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Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Do you find yourself holding on with both hands lately? From time to time, do you ask, “Why me?” Have you worked hard for years and “played by the rules,” but now can’t help wondering whether this just means you allowed yourself to be played by the system, turned into some kind of sucker?

If so, maybe you’re something like my wife Barbara and me. In contending with the pressures of aging and a failed economy like millions of others, we have come to think of laughter as the only coping mechanism left.

Clobbered 401(Ks), health “issues,” relentlessly morphing technology—but understand, we aren’t complaining. Not exactly. We know the current reality is made up of facts to be faced, and no one’s to blame. At least no one we can sue. Many others are much worse off, and not just folks in far-away places where trouble is always commonplace.

But when you’ve swayed for decades along the tracks of ordinary days, holding to your strap, reading the signs and graffiti and looking out the window when your train surfaces, curious about houses and lives other than your own, then all at once feel the wheels leave the rails, suddenly being jostled and bounced, forced to hold on with both hands—

What can you? Not much. But if they ask you to cut up your American Express card, make sure to keep your sense of humor. Absolutely don’t leave home without it.

Our tax preparer made a mistake, and this led to a typical DBD moment.

--She made a mess of our return last year.
--True, but we bought the “peace of mind” option, and they had to make it good.
--So, what now?
--Meaning, who should do our taxes this time?
--Correct. Not that there’s much to tax
--Well, H&R Block had to pay for her mistake, so maybe the odds are good she won’t screw up again.
--I see. You could be right. And going back to her would also be in keeping with the Knister Way.
--OK, now—
--The Knister Way. That’s where people burned by a vendor or service person go back to that same person.
--We have done that before, it’s true.
--Like the plumber with the leg brace.
--The guy who flooded the downstairs. He said it was the brace. It made it hard for him to reach under the sink.
--Except I wonder if the tax lady would want to see us again. She’s embarrassed, she blundered. --I know she didn’t want to see me when I went in. The whole time she averted her eyes while I talked to someone else. No, I don’t want to go back there. I don’t want to be talking to someone else in the next cubicle, knowing she’s listening.
--We could go to the office next to Orbitz. On Woodward.
--Orvis. You know what I mean.
--I did not. I’m trying to figure it out, “Orbitz, the online travel outfit. I didn’t know they had offices…”
--You knew what I meant.
--I swear. By the way, they’re having a sale. That’s Orvis, not Orbitz. Sixty percent off. I was tempted, but knew if I went in I’d buy something.
--It is beautiful stuff. If I went in I’d being saying oh, I want that, I want that. But I don’t really need a new ensemble for grouse hunting.
--You don’t, that’s true. The one you have is perfect. And I don’t see us fly fishing on the Snake River any time soon.
--Not when we have just enough money to hunt pigeons in Flint.
--Or quail hunting. Imagine you and me and Dick Cheney, out hunting in our outfits.
--Jackets with all those pockets.
--Yes, all kinds of Velcro, and zippers. The caps, the boots. But none of it would matter. We could disguise ourselves all we wanted, he’d still smell our liberal stench.
--He’d blow our heads off.
--We hate him and he’d know it.
--Because we didn’t go to the Orvis sale, and went hunting in our regular clothes.
--Sweatpants and Bud Lite caps.
--And tee shirts with Shit Happens.
--I’d wear a Monster Truck muscle shirt. He wouldn’t like it.
--You don’t have any muscle shirts.
--I’d buy one for the occasion.
--We’d be dead for sure, not just shot in the face.
--Remember Cambridge?
--Oh God. Cambridge. Days gone by--how I miss them.
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