Tag Archives: books

It’s So Cold…

Colder than a witches’  up here.  Clear blue sky, not a cloud.  Cold enough to freeze Ginger’s pee as soon as it hits the grass (well not quite).   

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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The Consultant

 

When I was a teenager, I was klutz. My klutziness—with everything from gadgets to girls—was a source of merriment for my friends, and despair for me. I shared my anguish in an interview with my kindly old Bishop.

He gave me some advice: “The Lord makes imperfect people with the hope that they will help other imperfect people with their imperfections.” That advice didn’t mean much to me at the time, but it does now.

It got me a job.

I was at a local hardware store when I met the headhunter who set up my job interview. I had gone to the store to return a faulty flashlight. The flashlight, it turns out, worked fine. Apparently I had put the batteries in wrong.

The salesman, Mr. Morales, turned the batteries around, replaced the cap, and flicked the switch. The light came on.

“It’s working now,” he said, and handed me the flashlight. He smiled, but he didn’t give me “the look.” That’s why I always look for Mr. Morales when I return merchandise at that hardware store.

Every time I hand faulty gadgets to other salespeople, they make the darn things work in an instant.

“You had the fragjibber in backwards,” they say.

Then they give me “the look.” You know what I mean, that surreptitious supercilious raising of the eyebrows that says, “If this guy is brain dead, shouldn’t he be on a respirator?”

It was while I was thanking Mr. Morales that the headhunter, Sandra Chang, came up and started talking to me. She asked me what I did for a living. I told her that I was retired and working my head off at odd jobs to make ends meet. After we had chatted a while, Ms. Chang asked if I would be interested in being a consultant. I said, “Sure I would.”

When she called some weeks later, she had set up an interview with Apogee Engineering. I’d never heard of the outfit, and Ms. Chang was pretty vague about what they do to keep their stockholders happy. She was also vague about which of my myriad talents Apogee Engineering was interested in. She said they’d explain in the interview.

Ms. Chang briefed me well. She said that first they’d go over my resume, and told me what they’d be looking for. She was right on target. She said that after the routine stuff, they’d want to ask me some different questions. She told me to be sure I answered all their questions truthfully.

“No problem,” I said. “My life’s an open book. I’m a professor emeritus from a small university, and I teach part time at a large university. I don’t drink, and I don’t do drugs. I don’t smoke and I don’t chew. I’m a very happily married man.

On the appointed day I went to Apogee Engineering. The interview was going great. They seemed completely satisfied with my answers to the routine resume questions. Then the assistant to president cleared his throat.

“Professor, as Ms. Chang may have told you, the project we’re considering you for is very important to Apogee Engineering. Because of that, you’ve been the subject of a rather extensive background check. Would you mind confirming some of our findings?”

“Not at all,” I said. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know.” Then I said to myself, “Bring it on.” I was secure in the fact that I have lived a solidly upstanding, if somewhat prosaic, life.

“Professor,” said the assistant, “a couple of weeks ago the local computer store sent someone out to your house. Why did you call them?”

“I inadvertently put a CD Rom disk into the B-drive slot instead of the CD Rom slot on my computer,” I said. “It got stuck, and I couldn’t get it out.

“I see,” he said. Then he went on.

“The folks at Triple A report that you have made extensive use of their emergency road service. In fact, you called last them last week. Can you tell us what happened?”

I paused. “Where was this guy going with this stuff?” I thought. “Oh well, what the heck,”

“I was driving to work and a car splashed mud on my windshield. When I turned on the automatic windshield washer, it squirted oil all over my windshield. I couldn’t see a thing, and I ran into a curb and blew out a tire.”

“And how did oil get into the reservoir of the windshield wiper?” asked the assistant to the president of Apogee Engineering.

“Lie,” whispered a little voice inside me. “Lie your socks off.” But I didn’t.

“A couple of days earlier the oil light came on, so I put in some oil. I must have poured oil into the wrong hole. All those darn caps under the hood look the same.”

I wondered if he was going to give me “the look,” but he didn’t.

“You’ve returned nine appliances to local stores in the last few weeks. How many of those appliances were actually faulty?”

“These guys are setting me up,” I thought. “They’re going to give me the old heave ho. Well I’ll save them the trouble.”

“All nine appliances worked perfectly when the store personnel adjusted them, I said with quiet dignity. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just be on my way.” I stood up.

“Professor,” said the assistant to the president, “please sit down.”

“You people are trying to humiliate me,” I said.

“On the contrary, we’re trying to hire you,” he said. “We’ve been looking all over the country for someone like you. You’re bright. You’re successful. You’re a solid citizen. And you’ve been blessed with a gift. World class athletes 2

are a breed apart. They run the 100-yard dash in 9.3 seconds. They bat .375 year after year. They shoot in the low sixties in high pressure golf tournaments.

“What does that have to do with me?” I asked.

“You are an extremely rare phenomenon. Industrial companies all over the world hire Apogee Engineering and pay us millions of dollars to help them idiot-proof their products.”

“So you’re looking to hire a blithering idiot,” I said bitterly.

“On the contrary,” he said. “We’re looking to hire a world class reverse mechanical engineering genius, and you are he. You’re one in a billion. If a consumer product doesn’t baffle you, it won’t baffle anyone. Please come to work for us and help make consumer products safer for people all over the world.”

So I did. -30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

 

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Stressed

 

The clothing industry predicts that the global market for denim

jeans will be $64.1 billion by 2020. That’s billion (with a “b”).

Everyone—from the president of the United States to two-year-old

toddlers—wears jeans.

It wasn’t always so. Back in the day most of the teenage boys

wore cotton trousers to school. A few kids wore corduroy. In those

days denim was used almost exclusively to make work clothes. So to

be appropriately dressed, even working class kids wore cotton. Take

Elmont Richens, for example. He was a working class kid back then

and he wouldn’t have been caught dead walking into the high

school wearing jeans.

Decades passed—wars and rumors of wars, moon shots and

space ships, fads and fashions came and went—but Elmont retained

the cultural context of his youth—denim was used to make cheap

working class clothing. Good clothes were made with cotton.

Staying culturally naïve had been easy until recently. Elmont had

lived all his life in Port Hall, a village about 20 miles from

Letongaloosa. He was a bachelor and was shy. Even after moving

here he didn’t get around much. He was a good man. Good and

naïve.

Elmont loved to read and he went to the public library a lot.

One day he asked for a book that wasn’t available. The librarian

said, “They might have that book at the Letongalosa Community

Junior College library.”

I don’t work up at LCJC, “he said.

“Oh, you don’t have to be affiliated with LCJC to check out

books. Any resident of Letongaloosa can have a library cared.”

Elmont was delighted. He got a card and started checking books

out at the LCJC library. That’s where Elmont was when he saw the

girl in the stressed jeans.

She was walking toward him. She was tall. Her blonde hair was

pulled back in a ponytail. Her jeans had ragged horizontal holes in

the front of both thighs. There was a ragged square hole in the right

knee. The back pockets were patched with material from a red

bandana. The right leg had an eight-inch tear. She wore rubber flipflops.

Elmont’s heart went out to the waif.

Despite his shyness, he said:

“Miss, may I speak to you for a moment? This is awkward,” he

said. “My name is Elmont Richens. I grew up poor in a small town. I

know what it’s like not to be able to afford nice things. If you’ll let

me, I’d like to buy you some new clothing.”

At this point some readers are going to say that I ran into a plot

snag and decided to use dues ex Machina. That’s a literary device

some writers use to save a drowning plot. All I am going only going

to say is: sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

The young woman was not poor at all. She was rich. Her

name was Melissa Stafford, and she was president of Zeta Omega

Zeta, the wealthiest and most exclusive sorority on campus. She had

just finished attending a sociology class. The lecture: “Our Social

Responsibility in an Aging Population.”

Melissa extended her hand.

“Hi, I’m Melissa.”

“Where do you live, Elmont?”

“At 556 Horton Street. “

“It’s awfully hot. Did you walk all the way up to campus,

Elmont?”

“Yes. Look, I know what it’s like to not to have the right clothes.

I’d like to buy you a new pair of jeans.”

“Thank you, Elmont. That’s sweet of you. But these jeans are

brand new. My Mom bought them at Bloomingdales in New York

City. She gave them to me yesterday.”

“They’re NEW? You’re not poor?”

“No, Elmont, I’m not poor. Look, it’s quite a walk back to your

house. I’ll give you a ride home.

“You have a car?

“Yes. Stay here. I’ll be right back.”

A few minutes later Melissa pulled up at the curb in a grey 2015

Jaguar convertible.

Elmont stared for a long moment, then walked to the car.

“Hop in,” said Melissa.

-30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Fill the Screen With SOMETHING

Twenty-four hour television news channels have to fill the screen with SOMETHING.  I like it when there’s no real news and the news channels have to make bricks without straw, and news without news.  You see the darndest  stuff:  like an hour-long birthday tribute to Gene Ahern, the creator of the one-panel 1930s cartoon “Our Boarding House.”

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Man In the Mirror ©

This column is a beloved favorite by many, including yours truly. Enjoy!!

 

“Surely,” thought Rip, “I have not slept here all night.”
–Washington Irving, “The Story of Rip Van Winkle,”1819.

My wife, Emmaline and I recently rented the old mountain cabin deep in the
Smoky Mountains where we’ve stayed nearly every year for the past 25 years.
Part of the reason we love going to the cabin is that it looks just as it did the first
time we stayed there back in 1989. It’s how we get away from the world. The
cabin is decades old. Beside the cabin flows a boulder-strewn stream that
begins somewhere high in the tree-covered Appalachians.
The front door of the long, narrow two-room cabin is always unlocked when we
arrive. A key, with a note from the landlady, is always on the table in the
kitchen/living room. After we have unloaded the car, unpacked the suitcases,
and hung clothes in the cabin’s only closet, Emmaline and I have our annual
encounter. It’s about who is going to go shopping.
In the early years I always drove the 10 miles back to the super market on the
main highway for groceries and supplies. Then sometime around the beginning
of the women’s lib movement, I spoke up. I said that grocery shopping should
be a shared activity. That led to negotiations that led to the creation of our
annual encounter. Each year Emmaline and I resolve the grocery-shopping –
duty-problem with a game of “Rocks, Paper, Scissors.”
I won this year’s encounter, and as Emmaline drove away, I headed for the
couch to take a nap. Less than 15 minutes later something woke me, and I
walked back to the bathroom.
I glanced in the mirror above the wash basin. and let out a yip. Instead of my
face in the mirror, there was an old man with a long beard. He wore a tri-corner
hat. He winked at me.
I fled to the living room.
There, standing on the table, was the same diminutive old Dutchman. He wore
an outlandish costume—like one that 18thcentury author Washington Irving
described in his famous short story, “Rip Van Winkle.” Here is Irving’s description
of the man I saw standing on the cabin table:
“He was a short square-built old fellow, with thick bushy hair, and a grizzled
beard. His dress was of the antique Dutch fashion – a cloth jerkin strapped round
the waist – several pair of breeches, the outer one of ample volume, decorated
with rows of buttons down the sides, and bunches at the knees.”
The little old Dutchman beckoned me to follow, hopped nimbly off the table,
and trotted out the front door
I stumbled out onto the wooden deck. The sun was still where it had been when
I lay down for my nap.
I heard what sounded like a gong from the river below, and walked to the edge
of the deck. There on the river bank was my knee-breeched, silver-buttoned
little Dutchman. And lined up along the bank were a dozen more little
Dutchmen, dressed just like him. Each held a small inflated inner tube and a
beer stein . Lying on the river bank was a big, inflated truck inner tube. On a flat
rock beside the inner tube stood a large beer stein.
I waved to the little Dutchmen, and they all raised their steins. I took the
stone stairs two at a time down to the river. I picked up my stein full of foamy
root beer, and hopped on the big inner tube. With a whoop, I pushed off into
the stream.
My Dutchmen friends whooped, hopped onto their inner tubes, and
pushed off into the stream. Then we all lay on our backs, trailed our hands in the
water, and floated merrily, merrily down the stream.
I awoke on the couch—this time for real—to the sound of Emmaline
calling for me to help unload the groceries. Dazed, I made my way to the front
door and looked out. I half expected to see 25-years-younger Emmaline
standing beside our old brown 1987 Plymouth. But fortunately I saw my 2014
Emmaline—looking prettier than ever—walking toward the cabin carrying a bag
of groceries. Then, from far away, I heard the joyful whoops of little Dutchman
voices as my new found friends floated down the mystic stream. If you don’t
believe me, go ask Rip Van Winkle.

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: www.daydreaming.co

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Dinner At My House

Just a random dinnertime musing from the mind of an ol’ geezer. Enjoy!!

Emmaline (my wife) watches late morning TV cooking shows while I’m in the kitchen putting the TV dinners in the microwave.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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“Jump Shot Jim” Says Goodbye

Jim Higgins reminisces as he looks down from the press box high above the court.  He is preparing to broadcast the last play-by-play of his long career as the voice of the Letongaloosa Community Junior College basketball team.  Fittingly, the Leopards are playing the La Mancha Mongrels.
In a game decades ago against the Mongrels, Jim earned the title “Jump Shot Jim.”  In that contest, Jim had launched a desperation shot from midcourt just as the buzzer sounded. The ball swished into the net, breaking a 41-41 tie and giving the Letongaloosa Leopards the game and the conference title.
Higgins has been known as “Jump Shot Jim,” ever since.  His transition from player to broadcaster was seamless.  He received a degree in Duplicative Communicology from LCJC, and landed a job at radio station LCNU- FM.  One night the station manager said:
“Zip down to the gym.  You’re going to do the play-by-play of the Leopard’s game.  Richard Handley’s voice cracked as he was doing the pregame show.  He sounds like Donald Duck.”
Jim zipped down to the gym, clattered up to the press box, and slid behind the microphone just as the announcer began introducing the players.  Jim scanned the names of the players on the other team.  The broadcast went well and Jim became the new voice of the Leopards.
Jim did play-by-play as the team competed for conference titles and in postseason championship games.
One of Jim’s favorite trips was to the Florida Keys. He did play-by-play as the Leopards competed in the Banyan Basketball Invitational.  He loved southern Florida. Now, standing in the Leopards’ press box preparing to broadcast his final game, Jim watches the team warm up and studies the Mongrel’s roster.
It turned out to be a great game.  The lead went back and forth and was tied at the end of regulation play.  In overtime the Leopards came out looking tired and the Mongrels dumped in six unanswered points.  The Leopard’s coach called time out.
As the game resumed disaster struck the Leopards.  Finney Fraser, the high scoring point guard, got hurt driving for a loose ball and had to come out.  Two Leopard players had fouled out. The young sub who came on the floor was playing in his first post-conference game.  Jim ran his finger down the Leopards’ roster looking for the sub’s name, and found it:  Kurt Curtis, walk-on from Letongaloosa High School.
After the huddle and before the referees called the teams back onto the court, young Curt looked up at the press box.  Jim couldn’t figure out why, but he waved and gave the boy a big thumbs up.
As the overtime minutes drained away the Leopards fell behind by four points. They picked up three on a jumper from the right side, and another on a free throw. The game was tied with seconds remaining. The coaches called time out.
The Leopard’s coach told his team to run down the clock and then feed the ball to their high scoring forward who would drive in for a buzzer-beating a lay-up.  The play went perfectly until a high jumping Mongrel defender batted the ball away.  The ball flew to mid court and landed in the hands of the Leopard’s substitute Kurt Curtis.   Jim described the scene to the radio audience as Kurt let fly a jumper  from mid court.
It was a swisher.  All net.  The Leopards won by three at the buzzer.
Jim lingered after everyone had left the triumphant Leopards  arena. As he emerged from the door of the gym, young  Kurt Curtis jumped down from the team bus and ran toward him.
“Sir, I’m  Kurt Curtis.  I’m a Duplicative Communicology major.   When I was a kid my grandpa told me about your shot from mid-court that won the conference title.  I want to be a play-by-play broadcaster.”
“You’ll be great one,” said Jim.  “Everyone is already calling you “Key Shot Kurt.”
-30-
This particular column is near and dear to this ol’ humor writer’s heart. The Kansas House declared April 28th, “Bob Davis Day” in honor of KU’s beloved broadcaster’s , Bob Davis’ recent retirement. Rock Chalk!!

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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