April 21, 2012


She approached the car lot with trepidation. Aura really hated buying cars -- without a boyfriend or some man with her, the dealers always took advantage of her lack of automotive knowledge.

And she was between boyfriends at the moment.

Unfortunately, her clunker had died a loud and messy death and she had to have a working vehicle, so here she was.

"Helllllooo, young laaaaaaaaaddddddyyyyy!"

Aura turned, expecting to see the Big Bopper.  Instead, it was just a huge bear of a man, smiling and blocking out the sun.

"Uh, hello. I need a car. Can you help me?"

The vulpine grin that spread across the man's heavily bearded face could have congealed oatmeal. "Certainly I can help you! Step this way."

Aura followed him into his office. When she was seated across from him she saw his name plate . . . "Barry." So this was Barry Trois, the richest car dealer in the entire country, possibly the world.

Barry slunk into his chair behind the desk. "Would you like a cup of coffee . . .uh . . . I'm sorry, what was your name again?"


"Ah, yes. Aura."

"And, yes, I would like a cup of coffee."

"Comin' right up," Barry said, striding to the coffee maker. "How do you take it?"

"Sugar, light," she replied.

Barry handed her the coffee. "Here ya go, hon."

Aura took a sip. "This coffee is stone cold!"

"Oh, pardon me," Barry said, returning to the machine. "Been having trouble with this lately. Hold on, let me pop it in the microwave."

After a couple of minutes, he handed the cup back to Aura. She took a sip. "AUUUUUGH! What are you trying to do, burn my lips off? People have been sued for this sort of thing, you know!"

At the word "sue" all color drained from Barry's face -- even his beard. "I'm terribly sorry. What do you say we skip the coffee and go take a look at some really great cars?"

Through throbbing, tingling lips, Aura said, "That's what I came here for."

They adjourned to the car lot. Aura glanced over the hundred new cars and said, "These just don't do it for me. No style, no class. Don't you have anything else?"

"This is it ," Barry said.

"Wait -- how about those over there? Those look interesting." At the far end of the lot, off to the side, there were three cars parked next to each other.

"I don't think so. Not only are those used, but they're . . ."

"Oh, used isn't a problem. Let's go take a look. I mean, I'd really rather spend time looking at those cars than calling my lawyer. Have you got the keys? "

"Yes," Barry sighed. "Right here in my pocket."

The cars sparkled. The first one was a vintage Bentley, the second was a SmartCar, and the third was a Corvette convertible.

Aura sat behind the wheel of the Bentley. "No, I don't think this is quite right for me. It's far too big and the seat is much too hard."

Barry sighed with relief and offered up a silent prayer of thanks to whomever might be listening.

Next, Aura, who was not a little person, found herself wedged behind the wheel of the SmartCar. "No, no, no! This will never do. It's far too small, and the seat is far too soft."

While she was extricating herself, another prayer left the car lot.

Behind the wheel of the Corvette, Aura sighed happily. "Ah, Barry, this one will do nicely. It's just the right size and the seat is just right, too. I'll take it!"

"Well, I guess I can live with two out of three," Barry thought. They stepped back inside and filled out the paperwork. Aura wrote him a check of unusual size and drove off the lot.

Now the only thing Barry had to worry about was how to tell his son, Barry Jr., that he'd just sold his car.

A few hours later, as Barry was preparing to lock up, Barry Jr., the company accountant, burst into the front room of the darkened dealership.

"Hello, Dad. I was just going home after putting in yet another hard day's work when --
and you're going to laugh at this -- I discovered that my car, the Corvette that took me two years to restore and customize with my own hands, is GONE!"

"Ah, yes, son, er, I, uh, I had to sell it."

"You had to sell it. Why this time?"

"This time, because a customer burned her mouth on a cup of coffee, and you know that people have successfully sued over that before."

"First it was my Alfa because some dizzy broad tripped and skinned her knee walking in. Then it was my Ferrari because some moron, instead of opening the door, tried to walk through it..."

"We keep our glass very clean . . . "

"And now it's my Corvette! Excuse me -- I'm going to the Men's Room to throw up!"

Barry Jr. pushed the washroom door so hard it bounced off the wall. He stood at the sink and stared into the mirror. "Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who's the most screwed over person of all?"

The floating face of a wizened old man immediately appeared, causing Barry Jr. to step back in surprise. They stared at each other, until the face in the mirror finally spoke.

"Nu? So vhaddya vant, awreddy? I got the Vicked Qveen on hold over here! Speak, boychick, speak!"

"Well, I...that is...uh…"

"Hoo boy, tongue of silver. Your parents must have such naches!"

"Wait a minute!" Barry shouted, recovering somewhat. He checked the sides of the mirror, and, sure enough, he found the tag -- MADE IN BROOKLYN.

"So vaddya think? I'm from Minsk or Pinsk?"

"Can you help me?" Junior asked.

"Can I help him? This messhugge vants to know, can I help him! Of course I can help him. He's got a goniff for an old man, a shiksa mama who wouldn't know kreplach from gefilte fish, and this one’s an overprivileged schnorrer! Vaddya vant my help for? You're rich from having money! You got the gelt -- go buy another car!"

"But I need some advice about . . ."

"Advice, I got. My advice to you is this: you get yourself a bagel -- are you writing this down? -- some lox, a schmeer and a Dr. Brown's. Things alvays look better vhen you got some decent food in your stomach. Now get moving, schmucko. I got an alteh moid Qveen on the uddah line! Curses I don't need! Feh!

April 16, 2012


You know what really moves me just to the left of complete apoplexy? 

“No, Carson,” you reply.  “What is it today?”

I will ignore the sarcasm of your snide question, because #1—there’s a bit of truth to it, curmudgeon that I am fast becoming, and #2—you read my ramblings anyway.

The answer is:  modern medicine.

I have never felt more bovine than when I am visiting my doctor.  Oh, and that’s another thing—“visiting” --like it’s some kind of a social gathering—for which you must pay and pay dearly.  And since when do you pay to visit someone, anyhow?  I think a trip to the doctor should be called “fiscal disquietude” or perhaps, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” with a picture of an empty wallet spotted with tear stains, or alternatively, a bleeding stone.

Whether you have health insurance or not, staying alive and well has become financially ruinous.  I happen to have insurance, but the policy I could afford has a deductible that rivals the National Debt; so I’m alive and well and now I’m also depressed and stressed out and eating Cheerios three meals a day to pay for all this good health.

It might not be so ghastly if you could actually have a mutually concerned relationship with your medico. 

It is to laugh.

These days, this is how a patient fleecing usually goes—you sign in and you wait—oh, and before I forget, bring a book with you (preferably War and Peace) and enough food and water to last a couple of days, anyway.  So while you’re chewing on your last piece of beef jerky and are on the last page, the doctor’s assistant ushers you into the inner sanctum, where you will be weighed (love that part) and your pulse and blood pressure will be taken.  I always ask about the blood pressure results, just to confirm how totally pissed off I am by that point.

The assistant looks at me like it’s none of my damned business, mumbles something, then legs it out of the room.

I sigh.  I grab a magazine from the rack in the room.  Oh, joy.  A copy of “Guns & Ammo” from 1976.  I read it with interest, as I am hoping to pick up a few pointers for when I return later that afternoon, with “my leetle friend.”

Finally, the doctor, or, as I like to refer to him, “Henry Ford,”  because there is nobody but a present-day doctor who can make you understand the concept of an assembly line better, arrives.

Now, I’ve been going to this ding-dong for quite a while now, and though he’s finally learned my name, he is unable to remember much else about me.  One might think he’d take a moment to consult my file before he walked in; but no.  Such niceties have gone the way of $1.00 a gallon gasoline.

Let me give you an example:

In the initial new patient paperwork that we all fill out, there is an area that requires you to list any surgeries you’ve had.  I had a hysterectomy in 1999, so I put it down.

A couple of months later, I came in for a physical.

“You need a PAP smear,” the doctor said.

“For what?” I asked.  “I had a hysterectomy.  I don’t think that stuff grows back.”

“You need it.  You can still get cancer of the vaginal wall.”

At that time, I had no insurance at all, and I knew a referral to an OB/GYN would cost me big.  My doctor in Connecticut (who I miss sorely—he was all-around great) always did the smears himself, so I figured this guy could deal with it here.

“Can you do it? I asked foolishly


He got all his mining equipment together squished on the KY and got on with it.  Then, he asked me the question.

“Have you had a hysterectomy?”

“Yes,” I replied, wondering in which landfill my new patient paperwork was currently mouldering.  You’d have been proud of me—I didn’t say anything more than “yes.” 

The holes in my tongue are pretty well healed up now.

So he did the smear.  “Come back in a week,” he said.

“But what about the rest of the physical?”

“I want to get one thing dealt with at a time,” he replied as he hopped it out of the consulting room.

He was with me for a total of ten minutes…for $143.00.  And that didn’t include the cost of the lab work for the test.

OK. One week later, I’m back in his office.  He arrives in the consulting room.

“The test was inconclusive.  We have to do it again.”

Since I had gagged myself before he walked in, I simply nodded.

I did, however, glare at him in a hostile manner.

Another ten minutes, another $143.00, and come back in a week.

Back in a week.

“The test was inconclusive.  We have to do it again.”  Behind my gag, I thought of how fortunate it was that I had had the foresight to have someone tie my hands behind my back.

“But the good news is, I spoke to the GYN down the hall and she told me about a better way to do this.  Should give us some results this time.”

The mere thought of where in hell this guy got his medical training makes me shudder and take to my bed to this day.

So, in we go again. 

“Have you had a hysterectomy?” he asks.

That was pretty much it.  The bonds on my wrists shredded like paper, the gag blew out of my mouth and imbedded itself in the opposite wall as Carson Buckingham, mild mannered writer, went somewhere else and the Incredible Hulk, or S.J. Perelman—I’m not sure which—took over.

WHAT?  If I’m not mistaken…Doctor…you have been spelunking in my body three times now!  Can you not see that the usual suspects have taken a powder?  Do I need to tattoo my inner thigh as a friendly reminder?  Of course, that won’t do any good anyway, because I have serious doubts that you know how to read.  And where did you get your diploma—Joe & Charley’s Medical School and Fish Shack?  I have seen things lying on their backs at the bottom of bird cages more adept!”

Oh, I did go on—for exactly ten minutes—then he left, mid-sentence. But believe me; I made those ten minutes count.

And when I got the bills from the lab and the doctor, I wrote a two word message on each and sent them back.  And no, it wasn’t those two words.

I wrote, “Finances Inconclusive.”