4.543 billion, to be exact.

Taxi Socks

** Warning: TLDR entry. I know it’s long. Just shut up and read it. **

In a previous entry I mentioned in passing that I’ve got a thing for watches. (Bonus for clicking link: wedding pics! NewWifey(tm) in a DRESS!)

This is absolutely absurd of course. I’m perennially two missed paychecks away from living in a Somali refugee camp. I might as well take up Fabergé Egg collecting. It’s just as farfetched.

But I have a thing for watches. What can I say.

So when I read that the Holy Grail of watch companies, Patek Philippe, was holding a one week only, first time ever, last time ever, FREE exhibition in Manhattan,  I immediately grabbed the KY and a fistfull of Kleenex. When I was done I ran to NewWifey(tm).

“Honey! Honey! Patek Philippe is having an exhibition in Manhattan!! Let’s go!”

Who’s Patek Philippe?” she said.

“Not ‘who’. It’s a watch company. Probably the most famous in the world.”

Are they expensive?

“Very. Even the boxes their watches come in cost more than our house.”

So why do you want to go? You can’t afford any of them.”

“I can’t afford Alina West either, but I watch her videos.”

Well you better not drool that much at a watch expo.” she said. “Fine. Go. Dream the dream, buddy.”

“That’s not drool” I said. “And do you want to go with me?”

I have absolutely no interest in your fetish. Besides, I can’t tell a Timex from a toaster.”

“Don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of eye candy for you too. There’s bound to be tons of good looking wealthy guys. In suits.” (NewWifey(tm) is a sucker for suits.)

She thought a moment. “How wealthy?

“Some of these watches cost more than Faberge eggs.”

Ok, I’ll go” she said. “Who knows, maybe I can trade up.”

“Yeah, good luck” I said.”Just don’t forget I was the one who brought you there if you do manage to score. A new Ferrari would be a nice gesture of appreciation.”

Yeah, good luck” she said.

The next day we drove to the Park-n-Ride in North Bergen and hopped a bus to the Port Authority in Manhattan. Outside the terminal we hailed a cab, and 7 dollars later we were deposited in front of the Cipriani building on 42nd Street and Park Avenue, right across from Grand Central Station. The line to get into the exhibit stretched back to Madison Avenue. We got on the end.

The line moved pretty quickly for all that. Because the exhibit was divided into a circuit of different rooms, the doormen would let in a group of people and when that group worked their way through the first room they let the next group in.

But even though the line moved quickly it was still a pretty blistering experience. We had a hot day to begin with, and when you added in the cars idling next to you on 42nd street unable to move for the crush of traffic, I was baking like a sidewalk ham. Plus, I was wearing my Funeral Suit (with my good Pepe le Pew tie). Even NewWifey(tm) had a distinctive sheen to her, and she was dressed decidedly lighter.

However – and this surprised me almost more than the watches we would soon see – every 10 minutes or so a phalanx of tuxedo’d waiters would emerge from the building, each carrying a large silver tray loaded with water bottles. The worked their way back down the line handing out bottles as they went. I wasn’t thirsty, but I snagged one anyway. It had custom label, with the event name and logo wrapped around in blue and gold. Fucking classy as hell. I felt immediately out of place.

So there we were on line, me sipping my free classy water and NewWifey(tm) swiveling and scanning for wealthy potential suitors. Or at least wealthy philanderers.

And of course I didn’t notice the blob of neon pink bubblegum until I stepped in it. Gahh! Have you ever stepped in New York City bubblegum on a 90-degree day? It’s like the La Brea Tar Pits, but prettier and stickier. I thought I was gonna be stuck until some future paleontologist dug me up and put my bones on display. “Early Homo. Fat. Possibly Homo. Bazooka Joe Tar Pit, Olde NY.

Thankfully I did manage to free myself fairly quickly. But I now had a bolus of goo the size, shape, color, and smell of a jumbo shrimp stuck to the bottom of my shoe. Every step I took made a soft sucking sound and then “pop!“, and left a small pink blot on the sidewalk. Well, I couldn’t walk into the storied Cipriani building and leave a series of sticky neon blots behind me like I could at home. I had to get that stuff off.

Fortunately I always carry a credit card in my wallet. I don’t have any actual credit, but I carry the card anyway for things like scraping ice off windshields. And gum off shoes. I hopped on one foot over to the curb and leaned against a tree for support while I removed the gummed up Florsheim.

And then immediately dropped my bare foot straight down onto a pile of dog poop.

Can I say it again?

GAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!

How did I not see that three inch high mound? How did I not smell it?

So there I am in Midtown Manhattan on a 90 degree day leaning against a tree in my itchy wool funeral suit, a pink soled shoe in one hand and a foot buried ankle deep in dog shit. And in 10 minutes I was going to be shoulder to shoulder with some of the wealthiest and most elegant people ever made looking at some of the most elegant and legendary timepieces ever made.

“Honey!” I yelled to NewWifey(tm). “Get over here, quick!”

NewWifey(tm) had obviously been too distracted by the glitterati to notice the drama going on right next to her, because she looked at me in real surprise and said “Why is your shoe off? And why do you smell so bad??

I quickly explained the situation, and begged her to do something.

Ok, ok” she said, and thought a moment. Then: “I’ll be right back. Don’t lose our place in line.”

She didn’t have to worry about that. Nobody would come within 10 feet of me. I watched NewWifey(tm) as she jaywalked across 42nd Street and disappeared into Grand Central.

Five minutes later she was back. “I knew there had to be a tourist shop in there” she said. “Here, put these on.” She tossed a small plastic bag at me.

Inside were those socks at the top of the page.

“What the…honey, you bought me clown socks?”

She shrugged. “What did you expect a tourist shop to carry? It was these or a pair with Betty Boop as the Statue of Liberty. And it’s not like I had time to hunt down a Hanes Factory Outlet. We’re almost at the front of the line. So shut up and put the socks on.”

I shut up and put the socks on. But I felt like a tourist from Des Moines.

Five minutes later NewWifey(tm) and I were waved inside.

As soon as we walked through the door both of us stopped and gasped. There in front of us, inside the Cipriani building, was another building. Patek Philippe had built an entire two story building inside the cavernous open auditorium/conference space of the Cipriani! It was a full scale reproduction of their store in Geneva, and I couldn’t resist the urge to be a total tourist dweeb and pull out my little Nintendo DSi and take a picture:

Interior 1 resize

Um…my little Nintendo DSi is not made for this sort of thing. Sorry. Anyway, that’s the top of the building-in-building. I wanted to get the whole thing in, but Mario and Luigi do not come with a wide angle lens. Suffice it to say, the building goes waaaaaaaay back, and is waaaaaay high.

Inside the second building we went, and as soon as we went through the front doors we stopped and gasped again. This was to be an ongoing theme the rest of the tour. Every room, every hall, every bathroom, took our breath away. Much as I’d love to bore you with descriptions of every piece, every display, we saw, I’ll just limit myself to a few highlights.

Like Queen Victoria’s Patek pocket watch:

Queen Victoria watch

And one of the world’s smallest mechanical watches – that thing on the right. It’s tough to tell scale in this pic, because the larger watch on the left doesn’t look *that* much bigger. But that watch on the left is also a miniature, about the size of a quarter. The puppy on the right is officially called “The Tiny One”, and is 11mm across the face – a bit smaller than my pinkie nail. It looked like a glittery aspirin, and is wound by a teensy key at the end of that chain. Made in 1850, it still works. If I ever get a horologist gerbil, this is what I’m getting him:

Tiny watch

And…

Eau d’ Hudson River at twenty paces! This is one of two pistols on display which have a small watch hidden in the handle, and shoots…perfume! They were made for the Chinese market, a fact I’m still having trouble grasping. Was there a society of punctual duelists towards the end of the Qing Dynasty who felt that spraying cologne rather than bullets was a more ignominious fate for a foe? Was their hygiene so bad that the only way to mask it was to fire a .45 caliber lavender scented slug directly into their pits at 2,500 fps? I have no idea. But they sure were purty.

There were two in the cabinet, but my camera wasn’t up to the task so here’s a screen grab of one of them:

pistol-combined-with-watch-and-perfume-sprinkler-1

We stood and gaped at the company artisans they flew over from Switzerland to do things like engrave cases and enamel dials right before our eyes:

Engraving case

And then…

And then we rounded a corner and came nose to glass with this:

Type 89 resize

That, my friends, is the mythical Patek Phillipe Type 89. Yes, it really exists.

What? You’re not familiar with the Patek Phillipe Calibre 89? Well let me explain. The Calibre 89 is basically the Space Shuttle of watches, except it’s more complicated, more expensive, and hasn’t blown up on takeoff (yet).

That pretty much covers it.

So I’m standing there in front of the Calibre 89 display with my jaw open and a puddle of drool forming on top of my shoes, when the Patek attendant stationed next to it says, “Pretty sweet, huh?” He had the distinctive bulge of a shoulder holster under his jacket.

“It sure is” I said. “I wonder how long it would take me to save up for one?”

He eyeballed my 10 year old polyester funeral suit, the red plastic game system-cum-camera, the swatch of yellow and black checkers visible around my ankles, and said, “What do you do for a living?

“I’m a radio announcer.”

Are you Howard Stern or Rush?

“No.”

Then do you know how old the earth is?

“I think around 4 billion years. Why?”

That’s how long it would take you.”

Shit. Back to saving for Fabergé Eggs, I guess.

(BTW, they’ve sold 5 of those puppies now I believe, at 26 million a pop. I guess that’s how they can afford to hand out free water. And build buildings inside of buildings. If you’re curious about the watch, what it does, why it took 9 years to make, and why I’ll never have one – and you enjoy subtitles – then this little vid is for you.)

All in all we spent about two hours wandering through that fantasy kingdom. There was a bunch of other stuff I’ll never ever ever ever ever ever be able to afford but plan on buying someday anyway. And we watched the company’s self-stroking film in the theater they built inside the building (they built a movie theater inside the building that they built inside the building!). Finally it was time to leave.

A quick stop at the gift counter for a 20 dollar commemorative program, then we were out the door and back in the 90 degree land of dog turds, bubble gum cement, tacky novelty socks, and Timex watches.

So, did you enjoy it?” said NewWifey(tm).

“Yeah, it was great” I said. “Although it left me wishing I’d taken that position as third world potentate when I had the chance. How ’bout you? Any luck?”

She scowled. “Nah. One boob squeeze from a guy I thought had potential, but he bolted when he saw my Timex. And an offer from a foot fetishist, but…bleh. Sicko.”

“Oh well, better luck next time. If the show comes around again I’ll get you a better watch.”

We hailed a cab back to the Port Authority, and an hour later we were back at Dangerhouse.

Just one other anecdote about the day to mention here, one that I think illustrates pretty well one of the differences between “dating” and “married”.

Over dinner later (pic in a minute), NewWifey(tm) said, “What would you like for your anniversary present this year?” (When we were dating she loved surprising me with her choice of gifts. Now it’s a bit of a sodden chore to think of things, so she just asks.)

I already had my answer ready. If you read the entry I linked to up above, you know that last year NewWifey(tm) blew me away by gifting me a Movado Museum Classic watch. Pictures don’t do this thing justice. It’s gorgeous on the wrist, especially when poking out from beneath the sleeve of a black polyester funeral suit. She knew I’d wanted one for the longest time, and spent all year saving up for it. Still brings a tear to my eye thinking of that.

But here’s the thing. Watch snobs HATE this watch. Hate. When I went on a watch forum and posted, “Guys! Guys! My wife gave me a Movado Museum Classic!!” they practically banned me on the spot. “Your wife must really hate you” was probably the nicest of the comments left for me in the thread.

Why do watch snobs hate my Movado? Because it’s quartz. *Real* watches must either be hand winding or automatic (winding themselves with an internal rotor that swings around while you move your arm). People who buy quartz watches – especially Swiss made luxury quartz watches like the Movado Museum Classic – are the most ignorant of all watch people and to be shunned.

Fuck them. I love my Movado. My QUARTZ Movado.

But…I want an automatic watch too, now. Blame the Patek Phillipe show. I didn’t want the orgasm to end.

The 16th wedding anniversary is the “silver hollowware” anniversary, according to the Holy Retailers who determine these things. I’d already picked out a stunning, thoughtful gift for NewWifey(tm): a silver flask in the shape of an iPad, so she could sneak her mint juleps into…everywhere. (I still like surprising my mate and help-meet, thankuverymuch.)

So taking all this into account, when NewWifey(tm) asked me “What do you want for your present?”, I immediate answered “A Seiko-5 model SNK601!”

She groaned. “Is that another watch? Our anniversary is only a few days away – I don’t have time to save for another watch!

“No, no!” I said. “This is like a starter watch. A watch with training wheels for people who want to see if they can handle an automatic model. It’s not expensive at all! And it’s silver!”

She sighed. “Ok, fine. Send me the link. With two day shipping that should be plenty of time.

Four days later she gave me a wine decanter with a silver band around the neck, and a set of matching silver salt and pepper grinders.

Happy anniversary, baby!” she beamed.

I looked at my presents. “Thanks. They’re beautiful. But…what happened to the watch? You know, the thing I told you I really wanted when you asked me what I really wanted?”

Meh. I saw the picture in the link, and I didn’t think that would be something you’d really like. So I got you these!

I smiled and kissed her and we had a nice meal, and afterwards I took the decanter and set it next to the three other decanters I have on the bar and put the salt and pepper shakers next to the other salt and pepper shakers.

Decanters 2

And I love them. Fuck the Seiko-5.

THAT’S the difference between dating and marriage.

(Er…but I still want that Seiko. Someday….someday....)

The End.

Patek swag

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Oh wait, it’s NOT The End. I forgot I promised a pic of the post-watch orgasm meal.

This is what you make when you’ve just had a watch orgasm and you’re tired and elated and one ankle smells faintly of dog shit and you just want to get some calories in so you can get back to blissfully re-living the day in your mind:

Chicken Mornay

Basically, this is chicken thighs covered with leftover stuff I had in the fridge – some Mornay sauce, a bit of horseradish cream sauce, the remains of a ginger root – plus onions and the last of a clamshell of grape tomatoes, garnished with chopped scallion.  Into a Romertopf, and by the time we’d showered, grabbed a quickie, showered again, changed, and opened a bottle of wine, it was ready. It was also terrific. The cheese in the Mornay made it brown up really nice, and the horseradish really gave it a welcome spark.

Ok, now it’s The End.

The End.

Pepe le Pew Tie

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The Garter Belt

(HA! This is the entry I wrote for yesterday’s Daily Prompt “tailor”, but added the word “moxie” to get it on today’s list as well. I’m so sneaky! Oh, stop your sneering. You know you do it too. Besides, it’s easily the funniest thing you’ll read on either list, so just read it again and be thankful.)

We’ve got this railroad-tie retaining wall that runs down the side of our property, and I’ve been worried recently that it may shortly refuse to perform its main function of “retaining”.  This would be a rather alarming state of affairs if it comes to pass, as that wall is the only thing keeping a Delaware sized chunk of dirt and toxic waste from crashing through our bedroom window. And the rest of the house. A portion of the wall extends down our driveway, and while not as tall as the other stretch it performs a similar service.

I first noticed there might be a problem with the driveway wall when I wasn’t able to park my Subaru next to NewWifey(tm)’s Nissan. We have a 2-car wide drive and normally I park on the right side, hugging the retaining wall so I can open the door far enough to squeeze my bloated carcass out. But I’ve noticed recently that I’ve been having to park closer and closer to NewWifey(tm)’s car on the left. Finally last Wednesday I was forced so far over that I couldn’t open my door far enough to get out. I considered the sun roof, but…bloated carcass, remember? I parked behind NewWifey(tm).

What was up with that?

I found out what was up as soon as I got out of the car. Or rather, what was out. The retaining wall had a distinct bulge in the middle, encroaching out onto space normally reserved for a Subaru Forester. The entire wall was additionally leaning several degrees from vertical and, perhaps most startling, a sinkhole appeared to be forming on the lawn side of the wall.

Oh well. Just another one of nature’s unfathomable mysteries. I shrugged my shoulders and went inside to grab a sandwich.

An hour later NewWifey(tm) happened to look out the front window.

Why did you park the Subaru behind me?” she asked.

“Huh? Oh, the retaining wall is collapsing and a sinkhole opened up in the lawn.”

WHAT?!” She bolted out the door and down the steps, not even bothering to put her shoes on.

Women. Hysterics over every little thing, amiright guys?

I stayed put in the recliner. For one thing my presence is very rarely needed, and even more rarely desired, during times of crisis. For another, it was a really good episode of “My 600 Pound Life“. I needed to know if Blimp du Jour was gonna follow Dr. N’s advice, or ignore it and end up being planted in a piano box before they rolled the credits.

About a half hour later NewWifey(tm) trudged back up the stairs and into the house. She had a look of defeat.

I gotta call a contractor” she said, and disappeared into the computer room. A few minutes later she was talking on the phone, her voice rising steadily as she went along. Finally I heard her practically bark “GOOD BYE!” before slamming down the handset.

She stormed into the living room. “Six grand!” she said. “Those fuckers want SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS – and that’s just to replace the retaining wall! The sinkhole and the collapsing driveway will be extra.”

“Collapsing driveway?” I said.

Yes – and how did you not notice that? The front of your car was sitting in a dip about a foot deep over there. Didn’t it seem odd that you were looking at asphalt instead of the garage door when you parked??

“I just assumed I was so hungover that my head was drooping.”

She rolled her eyes. “Anyway, we don’t have six grand. But I bet we could fix it ourselves for a lot less. We’ll just need to rent some equipment.” She looked at me. “Have you ever worked a backhoe before?

“Well…yeah.” I squirmed a bit. “But I swear, not since we’ve been married. Honest!”

She stared at me blankly for a second before a look of disgust took over. “Not ‘back-ho‘” she said, “‘BackHOE‘. It’s a big excavating rig with a shovel at the end of a long arm.

“Oh! That’s different. Then, no.”

Forget it. I’ll do it myself” she said, and went back to the computer room. Twenty minutes later she came back holding a legal pad with a bunch of figures scribbled on it. “Between materials cost and renting a backhoe for a day, I think we can get away for under two grand” she said.

“You’re going to work the backhoe?”

Yes.”

“Have you ever worked a backhoe before?”

No.”

“Aren’t you scared you might fuck it up?”

I’m not scared of anything.”

I can certainly attest to that. In the 16 years we’ve been married I’ve rarely seen her blink, let alone blanche, it the face of dangers that would have me reduced to a puddle of urine and tears. This is a woman who bangs on a metal pot and runs after bears in our yard to drive them away from our trash can, who got up on the roof in the middle of Hurricane Irene to brace our satellite dish so she could watch her K-dramas, who regularly eats my cooking. My little lady’s got moxie, I tell ya. So I knew she wasn’t lying when she said the prospect of hopping into a 40 ton earth mover and tearing into our property without any prior experience gave her no pause at all.

“Ok” I said. “As long as I’m not required to do anything more strenuous than bring you a restorative lemonade once in a while, you have my blessing. When do you plan on starting?”

Beer” she said. “And I’ll start cleaning up the area tomorrow and maybe take the top layers of the wall down by hand. The more I can get done first, the less time we’ll have to keep the backhoe. That should cut the costs down even more.”

Sure enough, the next day I came home from work and saw this:

Wall Demo resized

For the record, what you’re looking at is: the retaining wall bulge section, two top layers removed and piled on the side, a spade, a crowbar, a reciprocating saw, a pickax, and a small sledge hammer.

What are you not looking at?

NewWifey(tm).

I know. This seemed curious to me, too. The only time NewWifey(tm) ever steps away from a project is when it’s finished, or she has to poop.

I went inside.

“Hey baby” I called. “Where are you, honey? Are you pooping?”

Nothing.

That was odd. I checked the kitchen, the dining room, the computer room, even the back porch. No wife.

Then I opened the bedroom door.

I couldn’t believe what I saw. Mounded on top of our bed in the middle of the room was a pile of blankets and comforters the approximate size and shape of a Fiat 500.

And it was quivering like a 14 year old who just discovered PornHub.

“Honey…?” I said. “Sweetie, are you under there?”

No answer.

I lifted a corner of the mound and peeked under. It was NewWifey(tm) alright, but looking in an almost unrecognizable state. Her eyes were wide open and seemingly trying to escape from her skull. Her skin, already pasty Irish white, was now so pale you could almost trace her lymph system. She was tucked up in a tight ball, knees under her chin (filthy work boots still attached) and sweating like – well, again, that 14 year old.

“Pookie!” I said. “What’s the matter??”

Her bug eyes darted back and forth through the breach I’d made in her blanket fort. “Did you see it?

“See it?” I said. “See what?”

She pulled back farther into the mound. In a near whisper, she said “….the snake“.

Snake?

“A snake?” I said. “No, I didn’t see one. Not today, anyway. Why, did you see one?”

NewWifey(tm) gave a quick nod. I could see a new crown of sweat forming on her forehead.

“Honey!” I said, “Are you…are you afraid of snakes?”

She didn’t say anything, just glared at me with those bugged out eyes, and grimaced.

I laughed. “I can’t believe it! You ARE afraid of something!”

Just kill it” she said. “But be careful. It’s HUGE.

“Ok, ok. I’ll save the poor widdle wifey. Where is it?”

In the herb garden.”

I let go of the blanket and she immediately sausage rolled herself again.

Out to the herb garden then, to catch a snake. A huge snake.

The herb garden is just outside the picture, in the upper right corner. Over the years I’ve tried to grow thyme, tarragon, oregano, Thai basil, Mexican basil, Greek basil, marjoram, sage, lemon sage, and rosemary. I’ve failed miserably at all of them. A few years ago I threw up my hands and just let the spearmint take over, as spearmint always does. But I still call it “the herb garden” for some reason, perhaps to delude myself that one day I’ll try again and THIS time be successful, dammit.

So there I was standing in the herb garden, pushing aside stalks of spearmint and weeds, when sure enough I heard a rustle and saw a quick flash of yellow and grey shoot past my foot.

As I suspected, it was a garter snake:

Garter Snake Resized

Garter snakes are incredibly common in this part of the country, probably because mice are incredibly common in this part of the country. Always good to live near a restaurant, right? Anyway, I’ve been seeing – and catching – these things since I was a little kid. When I was young I kept them as pets. They’re absolutely harmless, unless you happen to be a mouse, and actually quite pretty (I think, anyway). About the only downside to them is their habit of projectile peeing all over you when they get upset. But as long as you don’t squeeze too hard or scream right in their faces, they’re pretty good at holding it in.

I went back inside the house, walked down the hall to the bedroom, and lifted the covers off NewWifey(tm).

“C’mon out, baby. It’s just a little garter snake. It can’t hurt you.”

She stayed curled up in a ball. “Are you sure?

“I’m sure, baby. Just a little ol’ non-poisonous garter snake. They’re everywhere up here. Frankly I’m surprised you haven’t seen one before. We used to call this area “the Garter Belt” when I was growing up, there were so many.”

It was HUGE.”

I laughed. “Aw, it couldn’t have been more than 14 inches. See?”

And I pulled the snake out from behind my back and showed her.

Two things then happened almost simultaneously: NewWifey(tm) screamed right in the snake’s face, and I reflexively squeezed.

The snake projectile peed.

So did NewWifey(tm).

I ran out the door, down the driveway, across the street, and about a half a mile into the woods on the other side before letting the snake go. He gave one last blast of urine as I released my grip and then he was gone, instantly disappearing into a warren of tree roots.

Back at DangerHouse NewWifey(tm) had reformed the blanket cocoon around herself, but she was now under the bed. I don’t know if it was some feral instinct to withdraw into a dark hole for safety, or if she just didn’t want to lay in the soup of various urines up above.

I knew reasoning with her would be futile, so I just backed out of the bedroom and closed the door. The recliner is perfectly comfortable for sleeping, and I always keep a small pillow stashed in the coffee table drawer for just such an emergency. I would be fine there for 3 or 4 days, which was about how long I figured it would take NewWifey(tm)’s adrenaline levels to drop back into the green. In the meantime I’d slide plates of food and bottles of beer under the bed three times a day, and take the used Depends away on my way out.

Ok, that was a bit of hyperbole. But it WAS pretty bad. We had to throw out the mattress pad, NewWifey(tm) didn’t sleep a wink that night, and I got a verbal lashing the likes of which I hadn’t experienced since that time I accidentally joined the NAMBLA mailing list instead of NASA’s. (There’s a “red rocket!” joke in there somewhere, I just know it.)

By the second day NewWifey(tm) was pretty much back to normal, although I didn’t press my luck. I tailored our lunch, skipping the linguini I’d planned in favor of soup, and trashing my bucket of gummy worms. I also refrained from pointing to anything longer than it was wide and screaming “SNAKE!!” like I wanted. Sometimes you have to be considerate of others, no matter how much the sacrifice, y’know?

Finally, on the third day, I said to NewWifey(tm), “So when are you gonna work on the wall again? It looks like it’s bulging even more now, now that you’ve taking some of the layers off.”

Fuck that” she said. “I’m calling a contractor.

“You said we can’t afford a contractor.”

She bit her lip. “I’ll hook.”

“Honey. You’re just being silly. Look, I’ll tell you what. Every day before you start working on it, I’ll walk through the yard and catch or scare away any snakes. You’ll never see another one again.”

She gave me a dubious look. “What if you miss one? That thing was really camouflaged – I didn’t see it til it practically slithered over my foot.

“Well, yes, there is the small possibility that one could escape my eagle eye. But again: they are absolutely harmless animals, barring all that pee. And I hate to put it this way, but…you’re just gonna have to suck it up this time. We don’t have the money, and we’ll have even LESS money if the driveway collapses and the sinkhole swallows DangerHouse. You gotta do this, babe.”

She looked off into the distance for a bit, then sighed. “Ok, I’ll get back to work on the wall tomorrow. But you PROMISE me garter snakes are not dangerous?

I gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I promise, sweetie. You know I would never send you out if I thought it was dangerous!”

She forced a faint smile and hugged me. “Well, I guess I might have over reacted just a bit the other day. You’ve lived here your whole life. If you say those snakes won’t hurt me, I believe you. They still skeeve me out, but I gotta be a big girl and get this job done.”

“That’s my girl.”

I patted her on the head and we went inside for dinner (burgers – I wasn’t taking any chances).

And with that crisis behind us, I should now have a new retaining wall and a filled in yard crater by this time next week.

Unless NewWifey(tm) finds out about the other slithering denizens that inhabit our little mountain paradise.

Don’t anybody tell her, k? At least until I manage to scrounge up 6 grand for a contractor. Maybe if I started hooking….

Ok, gotta slither off to bed myself here. Sorry it’s been so long between entries lately, but I still seem to be mired in sloth for no good reason.

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Bite Me

Man, I have just been in a deep funk lately. Like, diving bell deep. I feel like one of Bill Cosby’s dates after her second cocktail. My body refuses to move, even if it means I’m gonna get fucked if I don’t.

I don’t know why, either. Nothing calamitous has descended on DangerHouse (for once). My marriage is as pornographically raucous as ever. Even my despair over our nation’s seemingly inexorable march towards authoritarianism is being successfully moderated by judicious applications of alcohol. There is absolutely no good reason for it, but rigor mortis has set in nonetheless.

Needless to say, I have also not kept up with the Readings o’ the Blogs of Others during this stretch of ennui. I feel pretty bad about that, as some of my (virtual) nearest and dearest are going through some very difficult times. I haven’t been around to offer them even the faintest words of support or succor for weeks.  And I’m just vain enough to think, to know, that even the faintest word of support from Dangerspouse in one’s comment box does indeed bring succor.

Oh well. To make up for it, here’s a picture of my ankle:

Flea bites

Damn, I’m white.

Oh, those red marks? You’re probably thinking they’re hickeys given to me by the hordes of teeny, tiny groupies of my radio show, right?

Normally you WOULD be right. But this time, you’re wrong.

They’re bites.

Flea bites.

Yes, this time tomorrow I should be breaking out in quince sized buboes and listening for the bring out yer dead guy.

But how did I manage to acquire such a medieval scourge? I mean, it’s been at least a decade since I flushed my Yersinia pestis experiment down the sink. And at least two years since I cooked the last member of my Rattus rattus colony (at NewWifey(tm)’s insistence, dammit).

So how did I get flea bites?

Here, go back and read my previous entry.

Never mind. I’ll just tell you (although that entry was pretty damn funny and you should read it one of these days anyway): my wife has made it her mission in life to transform the scabrous hellion of a feral cat that wandered into our yard last month into the cover model for next month’s issue of “KuddleKittens Kwarterly“.

Somewhat alarmingly, she’s actually had a modicum of success. In my last entry I showed pictures of the beast feasting first on our porch, then in our kitchen after NewWifey(tm) gradually moved the feed bowl further and further inland. The post ended with her elation that he (we finally determined sex after spotting fuzzy dice) allowed her to scratch his back while he guzzled down a bowl of ($4.99/pint) heavy cream.

Now things have advanced to where the little mooch is sitting outside our door first thing every morning, waiting for NewWifey(tm) to rise and serve it forth (two days ago missing half an ear and with a solid plank of dried blood extending from the cut line to his jaw). When she opens the screen he immediately scampers into the kitchen and sits by the pantry, which is now, surprise surprise, loaded to overflowing with 15 varieties of canned cat food and a 50 pound bag of dried. I have no idea how it all got there, and NewWifey(tm) just gives me a blank stare when I ask.

So I wasn’t surprised when last week I came home and found NewWifey(tm) levitating about a foot off the ground with a full golden aura around her being and a look of divine joy plastered on her mug. I whistled to get her attention and she floated over.

Guess what?” she trilled in an octave that set the neighborhood dogs howling. “After I fed Midnight, he came over and climbed on my lap! I rubbed his belly and scratched his chin and he purred and rubbed the side of his head all over me for almost an hour!”

“Honey” I said, “Midnight is a wild animal. Who knows what he’s been rubbing his head on before he applied it to you. This is New Jersey – probably dead informants. And you know what kind of diseases they carry. I seriously suggest you shower off as soon as possible and maybe give your head and pubes a precautionary layer of Agent Orange.”

But she didn’t hear me. She just floated down the hall into the bedroom, a beatific look on her face. A minute later I heard the gentle hum of her vibrator.

I knew that any reservations I had about bringing a feral, bleeding, and possibly diseased feline into our midst would fall on deaf ears now that cuddle had occurred. I’d sooner get her to give up her wedding ring than that cat now (er…perhaps not a fair comparison, considering). The point is, I knew from long experience that objections would be useless, so I’d best just suck it up and deal with whatever may happen when it happens.

It happened the next morning.

I crawled into bed, pried the still buzzing vibrator from NewWifey(tm)’s hand, put a pillow over her snoring face, and fell asleep.

At 2:30am, a half an hour before my alarm was due to jolt me to work, NewWifey(tm) shook me by the shoulders. She was sitting bolt upright in bed, her nightgown up around her knees.

Honey, wake up” she said. She didn’t sound good.

Oh god. What now. I sat up groggily and flipped on my bedstand light.

She moaned. “My legs are on fire. I think I have hives or poison ivy or something.”

I looked at her legs. From the knees down her skin was a quilt of bright red dots with furrows of angry crimson lines connecting them.

I can’t stop scratching!” she said, carving some new lines in with her now bloody nails.

I looked closer. “Those are flea bites” I said. “Remember when Casey or Gloria would sometimes get fleas, and we had to deal with this?” I paused and stared at her legs. “I never saw it this bad before though.”

She gave a long groan. “How could I have fleas? Casey and Gloria are dead!

“Uh, honey….Midnight? Remember? The hour long lap dance? The face rubbing? That dead informant? I hate to say I told you so, but -”

I stopped.

My ankle itched.

I threw off my covers and looked down.

And took that picture.

You know what the worst part is? NEWWIFEY(TM) IS STILL FEEDING THE CAT!

We had to fumigate the house, throw the bedding out, shave and wax our entire bodies, and take enough Doxycycline to kill The Hulk, just in case. But that wasn’t enough to dissuade NewWifey(tm), nosiree. The next day she went out and got a blister pack of tick drops from the vet, the kind that come in toothpaste-like tubes that you squeeze onto the back of the infested animal and it spreads all over, killing (ostensibly) everything in its path. The next morning as Midnight was face down in his cream, she gave him the glop.

That was last week, and so far there’s been no repeat. Midnight is still as mangy and riddled with open sores as he was when he first showed up, but apparently all the little plague carriers hitching a ride have been vanquished. At least for now. She has to apply a tube every month to keep them from re-establishing him as their RV.

In the meantime, the scarring on our legs have subsided considerably. I can now wear socks again without screaming in agony. NewWifey(tm) still has a faint network of interlacing red lines up and down her legs but is otherwise none the worse for the experience. And at least one good thing did come out of this whole mess: she gets just as ecstatic when Midnight lets her rub his belly for an hour. But it’s not always the vibrator she reaches for afterwards now.

I think I’m gonna like this cat.

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Ah, a quick update on the peanut butter bread (previous entry, again). I did indeed make bread pudding out of the remnants, as threatened. I tore the remainder of the loaf into rough cubes, smeared some smooth peanut butter over the pieces to increase the volume (and flavor), lined a baking dish with grape jelly, added the bread, poured over a basic custard, and dotted the top with butter and a good amount more of grape jelly.

If any of you own an American style diner, this dish is your golden ticket to Millionaire’s Row. As stupid as it sounds, this peanut butter and jelly bread pudding may be the best bread pudding I ever had, let alone made. It was astounding.

Granted, the aesthetics were not perhaps what you’d call “astounding”. All that sugar on top caramelized, and the peanut butter browned even browner, and the overall effect visually was a dish that had been overcooked by perhaps a week or so.

Here, look:

Peanut Butter Bread and Jelly bread pudding

Kind of a mess, huh?

Fool! You know nothing of Peanut Butter Bread and Jelly Bread Pudding. It was wonderful.

Besides, a scoop of ice cream or mountain of whipped cream on top cures all.

Seriously. You’ll make a million.

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Ok, gotta run. It’s almost time for Midnight’s dinner and hour of belly rubs. And then an hour of husband rubs.

Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr….…….

Ciao!

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Me and my Big Brother

(In a nutshell: CLICK HERE to read my actual entry.)

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Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

I wrote an entry for the Daily Prompt’s “Triumph” prompt today, but it’s not showing up on the Daily Prompt’s “Daily Prompt” page. Not promptly, anyway.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I suspect, unless there is just more than the usual lag this time, that my title might be to blame. Do they have a naughty word and/or double-entendre filter over there that flagged me?

If that’s the case, THIS title should pass muster, being merely an innocuous play on a famous book reference, without any prurient meaning explicit or implied. (Not particularly witty though, but sometimes ya gotta really stoop to conquer the folks over at miniluv.)

So yeah, if you want to read my REAL “Triumph” entry just click on my post immediately previous to this one. You’ll like it. It’s got naughty and/or double-entendre stuff out the wazoo.

And a picture of peanut butter bread. Really.

Sheesh. I feel like a doubleplusungood duckspeaker sometimes….

(Oh, and if it really IS just an unusual lag, not censorship, and I see that my Naughty Titled entry shows up on the Big List o’ Submissions, I’ll delete this here stupid backdoor.)

Ciao! (Again.)

Midnight Pussy

When I came home from work a couple of weeks ago there was a dead cat in our yard:

Midnight 1

“There’s a dead cat in our yard” I said to NewWifey(tm).

WHAT?” NewWifey(tm) shot out of her chair and ran to the back porch. I followed, stopping only long enough to knock together a sandwich and open a beer.

Outside, NewWifey(tm) was leaning over the rail peering at the little black form sprawled in the scree at the base of our stone wall. Something must have attacked it head on, because large patches of fur were missing around its ears and eyes.

Goddammit” said NewWifey(tm). “Why the fuck do these things keep coming to our yard to die? Remember that fox last year? And the giant turkey – remember that one? There must have been twenty vultures sitting on our railing that day, and ten more on the ground tearing it to shreds. God, what a mess.

“I remember” I said.

She sighed. “I guess we better at least put the poor thing in a trash bag before we have another feeding frenzy on our hands.”

“By ‘we‘, I assume you mean ‘me‘, right?” I said.

She handed me a plastic bag. “Try not to get any ticks on you.”

Rats. I put my sandwich down and made for the deceased, stopping a few feet away to take one last picture.

But just as I hit the button:

Midnight 2

It was alive!

“Hey honey” I called to NewWifey(tm), “the cat’s not -”

Whoooooooooosh!

NewWifey(tm) went flying by, elbowing me out of the way and letting out a high pitched “Squeeeeeeeeee!

The cat immediately leaped up, vaulted the rock wall, and disappeared into the forest. “Midnight!” NewWifey(tm) called. “Midnight, come back!

“‘Midnight’?” I said, “You named it already?”

She shrugged. “Everything has to have a name.” She stared forlornly into the trees.

“How do you know it doesn’t already have a name? It might just be somebody’s pet out chillin’ on a nice day.”

Did you see how ragged he looks? That’s a feral cat. And his name is Midnight.”

“Fine” I said. “Just don’t encourage him to keep coming back. They carry all kinds of disease, not to mention fleas and ticks.”

She nodded.

So of course two weeks later I came home, looked out our back screen door, and saw this:

Midnight 3

GAHHHH!

“Honey, would you come here a second?”

No response.

Huuuuuuunnyyyyyy. Where are you, baby?”

Nothing.

I searched up and down but NewWifey(tm) was nowhere to be found. Finally I gave up and went into the bedroom to get changed. I opened the closet door and reached for my SpongeBob lounge pants and a t-shirt.

A pair of blue eyes stared back at me between a couple of dress shirts.

“Honey” I said. “Get out here.”

NewWifey(tm) walked out of the closet, head down.

Is this about Midnight?” she said.

“No, not at all” I said. Her head lifted. “OF COURSE IT’S ABOUT MIDNIGHT!” I yelled. “I thought we agreed that feral cats are walking disease agents and we wouldn’t do anything to entice this one to come near us!”

She stiffened. “You’re wrong” she said. “I checked online. It turns out poor abandoned kitty cats are NOT harbingers of doom.

“Yeah, well, they still carry ticks and fleas, and THEY carry disease.”

I don’t care. His name is “Midnight”, he’s my cat, and I’m going to take care of him.”

“He’s YOUR cat?” I said.

Yes“.

A bit of background here, for anyone who isn’t a long time reader. The week after returning from our honeymoon (in 2001), NewWifey(tm) surprised me with two orange tennis balls. One turned out to be a tiny little welsh corgi puppy, the other was the tiny little kitten the pet store threw in for free. Casey and Gloria were to feature large in our marriage, and my stories, for the next 15 year.

“Casey the WonderCorgi” got the most press because, well, corgis always do. The internet loves corgis, I don’t know if you noticed, and for good reason. They’re impossibly cute and endlessly entertaining and OH SHIT HE’S HERDING A FAMILY OF BEARS RIGHT INTO OUR YARD! I never wanted for material when Casey was around.

“Gloria the Liquid Cat” made the occasional appearance also, but being a cat she wasn’t as prone to spectacular, story-worthy hijinx as the dog, and so wasn’t mentioned as often. Still, I did relate the time she dove into the toilet while I was peeing, the time a hawk dive bombed her as she leaped into my arms, a few cooking adventures, and famously, the time I fucked her with a Q-Tip (it’s not what you think…ok it is, but I had a good reason).

We loved those animals. But of course, they are animals, and animals don’t live as long as us animals. Almost three years ago we said goodbye to Casey. Then not long after that, Gloria, who seemed to pine at his passing as much as we did, disappeared one night and we never saw her again.

I still miss that cat, as much if not more so than the dog.

Gloria & Spider!

As does NewWifey(tm).

HNI_0069

We decided not to get any new animals because of circumstances, but that decision was tough on her. She really, really took Gloria’s disappearance hard. That cat was her Cuddle Muffin, snuggling with her the long hours I was away at work early in our marriage. Having Gloria gone, with no prospect of another to replace her, has been an ongoing void in her heart.

And now a new cat, scraggly and hungry, has wandered into our yard. And if NewWifey(tm) has her way, into our lives as well. “Midnight” may not be Gloria, but NewWifey(tm) wants another Cuddle Muffin, even if it means risking rabies, fleas, Heps A, B, C, and D, Lyme Disease, and the Dreaded Lurgi.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I came home from work Friday and saw this in our kitchen:

Midnight 4

NewWifey(tm) frantically motioned me to be quiet as soon as I entered the room, not wanting to scare the beast. We both stood stock still while Midnight ate, then watched as she stood, looked around, and slowly walked out the open back door onto the porch. Through the window we saw her trot down the stairs into the yard then disappear into the woods.

NewWifey(tm) exhaled a long breath. “That’s the first time she’s come inside!” she said in a tone of supreme triumph. “I’ve been placing the dish closer to the door every day, and today I finally set it on the kitchen side…and she came in!”

“Great” I said. NewWifey(tm) was too elated to notice my obvious insincerity.

Soon I should be able to pet her, and then I can take her to the vet for a checkup, and then we can -” she looked at me and stopped. “Pleeeeeeeeeease??

Sigh.

What could I do? For one thing, I still miss having a cat too. But really, the over riding factor is that no matter what I say or do, NewWifey(tm) is gonna do whatever the fuck she wants anyway.

I gave in.

“Ok, yeah, sure” I said. “Just make DAMN sure you bring it to the vet if it gets that far. I don’t want my liver falling out or anything if it scratches me.”

She gave me a hug and let out another squee.

Yesterday, then, NewWifey(tm) once again set a little banchan bowl filled with cream on our kitchen floor and opened the back porch door. She then placed one of our cushioned dining room chairs on the opposite side of the kitchen and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

NewWifey(tm) sat in that chair from 8 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon. I brought her cups of coffee and cookies – I wasn’t allowed to cook, in case Midnight showed up and the rattling of pans scared her – and when she needed a bathroom break I took watch for her.

But…no Midnight.

2 o’clock.

3.

At 4 o’clock I decided to do an intervention.

“Honey” I said gently, “get the fuck out of that chair. Midnight isn’t coming. She’s probably frolicking with her buddies or dead or something. So get up, let’s have a proper meal, and I don’t know if you remembered but we had a date today.”

She looked at me horrified. “How can you even think about sex?” she said. “OUR CHILD IS MISSING!

Hoooooooo boy. I backed out of the room.

At 6 o’clock I brought her a sandwich and a beer.

At 8 o’clock I handed her another beer and kissed her goodnight. By 8:15 I was fast asleep.

Then, just as my dream of circus midgets, two trained German Shepherds, and a giant vat of cottage cheese (small curd) was about to reach its climax, I was jolted awake by NewWifey(tm). She jumped on the bed, straddling me as I lay face down drooling into my pillow, and shook me by the shoulders. “WAKE UP!!

Hnnnghhgnn…gnnn…snorklflax….whuh? Huh? What’s up? What – what time is it? Is something wrong??

Midnight finally showed up!” she yelled. “I waited until 11:30, but she finally came! And…I PETTED HER!! She let me stroke her back while she ate! I’m so happy!!!!!

NewWifey(tm) could hardly contain herself.

And that’s how I got Midnight Pussy.

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In Low Carb news:

A shrimp sale led me to make Vietnamese summer rolls (Goi Cuon) a few days ago, which NewWifey(tm) and I ate on the porch while playing Chutes-And-Ladders and getting hammered on a very accommodating Rose d’Anjou. To go with the rolls I whipped up my version of peanut dipping sauce: smooth peanut butter mixed with Hoisin sauce, 5-spice powder, sesame oil, a little soy sauce, sometimes a bit of brown sugar, and water to thin it out. It’s not traditional, but NewWifey(tm) creams her jeans over it every time. I made plenty, knowing she practically inhales the stuff.

I actually made so much that there was still a fair amount left when we were done – a real rarity. So despite having put myself on a low carb thingy a couple of weeks ago, already dropping some flabbage as a result, I decided to revive my “Will It Make Bread?” experiment just for today. (If you haven’t read my previous entries regarding this, I have a theory that any liquid which doesn’t kill yeast can be made into bread by adding flour, yeast, and maybe a prayer. So far I haven’t been proven wrong.)

Trumpet flourish please.

Behold! Peanut Butter Bread:

Peanut Butter Bread

I added some extra peanut butter to the dough to intensify the flavor. And while it may indeed have boosted the peanuttyness, it also made the dough very heavy so it didn’t rise as much – or quickly – as other loaves. I think the first rise took 4 solid hours, the second rise about 2. But MAN. The flavor was awesome.

Yes, that’s a little ramekin of grape jelly on the plate. Welch’s finest. Matched perfectly. But you knew it would, right? It was actually pretty funny eating a PBJ without the PB. We ate half the loaf this morning, the other half I’m saving to make a bread pudding or something later.

Fuck Atkins. Some things are worth the weight, Skippy.

Ciao!

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A Crack in the Sand

I swear to god I don’t know where my brain is sometimes. I wrote this last Wednesday, but forgot to hit “Publish”. Please pretend it’s last Wednesday, ok? It’ll make more sense then.

NewWifey(tm) and I just got back from a little mini vacation at the Jersey shore. This was a working holiday for NewWifey(tm), who’d been invited by a stitching shop in Cape May to teach one of her designs to a class of paying hens. I had no intention of accompanying her initially, but she promised a seafood dinner (expensed to her company) if I shared driving duties.

Every man has his price. Mine is a lobster roll and two crab cakes. I went.

I actually, despite all expectations, had a splendiferous time.

Having grown up in New Jersey I spent more than my fair share of time down the shore in my youth (handy tourist tip: it’s “down the shore” in NJ, not “at the shore” or – most egregious – “the beach“). My grandparents owned a bungalow just outside Seaside, and every summer until I was 14 my parents booted me down there so they could enjoy a few weeks of relative peace. Then through high school and college there were the usual weekend/break trips, and so on.

So now I’m sick of the Jersey shore. The ancillary parts of it, anyway. I still love swimming in the ocean and eating ice cream waffle sandwiches on the boardwalk and riding the Tilt-o-Whirl and smelling the salt air and wearing a bikini.

But I’m sick of everything else. The madding traffic on the Garden State Parkway, the maddening parking insanity once you get there, the maddening lines at the ice cream waffle stand, the vomiting kid on the Tilt-o-Whirl, the embarrassing bikini tan lines. Not to mention the sand fleas. All of them are so…maddening!...that I just have no enthusiasm for any it any more.

Now despite that litany of objections, NewWifey(tm) has spent the last 15 years trying to make me get over them. Growing up in that trailer park in PrairieLand, USA at exactly the halfway point between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, the closest she ever got to either of them was a Bud Lite commercial. When she moved to NJ she was so excited to see her first seagull that she immediately went out and bought her first ever bikini, as well as her first ever little plastic pail and shovel (stupid Bud Lite commercial). Then she cried when I told her no way, no how, was I gonna take her to the beach. Hey, it was “for better or worse“, remember? Suck it up.

Now about 5 years ago I did relent a little bit, and just once. I forget why, but we were driving down the Garden State Parkway one cold January day and on impulse I took Exit 82 in Toms River, just like I used to when I was a kid. We headed east on Rt.37, right to where it ends in Seaside Heights. There was nobody else at the beach. It was 12 degrees out.

I parked right in front of the boardwalk, a near physical impossibility any other month of the year, and let NewWifey(tm) out. “Ok, here’s your big chance” I said.

NewWifey(tm) looked at me like I was crazy but got out anyway. Then, in full winter parka, boots, and gloves she clomped across the sand down to the water line. The wind was howling like mad in typical January fashion, and the surf was choppy and erratic, shooting steel grey jets in all directions every time a wave crested. Still, NewWifey(tm) was not gonna let this one and (possibly) only opportunity pass her by. Sitting safely back in the Mighty WRX with the heat blasting and Japanese anime theme song compilation CD cranked, I watched her sit down, laboriously remove one boot, then hop on the other foot right to the edge of the surf. When the next wave pushed a line of water to within inches she dipped a toe in, screamed, and hopped back.

I did it” she gasped when she made it back to the car. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

That shut her up for a while. I don’t know if it was because the experience was so painful, or she finally realized the futility of trying to get me to go during a less meteorologically traumatic month. Either way, I didn’t hear about it for the next several years.

Then she booked the gig in Cape May, and it was game on again. “Come ONNNNNNNNN” she whined. “It’s two weeks before tourist season so it won’t be crowded, and we’re staying in Wildwood not Cape May proper so there’ll be even LESS people. I already booked a motel room, and the guy said the place isn’t anywhere near filled that weekend. You don’t even have to drive. You can get drunk and stretch out in the back playing Animal Crossing on your GameBoy while I take us there. C’monnnnnn!

“No.”

I’ll buy you crab cakes and a lobster roll.”

“….ok.”

And just like that, I was going to Cape May.

I’ll cut to the chase here, partly because I don’t remember the trip down. She wasn’t kidding when she told me to get drunk and get in the back. I was just another piece of luggage. When I came to, we were already at Exit 0. (Yes, there’s an Exit 0.)

I have to say, despite my prophesies of doom we had a very nice time. There were indeed blessedly few people clogging roadways or beaches, the food was great, and our motel was literally one building off the sand. This was our view from the balcony:

Balcony resized

They even had a heated courtyard swimming pool, if the early May ocean waters were too cold for you:

Pool resized

The room itself, while tiny, was remarkably clean and tidy. We found out that the young guy who owns it is the 3rd generation of his family to run the place and he takes enormous pride in that. Every year he paints the entire building inside and out, and even lays down new carpets in every room. We were the first people of the 2017 season to spill a mai tai on the new rug in Room 30!

Guess how much we paid? 80 bucks per night, off season! We spent more on food than we did on lodgings.

NewWifey(tm)’s teaching gig only lasted 3 hours of one day, which meant that for the remainder of the 3 days we were there she could finally get all the touristy stuff she’s been dreaming of out of her system.

Like:

Taking pictures of our feet in the sand:

Feet resized

(hers are the bigger feet)

Getting that windblown selfie with ocean backdrop she wanted (even if it was cold enough that a top AND sweater were warranted):

Windswept resized

She built a sand castle with her 15 year old plastic bucket and shovel. We ate crab cakes and lobster rolls. And everything else they could drag out of the sea and put on a plate. We drove around Cape May and looked at the Gingerbread Victorian Houses:

Cape May Houses

And we almost had sex on the beach.

One of the things on NewWifey(tm)’s Beach Bucket list was “midnight walk on the beach with my husband“. How sweet, right? I gotta tell you though, staying awake until midnight after two bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, a tureen of She Crab Soup, two lobster rolls and a half dozen crab cakes (each) was a feat in itself. The one thing that helped was that it was unseasonably frigid. As soon as we stepped out the door and onto the sand we immediately snapped to attention.

Needless to say, we had the beach to ourselves. On that clear, moonlit night we could see up and down the beach for miles. And all we saw was sand, water, and a few whale carcasses. (I think. They might have been abandoned stolen cars. This is still New Jersey, after all.)

So we walked along the water line for a while, NewWifey(tm) looking dreamily at alternately the ocean and me. It was her Hallmark Card moment, and she was loving it. I could practically smell the contentment radiate from her.

I decided to break the mood.

“Wanna fuck?”

She yanked her hand out of mine. “Here? Now? It’s probably 40 degrees out! Are you crazy?”

“No! I mean, I’m not saying we should go all out and do the “From Here to Eternity” thing. But if we duck behind one of these dunes, that’ll block the wind, and we don’t even have to take all our clothes off. Just unzip, hop on, hop off, done. Do you want to go through your whole life never having had sex on the beach?”

She looked at me warily. “Have YOU had sex on the beach?

“Sure, plenty of times” I said. “Granted, it was always by myself. But it was still pretty awesome.”

She snorted and looked out over the water. After a minute she said, “I must still be drunk, because I can’t believe I’m saying this. But ok.”

Woo hoo! Thank you, New Zealand sauvignon blancs.

I looked at the line of dunes behind us and made for the one with the tallest leeward side. NewWifey(tm) trudged behind muttering something incoherent under her breath.

“What was that dear?” I said.

I said, I better not end up getting sand in my crack.

“Oh, don’t worry” I said. “That’s just an urban myth.” I crossed my fingers that it was.

The dune I chose was perfect. The leeward side was dry and sheltered from the wind, and it was tall enough that any insomniacs in the nearby motels couldn’t spot us from their balconies. I got down on my knees.

Wait” said NewWifey(tm). “Spread your jacket down first. I’m still worried about getting sand up there.”

“No way” I said. “I don’t want to end up with a wet spot on my jacket. Do you know how embarrassing that is?”

Do it” said NewWifey(tm).

I did it. Small price to pay, I guess. I mean, it’s almost a badge of honor, right? I took my jacket off and spread it on the sand.

We got down.

Without getting too graphic, I’ll just say that it was a helluva lot of fun. I mean, it was sex so of course it was. But it was sex behind a dune on an empty beach while pretty much fully clothed and half drunk and bathed in the smell of seaweed and the sound of ocean waves, and you just don’t usually get that on a weekday night after coming home from work and just Doing It after dinner because there’s nothing on Netflix that sounds good and so what the hell. Yeah, I was diggin’ it.

NewWifey(tm) was diggin’ it too. After some initial trepidation where she would stop and brush away every imagined grain of sand that encroached on my jacket, she started to loosen up and get in the spirit. It was a hoot!

Until –

YEEEEEEEEEOWWWWWWWWWWWW!” NewWifey(tm) let out a scream mid-thrust and threw me off her. She leapt to her feet.

Something bit me!” she yelled. “Something bit me on my butt!” She tried twisting around and looking, but couldn’t see her butt in the dark. Her pants were down around her knees, and she immediately hiked them up.

“Hang on” I said. “Pull your pants back down so I can take a look.”

Reluctantly she did. There was just enough moonlight that I could make out a raised red mark on her left cheek, and a little critter hanging off it. “You got a sand flea!”

A flea? There are FLEAS at the beach?!

I laughed. “They’re just called that. They’re actually itty bitty little crustaceans. They’re harmless.”

Harmless?” she said. “One of them bit me right on the ass!

“Pinched, dear. They don’t technically bite.”

Fuck you, Jacques Fuckin’ Cousteau. I was BIT. If it was you that was attacked, I bet you would have said – ” She stopped. “What the hell happened to the jacket?

I looked around. My jacket/blanket was several feet away, wadded up. “It must have shifted while we were rolling around” I said. “No big deal. I can wash it.”

No big deal? No big deal? MY CRACK WAS IN THE SAND! I’M PROBABLY FULL OF SAND NOW!

“Oh calm down, you’re fine. Let me get that flea off you and we can go shower up back at the room. We weren’t on the sand long enough to load you up, I’m pretty sure.”

NewWifey(tm) bent over, and very gingerly I prized the tiny crab off her ass. I held it out to her. “Wanna have it for lunch tomorrow?” She swatted it out of my hand and pulled her pants up. 10 minutes later we were back in Room 30 showering off.

Now it’s about 1am, and we’re lying in bed. NewWifey(tm) has finally calmed down.

Y’know” she said, “Other than the ass attack, that really was turning out to be more fun than I thought.” She was silent for a minute. Then, “You wanna finish what we started?

“I thought you’d never ask” I said. I rolled over, planted a kiss on her belly button, then started working my way south.

Ok, we weren’t on the beach and there were no waves crashing on the beach and we were pretty much sobered up by then. But it was still great. I mean – 80 dollars a night! That’ll put ANYONE in the mood. I went at it with gusto.

When all of a sudden:

HAAAAACK! ACK-K-K-K-K-K!” I started gagging and hacking uncontrollably.

What the hell?” said NewWifey(tm). “Are you alright down there??

I couldn’t answer. I was hanging my head over the side of the bed, choking and gasping for air.

My god honey!” NewWifey(tm) started thumping me on the back. I finally got my breath back and started coughing and spitting rivulets of sputum onto the brand new rug.

After a minute I stopped convulsing. NewWifey(tm) was white as a sheet watching me, not knowing what to do. I motioned to her that I was ok, and a few minutes later I was able to talk again.

“I just swallowed a load of sand” I said. “You must have half a dune up there!”

NewWifey(tm) smiled. “I know. Now maybe you’ll listen to me next time when I say I have a concern.”

Goddammit. Women! If it weren’t for the crab cakes and lobster rolls, I wouldn’t even bother with ’em.

Oh well. Have a good night, y’all. It’s time for me to flea.

Yes, that was a crack….

Ciao!

Bear Necessities

After reading my previous entry, a long-time reader wrote saying, “Yo, Danger, that bear story sucked compared to that other one you wrote. How about re-posting that one?

Fair enough. I guess. Still, I’m not sure which one he was talking about. I mean, I’ve done bruin entries about:

Watching a bear get catapulted into a pond by an SUV that hit it at probably 40 mph, only to see it reemerge from the water, shake off the mat of algae, and contine on its way…

Reflexively crapping my pants when I crawled headfirst into a rock cleft near my house and almost bumping noses with a bear cub who was awaiting the return of his mother…

Watching my little welsh corgi chase a bear deep into the woods, only to have the beast turn on him and launch him 30 feet down the trail like a furry helicopter with a paw strike…

Spotting a Volkswagen Beetle parked in the middle of my street one night that turned out to be the largest black bear I’ve ever seen in my  life…

Our neighbor who discovered in the spring that a bear had been hibernating all winter under her front porch when she spotted it while planting bulbs…

Another neighbor who left a bag of groceries in her car and realized it when the bear who tore the car’s front door off to get them got his butt jammed against the horn…

And NewWifey(tm) running down our driveway banging on a pot to scare away the cub that was about to tear apart yet another one of our trash bins:

Bear Trash 2

Bear Trash 1

Then spotting Mamma Bear and 2 more siblings coming up the street to join the picnic:

Bear Trash 3

Bears Trash 4

Before wisely deciding it wasn’t worth trying to save another 27-dollar trash bin, and retreated. (Notice the unconcerned neighbor in the background. He knows my trash smells better than his so he has nothing to worry about.)

There are a lot of bears where we live.

As if New Jersey wasn’t already dangerous enough.

The point is, I’ve had occasion to write a fair number of entries over the years regarding encounters with our local mega-fauna. So this reader has left me rather adrift by requesting a reprint, but not specifying which.

Knowing him though, it was probably this one. It was called:

Bear With Me
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This is not going to become a golf blog. I promise. But this particular entry is about golf. And bears. Who may or may not golf.

Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about golf. I’m adding some helpful notes for the non-plaid-pants wearing public (ie: you), and have every confidence you’ll be just fine…..

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On the way back from work Friday I stopped at my local Golfsmith to see if they were running any one day sales. They were: a clearance special on a number of used clubs. One caught my eye: a Cleveland CG12 60-degree for 19 dollars.

Nineteen dollars! (Helpful Note #1: They’re normally more than that.)

Woo hoo! I had been toying with the idea of trying one of these lofted wonders (HN #2: a club that hits the ball very high, but for only a short distance.), but didn’t have the $$ for a Wishon (HN #3: brand of clubs I play.) to match my irons. This used Cleveland looked in pretty good shape, including grip. Just in case though, I brought it back to the club maker counter and asked the guy if he thought the head/hosel/shaft (HN #4…you know what? Fuck it. You’re on your own from now on. Just Google anything you don’t understand. Jesus.) looked ok. He was very nice, gave it a good look, and pronounced it fit (not that I wasn’t gonna buy it for 19 bucks anyway, but still…). Then he said “gimme a sec” and ran a re-grooving tool on it. Next stop: cash register.

Had family over, so I couldn’t try it Saturday. But Sunday they left and and we had a bit of a warm snap, so I grabbed the Cleveland, set up my net and…really sucked. Really, really sucked. Seriously, I should have spent those 19 dollars on a softball bat and just beaten myself over the head with it. The effect would have been the same: instant headache.

But after, I dunno, 5 or 6 thousand swipes I finally forced my fat middle aged body to stay down long enough to get the club to hit the bottom of the ball for once (popping it over the net in the process), and began to see marginally better results after that. I don’t think I’m gonna add it to my bag yet, as my “success : suck” ratio is still about 1 : 384. But I’m not toying with the idea of exchanging it for a used softball bat any more either.

Anyway, after about an hour of “swipe…skull. ..swipe….skull….swipe fat….swipe….skull” I saw, out of the corner of my eye, my little orange cat come tear-assing around the side of the house and dive into the woods across the street.

“That’s odd” I thought. “She normally doesn’t rouse herself for anything but food.”

I ambled over towards the side of the house to investigate.

I’d only gone about 10 feet when all of the sudden the cuuuutest little bear cub appeared from around the corner, heading towards me.

Then another.

And another.

They were soooo cute! Fwuffy widdle bearkins with big black eyes and widdle black noses and….

And I was scared shitless.

Where there are baby bears, there are mommy bears. And every nature documentary I’ve seen about bears always takes great pains to point out that mommy bears tend to err on the side of extraordinary violence if they think their cubs are in danger. I didn’t want to hang around long enough to find out if that was just media hype.

The problem was, the 3 cubs were now midpoint on the line between me and my front door. And Mrs. B. was due to round that corner any moment I was guessing. Should I charge past the cubs and chance a face-to-face with her before I made it to safety? Should I join my cat? Run around the house the other way and risk ramming mom from behind?

Actually, none of those options crossed my mind. My mind had left the building. All I did was drop my new wedge and bolt. Towards the door.

I don’t even remember the trip. Funny about that. I know I either had to have weaved around, or leaped over, one – or more – cub, because the next thing I can actually remember was being halfway up the stairs to the door.

I’d made it!

At the top landing I stopped and looked down, just in time to see Mamma Bear rounding the corner. She saw her cubs ahead, sniffed the air, stood up, and sniffed the air again. She was probably as tall as me when vertical, but with a set of 4-inch steak knives at the end of each paw. She dropped back on all fours and shuffled across to her little ones.

*Whew*

Bears are actually simultaneously cute and majestic when hanging around as a family doing bear stuff on your lawn. Yeah, their poops are as big as a Smart Car and smell like rotting salmon and slow hikers. But other than that, it was fun watching the cubs tussle and yip while mom plopped down at the base of a tree and kept an eye on them.

So cute! (Have I mentioned that?)

And then.

And then….

And then one of the cubs spotted something shiny in the grass and trotted over to investigate.

My club! My new 19 dollar, never to be found at that price again, Cleveland CG12 60-degree wedge!

THAT I FINALLY MANAGED TO HIT A BALL WITH!!

To hell with cute and majestic. I was pissed.

I almost started to scream “No! Bad bear! Bad! Go away!” when I spotted all the other bears, including mom, heading over to check out the bright sparkly thing too. Discretion being the better part of survival (bears can climb porch stairs, I’m pretty sure) I shut up.

At first, like for maybe 3 seconds, the cubs just sniffed at it. But then one of them grabbed the club head in his mouth and started running around in circles with it. My new Cleveland wedge!

Well of course the other cubs immediately wanted in on that action. They piled on and fought to be the one who got to run around in circles carrying the magic stick in their jaws. All I could do was watch.

All Mamma Bear did was watch too. But after a few minutes of what to her was probably another in a series of silly kid fights over a tree branch, she turned and started for the woods. Halfway across the street she turned and gave a loud grunt, and the three cubs immediately stopped their play and trotted after her.

With one of them still carrying my club in its mouth!

NNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooo……..!

Fifteen seconds later a mamma bear, her three cubs, and a Cleveland CG12 60-degree wedge disappeared into the 6,000 acres of Wawayanda State Park that surrounds my home.

And I didn’t go after them.

I may be a golfer, but I’m not a SCOTTISH golfer. I’m not mean enough to face down a family of bruins on my own and demand they hand over their new toy.

That’s what wives are for. And mine’s Irish, which is close enough. I’ll just tell her that one of them stole my club AND called her fat, and she’ll be out there with a Bowie knife and a snarl before I can yell “Fore, right!!

Hmmm. On the other hand, if something should happen to her I wouldn’t have my laundry done for weeks.

Maybe I’ll just wait for the Spring thaw and see if they’ve dropped it somewhere along the trail by then.

Or maybe I’ll see one of them at my course later, hitting ’em close from 30 yards. You never know. They’re a talented species.

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Well there ya go. You made it. Not too painful considering it was about golf, now was it? And if it was, don’t worry. I’ll make up for it next time with a rollicking tale of sexual mishap and public humiliation. Yes, again. But until then….

Ciao!

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That was the story as originally written. However, there was a postscript added later:

The following fall a hunter came across the club deep in the woods, and since I put name/address labels on all my shafts he dropped it off at my house on his way home. There were a few scratch marks up and down the length of the shaft, and the rubber grip looked like it had been hit by a cheese grater a few dozen times, but the club was otherwise relatively undamaged. In fact, I had it re-gripped, and still play it to this day. I mean, it’s never gonna look like a brand new club after going through an ordeal like that. But it’s not unbearable….

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