Sunday, March 11, 2018

WWJD? Egg McMuffins for Latrobe's homeless!

I was succumbing to a morning need for fuel when my conscience was confronted with a WWJD moment.

These happen to me all the time, mostly in places where the risen Christ wouldn’t be caught dead, places like the drive-thru lane at the Route 30 McDonald’s.

Now, I know better than that. I know McDonald’s is unhealthy, its entire corporate premise is environmentally belligerent, and it owes its colossal origins to Ray Kroc, one of America’s most despicable scoundrels. (I highly recommend the ’17 Michael Keaton flick “The Founder”).


He’d breakfast at The Youngstown Grille! 

Locally-owned, friendly, affordable, generous portions and it’s all delicious. 

Jesus hasn’t been there (yet!) but Arnold Palmer used to go there all the time for French toast. So if you can’t get a Yelp! review from The King of Kings getting a posthumous one from The King will have to do.

But on some days I just want fast fuel and that means fast food. I get a Sausage Biscuit w/ cheese and a small Coke for $2.32. How they do it for so little is a wonder. I donate the 68-cent change to Ronald McDonald House because it’s what I believe Jesus would do.

So I pull in and that’s when I see Latrobe’s homeless man. I’m sure there are many more and having even one is a defeat for a community I’m proud to call home. But this gent is our most visible one.

He pushes a Giant Eagle grocery cart that contains what I assume are all his earthly belongings. He looks maybe 50, but who knows? Elements of this harsh winter may have pre-maturely aged him.

I don’t know what Jesus would do, but here’s what I did:

In addition to my usual order I had them throw in an Egg McMuffin that set me back another $2.79 for a total of $5.11 (the Golden Arches charity scored another 11 cents so I was feeling pretty good about my pious altruisms). 

So I clear the second window and see the guy is on the move. He’s pushing his cart toward Rt. 30.

I roll down my passenger side window and shout, “Hey, man, I have something for you!”

He turns to look then coldly ignores me. His rudeness has me wondering if he’s a former literary agent. That’s a common literary agent’s reaction to my offers. He continues pushing the cart toward the highway crossing.

And the chase is on!

I’m stuck at the red light watching him hump it up the hill on the driveway between Sharkey’s and the Walgreens. I pass him and pull into Walgreens parking lot. I park the car and get out with that steaming 410-calorie gut buster in my hand.

He sees me again and keeps on going. It’s like I’m dealing with a skittish cat.

“Hey, I thought you might like an Egg McMuffin,” I say. “It’s still hot. Should hit the spot.”

Nothing. He keeps on going.

Me, I surrender. I did what I thought was my best and I could not break through. He was unwilling to accept my charity. I get back in my car and drive away and as I do, I give him one last look. What I see surprises.

He’s beaming at me. Honest, he’s grinning like I would if he’d just handed me a McDonald’s sack stuffed with $100 bills.

It’s very odd. I spend most of the morning confused by the entire episode.

What would Jesus do?

I like to think He’d persuade the man to get in his 2007 Saturn Vue with 197,000 miles on it and drive him home where He’d nurture him to soulful health.

I’m tempted to do that very thing. If it works out, it would be the best thing I’d do in my entire life.

But Jesus never had to ask Himself WWVD?

I do.

What would Val or any spouse do if I showed up with a disheveled stranger? She barely tolerates the hours I spend with drinking buddies who have somewhere to go when the bartender yells last call.

So I ended up tossing the Egg McMuffin in the trash and left Latrobe’s most visible homeless man to fend for himself, and me wondering if my good intentions will make a positive difference in my Judgement Day fate.

I hate to see the sandwich go to waste, but I’m one of those guys who worries about saving his figure while still saving his soul.

Related …

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Tweets of the Month

Every time I think the Tweet well has gone dry, a burst of fresh creativity — at least by my sketchy standards — prevails. See, I try to post only the best, ones I think would be worthy of inclusion some future “Crayons!” volume. It’s just one of the ways I’m unpresidential. And I’m fine with that. So’s he, I’m sure.

Looking forward to Spring!

• Reports that many in America have come to accept mass shootings as the "new norm" have me wistfully missing the old Norm.

• We live in corrosive, often cruel times, but I'm grateful we don't live when the phrase, "There's more than one way to skin a cat," become part of the vernacular. I don't know of even one way to efficiently skin a cat.

• Given our rising levels of incivility coupled with our ever-decreasing intellects, the only thing we'll all agree on is sooner or later we're all with stupid.

• It was Robert Louis Stevenson who said, "There is no duty we so underrate as our duty to be happy." Clearly, RLS never spent a weekend in Athens, Ohio. 

• Every perfect parent understands the need to impart some daily imperfection lest their children grow up without someone to blame for their inevitable adult flaws.

• Next week at this time I'll again commence for the next 12 days my quadrennial use of terms like sow cow and Triple Lutz.

• In honor of preposterous NFL Super Bowl custom, my phone number in Roman numerals is DCCXXIV CMLXI MMDLVIII. Call me!

• Martial Law is when a nation's military imposes its will on citizens. Marsha Law is when the oldest daughter on Brady Bunch imposes hers.

• The next great fortune to be made will fall to the man or woman who can divine a way to convert all these fidget spinners into actual energy.

• How ironic is it that New Hampshire felons must make license plates that read LIVE FREE OR DIE while imprisoned?

• I wonder if in New England right now sports talk hosts are patiently explaining to irate callers why the Patriots should not consider benching Brady and firing Belichick.

• The electrifying success of the Space X rocket ship is all the more amazing when you realize the ship is made entirely of discarded popsicle sticks.

• Super Bowl will be more interesting when fans from losing city are compelled to go to work for fans of the winners.

• Most people who think they have the world on a string realize too late what they're really holding is a lit fuse.

• I wish the world could do peace and justice as well as we do ceremony and spectacle. #Olympics2018

• I wonder if clever HVAC men ever entertain themselves at conduit installations by asking, "Tubey or not tubey?”

• As parents, the fruit of our loins inevitably become the apples of our eyes even when they drive us bananas.

• Side effects involving 4-hour erections should more accurately be called front effects. 

• I was born unaware, but immediately began paying attention and soon caring about the world and its people which means I've spent my entire life bewildered & devoutly wishing I'd just been born satisfied being stupid.

• I wonder if Biblical partisans complained about the blatant nepotism when God chose His only Son to be Savior.

• In America's tedious gun violence debate, the only thing that changes are the names on the tombstones.

• The future of mankind will be brighter when its history is graced by more kind men. And women!

• Any man who says he's his own worst critic is either delusional or unmarried. 

• Your life will be more fun if you don't judge new friends on their virtues, but instead on their potential as compatible cellmates.

• Anytime you hear of anyone dying suddenly, it ought to reinforce the need to ALWAYS be living suddenly.

• Honesty without tact is like brain surgery without anesthesia. The procedure might work, but the complications can kill.

• I dreamt a charismatic bald man put his arm around me and whispered in my ear, "Come with me. You belong with us. Stop fighting your nature." I thought he was trying to change my sexual orientation. Then I woke up and realized I was dreaming about Curly and the Three Stooges.

• Daughter, 11, asked what I'd be doing today. Me: "Sitting all alone in a small still room screaming for attention." That's writing.

• I’m eager to find a website that archives audios of all mankind's greatest speeches, but said in the voice of Elmer Fudd. Yes, I have a dweam!

• If get to heaven before you, I promise to spend all my time stringing tacky party lights so heaven will feel more festive.

• It infuriates me when I realize I'm 55 and my idea of a really great day is one that involves me finding a quarter.

• Who’ll be the next player to enter the MLB Hall of Fame as a Pittsburgh Pirate and has he or she been born yet?

• My "Use All The Crayons!" talk last week at Greensburg Country Club was a raging success. Sold 28 books to 70 lovely ladies. Left with a bag full of money feeling like I'd robbed a bank. Please get in touch if you want me to speak to your group.

• The only thing that could make curling more oddly compelling is if were contested on a deep lake atop thin ice.

• Navajo Tribe tradition meant no child could be given a name until he or she enjoyed their first authentic burst of spontaneous laughter. Just dealt with a 50-something grocery clerk who, I swear if she were Navajo would be wearing a blank name tag.

• Grammarians rejoice! Due to unusual confluence of current events and Olympic punishments, this is the first time Russians can meddle, but not medal.

• If a diplomatic rooster tries to avert a cock fight is it fair to call him chicken? 

• Avid spankers are the only people on earth whose ambition involves repeatedly hitting bottom.

• The best prosthetic salesmen and women are blessed with disarming personalities.

• Like the pessimist, the optimist is dead wrong about 50 percent of the time. The difference? The optimist is cheerful 100 percent of the time.

• Trump boldly contends he'd walk unarmed and without fear into gunfire. His porn star girlfriend says he's too afraid of sharks to put his toes in the ocean.

Related …

Friday, February 16, 2018

In '89 I was auctioned off as one of area's most eligible bachelors

It was during our annual family viewing of “Groundhog Day” that I shared a recollection I’d for unfathomable reasons long concealed. It was during the giddy scene near the end where Bill Murray’s “Phil Connors” character shows just how rewarding life can be when we devote our days to pure altruism.

He saves a man from choking. He bestows newlyweds with Wrestlemania tickets. He delights an audience with his musical virtuosity. He becomes universally beloved.

And the Punxsy women find him irresistible.

He is the star of the local bachelor auction. The women go wild for him. A bidding war erupts.

I don’t know why I never brought it up before, but as the bids kept going higher and higher, I piped up, “Boy, does that bring back some memories.”

The 17 year old snagged the bait: “Wait, you were in a bachelor auction?”

Indeed, I was. For about 90 minutes back in 1989, the tuxedoed me was considered one of the most eligible men in all Westmoreland County.

The particulars of how it all came about are fuzzy as is, well, any sober recollection of 1989. I know the other eligibles included doctors, lawyers, philanthropists and other regional muckety-mucks.

That in hindsight makes me proud because it meant I was chosen purely for looks and personality. Because what young debutante even then thought spending time with a young guy who covered local municipal authority meetings was a good way to secure a solid future?

The girls grilled me with questions. They wanted to know all about it. Were there a lot of bids? How much did I go for? Who won the bid — and there was some stinging remarks about what “winning” me meant.

It was some charity event held in the ballroom of the old Greensburg Sheraton. About 200 women were there to bid. As part of my package, I’d promised the high bidder I’d spring for a fine dinner on Pittsburgh’s scenic Mt. Washington followed by a dance party cruise on the Gateway Clipper. 

The bidding started at $25. I remember strolling around the stage and smiling and pointing at each bidder, which did nothing to excite the crowd.

I was prepared for this eventuality. So I strolled to center stage and reached my hands down below the waist of my tux pants. You may think I did something salacious. I did not.

I didn’t pull my pants down.

I pulled them up.

I was wearing a pair of lush red socks that went way up the legs.

And the women went wild!

Who knew I could excite more women by pulling my pants up than I ever could by stripping them off?

“Do I hear $50? $75? $100? $150?”

In the end, I went for $225, a bit more than a buck-a-pound or about what was then the going price for ground sirloin down at the Giant Eagle.

The winning bidder was a pretty summer intern, a striking red head, who worked with me at the Trib. I was later told several of the women who worked at the paper had contributed to her winning bid, which was very sweet of them.

Interestingly, this was before I met the woman who’d become my wife began working there and we commenced a primal hook-up that’s endured nearly three decades. 

I tell you, when it came to collegial canoodling that newspaper back then was thick with sin.

It was left to Val, of course, to ask the pregnant question that hung over the whole story.

“Well,” she said, “did you get lucky?”

“No, I did not,” I truthfully said.

But I like to think the intern did.

Related …

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Hip questions on Tom Petty death report

News that the great Tom Petty died from an accidental overdose closes the book for many who are satisfied that this answers all the relevant questions. Petty, 66, was self-medicating to alleviate chronic pain resulting from a broken hip.

So that’s that, right?

Wrong. I’m restless over what to me is the key unresolved question.

How did Tom Petty break a hip? I can’t find it anywhere.

What happened? Did he fall off a ladder? Slip on a spill in Aisle 6? For heaven’s sake, was Tom Petty out shoveling snow?

Each of those scenarios nearly befell me in recent years, scrapes that led me to after sticking the landing think, “Whew, that was close. I could have broken a hip. Oh, well. Better me than Tom Petty.”

At the time of his October 2 death, it was reported Petty was worth $95 million. He could have afforded a squad of guys whose round-the-clock job description was KEEP TOM PETTY FROM BREAKING A HIP!

He was such a national treasure he should have been encased in bubble wrap and moved in armored cars on a continuous loop from home to stage to studio. Keeping him safe should have been codified in any national health care plan

I wonder if we’ll ever learn how it happened.

My Thanksgiving dinner prayer included all the graceful staples about lost loved ones, culinary blessings and that the Almighty would lend a holy hand on climate change since it was looking like we’d do nothing at all, but the conclusion was more personal.

“ … and please tell Tom Petty how much we miss him.”


I really do miss him. I’m normally immune to grieving over the deaths of men and women I’ve never met. I think it was different for so many of us with Petty. It felt like losing a brilliant friend. Someone we counted on for most of our lives was gone.

And it was all because of a broken hip. Such a shame.

I always thought Petty had plenty hip to spare.

Related …

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A covfefe of January's best tweets

Follow me at 8days2Amish! Or don’t.

Either way, I hope you’re all ready for the Big Day. Yes, only two shopping days till Groundhog’s Day! Punxsutawney, here we come! Or not.

Have a great day!

• Astronomers calculate earth is 93,000,000 miles from sun. I stepped outside today and, I swear, it felt more like 93,000,002.

• You shouldn't be allowed to demand U.S. impose order around the globe until you can prove you can impose order on your own family.

• Trump’s repeated declarations that "deep state" is out to get him lead me to believe he runs the shallow state.

• I vow to continue saying 'Happy New Year!' right up thru July 5 when it'll become seasonally appropriate to resume saying "Merry Christmas!”

• I wonder if any of the fabled explorers ever considered naming a prominence "Moot Point" but decided the gesture would be meaningless.

• We have blankets of snow and sheets of ice. Anyone know where I can find a good slush pillow?

• So Oprah may run for prez. Has anyone bothered to ask her her party affiliation? I mean, yeah, she's wealthy, but that doesn't necessarily mean she's GOP. Right?

• I have to think giraffe parents take it far more seriously than human counterparts when they catch giraffe teenagers necking.

• The Stooges are to comedy what porn is to drama: it's still satisfying even when the plot's a little thin.

• That twilight -- a halfway point of solar illumination -- is one of my favorite words compels me to use "twi" prefix more. "I got twidrunk last night but the missus became twihomicidal when I told her I was feelin' twihorny.”

• I don't flirt with disaster. I slip something in its drink, say "Cheers!" and shove my tongue down its throat.

• The cumulative weight of the '78 Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers starting offensive line was 1,277 pounds. The five starters in those same positions today weigh 1,604 pounds. Somewhere in this calculation is a solution to world hunger.

• For many, the advent of social media means our greatest fear is no longer death. It is the fear of appearing too ordinary.

• People say "not a snowball’s chance in hell,” like they know forecast. In my hell, there will be tons of snow.

• The seemingly simple act of driving to the store for bread, milk and toilet paper would be much less stressful if only I could have the roads all to myself.

• I have read that tribes native to Arctic climes have 47 words to describe snow. I have just as many to describe farts.

• If Monica Lewinsky was a consenting adult then I guess that makes porn star Stormy Davis a really, really consenting adult.

• World will be a better place when all those scheming to find the means to an end instead worked on finding an end to the means.

• Anyone who aspires to teach the whole world to sing in perfect harmony has never spent a minute at a karaoke bar after 10 p.m. 

• It’s been 2 months. Which do you think Matt's missing more? The carefree cooking segments or all that predatory sex?

• One of the things I most admire about dogs is they never pause to read a nutrition label.

• Perfect casting: Nicest guy in Hollywood (Tom Hanks) to play the nicest guy in the world (Fred Rogers).

• Beer drinkers who believe their bladders are half empty should be called pissimists.

• The name Ivanka Trump sounds like a punchline to one of the prank calls Bart makes to Moe on "The Simpsons.”

• There are 310 million people in America. That means a million-to-one-shot happens 310 times every day. Maybe today 1 will happen to you

• On the recommendation of friends, I just finished reading autobiographies of Bruce Springsteen & Ray Davies, two of my favorite rockers. Both men, composers of so much joyful music, have spent long stretches of their lives depressed. Maybe they should read my book.

• We live in corrosive, often cruel times, but I'm grateful we don't live when the phrase, "There's more than one way to skin a cat," become part of the vernacular. I don't know of even one way to efficiently skin a cat.  

Related …