Hey, You Look Familiar

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How many of you have heard about, what’s called a “Doppelganger?” It has often been described as someone’s double, look-alike, or physical and behavioral twin. Though identical in looks, they have no genetic relationship with you. Folklore has said, that everyone has their own doppelganger, and they can be either an evil alter ego, or perhaps, even a ghostly apparition. Legend has it, that if you ever see your doppelganger, it’s usually a harbinger of either bad luck, or an omen of impending death. I don’t know what’s scarier; the fact that my evil double is somewhere out there, roaming the earth, and causing untold mischief, the idea, that I could possibly have any more bad luck than I do now, or the thought that another Patrick Dykie is on the loose.

I’m not the only one, who’s somewhat disturbed by the idea of a Patrick Dykie doppelganger. A few weeks ago, my wife awoke from a horrific nightmare, with a piercing shriek. Covered in sweat, and tangled in the covers, she looked at me, and said, “Thank God, it was only a terrible, terrible dream.” I asked her what it was about. She replied in a shaking voice, “I dreamt, I came home from work, and there were two of you. What made it worse, is that the house was a mess, dishes were piled in the sink, the laundry wasn’t folded, the grass wasn’t cut, and you were both in front of separate computers, feverishly typing.” She paused for a moment, and took a deep breath. She then, in a low, barely audible voice, which was almost a whisper, said, “Both of you were writing and posting simple observations of everyday life. I was never so scared in my life.” All I could do was hold her close, tell her I loved her, and everything would be all right. I also smiled to myself, as I thought, “Wow – two posts at once.” Continue reading

Posted in Really Crazy Things, Simple Observations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Buy Me….. Please

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How many of you like to watch television commercials; especially, the ones that run during each year’s Super Bowl? Which ones do you still remember? Were the ones that stuck in your mind, the funny ones? I read that some of the most successful commercials, are the ones that make humorous observations of everyday life. Personally, I always like ones that involve either delicious corn chips, Dalmatians, Budweiser beer, Clydesdales, Snickers candy bars, Pepsi, babies, puppies, monkeys, Bette White, or that elderly woman who used to ask, “Where’s the beef?” Do you know that a thirty-second ad for the 2017 Super Bowl, cost advertisers around five million dollars?

It’s not that some of these Super Bowl commercials aren’t marketing successes, or even fairly enjoyable; but for five million dollars! Who’s writing these commercials. There has to be somebody out there with better ideas than these. I recently learned, the masterminds of these commercials are what are called advertising executives, and their salaries average over one-hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year. How do you get an advertising executive job, and what are the qualifications? I can imagine the ad for one in the employment section of the newspaper. “Wanted – people with black, slicked-back hair, perfect, and blindingly white teeth, extreme good looks, a strange and twisted sense of humor, must have at least a third-grade education, love Doritos, expensive cars, diet drinks, and massive quantities of hallucinogenic, and mind-altering drugs. Salary negotiable.” Wow, until they got to the good-looking part, I was ready to say, “sign me up!” Continue reading

Posted in Political Correctness, Popular Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Live and Let Dry

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Recently, I got a rare, and eye-opening chance to observe laundromats up close and personal. My old, but usually reliable washing machine broke down, and forced me to throw a couple pairs of underwear, my favorite, relaxed-fit jeans, two tee-shirts, and forty of my wife’s outfits into two, big black garbage bags. During my early years, as a recent college grad, the friendly and convenient, local laundromat, was all I ever had to do my clothes. Do any of you have memories of a weekly trip to the local laundromat, as you dragged your own big black garbage bags down a dark and deserted street at one in the morning? It seemed, the laundromat was always open, wasn’t it? You would see those bright lights in the distance, and felt a warm feeling, knowing the next day, your coworkers wouldn’t be backing away from the strong and pungent smell of unwashed clothing.

These days, it seems like every home and apartment has a washer and dryer tucked away in a laundry room, or a small closet, and college dorms, all have conveniently located laundry facilities. Since I’m a man, I could probably survive a few days until my washing machine was fixed. I would just up my deodorant use, throw my worn clothes in the dryer with a dozen of those scented dryer sheets, and hit Target for a pack or two of my favorite Fruit of the Loom underwear, with the comfortable elastic waist band. My wife, on the other hand, needs at least two cleaned and ironed outfits each day. Sadly, if I don’t change my attire, at least every other day, her affection level drops dramatically, and she begins to avoid me like the plague. Our once warm and cozy bedroom, starts to resemble a cold and desolate Antarctic scene from one of those National Geographic specials. I could probably handle the extreme chill in the air – but those darn penguins are so mean.

Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned laundromats from years ago? I remember them as being gigantic, sparkling clean, bustling with activity, and having cool names like “Speedy Wash” or “Sparkle Clean.” After an hour of searching, I managed to find a run down one in a nearby neighborhood that had seen better days. It sat at the end of a dark and dilapidated strip mall, right next to three empty stores. It didn’t even have a name. The sign above it in flickering neon, simply said, “Laundromat.” The one parking lot, light fixture, shed meager and inadequate lighting over a group of what looked like gang-bangers hanging out in front. I must have looked pretty pitiful, as I drug those heavy black garbage bags slowly across the parking lot. Approaching the group of youths, and expecting the worst, I was surprised when one of the nice young men offered me a few dollars and said, “Here you go buddy. Things will get better. Take care of yourself.”

I was a little low on quarters and had left my wallet at home, so I gratefully accepted his kind offer. Walking in, a flood of good, and not so good memories came flooding back. The place was packed with what looked like a combination of a prison on visitor’s day, The Department of Motor Vehicles on a Saturday morning, and the alien bar scene, in the first Star Wars movie.On top of that, dozens of screaming, out-of-control kids were running up and down the aisles yelling in six or seven different languages.

Did you ever notice that no one looks their best at a laundromat? The Frankenstein Monster himself could casually walk down the aisle, and no one would blink any eye. Oh, before I forget. Here’s a quick word of caution. If you’re a guy in a laundromat, and a small child comes up to you, and in a Hungarian accent says, “Daddy?” Forget your clothes, run as fast as you can, and don’t look back. I have a question I’ve always wondered about. What’s with the homeless guy? It seems that every laundromat I’ve ever been in has a homeless guy. Is he a laundromat mascot? He always has his own chair in the back. The one I was in had a sign above it tacked to the wall that said, “Ed’s chair.” Ed, or Edward as he likes to be called, asked me if I had any spare change. “Spare change?” I said. “Are you nuts? I had to root through all the furniture at home and under my car seats just to get these few quarters.”

Have you ever forgotten detergent, and were forced to use those ones from a machine? Can those little boxes get any smaller? Didn’t they used to be as big as cereal boxes? The ones that dropped out of the machine looked like miniature cigarette cartons. I had to insert four quarters just to get a two-ounce box of detergent. What’s that, about a tablespoon? It gets even better. Have you ever wondered why laundromat washing machines are so tiny? Had I somehow, been miraculously transported to the wonderful land of Oz? Looking around at some of the people, I thought to myself, “I may not be in Oz, but I’m certainly not in Kansas.”

Going to a laundromat is a pretty tense endeavor, isn’t it? I’m surprised the snack machines don’t also dispense blood pressure medication, along with their wonderful assortment of stale chips, and candy that has the texture of beef jerky. I have another question. How come a laundromat will have two hundred washers, one hundred dryers, but only have five of those cool laundry carts with the baskets and the racks to hang your clothes on? There was a big sign at the end on the wall that said, “Because we care. Please do not put your children into the laundry carts.” I guess people can’t read, because next to the sign was a kid who looked to be at least fourteen, sitting in one of them. All the walls of this particular laundromat had graffiti written all over them. Some of the things were profound, some were naughty, but most were disturbing. Hey, what’s this? For a good time, call… What? That’s my phone number! I was wondering why I was getting all those late-night calls with all the heavy breathing.

What now? My laundry was just going through its spin cycle and it suddenly, and inexplicably stopped. A light just came on that said unbalanced. Of course, I’m unbalanced, you dumb, ridiculous, pitiful excuse for a machine. I should take you apart and… and… Sorry about that. They almost had me there for a minute. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a laundromat. The clothes in the washing machine were unbalanced, and just needed to be realigned.

There is one good thing, I noticed about laundromats. They all have these enormous industrial grade dryers. One or two quarters will dry all your clothes in about ten minutes. The dryers only have four settings: delicate, low, medium and high. I don’t think those words do justice to the incredible and intense heat generated by those huge tumbling machines. I think instead, the settings should be: Death Valley, oven, melts zippers, and surface of the sun. I learned another cool thing. Do you know it’s possible to go insane while watching your clothes circle around in the dryer? It’s true. I read it in a magazine once. The clockwise rotation of a dryer, if observed over an extended period of time can drive you crazy. I’m serious. Try it sometime. Maybe they should make dryers that run counter-clockwise. Who knows – it might end up being a cure for mental illness.

If you’ve ever used a dryer at a laundromat you’ll notice that for some inexplicable reason, your fine unmentionables always seem to stick to the front glass of the dryer as it rotates. It’s kind of embarrassing if you think about it. I was sitting next to a guy named Roy, who must have just got out of prison, because his laundry consisted of nothing but orange jumpsuits. As we sat side by side, we both could clearly see my one pair of bright red, string bikini underwear levitate in place against the glass, like a kite in a thunderstorm. I know what you’re thinking, but I don’t normally wear them. My wife bought them for me for our last anniversary, to spice things up a little.

As always, I have some unanswered questions. What are all the cameras for? What is there to steal? The snacks are from 1940, and the washers weigh eight hundred pounds. Why do some people take off some of their clothes, wash them and then put them back on? Even Edward has a spare tee-shirt. How many of you have lost money in a washing machine, dryer, or vending machine? Did you fill out one of those forms with your name, address and phone number, and put it in that little box. Did any of you get any money back? Did someone, somehow use the information to rob your house while you took that much-needed vacation? Did any of you ever leave a laundromat, and find that you were fluent, in Spanish, French, German, Hungarian, or Portuguese?

I guess it’s time to move on to my next simple observation of everyday life. The repairman just finished fixing my washer, and hopefully it will be another ten years, until I step into a laundromat again. I’m still recovering from the traumatic experience, but I should be okay. My clothes though, didn’t do as well as I did. All my underwear somehow turned pink, and my neighbor’s toddler is now wearing my favorite two tee-shirts. My red string bikini underwear, seemed to have mysteriously disappeared, and my wife isn’t very happy about it. I also got another strange and sinister phone call late last night, accompanied by heavy breathing and a diabolical laugh. It’s okay, though. It just turned out to be my mother-in-law, asking for my wife.

 

 

Posted in Everyday Life, Simple Observations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Ahhh….. Chooo!

 

Ahhh Choo

Each year, early October, marks the beginning of the flu season. It usually winds down around May, with December through February being the peak months for feeling bad, having aches, and pains, enduring extreme discomfort, being miserable, suffering fatigue and extreme chills, and having a general malaise. I don’t know about the flu, but that’s exactly how I feel after spending a Saturday doing chores for my mother-in-law! I wonder if she’s like that woman nicknamed “Typhoid Mary,” from the early 1900’s who made everyone who came in contact with her incredibly sick.

Medical experts have said, new strains of antibiotic resistant germs and super bugs are out there, and we may be facing worldwide influenza pandemics in the coming years. Scary, huh? It’s not just the flu, but the common cold, which is spreading, and making our daily lives difficult. This week at work, it seemed almost everyone was coughing, sneezing, or wiping runny noses. I just read an interesting article about the most common ways that illnesses our spread. They include: physical contact with an ill person, touching contaminated objects or surfaces like shopping carts, or Dunkin Donuts coffee cups, getting bites from animals or insects, and traveling by airplane. What if I’m sitting next to a sick person on an airplane, and they bite me on the arm? Worse yet; what if, as they nibble on my foreman, they also, simultaneously choke me with one hand, while clubbing me senseless with a food tray? Does this mean, I should increase my life insurance, and update my will, because I’m definitely a goner? Continue reading

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Get Your Hot Dogs Hereee…..

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A few months ago, I attended a major league baseball game. As part of a great American tradition; I paid twenty dollars for parking, faced exorbitant ticket prices for lousy seats, and dealt with astronomical costs for food and drinks. Have you ever wondered why hot dogs sold at baseball parks are so incredibly delicious? Could it be that since they cost nine dollars apiece, they must be a gourmet item, made with the best ingredients, and prepared by master chefs? My experience at the ball park, got me thinking about all the hot dogs I’ve eaten in my life, and some of the wonderful memories associated with this iconic food item. Though the hot dog originated in Frankfurt Germany in 1852, it has become as American as apple pie, Friday night, high school football games, and Thanksgiving.

If you’re over forty, you might remember a classic jingle from a hot dog commercial by the Oscar Mayer company, which first appeared in 1965, but remained an important part of Americana for another fifty years. The words went like this. “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener. That is what I truly want to be. Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, everyone would be in love with me.” Do you know that a commercial like this, is no longer allowed to be shown of TV? It’s true. It’s considered to be politically incorrect in today’s environment, in which we don’t want to offend anyone. Personally, I don’t understand what’s wrong with the commercial. It seems to be a wonderful, simple, and inoffensive message, which brings back memories of the innocence of childhood, long, fun-filled summers, baseball games, carnivals and state fairs, and family picnics. As I understand it; we can no longer use the word “wiener,” in any type of advertising. I don’t know why. Maybe, it’s because of that disgraced congressman, named Anthony Weiner, who sent inappropriate pictures of his package to young ladies, and was recently sentenced to twenty-one months in prison. When I mention package….. Lets see how I can delicately put this. It’s not the kind UPS drivers leave on your front doorstep. I’m not positive, but I heard he may have legally changed his last name to “hamburger.” Before I move on to the rest of this post, I have just one more thing to say. “Wiener, wiener, wiener, wiener, wiener. Take that – thought police!” Continue reading

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Letting Off a Little Steam

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I’m usually the kind of person who doesn’t let things bother him. I like to think of myself as an average nice guy, who doesn’t cause trouble, and rarely encounters it. As most people do, I sometimes become frustrated, get upset with people or things, or hold things inside that I shouldn’t. One of the reasons I love to write humorous stories about everyday life is that it gives me an outlet to vent some of the things that build up inside me, in a gentle, funny, and non-threatening way. I put together a few short stories of people, things, and situations, that often make my blood pressure go up, just a little.

Have you run into people who don’t like you, but don’t have a definitive reason for their dislike? You’ve never done anything to them, and have always treated them with respect and dignity, yet, for some unknown and inexplicable reason they don’t like you. My wife has a girlfriend who for whatever reason despises me. When asked why by my wife, the woman simply said; “I don’t know. He just gives off bad vibes.” Bad vibes? What am I – an out of tune guitar? I wouldn’t mind as much, if there was a good reason. I could even accept something she made up. How about this. “I don’t like you because your head is so enormous that it blocks out the sun and entire species of plants, animals and insects are endangered due to a lack of life-sustaining sunshine.” I could accept that. I could even live with, “I don’t like you because you write a silly blog that makes fun of everything, but isn’t very funny. Continue reading

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Scaring Up Some Fun

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As the days grow shorter, and a cool chill fills the evening air; it’s almost time for hideous, cackling witches, to soar high above leafless trees laid bare by brisk autumn winds, and snatch up unwary children, as they rush home to beat the coming darkness. The fall has always been my favorite season. I love the decorating of my house with carved pumpkins, corn stalks, scarecrows, bales of hay, frightening skeletons, sticky cobwebs, gravestones, and terrifying monsters. In early October, my anticipation begins for costume parties, visiting haunted houses, bobbing for apples, the telling of scary stories, small children at my door in cute outfits, hot spiced rum with cinnamon and whipped cream, and of course – Halloween.

The approach of Halloween will also bring the one night of the year, when the denizens of the cold and dark nether world rise to walk among us, with the express purpose of stealing our very souls. Unless we turn off all the lights, bolt our doors, and huddle together for protection and comfort in front of roaring fires, we may fall victim to a night ruled by the foulest of creatures, as they rise from their resting places to make our lives miserable. The night once known as “All Hallows Eve,” is a dark, misty, and bone-chilling night of being haunted by soulless evil spirits, frightening ghosts, flesh-eating ghouls, horrifying demons, the rotting corpses of the undead, and my extremely terrifying mother-in-law. Sorry about that Irma. I didn’t mean it. Please don’t put a curse on me. I’m already losing my hair, I invite you over for thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas dinners, and I feed your thirteen black cats when you’re away. Don’t you think I’ve suffered enough? To be fair, I shouldn’t have put my mother-in-law on the Halloween list. She actually haunts me – all year round. Continue reading

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Now, That’s What I Call Clean

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I was taking a nice, relaxing, hot shower early this morning, with a large, white, freshly opened bar of original Ivory soap, when two things happened. I somehow managed to get some soap in one eye, and then the rectangular shaped bar slipped out of my hand, fell, and landed squarely on the top of my foot, a few inches back from my toes. I’ve often wondered about two things. What’s in soap that can burn the heck out of your eyes, and why does a four-ounce bar of soap, dropped just four feet on to your foot, feel like the force of a bowling ball dropped off the top of the Empire State Building.

Do you know that a package of Ivory Snow soap says it’s 99.44% pure? What do you think is in the other .56 percent – battery acid? As I stumbled out of the bathroom, wrapped in a small towel, while rubbing my red and burning eye, and hopping on one foot; my wife kept laughing at me. She said I looked like a one-legged, drunken kangaroo, and that for some strange reason it was kind of sexy. “Ha, ha, honey. It’s very funny, considering, I may have broken some bones on the top of my foot,” I said, while frantically searching for some ibuprofen for the pain, and some Visine drops for my irritated eyes. I then paused, thought for a moment of what my wife had said, and replied, “Excuse me sweetheart, but, did you just say, what I thought you said about me being sexy? Well, I guess you know what costume I’ll be wearing this year for Halloween.” I know what you’re all thinking; but if you happen to be a middle-aged man, and your wife gets a little frisky – you do what you have to do. Continue reading

Posted in Simple Observations | 31 Comments

Men’s Secret Language

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I recently read an interesting article about a super computer nicknamed Watson, which was developed by IBM. You may have heard about it, from its participation on the television show Jeopardy, in which it easily defeated two human participants in a battle of knowledge. I learned that Watson is the next important step in the development of artificial intelligence, and has the ability to apply advanced natural language processing, information retrieval, knowledge representation,  and automated reasoning technologies to the field of open domain question answering. It can also, quickly execute hundreds of proven language analysis algorithms simultaneously. In simple terms, it means that theoretically, Watson should be able to answer any question, no matter how difficult.

Rumor has it, Watson was given an extremely difficult challenge that has confused, perplexed, and eluded mankind for thousands of years. He was asked to process all available data, in order to determine, understand, and translate what men have come to call, “women’s secret language.” This means of communication, is not based on a definitive verbiage, but on a complex system of body manipulations, facial expression, hand movements, and specific vocalizations. On the surface, this secret language may seem nonsensical to men, but it is a unique means for women to communicate with each other; free from the prying ears of men. I bring this up, for two reasons. The first, is that when given the task of translating women’s secret language, into understandable words, Watson’s answer was, “What? Are you messing with me? That’s impossible! Does not compute….. does not compute.” The second reason is that men also have their own secret language. Well, at least we think it’s secret. I have a feeling that most women, including my wife, figured it out a long time ago. Continue reading

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Another Candle on the Cake

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As temperatures begin to cool, the days get shorter, and the leaves on the trees, start to show their fall colors; I’m reminded that another long year has passed. It’s also, almost time for visits from good friends, the unwrapping of dozens of gifts, congratulations on somehow surviving another year, and the inevitable birthday cake; decorated with one more bright, glowing candle than the previous year. My wife for some reason loves candles. I mean, she really – loves candles. I don’t know if it’s a woman thing, but she takes great pleasure in placing dozens of candles on top of cakes that get bigger, and bigger each year. My wife will shop at Sam’s Club for candles in bulk, and then meticulously, and lovingly place each reminder of my swiftly passing years; gently atop a cake so large that the baker, after finishing the enormous masterpiece, needs to take a much-needed vacation.

Is there really a need for all those candles? A simple cake emblazoned with, “Happy Birthday, You Old Fart,” would suffice. I’ve always wondered why it’s so funny to remind men that the years are swiftly piling up, but place the number of candles on a woman’s cake, corresponding to her exact age, and the humor gets lost somewhere under the icing. You know the years are weighing on you, when your spouse uses a hand-held propane tank with a torch, to light the candles on your birthday cake. I can only imagine that with all the improvements in medical technology, along with increased lifespans, that I might someday be faced with a football field-sized cake, a professional fire-eater to set the confectionary treat into a towering inferno, a local fire department on hand, and two hundred laughing grandchildren and great-grandchildren, eagerly waiting to help extinguish the massive, blazing display. Oh, yeah; I almost forgot. I’ll need two or three spare oxygen tanks, a dozen kids with healthy lungs, and an ambulance on standby, with highly skilled paramedics. Continue reading

Posted in Getting Older | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments