Monthly Archives: August 2015

Eating Plastic Chicken

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Chicken Parmesan for dinner. My wife and kids seemed to enjoy my rendition of this old family recipe, until my son Bart spoke up.

“What’s this?” he said, holding his fork over his plate. I looked across the table. Something odd, dripping with tomato sauce, dangled from his tines.

“I don’t know,” I said. “What does it look like?”

Bart placed it on the side of his plate and prodded. “It looks like a piece of plastic,” he said.

I was silent, concentrating on my chicken.

“It’s a label,” he said, scraping away the cheese. “Net weight 28 ounces. Hormone-enhanced spineless chicken with added water, vitamins, and steroids. $2.89 a pound.”

I quietly prayed that he would shut up. I raised my eyes a bit. He was staring at me.

“Dad, what’s this all about?”

I eased into minimization mode. “Oh that,” I said, leaning back and offhandedly waving my napkin. “That’s the label from the plastic wrapper around the chicken. I always freeze my chicken with the label so I remember what I’m cooking.”

“But do you have to cook the label, too?”

“Not usually,” I said. I glanced at my wife, hoping for some help. “Sometimes.”

My wife was silent.

My daughter pushed her plate away. “I’m not eating this,” she said.

“Neither am I,” said Bart.

“Are you serious?” I asked, looking around the table. “It’s just a little plastic! It’s an oversight!”

“Let’s go out for Chinese,” said my other son Biff.

I became incensed. “What’s wrong with you kids? I slaved for 20 minutes dumping that ready-made sauce on this frozen lump. And now you won’t eat it just because of a plastic cooked sticker?”

“Dad,” said Bart. “Don’t you know that plastic decals, when heated and melted, release all kinds of toxic chemicals and noxious polypropylene gas and slurry? Didn’t you wonder why your chicken smelled like NASCAR?”

“You kids are just wimps. When I was in college my friend used to eat packets of saltine crackers with the cellophane still on them!”

“That’s disgusting,” said my daughter. “What happened to him?”

“He died,” I told them.

“Well, I ain’t eating this,” said Bart.

“Me neither,” said Biff.

“I’m out,” said my daughter.

They pushed back their chairs and filed out of the house. My wife followed, looking back at me apologetically. I was left with the dishes.

“Mollycoddled kids,” I muttered. “They probably have to wear bicycle helmets when they drink from the garden hose.”

I dumped a piece of chicken into Blackie’s dog dish, but he barfed.

I scraped the rest of the chicken into my lunchbox for the next day. For dinner that night, I ate caramel-coated Cajun trail mix and Monster Drizzle in front of the TV. My favorite survivalist cooking show was on.


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Aaaaa! Senility!

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As I have become older, I find that my memory has become worse, and I routinely forget a lot of.

Sometimes I don’t even remember my.

This can be very.

Take, for example, our family outing last week, when we went to.

“Art and Biff are in the picnic-area bathroom changing into their bathing suits,” I told my brother Art last week.

“I’m Art,” my brother Art said.

“Oh yeah, you’re Art,” I said to Art, slapping my noggin with my palm. “I meant to say that Biff and Jeff are in the bathroom.”

“Jeff’s not here today,” said Art.

“Did I say Jeff? I meant Charlotte, Art.”

“Charlotte’s dead,” said Art.

“What? When? How did it happen?” I exclaimed. “Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

“We did tell you. It was six and a half years ago. Did you forget? What’s wrong with you, Blair?” asked Art.

“I don’t know, Art. Sometimes I think it’s civility creeping in,” I said.

“You mean senility.”

“Yeah, that,” I said.

So it can be very frustrating. Especially, as described, when I am at a family gathering with a bunch of people who are covering their name tags with mustard drips or long hair. My brother is only one example of my misnomers. Try getting the names of my wife, my four kids, and my dog right!

“Blackie, could you put this used flypaper in the garbage can?”

“I’m Biff. Blackie’s the dog, and his job is to take used flypaper out of the garbage can,” said Biff.

You get the idea.

I’m not too worried, though, because I’ve been forgetful since I was twelve. I suspect it may be becoming worse, however, because I.

And not only that, but last week I forgot to.

And when I was finished with that, would you believe that I didn’t even!

It’s a challenge, but thankfully my family understands and my wife has sewn a name tag on the inside of my glasses.

The name tag says.

Yeah, it’s really not that bad, especially since the.

Driving’s a whole other story, however. Just ask my wife, whose name is Um.

Now where did I put my wife?

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How Does this Store Stay in Business?

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“How may I help you?” asked the woman at the guest-services counter.

“I have this battery here, and I’d like to return it,” I told her.

“Certainly, sir. That should be no problem,” the clerk said. “Do you have a receipt for the purchase?”

“No,” I said.

“Oh, well we can look up the price in our online pricing catalog. That will take just one second, and then I’ll be happy to return your money.”

The woman scanned the battery’s bar code. “Hmm,” she said. “It’s not coming up. Did you buy this battery here at Substance Mart?”

“No,” I told her.

“Oh,” she said. “Well that’s not problem. We can look for a similar battery within our inventory of batteries, and then return an equivalent amount of money to you.”

“Mmpf,” I said expressively.

“May I ask,” she continued, “what exactly is wrong with the battery?”

“It’s dead,” I said.

“Oh, and have you used it?”

“Yes,” I said.

“How long did you use it?” she asked.

“About seven years.”

The customer-service lady was silent for a moment. “Well,” she said. “It’s not unusual for a battery to lose its charge after being used for seven years.”

“What?” I bellowed. “Are you questioning my integrity? Are you saying that I don’t know nothing about batteries? Let me tell you, I had a battery sitting on my workbench for nearly two months and during that time and it didn’t go dead. It still worked. The idea. The nerve. The unmitigated cheekiness.”

“I’m so sorry, sir,” she said. “I certainly intended no cheek. Please accept my apologies on behalf of the Substance Mart management team.”

“Well, yeah. I should hope so.”

“I’ve looked up a battery equivalent to the one you purchased elsewhere,” she told me. “Ours is worth $14.97. Will that be satisfactory?”

“No, this battery is worth at least $25.00, and for the inconvenience I’d say I should get $35.00 for it.”

“Oh dear, sir. I’m afraid our store policy states that we cannot refund more than $22.50 on products such as this when the item was bought at a competitor’s store, when there’s no receipt, when the item is not defective, and when it was purchased more than three years ago.”

“Okay,” I said grudgingly. “I’ll take the $22.50.”

“I can throw in a complimentary battery charger—and feel free to keep your battery. I believe it should work again after you recharge it.”

I shook my head disgustedly. “Recharging a battery is a lot of work, but okay. I’ll take the battery, the charger, and the cash.”

The customer-service lady gave me the battery, the charger, and the cash. “Thanks a lot,” I said sarcastically.

As I left the store, I thought to myself, Such crummy customer service—How does this store even stay in business?

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Photographing Goof

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My friend Ed dropped me off in front of the supermarket. Ed and I were going to go do some Saturday sportsmen stuff. But first I had to pick up a plantain and some Cocoa Puffs for my wife.

“I’ll just be a minute,” I told Ed.

“That’s fine, I’ll just wait for you over there in that parking spot by the shopping carts.”

“Okay,” I said.

I found my plantain and Puffs, and I picked up a bug light, just for good measure. Then I walked to the front of the store to pay.

When I got there, I noticed that all of the cashiers had deserted their registers and were lined up side by side, looking out the plate glass window into the parking lot. I looked beyond them and saw Ed’s car with the front door open, but I did not see Ed.

Moments later a police car drove by the window. Ed was sitting in the back seat, staring straight ahead sheepishly.

“What could have possibly happened out there in the parking lot in the short time it took me to pick up a plantain, Cocoa Puffs, and a bug light?”

Gloria, the cashier from register 5, told me the tale. “That weird guy who the police took away was photographing shoppers in the parking lot. An old lady came in here and told us employees, and we called the cops.”

Oh great, I thought. Now Ed and I won’t be able to go turkey warbling, and I’m stuck here at the supermarket without a way to get home. But when I walked to Ed’s car in the parking lot, I saw that he had left his keys in the ignition, so I drove to the police station.

I visited Ed in jail. “I was just trying to figure out how to focus my new camera,” he whimpered. “And then the cops came and slapped me in irons.”

“Well, Ed,” I said. “You know you have to be extremely careful these days who you look at. Some elderly woman thought you were photographing her plastic bags. Too bad you weren’t focusing on a flower or a grackle instead of a supermarket patron.”

“But she was on the other side of the lot. I didn’t even see her! Really! I’m innocent,” cried Ed.

“Sure you are,” I said. “Well, the prison guard said that your trial would be in three weeks. I understand cell block 8 is one of the better locations here, so I guess you’re pretty lucky, really.”

“Thanks a lot, Blair,” said Ed.

“I’ll be back again to visit on Wednesday after my Brazilian samba class,” I told him.

As I left the prison that day, an officer arrested me for sticking my chewing gum on a parking meter.

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