Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ho! Ho! Ho! Sunday rerun! Christmas in July is Friday!

I’m taking the unusual step of informing you of one of my favorite “holidays” five days in advance to give you time to plan something. Anything. Even a little nothing will make a difference. Yes, Friday is Christmas in July! The surprise in my family is gone and now my greedy little darlings are awash in crass expectation. That ruins it a bit for me. But not for you! Try and throw together a little surprise celebration for Friday. It can be very fun and soul-enriching.

Remember, only five more shopping days until Christmas in July!

The stockings aren’t hung by the chimney with care and St. Nicolas is no where in sight.

You can stand in our doorway and demand figgy pudding until you’re blue in the face. You can go. You won’t get some.

No Black Friday sales stampedes, no wrapping, no in-laws, no Savior-thanking hoo-ha.

Merry Christmas in July! It’s the secular essence of the holy day everyone loves for all the wrong reasons.

It’s only 153 days until Christmas. That means it’ll only be about 54 days until our area retailers begin cramming Christmas down our throats. It’ll be sales, displays, carols, and mercenary goodwill before they even put out the Halloween candy.

For me, it’s all gone from “Oh! Holy Night!” To “Oh! Holy Crap!”

Just thinking about Christmas in October through December raises my blood pressure.

And I’m not talking about the sacred parts, which I enjoy. I love when duties ease and there’s time to bask in soulful understanding about why Christmas really matters.

That lasts about 30 minutes. Then it’s back to strategizing party visits like Ike did on D-Day.

That’s what makes Christmas in July such a subversive pleasure.

I started doing it for the girls about five years ago. I thought it could be a sort of surprise poor-man’s Christmas, which makes perfect sense because I’m a very poor man.

What’s great is the expectations are absolute zero. In fact, as I type this our daughters, ages 11 and 6, don’t even know it’s Christmas in July.

In about 20 minutes, I’ll begin blasting Bob Dylan’s 2009 oddball Christmas carol collection, “Christmas in the Heart.” I love Dylan, but hearing him sing, “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Must Be Santa” in July is perfectly surreal.

Heck, given his nonsensical interpretations of his own hits, any more hearing Dylan sing “Blowing in the Wind” is perfectly surreal.

The jarring sounds will cause such a clatter, the girls will storm out of their rooms to rage. Their instinct will be to shout at me for waking them and, even worse, waking them with Bob Dylan.

Then -- hallelujah -- they’ll see the Christmas in July card table, the “Merry Christmas in July!” cake surrounded by all the newspaper wrapped presents that include the plastic DVD crate containing the video store rental of the classic “A Christmas Story.”

It’s Christmas in July!

It’s so unexpected.

Part of that is because I don’t do it every July 25. Not having it every year allows forgetful loved ones to be surprised when it suddenly reappears without any typical holiday hype. That’s the beauty of Christmas in July. You make up the rules as you go along.

For instance, one year I bought for a centerpiece a lovely mistletoe and roses floral arrangement. This year I didn’t want to risk feeling stressed, so I instead used my Pittsburgh Pirate ballcap.

It’s nice, too, for Val because for traditional Christmas she does nearly all the shopping, all the cooking, all the cleaning and all the fretting.

Really, with me doing all the drinking, it’s a wonder it bugs me so much.

So I get her a nice bottle of wine and a card thanking her for all she does.

You know what the best part of Christmas in July is?

Telling people you’re shopping for Christmas in July. You get a real charge out of sharing the idea with people. They seem so charmed.

I think that’s because we could all use a little more year ‘round Christmas, but none of us wants to go through any more Christmas to have it. So it’s nice to take maybe one day a year to have a little Christmas without all the hell and the hassle.

It’s nice, too, because it’s a momentary break from having to think about gun violence, pedophiliac coaches and the national heartbreak of “Twilight” actress Kristin Stewart hooking up with snakey director Rupert Sanders.

It’s a nice respite.

And, you know, for just one day it really ‘tis the season.

Friday, July 18, 2014

12 reasons you should listen to me & McIntire on KDKA Saturday nite

John McIntire invited me to appear on his KDKA-AM 1020 radio program Saturday at 9 p.m., as if “appearing” on radio is a metaphysical possibility. Here are some reasons why you might want to tune in to the streamer link.

• We won’t discuss anything depressing. John’s not going to ask me my opinions on the bloody conflict in Gaza, the downed Malaysian jetliner or how the drought in California is going to affect the price of lettuce in Pittsburgh.

• I might sing. I always include a little tune in all my live appearances and it’s always a soul-tickling experience. For me, at least. I say that while acknowledging not one single person’s ever come up after one of my speeches and said, gee, they wished I’d sung longer and louder.

• For the first time ever, I have reason to be an on-air optimist. I’ve been intermittently appearing on Pittsburgh radio and TV since 1994. I’ll bet during those 20 years I’ve never once been heard broadcasting the words, “My career’s going great! And I’m confident tomorrow’s only going to be better!” But if we do talk about my career, I’ll be sure to talk about how successful my speaking engagements have been. People are really responding to my talks and there’s reason to believe that cheerful reaction is about to grow exponentially.

• John is the most compelling voice on Pittsburgh radio. Doug Hoerth, Jack Bogut, Lynn Cullen, Scott Paulsen — giants once roamed the radio here. No more. Across the dial, Pittsburgh radio is a uniformly lame landscape of harpies and posers. John is the only guy you listen to who at least once every show says something outrageous enough to convince you he doesn’t care if he gets fired or not. He’s always been the kind of liberal who’s enjoyed by conservatives who genuinely enjoy being on his show.

• You can feel like The Waltons used to. Gather the family around the radio and shut off all the other devices. For authenticity’s sake, stare straight at the radio the way the old timers used to like they could visualize what was happening in the studio.

• John might be cranky. If you’ve never heard him, you might think of John like David Letterman. He’s always very funny, but he’s riveting when something he won’t talk about is really pissing him off.

• I might for the sake of publicity stage a freak out. This seemed to work for Joaquin Phoenix. I think it’d do wonders for my publicity if there were news stories about the guy who wrote the book about being nice and happy trashed the KDKA studios when host John McIntire refused to fetch him a plum.

• In this day of archived appearances, this might be your only chance to hear me with John on KDKA. I was last on in May ’13 and we had a lively hour that earned a fantastic reaction. But KDKA, then at least, had some prohibition about posting a link to any of John’s shows and the engineer blew me off when I pestered about a tape. So it’s like it never happened. I might just tape the thing on my iPhone right there in the studio. It’d let you hear all the off-mic banter during the commercials when I ask John if my voice sounds okay, if my jokes are funny and if my pants make my butt look too big.

• The Bucs will still have at least 78 other games. They play the Colorado Rockies Saturday with a 7 p.m. first pitch. So the most interesting part of the game will probably coincide with when I’m on with John. I give you selfish permission to skip the Bucs and listen to us.

• There’s always a chance I’ll get drunk before the show. Those chances are slim, but there is precedent. I remember in about 2000 when John was still doing his much-missed PCNC cable show and he asked me to appear — truly appear — on Fat Tuesday. I said yes, but that didn’t mean I was going to skip a downtown splurge to which I’d been invited. What I remember most was prior to the show walking into the station men’s room and finding WPXI anchor David Johnson’s make-up kit by the glamor mirror. I looked in the mirror and noticed a shiny spot on my forehead. I reached for the powder pad and gave the shiny spot a gentle dab. Then I noticed another. And another. And another! I did so much foundational dabbing that I came out looking like an Oompa Loompa. I also remember blurting out nonsensical things and laughing hysterically at myself and looking over and seeing John looking at me with an expression best described as quizzical. Oh, how I wish I could find a tape of that show.

• I might mention your name! I’m going to ask John if he’ll let me read all the names of people who’ve told me they read and enjoy my blog. And to shake things up, I’m starting with the Zs and going backwards. Know what that means? For once, you’re first, Theodore Zyzak!

And lastly . . .

• An hour of commercial radio: No erectile dysfunction ads!

Related . . .

Thursday, July 17, 2014

On chicken fingers, chicken breasts & chicken nipples

I always make a point anytime we’re out at some family restaurant to ask the waitress if she has chicken fingers. The answer is always yes.

“Oh, you’re being too hard on yourself,” I say. “Your fingers are ugly, but they still appear human!”

I do this knowing it embarrasses my family and ups the odds my order will now be seasoned with waitress spit.

Chicken fingers are one of the world’s most popular menu items, yet I’ve never seen a single fingered chicken. Chicken don’t even have arms or hands.

How can they possibly have fingers?

If chickens had fingers you can imagine they’d be giving us the middle one for eating so many of them.

Chicken anatomy has always confused me.

One of the most desirable parts of a chicken is the breast.

It’s the same with women. Many shallow men revere breasts, more even than the women to whom they’re attached. And how come you never hear chicken breasts referred to as chicken boobs? Is it out of respect for the chicken?

Breasts of women are referred to with many colorful nicknames. They’re hooters. Jugs. Frost detectors. Jell-o molds. Dingle bobbers. Dairy pillows. Gerber servers. Bazoombas.”

But with chickens it’s always the same delicate wordage the romance novelists use. It is the chicken breast.

Well, la de dah.

It’s a lot of deferential dignity for a part of a yard bird that’s destined to be deep fried and dipped in honey mustard.

I’ll wager no one in history has ever approached a butcher counter and said, “I’m looking for a nice juicy set of chicken tits.”

And breasted women all have nipples. Us dudes, too. And for every human breast there’s at least a little nipple.

So chicken have breasts. Women have breasts. Women have nipples. How come we’ve never heard of a nippled chicken? Is it a delicacy? I’d imagine chicken nipples would make a tasty snack.

The Nippled Chickens would be a great band name, too, I think.

Given gourmet eating trends, you might soon see chicken feet at a food truck near you. Chicken feet are very popular in China, Korea, Vietnam, Mexico and parts of the Caribbean.

Me, I don’t care how exquisitely you prepare the dish, I’m nervous about eating the feet of any animal that walks barefoot through where it poops.

So I’m fine with chicken wings and fingers. In fact, the so-called chicken “finger” is actually the tender white meat under both sides of the breast bone, the pectoralis major.

I’m going to order a set of breaded pecs at the KFC drive-thru next time I’m there just to enjoy the confusion it causes.

My mother’s absolutely nuts about chicken fingers. She’s 81, has dementia, and recently called me at 11 p.m. to say she had an emergency: She was out of wine and toilet paper.

I asked if she had enough of the one would she not need the other.

But for the last two years or so she just craves chicken fingers. It’s all she’ll eat. She without fail orders them out in restaurants and insists I bring her a big bag or two from the frozen food coolers during my weekly grocery visits.

That’s how I became acquainted with the newest trend in chicken part consumption. There’s now a chicken nugget that comes in what is described as “fun dinosaur shapes.” Mom says they’re great.

It’s almost enough for my sanity’s sake to consider becoming a vegetarian and I would, but I know I’d miss steak-shaped beef too much.

I can only guess fun-shaped food is for kids so refined that deep-fried microwaved nutritionally desolate crap must have an aesthetic appeal before he or she shoves it a down their throat.

I don’t know what’s so fun about dinosaur-shaped food. Haven’t these kids seen “Jurassic Park?”

If dinosaurs ever come back — and, you watch, that’ll be yet another result of catastrophic climate change — whole generations of chubby children will march right into their rapacious maws tragically thinking anything that fun shaped is sure to be friendly.

So I’m hoping introducing novelty items to Mom’s diet doesn’t backfire next time we dine at some family restaurant.

I wouldn’t want her stealing my thunder when I ask the waitress if she has fun-shaped chicken breasts.

Related . . .

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A back 'n' forth on palindromes

I’ve said previously that for the sake of clarity “palindrome” should be spelled palindromemordnilap.

That way people would never forget a palindrome is a word spelled the same forwards as backwards.

I bring this up today because I heard an ABBA song — “Waterloo” — on my morning stumble through the grocery store and immediately thought, as I always do, “Here’s a song by the most prominent palindrome rock band in music history.”

I’m not saying they’re better, but ABBA’s enjoyed more commercial success than bands named If I Had a Hi-Fi, To Rococo Rot or Dopapod, the latter best known for its palindromic 2009 album, “I Saw Live Dopapod Evil Was I.”

I know way too much about ABBA and I suspect my curiosity about palindromes is to blame.

For instance: “abba” is a Hebrew word from the Bible that means father, but that’s not how ABBA got its name — sometimes printed with the stylized first B backwards so it looks like a true palindrome (above).

No, the band is ABBA because the band members are Agnetha Faaltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.

I much prefer the Winnipeg rockers to ABBA, but you have to give it to the Swedes. They put much more thought into their name than did B.T.O., a great abbreviation band named after primary members Randy Bachman, Fred Turner and Bert Overdrive.

I made that last one up. There is no Bert Overdrive.

The word palindrome stems from the Latin words palin, (means “again”) and dromos (means “way, direction”).

(Trivial aside: I once tweeted that a Sarah Palindrome would be an insightful blond capable of seeing Russia from the front porch of her Key West home.)

ABBA intrigues me because it might be the world’s shortest palindrome. Most palindromes are five letters: refer, civic, kayak, radar, etc.

Or in this case should that be etcte?

I once read a story about a walking palindrome named Zerimar Ramirez. It be fun to be his friend because you could be certain he’d never overstay his welcome, always coming and going as he is bound to do.

The Oxford English Dictionary says the longest single-word palindrome is tattarrattat, a 12-letter word palindrome coined by James Joyce to convey the sound of a door being knocked upon.

The longest phrase palindrome I can quote from memory is “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!” It’s 21 letters long.

The phrase is credited to author Leigh Mercer who published the palindrome in 1948. It’s historical and punchy. It will endure.

I wonder how long it took him to come up with that handy dandy. I think it must have taken at least a concentrated week or so. Maybe more. 

What about ones like these uncredited gems?

• A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal — Panama!

• A slut nixes sex in Tulsa

• Amy, must I jujitsu my ma?

• Lisa Bonet ate no basil!

• Zeus was deified, saw Suez.

Blogging, I realize, is an enormous waste of time, but even a guy like me looks at those who compose palindromes and thinks, c’mon, man, get a life.

Of course, they’re all mere pikers when it comes to marathon palindromes. It is said in 1980 David Stephens wrote a 58,795-letter palindromic novel he called “Satire: Veritas.”

Get it?

His other book is called “Dr. Awkward,” yes that’s another clever one.

His is an odd obsession. I could find precious little about Stephens or his books. Maybe shrewd booksellers realized the folly of publishing a palindrome novel.

Who’d want to read a book that spoils the ending in the very first paragraph?

So there’s a little overview of these linguistic house of mirrors for you to start your day, the A to Z of palindrome.

Or in this case the AB to BA.

Those now in the mood can just for the fun of it can now read the whole thing again backwards starting right here.

It’s a time-consuming splurge I’d advise against on what I’m sure must be an already busy day.

Palindromes can all go in reverse.

Time can not.

Related . . .

Monday, July 14, 2014

Soccer beats NFL, but can't lick splinkton

Let me begin with a difficult admission. I was wrong last month about soccer.

I mostly enjoyed the World Cup and congratulate Germany for achieving an aspect of global domination that doesn't make history-minded pacifists like me nervous.

I’ll never love soccer the way I do, say, baseball or hockey, but I’m now convinced futbol will surpass football in America within 10 years.

I believe this if for no other reason than soccer lacks commercials, so watching a quality soccer match played by great athletes — and not great 4th grade athletes — was a revelation. Unlike the NFL, the action was non-stop, and didn’t pause every 90 seconds for ads urging me to buy cheap domestic beer, a new truck or suggest it was time for me to dash off to the urologist to express fears my penis is about to become a chronic loafer.

So good riddance, NFL. You’re crass, boring, over-commericialized and increasingly dangerous to many of the lunkheads who used to cruelly bully the hapless band nerds around in high school.

Does that mean in 10 years soccer will be the world’s most dominant sport?


I predict in 10 years the world’s most dominant sport will be splinkton.

Never heard of it? Until last week, neither had I.

But I did a little research — just a lick — and found it has the potential to be the most compelling sport on the face of the earth.

Anyone with a tongue and a stealthy bit of guile can play.

Heck, I played and didn’t even realize I was splinktoning.

I was washing dishes when I saw just a flash of my daughter, 13, race by. Moments later she came back and asked if my right elbow was wet.

I felt and said why, yes, indeed it was.

“That’s because I licked it without you knowing it. You can lick someone’s bare elbow and if they’re not paying attention they won’t know it. Saw it on the internet.”

My first reaction was relief the internet wasn’t around when I was a kid. There was no part of my old man I’d ever wanted to have licked even on a money dare.

“I guess kids are doing it to strangers in parks and stuff.”

I told her if I ever find out she’s licking bare parts of strangers in public the only time she’ll ever leave the house without duck tape across her lips is when she’s scheduled to sing in the church choir.

She promised she wouldn’t.

Still, it set off a predictable round of sneaky elbow licking in the Rodell house. Val and the 8-year-old got into it, too. I was the most frequent target. The girls said it was because I was the most oblivious, but I like to think it was because my elbows are extra tasty.

The whole episode sent me to the internet to investigate elbow licking.

Of course, there’s the predictable elbow fetishists and bunches of stuff about the rarity of humans capable of licking their own elbows. One said about 1 in 100 can do so, but that 75 out of 100 will make an attempt immediately after reading the pseudo-fact.  

Whether any of that is true or not, I do not know. But I can verify that those who do should never snap a selfie doing so. The poser inevitably looks like a dog licking parts of themselves that makes humans either uneasy or jealous depending on their level of loneliness.

Then I found out about splinkton. This is from Urban Dictionary:

"Splinkton is a game in which players attempt to lick the elbow of an unsuspecting player or stranger. It is a little known fact that if you lick someone’s elbow when they're not paying attention they cannot feel it. There are various types of Splinks and amounts of points rewarded for each type of Splink.”

The entry says a splinker can get one point for licking the elbow of a fellow splinker without he or she knowing; two points if you surreptitiously lick the elbow of someone they know who’s never heard of splinkton. 

“If a splinker licks the elbow of a complete stranger who is in a group that watches you lick their friends’ elbow the splinker receives 25 points.”

That 25 is the highest number of points possible indicates a lost scoring opportunity. 

If I were the splinkton commissioner I’d declare 500 points goes to anyone who can successfully splink the elbow of Dick Cheney; 1000 points if the splink is achieved while he’s drunk and out on a Texas quail hunt.

And there’d need to be referees because once splinking grows in popularity it’s bound to attract its unsavory share of perverts who see a snazzy splinkton uniform as a license to publicly lick things other than elbows.

We’d need to be on the look out for cheaters, too, men and women who surgically lengthen their tongues so they could snap out a quick lick on someone reading on the other side of the subway car.

These logistical considerations are all minor and can be solved so splinkton can flourish.

Dedicated splinkers know the only thing they’re better at licking than elbows is problems.

I foresee a huge potential. It’s all people will be talking about.

Tongues everywhere will be wagging.

So bare elbows beware.

Consider yourselves warned.

Related . . .

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Re-run Sunday: A toast to ice

Still not too late to impress your neighbors by planning your 200th birthday for ice next November. Yes, ice is only 199 years old. Not the kind you find in nature. No, the kind you put in the glass. The essential ice.

Not sure if it’ll be warm where you are this week, but here from summer 2012 is a story about the genius who in 1815 invented ice as we know it.

Mark your calendars for November 2015. That’s when ice celebrates its 200th birthday.

The declaration will no doubt startle those who revere the literal word.

How could ice be only 200 years old when earth endured what is known as “The Ice Age” 20,000 years ago? 

Let me to explain.

Prior to 1815, ice was a substance that inspired one expression: profanity. It was slippery. It impeded motion. It made drinking water without a campfire difficult.

Sure, there may have been some Nordic types who reveled in ice, but that’s only because they had no choice. Guaranteed, go to Disney World this February and I’ll wager you dollars to lutefisk you’ll spend at least an hour standing in line with folks named Sven and Olga.

No one in their right mind chooses to live in landscapes dominated by ice. In fact, the only species that seems to do so is one the one famously ill-suited for any kind of mobility. That is the penguin.

It can’t fly, its webbed feet make migration impossible, and its lack of thumbs rule out the hitchhiking option. They seem like agile swimmers, but that can’t be or else they’d have long ago colonized places like Key West.

So we can all agree ice is a menace to hospitable living, right?

Wrong. And that’s why 1815 is a year to commemorate.

All hail Frederic Tudor!

He is to ice what Benjamin Franklin is to electricity. He didn’t invent it, but he realized its potential and harnessed it.

In fact, you could draw a line through history right at Tudor and 1815. On one side is barbarity, the other side civilization.

Tudor is the visionary who in 1806 gazed upon frozen New England ponds and saw gold.

Perhaps I’m drawn to celebrating him and his achievement because he seems like exactly the kind of guy with whom I could sit around and enjoy a cold beer.

And that was precisely the problem.

Cold drinks were an unheard of luxury back in the 19th century. No one ever dreamed ice had a utilitarian potential.

No one but Tudor. The third son of a wealthy Boston lawyer, he was a renown family layabout who’d skipped going to Harvard, as was his privilege, because he reasoned excessive study would bore him.

Sensing a kinship?

One day he and his rich brothers were enjoying an afternoon idyll with ice cream -- I like to imagine hammocks and really, really early Jimmy Buffett songs were involved -- when the oldest brother casually remarked what a pity it was that people in the sunbaked climes would never know what it was like to experience a chill.

The speculation immediately brain barnacled in the young Tudor’s head.

Why not, he wondered, take the chill to them?

It’s interesting to wonder if he considered mass moving equatorial people north in what would be a racially charged version of Make-A-Wish. Probably not. Taking ice in the other direction made more sense.

He’d spend the next six years and thousands of dollars in other people’s money trying to make that happen. 

With borrowed money he bought a freighter and set sail on a 1,500-mile journey with a cargo preposterous enough to earn ridicule from the Boston Gazette. This from the paper’s February 10, 1806:

“No joke. A vessel has cleared the Custom House for Martinique with a cargo of ice. We can only hope this doesn’t prove a slippery speculation.”

Who knew smart ass bloggers existed 200 years ago?

His early efforts were uniform failures that led him to long stretches of debtor’s prison. The ice kept obeying basic physics and melting from solid to slush to liquid then being too tuckered from the exertion to turn to steam.

My favorite part of the story is imaging him trying to explain to baffled islanders why he kept showing up on their shores with boats full of warm water.

A restless self-promoter, he’d carry a cooler of ice with him to restaurants to add to the glasses of fellow diners to create demand where none previously existed.

He never quit and history shows that on Nov. 1, 1815, Tudor succeeded in delivering 150 tons of ice to the Caribbean, a region that today is difficult to fathom without frozen pina coladas and other cocktails to slurp.

I suppose I’m drawn to his story because it so contrasts with mine. He never had access to cold liquor and changed the world.

I have access to plenty of cold liquor and rarely bother to change my profile picture.

I bare him no historical grudge. I can’t imagine enduring these forecasted scorchers without access to ice for my bourbon or to add refreshing chill to beer-filled coolers.

He’s a man who should be memorialized.

Anyone think a big ice sculpture is too obvious?

Sounds cool to me.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cheers! My bartending stint is over

Well, cancel the tour buses bound for Latrobe. Tell TMZ they’re too late. The great Chris Rodell Bartender experiment is over. My brief tenure has come to an abrupt end. They were six of the best nights of my life.

Well, six of the best sober nights of my life.

How did I find out? Did a co-worker spill the beans?

No — and Pond beans, by the way, are the best damn beans in town!

What happened was I walked in to pay Dave my rent and back behind the bar was a beautiful young girl in a pretty dress.

I took one look at her and understood I never had a chance — and not just because it’s been years since I could fit into a dress like that.

I know this girl. She’s been to my house. She used to babysit our daughters.

Now, there’s a chance she’s gonna be babysitting me!

And I thought I had a disorienting career trajectory.

She’s the daughter of Dave’s girlfriend and has for years tended bar at another joint to pay for her nursing tuition. A dispute with her crabby boss led her to ask Dave if she could work some nights here at The Pond.

She’s a great girl and I’m very happy she will be in there to inebriate me and my buddies. Her boyfriend is going to be working some nights, too. It’ll completely makeover the bar’s personality and give it a welcome injection of friendly new blood.

It’s been the most tumultuous summer I can remember at a place I go to seek sudsy serenity.

A good friend of ours suddenly quit after 12 years. Dave asked if I could step in to help. Even though it’d been 27 years since I’d lasted tended bar, I said yes right away because saying no to Dave in that situation would have been like Rudolph saying no to Santa.

What will I miss?

• Telling my wife and kids I was going out to spend the night at the bar and knowing they’d look at me with a sense of pride, rather than typical shame.

• Tips. I don’t care how much dough you make, a job where you walk out the door with your pocket stuffed full of cash always leads to a bounce in your step. 

• Telling people I had a job. Telling people you’re a bartender is so much more concrete and respectable than saying you’re a writer, a job description that immediately makes most decent people suspect you’re either a snob or a scam artist.

• Anticipating how much more interesting "Take Your Daughters to Work" day was going to be for my girls.

• Free food and drink during work hours!

What I won’t miss:

• Standing. Second to any movement, standing is the least natural human posture. For me, standing behind the bar for five or six hours was very taxing and another reminder why it’d never be a good idea for a guy like me to enlist in the armed services.

• Trying to remember customers’ names. I wish I could remember names the way I remember lines from funny movies. I can quote verbatim the entire dialogue from movies like “Slapshot,” and “The Naked Gun,” but can’t remember the names of a friendly couple ten minutes after they’ve ordered their pizza. It’s especially embarrassing working with Dave and everyone else seems to excel at remembering names.

• Watching my friends go out to another bar without me. On Friday nights, a bunch of us like to go down to DiSalvo’s Station, a fancy restaurant with a cigar bar, and have a good smoke. I was crestfallen the last two Fridays to hear my friends say they were going to go to have fun without me. Yeah, right. As if.

• Thinking about the bar more than I think about the blog. This is the sixth bar-dominated blog post in four weeks. That’s way too much. But I found many of the topics too compelling to ignore. I hope you agree and thank you for your indulgence on the topic.

So, tonight the natural order will be restored.

I’ll be in the bar, not behind it.

That’s The Pond, a place where everybody knows your name.

Everybody but me.

Related . . .