Sunday, May 31, 2015

New Kitchen, Part 1

It’s the day before my kitchen is scheduled to be demolished and I’m getting a little panicky. We have been planning this for a few months and tomorrow is the day.  We are doing a complete, down to the studs, tear everything out, rip everything up, put all new stuff back in, kitchen renovation. Actually, truth be told, maybe more than a little panicky. Well maybe, ever so slightly, freaked out. 

You may sigh and dismiss my first world problems and that’s okay.  I don’t expect your sympathy.  “Your kitchen was fine!”  Sure if doors falling off their hinges, drawers imploding into the dark netherworld of the cabinet, and a leaky refrigerator is fine.  It wasn’t. “In some parts of the world people don’t even have kitchens!”  Fortunately for me, I live in the part of the world that does, and in my neck of the woods, my kitchen has to work. 

However to go from old crappy kitchen to new awesome kitchen is going to take time, lots of time, lots of turmoil.  My kitchen has been stripped, boxed up and stored away. The only workable appliance is my trusty coffee maker.  My kitchen table is in the foyer. Our designer, who by the way has a wicked sense of humor, gave us a renovation gift; a wastepaper basket filled with paper plates, cups, plastic spoons and sanitation wipes.  My carefully crafted and adhered to diet is now going to be,

Tuesday- Thai
Wednesday- Indian
Thursday- Panera’s
Friday- Japanese
Saturday- Nardelli’s
Sunday- purge and repeat

Or some variation of that.  On the bright side I can go for longer bike rides during the week since I no longer have to cook dinner.  Thereby, at least in my way of thinking, using the aerobic benefits of biking to cancel out the corrosive effect of so much restaurant food.  And coming home exhausted from a nice long bike ride should also have a palliative effect when I see that the electrician hasn’t shown up, or the cabinet was incorrectly ordered or the refrigerator came with a dent. 

Anyway life is a journey and hopefully the outcome will be worth it.  In the meantime, “ARE WE THERE YET?”

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Two Friend Or Not Two Friend; That Is The Question!

The majority of my Facebook friends are people that I actually know, or share similar interests.  Real life friends, acquaintances, family, colleagues, co-workers. Members of the watches and dog groups I belong to. The algorithm that Facebook uses to entice you to add new friends seems pretty straightforward.  Friends of friends.  Friends of friend of friends.   I get that.  What I don’t get is this. Or rather these.

 These two people have somehow been promoted to the top of the list of people I should be friends with.  Facebook insists that I friend them.  They constantly appear in my feed.  They appear on all of my devices. I literally cannot get rid of them.  Who are they?  And why do they so desperately want to be my friend? 

Well after some investigative work I can tell you a little bit about them.  They are from Taiwan and they have 20 friends. Think about that for a moment, 20 friends.  I’m no mathematical wizard but I believe that works out to 10 friends each.   In this day and age how is that possible?  What about their family?  Taiwan is about the size of New Jersey and is home to about 23 million people. New Jersey is the most densely populated state and it only has about 8.9 million people.  Add another 14 million people to the mix, now we have Taiwan.  Taiwan is so densely packed they must be sitting asshole to elbow.  How can you live on such a tiny, densely populated, island and have absolutely no friends? Do they live under, a rock?  In a cave?  Are they in jail?  It’s also unclear whom I would actually be friends with.  The mother? The daughter?  Both?

So what could we possibly have in common?  What could I offer them, thousands of miles away, that they can’t find at home?  Okay, I’m a foodie.  I’m also Jewish so they must know that we are genetically programmed to love Chinese food.  Maybe that attracted them.  But guess what?   I don’t particularly care for Chinese food.  Way too greasy for my tastes. If they were say Thai, then we’re talkin’.  I would friend them immediately and start asking them for recipes.  I can’t speak or write a lick of Chinese, so my superb speaking and writing skills will be totally lost on them. 

Maybe their motives are more nefarious.  What if they want to friend me, move here and try to convince me to marry one of them for a green card?  Hmmmm.  They don’t seem to be my type.  First off, no one is smiling in the picture.  They are all dressed up and looks as if they are going to a party. Who doesn’t smile at the thought of a party?  They both look constipated.  Maybe they should stop eating Chinese food.  Switch to Thai.  I hear it’s healthier.   I’m also married.  That would put a damper on their marriage plans. 

So I’m left with this conundrum.  Two, unsmiling, friendless, lonely, constipated Asian women waiting patiently by their computers for someone to friend them. Whoa, here’s a frightening thought. If they appear on my Facebook friend suggestion list, do I appear on theirs?  Are they at this moment contemplating the same thing?  Should we friend this old guy who is obsessed with food, dogs and watches, likes Thai food and doesn’t speak Chinese?  Nah, I think we’ll pass. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

I consider myself a pretty generous guy.  I’m happy to pick up a tab at the bar.  I enjoy buying friends and family things that they may appreciate.  I’m happy to donate to charity.  I continue to spoil my children rotten. I’ve been blessed and I don’t mind sharing.  I draw the line at giving you the shirt off my back because you don’t want to see a 61-year-old guy with just his pants on under any circumstances.  Most importantly, my kids share the same level of generosity that I have.  I know I did good a job raising them.  However, my parents were the complete polar opposites. Miserly, tightfisted; cheap as the day is long.  Those were my parents.  Didn’t make them bad people, but penny-pinchers nonetheless.  Anyway, where is this leading?

This past weekend I spent a wonderful evening with my favorite cousin and her husband.  We are about the same age and grew up in adjacent towns.  We were close as kids, grew apart and re-connected.  I adore her and her husband. Over dinner we were reminiscing about our Aunt Libby.  Aunt Libby was our great aunt from New York.  She was friendly, smart, funny, and had a wickedly sharp tongue. In short, my kind of person.  My mother adored her.  She always spoke about Libby with a certain reverence.  In short, she was my mothers’ idol. My cousin was reminiscing about a car she bought from my father, a car salesman, with the money she inherited from, you guessed it, Aunt Libby.  WAIT? WHAT? Let me get this straight; you inherited money from Aunt Libby and I didn’t?  You bought a car with that money and I didn’t get a dime, from the now, not so admired Aunt Libby. Aunt Libby died childless so the money went to all of her family.  After she died, my mother continued to deify Aunt Libby so I’m pretty sure our family received a nice chunk of change from old Aunt Libby.  Otherwise it probably would have been, “Don’t ever mention that bitches’ name in my presence ever again.”  My mother had a vindictive streak and could really hold a grudge.  Thankfully I’m not vindictive, but the grudge part, well, lets talk about that at a later time. 

About the time of Libby’s passing, a particular incident sticks out in my mind that, coupled with this new found knowledge of how I got cheated out of my rightful inheritance, now makes perfect sense.  I had just bought a six year old, bright orange Plymouth Duster with black interior, straight six-cylinder engine and the best part, as if something could top the extraordinary bright “Hemi-Orange” paint job, a three-speed manual transmission with a floor mounted shifter.  AM radio, no air conditioning.  It was freakin’ awesome.  That car was so bright it could be seen from space.  It was a beacon.  I was always able to find this car in any parking lot, day, night, fog, sandstorm you name it. 

Anyway, I was commiserating to my parents about the fact that it needed new tires.  Well, out of the blue, my mother told my father to “Take Barry to the tire store and get him new tires.”  I thought for a moment that I had an auditory hallucination or perhaps a mini stroke because that was so unlike her.  Not wanting to break the spell I readily agreed.  When we got to the tire store, still in shock, I thought, well I’m probably going to have to pick some mismatched tires from the bargain bin, hopefully they are going to be round, or maybe have to buy my father’s favorites; slightly used re-treads.   We walk in and he said, “Well, what do you want?”  I was looking at these cool raised white letter tires (which were all the rage back in the seventies) and tentatively squeaked out, knowing that it would never fly, hoping against hope, “Those.”  Well, much to my astonishment he agreed.  I was stunned.  I remember thinking, “Who just abducted my parents and replaced them with these two extremely generous people?” And this was before alien abduction was in vogue.  

The tires were put on the car and I’m driving home marveling at my good fortune.  That car was my pride and joy.  I polished it all of the time and kept those raised white letter tires in pristine condition.  People were forced to put on sunglasses when looking at the car.  I personally think the reason I need glasses today is because of that car’s paint job; it was blinding.  But that’s beside the point.

Fast-forward to the revelation about the Aunt Libby inheritance discussion and it suddenly makes perfect sense.  My parents didn’t suddenly develop a philanthropic streak.  They didn’t just wake up and say “Hey lets treat our wonderful son to some tires so he doesn’t get a blow out, run off the road and end up in a ditch.”  Noooo, my parents magnanimously bought me tires with MY FUCKING MONEY! And, not only that, a trip to Italy as well.  On. My. Dime.  Or I should say my Euro.  Or Lira. Or whatever currency they use in Italy. See, I have no clue never having visited there.

So the forty-year old mystery has now been solved. My cousin got a new car, my brother got a crock-pot or something like that, my parents got a trip to Italy and I got new tires. But at least I learned to be generous from two extremely cheap people.  And that is something money can’t buy.  Even if it’s not your own. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Well, I lost man card again.  I know, I know, it took me so long to get it back.  You may recall it was temporarily revoked when I reluctantly admitted that I watched a few episodes of “Say Yes To The Dress.”  But that was only because my wife was watching it, and I sat down on the couch to relax, and I sorta got caught up in the moment because the bride to be and her crew were all jumping up and down celebrating because she picked out the perfect dress and it didn’t make her look like a whale.    Anyway, I tried to make amends to earn it back.  I engaged in manly sports, I drove my manly car, and used manly tools like chainsaws and jackhammers. However, when I admitted to a close friend and confidant that I joined Pinterest, she immediately brought up the man card.  I was stunned.  Pinterest?  I joined it because I’m a foodie and Pinterest has some phenomenal recipes and a great system to keep them organized.  I’m always bookmarking recipes and promptly forgetting about them.  Typical guy activity right? I thought I was making my life easier.  Doesn’t that count?  Clearly it doesn’t.  Clearly I jumped the fence.  Clearly I went to, her words not mine, “the dark side.”  Cue scary music, and I gotta lay down for a few because I’m getting a headache and feel bloated. 

Is Pinterest really for women?  Well I had to find out.  I promptly started my due diligence.  First I Googled Pinterest demographics.  The results were not what I was hoping for.  Only 13% of Pinterest users are men. Uh-oh. That doesn’t bode well for me.  I also discovered that only 10% of older baby boomers use Pinterest.  So now I’m the creepy old man-card-less Pinterest user.  You know that guy.  The weird uncle that only gets trotted out at holidays and everyone is slightly afraid of him.  Yeah, that guy.  Oh yeah, great for my self-esteem.  I’m getting cramps just thinking about that. 

So maybe the statistics don’t tell the whole story.  I went back to Pinterest and searched cars.  Not what I was hoping for.  A black Lamborghini with pink seats.  A BMW with pink trim.  Or how about the car shaped like a high heel?  I’m getting a little panicky here.  I mean who drives a car shaped like a Manolo Blahnik?  Oh my God, did I just use Manolo Blahnik in a sentence?  How do I even know that?  Okay let me compose myself.  Let’s try firearms.  Turquoise, pink and purple guns appear along with my personal favorite, one disguised as a tampon.  A tampon. Really?  I began to cry for no apparent reason. 

In desperation I Googled manly activities.  According to AskMen, some of the best manly activities are, shining my shoes, shaving with a straight razor, and having an afternoon martini.  Whew, who knew it would be that easy.  Clean shoes, clean face, and shit-faced.  Man card approved.  But before I start, I think I’ll tuck into a nice pint of Ben and Jerry’s Blondie Ambition.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dr. StrangeLAWN or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Spring is finally here so you know what that means; lawn care.  Out of all of the chores that I have to do, lawn care is my least favorite.  Actually, let me re-phrase that because least favorite implies that it is somehow enjoyable.  I fucking hate it.  All right, I said it, lets move on. Mowing, raking, pruning, feeding, weeding, the list is endless.  There isn’t enough time in the day or money in the bank to do all that is required to keep my lawn healthy. I raised two kids, sent them to college, and they didn’t require half of the attention and money that is necessary to have a nice lawn. 

Mowers revving, weed whackers buzzing, chain saws whining; for the past few weeks it has sounded like the Indy 500 has invaded my street. My neighbors have already started in on mulching, mowing, trimming and such while I haven’t even opened my shed to at least check to see if my trusty John Deere tractor, affectionately referred to as Buttermilk is even there!  Someone could have stolen it and replaced it with, God forbid, a push mower.  That would certainly be my demise.  Ah Buttermilk, my green and yellow stead with not one but two cup holders.  Which co-incidentally was the deciding factor in buying her in the first place.  Two cup holders mean two beers.  And, curiously enough, it takes two beers to finish mowing the lawn. My lack of lawn ambition doesn’t bode well with my Type A or in this case Type Gr neighbors.  I’m sure they are already preparing the annual petition to get me to move. Lucky for me I don’t respond to lawn shaming or peer pressure. 

This year I’ve decided that I will employ what I affectionately refer to as the “nuclear option.”  No, I’m not going to tear my lawn up and cover it with green concrete.  And neither will I let it grow fallow, allowing the grass to grow to knee height giving my house the creepy Addam’s Family look.  I’m going to hire a landscaper.  What?  You, Barry, hiring a landscaper?  Yes, sad but true, I’m going to <choke> pay someone to do all of the scut work that I loathe.  I mean if there is someone out there willing to spend their valuable time cutting, pruning, tilling, raking, weeding and feeding, far be it for me to deny them their pleasure.  My selection process for the landscaper will be very simple; if they don’t run away screaming in terror after they see my house, they’re hired.

Admittedly, I have pretty low standards when it comes to my lawn.  My minimum requirement is that it is some shade of green.  And that’s pretty broad.  Grass, crab grass, chickweed, smartweed, quick weed, I could care less.  If it’s green, it’s serene.