Archive for November, 2020

Three Days of the Urethra

It is a truth long known that when a man’s floor is covered in chick peas and he’s cradling a syringe of urine, he is compelled to take stock of where his life has gone.  

Tuesday, 4:20 pm

My day of teaching done, I was ready to celebrate with an early evening of not speaking at all and not looking at my computer. It’s at this time that I noticed that my cat was visiting her litter box more often than I will in about four decades.  

Though unlikely to pay off, I decided on the direct approach: “Hey, why do you keep going to the bathroom?”

She decided against answering just then and I was forced to look into her box and push around her sand. The presence of no clumps made me go “Huh.” But over the next hour, back she went every few minutes and posed herself in the urine-stance. To no avail. Nothing came out and she just stared at the wall with a blank-confused expression that I will probably mimic when I’m 86 years old and my prostate has its own gravitational pull.

We went to google. Cat’s constipated. Cat can’t pee. What is a blocked urethra? The first option I commiserated with. The second was probably a urinary tract infection. The third would kill her in a day. I called the vet.

The vet. When we moved in to this little neck of the Prague woods, I did the “walk around.” You know, when you mosey around your new neighborhood in search of pubs, but pretending you’re excited by other facilities, shops, and services you find there that don’t offer booze.

That is, of course, unless it’s a medical service, a grocery store, or a brothel. Medical services near your house are always welcome. Sometimes I leave my house holding my breath and try to make it to the vet without passing out, just to see if I choke on a chicken bone what my chances are. I figure a chicken bone’s a chicken bone whether it’s in the windpipe of a Doberman or an over-zealous ESL teacher. A local grocery store is wanted for obvious reasons. And brothels, well, there’s nothing more comforting that sitting on your couch with a good book and knowing hookers are delivering joy and gonorrhea somewhere nearby.

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The Thanksgiving Drinker

Normally at this time of year, we would be in the full swing of the holiday season. The lode from the Halloween candy would be down to chocolate raisons and jolly ranchers. The stores would be putting up Christmas decorations and people would be complaining heartily about that. And this week, we would all be looking forward to (or dreading) Thanksgiving.

Despite all of the factors surrounding Thanksgiving, what it really boils down to is this: it’s a day many of us spend with our extended family, a tableful of complex carbohydrates, football, and alcohol. And how you feel about Thanksgiving really depends on you and your situation. While one might spend the week before imagining a gravy pond in mashed potatoes, another might shudder about Uncle Jim in his red hat talking about how Venezuela and George Soros stole the election. One might be washing their eating pants, while another might worry that their college freshman daughter’s lecture on the idealization of the American tradition.

Ah, holidays.

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My Old Man Look

I have spent a lot of time recently considering what I’m going to look like in my declining years. These are questions not easily answered and they require an awful lot of thought.

They include questions such as: Am I going to employ a hat, do suspenders look good on a guy like me, what level of comfort in public can be maintained while still not wearing sweatpants to a bar?


There is, of course, the comfort level. Were there no rules in pubic, I would spend my late years visiting pubs and restaurants and even governmental offices in lounge wear, or clothing that I had on when I got out of bed that morning. And while I do employ a ‘who cares’ attitude in most things fashion, I want that to stop short of me being asked by police for contact numbers.

There is also a public trust level. Older people are often looked to for help by those on the street. A man in sweatpants is almost never chosen for help, unless that man is Evander Holyfield. Conversely, a man in a suit might also be overlooked for the trust of public help, because depending on the state of his hair and face, others in public might believe that he thinks it’s 1981. They might not be wrong.

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How to Party like a President

Abe, just before the Gettysburg F****ng Address

At around 6 p.m. on November 7th, we in Prague, along with the entire world, were informed that Joe Biden had beaten Donald Trump for the presidency. The world reacted with an ecstatic joy that probably matched that of VE Day. Church bells were rung in Paris, global leaders were quick to offer endorphin-packed congrats to Biden and Harris, and people danced and celebrated in the streets of cities all over the world. Now, I’ve been very clear about my dislike of Donald Trump, who I have seen since 2015 as a hypocrite, a coward, and a bully, but 95% of the civilized world celebrating your termination cannot feel good.

Trump’s response to the loss is both true to form and seemingly an agonizing farewell, meant to give about 76 million of We the People one last acrid taste of the awful daily circus that he has subjected us to for the last four years. I am no political pundit, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for analysis on what Trump’s goal is. Though it seems pretty clear to anyone with a working machine between their ears that since he’s been moaning about a rigged election with no evidence since polls suggested he might lose, maybe the pettiest and most psychologically disturbed president in the history of North America is just trying to soothe his own bruised ego.

Who knows?

What I do know is that America needs a drink. And, like, now. And if you’re going to have a drink, you might as well have one that gives a nod to history in some way. So, the question is, what to drink to celebrate Trump’s loss and to steel us against the coming weeks of what is sure to be the political equivalent of breaking up with a coked up honey badger with a leg caught in a trap? Let’s see.

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Stolen Halloween

When I was a kid, Halloween was one of the events of the year. The others were my birthday, Christmas, the last day of school, and the first day of Little League. Easter was OK, but I think even then I viewed it as Christmas-lite. Also, rabbits sort of freak me out.

But who could beat Halloween? You dress up, you carry around a bag, strangers put candy in it – whether they want to or not – and you go home and eat it. No catch. Well, in my house the catch was that my dad took something of a house candy tax. It was due upon his inspection of our arrival and the official dumping out ceremony which took place on the kitchen table.

There was nothing like that moment – seeing all of your candy quantified on the kitchen table. Like something out of an adventure movie when the good guys see the treasure the baddies have been going for all along. It glitters in some production lights as they look on in awe.

In 1983, my sisters and I did just that. We dumped out our candy into separate piles with rigidly-guarded borders and we looked on in awe. And then my mother told us that we couldn’t have any.

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