Category Archives: Friendship

Why Do Others Know More about Me than I Do?

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“Hi Blair!”

“Hi Ed,” I said as I walked through the door of the church.

“Hey, I heard that you have psoriasis on your armpit. How is that working out for you?”

“Ed,” I said. “How do you know I have psoriasis? That’s rather private and heartbreaking!”

“It’s not so private, Blair. Someone posted it on social media!”

Before I reached the sanctuary, two other people had asked about my psoriasis, one person congratulated me on the anniversary of my first prom, and another offered sympathy for my nail fungus.

I tried to forget about my life on Faceslap and the resulting lack of privacy. I settled into the pew and listened to the pastor preach. After he was finished, he said, “We have several prayer requests this week, including the asthma of Martine’s Uncle Joe and the hemorrhoids of Blair Woodcock.”

Time froze. Everyone’s heads swiveled in slow motion as their languid eyes fixed themselves on me. The blood rushed to my face and I couldn’t breath under a hot crashing wave of embarrassment. My mouth went dry. I wanted to melt away into my seat. I would have squirmed, but I was afraid squirming would appear as if I were contending with an itchy symptom.

After the service, church elder Mabel Glutz approached me. “I just so happened to have some Preparation H in my satchel!” she announced gleefully. As I slunk out the door, I heard a few other voices offering me doctor recommendations and home remedies.

I’d go to another church, but social media are interdenominational. I heard there’s a good church service on TV… I might try that next time.

Meanwhile, I need to log on to Chirper to tell my followers about my neighbor’s gastric bypass debacle.


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Weird Is the New Nice

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My son and I dropped my wife off at the door of the grocery store, and then we parked in the lot to wait for her. Biff was sitting in the back seat.

It was a warm Saturday afternoon and my window was open. The passenger window in the car next to me was open, too, and sitting by himself in that car was a young boy of about 11 or 12. He was probably waiting for his mom.

“How are you doing?” I said unthinkingly through my window to the boy. The boy stiffened and looked straight ahead.

“DAD!” hissed my son. “What the heck are you doing?”

“Why? What’s the matter?” I said, looking at Biff’s reflection in the rearview mirror.

“You don’t DO that!”

“Do what?” I asked.

“Don’t say hi to a strange kid. Don’t you know that’s weird and creepy?”

“He doesn’t look very strange,” I replied.

“No, YOU’RE strange!” Biff whispered to me behind his cupped hand.

I sighed. “Yeah, I guess in these days you’re probably right. I was just trying to be friendly.”

“You’re going to get yourself arrested,” said Biff as he slunk down in his seat and looked away.

I rolled up my window.

After my wife was finished buying her cucumbers, she got back into the car. As we drove off, I told her what happened and asked her opinion. “I side with Biff,” she said. “You’re whacked.”

Okay. I understand. I used to be nice. Now I’m just weird.

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What? This Is Black Friday?

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It was Thanksgiving Day and we had just finished dinner at Aunt Turilla’s house. As we helped to clean the kitchen and put away leftover food, Aunt Turilla said, “Gee, I need someone to fix my divan.”

“What hardware do you need for it?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I think I just need a screw and a nut.”

I looked at the settee and said, “You’re right. I’ll run to the store and get what you need. Substance Mart should be open.”

I wanted to get out of the house anyway, as too much family time exhausts me.

When I got to Substance Mart, I was surprised at the traffic jam. Silly me, I thought. I didn’t realize Black Friday has already begun.

I had to park by the elementary school down the road because of the crowd in the Substance Mart lot.

I walked for 20 minutes in the cold rain to the store.

Inside I was directed by police tape and laser guns toward the end of a giant line of people at the rear of the store.

“But,” I said to the cop who was sending me to the back of the line, “I haven’t even found my products yet.”

“There’s another line you have to go through after this line. The other line leads to the line where you can finally pick up your product and/or products. We do this to avoid a repeat of last year when 19 people kicked me.”

“I just want a screw and a butterfly toggle thing.”

But the cop was already walking away. “Move along,” he called to customers. “Nothing to see here.”

I debated. Should I wait here and then stand in two more lines just to get a flathead? I don’t need a 360-degree TV. My Good Samaritan quest is unrelated to holiday greed. I just want to fix some furniture so my aunt doesn’t fall on her fanny! 

The lady with the Rainbow Brite coupon behind me said that the cash registers didn’t even open for another 2 hours.

I kept debating. The line was moving, albeit slowly. Because of indecision and inertia, I continued waiting, following the crowd along the taped arrows and footprints on the store floor.

By the end of the night, I was completely caught up in Black Friday hype and frenzy. I called Aunt Turilla’s house.

“You’ve got to come to Substance Mart right away! They’re giving away bunny socks and Star Wars can-openers! Bring me a slice of pumpkin pie and a sleeping bag. Tomorrow they’re selling kaleidoscopic scuba masks!”

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That Bugger Didn’t Even Write a Prayer

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Ah, Christmastime.

Being a righteous person, I decided to lead my family in a religious devotional reading on Christmas Eve in advance of the gift-ripping event the next day.

“Sit down,” I yelled at my adult kids. “We’re having a family homily time before dinner. So if you don’t listen with your mouths shut, you can’t eat.”

“How can we eat with our mouths shut?” asked Biff.

“You can open your mouths to eat, but only after I read this family devotional booklet that I picked up at the Substance Mart checkout line.”

“Are we allowed to breathe?” asked Rhonda.

“Funny,” I growled. “Now pipe down while I read this inspiring biblical story.”

I glanced at the date on the page. December 24. I had previously noted that many of the devotional messages were written about famous holy people, such as Saint Augustine, Papa John, and Louie Louie. “Darn,” I said as I looked at the Christmas Eve page. “The bugger who wrote this one didn’t even include a prayer!”

My daughter Lisa made a suggestion. “Why don’t you say your own prayer?” she asked.

“Okay,” I retorted defiantly. “I just might do that. Just watch me. So now you all have to bow your heads.”

I bowed my head but kept my eyes open to see if the other heads were bowed. “Dear God,” I said. “Thank you for Christmas, and thank you that we can read this devotional booklet from the Substance Mart express lane. And thank you that when we are knocked down by life’s troubles we can pop back up like inflatable, Bozo-the-Clown punching-bag toys. Amen.”

Bart snorted, “What? Bozo? Are you kidding? That’s a prayer?” Lisa, Biff, and Rhonda looked at each other and snickered.

“That’s enough guffawing out of you all! We’re reading this over my dead body! And it’s a serious story! Not funny!”

My wife got up to turn off the beeper on the stove, because the toast casserole was done. Biff, Bart, Rhonda, and Lisa continued chuckling and chatting during the temporary distraction. I realized I had lost control of the family Bible-reading fellowship time, but I plowed ahead anyway.

“Lena Horne had trials in her life,” I read. “But because of her cheekbones, she pressed on.”

My wife brought the toast casserole to the table. Everyone started eating. I gave up and started eating, too.

Maybe next year family devotional time will go better. I can always pray.


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Wow, Am I Glad I’m Not Stuck Alone in a Cold Car in a Dark, Freezing Forest!

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I was driving on a lonely, snowy back road when my car fishtailed. I spun and landed at a 45-degree angle in a snowy woodsy gully. Saplings wedged my doors shut.

No problem, I thought jauntily. In this day and era of gadgety and computerized automobility, I’ll have no trouble connecting with someone to help me escape from this misshapen Chevy.

I scrounged my pockets for my portable Commodore phone, but I discovered I had left it in my other phone holster.

No problem, I thought in a lively and cheerful manner. After I push aside this cumbersome and intrusively deployed airbag, I’ll easily access assistance via our car’s handy-brandy, blueberry-tooth, space-aged, drone-like, satellitistic messaging system. Hmm, now where did I put the recipe for that digital wigga-whammy?

I couldn’t find the digital wigga-whammy nor the recipe. I think both are in my other glove box.

Well, I thought with confident optimism. This is not like the olden days when people fishtailed on ice and ended up alone in a snow-filled woodsy gully ditch in the middle of nowhere because their car slipped off the road after spinning. In those days there was no way to communicate! Those days are over! Finished! Kaput!

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All I have to do is punch in my friend Ed’s number into my conveniently portable dashboard–slash–windshield-washer roboticizer, and Ed will pick up one of his sundry devices and will jiffy pop over here to rescue me from this ever-darkening and ever-creepier woods where it is now starting to snow again harder this time.

I stuck the suction cup to the window and plugged the wire into the e-cigarette porthole. I pressed the Search key. Nothing happened.

Hmm, I thought. Electronical system not working. Probably a short in the trunk.

I attempted to maintain my sprightly mood.

When I finally managed to access Ed’s voicemail, night had fallen. I left a message for Ed. Ed returned my call three days later as I recovered in the hospital from frostbite.

“Hey, Blair,” Ed said. “I just saw your message. What’s up?”

“Thanks, Ed.” I said. “I almost died in a terrible car accident, and I called you for help. Where were you?”

“How do I know where I was?” said Ed. “That was three days ago. I don’t even know where I am today, ha ha ha!”

“Ha ha ha” I muttered. “Some friend. Thanks a lot for rescuing me.”

After saying goodbye to Ed, I hit the nurse’s call button to request additional jauntiness medication, but instead I mistakenly activated the hospital’s sprinkler system.

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A Nightmarish Pop Quiz

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I signed up for an animal education course at our local community college. I thought I was going to learn how to train Blackie the dog not to poop in the bedroom. I was wrong. It was some kind of animal anatomy and physiology class.

The first evening, Professor Grinwoe circulated a pop quiz for all students to complete. “This is to assess your knowledge before commencing the seminar,” he intoned.

The complexity of the test questions was overwhelming:

  1. Ethmoturbinates form the ventral margin a horse’s nostrils.  True? Or False?
  2. A zebra’s gastrocnemius flexes the stifle and extends the hock.  True? Or False?
  3. The gizzard of a squash is distal to the proventriculus.  False? Or True?
  4. Flamingos have several pancreases.  Yes? Or No?
  5. The life span of a chinchilla is longer than the half-life of a dill pickle.  False? Or False?
  6. Rabbits are monogastric hindgut fermenters.  Si? O No?
  7. The digital flexor tendon is responsible for bringing about the perching reflex so that ostriches can land on twigs without falling to the ground.  Oui? Ou Non?
  8. The hallux is the foot of a gerbil.  Sim? Ou Não?
  9. The average litter size of a rat is 80 every month.  Yell? Or Scream?
  10. The triceps is responsible for the extension of the Ankole-Watusi cow elbow.  Ja? Oder Nein?
  11.  The infraspinatus asparagus abducts and rotates the forelimb.  Ee-Mah? Ah-High? Ooot Ah-High-La?
  12. The bronchitis muscle protracts and retracts the forelimb and abducts the catfish ear.  כן או ?לא?
  13. The female rabbit develops a large fold of skin under the left whisker known as a dewlap flap.  Да? или нет?
  14. The upper lip is divided into philtrum, which aids in getting people by the short hairs.  What? Or Who?
  15. Jackals are unable to vomit because of the arrangement of the cardia in relation to their knuckles.  Flea? Fly? Or Flue?
  16. The foreleg of the pig has 5 toes?  Or Not?
  17. Essay Question: When did you stop kicking your neighbor’s groundhog?

The quiz was not easy for me, but I passed with walking colors. I know you think I’m smart, but I’m not, because I cheated.

Next week we’re going to learn about painting the lips of ladybugs for Valentine’s Day. I better start studying.

Meanwhile, I have to clean the bedroom floor.

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Student Driver Teaches Driving Teacher to Drive

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“Look out!” I screamed. “On the curb! That grey-haired lady with the walker might dart out!”

“Dad,” said my daughter Rhonda. “She’s sitting in a Plexiglas bus shelter. I don’t think she’s going to jump in front of our moving car any time in the predictable future.”

“Maybe you’re right,” I said.

“You’re going to have to learn to stop screaming at me. It doesn’t make my stick-shift driving lessons any easier,” said Rhonda.

It was my second day on the road with Rhonda in our little brown compact. Rhonda wasn’t doing too badly, but I was a nervous wrecking ball.

“Watch this upcoming intersection! This intersection! It’s an intersection! You have to stop and then go again after the intersection!” I yelled.

“Yes, Dad. I know. You’re continuing to provoke anxiety.”

“Okay, okay. Now slow down. You can downshift, but you don’t have to if you don’t feel comfortable, but you must apply your clutch eventually, gradually, slowly, RIGHT NOW, with your left foot. That’s the foot on your left side with the masking tape on your shoe. I put masking tape on your shoe to remind you it’s the left. Push the middle pedal! NO! I’M WRONG!” I cried. “IT’S THE LEFT PEDAL, I THINK! AM I RIGHT? Yes! The middle’s the brake. Right? No, I said LEFT! It’s the LEFT, LEFT, LEFT!”

“Yes, Dad,” said Rhonda. “I know my left.”

I tried to speak a little more softly. “I’m sorry. This is wearing me out. After driving for years, it’s second nature and I can’t even explain it correctly. Left shoe, middle pedal, up, down, back, forth, tube sock, cake mix… Whatever.”

Rhonda suggested gently, “Maybe you should just… How can I say it? …Shut up?” She eased to a stop at the intersection.

Suddenly my adrenaline flow increased again. “Stop! Stay stopped here!” I screamed. “Don’t go! I think you won’t be able to accelerate here at this intersection because we’re going up a hill, and you’ll probably pop the clutch, peel out, and blow a hole in the muffler. Plus there’s gravel on the road here, and I don’t think you’re ready for this!”

Rhonda and I hopped out of the car. I ran sweating to the driver’s seat. She got in the passenger side.

I put the car in gear, popped the clutch, peeled out, and threw gravel all over the car behind me. Minutes later I realized I blew a hole in the muffler.

When we got home, I called Joe’s Stick-Shift Training School. My first class is Tuesday.

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