be all the rave that Thanksgiving.

That day I had an important choice to make. I could either let my whole Thanksgiving dinner be ruined or I could improvise. So, I took my usually huge helping of stuffing and dug in. At the end of the meal, the stuffing was completely gone, but there was a big pile of yellow bits on my plate.

“Oh, you didn’t like the squash?”

Apparently not. Alas, the stuffing still tasted funny, because you can eat around that crap, but it still contaminates it. Worst Thanksgiving ever.

I will eat asparagus under distress. Like when I’m at a high-falutin luncheon someplace where they think they can impress you by serving a high-class vegetable. Problem is, it’s usually served with a small piece of pork and a couple small “girly-type” red-skin potatoes. I have to eat the asparagus because it’s all I got. But it actually works out just fine. After I send the stuff down the chute, I am no longer hungry ….

My Stomach: Don, I don’t know what I have done to upset you, but please, please, just stop with the asparagus. If it was my reaction to the sriracha sauce last week, I apologize.  Now I will digest this stuff for you, but please, please, no more, I’m begging you.

To you menu planners out there: Could ya just serve some green beans? Some nice, fresh, tasty, green beans, instead of the awful asparagus? Green beans. They are green, they are vegetables, AND THEY FREAKIN’ TASTE GOOD!

I have even seen asparagus offered as an appetizer on some distinguished food tables. And while it does qualify as a “free appetizer”, it will never, ever grace my plate. Let’s see, I could have the bacon-wrapped mushroom, the spicy meatball, perhaps the grilled shrimp …. or the asparagus? HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA (evil laugh).

To me asparagus is the anti-appetizer, due to the opinions previously expressed by my stomach. Maybe on my next diet, I will start every meal with some asparagus. On second thought – maybe not.

Now the weird thing is that I should like asparagus. My mother was so influential in my food preferences. She taught me:

-       Raspberries are the fruit of the gods
-       Steaks are always eaten well-done
-       Scrambled eggs are only eaten with catsup
-       Fried egg sandwiches are only eaten with mustard
-       Good fish does not smell like fish
-       City Chicken is a delicacy
-       Strawberries are always eaten with shortcake

There is only one food, only one, that my mother enjoyed whose preference was not passed down to her son. My mother loved asparagus, and as you might have deduced, I do not.  

So this guy thinks he is going to have more influence over me than the woman I suckled from? GET REAL!

Now there is this outrageous movement by some so-called fancy food connoisseurs to try to convince people to eat disgusting stuff. It reminds me of what kids did as pranks in junior high school. “Let’s see if we can get Timmy to do this!” Now it’s: “Let’s see if we can get people to actually eat this!”

So now there is this constant stream of Internet and newspaper articles promoting the tastiness of all sorts of crap. They recommend such things as bugs, assorted fungi, larvae, tarantulas, rotten cheese, and maggots. Personally, I would also include kale on the barf list, although I know some people enjoy it.

There is even a coffee called, kopi luwak, which is made from coffee beans collected from the feces of an Indonesian cat.  Incredibly, in the spirit of Dave Barry, I am not making this up. No thanks, I’ll just have some Maxwell House.

But are any of these new weird foods better that a hot corned beef sandwich on rye? With pickle, mustard and fresh chips? And it hasn’t even been pooped out by a cat! Eat the corned beef and forget about all the weirdo substances these morons are trying to get you to try. EAT THE &@%# CORNED BEEF.

So, I hope you all learned something important today. Which is, if you are considering inviting me over for steaks this summer, I like mine well-done. And if you are serving a summer salad with the meal, macaroni is good, pasta is fine, even broccoli with sunflower seeds is rather tasty, but under no circumstances should you put any asparagus in that salad.