Getting Hit On … Or Maybe Not

So … I got hit on the other day …

… by a 70-something.

A way, way south of 70-something. (How do I know she was in her late 70s? No … I didn’t ask her age! That’s uncouth, rude and improper! We were discussing the fact she attended her 60th high school reunion over the weekend. “They had a board displayed of all the classmates who were dead. It’s kind of sad …”)

You know what? Come to think of it I don’t know if it really was a “hit” per se. Here, I’ll let you decide …

I was doing some brick work for this little old lady and I had to make a couple morning runs to Home Depot — one to get bricks, another to get concrete. Combined, the weight of everything was close to a ton and I won’t risk that much weight in the Tahoe. Half a ton? Fine, no problem. No sense pushing it with Home Depot close by.

On my second return, “Phyllis” (not her real name) asked if everything went all right.

“No problem … no problem at all” I told her.

“Well … as good looking as you are I don’t expect there’s ever been any problems” she practically cooed.

What the what … ???!?!? Was that a “got hit on” kind of comment? Was it just a sly aside with a hint of a smirk mixed in? Or something else entirely? Reflecting back on it I’m not exactly certain.

You tell me: Was that comment more than it appeared?

I simply smiled and shot an “Oh, you … ” back at her and let it go at that.

Here’s the thing: I’ve been “the younger man” on several occasions in the past (the way, way, long time ago past) and it was kind of cool at the time. (That “time” being when I was in my teens and 20s.) Currently? I have no desire or inclination of any revisitation.

While far from an old man swinging a cane overhead while telling those damned kids to stay off the lawn, I’m beginning to warm to it somewhat. There are friends and associates who say I’m already there, but I discount their mocking jibes.

Still … I keep in practice here and there for when that period arrives in all its glorious codgery. Which sounds infinitely more attractive than getting virtually cat-called by an “older woman.”

What An Animal …

So … remember this woman?

Not an actual pictures of the crazy neighbor lady ...

Still not an actual picture of the crazy neighbor lady …

Tell you what … we’ll get back to her in a moment.

Ever seen a dog or cat irritated at eating its food? Either from someone bugging the animal or disturbing theri meal or simply because that’s the way the animal eats? Here … let me give you an example:

Yeah … just like that. Keep the dog in mind while I continue.

So … the crazy neighbor lady …

I’m back at my client’s house to continue with those concrete stairs on the side of the yard, extending them down a precarious slope, and the next door crazy neighbor is out watering.

Now, to be fair, she didn’t make a peep this time around. Maybe it was because she was a mere rock toss away and we could have easily been face to face if she’d decided to pipe up and make a stink just for stink’s sake.

Instead, she finished her watering and went indoors.

No problem, right?


I was doing some excavating in preparation for pouring the stairs when I noticed one of her window’s curtains fluttering as I casually glanced up. She was spying on me, watching what I was doing. My actions were exceedingly interesting I guess.

That’s when an idea came to me: I’d noticed several times over the course of about 20 minutes her stealing looks my way. She couldn’t tell that I saw her doing this because the safety glasses I had on were dark and you can’t tell where I’m looking when I have them on. Knowing this was part of the reason I decided on some shenanigans.

That dog video above? Well … as I was hand mixing concrete and saw her peeking at me, I would stop what I was doing and start a low growl, just like that dog. Growl, breathe, growl a little louder. Mix concrete a little bit. Growl, breathe, growl longer. Stop, mix, growl louder and more menacingly.

I can imagine the look on her face. I saw the curtain dart back in place and then, just as quickly, get pulled back again.

Stop. Growl. Growl more loudly.

I kept doing this for about half an hour, suppressing laughter the entire time I was doing so … which was monumentally difficult. Fun times.

I can only imagine the thoughts running through the crazy neighbor lady’s head …

Sarcasm Is A Double-Edged Sword

There were a few things needed at the grocery store so up and off I went.

The meat counter was one of the last places I visited. There were stuffed clam and scallop shells at a buck a piece on sale and I’ve come to really like them. 3 or 4 of them make a meal.

With no one in sight, I accessed the handy button telling me to “Ring For Service.” A quick, short push elicited a rather loud bell (which sounded more like a fire klaxon) which, in turn, yielded quite the commotion from behind the scenes in a prep area out of view. Pans and other metal items could be heard crashing to the floor; I could only guess I startled the poor person who was back there.

Seconds later, however, a short, dark-haired girl probably in her late 20s or early 30s came out, rather cheerfully:

“Can I help you?” she asked pleasantly enough.

“Yes, thank you. May I get 4 stuffed clams and 4 stuffed scallops, please?” I asked. She opened the case and began to pull them individually.

“Do you mind if I put them all on the same tray?” she asked.

“No … no problem,” I responded as she continued pulling the heaping shells.

She finished and slipped away for a moment, returning almost immediately to ask one final question:

“Do you know the difference between the two?”

Now, exactly at this point is where about half a dozen rapid-fire responses came to mind. Should I answer truthfully? Should I answer with a quip? Should I fake ignorance to see how her response comes back? I decided that last one wouldn’t work completely being I had specifically asked for 4 of each item so I figured she’d know I knew what I was asking for.

Or so I thought.

I decided to go with the sarcasm. In my biggest smile – and expecting one in return – I replied:

“Well … one is a clam and the other is a scallop … right?”

Now … I wasn’t certain if the gal helping me was the same one I startled by the ringing bell. Or maybe she was having a bad day. Or perhaps I interrupted her from just having sat down to munch her lunch. But whatever the reason, the response I gave her rubbed her the wrong way because, like a shot, she pulled away from me immediately. She attempted as best she could to resist rolling her eyes (she failed spectacularly at this) and let it be known through her body language she didn’t want anything further to do with me. She headed somewhere behind the counter to wrap my purchases.

As she left, I heard her mumble something to the effect of “Well … *grumph, grouse*some people … *hrumph* don’t know … *gruff* … difference *muffle* …” or something like it. There weren’t any epithets I could detect but there was definitely a big heaping helping of attitude that got wrapped up with my stuffed shells.

On her return she handed the package over the counter. I thanked her kindly and, somehow, she mustered a return “You’re welcome” with such economy it sounded as if she’d compressed the words into a single syllable. It was rather impressive.

Moral: Sarcasm is a slippery slope, folks. Even with the best comedic intentions (and the biggest shit-eating grin you can muster) it’s still sometimes difficult to pull it off.

Construction And The Crazy Neighbor Lady

The side of the house I’m working at offers those of a daring nature a treacherously steep passage composed of lovely compacted dirt, shale and clay. Add wetness to the passage and it becomes a slippery slope just waiting for someone to attempt it and go ass over tea kettle.

An initial set of steps have been poured by yours truly to assist in making things a little safer but there’s more work to be done. But before work can be completed, an irrigation catch basin needs to be relocated – it’s currently right smack dab in the middle of the path of the proposed steps.

So, on this day, the digging began. And the drama came shortly thereafter.

I wasn’t 10 minutes into it when I heard the huffing and scuffling at the neighbor’s house next door. A window was thrown open, I caught a head in the midst of disappearing and then an exaggerated exhale of breath. It sounds as if a phone is being dialed.

I can’t quite catch the conversation going on until I hear the loud-enough-to-be-heard-for-my-benefit question/exclamation:

“Don’t you need a contractor’s license to, you know, contract?!?”

I chuckle to myself. All I’m doing is digging a hole. Last time I checked (oh, that’s right: I’ve never checked) one doesn’t need any sort of official license or certificate of excellence in order to put a hole in the dirt. My immediate thought on hearing the neighbor was “No, you don’t, not in this case. Just like you don’t need any kind of certification to stick your nose into other people’s business, I don’t care how good you are at it.”

You have to understand the neighbor next door to the house I occasionally do work at is known as “a crazy lady.” Now … I’m not certain she’s actually certifiable, but I’ve heard tell of past scuffles with others, neighbors and the like having regaled me with those tales. She likes to yell at kids, I’m told, who are doing nothing but laughing to themselves as they walk down the street past her house. I’ve witnessed first hand her laser stare while I’ve been laboring at some chore or another, glowering at me for simply, well, being there. How laboring with my back turned away from her house, minding my own business, is a source of irritation to her is beyond my comprehension.

This particular morning I’m 35′ away, doing my own thing, digging. I’m not bothering anybody. It’s not crack-of-dawn early in the morning (it’s 8:30-ish) so it’s not as if I’m waking someone at an inconvenient hour. I’m not creating any excessive noise or whistling some annoying tune while working. It’s just a simple fact of the crazy lady being one of those people who likes to stick their nose in other people’s business and raise a ruckus for her own purposes. I’m sure you know the type – virtually every neighborhood has one. Sometimes, they’re even a source of entertainment.

But … you’ve got to give her credit: She’s good at what she does. And throughout my time working away on the side yard in the coming weeks, I expect the drama to escalate to a fever pitch.

I’ll keep you posted. And with pictures if possible …

*Above photo not an actual likeness of the real crazy neighbor lady

Funk, Funk And Funk

I was in the hospital, visiting a patient …

Nurse: “I’m going to have to ask you to get off that bed. You’re contaminating it.”

Me: “Oh. Sorry. My apologies …”

Alternate Me: “Hey! I showered before I came here! I’m clean! Of course … the jeans I have on haven’t been washed since last month and I’ve worn them every day for the last 21 days straight … but … Hey! I showered at least!”


From the “Tales Too Terrible To Tell” department …

(Though, this tale? Not so terrible.)

Still, I’m certain it was terrible for the guy involved.

I was on a mission.

I was in the Sacramento airport minding my own business, gazing out the grand windows overlooking the tarmac with its planes coming and going. I had my backpack and computer at my feet and I was checking emails while waiting the call to board the plane. Of a sudden, some guy appears to come up to me just out of my field of vision and leans against a post about eight feet opposite me. I looked up only to his belt level when I saw him extend his foot and kick a zarf* someone had dropped. It rolled its way a mere foot from me.

I was astonished at the gall of this dude. That partially crumpled piece of trash was somehow bothering him enough he felt the need to move it completely out of his vicinity with an economy of energy that could only be summed up as lazy. Furthermore, it was rude of him to kick the thing in my general direction. What an ass.

I looked up at him and made eye contact.

“Really?” I asked him. I bent over and picked it up, leaving my belongings where they were, moseyed over to the nearest trash bin and tossed the sleeve into the waste. I walked back and took up my same position, leaning against a stand at the window.

I again looked over to the man, made eye contact and stated matter of factly: “That was hard.”

He looked away from me. I couldn’t tell if he was embarrassed, didn’t know what to say or was content with the fact he had no justification for what he’d done. At any rate, you could tell the guy was uncomfortable with how I reacted to his actions.

The call came to begin boarding and I gathered my stuff and got in line. I noticed the guy was 20 folks in front of me and decided I would seek him out wherever he sat on the plane and sit right next to him.

As the crowd worked its way finally into the plane, I noticed Shmucko had weaseled his way into a window seat. He was sitting in a row that was completely filled so there was no chance of me plopping down next to him, heightening his anxiety during the hour’s worth of flight. Damn.

I did, however, get the opportunity to pass him a couple times after deplaning: Once while strolling to baggage retrieval and again just before I caught my ride from the airport. Both times I passed an icy stare his way. He knew it was me but didn’t look my way. I don’t believe he appreciated either instance.

In fact, I’m positive he issued a sigh of relief to see me board a vehicle and depart from the premises …

*zarf: hot beverage sleeve

Fork U.

This is a true story …

It was a Sunday and I was invited over a friend’s for a family dinner. Being Italian, they tended to eat heartily. And especially at Sunday dinner. A little snacking and drinking led to first course of chicken followed by a break with more free-flowing drink. The pasta came out next, then more rest. The main course was laid out afterward – naturally the biggest affair with seconds expected – which usually resulted in belt loosening. Or course, drink and talk and banter punctuated the respite. Then came the dessert. Corner-pieced with appropriate libations. If you weren’t rolled out the door at whatever time you decided to leave you didn’t eat enough according to the hosts.

It was during the pasta stage of the meal where this story centers. It was a simple linguini and gravy with bread which began the whole affair. I was sitting near the end of the table by an uncle named Louie, a member of the family with many a tall tale, big opinions and just as big a voice.

As the last person was served we all dug in to our spaghettis. I casually twirled my noodles around my fork and listened to some story being told by someone at the other end of the table when Louie noticed my manner of food delivery … of which he was obviously not in agreement.

“You know you have a spoon sitting right there beside your plate,” he casually mentioned to me.

“I do, thank you,” I told him. I continued eating.

“It’s not for show. You can use it,” he suggested. I looked at Louie and smiled.

Not a forkful of pasta later, Louie was on me about using the spoon once again: “What’s the matter with you? You don’t have manners and eat properly? Use your spoon.”

“Thank you but no,” I told Louie. “I have an issue with metal dragging on metal when I eat. It leaves a coppery taste in my mouth that sets me on edge,” I explained to him.

“I don’t care. Pick up your spoon and use it,” he urged.

“Sorry, Louie. That’s not going to happen.”

Louie stopped eating, dropped his utensils with a clatter and sat back in his chair. Everyone stopped eating at looked at the two of us.

He then reached for his fork, picked it up and leaned toward me with the business end of it half a foot from my face: “If you don’t pick up that damned spoon and use it right now, I’m going to stick this fucking fork in your eye” he stated in no uncertain terms and without blinking.

I looked directly at Louie. “No, thank you. I’m not going to use my spoon. I’ve explained why …”

Louie threw down his fork once again and shoved himself back in his chair. He harrumphed loudly. “Damned disrespectful kids who don’t listen to their elders …” he grumbled. He scooched his chair closer to the table and began eating again.

I looked at my friend for the first time during this exchange and saw him smirking at me in approval. Along with everyone else, I began eating once again.

Later, I discovered the entire affair was a test of my character, typical chest-pounding indicative of Louie. Apparently I had passed the test.

Here Kitty, Kitty

I was minding my own business leaning against the van door, window open, making some notes in a notebook. A squirrel was in a nearby tree chirping up a storm and being more annoying than squirrels usually are. I’d even yelled at it at one point when I was walking the property as I was doing my estimate, but that was to little avail. It satisfied me to yell at the yapping furball, though. I looked up once more to see if I could see it looking down and mocking me.

Then, I saw something out of my peripheral vision.

Looking up, I saw it was a cat. I looked back down to what I was writing … then immediately did a double take.

The cat was sauntering across the street some 50′ feet distant. And, damn … was it ever a big cat! It looked in my direction with a sort of casual piss offedness and continued on its way.

Mentally, I shook cobwebs out of my head at the sight. I don’t think I’d ever seen a cat quite that big. And I’ve seen some big-ass cats in my day: Over-fed, lazy beasts that can barely move across the floor, ones that were walking mats of hair teetering toward food dishes. This one? Was easily making its way to the other side of the street despite its hugeness and headed to a corner that occupied bushes and palm trees.

Interestingly, it was mottled in black and tan and white with stripes here and there, a rather interesting pattern. It had a unique face with pointed-looking jowls aimed at the ground, the defining thing that gave it the “don’t mess with me” look. Then I noticed it had a short, clipped tail as if it had been run over or someone had cut its tail off.

Reaching the opposite side of the street, I saw the cat leap onto one of the palms and begin to sharpen its claws. I swear I saw the palm sway when it leapt atop it. It looked over in my direction once more with that “What the hell are YOU looking at?” glare.

Suddenly it hit me: “Holy crap! That’s not a cat: It’s a bobcat!

I jumped off the van door and dove inside to grab my camera. Coming up with it, I unzipped the case while simultaneously slamming the door shut. I quickly took a few steps toward the middle of the street. The bobcat looked my way a third time, hopped off the tree and ducked into nearby bushes to hide.

That’s when I stopped myself cold.

What the hell was I doing?!? That’s a bobcat for Pete’s sake! I don’t know if they’re dangerous (I’d never heard of any attacks on humans by the animals) but my senses got the better of me and decided it was better not to find out. I turned tail and got back in the van.

But I was determined to get a closer look. I keyed the starter, rolled up my window and drove across the street directly at the bushes where the animal was no doubt hiding. It was becoming quite dusky outside and it was getting more and more difficult to see. I turned on the headlights and maneuvered so the lights busted through the bushes.

Nothing. The thing could have taken off behind my field of vision for all I knew.

That’s when I got hit with another realization. Walking around that house, while I was sizing it up and taking measurements? It came back to me that damned squirrel was raising a ruckus the entire time. No wonder! It had obviously seen the bobcat lurking about and was chittering at it in warning.

Involuntarily, I shivered with the thrill of it all.

Pulling Teeth

Shoes with zippers

These shoes have zippers in the back.
They don’t work, have no discernible purpose.
One reason men are glad they are not women.

In the shoe store some 3 dozen women were busily looking at and trying on shoes. In tow with about a handful of them were their pained-looking husbands and boyfriends.

I walked down an aisle and came to an end divider that housed a bench. Sitting on the bench was a bulky dude in a silk-screened T-shirt, babying several shoe boxes in one arm while in the act of pulling out his cell phone to check sport scores or access something on-line with the other. He looked tired, bored, restless … and sad.

I came nearer, bent over him and addressed him in a low voice: “It’s like pulling teeth … isn’t it?”

“Dude, you have NO clue. I’m dying here …” he confessed

I dropped my eyes in understanding, patted him on the shoulder and encouraged him. “Hang in there. It will be over soon. I promise.”

He sighed and nodded. I saluted him by touching my Kindle to my forehead, walked to a bench myself, sat down and began reading.

Tuber Of Terror

The following tale is true …

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Did you eat that potato? The one left over from the other night?”


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A few nights ago, I baked a couple potatoes — one for that evening’s repast, another to be used later.

Usually I BBQ my baked potatoes. Not only do they cook thoroughly, they do so more quickly as well. But it was cold out the evening I had a hankering for one and I didn’t feel like going through the motions of taking the cover off the BBQ, firing it up and shuffling back and forth from the house to flip potatoes while they cooked. So baking was the order of the evening. (No … I do not microwave potatoes. That’s a crime and a disservice.)

The spuds were pierced and poked after being washed, they were loosely wrapped in aluminum foil and then tossed into the oven.

45 minutes later they were about done. Well … one of them was at any rate. The other, a larger specimen, wasn’t quite there. It was in need of some extra cooking time. I made a request after extracting the cooked one and while closing the oven:

“I’m turning the oven off. Will you please remind me there’s one potato still in there baking?”

I unwrapped the completed tuber and prepped it for my dinner.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Huh … guess I didn’t look well enough …”

I headed back to the fridge to poke around some more to see where it was hiding. I trolled around and moved everything inside the fridge. I check every corner, every hiding place. No potato.

Suddenly, I got a chill. I felt the hair on the nape of my neck begin to stand on end.

I closed the fridge and moved toward the oven. Slowly I opened it.

There, inside, was the potato from a couple days ago … lying there on the top rack, waiting.

I could fill the chill spread from my neck down my back as I reached in and pulled it out. I put it on the counter. It was a somewhat cold, below room temperature.

Carefully, I began to unwrap it from its steely aluminum covering, all the while knowing I should simply toss it in the waste basket and forget about it. My curiosity wasn’t so easily swayed, however — it overrode my common sense and got the better of me.

Slowly, I peeled back a section of the foil. I decided to close my eyes. I couldn’t look. Instead, I felt my way around the covering and, by sense of touch alone, I exposed what was beneath it.

I took a deep breath, looked down to the counter and slowly opened my eyes.

There, oozing within inches of me with thick, languid bubbles that seemed to move on their own, was a mucousy film which had formed on the skin of the potato. It appeared alive. A bubble popped at me as if it were winking and I detected a sickly sweet smell exuding from from the thing. I swear I saw a mouth begin to form — it was about to say something evil to me.

With as much speed as I could muster, I rewrapped the offensive horror and flung it into the garbage. I walked away with the chill still riding atop the surface of my skin.

Eventually, I knew I was going to have to take the garbage out of doors before the smell of it began to issue from between the cracks around the lid of the trash can. But … that meant I would need to take the lid off the trash and pull the liner out of the receptacle.

And I just knew that potato would be covered in an all-encompassing gunk, complete with expressionless eyes and a filmy, fine-haired moldy coat just waiting to whisper something horrifying at me …