Happy Valentine’s Day from the clogged lint screen

My wife thinks I’m not as romantic as I used to be.

To this, I agree.

Also, our 15-year-old clothes dryer doesn’t dry clothes as fast as it used to.

Maybe we are both clogged with lint. Or maybe our heating elements are burning out.

After 19 Valentine’s Days, 19 of her birthdays, 19 Christmases, 16 wedding anniversaries, and 15 Mothers’ Days, it can become challenging to come up with fresh bursts of romance. 

Lately, it has taken lots of time and effort to keep that old dryer limping along. It’s had its triumphs and failures. It makes more noise now than it should. So do I.

We both wore out our belts.

Cards have sure changed since my youthful days of flaming romance.

I prepared to buy a new dryer, but my wife said no. She said these new computerized dryers have too many sophisticated parts that could break down and be expensive to fix.

Sure, they look flashy and seem full of promises, but they would most likely be unreliable.

She would rather stick with the dryer she understands—the one she knows where to kick when it acts up.

The one I can keep running, imperfectly, but consistently.

She gets annoyed at the old dryer’s many flaws, but she knows eventually the clothes will come out warm and dry, and comfortable.

We both get annoyed, but we are the only two who know all the old jokes, and understand why they are still funny. We couldn’t laugh so hard at anything else.

Even after all these years of hit or miss holidays, my wife is still a very attractive woman. I have little doubt she could have much more than a new dryer if she wished.

But I have even less doubt that she cherishes warm and comfortable things that she knows exactly where to kick.

I may have slowed down, but I never moved the target.

There must be something romantic in that.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the young lovers, young and old alike.


For Mommy

I asked Buster, “What should we get Mommy for Mother’s Day?”

“Probably something she likes,” was his reasoned reply.

“What do you think she would like?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you should ask her what she likes and then buy it for her.”

When it comes to thoughtful gift giving, Buster is a chip right off the old block.

I am old enough to have learned, without having to ask, one thing Mommy wants. That is to be told, once in a while, how much she is loved and appreciated. She isn’t told this as often as she deserves to be told. Mother’s Day is a great time to begin to make up the deficit.

This being the case, I present some words of love and appreciation for Mommy.


What is your Mother’s Day message for Mommy?

“Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy. I love you.”

How much do you love Mommy?

“More than bacon.”

A big heart full of big love for Mommy.


What is your Mother’s Day message for Mommy?

“I love you so much, Mommy. From me.”

How much do you love Mommy?

“One hundred.”

A medium heart full of big love for Mommy.


What is your Mother’s Day message for Mommy?

“Love Mommy.”

How much do you love Mommy?

“Big much.”

A little heart full of big love for Mommy.

Daddy also loves Mommy big much, one hundred, more than bacon, and also to the moon and back. As a group, we don’t tell her we love and appreciate her as much as we should, but we do love and appreciate her always, even when we are a mob of self-absorbed hooligans.

As important as it is to tell Mommy how we feel about her on Mother’s Day, I also recognize the wisdom of youth. I took Buster up on his suggestion and asked Mommy what she would like for a present. She’s getting that too.






Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a bear attack

Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite holiday. It’s like a yearly final exam of love, and I never liked being tested. If you don’t have someone special in your life, you fail. And if you’re lucky enough to have a special someone, you probably fail anyway, because you used up your reserve of romance during those early days when you actually imagined you could top yourself year after year.

If you’re that guy who doesn’t do little things for your love whenever you see the chance, Valentine’s Day is your opportunity to make one grand gesture that you hope will sustain you through another year. I try not to be that guy, so I can’t say if it works, but it is a potential upside to the holiday.

If you do rely upon a yearly gesture, the fine folks over at Vermont Teddy Bear have just the trick for you. It’s a six-foot-tall stuffed bear that your lady love is sure to love appreciate be unable to ignore.

I’ve seen several commercials for the Big Hunka Love Bear in the buildup to Valentine’s Day. They are, to say the least, eye-opening.

All out of love

Oh no! Sold out! Now what kind of monstrosity can we buy to express our love? (Image: Vermont Teddy Bear Company)

If the commercials can be believed, and we all know they couldn’t put it on TV if it weren’t true, women go gaga over Big Hunka. That is to say, women who resemble supermodels go gaga over him. There were no women not resembling supermodels in the ad, so there’s no telling how ordinary gals will react.

But, on this special day, you want your woman to feel like a supermodel, right? When you flop this behemoth bear over her shoulders, she will know, if she has not suffered a concussion in the attack, that you still think she’s awesome sexy after all these years. Because nobody’s ever seen a Plain Jane hunker down under the weight of such a gargantuan plush toy.

According to the TV, your woman will adore this bear enough to frolic with him while dressed only in her most sensuous underthings, thus taking the pressure off you to cuddle with the half-dressed love of your life. In business, they call that a win-win.

I’m not getting my wife a Big Hunka Love Bear. She already knows I think she’s a supermodel. Plus, she’s not a large person and I’m afraid she could not stand the mauling. Moreover, I’d be crushed to discover that her other man is a stuffed bear. He may be physically appealing, with his hairy chest and whatnot, but I’d hope to rate well intellectually against such a rival.

The boys would like the bear, though I’m not sure I want them strutting around like supermodels. Little Buster would have a blast, alternating between petting the bear and punching him, because that’s just the kind of emotional psychopaths boys can be at his age. But Buster has me for punching, so we’ll skip the bear this year.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all, but especially to my supermodel wife. I love you more than a bear ever could, sweetheart.

To have loved and lost in the mall play area

It was a hot summer night, probably. Inside the mall, it was a static 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

A one-year-old boy was carried by his daddy. The boy pointed at the children’s play area, saying, “Uuuuuuh!” into his father’s ear at a volume equal to a toddler’s thrill of discovery.

At this time and place, and in the language of one-year-olds, “Uuuuuuh!” meant “Father, if it so pleases you, I would quite enjoy a visit to the enclosed area in which the children are kept.”

“You want to go to the play area?” the plodding father asked.

The boy pointed again and elaborated. “Üuuuuuh!”

“Üuuuuuh!” sounds different from “Uuuuuuh!” by virtue of its umlaut and the fact that it generally proclaimed more passionately. In this context, “Üuuuuuh!” meant “Yes, please.”

Inside the play area, the little boy crawled on the colorful carpet, navigating around squishy airplanes, trucks, and an incongruous, foam bank vault.

Money slide

A foam bank vault with a money slide. It’s not as fun once you figure out the money’s not real.

The boy was perfectly content picking up nasty germs from the communal carpet when she toddled into his life. She was one of those classy girls, who doesn’t show too much diaper. She had dark eyes to match her wavy hair. She wore a cute, flower pattern dress and pink socks.

He knew there was something special about her the moment she stepped on his hand. He wasn’t a very good walker yet, not like she was. Still, he proudly stood himself up, because the one thing he could do handsomely was balance, as long as he didn’t have to move his feet.

She showed him her best moves, taking three steps forward, and three steps back. The backward stuff was tricky though, and she toppled at the third step. She fell right down on her bottom, but she didn’t cry. He liked that about her, so he grinned at her with both dimples. She smiled back at him, showing off her chubby cheeks.

He’d been standing for a long time; rather than push his luck, he got down upon his knees. They crawled toward one another. She reached out for him, pressing her thumb against his nose. He giggled. She laughed too. It was a moment filled with potential.

Ah, what might have been!

Her parents collected her. Her father carried her out into the mall crowd. The boy watched them in stunned silence. He had to run after her, except he didn’t know how to run yet. He did what he could. He crawled. He crawled after her as fast as his two knees, and associated hands, could go. He crawled right out the entrance to the play land.

Five feet beyond the entrance, his daddy picked him up. The boy searched the distance over his father’s shoulder, reaching out his hand after her. “Aaaaaaaa!” he called out in desperation.

“Aaaaaaaa!” defies direct interpretation. It could mean “Pretty girl!” Perhaps it was a proper noun, like “Isabella!” Though worlds removed from Stanley Kowalski, the anguish in the boy’s voice made his plea sound most like the name: “Stella!”

The exact meaning is lost, and so was she – lost in the turning of the mall wing.

magic wheel

Oh, play land wheel of fortune, tell me, will I ever see her again?”

The sad little boy was taken home, to be cheered by playing with his cat. When the cat ran away, the boy called after it: “Aaaaaaaa!”

We take our Stellas where we find them.