Friday, May 26, 2006

Appointment with Myself (37)

I've made an appointment with myself for next Thursday, May 25, 2006, A. D. (after daylight). I'll see myself at 2:30 PM, as about that time I get sleepy.

When I get home, the first order of business—the main purpose of my appointment-- will be to head to the bedroom and keel over. I will not, for example, ask embarrassing questions of myself.

I will also resist jumping on the scales to learn that I am, pound for pound, a candidate for Most Improved Couch Potato.

I will refrain from asking my age, which medical people are always so curious about. I think the question is a test to see if I'm still with it. They seem to suspect that I'm already wandering around, lost in space.

If I forget my age, I can still compute it, though the answer is too absurd. (Someone who was born in 1945 and will be eligible for Social Security next year should be a dignified human being, not someone who trips over his shoes).

I will not display any curiosity about various orifices of my body; I will not at any time bend over to check my prostate. (It's fine, though invisible to the naked eye).

I will not draw blood to check any of my levels. I'll take a pass on voiding into a Dixie cup and sliding it into a slot to be snapped up by an impatiently waiting lab tech.

I will not read the Six Steps detailing how to clean up before depositing your sample. (I always ignore this; I throw away the little wet-nap that is issued with the Dixie cup, and wash up afterwards, like a normal person).

The subject of my bowels will not come up. I will not press for a home kit to take samples to be tested at a later time, perhaps by the same person who has shown such an inordinate interest in bodily fluids.

I will not suddenly decide I need additional appointments for still more tests at later dates and other locations. No tests will be ordered; and, nothing, I repeat, nothing, will be said about my colon.

I will not quiz myself about family history (they all came from Hidalgo, IL, and were once stranded on the National Trail in 1836). I will not try to remember the ages of my siblings or what childhood diseases they may have had. (Will pass over the chicken pox epidemic of 1919).

After a nice nap I will wake up, look at the clock, and roll back over. My appointment with myself will end only when I'm ready for it to end.

I will not, while awake, brood over life's mysteries, or while asleep, dream about crazy things. I will keep my brain in neutral; I will not bother myself with routine chores, which are after all, routine. I will make a detailed "to-do list", suitably highlighted, numbered, dated, and ready for immediate shredding.

If I have any other, less important appointments coming up, I will not brood about them. I’ll mark them as play dates, or party days. I’ll wear my cowboy outfit complete with cap guns just to indicate what I think of them. When someone calls me Mr. Dunne, I’ll enjoy the questioning note in their voices when they realize I'm sixty going on six.

If, at a later time, I decide I'm not having any fun, I’ll make another appointment with myself.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Watch TV, Lose Weight, Be Happy! (36)

I prefer to watch TV lying down; it’s part of my exercise plan. Not that I watch a lot of TV, particularly since Dawson’s Creek is no longer on. For those of you who missed my first column (a show of hands please) I explained that Dawson’s Creek was the greatest show in the history of television.

Recently we moved our exercise equipment to the bedroom. “Our equipment” is the wonderful Air Glider, which can be ordered from QVC for practically nothing, particularly if you use the easy-pay plan (minimum payments only until your 2025 tax refund).

The idea was that I would exercise more if I could watch TV during my “workout”. This is in quotes, as after two minutes of warm-up exercises, which consisted of flapping my arms like a large bird, I would collapse on the carpet without ever actually using the Air Glider. So this was another fine notion shot down. The main exercise I got was tripping over the thing on the way to the kitchen.

But thanks to cable, I still manage to exercise while I watch TV. For some reason, I can’t read the screen information on the guide and menu pages. I have to jump off the bed fifty times an evening and stand in front of the TV to see what’s on. My extensive research indicates that I burn up 750 calories hopping off the bed and staggering over to the TV to read the program guide.

I don’t recommend lying down while watching TV without consulting a doctor first. My research shows that 9 out of 10 doctors surveyed agreed that you shouldn’t try this at home if you are taking any medicine including baby aspirin, or if you are of childbearing age (six to ninety, according to the Enquirer), or if you think you may be pregnant within your lifetime, or if you are under the least bit of stress, i. e., you are still alive.

For those readers who will consult their doctors and take proper precautions, meaning having a team of EMT’s at your side during your workout, watching TV is downright healthful.

I myself get exercise trotting back and forth to the kitchen for those essential snacks that TV seems to call for, stuff that has to be opened. Usually the snacks come in plastic wrap that has to be wrestled to the ground before you can start nibbling.

For example to break into a bag of chips and re-close it with a handy bag-clip will take me, on average, 1.5 minutes, which equals 34.9 calories burned. I give myself extra points if the chips, pretzels, popcorn, or Frosted Flakes, fly all over the kitchen and I have to chase them to their new landing sites on the moon.

Another guaranteed calorie reducer is to watch something with commercials and time your snack breaks so you have to rush around to get back before the show resumes.

Have you ever noticed when you’re waiting for the commercials to end, it takes forever as in a entire Presidential administration, but when you’re in the kitchen fixing a little something to nibble on, the commercials stop just as you are opening the refrigerator door?

So you grab whatever is closest, maybe a tub of margarine--you can pry it open while watching, then hang on to it until the next commercial--and sprint back to the bedroom, taking care not to bang your head into any walls. This is good for 69.7-calorie loss in itself.

Oh, well it’s not like I’m missing Dawson’s Creek.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sleep Eating (35)

Sleep Eating

How do I know I’m eating in my sleep? The evidence is usually there the next morning. I sometimes wake up with a loaf of bread in my arms.

I often don’t know that I’m on a late night eating binge. Sometimes in mid snack I will wake myself up by crashing into a corner wall. I may then realize that I’m getting ready to chow down on something not edible, doggie treats for example.

One night I discovered that I was fiddling with a box of Equal packets to see if they might be snack worthy. Turned out they weren’t. But it took me a while to figure that out.

I must have concluded (sorrowfully) that they weren’t edible, but only after much experimentation, including pouring water on them. (I assume I did this for they were wet the next morning).

My next treat appeared to be Miracle –Gro Plant Food, but that didn’t seem to hit the spot, so I moved on in my search for vittles that would get me through the night, or, in the words of that fine country song, “Help Me Make Through the Night When the Kitchen is Closed”.

Our kitchen is generally well supplied with snack foods, but they’re usually gone by 3:00 AM, which leaves the rest of the night. Hence my experiments with food substitutes or sometimes even with non-snack food, say frozen biscuits, which I’ve discovered are better heated up.

I sometimes go back to bed only to get up an hour later to check the kitchen again on the off chance I didn’t eat everything already in my previous seven food foraging expeditions (I wear my “Raiders of the Lost Ark” hat).

One night I noticed my bare feet seemed to be sticking to the floor. Strange. What could it be? I checked the freezer—no ice cream left—must have lost a little of it, a quart or so judging from how big an area of the floor is yucky, while trying to spoon it out of the box. I usually eat over the kitchen sink, but’s it hard to be neat when you’re asleep.

I have a willing helper in my pre-dawn forays: our little dog, Precious, a nine- pound Pomapoo. On the way back from the kitchen I will take a little something to chew on in bed, a handful of crackers to go with the six I just popped into my mouth. Precious is ever alert to these late night snack attacks. Sometimes I realize she’s staring at me, waiting for a bite. I always give her a sample.

In the morning I can tell if it’s been a busy night, as there will be a few foreign objects in bed, say the usual crackers plus a box of Frosted Mini-Wheats, which my sleeping self finds quite tasty straight from the box.

I consult (silently) with Precious about these discoveries; I pretend to be using a whiskbroom and dustpan, my standard tidy-up equipment. Precious and I always converse in pantomime, as we don’t want to disturb anyone who might be trying to sleep (a cub scout troop, for example).

Precious will look alarmed that I’m suggesting that we trash the leftovers. I understand perfectly. She would rather do it herself. (She’s a woman). She begins following the cracker crumb trail and eats every bite.

Some mornings I wake up, and check the sheets. Nothing there—must have been a quiet night.

Except for the loaf of bread on the night stand.

Friday, April 28, 2006

My Secret Life (34)

Last Saturday when I was supposed to be getting ready for work—who says men can’t multi-task? -- I caught part of a news segment. Maybe you saw it. It was the one about living a secret life.

Exhibit A: Your average everyday housewife with three children and one (apparently clueless) husband. This young and attractive woman is a PTA member, church choir leader, a hospital volunteer, who in her spare time, holds down a full-time job as a legal secretary.

What “secret life” could she have? Well, you could have knocked me over with a birthday balloon: she is a prostitute. She looks like the girl next door, which would be the title of the Lifetime Movie that’s sure to be made about her except they have already used it 7,000 times.

The working title is said to be: My Secret Life as a Call Girl: A Moment of Truth Movie in Which the Heroine Carla Luanne Smith-Siddons Makes the Startling Discovery that it was Her Husband’s Fault.

It seems she was getting bored with being your average everyday housewife. Glenn Campbell was singing throughout the segment; he later complained while riding a horse that he was “getting cards and letters from people I don’t even know”.

This was such a great news video that I tried to track it down on the Internet, but nothing came up. I regret particularly the loss of the very helpful list of hints that you, the viewer, might be having a secret life without even being aware of it.

I’m sure I have a secret life; I probably just haven’t told myself about it. Inspired by this great piece of TV, I decided to do a little research in my very own billfold. (It beat getting ready for work.)

First thing I did was to check my photo ID only to discover that it was obviously a picture of my Dad. Whoops! It’s me. Could it be I’ve gotten old? Is my Secret Life that I’m now masquerading in broad daylight as one of my parents? Shocking isn’t, it?

I’ve noticed that for some time now younger people (defined as practically everybody else) actually call me Mr. Perhaps this is my secret life: I’ve been pretending to be an adult for many years, so long in fact I’m now passing myself off as two weeks short of being a geezer. This is absurd of course; it’s hard to be an adult when your actual age (six) keeps tripping you up.

My secret life really comes home when strangers draw a bead on me and claim me as one of their own. They are usually rather old looking people. I listen intently while wondering, “Who are these people and why are they talking to me?”

They think they know me, even call me by my first name as though we are bosom buddies. (I know, I know—poor word choice since you are now thinking of Tom Hanks and that other guy.)

This used to puzzle me, but I’ve decided that there are people who apparently know someone who looks like me, probably my exact double, but who keep coming up to me by mistake.

Frankly, I’m sick of it. If I had wanted to be an old person, I would have been born at the end of WW II, would have graduated from high school when The Beach Boys were on the charts, and would have voted for the first time in 1968.

Oh, crap. That is me.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sleepwalking Towards Hidalgo (33)

I began my sleepwalking career at age five. I slept downstairs, as did Mom and Dad. Brothers Jim, seventeen, and Jack, fifteen, slept upstairs; they were second story men. The “big boys” were out roller-skating the evening I took my first tour.

After a fresh snow that winter night, I walked out on our front porch and headed for downtown Hidalgo (POP. 100), which was closed.

I was making tracks, like a Man with a Mission, or a five year old with the midnight munchies. I was probably going to Meeker’s Grocery. Reba, the owner, was asleep along with the rest of Hidalgo. There was nothing else to do. Only three families in Hidalgo had TV, but they were tucked in as well.

Television was a still a great novelty, but only the test pattern was playing at that hour. The lucky three households stayed up to watch the test pattern at first, but gave it up after a few nights as, heck fire, they had to get up the next morning.

At age five I was having scary enough dreams without watching TV—bears seemed to be chasing me, for example. Sometimes I would smoke a few cigarettes to calm my nerves.

But this night was different, as I was on the prowl. Luckily Mom thought she heard something. Dad didn’t think so. Women were always hearing something, according to Dad.

Mom got up to look around and came back after checking my room: “Danny’s gone!”

Dad ran out on the snow-covered porch in his bare feet and Fruit-of-the-Looms. He banged his toes on a porch post and spoke loudly.

“Where’s Jack and Jim?”

“They’re not home yet”.

“For crying out loud. Who said they could stay out this late? They need to be looking after their little brother.”

“Dad, get some clothes on!”

“What in the crap for? Who’s going to see me?” Which was a good point as there wasn’t a single light on in town.

Dad raced to the corner and found that I had just turned the block. He caught up with me and asked, “You going someplace, Bub?”

Shortly after Dad delivered me to Mom, Jim and Jack got home separately just as he was getting ready to turn out the lights.

“It’s about time. Jack, why didn’t you ride home with Jim?”

“The Houser Girls dropped me off. Jim didn’t want to be bothered with me.”

“That’s not true. You just don’t like my friends”.

“You boys are brothers—act like it! Get to bed. Your Mom and I’ve had enough commotion for one night. Not to mention Danny.”

Dad looked around. “Where’s Danny?”

“He was just here”, Mom said.

Dad looked out the front door. “Well, what’s he doing on the porch?”

I had gone to sleep standing up and was getting ready to make the return trip downtown.

This time, after a little encouragement from Dad, Jack and Jim were in hot pursuit.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

From Dusk to Dawn (32)

From Dusk to Dawn

"Anybody got any gas money?”

Dale had pulled up at the Standard Station in Greenup. His brother Don and I fumbled in our pockets and came up with a total of 47 cents. Which in 1962 would have probably bought about two gallons of gas. We were on our way to Fairview Drive-in at Casey, 9 miles over.

Fairview was known for its exciting “Buck Night”, which was when you and seventeen of your closest buddies could pile into one car (the lucky ones got to ride in the trunk) and get in for a dollar.

Even better were the Dusk to Dawn spectaculars, one of which we were on our way to this particular Saturday night. “Dawn” meant you saw four or five movies, if you were still awake at 4:00 AM.

We were pretty sophisticated guys: we smoked Marlboros and probably stunted our growth by a quarter of an inch while regularly burning holes in our T-shirts.

I think the warning labels on cigarettes came around our senior year, when the Surgeon General determined that cigarette smoking might be hazardous to your health, but, hey don’t worry, we were told, Live Modern, Smoke L&M, just as recommended by Matt, Kitty, Chester, and Doc, the Gunsmoke health experts.

Dale didn’t light up, as Route 40 was a heavily traveled two-lane highway that demanded his full concentration. Soon he had to slow down for a truckload of chickens.

He stuck his head out the window (practically standing up with one foot on the accelerator) to see if the lane was clear. After all, we had to get a move on as the show started at dusk, which of course was at 7:53 PM CST.

It was still daylight when we reached Casey. Even so, some of the less patient movie patrons began honking their car horns to indicate they were ready for show time, dusk or not.

Within a few minutes the Snack Bar Players (Mr. Tasty Hot Dog who dipped himself in mustard, for example) appeared onscreen and the show started.

I volunteered to make the snack bar run.

Dale was a little skeptical. “Are you sure you won’t get lost, Danny? It’s nighttime--with your sense of direction you’ll probably take a wrong turn and wind up in somebody’s cornfield.”

“Oh, he’s not that bad, Dale”, Don said.

“What about the time he got lost in downtown Greenup when he had his paper route?” Dale asked.

“Hey, I’m not 12 years old anymore”, I said.

“OK, but if you’re not back in 15 minutes, I’m calling your Mom”, Dale said.

I ignored this remark and made my way to the snack bar. I got back well within the 15 minute limit even though it was dark and I was carrying a truckload of snacks, which I could barely see over.

I climbed into the back seat and started to hand out everybody’s order. I stopped in mid-delivery when I noticed a couple—not Dale and Don—sitting extremely close together.

I fell over myself and my Pepsi/popcorn delivery trying to get out of a stranger’s back seat.

I finally stumbled upon Dale’s car. I climbed in and said, “You’ll never guess what I just saw.”

“Never mind that--what took you so long? And where’s the rest of the popcorn?” Dale asked.

“I got in the wrong car. There’s was this couple up front who were practically sitting on top of each other. “

“Hey, what was going on? Did you see something?” Don asked.

“No, they were just sitting close—they weren’t doing anything. They were old married people.”

“How old?” Dale asked.

“At least 25”.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Beloved Wives Day ( 30)

“Beloved Wives Day” (30)

A group of Japanese men hoping to encourage the nation’s legions of workaholic husbands to head home early and show their wives some appreciation have proclaimed Tuesday “Beloved Wives Day”.

“This is from Reuters, their Oddly Enough news, just in case they’re listening in and want credit”, I said to Phyllis, who sat patiently while I read to her from an article a friend had sent me.

“I don’t think Reuters is here in your computer room. Oh, no, you’re going to write about this, aren’t you?” Phyllis said.

I ignored this outburst and kept reading: The group, which calls itself the “Japan Doting Husbands Association” urged men to get home by 8 p. m. and say thanks to their wives for all they do. Many men can’t put their feelings of gratitude toward their wives into words. Work is number one for them.

“That doesn’t sound like you.”

“You mean you think I’m good at expressing myself?”

“Oh, no. You can talk all right-- you’ll say anything to anybody. I mean you’re not exactly a workaholic.”

“That’s good, isn’t it? I come home to my wife and puppy dog.”

I read another bit of the article. “Here’s another section I’m good at. It talks about the five “golden rules” including going home early, calling wives by their given name and looking them in the eyes when talking.”

“Oh, that’s rich. You never look me in the eyes—you’re always staring into your computer screen, or watching TV, or reading something. You are actually married to your computer. When I want to get your attention, I practically have to e-mail you.”

“Say, that’s an idea. Why don’t we set up your own personal e-mail account—you could send me a message—I always check my mail.”

“No, thanks. I’ll just call from work to make sure you haven’t set the kitchen on fire.”

I ignored this—I’ve never actually set the kitchen on fire. I did once try to pop some microwave popcorn and mistakenly set the dial on “beverage” rather than “popcorn”. I’ll have to admit that there was a lot of black smoke and the house smelled like it had been on fire. It’s also true that particular bag of Orville Redenbacher had a hole in it, as though it had been shot, but no real damage was done.

“Here’s something else: The group—the Doting Husbands –has its own homepage, which includes a column where husbands can write down their feelings they are to shy to say out loud.”

“You mean to tell me these guys have to get on the Internet to talk with their wives? What kind of a wimp does that? Sounds to me like they need a dose of Dr. Phil.”

“I thought women liked the sensitive type—you know, like that English guy, Hugh Grant, in Six Weddings and Three Funerals, or whatever it was called”.

“Hugh Grant? Who’s he?”

“Oh, that’s right-he doesn’t do those slasher pictures you like. Maybe they’ll show one of his movies on Lifetime so you can catch it.”

“Anyway, the article goes on to say the Japanese marriages are under great pressure. In 2004, more than one in three marriages ended in divorce.”

“Sounds like some of those Japanese girls are getting smart”.

“You mean you wouldn’t put up with a husband who was married to his work and who wrote comments at a web site, because he couldn’t get home on time?”

“I would be setting him out on a street corner.”

“Kind of harsh, isn’t it? Isn’t that what you say about women whose husbands don’t work?”

“No, I say women who support husbands who won’t work should throw them out. If it were me, I’d set them out with the garbage.”

I try one more time. “Here’s a guy with a broken heart—listen to this: I’m sorry I had a car accident. I’m sorry I’m away so much on business trips. I’m sorry I end up sleeping at the office so often.”

“He sounds like a “sorry” excuse for a husband, I’d say.”

“Maybe we should start “Beloved Wives” night right here. On your nights off, I could make sure I get home early, make it a point to call you by your given name (Sweetheart), and say thanks for all the things you do”.

“No, don’t do that—I’ll think I’m in the wrong house. “

“Why don’t we start tonight? Hey, how about I fix us some microwave popcorn?”

“How about you staying out of my kitchen, Buster?”