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Never Trust a Goat.rtf


									                                Never Trust a Goat

Tracy Farr

Smashwords Edition

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Published By
Tracy Farr at Smashwords

Never Trust a Goat
Copyright 2009 Tracy Farr

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Smashwords Edition, License Notes

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                                       *   *    *

Never Trust a Goat
When Life is Getting You Down, Just Fiddle
Be All That You Can Be – Eat Soup
The Peanut Butter Debacle of ‘09
The World Could Use a Few More Banjo Players
The Theory of Relative Stupidity
What a Day! I Think I’ll Go For a Waltz!
The Blob is Here to Stay
Yes You Can, and With a Mini-Van
Some People Were Just Born to Ramble
My ‘Sweet Ride’ is a Yellow School Bus
What’s a Few Percentages Between Friends?
If We Could Talk to the Animals, I’d Run!
Learning Your Lessons the Bus Driver Way
If We Are What We Eat, We’re in Trouble
If a French Woman Can Do It, Why Not I?
Hey, Mac! Can You Spare an Apple?
I Hate to Complain, But Not Really
I’m The Man Who Stares at Goats
And Now It’s Time For My Annual Post-Turkey Day Apology
I Do Not Snore, But That’s Just My Opinion
The Five Christmas-shopping “Rules of Engagement”
All I Want For Christmas is…

                                          *   *    *

                                   Never Trust a Goat

I have three goats – a mamma and two twin daughters. I bought them from a little girl
who knocked on my door one day, asking if I'd like to buy some goats. And since goats
like to eat grass, I figured that I’d let them eat it (instead of me having to mow it), leaving
me free to nap on the couch. I give a lot of credence to napping on the couch, especially
when I’m supposed to be doing yard work.

I actually enjoy watching my goats, but the only reason they tolerate me is because I
bring them food every now and then. If it wasn't for the food, they'd steal the credit card
right out of my wallet, and head for the mall to hang out with their little goat friends and
eat Chinese food. It's a good thing they can't drive, but I suspect while I’m asleep they’re
secretly learning how.

I’ve had these goats for almost a year now, and although they haven’t learned a thing
from me, I have learned plenty from them.

Goats are sneaky. Don't trust them. They'll look you right in the eye as if to say, "You're
my best friend," but when you turn your back, they'll head-butt you and start eating your
new khaki pants. Sounds like people I know, but that's a different story.

Goats are noisy when they're hungry, and they’re always hungry. Their cries sound like
the cries of children in pain – and the goats know it. Don't go running outside to see
what's causing them agony. It's a trap. And they know how to build excellent traps.
Never give your goats a name. They never come when you call, so why go through the
hassle. Besides, if you get tired of the goats and decide to barbecue them next Friday
night for your visiting relatives from El Paso, who’s going to want to sit down to a plate
full of Sassy or Hoppy?

It’s best to feed goats things like carrots, lettuce, and bananas, but never three-week-old
chocolate cake. If you do, they'll stop eating the grass – and can you really blame them?
No animal in its right mind would gladly munch on weeds and poison ivy after eating
three-week-old chocolate cake. I know I wouldn’t. And if the goats stop eating grass, that
means you have to mow it, which defeats the purpose of having goats in the first place.

Never turn your back on a goat. They have sharp horns. You may consider a simple
impaling as mere playfulness, but I guarantee they mean to draw blood – and lots of it.
They don't want you towering over them. They want you on the ground, writhing in
agony, your life's blood pouring out of gaping wounds. As you look up at them, you'll
notice their teeth are bigger than you thought. And why are they so big? “The better to eat
you with, my dear.”

Goats can escape anything. Go ahead, pen them in as tightly as you can. Put little
handcuffs around their little legs, put a burlap sack over their heads, throw them in a
locked chest, bury the chest six feet deep, pour concrete in the hole, and park your car
over the top. The goats will be out by morning, eating the neighbor's prized tomatoes –
the ones your neighbor had planned to exhibit at the county fair.

Neighbors are very protective about their prized tomatoes. It's best to have your
checkbook handy when they come to visit.

Goats don’t like standing out in the rain. They look so sad if they have to. So, you go to
Lowe’s, buy some materials, draw up some plans and build them a goat shed. The goats
love it and stand under it every time it rains, which gives you a wonderful sense of
accomplishment. When it’s not raining, and the goats get bored of eating grass, they start
eating the shed until it falls down. Goats don’t have a grateful bone in their bodies.

I'd eat my goats, but I promised the little girl who sold them to me that I wouldn't. Which
leads me to the last thing I've learned: Never make promises to little girls selling goats.
They're in cahoots with each other.

                                         *    *   *

When Life is Getting You Down, Just Fiddle

There comes a time in a man’s life when he wakes up one morning, feels his bones creak
as he gets out of bed, and realizes his tree-climbing days are just about over. He feels old,
he feels tired, he looks like he hasn’t slept in days, and the monotony of every day life is
an anchor that keeps dragging him further and further down into the abyss.

It’s at that moment that a man decides his life would look a whole lot better from the
saddle of a brand new Harley Davidson Fat Boy – a black one, with straight pipes kicking
out un-godly decibels of thunder, with the optional Biker Babe attached and holding on
for dear life.

Yes indeed! Sometimes you need a bit of spice in your life to make it through the day.
But I say a Bike and a Babe might not be the most prudent way to go about it. In my
opinion, if a man really wants to add some flavor to his meal, what he truly needs is a
fiddle – a down-to-earth, honest to goodness, low-tech, cat scratching,
fingernails-on-chalkboard, wife yelling “Get that thing out of my house before I lose my
ever-loving mind” fiddle.

Poppycock you say? Nonsense you say? You think I’m full of hot air, gibberish, gabble
rubbish, and baloney? Maybe so, but I bet you good money that if you were to give a man
the choice between a Harley/Biker Babe and a fiddle, he’d choose the Harley/Biker Babe
every time – but only because that’s what society demands of him. Deep in his heart he
yearns to play fiddle. Just ask him. He’ll lie to you, of course, but you and I know the

(WORDS OF ADVICE: If you decide after reading this essay that you indeed need a
fiddle, keep in mind that your local music store will try to sell you a violin instead. Don’t
let them. Stand your ground. Tell them you weren’t born yesterday. You want a fiddle,
and you won’t leave until they sell you one. Now, back to our story.)

Like I was saying, when a man has sunk so low as to think a Harley and a Biker Babe
will make life worth living again, that’s the time he desperately needs a fiddle – even
though he’ll resist with all the man-ness he can muster. And why does he need it?
Because learning to play one makes you realize that your life isn’t as bad as it could be.

You know that boss you can’t stand? You’ll be hugging his neck after five minutes of
trying to hold a fiddle. You know all that paperwork that’s been piling up on your desk?
You’ll be eager to tackle it after a day of trying to correctly hold a bow. You know that
guy in the next cubicle who plays his Rap Music so loud it can be heard even through his
headphones? You’ll be begging him to turn up the music after a week of listening to
yourself scratch out a melody on the fiddle.

There are not many things worse than listening to a beginner fiddle player. Someone
learning to play bagpipes comes to mind, as well as stepping in cat vomit in the middle of
the night, Macaroni and Cheese Pizza, and Oprah. But after that, I’m hard pressed to
think of anything else.

Playing the fiddle is one of those things that takes time to learn. Some people develop the
skill quickly, while others keep scratching until the day they die and their relatives are
happy to put them in their grave – along with the fiddle.

But when it’s all said and done, and you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do,
you’ll feel as if you could leap tall buildings in a single bound; you’ll feel more powerful
than a locomotive; you’ll feel as if you can run faster than a speeding bullet. And when
you finally have this unimaginable feeling of invincibility, that’s the time you head over
to your friendly neighborhood Harley shop, pick out a sweet ride, and take your pick of
Biker Babes.

And what about the little woman at home? No need to worry. You’re invincible! Besides,
she’s been debating on whether to kick you out of the house or shoot you ever since the
day you brought home that fiddle. She’ll be happy to see you go. She might even pack
you a lunch.

                                         *   *    *

Be All That You Can Be – Eat Soup
There’s a lot being said in the media these days about the Washington bailout of the auto
industry, but not a lot being said about soup. That’s right, I said soup! And I know there’s
a reason for it – why one is more important than the other – but for the life of me I can’t
figure it out.

The goal of running a successful auto business is simple and uncomplicated – sell a lot of
cars, make a ton of cash. But the importance of eating a hot bowl of soup is not so
straightforward; there’s so much more meaning attached to it than just obtaining

Eating soup is about learning life lessons. It’s about knowing who you are, where you’ve
been and where you’re going. Soup makes you remember that you’re no better than the
rest of us, that even though you went off to college and got your fancy job, you’re still
one of us, will always be one of us, and don’t you forget it. Soup was good enough for
your mother and me, it was good enough for your grandparents, your aunts, uncles and
cousins, and don’t think you’re too good for it, because you’re not. Now sit down and eat
your soup before it gets cold, and don’t slurp it.

I’d bet my Dodge Mini-Van that all those auto executives grew up eating some kind of
soup; however, they took a wrong turn somewhere along the way. They went off to
college, got good jobs, moved up the corporate ladder, and started eating new things like
sushi and crab-stuffed artichoke hearts. They bought fancy cars, ate at fine restaurants,
went to places like Morocco and Abu Dhabi, spent more money on valet parking than
you or I will ever make in our lifetimes – and completely forgot about the simple joy of
eating soup.
Richard Wagoner, the CEO of General Motors, grew up in Richmond, Virginia, where
I’m pert-near positive he had soup at one time or another. I can just imagine him coming
in from an afternoon of playing basketball, and sitting down to a steaming bowl of
Grilled Sirloin Steak Soup with Hearty Vegetables. He was a kid who wasn’t thinking
about year-end bonuses or flying off to Europe on a company jet. He was just imagining
how good the next spoonful was going to be, and he hoped there was enough for seconds.

Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli was born in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, where I’m sure
every now and then he came home with a runny nose, fever, and a sore throat. He didn’t
know anything about the IRS, tax reports, 401ks and the “bottom line.” He only knew his
mom was going to make him feel better by fixing him a piping-hot bowl of homemade
Chicken Noodle Soup with maybe a cracker or two crumbled on top.

And what about Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford? Yes, he was born in California, but he went
to college in Kansas – home of straight shootin’, level-headed, down-to-earth soup eaters.
He might not have arrived in Kansas as an aficionado of Old Fashioned Vegetable Beef
Soup, but I bet he left there as one.

It makes sense that throughout the ages a lot of famous people enjoyed eating soup –
people like Michelangelo who probably ate Potato Soup while painting the Sistine
Chapel; da Vinci, who might have gotten Mona Lisa to smile by promising her a bowl of
Split Pea Soup if she’d pose for just a few more hours; George Washington, who more
than likely dreamed about a bowl of Brunswick Stew as he crossed the Delaware;
Beethoven, who no doubt sipped on bouillabaisse while he composed his Fifth
Symphony; Orville and Wilbur Wright who perhaps celebrated their first flight by
sharing a pot of Vegetable Soup; and John Glenn who conceivably asked for a bowl of
Old Fashioned Potato Ham Chowder after returning to Earth.

And what about Sasha and Malia Obama? When it gets cold in Washington this winter, I
can practically guarantee they’ll sit down with their mom and dad and feast on
grilled-cheese sandwiches and bowls of hot Tomato Soup. And can you blame them?

Wagoner, Nardelli and Mulally may have more money than me, but I’ve got a large
bubbling pot of New England Clam Chowder sitting on the stove top not just waiting to
be served, but begging to be served. And by my calculation, that beats being in a bunch
of hot water any day.

                                          *    *   *

                          The Peanut Butter Debacle of ‘09
Microsoft is cutting jobs, the auto industry is in dire straights, airlines are flying fewer
flights, and Starbucks is closing stores everywhere. I would say our economy is now
officially in shambles. Good thing we can still count on peanut butter to get us through
these trying times.

NEWS FLASH: Due to the possibility of salmonella contamination, the Food and Drug
Administration recently recalled 400 kinds of cakes, cookies and other products made
with peanut butter in one of the largest product recalls in history.

Okay, now we’re in trouble!

“But Mommy, we’re out of peanut butter,” Little Johnny said at the Super-Duper Mega
Mart. “Aren’t we going to get some more?”

“Not this week, honey. Let’s try Pimento Cheese. Better yet, how about some Soy

Attention shoppers: Management has pulled SOME peanut butter products from our
shelves due to a recall. This recall does not affect major brands such as Jif, Skippy and
Peter Pan. In fact, if you’re interested in helping out our American economy, you might
think about buying a jar or two – or three or four. Thank you for shopping at Super-Duper
Mega Mart.

After hearing the store’s announcement, Little Johnny’s mother picks up a jar of Peter
Pan Honey Roast Creamy Peanut Butter, glances at the ingredient label, but puts it back
on the shelf. If some peanut butter is bad, she reasons, how can we trust the rest of them?

FUTURE HISTORY TEACHER: For more than 200 years, America was one of the
foremost nations on our planet – that is until the early part of the 21st Century. Does
anybody know what happened in our country during that time? Anybody?

FUTURE LITTLE JOHNNY: My great, great, grandmother didn’t buy peanut butter
during the Peanut Butter Debacle of ’09, and America’s economy collapsed. And that’s
why we eat Marmite today instead of peanut butter.

HISTORY TEACHER: Well, it wasn’t just her fault, but you’re right. Not all peanut
butter was unsafe to eat, but people back then didn’t want to take chances. And when the
peanut butter industry collapsed, it caused the jelly industry to fold, which affected
farmers, pickers, truckers, and a whole lot of other people who depended on peanut butter
for a living. The Multi-Billion Dollar Peanut Butter Bailout was supposed to help, but it
ended up being too little, too late.

“Mr. President, without a bailout for our industry, children all over this great country of
ours will be deprived of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and if our business goes
under, so goes the country,” said the Head Peanut Butter CEO.

“Please Daddy, can you help them?” cried Sasha Obama. “I haven’t had a peanut butter
and jelly sandwich in so long, and you know how much I love them. And can I have a
“These times call for sacrifices from all of us, but sacrificing a staple of American culture
is out of the question,” said President Obama. “Who do I make the check out to?”

A lot of us hard-working families have tried to shelter our children from all this economic
mess, but without peanut butter on the menu, our children are going to figure something’s
amiss, and when they do, we’ll have to level with them. And this is what our children will
say one day about growing up in America:

“Oh yes, I remember 2009 like it was yesterday. That was the year of the great Peanut
Butter Debacle. We begged and begged for anything with peanut butter in it, but there
was none to be found. You kids just don’t know how good you have it today. Back then,
we suffered.”

“Tell us another story, Grandpa. Tell us about sitting around the television to watch the
TV Queen.”

“Not right now child, I’m getting tired. Why don’t you go and play outside?”

And Oprah, the TV Queen said: “And how does that make you feel, hearing your
children express their feelings about how they feel about the loss of peanut butter?”

Random audience member: “Betrayed! Betrayed by our government; betrayed by those
who are supposed to look after the safety of our food supply; and betrayed by the Peanut
Butter CEOs who only cared about the ‘bottom line,’ at the expense of our children.”

“I feel your pain,” Oprah, the TV Queen said. “Tomorrow on our show, we’ll discuss 257
ways to get your man away from the TV and into bed. That’s next time on Oprah.”

And the world keeps spinning.

                                         *   *    *

The World Could Use a Few More Banjo Players
Sometimes, while I’m at home waiting for the mail to come, I take my mind out for a
walk, give it some leash, and follow along the best I can.

For instance, just the other morning I was wondering why anybody would want to spend
their lives learning to play the trombone when they could play the banjo instead. All that
pushing and pulling (on a bunch of pipe that looks like it should be connected to a toilet)
just makes me seasick. And where does the slide go when the trombone player pulls it in?
Does he swallow it like a sword swallower? I know it doesn’t exit out the back of his
head because that would be noticeable – and a little bit messy.
There is nothing messy about a banjo. Banjos make people smile. Trombones make
people duck. Flute players, on the other hand, make people nervous.

I’ve noticed that flute players are way too serious. You can’t kid around with a flute
player because they’ll think you’re being serious, too. They also can’t tell funny stories.
They think they can, but they can’t – which is actually pretty hilarious. I’m also surprised
they don’t keel over from all the air they keep exhaling. You and I would probably
hyperventilate if we tried to play a flute, and it would serve us right.

I bet you can find at least 537 flute players in every town in America. You’d be lucky to
find eight banjo players living in those same towns. The flute players would either be
practicing or shopping at the mall. The banjo players would be at Dairy Queen or the Hot
Link Palace, talking about football.

Speaking of trumpet players (which we weren’t but I hope you won’t hold it against me),
whenever trumpet players pick up their horns and start blowing on them, they look like
their heads are about to explode. They shut their eyes tight, their faces turn blood red,
they sweat all over the place, and when they’re finished, their lips look like they just
came out of a meat grinder. Migraine headaches, aneurisms and Tylenol Extra Strength
were unheard of until the trumpet was invented.

Banjo players never have headaches – indigestion, yes; headaches, no. That’s why they
never leave home without a bottle or two of Tums. Trumpet players watch their diet.
Banjo players abuse theirs. But enough about trumpets. Let’s talk about the saxophone.

Everybody wants to play the saxophone – until they try to play one. That’s when they
find out they have to put a piece of wood in their mouth, suck on it for awhile, and then
blow on it until it squeaks. It’s about then that they wish they’d chosen to play the banjo.

You don’t have to put a banjo in your mouth and suck on it. You’d probably be arrested
in some states for even trying.

Saxophone players hold their instruments by way of a neck strap. The neck strap keeps
them from setting down their instrument and forgetting where they put it. Banjo players
also hold their instrument by way of a strap, but let’s not compare apples with oranges.

Penny Whistles and Tin Whistles are the same instrument but with different names. I
don’t know why they’re called Penny Whistles because they cost more than a penny. I do
know why they’re called Tin Whistles – only a person with a Tin Ear could enjoy playing
one. Banjos, on the other hand, are only called banjos. It’s less confusing that way.

I think more people should play the banjo. They have a distinctive sound, they make
people smile, and they connect us to a less complicated past – a past when we could drive
to Alabama playing a banjo on our knee without worrying about a cop pulling us over to
give us a lecture on safety issues concerning playing a banjo while driving (which, no
matter what you’ve heard, I categorically deny ever doing).

In conclusion, I have the utmost respect for anyone who can play a musical instrument. It
takes a lot of intelligence, dedication and talent to make one sound the way it’s supposed
to. But these day, I think the world could use a few more banjo players – people who
laugh a lot, don’t stress about the small stuff, and are always optimistic about the future.
And since I have nothing more to add, I won’t.

*   *   *

                          The Theory of Relative Stupidity
My fellow friends, colleagues, and members of the scientific community, after many
years of study, research, supposition, postulation, conjecture, and a lot of late-night
dictionary diving to find a bunch of really big words, I hereby present to you the sum of
my life’s work in thesis form titled, “The Theory of Relative Stupidity.”

But before we can thoroughly explore this subject, it is first necessary to examine and
define certain terminology used in this Theory in order for us to approach the subject
with commonality. I have no idea what any of that just meant, but it sounded smart.

First and foremost is the word “Theory” – a noun used to indicate a hypothesis, a
conjecture, speculation, or more plainly, a guess. Anyone can have a theory about
anything. I once had a theory that if I constantly told my brother he was stupid, he’d turn
out that way. My theory was wrong. Plus, he punched me in the eye to prove it.

Next is the word “Relative” – a word that means comparative and qualified, but it could
also be used to describe my Aunt Edna in El Paso. A lot of English words have more than
one meaning, and that’s why most students hate their English classes.

Finally, we have the word “Stupidity” – a word that pertains to all things foolish, idiotic,
foolhardy, inane, and plain silly. Most people use this word without really knowing its
origin, but this thesis will not deal with origins; to do so would be lengthy and downright

The words “of” and “the” are extra words we don’t really need. Think of them as
additional government employees – the ones who just stand around watching the others

Now that we have defined a common terminology, let’s take a closer look at “The Theory
of Relative Stupidity.”

In plain English, “The Theory of Relative Stupidity” postulates that any form of inanity
will, when placed at specific coordinates upon a timeline in a third-dimensional
space-time continuum, be viewed upon as sensible until it is viewed from a different set
of coordinates along the same timeline. In even plainer English, some ideas seem good at
the time, but usually turn out not to be. To prove my point, I present these three

Example No. 1: You would never stoop so low as to get your hands dirty while replacing
the head gasket on a vintage Jeep. Your brother, on the other hand, loves everything
mechanical and would prefer to repair the engine himself than take it to a “professional.”
You think it’s your duty to tell him he’s being stupid. He slaps you in the ear with a
monkey wrench, causing you to forget everything since last Tuesday. Weeks later, your
brother has a working vintage Jeep that didn’t cost him an arm and a leg to fix. You,
realizing that was a stupid thing to say to your brother, just want your ears to stop

Example No. 2: You think it is reasonable to tell your brother that it’s a stupid idea for
him to move to Montana to become a sheep herder. As he pulls out his bullwhip and
chases you around the barn, you realize telling him was a stupid idea. He goes to
Montana without your blessing and becomes the Sheep King of the West. You, thinking
that he might be on to something, buy some goats, but it’s just not the same.

And finally, Example No. 3: You, being the oldest, believe it logical that you should also
be the strongest, tallest, fastest and most witty. You also believe it is your right to tell
your brother he will never amount to much. When he finally catches you, picks you up,
throws you down on the ground and makes a joke about how you now look and sound
just like a chicken that didn’t quite make it across the road, you realize it was pretty
stupid to say anything to his face when you could have used e-mail instead.

In conclusion, “The Theory of Relative Stupidity” describes how we humans are more
perceptive of our own stupidity after the fact than before the fact. But that’s a good thing,
because without it, we wouldn’t have the ability to laugh at ourselves or the absurdities of
living. So, to echo the words of that famous American, Patrick Henry, I say, “Give me
stupidity, or give me death.” On second thought, that was a pretty stupid thing to say.

                                         *   *    *

What a Day! I Think I’ll Go For a Waltz!
After a long, grueling day at work, there is nothing that can soothe the soul better than a
good old fashioned waltz. Eating a Stuffed Crust Barbecue Pizza while watching reruns
of “Rawhide” comes mighty close, but when we’re talking about mental health, close
isn’t good enough.

Waltzing is quickly becoming the exercise of choice for people all across the nation, and
even though it may be hard to believe, men are coming out in droves to participate –
secretly of course, but in droves, nonetheless.

Most men enjoy waltzing, but preferably at home when no one else is around. And if they
say they don’t, they’re lying. Go ahead ladies – ask the man in your life how he plans to
spend his Saturday while you’re off at the mall. To your face, he’ll tell you he’s going to
spend the afternoon with his “buds” watching the big NASCAR race, but as soon as
you’re out the door and down the street, he’s going to put on a little Strauss and let his
inner dancer come out of the closet.

(FYI: Putting on “a little Strauss” refers to the 19th Century composer who is
affectionately known as “The Waltz King.” It is not a piece of skimpy clothing from
Victoria’s Secret your husband puts on when you’re not at home.)

Did you know that a five or ten minute brisk waltz offers the same health benefits as
walking to the kitchen to make a jumbo sub sandwich with Pepper Jack cheese and Sweet
Dill Relish? That’s why I’m surprised Oprah hasn’t touted it as one of the ten best ways
to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I guess she hasn’t tried it.

I suppose the Samba or the Rumba offers a more intense cardio workout, but that means
more sweat. People who waltz would rather keep sweating to a minimum. Besides, those
Latin dances require tight clothing, tan skin, and fake foreign accents – and for us
red-blooded American men, that’s a no-no.

I prefer waltzing over jogging because you basically get to stay in one place (I choose in
front of the TV) and there’s no chance of getting lost. Sure, you might get off beat every
now and then, but that’s better than jogging half way across the country and not knowing
how to get back.

Besides the health benefits, another reason people are jumping on the Waltzing
Bandwagon is because of its low cost. There’s nothing to buy, no equipment to set up,
and it doesn’t require specific clothing, as do bicycling or Sumo wrestling. You can waltz
in your pajamas, and I much prefer it that way.

Waltzing also doesn’t require expensive shoes. A person can waltz in their socks if they
want to, and for rookies, that’s usually the best option. (It saves wear and tear on a dance
partner’s toes.)

I predict the waltz will one day be all the rage of the exercise world. Mr. T and Regis
Filbin will star in 30-minute info-mercials about Aerobic Waltzing, and health
professionals will design a Waltzing Diet that is guaranteed to shed unwanted pounds in
30 days or your money back.

But wait – if you call our 1-800 number within the next 10 minutes, we’ll include our
brand new “Waltzing Abs” video exercise program that is a sure-fire way of giving you
abs of steel – or at least, aluminum. Phone now. Our operators are standing by to take
your call.
Yes, friends and neighbors, waltzing is the way to a new and better us. And trust me – we
need it.

                                          *   *   *

The Blob is Here to Stay
Scientists have recently discovered an immense blob living on the bottom shelf of my
refrigerator. This blob is so dense, light can’t penetrate through it; so massive, it devours
everything else around it. But since it’s not fuzzy purple yet, I might have it for lunch.

In case you haven’t been to school in a long time and have forgotten, the word “blob” is a
scientific word defined as a “coalesced mass of unrecognizable icky stuff that might be
edible, but consumption is not recommended without killing it first with a truck load of
Tabasco Sauce.” The blob in my refrigerator looks like it would laugh in the face of
Tabasco Sauce.

I’m not exactly sure what this blob started out as – maybe a half-eaten slice of
cheesecake; maybe leftover broccoli. Whatever it was, it has learned to adapt, to conquer,
to multiply and divide, to work complex algebraic equations. It is self-aware, it is
sentient, but most importantly, it emits nauseating smells as a self-defense mechanism.

NEWS UPDATE: I’ve just returned from the refrigerator where I embarked on a mission
to rescue the sliced ham and Pepper Jack cheese because it’s lunch time and I’m really
hungry. The blob took no notice of me. It was too busy painting graffiti on the walls.
Gang signs. Things like, “Mold-siders are best,” “No carrots allowed,” and “Touch me
and I’ll envelop you with deadly embryonic microorganisms!” Surprisingly, it has a good
command of the English language.

Unidentifiable blobs are not new to mankind. Hollywood made a movie called “The
Blob” back in 1958 that starred Steve McQueen before he was picky about his movies.
The movie’s theme song, “The Blob,” was one of Burt Bacharach’s first hits. It went
something like this: “Beware of The Blob! It creeps, and leaps, and glides and slides.
Across the floor, right through the door. And all around the wall. A splotch, a blotch. Be
careful of The Blob!”

Grammy Award winning material, don’t you think?

In 1964, Marvel Comics introduced a new super villain named The Blob who fought
against the X-Men. Blob’s real name was Fred J. Dukes. He was born in Lubbock, Texas,
was a circus performer, and was a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants III –
which I’m sure doesn’t surprise you one bit.
Unlike Wolverine, who was all buffed up with really cool knives and a Hollywood movie
deal, The Blob was fat, mean and really ugly, and is pretty much forgotten about these
days. So, let’s continue to forget about him and move right along.

In 1994, strange blobs (in no way related to Blob the super villain) fell from the sky
across Washington state. It was reported that people who touched the blobs got sick.
Dogs and cats that came in contact with the stuff even died. More mysterious still, there
were reports of UFOs and black helicopters seen in the area right before the blobs fell.
And I know these reports are true because I read it on the Internet – the place where all
serious journalists go to do research.

More recently, astronomers found an enormous blob in deep space which may have a
massive black hole at its center. It’s 12.9 billion light years away from Earth, and 55,000
light years wide. Astronomers even gave it a name – Himiko. Of course, they didn’t ask
the blob for approval – they just did it on their own. A space blob billions of light years
away really can’t throw a fuss about the name it’s been given.

I’d give my blob a name, but it’s right in the next room and probably knows Kung Fu.

Which begs the question, if a blob had its choice of names, would it want to be called
Blob? Maybe it would prefer James or Toby. How about something snazzy like
Maximillian? My guess is it would probably choose Spike or “Globule of Death,” then
grow a Mohawk and get a tattoo.

Mankind knows very little about blobs. There are no college courses in Blobatomy; there
is no community need for a Bloberinarian or a Blobecologist. But maybe there should be.
Maybe the study of Blobology would give us a better understanding of blobs; their
culture and way of life. Because folks, let’s face it – they’re not going away. They’re here
to stay. And I know this because I just looked in my refrigerator and the “Globule of
Death” is digging foxholes and putting up concertina wire.

                                         *   *   *

Yes You Can, and With a Mini-Van
A friend once told me there was no way I could get a load of 2x4s, some roofing paper,
shingles, assorted nails and screws, and a 4x8 sheet of plywood in the back of my
Mini-Van. Of course I looked him right in the eye and said, “Well I know that! You
didn’t think I was actually going to try it, did you? What do you think I am – an idiot?”

As soon as my friend left, I put on a hat, some dark shades, and drove my Mini-Van to
the lumberyard. I needed some materials for building a goat shed, and the Mini-Van was
the only form of transportation I had available.
To make a long story short enough to fit in this particular spot of the newspaper, I was
able to gather up all my materials, get it home, and build the goat shed without anybody
suspecting I used a Mini-Van.

Now, being the community-oriented guy that I am, and knowing there must be at least
two other guys who are just like me (needing to do some manly work but having only a
non-manly vehicle in which to do it), I hereby present some tips to make it all work for

1. Before you head out to the lumberyard (or hardware store, or wherever other men
driving trucks gather), put on a hat, some dark shades, and only leave your house when
you’re pretty sure your friends are at home and nowhere near the lumberyard (or
wherever). If a friend does catch you there, just say you’re out of chainsaws and need to
buy a couple, and then head back home and start your project another day.

2. When you get to the lumberyard, park as far away from the building as you can. You
don’t want strangers to see you trying to put that much stuff, especially the plywood, in
the back of your Mini-Van.

3. While you’re gathering up your lumber and supplies, look confident – like you have a
truck parked outside. Think positive. Try to put out of your mind that something (like the
plywood) might not fit.

4. At the checkout counter, if the cashier asks if you need any help loading your
purchases, you tell her, “I’m a man. Men have trucks. Thanks, but no thanks!”

5. Once you head out to the parking lot, don’t walk straight to your Mini-Van. Head for a
nearby truck – any truck will do – to give the impression you would never go to the
lumberyard in anything less. At the last minute, veer off to the Mini-Van, making sure to
stay hidden behind the plywood.

6. If you’re lucky, no one will see you trying to shove your supplies into the Mini-Van. If
you’re NOT lucky, a good Samaritan will show up to offer assistance. Be polite, let the
good Samaritan help, shake his hand when all is said and done, but don’t be surprised if
he doesn’t stick around for small talk. He’ll be in a hurry to get home so he can tell his
wife, “You’ll never believe what I just saw at the lumberyard.”

7. Most of your supplies will fit nicely in the back of the Mini-Van, but the plywood is
another matter. More than likely you’ll have to push the plywood all the way up to the
windshield where it will overhang the front seats. Driving shouldn’t be a problem as long
as you move your seat way back, duck down behind the steering wheel, and drive like a
Low Rider.

8. Pray a cop doesn’t pull you over.

9. Watch out for potholes and railroad crossings. Every bump you hit will cause the
plywood, which is over your head, to bounce up and slap you on the noggin like it was
trying to make a point, such as, “You won’t do this again, will ya! (bounce, SLAP!) Next
time you’ll use a truck, won’t ya! (bounce, WHAMO!) Right about now you’re feeling
like an idiot, aren’t ya! (bounce, SMACK! CONCUSSION!).”

10. When you get home, take two aspirin and put some ice on your head. When the
dizziness goes away, unload all your supplies, pick up the latest edition of the newspaper,
and start scanning the classifieds for a used truck!

Well, there you have it. Next time, we’ll discuss how to transport three goats in the back
of your Mini-Van without having to clean up a ton of goat poop.

                                         *   *   *

Some People Were Just Born to Ramble
Contrary to what you might think, it’s actually pretty easy for a writer to sit down and
write about a subject that most people find interesting, such as poodles or projectile
vomiting. But when it comes to writing something interesting about absolutely nothing at
all – well, buddy, that’s when the going gets tough.

Any monkey can write about politicians or movie stars or fancy cars being driven by
highfaluting people who have more dollars than sense (or cents), but it takes a rare talent
who can ramble on and on about something like goat poop and make it sound as
important as a presidential address, but without the smell.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m one of those “rare talents,” but just the other day, while I
was lounging on the couch being practically worthless, I suddenly realized that I’m as
insightful as a tree stump, but boy can I talk and write a bunch of nonsense when the need

I guess you could say I was born to be a ramblin’ man, but if you actually did say it – or
worse, sang it – then you’d have to define exactly what kind of ramblin’ man I happen to
be. Am I the kind of rambler who travels around the globe, moving here and there all
willy-nilly like, soaking in everything I see and hear and smell like there’s no deodorant?
Or am I the kind of rambler who keeps moving his mouth without any thought to what’s
coming out, or why, or who might be listening, or not? I would like to think I was the
former, but I have come to terms with the fact that I’m the latter.

Yes, I am rambler. I know this because I can see it in people’s eyes. I can see it when
they start looking at their watches, wondering why they don’t have an important meeting
to go to, or an appointment which would help them make a graceful exit, stage right. Out
of desperation, they pretend to have phone calls:
“Oh, I apologize. My cell is buzzing and this is an important call. It’s probably the
President. Please excuse me.”

And some just flat out lie:

“That’s very interesting. We should discuss this more. Have your people call my people
and I’m sure they’ll be able to get together and have a lovely lunch while talking about
whatever it is you’ve been talking about. Ok? Ok.”

Well, I guess that would be okay if I actually had “people,” but people like me don’t have
“people.” We have cats and goats and John Deere lawnmowers and a whole lot of stuff
up in the attic that we have practically no use for, but we keep it anyways just for when
we might need it. Just in case. But we don’t have “people.”

How do people have “people” anyways? And what do these “people” do? More
importantly, do they mind being called “people,” as in “my people” or “your people”? I
would think it would be insulting to be known as somebody’s “people.” But that’s just
me. Maybe they’re okay with it. I don’t think I would be. I’m not much of a “people”

People don’t like being waylaid by a ramblin’ man in Wal-Mart. It’s not the best thing
that can happen to a person. The rambler rambles on about this and that, or something or
another, while your carton of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream melts right out of
the carton and onto the floor. And then somebody has to clean it up, but it’s not going to
be you because it wasn’t your fault in the first place.

But does the rambler realize that your ice cream is melting? Of course not. He just keeps
on talking and talking and talking like that’s what you came to Wal-Mart for – to see him
and listen to every single thought and idea that ever entered and then exited his little
itty-bitty pea-sized brain.

Ramblers are a nuisance, a bother, an irritation and a pain in the you-know-what. They
should apologize for being who and what they are – and say it with feeling!

(Angie, I am so sorry I talked your ears off the other day in Wal-Mart while your ice
cream melted. But I was impressed how your two young boys just bustled about, getting
everything on your shopping list and bringing it back to your cart. They certainly came in
handy. It was nice to see you again. Keep in touch.)

                                         *   *    *

My ‘Sweet Ride’ is a Yellow School Bus
I’m proud to say that I’m a school bus driver. Not only that, but last year one of my riders
gave me a certificate that says I’m the greatest bus driver in the world – which makes me
an Award-Winning School Bus Driver. The certificate is hanging up in my office. Feel
free to drop by and see it.

Being an Award-Winning School Bus Driver is not all glamour and paparazzi. Yes, there
are perks that come with the job (I’m still searching for mine), but there’s also a certain
amount of responsibility that comes with the reward.

Bus drivers have to be friendly and ready to wipe up liquid motion sickness at a
moment’s notice. Bus drivers have to be welcoming, but ready to give students the “evil
eye” when they’re not following the rules. Bus drivers have to understand a little bit of
child psychology, be able to work under pressure, and have the ability to tune out
distractions while keeping their eyes and ears open for Little Johnny who loves to use his
markers to color on things – especially other riders. And bus drivers have to carry an
extra bottle of deodorant with them because driving a bus is a sweaty job, and stinky
school bus drivers don’t get certificates.

Driving a school bus is not for everybody, and to be a school bus driver is to be
practically superhuman but without the cape and spandex. That’s why I’m surprised there
aren’t more movies made about them.

“In a land where time has stood still, where American values are as deep-rooted as the
Rockies, there lives a man who is more than what he appears to be. His name is Bud
Randle. He drives a school bus twice a day, but he’s hiding a secret that will soon amaze
all his friends and neighbors. And in the end, he will save us all. Transport Pictures
presents Johnny Depp in a Peter Jackson film – ‘Mr. Bus Driver: The Movie.’ Coming to
a theater near you.!”

I’d gladly pay my money to see a movie like that, and I might even spring for some
hot-buttered popcorn and an ice-cold soda pop. Wouldn’t you?

Driving a bus doesn’t have the greatest of reputations. The buses rarely have air
conditioning, the heaters barely work in the winter, they’re slow, the engines are loud, the
brakes squeal, the children sometimes get noisy and obnoxious, and dealing with a bunch
of hot, sweaty kids on a hot, sweaty day is worse than having a root canal without
medication. But other than that, it’s not too bad – especially if you have a Little Emily

“Mr. Bus Driver, why are you whistling? Whistling isn’t allowed on the bus,” said Little

“Who says whistling isn’t allowed on the bus?” asked Mr. Bus Driver.

“I did,” said Little Emily.

“You did? So, you mean when I’m happy, I can’t whistle?”
“Well, I guess I can make an exception. But just this once,” she said.

Little Emily has plans for her life. Maybe she’s going to be a nurse, or a lawyer, or the
CEO of a global financial institution that will decide whether or not I should get the loan
I need to one day take my family to Europe for the trip of a lifetime. Who knows? What
matters today is that she doesn’t mind riding to school on the bus. She’s been doing it
since kindergarten. It’s just a morning and afternoon ritual that will continue until she can
drive herself to school. But until that time, she relies on me, the bus driver, to get her
there safely so she can become the person she’s meant to be.

So like I was saying, driving a school bus is a big responsibility. Not everybody can do it,
but those who can should be respected, admired, and valued as important members of our
society. And the best way that you can show your appreciation for the thankless job these
school bus drivers do is to remember two things:

1) Stop when you see their red lights flashing. There’s a Little Emily on every bus, and
they all want to grow up safe and sound; and 2) Bus drivers love to eat. A couple of
glazed donuts or an apple fritter in a bag is sometimes better than money.

Now, if you’ll excuse me – I’ve got riders to pick up.

                                          *   *   *

What’s a Few Percentages Between Friends?
I’ve noticed that 95 percent of Americans who quote percentages are just making them up
about 87 percent of the time, but since it’s all math (and the rest of us hate math) we
believe them, which makes us pretty darn stupid. Politicians are the worst about
“percentage dropping,” followed by sportscasters and wives with lazy husbands.

“I guarantee that when Charlotte’s husband is home, he’s out in the yard 92 percent of the
time cutting the grass, and the other 8 percent he’s in the kitchen doing the dishes. And
how do you spend 92 percent of your time at home? Lounging on the couch watching
NASCAR – or snoring. I have no idea what you do the other 8 percent of the time, and
frankly, I don’t want to know. Do you see something wrong with this picture? Well, do

To be honest, I must admit that 45 percent of those exact words have never been spoken
to me in that precise order by anybody in particular at my house on a Saturday afternoon.
I just made it up. Honestly. So, shall we continue?

I think it would be safe to say that 98 percent of all politicians, whether they be foreign or
domestic, have at one time or another quoted figures and statistics that are slightly wide
of the mark. They use these numbers to support their position (whether it be vertical or
horizontal) because it’s a requirement of being in office.

“I do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of our constitution 97 percent of the time;
to serve 51 percent of my constituency because majority rules in a democracy; to wrap
my arguments in obscure details and data; and to never let my good judgment be
influenced by piles of dirty money, unless it increases my take-home pay by 180 percent
and there’s only a 2 percent chance of being caught. So help me God.”

Before going on I must admit that 50 percent of the politicians I have met in my lifetime
were good, honest, hard-working Americans. The other guy reminded me of a used car

“I just want you to know that 96 percent of the people who walk through our lot believe
this car, this one right here, is a piece of junk. They don’t even give it a second look. But
I’m here to tell you they’re wrong. Our mechanics gave 110 percent of their time and
effort to make this car the Cinderella of the lot. And if you buy it right here, right now,
right this minute, I’ll drop that sticker price by 38 percent – and I don’t do that for just
anybody. So, you want to take it for a test drive?”

Before going on I must admit that 50 percent of the used car dealers I have met in my
lifetime were good, honest, hard-working Americans. The other guy reminded me of a

When it comes to numbers, only sportscasters have earned my trust. Their jobs are built
upon facts and figures, statistics and averages, hits and runs, steroids and dog fights.
Ninety-nine percent of them could give Einstein a run for his money, which wouldn’t be
that hard considering he’s dead.

“Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez, 14-time All-Star catcher and 13-time Golden Glove winner, let
a bouncing ball pass him on Wednesday, giving the Minnesota Twins a two-game sweep
over the Rangers which pulled the Twins within 5 ½ games behind Detroit despite being
four games under .500.”

(I know it’s not rocket science, but it sounds pert near close.)

To make matters worse, there is a sub-class to “percentage droppers.” I refer to them as
the “point five-ers.” Not only do they talk in percentages, but they talk in fractions of
percentages. These people are dangerous. Avoid them if you can, run if you have
absolutely have no other choice.

“You are not going to believe the product I’m going to show you today. It’s 100 percent
clean, it’s 100 percent useful, it’s 100 percent cost effective, and only 21.5 percent of the
population know about it. That’s right, I said 21.5 percent. Surprised? You should be. But
for the unbelievable initial low cost of $37.95, you won’t be classified as a ‘backwoods
boob’ like 78.5 percent of the population. You’ll be in the 21.5 percent group, and we
take all major credit cards.”

Just to let you know, 92.5 percent of the stuff that comes out of my mouth is made up.
The other 7.5 percent may be true, but why take the chance?

                                         *   *    *

If We Could Talk to the Animals, I’d Run!
While a lot of very intelligent people are weighing in on health care, socialized medicine
and obscenely high insurance rates, cows don’t give it a second thought. In fact, I’m sure
if someone were to even mention those things to a cow, it would look him straight in the
eye and say, “Moo,” and really mean it.

Cows chew their cud, swat at flies, and never once worry about the things we worry
about – which makes them pretty smart in my opinion. Sure, they eventually end up
tasting mighty delicious on a plate with a bit of A1 Sauce, but up until that very moment,
they don’t have a care in the world.

Scientists are now discovering that a lot of animals, just like cows, are more intelligent
than we originally thought. No, they’re not smart enough to get your kid an A in calculus,
but neither am I, which doesn’t prove a thing, so let’s continue with some absolutely true
stories about smart animals.

Did you hear the one about the bird and the worm? The worm was floating in a glass of
water, but because the water level was too low, the bird couldn’t reach it. Scientists gave
the bird some stones, and before you could say, “nevermore,” the bird dropped the stones
in the water, raising the water level and bringing the worm within easy reach.

If scientists were to put me in a room with a pile of rocks and a vat of water, and floating
on the water was a cheeseburger – medium well but slightly out of my reach – I doubt
very seriously I’d think of using the rocks to raise the water level. I might jump in,
especially if it was an Angus Burger, but using rocks is for the birds.

So, how did this bird get so smart? Is it possible a new species of thinking, reasoning
creatures that are able to use new math are gathering just under our noses? And if they
are, why can’t we smell them? Don’t ask me – go ask your mother.

And then there’s the story about the chimps that can make and use tools (I usually buy
and lose mine). They make spears out of tree limbs, jab them into other creatures and
then eat them – which makes me have “Planet of the Apes” nightmares because it sounds
less like they’re making tools, and more like they’re making weapons.

Dolphins, on the other hand, are too sneaky to need tools.
A dolphin was trained to bring up trash from his tank. Whenever he brought up trash, he
was fed a “treat.”. One day, when the tank looked clean, the dolphin appeared with trash
in his mouth, got his treat, but raised the suspicion of his trainer. The trainer discovered
that the dolphin had made a cache of trash. Not only that, but instead of bringing up
whole pieces, he was tearing off just bits of the trash, thus making his cache a
long-lasting stash of trash. And what did this prove? That dolphins are sneaky – didn’t I
already say that?

Finally, there’s a cat in my house and goats in my yard that are living proof that animals
are smarter than we give them credit for. The cat meows at the door and I get up to let her
out. I don’t want to. I fight against it. But the cat has trained me so well that I just give in
and do what I’m told. Life is so much easier (and there’s less cat poop on the carpet)
when you do what you’re told.

As for the goats: When the goats get out of their pen, I rattle a bucket of feed at them,
they start following me, and I feed them when they get back into their pen. But the last
time they escaped, I only had cat food. When I rattled the cat food at them, they followed,
but refused to eat it. Minutes later, the goats were out again, but when I rattled the cat
food, they just stared at me as if they were saying, “Listen my fine fellow, your entrées
are very upsetting to our stomachs and we prefer to dine instead on these succulent weeds
and grasses. So be a good fellow, run along and make sure our Cadillac is ready when we

It sounded a whole lot like, “Baaaaaah” to my ears – but what do I know? I’m not as
smart as a goat!

                                          *    *   *

                    Learning Your Lessons the Bus Driver Way
It takes a special kind of person to drive a school bus. Not just any Joe or Jane can do it,
and most of us wouldn’t even try.

But those who feel the calling – those who dare to get behind the big wheel and travel the
back roads with a busload of young people who believe a school bus is just recess on
wheels – well, those people end up learning a lot of life lessons, and are reminded of
them each and every day.

1. The first thing a school bus driver learns is that to be early is to be on time, and to be
on time is to be late – but that only applies for cranking up the school bus. On the route,
everything changes: to be early is to be yelled at because the kids aren’t ready, and to be
late is okay, but not too late, because then the riders start to freak out and wonder if
they’ve missed the bus.
Time is both a friend and an enemy. You can’t get more, but you’ll never have less than
what’s given to you. It’s best to use it wisely.

2. The next thing a school bus driver learns is not to judge a person by the house they
come out of. Some kids live in big houses with landscaped yards and nicely-trimmed
hedges. Some kids live in small houses with yards that haven’t been mowed in months,
with washing machines and toilets peeking out from behind the weeds.

Nice “things” don’t guarantee nice people. Sometimes the most polite and helpful riders
come from the “wrong side of the tracks.”

3. A school bus driver learns that sometimes passing the buck is not an option. Yes, a
driver’s job includes keeping an eye on the road, insuring the riders get to where they’re
going safely. But it is also the driver’s job to keep an eye on Little Johnny who looks like
he wants to take out his Elmer’s Glue and squeeze a glob of it into Little Susie’s hair
before he gets home.

“It’s not my job” is a phrase spoken by people who don’t care. “Sit down, turn around,
and put that stuff back in your backpack before I turn this bus around and take you back
to your momma” is a phrase that has “love” glued all over it.

4. A school bus driver can learn a lot from squirrels. Most squirrels have one goal – to
dart across the road in front of a school bus without getting flattened like a pancake. But
some of those little buggers stop in the middle of the road and get all wishy-washy about
which way to run. It’s funny to watch from the driver’s seat, but I’m sure those little
squirrels are scared out of their ever-loving minds.

Having a goal, or direction, is the key to success. Being all “willy-nilly” is the surest way
of getting squashed.

5. A school bus driver learns that it’s best not to drink a lot of coffee before heading off
on a route. Some of those roads are long and bumpy, and when the bladder calls, it does
not want to be denied. But a driver can’t just stop the bus and “take care of business”
with kids on board, and not very many families will open up their homes to let a crazy
bus driver use “the facilities.”

It’s best to “take care of business” before the business takes care of you.

6. And finally, one of the most important things a bus driver learns is patience. Patience
for kids who remember they left their backpack in the house and they’ll “be right back.”
Patience for getting behind a tractor that can only go 10 mph. Patience for kids who fall
asleep and miss their stop. Patience for Little Emily who is singing “Jingle Bells” over
and over again, and she only knows the first verse.

If you search for the word “patience” in the dictionary, it will refer you to “school bus

I’ve been driving a school bus for almost 20 years. Some days are good; some days not so
much. But every day is a learning experience. As a matter of fact, just the other day I
learned that a cow can be vengeful, sarcastic and down-right rude when it has to get up
from its dry, comfortable resting place on the road, just because a school bus comes

But that’s another story.

                                          *   *    *

If We Are What We Eat, We’re in Trouble
A man’s ability to invent new and tasty food combinations is what separates us from
other forms of creatures, namely women. Men have this innate need to try something
new, daring, and “out of the box.” Women, on the other hand, have this innate need to tell
us we’re vile and disgusting.

I submit that some of the tastiest food combinations that are enjoyed today were invented
by a guy with an idea and a wife who thought it was sickening. The guy threw a few
things together, thought it tasted unique, let his wife have a bite, who immediately barfed
it up all over his shoes. And then the guy got smart and told only his guy friends (after he
wiped off his shoes), who told their friends, and so on and so on. Sushi is probably a
prime example, as well as chocolate-covered crickets.

“Harold, there are dead crickets all over the porch. Why don’t you get off the couch and
do something with them? They’re disgusting and I want them gone before the Robertsons
come over to dinner. Harold, did you hear me? And I don’t care if you despise the
Robertsons. Now hop to it, mister! And I mean now!”

I firmly believe that inventiveness is one part inspiration, two parts perspiration, five
parts nagging and four parts revenge.

Speaking of new ideas, I like to think that I’m the one who invented the “Waffle
Sandwich.” I was standing in the kitchen one day, looking at bare cupboards, when I
found a package of frozen waffles and some lunchmeat in the refrigerator. Well, one plus
one equals two, and in a jiffy I had a respectable Waffle Sandwich. Next time, instead of
lunch meat, I might try a fried egg, or maybe tuna fish. The choices are almost endless.

Combining two completely un-combinable food items into one delectable dish is the
hallmark of genius (or blocked bowels, not sure which). And think of the possibilities –
melted Gummy Bears over rice; beer and Frosted Flakes; coffee beans sprinkled on top of
vanilla ice cream; or a chef salad with brown gravy poured on top. Who knows, your
favorite restaurant may serve these crazy food combos one day – and you’ll actually like

 “Good evening, my name is Charles, and I’ll be your waiter for this evening. Tonight’s
special includes Potato Wedges filled with a sweet banana-egg swirl for starters;
Armadillo on the Half Shell glazed in a special Sushi vinaigrette; green peppers, spinach
and caramel-covered lima beans sautéed in a spicy sauerkraut juice; and for desert, your
choice of Chocolate-Covered Suckfish, Liver-Meringue Pie, or Fudge & Oyster Sorbet.
Now, who’d like the special?”

I’d probably go for the burger and fries myself, but that’s just me.

Another thing us guys like to do when were not playing Mad Scientist with last night’s
leftovers is to figure out ways to eat normal food items but in manly “I’ve got to eat this
fast or I’ll be late” kind of ways. For example, sandwiches:

If I don’t have much time for lunch but I really want a sandwich, I’ll stuff a few slices of
ham in my mouth, cram in a slice of cheese, and then suck on a spoonful of mayonnaise
just to keep things lubricated. If I have time, I might shovel in some lettuce and tomato,
but usually I don’t. So, with all those “sandwich makings” in my mouth, I can carry on
with all the other things I need to do and nobody knows any different (unless they find
me lying on the floor, choking to death – which would pretty much give me away).

Here’s something you can try in the safety of your own home, especially if you like
Banana Pudding as much as I do, but never have the time to make it:

1) Take a big bite of banana; 2) shove a couple of Vanilla Wafers into your mouth; 3)
then close your eyes and chew. If you try hard enough, you can almost imagine you’re
eating a soft, creamy Banana Pudding, just like your grandma use to make.

When all is said and done, men have this unquenchable thirst to explore, to invent, to test
out new and somewhat disgusting things solely to freak out the women folk. And it is this
need to explore, invent, and repulse that makes us who we are – Men!

Need I say more? It’s probably best not to!

                                          *   *    *

If a French Woman Can Do It, Why Not I?
I have finally come to a decision – I’ve decided to suck it up, bite the bullet and lose a bit
of weight before some fisherman spots me and tries to harpoon me for Sunday brunch.

I may only lose an ounce or two in my quest for thinness (I tend to set my goals low
when it comes to extra-curricular physical exertion), but by golly, I’m going to do it this
time; not like last time when I got it in my mind to be healthy and thin, and then got it
right out of my mind when I found a gallon of Cookies & Cream ice cream in the freezer,
and you know there’s no way I can let a gallon of ice cream stay unopened for something
as silly as wanting to look more like Jack LaLanne instead of Moby Dick.

And what has inspired me to change my ways and tonnage? The answer is French

According to a review I read on an article about the book “French Women Don’t Get Fat:
The Secret of Eating for Pleasure” by Mireille Guiliano, French women never set foot
inside gyms or fitness centers and they are still skinny. No treadmills, no stationary bikes,
no weights, and no puking up their guts after trying to run a mile like they could when
they were younger but were horribly mistaken and will never do it again (not saying that
happened to me, but just saying).

Did you hear me? French Women, no gym, they eat what they want and they’re still
skinny! And that’s coming from Mireille Guiliano, a French woman, and you’d think
she’d know.

Of course French Women do other things to remain so slender, like walking a lot and
eating in moderation, but I just skipped over that section of the review of the article about
the book. The important detail is they DON’T work out at a gym.

Gyms are sad, smelly places where young people with a lot of energy go to sweat,
because they look good while sweating; whereas old people just look like sad, sweaty old
people trying to ward off the Grim Reaper for a couple more years without blowing a
knee or a hip.

Of course, I have no idea if a gym is sad or smelly because I’ve never stepped inside of
one; but if I did, the “behind my back” conversation would probably go something like

“Poor guy. Practically looks dead already. Hey, we better keep an eye on him while he’s
walking that treadmill. I bet his heart is ready to go at any moment. And wouldn’t that
ruin a good day of healthy sweating for the rest of us?”

The first person who thought of opening up a commercial fitness center was a genius;
right up there with Einstein, Gates and Richard James, the inventor of the Slinky. All he
had to do was find a building, buy some exercise equipment, invite people to come and
pay money to sweat, and convince his wife he wasn’t crazy (the hardest part). And if that
isn’t genius, I don’t know what is.

But back to French Women – French Women don’t sweat. Well, what I mean is they
don’t sweat off the pounds by going to the gym, and since they don’t shave their legs and
underarms either (just like me), I might as well give this “not going to the gym to lose
weight” thing a try.

So here’s my plan: Starting Monday, I’m going to walk briskly to the couch, sit down,
put my feet up and hold them there until I’ve finished the newspaper. Then I’ll stand up,
walk briskly to the icebox, do five reps of scooping Cookies & Cream into a bowl
(maybe seven reps if I feel energetic), walk briskly back to the couch, sit down, put my
feet up again, and hold them there for as long as I can get away with it, then relax.

And then I’m going to write my own book. I think I will call it, “Fat Men Who Sit on the
Couch and Idolize Skinny French Women for their Workout Regime; A Guide to Better
Health and Eating Without Worrying That Your Arteries Are About to Explode.”

Me and French Women – we know how to feel the burn!

                                        *   *   *

Hey, Mac! Can You Spare an Apple?
After all these years of wanting a MacBook Pro, but also hearing about all the reasons
why we can’t afford one and how we could use that money for better purposes (like food
and new shoes), I’ve finally gotten up the gumption to throw caution to the wind and
order one behind my wife’s back.

So, here’s the plan: One day soon I’m going to call in sick to work (only you and I will
know I’m faking it), and when my wife steps out the door to take our daughter to school,
I’m going to crank up the PC and do a bit of online shopping. Before you know it, and
better yet, before SHE knows it, I’ll be an Apple user and I’ll kiss this old PC goodbye.

“But wait! Won’t she know something’s up when she sees the credit card bill and it’s
maxed out even more than it is now?”

Yes! And that’s why I’m going to use a credit card she doesn’t know I have. One I use
only for emergencies, like buying new computer stuff, or banjos. The bill comes to me, I
pay the bill, nobody’s the wiser, and I’m a happy camper!

This is going to be great! I just love those Apple commercials, and to actually have a Mac
in my house is going to be a dream come true.

“Hold on there, bucko! Won’t she know something’s a bit different when she sits down to
the PC and notices it’s not a PC anymore? Aren’t the two as different as night and day?”

Aha! You’re right! I best keep the PC where it is and hide the Apple under the bed, or
maybe in my sock drawer. That way, I can sneak off to the bedroom, close and lock the
door, and play with my new computer to my heart’s content or until she knocks on the
door wanting to know what I’m doing in there, and then I’ll have to shove it back into the
sock drawer. But I’ll still have a Mac! I’ll just have to be sneaky about having it, that’s

I’ve always balked at buying a Mac in the past because the price seems so high. You
could buy two PCs for the price of one Apple, and that always seemed like a sound
argument for not getting one. But I saw one the other day, up close and personal, saw
what it could do, and now my heart is set on one and my heart shall not be denied. No sir!
No denying the heart this time!

“Excuse me, but since FedEx or UPS will be delivering it – to your home – won’t she be
a bit suspicious when the truck comes rolling down your driveway? And what happens if
you’re not at home when it’s delivered? I can just see her now, standing in the doorway,
arms crossed, foot tapping on the floor, waiting for you to open the door and explain
what’s in the little box with the apple on the side.”

You know, you’re right! I think I’ll have it delivered to my work. Just put my work’s
mailing address on it, in care of me, and then she’ll truly never know about it. That way, I
can play with the Mac on break times, or during lunch, or maybe go to work early or stay
late, and she’ll have no earthly clue. She won’t see the bill, she won’t see the UPS truck,
and she won’t find the Mac hidden in the sock drawer. It’s perfect. I’m going to have it
delivered to work!

“So, what about those weekends when your Mac is at work and you’re at home? Isn’t it
kind of useless to order a new computer and only get to play with it when there’s very
little time to play with it?”

Hmmmm. That’s possible. So how about this: I’ll bring it home and tell my wife that it’s
part of a technology-based training program to get us employees used to using Macs
because we’re transitioning away from PCs. I’ll tell her it’s not even mine, that I’m just
borrowing it for awhile. And if I use big technology-type words, she might not even
know what I’m talking about.

Yep! That’s what I’m going to do. Order me a Mac. Start doing all the cool things those
other cool Mac users do. And nobody will know but me – and you.

You’ll keep my secret, won’t you?

                                         *   *   *

I Hate to Complain, But Not Really
Don’t you just hate it when people say things like:
“Did you know there are only 47 more shopping days left before Christmas? I’ve already
done all my shopping and now I’m starting to work on my Christmas cards. Nothing says
Christmas like gorgeous Christmas cards, don’t you think? I do my shopping all
throughout the year – buying things on sale, buying things even though I’m not sure who
I might give it to – so when December comes around I can sit back, relax and concentrate
on other things like what kind of candy to fix, or pies to bake – and I watch all those
other people go bonkers with their last-minute-Christmas-shopping binges! It’s crazy,
don’t you think?”

Well, actually, I do my Christmas shopping at the last possible second. I don’t even
remember what a Christmas card looks like anymore. And I buy my pecan pies at
Brookshire’s. Lady, it’s YOU that’s crazy. But not as crazy as people who say:

“Nope. I hardly watch TV at all. Well, I do watch reruns of CSI and I try not to miss the
news at 6 and 10 because it’s important to know what’s going on in the world, but that’s
about it. I watch the History Channel and the Discovery Channel, but that’s not like
watching real TV – it’s more educational. And sometimes I watch the Food Network,
depending on what kind of recipes they’re cooking (I especially like those shows that use
cast-iron Dutch ovens), but other than that I hardly watch any TV at all. I do watch
NASCAR, but that’s different.”

Sure, we believe you. I don’t watch television either, but that’s because I don’t have cable
or satellite and can’t receive the digital signal the government practically guaranteed I’d
be able to get. But am I complaining? You bet I am. I’m not like some people who say:

“Now, you know me, I’m not a complainer; even if someone took the last package of
Double Stuf Oreos and the store didn’t have any more, I wouldn’t complain. That’s just
the kind of person I am. No complaints out of me. No sirree! BUT, I cannot believe they
preempted my favorite TV show for a presidential address. I’d write to my congressman,
but he probably wouldn’t care because he’s on “their” side. He was probably glued to the
TV making notes of everything the president was saying. And am I ever going to know
who shot Dorothy Mae’s stepsister’s father-in-law’s twin brother? Not in this lifetime!
But I won’t complain about it. Not me!”

Oh, please! If my favorite store didn’t have Double Stuf Oreos, I’d complain with every
ounce of strength in my body. And then I’d never go to that store again. I’d probably start
a campaign to run the store out of town. So don’t tell me you don’t complain. You sound
just like those people who say:

“Now, you know me, I never gossip about anybody, and may I be struck by lightning if I
ever bad-mouth a soul, but if you haven’t heard the latest about Mr. X and Mr. Z, then
honey, I don’t know where you’ve been. I hear they’ve both bought motorcycles –
Harleys, I think they are – and they ride around town in leather jackets making all sorts of
noise. Probably trying to pick up young hussies that don’t know the difference between
night and day. And do you know how old those men are? Older than you and me, let me
tell ya’. Old enough to know better. Old enough to know they should be at home,
painting the house or fixing dripping faucets like they’re supposed to. Their poor wives
must be swimming in tears. But don’t tell anybody. This is just between you and me.”

Excuse me, but I heard every word. Now, can you please stop? You’re making me

Finally, don’t you hate it when writers start writing about all the things they hate, but they
don’t offer any solutions? And you and I know they have no business complaining
because they probably do things that make us complain about THEM – like forgetting to
wash their hands after they pee, or leaving the lunch meat on the counter all day, or not
taking out the trash, or practicing banjo even though the neighbors have taken out a
restraining order against them doing it. But do they chastise themselves? Heavens no!
They sit in their comfortable writing chairs, all cozy and warm behind their laptops,
spewing out stuff they have no business spewing, when they should be out feeding the
goats, or something.

Not that I’m complaining, mind ya’.

                                         *    *   *

I’m The Man Who Stares at Goats
I thought about writing a review on George Clooney’s new movie “The Men Who Stared
at Goats,” but since that would involve research and note-taking (things that are clearly
associated with doing work) I said, “Forget that!” and took a nap on the couch instead.

Besides, watching men stare at goats can’t be all that exciting because if it were, I’d have
a line of people paying good money to watch me watch MY goats, but they don’t, so I
didn’t, and now I’ve forgotten what I was talking about. Oh, yes! Goats.

In the beginning, God created all the fish in the sea, all the birds in the sky, all the
creatures that live on dry land, and when He was done He said, “It is good, but I’m not so
sure about those goats. Somebody needs to keep an eye them.” Thus, God created Adam,
who became the first Man Who Stared at Goats.

Getting back to the movie; since I haven’t seen it yet, and probably won’t because I’m
too cheap to spend the money (you just can’t go to the movies without buying an ice-cold
fountain drink and a large tub of hot-buttered popcorn – that would be simply
un-American), I’ve decided to present my OWN version called “The Man Who Stares at
Goats,” in my own backyard, with shows starting at 1:15, 3:45 and 5:50, and it only costs
$1. Every seat is a good one, but it’s BYOP (bring your own popcorn).

Goats can be interesting to watch as long as you have a comfortable chair, a tall glass of
iced tea, and a good book to read. But they’re even MORE interesting to watch when
you’re not watching them at all. That’s when all the Little Goat Mysteries occur; the ones
that can never be solved.

Goat Mystery No. 1 – Why are the goats on my porch? And how did they get there?
There are no discernable signs of a Goat Breakout – no tunnels under the fence, no Goat
Getaway Car circling the pen – so how did they do it? Did they just sprout wings and fly
themselves out? And if so, who paid for the flying lessons because it certainly was not

Goat Mystery No. 2 – Why are the goats staring at me like that? What exactly are they
thinking? Is it possible they are using Goat Telepathy, to lull me into a sense of
okay-ness, but when I turn my back they’ll disappear in a puff of smoke like a Goat Jedi
Knight? And if so, where do they put their light sabers, because I don’t think they have
any pockets.

Goat Mystery No. 3 – Why do the goats prefer to chew on my new khaki pants when they
have good, green grass to munch on? If they like khaki, would they also like flannel?
What about car parts? If I parked my old truck in the goat pen, would it be gone after a
week? And if so, would it give the goats constipation?

Goat Mystery No. 4 – Sometimes when I don’t want to go outside to watch the goats, I
stare at them through the window – and they know it. But how? Certainly they can’t see
me. Do they have an innate Goat Sixth Sense that makes the hair under their
chiny-chin-chin stand up when they’re being watched?

And Goat Mystery No. 5 – If I shine a flashlight at my goats and their eyes shine, why
does it give me the willies? A cat’s eyes does the same thing, but it’s not as creepy.
Shining Goat Eyes make you believe that if you slowly back away, you’ll be okay, but if
you turn and run, those little buggers will chase you down, gore you in the leg, drag you
to the ground by your khaki pants, and feast upon every ounce of eatable you!

But I like my goats. They’re funny. Sometimes they’re a bit noisy. Sometimes they
head-butt each other like goats are known to do. Sometimes they escape and we find
them walking down the road trying to catch a ride with the neighbors. Sometimes they
look at me as if they’re saying, “You can’t MAKE me do anything, mister!” And
sometimes I just want to take them to the nearest butcher shop and fill my freezer with
goat sausage and stew meat.

But I don’t, because I am The Man Who Stares at Goats – rated PG for sometimes
thinking really bad thoughts about them, but not very often.

                                        *   *   *

And Now It’s Time For My Annual Post-Turkey Day Apology
Dear Mother-in-law:

I’m so sorry I ruined your Thanksgiving dinner this year. I thought you knew that I hate
being put on the spot, trying to express what I’m thankful for in front of a room full of
other people. But please believe me when I say I had absolutely no intention of saying,
“I’m thankful for not living any closer to my in-laws.” You’ve got to believe me that it
was just nerves.

I know this might be hard to imagine, but between the time I knew it was my turn, and
the moment I opened my mouth to speak, the following thoughts flashed through my
itty-bitty brain:

I could say, “I’m really thankful for my goats not escaping this week, and so are you,
because if they had, we would have brought something else instead of the chicken

No, wait a minute, I can’t mention “goats” and “casserole” in the same sentence. We’re
just about to eat, and if I do, some of them won’t. Okay, how about this:

“I’m thankful that the turkey did not become our national emblem like Benjamin Franklin
wanted. Can you imagine heating up leftover bald eagle for supper tomorrow? It’d
probably be a little tough, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it tasted just like chicken.”

Okay, maybe not that either. Let’s try to stay away from mentioning food.

“I’m thankful that our little town voted ‘No’ against the local sale of beer and wine,
because that means if I want a brewsky, I have to drive to the next little town, but before I
get there, I always forget why I was going there in the first place, so I just fill up my car
with gas, keep heading west and hope I remember what I went out to get by the time I get
to where I was supposed to be going in the first place. But I never do, so I stop off at the
Bass Pro Shop to look for fishing lures, because I’ve realized that I’ve become an old
man who doesn’t own a stinking-huge tackle box full of lures, and just the thought of that
actually made me cry the other day. So I need to start doing something about it before
I’m dead and gone, because if I don’t, it’ll be too late, and then I won’t care.”

Well, that’s a bit long isn’t it? Besides, I can’t admit that I don’t own a tackle box. What
would the father-in-law say? What would the brother-in-law say? They would look down
upon me with more scorn than they already do, even with it being Thanksgiving. Nope,
no mention of tackle boxes today. So how about coming up with something short and
sweet like:

“I’m thankful for Thanksgiving!”

You’ve got to be kidding! Everybody else will be spilling their guts about how thankful
they are for family, and health, and good times, and friends – and you’re going to be
thankful for Thanksgiving? How pathetic.

I know, I’ll say something completely “off the wall.” They’ll know I’m joking, it’ll
break the ice a little bit, and everything will be peachy-keen! But what? But what? Oh,
but what?

So, all those ideas went through my brain right before I opened my mouth to say, “I’m
thankful for not living any closer to my in-laws.” And when I saw all those jaws drop
open in shock, and then didn’t hear one bit of laughter, and then felt this sharp pain in my
side from the fork your daughter was stabbing me with, I thought: “Oops!”

Dear Mother-in-law: I’m thankful that you’re such an understanding mother-in-law and
that over the years you’ve always forgiven the foolish things that I have said and done. If
you’ll forgive me just one more time, I promise I’ll never come to your house again, I’ll
never invite you over to mine, and I will never talk bad about you in front of the children.
So, how about it? Do we have a deal?

(CLARIFICATION: The above essay is a work of fiction. I have an absolutely wonderful
mother-in-law who will not be offended in the least that I’ve made her the butt of my
joke in a story that hopefully she’ll NEVER know about or read – which would be
something I could truly be thankful for.)

                                          *    *    *

I Do Not Snore, But That’s Just My Opinion
I do not snore. Yes, there are times I make sounds like a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy doing
85 mph down the interstate, but I don’t consider that snoring. That’s wishful dreaming
with sound effects.

Of course, nobody else in my family appreciates the roar of my straight pipes pumping
out 110 decibels of pure awesomeness while I’m napping on the couch. Therefore, to
appease them before they resort to stuffing a cat down my throat, I recently tried to
muffle my pipes – maybe bring it down to a Honda hum – and this is the record of my

First Night, Attempt No. 1 – I believed that through sheer willpower alone, I could stop
snoring just by thinking about it. So, starting a couple of hours before bedtime, I thought
of nothing else except, “I will not snore. I will not snore. I will not snore. I wonder if it’s
too late to order a pizza? I will not snore.” And I slowly drifted off to slumber land.

Results – I had a dream that I was cruising down the highway, my Harley pipes belching
out massive amounts of thunder, when a giant June bug smacked me in the face. When I
woke up, my wife smacked me again, just for good measure.
Advice from Julie – “If you really want to quit snoring, you could exercise 3-4 times a
week, cut out sugar, and lose 20 lbs (not that you NEED to lose 20 lbs). Worked like a
charm for me.”

Second Night, Attempt No. 2 – Since duct tape can fix anything, I stuck a sock in my
mouth, then duct taped my mouth closed. I repeated the “I will not snore” mantra of the
previous night, and eventually dozed off to sleep.

Results – I had a terrible dream that the mafia abducted, bound and gagged me, then
threw me in the East River! Somehow I untied myself and made it back to the surface
before running out of air. When I woke up, I wasn’t breathing (I guess the sock idea
wasn’t all that smart), but my wife stopped jabbing me in the ribs long enough to help me
rip the duct tape off my face. She looked mighty pleased to do it, too. Luckily, I still have
my beard.

Question – If a man snores in the woods and his wife isn’t around to jab him in the ribs,
did he really snore? Answer from Sherry, a fellow writer: “Given the radius that such
noise can travel, yes!” Sherry lives in Beaumont because it’s just out of earshot of my

Third Night, Attempt No. 3 – The only thing left to try was not sleeping at all. I believed
if I drank lots of coffee and didn’t worry about peeing like a horse for the next week and
a half, I could stay awake all night and not snore, thus giving my wife a break from all
that smacking and jabbing.

Mixed Results – I didn’t snore all night, but I fell asleep on the couch after lunch and had
a nightmare that I was being interviewed by Oprah but couldn’t hear the questions
because we were at a biker rally and I really needed to pee. When I woke up, there was a
tape recorder on my chest with a note that said, “Hit play.” I pressed the button, listened,
and thought, “If I ever do have a Harley, THAT’S what I want it to sound like!”

The following is an exchange between me and a few well-meaning friends.

JANICE: Have you ever gotten a sleep study? I sleep now that hubby has a C-pap

ME: C-Pap! C-Pap nod off on couch! C-Pap's mouth open up! Hear Pap roar! Everybody
run for cover!

CHRIS: Try Breathe Right Strips.

ME: Oh, I'm breathing right -- the problem is you can measure the volume in decibels!

RICHARD: I used to have sleep apnea, all gone with the weight loss. Never felt better!
ME: If I die from sleep apnea, I want my epitaph to read, “We’re sorry to see him pass,
but maybe now we can get some sleep.”

ALICE: Bless your wife’s heart. She hasn’t slept in a week from all that snoring!

ME: Let's be honest – she hasn't slept in 25 years, and that's probably why she's a lot
crankier than I am!

Conclusion – My study has decisively proven that I do not snore when I’m awake. But, in
the interest of others, I shall follow Julie’s and Richard’s advice to exercise a bit and lose
the excess tonnage. Until then, I might live longer if I slept out in a tent – somewhere
deep in the woods, far away from elbows.

                                         *    *   *

                   The Five Christmas shopping ‘Rules of Engagement’

Christmas is creeping up on us again, and that means it’s time to brave the wild indoor
shopping centers and outlet malls with the hope of getting some serious Christmas
shopping done without being crushed to death in Aisle No. 9 during a Blue Light Special.
But do you think I’m worried? Nosirree! I’ve got a plan, and as long as I stick to it, I will
not die!

My plan is to do all my shopping on Christmas Eve, hitting the stores with military-like
precision: attack, attack, attack, take no prisoners, and don’t charge anything until you
see the whites of their eyes. And I believe in “attacking at dawn,” when there’s little
resistance because nobody else is stupid enough to get up that early just to go shopping.

Yes, I believe the best time for shopping maneuvers at the local Mega Store is when there
are only four people in the building – me, Barbara at the cash register, and the two stock
boys in the back who always seem to be asleep. At any other time, those two would
follow me around, making me “hit the dirt” every time they lob a bag of potato chips or
toilet paper over my head. But, even that’s preferable to being surrounded by a horde of
mothers, their screaming children and Zombie-like Husbands.

Beware – Zombie Men are everywhere! They gather at supermarkets and malls this time
of year, and, given half a chance, they will suck the life right out of you.

Zombie Men are easy to spot: They hunch over their shopping carts, their eyes downcast
in order to avoid eye contact with strangers. Their feet shuffle as they walk, and if you
listen closely, you can hear them mumble things like, “Yes dear,” and “Whatever you
say, dear,” and “I don’t give a rip, dear,” and “I mean, they look fresh to me, dear.”

Zombie Men used to be regular guys – men who went to the feed store, who tore apart
engines for fun, who always had venison in the freezer. But somewhere along the way,
they started pushing shopping carts for their wives – wives who are always agitated,
jittery, looking for the best bargain, picking up this can of soup, comparing it with that
can of soup, finally putting both cans of soup in the cart, telling her Zombie Husband to
speed up, slow down, grab that box of cake mix, “No! Not that one! The store brand
because it's cheaper.”

“Yes, dear. Whatever you say, dear.”

Sometimes when the Zombie Men accidentally look up, I see in their faces a wish for me
to put a bullet right between their eyes, just to end their suffering. But I have to look
away. There is nothing I can do for them. When I go shopping, I leave my pistol at home.

So, to make sure that I never have to endure crowds, bargain-hunting wives, yelling
children, and Zombie Men, I adhere to the following Five Christmas Shopping “Rules
of Engagement.” If you can benefit from it, fine. If not, don’t blame me:

1. Make a list of items you need to procure (military term that means “acquire”). Do
not leave your Fort without a list. To do so, and be stuck trying to decide between the
George Foreman Grill or a baby Rat Terrier, would mean certain “death by indecision.”

2. Before you make your list, scout out (another military term that means “reconnoiter”)
what size your honey wears, because to buy a 20 when she really needs a 10 means
certain “death by fuming.”

3. With list in hand, attack at dawn, or as soon as the front door is open. If the store is
having a “50 Percent Off Everything Starting at Dawn” sale, then Retreat! Retreat!

4. Once safely inside the store, quickly commandeer a cart. If someone else is using it at
the time – well, spoils of war. With acquired cart, head to the ADM (Area of Desired
Merchandise), probe the area, acquire your target, lock and load your cart, then head to
the extraction zone (somewhere around Cashier No. 4) making no contact with the
general population.

5. The only time you can breathe a sigh of relief is when you are safely out of the Combat
Zone and back at your Fort. Count your acquisitions (a military word for “booty” which
is a pirate word for “loot”), then conceal it under the bed or some other safe place that
nobody would dare clean for fear of “death by dust.”

And that my friends is the key to safe holiday shopping. I wish you the best of luck.
Remember, if you follow the rules, you WILL survive!

                                          *    *   *
All I Want For Christmas is...

Dear Santa,

All I really want and need this Christmas is a fishing lure. Just one. And it doesn’t matter
what color or size. Okay, maybe I need two – just so they can keep each other company.

You see, I recently discovered that I’ve become an old man without any fishing stuff, and
I have no idea how that happened. No fishing lures, no bobbers, no hooks; just a beat-up
old fishing pole with the string all kinked up, and I’m not even sure where it is.

In fact, I’m pretty desperate to have several new lures, and maybe, if it’s not too much
trouble, a metal tackle box to put them in. Why? Because I don’t want to see the sad little
faces of my grandkids (I don’t have any yet. I’m just planning for the future) when I have
to explain to them that Grump-Pa (that’s what I'm going to call myself) can’t take them
fishing. They’ll be devastated, and I don’t blame them.

“Grump-Pa, will you take me fishing today? Please? Oh, purty, purty please?”

“Well, Sport,” (that’s what I’m going to call my grandson – Sport), “Well, you see,
Grump-Pa doesn’t have any fishing stuff. Maybe next time when you come over I’ll...”

Of course Sport won’t be listening. Instead, he’ll be mumbling something like, “I like my
favorite grandpa better. You’re just a grump.”

Having a tackle box full of lures that a little kid can rummage through is one of the keys
to being “The Favorite Grandpa.” But Santa, if you don’t fill my stocking with all kinds
of lures, and throw that tackle box under the tree for good measure, I’ll never make it. I’ll
just be “The Other Grandpa” for the rest of my life.

And by the way, since you can’t go fishing with just a tackle box full of lures, what
would you say about adding a new fishing pole to my list? You know, to take the place of
the one that’s all messed up, but I can’t find. It would just be too sad if my grandson
came over and I had to tell him:

“Well, Sport, you see it’s like this: I was going to take you fishing, but I can’t find my
fishing pole. I’ve searched this whole house up and down, but...”

Of course the boy won’t be listening. Instead, he’ll probably interrupt me and say
something like, “You didn’t plan this ‘going fishing with your grandson’ thing very well,
did ya? My favorite grandpa, he knows how to take me fishing.”

So, Santa, you can see I’m in a bit of a jam. I have no lures, no tackle box, no fishing
pole, and if I don’t get started right away, I’ll just be a loser in the eyes of my rude little
grandson. And you don’t want that to happen, do you? That’s why I’m thinking maybe
two fishing poles and two tackle boxes would be better. One set for me, and one for the

“Oh, Grump-Pa, you have a fishing pole for me, too? And a tackle box full of fishing
lures so we can go fishing? That’s great! You’d be my favorite grandpa if it wasn’t for
one thing. Where’s your boat? My favorite grandpa has a boat, and he takes me fishing in
it all the time.”

Well, I know this is asking for the moon, but I don’t suppose you’d be so kind as to
maybe bring me a boat along with those lures? It doesn’t have to be a big one – maybe
just a canoe. Or maybe one of those blowup kinds. I don’t know, just something that will
put me in the good graces of my future little ungrateful “I Want To Go Fishing With My
Favorite Grandpa, And You’re Not It” grandson.

And if you do bring me a boat, it probably goes without saying that I’ll also need a depth
finder as well as a trolling motor. I don’t want to fish on the water all day with the little
brat and not catch anything, and I’ll need that motor to get me back on shore lickety-split
when he starts piping up about how his “Favorite Grandpa” always knows where the fish

On second thought Santa, don’t bring me anything. All this talk about grandkids has put
me out of the Christmas spirit. In fact, the only thing that could perk me up now is a
brand new 52-inch plasma high definition television with surround sound and a yearly
subscription to the NASCAR Channel. And I promise I only need one!

                                          # # #

                       Thank you for reading “Never Trust a Goat.”

Tracy Farr is a writer, teacher, friend of goats, a banjo player, and school bus driver.

Please visit Tracy Farr at his following websites:

You can also follow Tracy at

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