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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Growing concerns about grass, toenails


My idea of a perfect day is anyone but me mowing my lawn while someone lovely gives me a pedicure.
It’s never happened. I don’t expect it ever will.
In peak growth season, I cut the grass at least once a week and my toenails -- they’re perennials -- about once every ten days.
Both ought to be cut more often, but they are maybe the two most dreary maintenance tasks of my entire existence.
I used to enjoy mowing the lawn at the old house where I had an old push mower. Guys get a pit crew rush out of any manual labor with a racing element.
I could speed mow the old lawn in 37 sweaty minutes. Of course, when it was done that rapidly, there were bound to be casualties. I’d carelessly mow down rose bushes, ornamental hedges and occasionally my sunbathing wife.
But it was always a thrill to dash to the ‘frig for some quencher suds and look up at the clock and see -- shazam! -- I’d shaved another 30 seconds off my best time.
That’s never happened when I mow my toes, the most tedious grooming task in a dapper gent’s life.
I’m forever barraged by advertisements hoping to get me to purchase pharmaceuticals that will get parts of me to grow. I’m thinking, of course, primarily of my hair and my penis.
No thanks.
I have all the hair I need.
For reasons of taste I’ll refrain from detailing the reasons why I don’t wish to see my intimacies extended. It’d be unseemly and I wouldn’t want to start a riot among the groupies.
But how come there’s no pill to halt toenail growth? It’s not like hair styles. You don’t get bored with the length of your toenails and one day think, what the hell, I think I’ll go for a Katy Perry look.

No, they’re just little utilitarian toe helmets. You can paint them, but I can’t imagine even the foot fetish deviants slobber over nail length.
I try and trim mine before they get long and sharp enough to sever Val’s Achille’s tendon when I crawl in for a snuggle.
I’ve only had one pedicure in my life and I recall it with the same emotional gratitude as the night I lost my virginity.
It was a revelation. I did it for a travel story and wrote about it in this very early blog post, one of my first 10 or so. The above picture is the result (you can play guess the feet!).
But I can’t justify paying someone to cut my toenails so at some point today I’ll grab the clippers and start rolling around on the floor like a chubby contortionist.
And I’d be mocked if I paid a kid to climb on the old John Deere and mow the lawn for me.
Most people would be more understanding if I’d get busted paying for sex with a prostitute, something a married man would never dream of doing -- at least admit out loud to dreaming of doing.
It’s probably true that I could find 100 prostitutes who’d take money to have sex with me, but none of them who’d take the same amount to come to my house and mow my lawn.
I guess they have their own set of standards which we’ll without further comment here call cockeyed.
This is just one of those days when I wish all the companies devoted to researching ways to make everything grow bigger and faster would about face and figure out ways to make everything stop growing.
I want things like my grass, my toe nails and my darling little daughters to stop growing and just stay the same as they are. Same goes for my sports leagues, the number of TV channels I receive or my waistline.
Enough with growth. Enough with expansion.
Please don’t grow alarmed at my odd melancholy.
The feeling will pass.
I’ll grow out of it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Indians, Custer, downed trees & me



I shall treat the giant oak that crashed on our property the way Native Americans used to treat the revered buffalo.
I shall respectfully use every bit of it.
When it fell Monday it sounded like a barrage of firecrackers. But when I strode into the woods to investigate I saw it wasn’t mischievous kids.
I saw what seemed to me a gift from the great Earth God.
I’m disposed to speaking like an Indian lately because I’m in the middle of Nathaniel Philbrick’s “The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull & Little Bighorn.”
Philbrick portrays the Gen. George Armstrong Custer as an ill-advised preening egotist who’d do or say anything to get his name in the headlines, sort of like Trump with better hair.
But the Indians, as they always do, come across as noble victims of cruel palefaces intent on their extermination to quench rapacious land needs.
Before the arrival of my ancestors, the Indians lived mostly at peace upon the land, they wanted not for material goods, they dealt fairly with the peoples they encountered.
I’m guessing the part where reservation casino patrons bitch about rigged slot machines is toward the end.
They had all they needed.
They had the buffalo.
Philbrick writes that each Indian consumed about six buffalo a year.
Six! The average buffalo weighs nearly a ton. I can only guess that meant the average Indian weighed something like 825 pounds.
And when I say consumed, I mean consumed.
There wasn’t horn nor hair left when the Indians were done harvesting the big shaggy.
Check it out:
Hide uses included moccasins, cradles, sheets, shirts, pipe bags, dolls and teepees.
Hair was used for pillows, rope, saddle pads, headdresses and medicine balls.
The tails became fly brushes, whips and decorations.
The hooves and feet were made into glue and rattles.
Rawhide uses included tepee walls, shields, lances, drums, pouches, boats, buckets and rope.
Trumpet-like horns were made into cups, toys, spoons, ladles and trumpet-like horns.
And every single morsel of meat was devoured.
It makes me wonder how resourceful squaws responded each and every meal for their entire lives whenever the family said, “C’mon, not buffalo again!”
An 18th century Great Plains entrepreneur selling pepperoni pizza by the slice would have made a fortune, although it seems likely he’d have been paid in buffalo skin currency so the point may be moot.
Now, I can’t do with a 100-foot dead tree all the Indians did with a buffalo, although there have been times in my career when things were so bad I’ve thought about boiling tree bark for breakfast.
But the tree’s now grounded canopy -- and two others it took out with it -- will for a while make a dandy playground for the family.
The creek had eroded the root system and top heavy tree split leaving two splintered sides upright like football goal posts.
The massive trunk now bridges 50 feet of the creek about 20 feet up. That’s an ax-wielding me in the picture above. I scampered out in the middle of the bridge for Val to snap a keeper picture of me looking like a real he-man.
The picture’s composition is weak and looks hurried because I had to cut the photo session short when my fear of heights had me nearly wetting my pants.
That won’t matter as I bit by bit chainsaw the bounty to use for firewood to warm my loved ones as the winter storms batter the house. I intend to save a gnarly section to polish into a ceremonial mantle for the living room.
Like the Indians whose distant culture still holds me in its compelling thrall, I shall want for nothing.
I shall be at peace with myself and all who share my existence.
That is unless the great Earth God snaps a tree across the TV cable feeding the house with nearly 1,000 channels of hi-def entertainment.
Then the family and I will have to turn nomadic for at least until Comcast comes for repairs.
We’ll roam the countryside like the Indians I so admire.
Where our tribe will wind up, who knows?
I hear Buffalo has lots to offer.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Speaking ill of the dead for fun & profit


Roger Ebert’s flip comment about the DUI death of stunt actor Ryan Dunn has ignited a debate about the propriety of speaking ill of the dead.
I believe it’s high time to bury the quaint prohibition.
Can’t speak ill of the dead? Why the hell not?
I guess it makes sense if you’re afraid of ghosts.
But for someone like me, uncomfortable with confrontation, I can’t think of a better time to honestly address consensus flaws and shortcomings of a person than when they’re no longer around to punch me.
An extreme (true) example: Just last night we were engaged in a lively bar conversation about great war movies when talk turned to a notable World War II veteran.
“Now, that guy was really mean,” said one buddy.
Mean? Kids who steal lunch money are mean, I said. The guy he was talking about was satanic, pure evil.
I don’t think I was exaggerating because the vet was . . . Hitler!
This friend of mine was so well-raised by careful, fastidious parents he was hesitant to lay it all on the table about one of history’s worst monsters. Talk about polite.
(To be perfectly honest, his folks, may they rest in peace, must have been at least partial idiots. After all, their kid spends way too much time getting drunk with me).
I refuse to place any conversational shackles on any topic that might restrain my ceaseless urge to yap.
I speak ill of the dead, the living and often speculate what kind of unformed pre-natal moron a pregnant woman might be about to spring on the rest of us.
I’ve always been that way. But I learned the hard way years ago that candor often makes aggrieved people want to strike honest men like me in the face.
So now I find it prudent to just -- pssst! -- whisper my unflattering observations.
I try and always be truthful.
Unless I’m bored. Then I make stuff up.
Just the other day I told a jealous friend with a hair-trigger temper, “I hate to be the one to break this to you, but I caught Bert hitting on your wife last week at the bowling alley. He swore he’d deny it if you ever confronted him.”
It’s a despicable lie. His wife’s far too ugly for Bert or any other non-blind drunk to hit on, but the ensuing mayhem certainly had a way of demolishing the daily tedium and that’s my ultimate goal.
Really, talking ill of the dead should be a lively enterprise.
I’m thinking here of newspaper obits.
There’s no sensible reason death notices have to be so deadly dull.
They read like phone directories: “Frank died. Frank worked. Frank had kids. Frank had grandkids. Frank golfed. Say goodbye to Frank at McLaughlin & Sons Funeral Home today from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m.”
It practically kills me to read obituaries.
I could change all that overnight if one insightful publisher would give me free reign over what we in the newspaper business used to call the “dead beat.”
My honest obituaries would be more lively than the sports pages.
“Frank, a Latrobe boozehound, died of the massive heart attack his friends had been predicting since 2007. Married and divorced three times, he was an emotionally distant husband, was mocked for his Moe Howard haircut, and was known to area waitresses as the town’s worst tipper. He failed to pay child support to four children who are now dysfunctional adults nursing substance abuse problems of their own. He cheated at golf, sent annoying ALL CAPS e-mails and frequently drove in the passing lane with his left turn signal on. He worked at Kennametal.”
And that would just be the standard disquisition. God have pity on the sad soul who dies owing me more than $10.
Newspaper circulations would skyrocket, what once bored would magically entertain and, best of all, everyone would be on notice they’d better start behaving -- at least those who’ve been informed they only have six months to live.
We need to talk ill of the dead to help the living understand there are consequences to going through life mean, petty and stupid.
We need warts ‘n’ all death notices that really tell it like it is.
Yes, America needs “oBITCHuaries.”

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The real reason gay marriage is a bad idea


I am outraged by the recklessness of the New York state legislature. They have committed an obscenity against those of us who revere moral behavior.
Gays in New York are now allowed to legally marry. It’s disgraceful and ought to be reversed immediately.
Only then we can take steps to make traditional opposite sex marriage illegal.
Eliminating marriage would reduce domestic crime, unhappiness and render unemployable scores of leech-like divorce attorneys. It would slash exorbitant health care expenditures as men and women were given sexual incentive to stay fit throughout their lives.
People of all ages would be much more particular about diet and exercise if they knew something better could come along -- and they were within their rights to joyfully jump their bones.
More marriage?
America has too many marriages and not enough love.
The virtues of the same sex marriage argument obscures the fact that marriage between any two people who don’t enjoy bowling together is an historically bad idea.
People don’t need laws assisting them in getting together. Zoo creatures have more refined mating customs.
What we need are easier ways to pry us all apart.
A good start would be to outlaw binding marriage.
I just spent about an hour in the presence of a miserably married man who’s been betrothed to the same woman for nearly 30 years. They have two wonderful adult children, a comfortable living and peer respect of all who know them.
And they hate each other.
I’ve been shrewdly able to discern this because he told me, “She hates me. She thinks I’m lazy, I drink too much and never do anything around the house.”
For a moment I grew alarmed he was married to my wife. That’s straight from the pages of her script.
Then he resorted to one of the most telling indicators of a loveless marriage: spousal mimicry.
I’ve never seen marital love survive when one spouse becomes so consumed with hate that he or she turns Frank Caliendo in trying to portray just how awful their spouse has become.
No matter how lovely the woman, how mellifluous her voice, the mimic makes her sound like some hag parrot with a cracker caught in her throat.
“You’re a bum! You’re always burpin’ beer! You’re bald! Bald! Squawk! Squawk!”
If the two of them had not been so matrimonially shackled, he’d have probably said in a reasonable voice, “Yeah, the old lady and I are splitting up. We had a good run, two good kids, but the magic’s gone. Thirty years, that’s enough.”
Instead, the two will remain married and miserable. It’s a terribly sad situation for all involved.
Except for me, of course.
It just cracks me up to a see any guy get all bug-eyed and cartoon sounding whenever he wants to describe what his wife perceives are his shortcomings.
I wonder if his wife is somewhere adopting an ape-like demeanor to convey in guttural grunts what she sees as his flaws.
And these were two people once so madly in love they looked soulfully into each others’ eyes and said, “Honey, let’s get married! We’ll live happily ever after!”
My wife and I have been together since 1990. We dated for two years, lived together for four and have been married since 1996 (I think that adds up).
But as Augustus McCrae told the young cowboys in “Lonesome Dove,” “What’s good for me ain’t necessarily good for the weak-minded.”
I expect we’re in it for the long haul. We love each other, laugh together and still enjoy each other’s company.
Ours is a marital bliss that will endure forever.
It had better.
I don’t do imitations.
And I’m usually too lazy and too drunk to put together a really compelling puppet show.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What I think about when I think about Dolly Parton



So I’m driving down the road when I become consumed with thoughts of Dolly Parton’s sexuality.
It’s like she was constructed in a secret lab to inspire every boy’s first erection.
I’m not a breast man but, man, those breasts. I wonder if her cleavage is visible from the International Space Station.
I’m listening to a country radio station and she and Kenny Rogers are singing “Islands in the Stream,” an innocuous 1983 Bee Gees love ditty.
I wonder what’s going on in Rogers’s mind as he swaps verses with Parton. I’d bet $1 million I can guess.
What’s simultaneously going on in Dolly’s mind, I can’t begin to fathom, but we can probably rule out she’s thinking about doing to Rogers what Rogers is probably thinking about doing to her.
Rogers has been married five times and has fathered five children.
There’s no evidence that Dolly at 65 and for four decades one of the most sexual looking beings on the planet, has ever actually had sex. She’s reared no children or been linked to any illicit lovers in a scandal-free life spent entirely in the spotlight.
She’s married, or so we’re told, but there are endangered spotted owls more outgoing than Carl Thomas Dean, the man she wed in 1966.
Yet, every time I hear Parton sing, read something about her, or see her acting or yapping on TV, the very second thing I think is, “Wow, that Dolly Parton is still so cool.”
It’s true.
She’s just so cool.
“I don’t resent dumb blond jokes,” she says, “because I’m neither dumb nor blond.”
When Oprah asked her in 2003 if she’s ever had plastic surgery, she said, “If I have one more face lift, I’m going to have a beard.”
The first mammal ever cloned was born in 1996 and named Dolly in her honor (the sheep’s creators said Parton was the inspiration because the key cell was extracted from an ample mammary gland).
Parton’s response: “Hey, there’s no such thing as baaa-d publicity.”
She’s one of the most beloved people in entertainment. New York Magazine recently did a story about her and it was evident the jaded writer wanted very much to expose her in ways that had nothing to do with the ways Hugh Hefner’s tried in vain to expose her.
But the story couldn’t be more generous or flattering. It says she’s unfailingly kind. She treats everyone the same. She’s a joy to be around. She makes everyone feel better about themselves just by being in her orbit.
It made her sound in so many ways like Fred Rogers with 48-DD breasts.
She’s just 4-foot-11 but projects in ways more vast than a Macy’s Day float, all big and unnatural. Just the sight of her makes you want to stroll down Fifth Avenue with her on the end of a really long pole  -- and please don’t read more into that than there already is.
The announcer said Dolly -- the singer, not the sheep -- has a new album, “Better Day,” coming out this week.
I hope it does gangbusters. I just love Dolly. She’s a remarkable and uniquely American creation. Both Barbara Streisand and Jane Fonda are more critically acclaimed, but no one is more beloved and admired than the The Backwoods Barbie.
I’m thinking of all this after I’ve thought about the very first thing me and men like Kenny Rogers still think about when we first think about the ever-audacious Dolly.
They can clone sheep, but there’ll never be another just like Dolly.
No one will ever fill her shoes.
Not to mention her brassiere. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ark-building floats man's boat

Note: Computers actin' funny. Can't upload pic. Imagine an ark!

It was the middle of the night and Val awoke with a shudder.
What was wrong?
“I just had a terrible nightmare. Really scary. I remember a man standing in the corner of the room.”
Who was the man?
“I don’t remember.”
Well, was it Drew Carey? Jeff Probst?
“I don’t know. I remember trying to scream and being unable to. I was terrified.”
That’s too bad, I said. But if you’re going to continue to disturb me, I’m going to have to ask you to grab your pillow and head out to the couch. I need my sleep.
She wakes up every morning and is smacked in the face with the cold reality that she’s still married to me. What nightmare could be worse than that?
Just one, I guess.
She could wake up and tell me God spoke to her. Of course, that’s not her nightmare.
It’s mine.
It’s happening right now to some beleaguered spouse over in Holland. Her husband, Johan Huibers, a wealthy Dutch shipbuilder, said God told him to build an ark.
Those of you who attended Sunday school will recall this is not without precedent.
It happened with Noah, an ancient Hebrew shipbuilder.
Although Noah must have endured an enormous amount of pre-rain ridicule from the equivalent of snarky bloggers of the day, it all worked out well -- at least for those on board the boat.

Dreaming God tells you to do something would have a way of swamping an otherwise tranquil life like, uh, like, hmmm . . .
Can anyone think of a really good flood analogy?
Because if you believe in God, you really ought to do what the divine dream says you should do because, well, He’s God.
Once that’s established, you can kiss bowling nights goodbye. You work full-time on fulfilling the dream.
Biblical experts have praised Huibers’s Ark -- and that’s going to take some getting used to -- for its accuracy.
He spent months poring over some of the most arcane parts of the often arcane King James Bible to divine the exact measurements of the one detailed in the Book of Genesis; 30 cubits wide, 50 cubits high and 300 cubits long.
I’m unfamiliar with cubits and in my mind confuse the obscure measurement with croutons so right there my construction would be in trouble.
He’s planning on taking the ark up the Thames River in time for the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He didn’t say whether that was part of the dream or not.
But it makes sense. If you were going to start the human race over, you’d naturally want to start with really fit people whose physical attributes have been boosted by difficult-to-detect performance enhancing drugs.
Me, I had a nightmare where I was banging on the doors of Huibers’s ark as the waters rose above my nose.
I consider it a warning.
So now I’m going to do all I can to ingratiate myself with Huibers and see if he’ll grant me a crack at veto power over who or what else is destined for salvation.
Noah letting strains of offensive and obnoxious creatures -- snakes, stink bugs, Cub fans -- seems, in hindsight, like a manifest mistake.
I’d be a bit more picky.
And next time Val has an unsettling nightmare, she’d better keep it to herself.
I need my sleep. I’m going to be busy making lists just in case I have a say with Huibers.
And, fear not, readers of this blog get first dibs on bunks!
At least those of you who do not snore.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Insights on eyeballs


Saying a story in the New York Times “caught my eye” makes it sound like the headline reached out and snatched an eyeball right out of my head.
That’s never happened, but if diminishing eye function trends continue we may one day see strangers thanking one another for snagging their eyes moments before they rolled away into city sewers.
Pretty women will shy away from wearing eye-catching dresses for fear a stroll down the sidewalk would be like an afternoon being bullied at the paintball playground.
The story says American nearsightedness has jumped from 25 to 42 percent since the 1970s.
The reason?
Too much time spent indoors reading from artificial light.
As the writing son of an optician, I’m torn -- and not in any way requiring emergency room suturing.
I don’t want to do anything that will discourage people from reading, even if the way they’re reading eventually renders vital organs as useless as scrap appendix.
Researchers say ancestral eye sharpness developed in bright natural light -- and by natural light they mean sunshine.
I have to keep reminding myself of that because for nearly 30 years natural light to me has meant beer sign neon including ones that further confuse by saying, “Natural Light.”
They believe bright outdoor light helps developing eyes keep vision in focus. Artificial lighting doesn’t measure up.
It’s just one reason you don’t see many homeless people in Armani frames.
Ideally, people would take books, newspapers and (and blogs!) and read them outside in the glorious sunshine.
But where does that leave those of us in places like Pittsburgh? If we want to go outside and sit in the sunshine we usually have to get in our cars and drive to Myrtle Beach.
Plus, the story doesn’t differentiate between printed and illuminated words.
I suspect I’ll always prefer the printed word to slick e-versions. I still love the feel of books and hold them the way adolescent boys used to hold porn before it all creeped on-line, a setting I still maintain is too conversely sterile for acts that at heart are procreational.
Well, maybe every once in a while.
But our house up in the woods is so dark I can envision a day when I’d want an e-reader to take advantage of backlit screens and the ability to increase the type size.
It just seems like a wonderful convenience that would reduce eye strain in a place where lighting is dim enough to make the common Townend Big-Eared Bat squinty.
It may seem strange that a guy who’s spent his whole life shunning supervision would come out in favor of Super Vision, but I’ve always been alert to eye care.
The importance of taking care of my eyes was something that was drilled into me from a very young age -- and that’s just another expression and not some deal the optical department at Sears gave free to the kids of the employees.
I’ve worn glasses mostly since the eighth grade. As I scored them free, my collection rivaled Elton’s.
Sure, for a few vapid years I tried contacts for reasons of vanity. I thought I’d look sexier to women I was trying to date.
This didn’t seem to work, I guess, because the women I tried to date all seemed to have Super Vision. They’d take one look at me and see multiple flaws.
So I went back to big nerdy glasses that concealed more of my face and things began working out fine.
Now I fear the progression of nearsightedness is jeopardizing my plan to have 2020 declared “Year of the Visionary.”
Either way, I promise to keep an eye on the news.
If you see it rolling around down there, I’ll be grateful if you’ll pick it up and stick it back in my face.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mom's collapse nearly disrupts my day


I foresaw two ways Mom was going to die Sunday -- one natural/ the other violent -- in the parking lot of an Irwin convenience mart called Sheetz, a store that sells no sheets.

As previously noted, Mom is what I euphemistically say is “in decline.” In fact, she’s going to hell.
And I mean that purely in the physical sense. Spiritually, she’s heaven-bound, I’m sure. 
She deserves eternal bliss for 78-years of exuberance, warmth, innate love and an effervescent sense of humor that’s enriched so many lives.
I’ve been missing that woman for months.
She’d spent Saturday night with us in Latrobe. I was driving her home to Pittsburgh, an inconvience that would put a big dent in my Father’s Day.
Still, things always work out best for me. My buddy scored two free tickets to the Leon Russell show at the Pittsburgh Rib Fest.
He told me Russell would take the stage at 1 p.m. I figured I could drive Mom home and drop her off with a dear cousin. A true godsend, the 22-year-old is living with Mom while nannying a nearby family.
See, God’s always watching out for me.
My plan was to get her home and then stop by with my buddy for a few hours of ribs and blues and be home in time for dinner.
Mom rode along in stretches of silence looking nervous and hunted. She understands dementia is settling in and seems to think she’ll be able to duck it if she can just see it coming, like crossing the street to avoid a potential mugger.
But I can’t ride in silence and there’s stuff I’d still like to get on the record.
Do you believe in heaven, Mom?
“Yes. I don’t think it just ends with this. I think we’re together with family.”
Think you’ll see Dad in heaven?
“I think so. You know I can’t even remember him anymore. It was like another lifetime ago.”
He died in 2004. 
You don’t remember all the happy times you had together?
“I remember we used to socialize a lot.”
Where were you happiest?
“The house in Greentree.”
It was were my brother and I were born. We lived there five years.
Do you have happy memories from the house on Earlswood?
“I don’t remember that house.”
She lived there 30 years. It’s where she raised her sons. She doesn’t remember any of that.
I looked over at her and thought without any real emotion, Mom, it’s time for you to go.
She’s at a stage where many caretakers would be wondering if they’re doing enough.
I wonder if I do too much, which is next to nothing.
A front-line advocate of natural death, I don’t want to take her to see scores of specialists who’ll tinker with pharmaceuticals, neutralize her decline and add worthless months, maybe years, to a life that to me is looking spent.
It is time for Mom to go.
Well, from my lips to God’s ears.
She’d gone into the store to get a glass of ice while I pumped the gas. She came out staggering two minutes later.
She nearly collapsed atop a souped-up Impala with a skull decal on the rear window. It was in immaculate condition and looked like it was owned by a man who wouldn’t tolerate a dead bug on the fender, much less a dead granny.
I hustled over and gingerly pulled her off the car hood before the owner saw her offense and began tearing her apart. I sense motorists who put skull decals on their cars can be very picky about their vehicles.
She’d been struck by sudden light-headedness.
I put her in the car and reclined her seat. I asked if she wanted to go to the hospital. She said no.
At this point, many sons would have overruled mom and driven her straight to the emergency room.
Not me. I believe the only people who die in hospitals should be victims of multiple blunt force traumas. I’m very disdainful of providing excessive care to seniors who 50 years ago would have died quickly and peacefully at home.
Know what I did for her?
I reached out and with my right hand turned the radio station to the symphony channel.
This was not a trifling gesture.
Remember, Saturday was the day Clarence Clemons died. The Springsteen station on the satellite radio was rockin’ soulful tributes to a man I loved.
I think letting my Mom’s fragile condition dictate the music -- even as I checked to see if she was still breathing -- means I’m a good son. 
That’s just the way I think.
A lot of strange thoughts enter your head when you’re tooling down the Pennsylvania Turnpike with your mother who may or may not be dying in the passenger seat. 
She’s donating her body to science.
Days after she dies, hungover med students will be carving up her naked remains like a Thanksgiving turkey all in the name of pure anatomical research.
It creeps the hell out of me, but seems to eliminate any urgency about reporting her death, if she does, in fact, die around the Monroeville interchange.
I wonder if there’s a big night deposit box for bodies at one of the medical centers.
Or could I just leave her in the car for a few hours while I went and watched Leon Russell jam? Really, what would it matter?
Instead of dying that day, she snoozed and revived.
I never did see the old bluesman. My buddy had the time all wrong.
Russell didn’t come on until about 9 p.m. That means Mom would have had to stay in the car for more than eight hours.
Some busybody would have reported an elderly dead female in the parking lot. The cops would have been waiting for me.
A scandal would have ensued. I’d have taken a public opinion pounding.
A lot of people would have been outraged. They’d have said my decision making was criminal.
I staunchly disagree and am at peace with my actions. I’d testify I’d done all that could be expected from a son like me.
You see, Mom never really liked Springsteen all that much.