Writer’s Workshop: Stupid Guy Tricks

Every once in a while, I’ll be in my office, and will hear Mary laughing like a loony downstairs. If it’s something she found on Facebook, she’ll repost it and tag me. Well, the other day she started laughing, but wouldn’t repost what she found so funny, so we had to go looking for it. Naturally, I practically laughed myself to the point of incontinence when I saw what it was.

Why did I find this so funny? Because I was the kind of person who would be crazy enough to stick a fireworks fountain down his pants and the kind who would be unlucky enough to have something like this happen. And I knew guys who would do this, and some of them would probably still be crazy enough to try it and have the same thing happen.

You might call it The Darwin Award. I call it being a guy. It’s like the old joke: What words most often precede trips to the Emergency Room? “Hold my beer and watch THIS!” Most of the guys I know have tied a bath sheet around their neck and attempted to fly like Superman. I know I did.

In seventh grade, I learned that if you sprayed a lit candle with Lemon Pledge you could duplicate the effect of a flame thrower. I stopped doing it briefly when someone tattled on me and my mother just about had a stroke. After we moved to the suburbs, I had a metal container that was full of matchbooks. One day, when a couple of friends were over and Mom wasn’t home, we set the matchbooks on fire and sprayed the container with Lemon Pledge. The resulting fireball could no doubt be seen all over the neighborhood. I managed to get rid of the evidence before Mom got home.

When I was really young, there was a Chinese family who lived down the street who made their own fireworks in their basement. Now, from that description, you know that it was the guys in the family who came up with that idea. They would shoot off a bottle rocket every night, and one Fourth of July emptied their current inventory. Were fireworks illegal in Chicago? Yes. Did they (or for that matter anyone else) care? No, of course not!

One of my favorite parts of the drive from Atlanta to Chicago was passing the gas station on Interstate 24 in Tennessee that sold, according to their sign, gasoline, cigarettes, cold beer and fireworks. Talk about your recipe for destruction. What was worse was that this was up in the mountains, where an explosion of any size could cause a rock slide sufficient to close the Interstate for at least a day. Some guy came up with that bright idea, and no doubt some bureaucrat in Nashville approved it. Fortunately, nothing has happened… yet.


One of Mama Kat’s prompts for the week was “The last thing that made you laugh.”

Wednesdays for my Wife: Shopping for Mary

This is an Encore Presentation: I originally published this for the 2014 A to Z Challenge. By the way, the signups for the 2016 Challenge start on January 25, 2016, which is only forty days from today. I hope you join us. It’s lots of fun and you meet a lot of other bloggers. More information at the A to Z Challenge website.

Until the stroke, I did the grocery shopping. Mary would write a list with my input and I would take it to Kroger, Publix, or Winn-Dixie (when it was still doing business in Atlanta) and get everything on it.

Or at least try to get everything on the list.

I’m not talking about knowing what I was supposed to get and not getting it because the store was out of it. I’m talking about trying to figure out what Mary wanted and not being able to, or determining that what she was asking for was not available. Sometimes, I could figure out what it was she wanted: one week, she wanted “muffin thingies” and somehow I knew she meant the paper cups that line the spaces in a muffin baking pan.

Other times, it wasn’t so simple.

She sent me out once and one of the things on the list was “pastry shells.” I figured she wanted a pie shell, and brought one home.

“No, no, no, this isn’t what I wanted. The ones I’m looking for are a lot smaller.” I went back out and brought home tart shells.

“No, this isn’t right, either. I want pastry shells, but not these.”

“Fine,” I said. “Next time, you come with me and get what you want.”

She came with me to the store, we went to the freezer case, and she picked up a box of puff pastry shells. “This is what I wanted. Why couldn’t you get these?”

“Well, why didn’t you tell me you wanted puff pastry shells?” I had seen them every time I was at the store, but had no idea that’s what she wanted.

“I couldn’t remember what they were called.”


Other times, I flat out couldn’t find what she was asking for. She might as well have been asking for the firing pin for a nuclear device.

My favorite story about shopping, though, had to do with potato peelers.

Source: Amazon.com

One week, Mary sent me out with a list that included “potato peeler.” I brought one home from the store, no problem.

Three weeks later, I get a list, and she’s asking for a potato peeler again. I thought, didn’t I just buy her a potato peeler? I shrugged it off and bought her another potato peeler.

Two weeks later, she’s asking for another potato peeler.

“Mary, didn’t I just buy a potato peeler?”

“I can’t find it.”

“Did you look in the silverware drawer?” I knew that whenever I unloaded the dishwasher and found a potato peeler, I would put it in the drawer with the forks and knives and whatever.

“Yes, and it wasn’t there.”

We go to the kitchen and open the silver drawer. Like most people, we have one of those silverware caddies in the drawer, and everything else gets thrown in there more or less at random. I lifted the caddy, and found at least five potato peelers under there.

“Oh,” she said. “I guess you can cross that off the list.”

We still laugh about that.

CSI: Columbus, Nebraska

Today, I’m starting a new regular feature here: Wednesdays For My Wife. Mary, who everyone has heard about by now, asked me last night if I could write a story for her on the blog every week, chosen from my wide array of funny stories from childhood, from adulthood, and from my years traveling on business. I thought that was a reasonable request; I mean, she’s been after me to write my stories down for fun and profit for some time, and I haven’t exactly been good about it. Her suggestions will help drive the project, and keep me on track, more or less.

Mary’s profile picture from Facebook. She made that scarf.

I know I’ve told this story before here, and have referred to it any number of times, but rather than sending you digging through the archives to find it (I’m not even sure I remember where it is), I’ll write it again and see if I can make it funnier than before.

My job as a software installer for the company I eventually spent twenty years with required extensive travel, often to small cities and towns in the Midwest. On this particular week, I was set to make a two-day trip to visit a client in Columbus, Nebraska, about ninety miles due west of Omaha. About a week ahead of time, I called my efficient travel agent and set up a roundtrip flight to Omaha, where I would rent a car and drive to Columbus, and asked her to book two nights at the Holiday Inn Columbus. She said she would take care of that, and a few days later I had my tickets.

The day I’m supposed to leave, I get a call from her: the Holiday Inn is booked (they had been watching the hotel for a cancellation), do you have a second choice? I call my client, and he tells me there’s a Super 8 Motel a couple of blocks from the Holiday Inn. I call my travel agent back and tell her to book me into the Super 8 for a couple of nights. She says she’ll call me either with a confirmation or to request another hotel.

I don’t hear from her by the time I have to leave, so I go to O’Hare to catch my 6:00 PM flight. When I get to the airport, I learn that the plane I’m supposed to take to Omaha has been delayed, and to go to the gate, where they’ll have updates. This was in the days before voice mail, and the administrative assistant that took my messages has gone home for the day, so I don’t know if they had any luck getting me a hotel for the night. By the time the plane arrives, it’s almost 8:00 PM, so we don’t leave until 8:30, meaning it’s almost 11:00 when I finally land, get my baggage and rental car, and strike out on the road to Columbus.

I get into town and go to the Super 8. The place is dark, and there’s a sign on the door to ring the bell for assistance. After ringing the bell, and a wait of about ten minutes, the proprietor comes to the door in her bathrobe and curlers. I tell her my name, and she says, “I’m sorry, we don’t have a reservation for you, and we’re booked solid.”

She was nice enough to check a couple of other hotels and finally calls the one a block from her, finds out they have a room, and sends me down there. I thank her, and a short time later I pull into the parking lot of the hotel, which is across the road from a brightly-lit and very active roadhouse.

I think I got about four hours of sleep that night, and looked pretty rough when I showed up. The client, a really great guy, asks me what time I got in, and I tell him the story. When I tell him where I’m staying, he and the guy who works with him break out laughing. “What’s so funny?” I ask, and he tells me this story, a perfect demonstration of law enforcement in a small town.

One Friday night a few months before, a very attractive young woman arrives at the roadhouse, and, after dancing with half the guys in the place, departs with one of them for the hotel across the street (the one where I’m staying) so that the two of them can engage in a mutually-satisfying act of procreation. They hadn’t been gone twenty minutes when a gentleman shows up looking for his fifteen-year-old daughter. He shows the bartender a picture of the girl, and it’s the girl who just left. The bartender, afraid of what the man will do, tells him where his daughter is.

The man does what you would expect any reasonable, responsible, church-going, Midwestern father with a fifteen-year-old daughter who has just heard that his little girl is engaged in an intimate physical relationship with a total stranger at least twice her age: he thanks the bartender, leaves the bar, drives across the street to the hotel, and asks the proprietor where his daughter and her date are staying. He then gets his shotgun out of the car, finds the room, kicks the door open, sees his daughter doing the nasty with the man she picked up, shoots and kills both of them, and leaves.

The proprietor hears the shots and calls the Columbus Police Department, who show up a couple of minutes later and start processing the crime scene. They find a shoe print in the mud outside the room (it had been raining) and assume it was made by the perpetrator. But, there’s a problem: the one guy in the Columbus Police Department who knows how to make plaster casts of shoe prints has gone on a fishing trip and isn’t expected back until late Sunday night. So they came up with a novel solution: place an inverted bucket over the shoeprint, and station a junior member of the Columbus Police force on a lawn chair to watch the bucket and make sure no one disturbs it or the shoeprint beneath. All weekend. In the rain.

When my friend finishes the story, I’m laughing so hard I forget entirely that I was ready to kill my travel agent. It turns out she had gotten news that her mother was seriously ill and had left work, forgetting to make my hotel reservation and just about everything else. I was still upset about her leaving me high and dry, but I could understand and forgive her, now that I had had a good laugh.

My Trip To The Dentist #1lineWed


I think I mentioned I need crowns on two of my teeth, the back molars on both sides of my mouth on the bottom (in dentist lingo, 18 and 31). Since my new dentist didn’t want to deaden both sides of my mouth all on the same day, she had me schedule the appointments a week apart. Last week, they prepped the right side of my mouth; Monday, they prepped the left side. I already had a crown on that tooth, so this week’s visit took twice as long to complete.

So they deaden my mouth (and half my throat, making me think I’m choking to death), and the dentist goes crawling around in my mouth, drilling and yanking, and finally gets the old crown off, and discovers a lot of decay (as well as the remnants of not one, but two fillings that had already been done on that tooth). She fills the tooth and does all the grinding and shaping, then leaves me in the hands of D, the dental assistant, who will build the temporary crown.

I don’t know if it was because they put (yet another) filling on the tooth or it’s just standard operating procedure and I just didn’t remember when the dentist had done this last week, but D said “I gotta wrap this string around your tooth, okay?” What am I going to say, no? Like I know what she’s going to do…

So, she spends a lot of time wrapping the string around the tooth (actually the post), which I knew she would do, then spends what felt like an eternity poking the string under my gum with a dental instrument. By now, the novocain had all but worn off, and all the poking and prodding was starting to hurt. Finally, she said, “I’ll be back, okay?” and leaves the room, returning several minutes later with M, the other dental assistant who had assisted the week before. M managed to get the string where it needed to be, and left the room to fetch the dentist.

The dentist came in (several minutes later), looked at the work the two assistants have done, and said “Looks great!” She then took a pair of tweezers, reached into my mouth, and removed the string.

Which led to this week’s one-liner.

The dentist and the two assistants just laughed. Honestly, I think they do this stuff just to see how much they can get away with…

This is my entry into this week’s One-Liner Wednesday, hosted by Linda Hill. Hope you enjoyed it.