October 27, 2015


Stij has been really tied up with his woodworking business these days.  He was on a tight deadline for some deeply disturbed client who wanted a wooden refrigerator (?) and he needed some supplies from Home Depot.
So he sent me.
I know, I know.
Now, understand, I know about as much about woodworking as I do about cooking…well, maybe slightly less.
You get the idea, anyway.
So, with list in hand, I tootled off to Home Depot, which is about a mile away from our house.
About a quarter mile down the highway, there was a roadblock and a detour.  This really threw me, since I don’t drive much since the neighbors had to rebuild their living room the last time I did, so I don’t know my way around very well.  But Stij decided to roll the dice once again, since the roads were all straight, away from a residential area, and he would be home to make sure the car was actually in reverse before I floored it to back into the driveway.
Okay.  Back to the detour.  Being the mature, law-abiding woman that I am, I pulled up next to the officer directing traffic and greeted him.
“Ma’am, there’s a flash flood up ahead—the road’s washed out.  You can’t get a car through there.”
“Then let me park here, and I’ll get out and swim for it.”
“Move along, ma’am.”
Arizona state troopers do not think outside the box.
So off I went.  I thought of faking a nervous breakdown, but he didn’t look like he’d buy it. 
In completely unfamiliar territory now, I reached for my phone to call Stij and…guess what…I left it home.
At that point an actual, unfaked nervous breakdown wasn’t far away.  And relying on my sense of direction was no good.  I have been known to get lost walking to the bathroom.
So after my screaming died down and I stopped hyperventilating, I fell back on the way most women remedy a situation such as this—I found a gas station.  And GAS, as most women know, is an acronym meaning: Go Ask Someone.  Men have never understood this.
So I pull into a station, took several deep breaths to help calm the trembling, and legged it to the cashier inside.
“Hello, I need directions to the Home Depot—but not on the 101—it’s closed.”
My Spanish was pretty sucky, but I gave it a try, anyhow.  “Por favor— Yo requisitiono mappe dos vocala chordios en la Casa Trainstationo.”
He looked horrified.
I tried again.  He was just a cashier—maybe he could get one of the guys in the body shop to help.
“Por favor (I am nothing if not polite)—Perhaps el drunko mechanico…
That did it—he grabbed two Slim Jim sausage snacks and used them to make a cross, then backed slowly away from me.
Realizing that further attempts at light banter would be futile, I took my leave, got back in my car, and resumed my journey.
Ten hours later, I decided to stop for the night.
The next morning, feeling refreshed, I got in the car, started it up, drove ten feet, and the car died. 
I hadn’t called Stij the previous night, because I was just too tired.
But now seemed like a good time.
“Hi, hon.”
“Are you okay?  I’ve been worried sick!  Why didn’t you call?”
“I left my phone turned off at home.”
“Gas stations have phones.”
“Let’s not go there.  The car died.”
“Okay, I’ll be there in five minutes.”
“No, you won’t.  There was a detour on 101.”
“Okay.  What happened, did you end up driving all around the west side?”
“So I’ll see you in forty-five minutes, then.”
“I thought you were on the west side.”
“Yes.  Of Colorado.”
“And guess what? There’s a Home Depot right across the street!”

October 13, 2015


Have you ever gone to the doctor just because you didn't feel quite right, but weren't sure exactly what was wrong with you?

Prepare yourself.  A problem that would have been cured in your grandmother's day by a strong dose of tonic will now cost you in the neighborhood of three months' salary, the antique clock in your dining room, and all the fillings in your teeth.

There is no such thing as a GP anymore.   The General Practitioner has been reduced to bones in the La Brea tar pits, along with the rest of the dinosaurs.

"I'm feeling weak and tired," I told a Doctor of Internal Medicine.

He put his hand on my wallet and told me to cough (Henny Youngman wasn't kidding!), after which he recommended that I see a heart specialist.

"That's it?" I cried.  "No blood work?  No EKG?  No stress test?  Just 'go to a heat specialist'?"

"Yes," he replied, while counting out my life savings.

So I went to a "heart man,' as he's known in the biz.

He presented me with a bill before he even examined me, then said, "You have six months to live."

I looked at the bill.  I'd never seen so many zeroes in one place before in my life.  "I can't pay this!"

"OK, then I'll give you another six months." (Did Henny Youngman go to medical school?)
"Oh, and I'm sending you to a respiratory specialist," he said.

When I showed up there, the respiratory specialist sent his secretary out to give me my bill in the parking lot!  On it was scrawled the name of a neurologist and the time of my appointment.

The neurologist's office called me and gave me my bill total over the phone.  I was then told to report to the ICU.

At the hospital, still not knowing what was wrong with me, I was placed inside an oxygen tent and put on suicide watch.  When the doctor finally came in, he looked just like Henny Youngman.

I took one look at him and said, "Take my life...please."

October 6, 2015


Don’t you just love riding elevators?
I was on my way to see my publisher, who is located in a high-rise office building that people get nosebleeds just looking up at from the street.  But that’s Manhattan for you—city of excess and bloody sidewalks.
At any rate, I toodled inside, hired a pack mule, purchased supplies and made my way across a solid pink marble lobby the size of Ohio.  Upon arriving at the banks of elevators, I told my Sherpa guide, Niblick, to keep the meter running on the mule, and stepped aboard the nearest vertical conveyance.
The car was already crammed full of passengers, one of whom was carrying in his lunch and, if the odor of same was any indication, he was planning on a feast of three-week old fish that had been marinated in finely aged sewage.
“Floor 267, please,” I said to the elevator boy.
“267?  Oh, you’ll need oxygen for that floor,” he said, handing me a mask.  I dutifully slipped it on.
Off we shot to the first stop—floor 100.  This trip took 1.5 seconds.  During the course of the ride, my head had burst through my hat, which was now hanging around my neck like a Beefeater ruff.  I was also three inches in the red on my previous height and would require cosmetic surgery and a screw jack to remove my breasts from my knees.
After all that, only one person got off.  He’d been short when he’d gotten on, but now he looked like a member of the Lollipop Guild.
“How do I get to Suite 1014?” he asked the elevator boy.
“Just follow the Yellow Brick Road,” he chortled, closing the door in his face.
Next stop, floor 200.  The elevator boy executed a quick countdown, then launched us skyward yet again.
This time, my feet went right through the bottoms of my shoes, my necklace broke, and my earrings were pulled down so low that my earlobes would have been right at home among the Ubangis.
One woman was sick to her stomach in the corner of the car, and a rather large gentleman was experiencing technical difficulties involving methane gas.  Add that to the guy packing the landfill lunch and you have an aroma that would even make Jeffrey Dahmer think twice.  As the minutes passed, I became more and more convinced that Hell had just added a tenth ring, and that elevator was it.
Everyone, but the galloping gourmet and I, got off at floor 200, whether they needed to or not.  But I am made of stronger stuff . . . plus, the idea of walking up 67 flights didn’t much appeal to me. 
The doors slammed shut again, and I prepared for takeoff.
The elevator hurtled upward, but came to a bone-rattling stop between floors 266 and 267.
So there I was, trapped in an elevator with a race driver wannabe, a nerdy guy holding a leaky lunch bag filled with toxic waste, surrounded by the miasma of the revenge of the fat guy’s chili dinner and the pile of vomit in the corner.
This was not the way I envisioned making my transition from this world to the next, somehow.
“Don’t worry, we have a special phone to call for help,” Mario Andretti assured us.  He picked up the receiver and confidently pushed the red button.
Nothing happened.
He pushed it again.
Still nothing.
He panicked and began speaking in tongues.
I slapped him, probably harder than I needed to (though I must admit, it felt awfully good), to snap him out of it.  I’m amazed I could see well enough to actually hit his face, because by that time, the stench was melting my eyeballs.
“OK, how do we get out of here?” I demanded.
He meekly indicated the trap door in the roof of the car.
“Fine.  Give me a boost.”
“Lady, you can’t . .  .”
You want to go?”
“A boost!  Right!  Sure, no problem!”
You may wonder at the alacrity of my voluntarism.  Had you been there, you wouldn’t have.  I was more than willing to take the chance of falling to a quick death over dying slowly and horribly in that elevator.
A boost, and I was on the roof.  “Now what?” I asked, gulping in the fresh air.
“Climb up to the floor above us and open the door.  Then get help.”
One thing I’ve learned about directions such as these is that anything that sounds this simple usually isn’t.
To get to the door above, I had to shinny up the greasy cable and lean out to step across the ledge.  It took patience, dexterity, and the firm resolve that I was not, under any circumstances, going back into that elevator.
Once on the ledge, I managed to pry the door open and fall in a heap on the white carpeting of my publisher’s office.  Being covered with grease did not enhance my prestige with the firm, I can promise you.
I stood, with the help of a couple of receptionists holding me at arm’s length.  My clothing was torn and hanging in stalactite-like shreds from my body.  I was so filthy, I could have done a guest shot on “The Wide, Wide World of Dumpster Diving.”  The only pieces left of my shoes were the toes.  My hair looked as if it had been styled by Ray Charles, my hands were ripped and bleeding, and every single fingernail was not just broken, but gone!
“There are more people stuck in the elevator.  They need help and I need an ambulance and a bath in Drano,” I croaked.  Then I passed out.
I awoke in the hospital.  My publisher had sent a huge bouquet of flowers.  Smiling, I opened the card as fast as ten heavily bandaged fingers would permit, and read:

Roses are Red.
Violets are Blue.
You messed up our carpet,
So we’re suing you!

I’m out of the hospital now, and I work out on a Stairmaster for an hour every day.
You’ll never catch me on another elevator!