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  • 8/23/2019 Mary Ellen and I just returned from a trip to San Francisco with our friends the Murphys. The last time we were in California was 40 years ago on our honeymoon, but we weren’t going to let one bad experience prevent us from giving The Golden State another try. 
    On this vacation, we stayed at a very old hotel, which you would think would be a good choice for four kinda old people. After all, we got a senior discount on the room, and a dinner menu with early-bird senior specials. Why then, I wondered, did we end up with a bathtub that would be a challenge for a 20-year-old Olympic pole vaulter? 
    The tub was probably in that bathroom since the early 1900s, a time in our history when the average lifespan was 47 years, unless someone never took a bath or shower and then could probably make it to 60 without breaking his neck. 
    This ancient relic, known as a claw foot tub, had sides that were three feet high, and there were no railings or rubber bathmats to reduce the chance of slipping when entering or exiting the combination tub/shower. This freaked out my wife.
  • 7/25/2019 My wife went on a two-week vacation without me. Hmmm, maybe that’s redundant.
    The last morning before she came home, Mary Ellen called me to say that she wouldn’t arrive until very late that evening. I had already planned to spend the day at home to catch up on some work, write a few columns, arrange the next TV segment, prepare some speeches, and maybe take a couple of two-hour naps.
    That’s when I decided not to blow the entire day and that I’d go see a movie. True, I had never gone to a movie alone in my entire life. But how hard could it be?
    “One ticket, please.”
    “Just one?” asked the young lady. Then she looked at me like I was a lost puppy.
    “Yes, just one.”
  • 7/20/2019 I was sitting on our back porch, enjoying my favorite libation, when I saw this headline:
    My initial reaction was to brush it off, just like I did the little pests that were at that very moment enjoying my Type O positive. The article had already gone viral. My guess is that good ol’ boys in places like Pine Bluff, Arkansas, got the bad news while standing around their favorite watering hole where, unfortunately, there is a lot of standing water. The guys were probably a little red-faced that they had never figured out this beer/mosquito connection. Of course, they were also red-faced before they found out about this beer/mosquito connection.
  • 6/21/2019 A few days back, I forgot our anniversary—our 39th. I remembered the first 38, so I’m still feeling good about my record. I want to explain how this happened. Our anniversary was Friday, June 14, but we had planned to go to the Italian Fest downtown the next day and also spend a few hours at the Talbot Street Art Fair. 
    I kept thinking of Saturday as the big celebration, so the actual date totally slipped my mind on Friday. I left the house that morning with no thought of the special day. When I returned home, I found a very sweet anniversary card Mary Ellen had left on my desk, but she was left cardless and flowerless and I was obviously brainless. I think you can understand how I made this error.
  • 6/13/2019 Whenever I visited Phyllis Baskerville’s toy museum in Fortville, I was mesmerized by the endless array of toys, dolls, board games, records, lunchboxes, and old magazines, each one in mint condition, and all impeccably displayed. She could talk non-stop—and often did—about any toy you expressed interest in. The old Pentecostal church that housed her collection was dubbed Dolly Mamas and was in operation for more than 12 years.
    Phyllis and I became good friends and when she fell ill several years ago, she asked if there was anything in the museum I particularly had my eye on. Was there ever! Both eyes…but I was uncomfortable making the request. She had life-size statues of my comic heroes, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, immaculately dressed in their classic poses, replete with bowler hats. I opted instead for a less extravagant selection, a set of Laurel and Hardy puppets, which I still proudly display on my bookshelf.
  • 6/3/2019 My wife’s birthday is coming up in July and I was pleased to get an email today with the subject: WHAT WOMEN WANT. I’m a sucker for anything that might make me a better husband. According to the ad, they want Dr. Hess Udder Ointment, a concoction created over 100 years ago that makes your hands smooth and feet callus-free. For years, I thought being sensitive, considerate, and romantic was the key. This is how little I knew about the opposite sex.
    With a name like Udder Ointment, it should either be something you spread over that specific part of the bovine anatomy, or at the very least, it should come from the cow’s udder. For example: Vegetable oil comes from vegetables and baby oil is for babies. On the other hand, there’s Lucas Oil and Olive Oyl. I could make fun of both of those names, but I like my seats on the 40-yard line and I’d never antagonize a woman whose boyfriend has huge forearms.
    So how did they come up with this udderly ridiculous name? (I tried to resist that pun, but I am a weak person.) Dr. Hess introduced his original product to turn-of-the-twentieth-century farmers who lamented that their cows’ udders were extremely raw and chapped. The fact that the farmers’ wives and children were huddled next to the wood-burning stove, withered from the harsh Midwestern blizzards, was of little concern. But those chafed udders? How unsightly. Something needed to be done.
  • 5/24/2019 Mother’s Day has come and gone and once again I bought my wife a lovely gift. Father’s Day is getting close, but Mary Ellen never gives me anything. She explains, “You’re not my father; you’re Brett’s father.”
    “But I always give you a gift for Mother’s Day!”
    “Come on, Dick. That’s a totally different situation.”
    This will be the 32nd year in a row I’ve fallen for that.
    I still have hope for this year to be different, so I’ve been skimming through the Father’s Day edition of the Hammacher Schlemmer gift catalog. I’m not sure what makes the Father’s Day edition any different from any other edition, but I must admit that a set of monogrammed lighted grilling tools seems like something every dad needs. Here are some other actual choices…
    The Campfire Beer Caramelizer: You heat this rod in a flame, dunk it in the beer, and it “caramelizes residual sugars, mellows the flavor and creates a rich creamy head.” That sounds smooth, but—and I’m no expert–doesn’t it make the beer warm? I can’t be the first person to ask this question.
    The Thin Kangaroo Leather Wallet: I’m sorry if this makes me appear callous, but it is ironic that the only animal that could actually carry a wallet, they made him into one.
  • 5/20/2019 For almost 40 years I have shared with my wife the chores of loading and unloading the dishwasher. I’ve hated every single second of this responsibility. I'd rather clean the toilet with my toothbrush, poke a bees’ nest with a broom handle, or clean out the gutters with a teaspoon.
    Last week my wife informed me that I was now forever relieved of dishwasher duty. "Just scrape the dishes and stack them in the sink," she told me. “You're terrible at loading and it seems to get worse by the day. Ever wonder why when you unload the dishes in the morning, everything you flung into the machine willy-nilly has miraculously lined up perfectly in the appropriate slots? Who do you think did that?"
    "Well, it takes almost an hour to run a load of dishes and I hear a lot of odd noises, so I assumed a mechanical realignment was one of the wash cycles."
  • 5/4/2019 There are three things that make a marriage work.  Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are. If push came to shove and I had to guess, I’d say no pushing or shoving would top the list.
    Mary Ellen and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary this year.  We’ve been happily married for 37 years; the other two we were sharing a bathroom.
    Communication is vitally important. This is a typical conversation my wife and I have at the dinner table:
    “What are you doing tomorrow, Mary Ellen?”
    “Let’s see, I have my morning exercise class, then a haircut at two, and then book club after dinner. And you?”
    “I’m playing pickleball, then I’m shooting a TV segment and I’m going to write this week’s column.”
  • 4/27/2019 I have watched with great interest over the years the increasing number of athletes who have used steroids and other body-enhancing drugs. As a writer, I am proud of my body (of work) that has not been tarnished by the use of any humor-enhancing or whimsy-producing substances.
    Other humor columnists, I am convinced, have on their shelves at home Milton Berle's Personal Jokebook, the 12-volume Complete Works of Henny Youngman and the Acapulco Gold of humor, Bob Hope's Greatest One-Liners (unabridged). My old friend, the late Soupy
    Sales, gave me a file with his 100 favorite jokes. I have been tempted to look at it, but I don’t want to be tempted to borrow from it.
    There have been periods in my life when I’ve wondered where my next joke would come from. I have sometimes found myself in a comic abyss.  I used to hang around Barnes and Noble and Borders. I haunted Books-A-Million, where I knew I could buy funny cracks at a good price.  At one point, I even loitered at a nearby Half Price Books, but you never know what you are buying at a place like that.
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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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