Tag Archives: satire

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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A Visit To The Ice Cream Shop

My nephew sent this story to my inbox the other day. It made me chuckle. It just goes to show there is humor in every day life. Enjoy!!

A little old man shuffled slowly into an ice cream parlour and pulled himself slowly, painfully, up onto a stool… After catching his breath, he ordered a banana split.

The waitress asked kindly, ‘Crushed nuts?’
‘No,’ he replied, ‘Arthritis.

 

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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Don’t Look Now

By Larry Day

Some years ago a stand-up comedian who was known for his self-deprecating humor, was arrested for fighting in a bar after his show. The comedian had smacked his opponent in the face. When the case got to court and the judge asked the comedian how the fight started.

“He laughed at me,” said the comedian.

There are nearly five billion websites in cyberspace. There are more than a billion unique You Tube users on the planet. There are six billion hours of video in 61 languages on the World Wide Web.

In this interconnected world, millions of people use Internet to invite total strangers into their lives. They invite everyone from elderly Mongolians in Ulan Bator, to Argentine teenagers in Mar del Plata, to connect to their websites and view intimate details of their lives. Then these website owners are stunned to find out that crooks, scam artists, identity thieves, Internet marketers, and digital sales representatives have honed in on their websites and have exploited the information they found there.

That comedian became rich and famous by inviting audiences to laugh at his fabricated foibles. But when a stranger in a bar laughed at one of his real foibles, the comedian doubled his fists and started swinging. Lots of folks are like that comedian. They spread their personal information all over the Internet. But they get mad as hell when they hear that authorities are analyzing Internet data flow patterns to see if they can find information that might thwart a terrorist attack. Whoa. Whoa! That’s a violation of people’s privacy.

Finding out what constitutes acceptable government surveillance and what is considered unacceptable prying, is a valuable process. Most of that process is serious, but sometimes it can be funny.

*******

Consider this story: Back in 2010 forty-year-old Ginger Pitchfork of Mound Tree, Texas, phoned the U.S. Census Bureau to lodge a complaint. She said a census worker had called and asked about her marital status and her vaccination history. Ginger said that Census call was an unwarranted government intrusion into her privacy. What was hilarious was that at the time Ginger was operating a website that chronicled intimate details of her love life.

++++++

And how about this?: A herd of pigs broke out of their sty on a Midwest farm and ran down to a four lane highway. Kurk and Wadley, a couple of forty-something city dwellers, were driving along in a heavy duty pickup truck and saw the pigs. They decided to round up the pigs and put them in the truck and drive them to a nearby stockyard.

Kurk and Wadley figured that since they had found the pigs on the highway it was a “finders keepers,” and they offered to sell the herd to the stockyard manager for $200.

The stockyard manager declined their offer, and retrieved ownership data from tattoos on the pigs’ ears. He called the owner. The owner was looking for the pigs and was not far from the stockyards. When he arrived, the owner thanked Kurk and Wadley, and gave them each$40. Then he loaded up his pigs and drove back to the farm.

Wadley and Kurk were fascinated and amazed. They didn’t know how the pigs had been identified. They jumped the conclusion that there was a government surveillance system so powerful that it could even keep track of an obscure herd of pigs.

Kurk and Wadley organized a series of workshops to tell their story. They told those who attended: “If the government can spy on a herd of Midwest pigs, what do you think it’s finding out about you and your family?”

After that, Wadley and Kurk found what they considered evidence of government surveillance in virtually every aspect of U.S. life. So they set up a network of vigilance websites to warn people of an impending dictatorship that would take over the country as soon as the government had processed all its surveillance data. Kurk and Wadley shut the website down after it become a target for stand-up comedians and late night talk show humor.

 

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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Eric the Red, 21-Century Revisited

One of my favorite “Day Dreaming” characters is Eric the Red. When conceived, Eric had a different name and ethnicity. I changed both at the suggestion of my publisher. It turned out that the change enhanced both the comedic effect and the descriptive possibilities of the character. This from the book: “Sven was wearing an academic gown that had military epaulets on the shoulders, and a Viking helmet with America flags attached to the horns.” In the story “Eric the Red” whose name is Sven Torgelson comes back to Letongaloosa to warn me (we meet in a back booth at the Enchantment) that I am the target of a Mainland Patriotic Corps investigation. It seems that Patcorps had put me on its black list because I had subscribed to a liberal journal. Patcorps had put me on its white list for subscribing to a conservative journal. Apparently I had fouled up the organization’s vigilance apparatus. Apparently no one had ever been on both the black list and the white list before. It’s a fun story. You should read it.

 

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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Seriously…

It is not so important to be serious as it is to be serious about important things.

Roger von Oech, Ph.D. A Whack on The Side Of The Head

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Holiday Afterglow

When I was a boy the holidays didn’t end the day after New Year’s as they do now.    At our house the holiday season often lasted until after Ground Hog Day.  It was usually early February before Mom carefully removed the ornaments, the strings of lights, and the tinfoil icicles from our Christmas tree and swept up the pile of pine needles from the floor.

This year my wife Emmaline and I took down the outside and inside decorations, including my Christmas train, on Jan. 2.  The Christmas train is my pride and joy.

I bought it years ago in Atlanta.  I had flown down to attend a niece’s December wedding.  I arrived a day early. The women invited me to go shopping with them.  In a department store I saw a toy train running around a track.

It was a Christmas Train—Santa atop the engine. It had four cars plus a caboose.  The train had lights, and the figures moved.

Decades dropped away.  I was seven or eight years old again.  I had to have that train.  Never mind that it cost $250; never mind that the box it came in was larger than a hard sider suitcase. I took out my credit card.

Now each Christmas season, after I have inexpertly installed the outside house lights and Emmaline has expertly and creatively decorated the inside of the house, I open the box and take out my Christmas Train.

I’ve cut assembly time to two hours.  One has to put  together the track,  attach the electric gear,  hook up the cars (each car is attached to the car ahead by a little black umbilical cord that makes the figures move and the lights dance).  I’ve been known to cuss a bit as I assemble the train.

It’s a wonderful train.  One pushes the ON button.  One pushes the forward button. A voice shouts “All Aboard.”  Bells ring, a realistic train whistle blows, and the train moves around the track.  Santa goes “ho, ho, ho.”

For the first few years I had the train to myself.  Then my granddaughter came along and wanted to run the train.  Then my grandson came along and  wanted to run the train.  Then Emmaline told me to let the grandchildren help me assemble the train.

I steadfastly resisted that suggestion until Christmas 2008.  My granddaughter is now eight and my grandson is five.   Emmaline sand bagged me.  She didn’t tell me the kids were coming until they were at the front door.

When they came in Emmaline said, “You can help Grandpa put his train together.”

I said, “Okay. Okay, kids, this is a very difficult project, so watch carefully and I’ll show you how I do it.”

“Okay, Grandpa.”

Then Emmaline called me to come upstairs.  It was the kind of pre-preemptory call that I’ve learned not to ignore.

“I’ll be RIGHT BACK,” I said.  “You kids go to Grandma’s office and play computer games.  We’ll put the train together when I get back.”

After a few minutes I heard kid voices from the living room. I took four steps down the back stairs.  Emmaline ordered me, in a preemptory voice, to finish my assigned task. Several elongated minutes later I sprinted for the living room.

Halfway down the stairs I heard a robotic voice say “All Aboard!”  My heart sank.  Had the kids gotten the electrical apparatus out of the big box and plugged it in?  What harm such mischief might do to my train I could only imagine.

I charged down stairs and into the living room.

“Ding, Ding, Ding,”   “Whooo, Whooo, Whooo,”  “All Aboard,”    “Merry Christmas!” “Ho, Ho, Ho,”  “Chug, Chug, Chug.”

My train was fully assembled and running around the track.   My granddaughter was at the controls and my grandson was jumping back and forth across the track just ahead of the train.

“Grandpa, we put the train together!”

The grandkids weren’t here on Jan. 2 when I put on my engineer’s cap and ran the train around the track one last time.  Then I put it back in the box for another year.

I hope my grandkids will let me help them put the train together next December.

 

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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Old Carol Revisited

Here’s a fun holiday jingle from one of Walt Kelly’s (the genius cartoonist of the 1950s-80s) Pogo Books:

“Deck us all with Boston Charlie
Walla Walla Wash., and Kalamazoo!

Nora’s freezing on the trolley
Gosh a mickel, pick-a-dickel
Alagaroo!

 

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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