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 27, 2021

I Cry “Fowl” – But the turkeys are innocent

There have been lots of changes in the neighborhood over the past year. This impacts me since I work at home and am now middle-aged, which means change irritates me. I can remember years ago laughing at those old fogeys who would get riled up over any type of change. But I’m not laughing anymore.

The new neighbor behind me cut down the woods. The view is much different, but in some ways better. Possibly because of this, the turkeys only visited a few times last winter. But if you have read “Turkey Terror At My Door!,” you know the turkeys scarfed my birdseed, caused disturbances, and pooped on my deck. So, I don’t miss them much.

My next-door neighbor, the widow Cooper, was put in assisted living. We left on bad terms after the infamous “pin oak incident”. In 2018, I offered to contribute $700 of the cost of trimming her beloved tree. This resulted in a public shouting match, her calling the police, and referring to me as a son of a b!+ch.  Of course, last year, her sons had to pay the entire cost of trimming the tree before they put the house up for sale. I felt like dancing in my front yard, waving fists full of cash, as the branches came down – but I didn’t.

The new neighbors, R.J. and Chelsea, are fine people and haven’t referred to me as a son of a b!+ch or called the police about me. I know what you’re thinking … they don’t know me well enough yet … give it time. But that’s fine; it hasn’t happened so far, so there!

However, in the 26 years I lived beside the widow Cooper, she made virtually no noise. Unless, of course, she was screaming that I am a son of a b!+ch. My new neighbors have two boys and three dogs, which means they make a normal, expected, amount of noise. This summer, I am adapting to this new environment. Sometimes I often need to intensely concentrate when doing my job and now I have to deal with more disturbances.

And I’m sure I sometimes disturb them when I’m bellowing wisdom to customers and coworkers on my speakerphone. The difference is, that my neighbors are getting expert analyses about the economics of the trucking industry for free. That’s right – they are getting the stuff our clients pay thousands of dollars for, for nothing. So, they should consider themselves so lucky.

I’ve learned to work around the normal noise just fine. It doesn’t bother me.  However, there is one particular noise emitted from their property that greatly annoys me. They have chickens. The chickens cluck, and when they do, my concentration gets all clucked up. The chicken noise is agitating, not unlike when your wife is clucking about some inane subject during the critical part of the big game. It’s ironic that now that the turkeys are not an annoyance, I am dealing with a bunch of mother-cluckers. Fowl! I cry fowl!

Even though I never brought up the subject, Chelsea explained to me that Henrietta (all her chickens have names) was dealing with a sexual issue that caused her to cluck frequently and loudly. What am I supposed to do about this? Do I look like Dr. Phil? Okay, so maybe I do, but that’s beside the point. 

I do admit that when Henrietta is most agitated, I am tempted to walk over and say, “Henrietta, let’s talk about how you’re feeling right now and why, can we?” But, I have a better solution for the chicken clucks, lawnmowers, and other loud outside noises. I play “Deep Relaxation” CDs that allow me to concentrate on my work. One of the CDs even features “calming songbirds”, which means I am using good bird sounds to cancel out bad birds. And this allowed me to live in perfect harmony with the chickens, until ……

A couple of weeks ago, on a quiet afternoon, I took a break from work and glanced out the back window. I did a double-take because I didn’t believe my eyes. There were a bunch of chickens strutting around the back of my property. Those chickens had flown the coop and evidently desired to go free-range, mistakenly believing my yard constituted that freedom.

In a panic, I texted Chelsea. I hoped she was home because I did not want to have to chase the chickens around my yard like some kid at the carnival. I envisioned a YouTube viral video: “Fat, bald guy chasing chickens.”  Fortunately, Chelsea was in my backyard in seconds, approaching the chickens.

“Do you need any help?” I asked.

(Now, there was no way I wanted anything to do with this chicken capture. But I was trying to be a good neighbor. And the chickens were in my backyard, so I had to ask, still hoping she would say “No”.

“Maybe. I’m just caring for these chickens for a friend until their new coup is ready. But they don’t like me!” Chelsea explained.

(That’s just great! These chickens don’t like the person who is caring for and feeding them. They’re going to absolutely hate me)

Then to my horror, Chelsea reached down and scooped up a chicken. I started to shake, expecting her to shout, “Don’t just stand there! Grab a chicken.”

I quickly imagined myself in the hospital emergency room ….

Doctor: What wild animal did this much damage to you?

Me: It was chicken.

Doctor: What did you do to provoke such an attack?

Me: I grabbed it in the wrong place.

Doctor: What type of perverted idiot are you?

Fortunately, with the lead chicken in tow, the rest of the chickens dutifully followed Chelsea back to the coop. Crisis averted.

But life is just a bunch of trade-offs, children. Those extra chickens are now happy, and over-producing eggs, which resulted in R.J. delivering two dozen fresh eggs to my door the other day. Now that ol’ clucking doesn’t irritate me much at all! Henrietta, you rock! Because, I love eggs, and now I’ve got eggs!

Cue ZZ (Stove) Top

He’s got eggs, he knows how to fry them

They’re fresh eggs, he can’t wait to try them

He’s cooking eggs, wonder how to fix them

Would you do an omelet if you could not hard boil them?

They're my breakfast, they're my dinner

Yeah, they taste great, oh yeah



Monday, July 12, 2021

Hey! Ya Gotta A Mouse In Your Pocket?

A couple of months ago, the Internet blew up when a celebrity announced “they” had just identified as “non-binary”. Of course, I was so confused by this. Unless you are a computer programmer, we all use non-binary numbers in our everyday lives. It would be terrible to put 1000001 on a speed limit sign. It would be confusing, and you would need a larger sign. I mean, we are all non-binary, aren’t we?

Then somebody told me it had to do with sexuality. But I became more confused. Why would you have to declare yourself non-bi, when again, most people are non-bi. Then she explained that it meant the person was not identifying as a man or a woman, and their sexuality is fluid.

Now I still don’t get why you must publicly announce this decision. Can’t you let this sexuality flow all over the place in private? Apparently not, due to the requirement that you and the non-binary person both use a specific set of gender-neutral pronouns when communicating. These include “they, their, them, we, us, our … and others.

This makes it difficult for people with fading memory capacity, like me. For example, if I meet a guy named Ralph at a party, I will forget his name, unless of course, he happens to throw up later that evening. Likewise, I’ll forget Melanie’s name, unless she has huge …. Well, you know… I’m not ever going to be able to remember who is non-bi. I just can’t. And to learn when and how to use all those pronouns? I may as well try to learn Swahili.

I also dislike when people use plural pronouns when it should be singular. Back in high school, some total losers would try this maneuver to puff themselves up and appear bigger and more prominent than they were. For example:

“We don’t think that is a good idea.”


“That’s not our plan.”

To which we would always respond:

“We?” “Our?” - “What?” – “Do you have a mouse in your pocket?” 

So, I suspect these people might be trying to puff up their egos with all this plural pronoun stuff. They may think they are that important, but according to the Backstreet Boys, that’s not what makes you larger than life. – Or even plural in this case.

And what’s with the big “identification” craze anyways? Hey, if that’s the way it works, I’m identifying as “King of the World”! And if I do that, everyone must accept it, right?

Stupid Waif: Hey, you can’t cut to the front of the line!

Me: Of course I can; I’m identifying as the freakin’ King of the World!

Police Officer: Do you know how fast you were going?

Me: That’s so irrelevant because I identify as King of the World! Not get your @ss back in your cruiser cause I got places to go!

Uh, maybe I’ll give that a try. Won’t start with my wife, though.

But there is an easy solution to this problem. You don’t need to memorize all those pronouns. You only need one. Just one, covers it all. Because there is a long-term precedent here that most people are familiar with.

Yes, these trendy celebrities believe they invented non-binary, but they are sadly mistaken. Over 57 years ago, somebody was the original non-binary being.  On the Addams Family show, we were introduced to creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky, and altogether ooky, Cousin Itt. Itt’s body was completely covered in hair, and Itt’s voice was androgynous. Itt’s sexuality could be flowing all over the place on a daily basis, and you wouldn’t be able to tell - you can’t get more non-binary than that!       

So, if you identify as non-binary, I will consent to use all your plural pronouns on one condition: That you do indeed have a mouse in your pocket. And I do want to see the mouse. There is no honor system. I will need to see the actual mouse and, very importantly, that the mouse is indeed alive. Then, you can we, they, us, them all you want.

But if you do not have a mouse in your pocket, I will stand on the precedent created by the Addams Family and refer to you according to the precedent established by Cousin Itt. I will not call you cousin, unless you are truly my cousin, because that would imply you have some excess hair growth, which is fine on the days you are feeling masculine, but not so much the other times.

And be warned. If I am ever required to identify in this manner, I’m identifying as binary – with a penis - and a big one at that.