Cue the vultures

My birthday is in August – the far end of August. Notwithstanding the entire month in between, the automated corporate birthday emails arrive on August 1st. Most of them are from restaurants wanting to remind me how well they treat me: “Present this birthday coupon for a free thimble cupcake with your next meal!”

It’s nice of the various corporate entities to think of me within a month of my birthday. It makes me feel loved, in a cozy, direct marketing kind of way.

This August 1st, I was reminded that this birthday – the one coming several weeks from now – is a big one. It’s the one where I get to forget about all the worldly troubles plaguing young people and start to enjoy life. At least that’s the understanding I have from this piece of mail that landed at my house on August 1st.

What a thoughtful birthday card.

This is not the first time I have been recruited by AARP. They’ve been after me for decades as a random fish who might get caught up in the big nets they cast blindly. This time it’s different. This hook was chosen especially for me.

In the past, the recruitment materials had an anonymous vibe to them: “Hey, Dude. Are you old by any chance? If so, come hang out with us. We’re the cool old people.”

This new mailing feels like a spotlight in my face: “Scott. Yes you, Scott. We know when your birthday is (more or less) and we know how old you are. Don’t fight it. Give in. Become one of us. There’s no escape. We already made up a card with your name on it. It’s only temporary, so be sure to mail us $16 by 9/11/17.”

“We’ve been watching and we know all about you.”

You must agree there is a hint of totalitarian voice in the command to enjoy my birthday. Maybe I haven’t sorted out my emotions regarding this milestone yet. And it is a little presumptuous to assume I want a membership kit. On the other hand, the free tote does look nice; I could use it when I hike off with the other novice seniors to the indoctrination camp. I’ll just pack a few necessities. I wouldn’t want an overweight bag to make me fall and break my hip before I’ve been given all the tips and tools to help me begin enjoying life.

“Free tote. You can carry all your medications. You know you want it. Yes, you do.”

Maybe I’ll carry the temporary card around with me for a while, just in case the secret handshake doesn’t buy me into the bingo game. I’ll carry it for a month. By then, maybe they’ll be concerned about the September crop of fresh old people and forget about me. I’ll lay low and let the card quietly expire.

Unless the card gets me some good discounts by then. In that case, I’ll have to seriously reconsider parting with my $16, because if there’s one thing we senior citizens dearly love, it’s a good discount.

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Conversations with my wife: Boob on fire

I was in the dining room, helping my son with a school project, when my wife hurried up to me and grabbed my hand. She clamped my hand over her left breast. She was clearly alarmed.

WIFE: “Feel that. My boob feels like it’s on fire!”

She had on a sweater over her shirt, but I could still feel that it was hot. It was very hot, chemical reaction hot.

ME: “Is it just the one?”

WIFE: “Yes. The other one’s fine.”

She lifted up her shirt and put my hand on top of her bra. We’re married and everything, so there was no danger of this act leading to anything sexual.

WIFE: “What’s going on with my boob?”

I could see a wet spot on her bra.

ME: “Is it sweating?”

WIFE: “I don’t think so.”

She stretched her bra and sniffed the wet spot.

WIFE: “It doesn’t smell like sweat.”

I sniffed it.

ME: “No. It kinda smells like pork.”

I pulled her sweater back down and noticed that the wet spot went through.

ME: “Did you spill something hot on yourself?”

WIFE: “I don’t think so. I was just cutting up an apple for the baby.”

ME: “Show me what you did.”

She led me into the kitchen and pointed to the fruit bowl on the shelf above the counter.

WIFE: “I just got an apple out and started cutting it up.”

In front of the fruit bowl, the crock pot sat on the counter, gurgling hot little bubbles in the condensed water around the edge of its rattling lid as it slow cooked a pork roast.

ME: “You leaned over the crock pot to reach the apple, didn’t you?”

WIFE: (Relieved) “But why didn’t I get burned right away?”

ME: “It took a minute for it to soak through to the skin. Your boob got slow cooked.”

WIFE: “That’s why my bra smells like pork.”

ME: “I sure hope so.”

crock pot

The culprit. My wife wouldn’t let me post a photo of the victim.

Gentlemen is just a fancy word for girls

My son seems to be testing the hypothesis that he can more easily get what he wants if he expresses his desires in terms that might be used by a 50-year-old diplomat. Unfortunately, four-year-olds don’t always understand the meanings of the words necessary to overwhelm their parents with polite graciousness.

We were playing at the train table in the back room. I had the baby as well. This meant that we could choose to have all of our creations destroyed almost immediately by the continuous tornado of infancy, or we could subject ourselves to constant crying as I held the baby back from his sworn duty to deconstruct any system giving off the odor of intentional design.

I was in favor of letting the whirlwind run amok. Big Brother voted for incessant wailing. Neither choice was a good one, but the final decision was mine. The boy, weighing the balance of power within the room, turned to diplomacy. “I’ve got a great idea,” he said. “Let’s leave the baby with those gentlemen.” He pointed, in his open-handed way, through the kitchen toward the living room.

Hearing my son refer to any people as gentlemen left me befuddled and amused. There were indeed two people in the living room, and for a second I imagined that they were the foreign ministers of Germany and France. In fact, they were my wife and her sister. I was about to tell him, “That’s no gentleman; that’s my wife,” but I realized it wouldn’t be funny to him, or to anyone else.

Instead, I asked, “Do you know what gentlemen means?”

“Yeah, it means girls.”

Women's League

Maybe these gentlemen can watch the baby. That is, if they are all done pushing Germany and France toward war.

“Listen,” I commanded, as I began to speak slowly. “Gentlemen, gentle . . . men, men. It means boys.”

A true diplomat must have the ability to adapt to a changing situation. He must have the skill to address a new reality without any embarrassment or regret over what no longer obtains.

Before I could even get around to asking him if he understood, my son’s arm was raised again, his open palm indicating the path to the living room. “I’ve got a great idea. Let’s leave the baby with those gentle ladies,” he said.

I’m signing him up to take the Foreign Service Exam. I just hope it doesn’t have a vocabulary section.