Monday, June 30, 2014

"Sing me a song, you're the bartender!"

I finished my third weekend of working at The Pond on Saturday so I guess this is as good a time as any to reveal some of the surprising things I’ve learned tending bar at a 60-year-old family tavern.

First, my friends all have full faces. I guess the reason I’m surprised by this is we’ve sat side-by-side in one long row of bar stools for so many years I never saw more than their profiles.

When I’m serving them drinks, I’m seeing them full on. It’s a bit unsettling. I never suspected any of them were two-faced, but I had no idea they were one-faced.

I told an old buddy of mine about the revelation.

“You think that’s surprising,” he said, “this is the first time any of us realized you were capable of real work.”

Secondly, I was surprised late Saturday night by how many sad and lonely people come into the bar to try in vain to drink their troubles away. It reminds me of the line from the 1991 U2 song, “Until the End of the World.”

“In my dream, I was drowning my sorrows, but my sorrows they learned to swim.”

It’s odd for me because I’ve always considered bars happy places. I think that’s because I’m prone to laughter and inebriation so a lively bar is my natural habitat.

But as the clocks ticked toward midnight on Saturday there was a lot of melancholy in the bar. Part of it, I suspect, was because Dave likes to listen to “The Bridge,” mellow adult contemporary classics by acts like “Bread,” “James Taylor” and “Seals and Croft.”

So if you’re prone to drunken introspection, hearing songs from 1979 that remind you of the night your prom date broke your heart and how it’s all been down hill since will only deepen your depression.
That meant Saturday turned me into Billy Joel on “The Piano Man.” Three people I barely knew felt compelled to unburden themselves on me whenever I stopped by the freshen up their drinks.

Ben ordered a dozen wings. The Pond’s wings are great. We talked about other wing spots. 

I told him how every winter me and Val like to take the kids up to Quaker Steak & Lube in Sharon, Pa., and spend the night in a nearby hotel. It’s just a great destination restaurant, a fun tradition and nice way to break up a dreary winter.

“I never had kids so I never got to enjoy a weekend like that. I was married once. But that bitch left me. I’ve never gotten over it. I don’t think I’ll ever be happy again. You’re a lucky man.”

Now, how the hell am I supposed to respond to that?

I can’t very well admit he’s right because that would be like rubbing the poor guy’s nose in it. I can’t disparage my family or tell him I know a lot of guys with big families who yearn to be single again.

Know what I said?

“Well, the Bucs are back above .500 and it’ll be about five months before we have to shovel any snow again, so you’ve got that going for you!”

Peggy is friendly enough, but a bit delusional about her appeal. She wants my job. She’s pestering Dave to hire her. Dave ignores her.

“If he hires me, I guarantee his business will go through the roof,” she tells me. “I’m a great bartender, people love me. I’m pretty and I’ve got great tits. And when I work a bar I wear really low-cut blouses. Drives the men wild.”

I don’t tell her that Dave doesn’t want wild men in his bar and that, really, there are usually about four or five guys who eat lunch there who have bigger tits than she does and nobody really cares.

She’s a lonely single woman and her looks are fading. I tell her, “Well, if Dave doesn’t hire you, I’m sure you’re going to find a great job where your talents will be appreciated the way you deserve and it’s all going to work out great.”

Ken thinks his wife is cheating on him. He knows he’s drinking too much, but the love’s gone out of his marriage and he can’t bring himself to care. 

“The only thing that really gets me is how much I’d miss my daughter. She’s 10 and it’d kill me if my wife takes her to Ohio to live with the boyfriend she goes to screw when she says she’s visiting her awful mother.”

I tell him he should go sit next to Peggy. He thinks I’m kidding.

Why these people think I have the answers is a mystery. To them, I’m just a bartender at a friendly neighborhood joint.

In fact, what I tell them all in essence is what I recommend for anyone who’s struggling.

I tell them they need to cheerfully persevere through every disappointment and hardship and that being happy isn’t as important as always trying to be happy. Happiness can be taken away. Always trying is what makes happy a habit.

And it’s good that there are places where people who are feeling blue can come and unload on strangers, places where there are friendlies who are at least willing to listen to anyone who feels they need to talk.

And that’s The Pond.

Always friendly. Always open.

Except from today through July 7 when we re-open after Dave’s annual summer hiatus.

So this week you’re all just screwed. 

Related . . .

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday encore: When breast implants are booby prizes

Sometimes it’s a reach for me to illustrate some of my posts with one tidy picture. But I try not to be too obvious. For instance, it would have been a cinch to snag a picture of huge boobs to bestow a picture on this one from 2009. Just a picture of a great big boob. Or a pair. But that would have been too obvious. Or, I guess, two obvious. So I used a picture of Bob Dylan because I mention Bob Dylan and I'm one of those guys who thinks you can never have too much Bob Dylan. I’m re-running this one today because the girl and her $8,000 breasts were in the bar last night. Nothing’s changed.

I pay no attention to either of the $4,000 boobs as they sashay into the bar, nor to the girl to whom they’ve been surgically attached.

As I’ve said before, I am not a boob man. I am an ass man.

And I drink in a bar with about a dozen other asses just like me.

But lots of the Regular Joes notice them, including one of the Regular Joes who’s sitting to my right and is conveniently named Joe.

“Oh, here she comes,” he says contemptuously. “Do you know he paid $8,000 to get her those breast implants? Can you believe it?”

No, I can’t believe it. It seems excessive, like ordering a new car with bigger, brighter headlights when the ones that come installed from the factory are sufficient in illuminating any darkened road.

And I’m confused by the etiquette of the gesture. How does that offer arise? Did he say he wouldn’t have anything to do with her unless she bumped up two or three cups?

I’d be hurt if my wife said I was deficient in a physical area and that she’d spend $8,000 to extend the length of my, say, nose.

The girl seems perfectly pleasant. I don’t know what would have been wrong with her old breasts. I doubt they were square or made funny corduroy noises when she was walking around bra-less.

In fact, the old breasts that the 50-something guy was concerned about probably weren’t even on this 30-something girl. They were probably on some ex-wife.

That’s fairly common. Many middle-aged men leave perfectly good wives for younger women who are bound to cause the same consternations that come with any matrimonial binding of the sexes.

I don’t see that happening to me. I love my wife and, besides, I wouldn’t want to have to go through explaining things like Bob Dylan to someone all over again.

But there’s no denying we live in a breast-obsessed society.

In truth, I’m always more interested in the guy who bought the breasts than the girl who’s accessorizing with them.

I have a lot of questions I’d like to ask him.

I’d like to know how you wrap breast implants that you intend to give as a gift. Do you put them both in the same box? Really, a box with one implant would likely spoil the surprise as to what’s in the second box, wouldn’t it?

And do you go in the operating room with the recipient during the installation? It would be like the reverse of being in the delivery room when your gal delivered twins.

But my observations lead me to believe he’s a tremendous jerk and I already have my quota of them in my life.

See, I’ve been a convivial person my whole life and I’ve always gone to all the places the other convivial people go. I’d never seen this guy before and now he and the $8,000 breasts are everywhere.

That would be fine, but he’s causing trouble in places where I seek sudsy serenity.

First I saw him being rude to a waitress at one local tavern. Already overwhelmed with customers, he summoned her by calling her name -- “Cara!” -- raising his glass and rattling the ice the way pet owners rattle keys to summon dawdling dogs.

To me, right there, that’s a hell-worthy sin -- and hell’s going to be mighty crowded if I ever get to decide who belongs there. Cara’s a professional. She’ll get there.

Then he went beyond the pale by coming into my home bar and stirring up trouble on a recent Friday afternoon. And it was all over a bar stool.

The breasts sat down in one where one guy’s wife had been sitting. A joke was made (it wasn’t even funny), then all of a sudden my Happy Hour turned into a wildlife special.

The breast buyer rose up like a fighting rooster -- cock, if you will -- and said the remark was an affront to his fair damsel.

The men had to be separated. It was all incredibly immature -- and that’s coming from a guy who sometimes wears big Wookie pajamas to work.

I kind of feel sorry for the girl, because now it looks like he owns more of her than just her $8,000 breasts.

All I can surmise is that they must have been having some kind of boob special the day she got hers.

He paid for two big ones and she wound up stuck with three.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fame & the night Bruce Willis & I owned the red carpet

I guess the idea came to me at about the Bridgeport exit of I-79 South, about 40 miles south of the Pennsylvania/West Virginia border.

I’d been trying to think of a way to conclude my speech to 250 WVU 4-H students so the film clip would make it appear I’d just given the greatest speech ever, something I knew I was incapable of doing on merit.

This was the biggest crowd I’d ever addressed and they were college students, a very demanding demographic in terms of entertainment. And I’m not yet a great public speaker.

So how did I get them to react the way I wanted?

I asked them nicely.

I did my usual conclusion and received a warm ovation.  But in mid-applause I held up my hand to silence the crowd and said, “I now want to ask you a favor. I’m taping this for promotional purposes. I want to film the greatest ending ever. So I’m going to do the last 30 seconds all over again and this time I want you to go out of your minds. I want you to pretend that I’m Oprah and I just promised you each a brand new car. So here goes …”

Here’s the clip.

Check it out. It’s pandemonium. And then I really ham it up. I bow, blow kisses to the audience and then take off to high five half the crowd. The camera loses me for about 20 seconds which will allow me to enjoy telling the lie that I went for a jiffy little crowd surf.

I swear, Oprah herself would be envious.

So would Bruce Willis.

I thought of him after I saw the clip because it was with him I’d previously felt such a surge of mass adulation.

It was June 1998, back when I was still doing lots of stuff with National Enquirer. My editor called and asked if I could scoot down to Baltimore where Planet Hollywood was opening a short-lived restaurant on the gorgeous Inner Harbor.

“We snagged an invitation to the opening party and we want you to go and just see if Bruce Willis does any misbehaving.”

I did very little celebrity reporting for them, sticking mostly to oddball features. But every once in a while they’d need me to eyeball a celebrity and I was happy to oblige.

That’s what happened in Baltimore. Hollywood insiders often play ball with the Enquirer for cash or favors.

I’m guessing what happened was some low-level staffer who had access to the guest list called the Enquirer and said I’ll sneak one of your guys in for maybe $500 or maybe $1,000. The Enquirer never flinched on lavishing bucks that might lead to story tips.

Besides Willis, whose band was playing, guests included Tara Reid, Shannon Dougherty, one or two of the godforsaken non-Alec Baldwin brothers.

And me.

The party was really a bit of a bore. What I remember most was when Willis was performing with his crappy little vanity band, he kept motioning for the girls in the audience — there were about 5,000 people there — to reveal their breasts. He did it nearly every tune from the five-song set.

If any did, I missed ‘em.

I suspect most of them refused because he was married to Demi Moore at the time and we all understood how important marriage was to a couple like Bruce and Demi and none of us wanted to see this devout family man subjected to any carnal temptation.

But what I’ll never forget was it somehow became my first — and probably only — experience on the red carpet.

I took my party invitation to the make-shift HQ and was told my invite said I was to go in through the front door. That meant the red carpet.

I said, no, there’s some mistake. I’m not a celebrity. I’m not even a Baldwin cousin.

“No, this is a VIP invitation. You go down the red carpet.”

And so I did. It was such an odd sensation. I was all by myself. There were thousands of people flanking the walk, each of them wondering who the hell I was, and me walking and waving like I’d seen all the A-listers do at the Academy Awards.

I was feeling the love people bestow on celebrities. The men were admiring and the girls were all smiling and come-on friendly. 

I understood I could have probably with very little effort snagged one of the more wanton young lovelies and taken her into the party with me. I’d have given her what would be one of her life’s greatest thrills — maybe two or three hours before giving her one if its most momentous disappointments.

What was odd was how comfortable I became as my 500-foot stroll continued.

As they were celebrating me, an unknown stranger, I was becoming before their eyes the celebrity they thought I must be.

Who knows what kind of egomaniac I’d have become if that Baltimore red carpet was a mile long?

As I approached the doors of the restaurant that would unceremoniously close within 39 months, I noticed a swag table loaded with special edition Planet Hollywood shirts for me and the celebrity guests. The sight led me to an impulsive act.

I ran over and grabbed an armful of shirts, raced back to the ropes, and started throwing them into the adoring crowds.

They went crazy! They were getting free shit from someone who might or might not be a celebrity!

I did it two more times before one of the handlers grabbed me by the arm and led me inside. I’d probably given away 25 shirts.

The recipients were ecstatic.

I’ll bet some of them said, “I don’t who the hell that guy is, but I’ll bet one day he’s going to be famous and then I can find out his name and always brag about the night he gave me a free t-shirt.”

I hope they still have that shirt.

Because I am famous. At least to 250 WVU students.

Oprah would be proud.

Related . . .

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bullies, my 'stache & insane reaction to my speech

Of the 100 or so questions asked of me by West Virginia University college students last week, two stand out.

One was how did I get my mustache to be so cool; the other was how do I get the bullies to stop tormenting a special needs girl.

This was at the school’s Jackson’s Mill retreat in Weston. I was asked to address 250 4-H students about how to pursue happiness as they go through life. They bought 250 books and paid me a 30-minute speaker’s fee so tidy it took my breath away.

And to think of all those times people offered to pay me just to shut the hell up.

It could not have gone better and at the conclusion the students rose from their seats and reacted like I was Oprah and I just announced they were all getting free cars.

They did this because that’s what I asked them to do. My address was being filmed and I wanted to post on YouTube an insane reaction. So I concluded the speech the way I always do and then told them I wanted to do the last 30 seconds all over again with as raucous a reaction as they could muster.

Right on cue, they went absolutely out of their minds. It was very funny and I ought to have the clip posted by tomorrow.

It’s something I’ll not soon forget.

I basked in the warm reaction as students came up to talk and thank me. One of the first was the guy with the peach fuzz.

“How do you get your mustache to grow like that?”

I’m getting so many compliments on my mustache these days I’m thinking of seeing if there’s a need for a mustache model. It’s full, gentlemanly, luscious and prosperous. It looks like it belongs on a much wiser man.

There are days when I bet my wife wishes she was married to my mustache instead of to me.

I asked the kid how old he was.

“I’m 20.”

“What you need to do is live another 25 years,” I said.

I told him my mustache was every bit as crappy as his from 1992 to about 2007. One of the keys, I said, for me was to grow a scraggly beard every winter. That frees you to let your mustache sprawl to an unsightliness it needs to flourish.

Then the only part of the ‘stache you should trim is the line right above the lip. This will give your lip the push-broom brush effect I think you’re seeking.

He thanked me and walked away.

I was blessed to touch many lives at the camp, but if it turns out I only helped one person then I hope it’s that kid. I know how important a great mustache can be to soulful happiness.

Oh, how I wish the advice I had for the special needs girl was nearly as coherent.

She came up all smiles and sweetness. She said she thought I was very funny and she had a question:

“I’m a special needs student and I have a friend who has Downs Syndrome. What can I say to get the bullies to stop being so mean to us?”

It was a question for which I was wholly unprepared.

I stammered a bit and said there will always be mean people and what she and her friend need to do was not let what they say bother them.

It was utterly feckless, I knew. She wanted something concrete, a silver bullet. She wanted some action she could take that transform souls.

In hindsight, I wish I’d have told her to tase them in the testicles.

That, I’m sure, would do the trick.

I guess there are laws against that, but there shouldn’t be.

I despise bullies and right then and there I wish I could have said I’d accompany her and her friend to the next time she was sure they’d be seeing the bullies. I’d give them a stern talking to and tell them that their meanness was wrong and they should change their ways.

I’d sell them crayon-signed copies of “Use All The Crayons!”

And if that didn’t work I’d tase them in the testicles.

I wish I’d had some pithy wisdom to impart, some insight that could ensure she and her friend would never be troubled by the cruel meanies again.

Maybe next time I’ll be more prepared. I doubt it.

I can only hope one day I’ll be even half the man my mustache has become.

Oh, and here's the link to the YouTube video of my stunt. Check it out. Funny!

Related . . .

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How I nearly quit after Day 3 of my new job

So I’d gone nearly 22 years without a single co-worker. How long did it take for me to get involved in a petty dispute that made me want to quit?

About 17 hours.

I guess I’m just not cut out to work with my fellow man.

The dispute was over a mistaken pizza topping abbreviation.

That an unwanted vegetable was the root cause of me nearly quitting will probably give you some idea why I never enlisted in the armed forces.

Friday was my third night and all the customers had been friendly and patient and my regard for Dave has only increased as he’s become my boss in addition to my landlord, friend and the man I rely on to provide soothing inebriation. In any capacity, he’s just one of the world’s greatest guys.

And I’m not just saying that just because I’ve slipped right back into my comfortable old habit of brown nosing the guy who signs my checks. 

The Pond is famous for its delicious pizza and about half of the bar orders on a busy Friday night involve pizza. This is good for me because I have experience working in pizza joints all through Pittsburgh South Hills so I was confident I could handle those aspects of taking orders.

So when Jeff ordered a 4-cut pepperoni to eat at the bar, here’s exactly what I wrote: “4-ct, pep, Jeff, @bar.”

Here’s what came back for Jeff at the bar about 10 minutes later: A 4-cut with green peppers.

Jeff’s a regular and a good guy. He’s not going to throw a fit over what is a rare mis-order, especially when there’s a new guy who’s responsible. 

So I take what to me is a 4-cut G.P. back to the kitchen and explain the error.

Well, it was like I was a transplant surgeon explaining to a father that — whoopsie-daisy! — we mistakenly inserted into your ailing daughter a third kidney where we were supposed to put in that new heart.

The cook was furious.

“The order said ‘pep!’ Why would you write ‘pep’ on an order for a pepperoni pizza?”

As I was unsure whether he was kidding or not and he was holding a long, sharp knife, I explained I wrote “pep” as a handy abbreviation for pepperoni.

His eyes got wide. “If someone wants pepperoni, you’re supposed to write ‘meat!’ ‘Pep’ is the abbreviation if someone wants green peppers!”

I said, “Okay . . .” and began slowly backing out of the kitchen.

I told Dave and he explained that’s the way it’s always been in The Pond, which has been around since 1954.

“It goes back to when you could only get four toppings, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and anchovies. Back then a common pizza order was written EBF, which stood for ‘Everything But Fish,’ which meant hold the anchovy.”

It was an interesting history lesson, but I wondered how today the cooks know to differentiate pepperoni from ham, bacon, sausage and other popular toppings that hail from the meat food group.

I went back into the kitchen about 10-minutes later to retrieve Jeff’s meat pizza and the cook was still seething. He explained it all to me again in the same insulting tone.

I told him, look, I get it. It’ll never happen again. I swear.

And it won’t. It’s now what I call a brain barnacle, something forever adhered to my cranium.

So when he brought it up a full week later that’s when I thought, f-this, I’m quitting.

And 25 years ago I surely would have. I can’t stand being talked to like that. But I realized that would be an immature reaction. The cook’s always been a friend and he’ll be so again when my brief stint as bartender concludes.

Plus I remember reading an old Arab proverb about how it’s a foolish Bedouin who sows discord in the tent where his lamb pilaf is prepared.

So I’m going to propose we have a little powwow about how we react to honest mistakes. I’m going to say we should discuss the need for mutual respect.

And because I still find it irresistible to needle anyone who’s really pissed me off, I’m going to suggest we call it a little pep talk.

Related . . .

Monday, June 23, 2014

World Cup teams should be religious fanatics

I think the World Cup would be more compelling if the teams were comprised of those who share extreme religious beliefs.

So instead of games like, say, Cameroon v. Brazil or Croatia v. Mexico, viewers would be treated to matches between Christians and Hindus and the Sikhs against the Fightin’ Scientologists.

I think athletic competitions between bitter enemies helps humanize those we reflexively hate for appearing or acting differently. And sovereign nations have many non-lethal ways to blow off competitive steam. Besides World Cup soccer, we have the Olympics; golf has the Ryder Cup, etc.

But with religion, the only way we have to settle the old my-God-is-better-than-your-God argument is on the battlefield.

And that is one busy battlefield. Throughout history, anyone with the temerity to worship differently is often forced to either change their beliefs or die for the sake of pilgrim purity.

That’s what’s so confusing about what’s happening in Iraq right now and for, I guess, the past 1,500 or so years.

The Shiites and Sunnis hate each other for reasons that remain elusive to my feeble comprehension.

I’ve read and forgotten many times over the source of the conflict, but if I were an international peacemaker, I’d say, “Look, you’re all Muslims. You all read the same Koran and worship the same Allah. And if we ever sat all the major religions together alphabetically, you’d all be in the same homeroom.

“Can’t you all just try and get along?”

It seems to me a religious World Cup might do the trick. Because they’d all be rooting for the same team — and for sporting purposes I’m not talking about Team Mohammed.

I thought about suggesting the teams be broken down along less ecumenical lines; that means splintering the major faiths into sects (like Sunnis and Shiites), but a broader approach might be more unifying. This would save having the Protestants going against the Catholics, which would be preposterous, at least to those too young or ignorant to remember what happened in Ireland from about 1967 through 1998. 

Some might argue population would be a determining factor in which countries succeed. Not necessarily. Tiny Uruguay won in 1950. That’d be like the Druids winning the Religious World Cup.

The organized religions would, I’m sure, be avid supporters of the idea because they’d know what a promotional bonanza they’d reap if their team won, especially since every single participant will boldly proclaim that they had God/Bismillah/Buddha/Zeus/etc. on their side.

I think, too, it would be informative.

Imagine a match that would include members of the Falun Gong gang from China. 

I’ve heard that one tenet of Falun Gong is the belief among some adherents that they are capable of achieving human levitation. That sounds cool until you realize the typical soccer ball obeys the laws of gravity and spends most of the time on the ground, several feet below the foot of your floating F.G. worshipper.

So simple levitation might be a disadvantage in soccer.

Imagine the interest if Falun Gong played a team comprised of members of the Wicca religion. They can fly, can’t they? Of course, they’d need a ruling to be allowed to take brooms on the pitch.

But my, what a fun game that would be to watch. It’d be like ESPN broadcasting one of those Quidditch matches from the Harry Potter books.

You’d have to think organizers would take great pains to ensure the Atheists didn’t play the Satan worshippers in one of the later rounds, a ratings draw that would be Super Bowl equivalent to Cincinnati playing Atlanta.

Of course, it’d be great for world religions if during that game a lightning storm struck the non-believers on the pitch and in the stands.

The best finale, of course, would be the Jews vs. the Muslims.

I always hate it when mayors of competing cities make those lame bets over things like bowls of chowder or Primanti sandwiches.

Imagine the stakes of a futbol match between the Jews and the Muslims?

Winner gets Palistine!

Sorry, but I won’t be rooting for the hometeam Christians. Many Christians are way too smug for my tastes and I can’t root for a team that will likely wind up being coached by Pat Robertson.

No, I’ll be rooting for the one religion that’s all about true peace and spirituality, the only religious team that’ll enter the tournament with what no one can deny will be real buzz.

Go Team Rastafarian!

Related . . .

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Use rice if phone drops in toilet

I can tell the mean season’s begun because all the area salt shakers are getting all riced up. That means we’re in for about two straight months of humidity that makes it feel like we’re all living inside one giant dog’s mouth.

I don’t remember salting up the rice when I was a kid, but I do remember humidity so oppressive it turned salt shakers into ketchup bottles; we’d have to pound on the sluggish bastards to get the desired seasoning.

But as much as I hate blanket humidity that simultaneously dampens my armpits as much as my spirits, I enjoy seeing rice in the salt.

It just seems like a neat little granular victory over Mother Nature and I always root for the underdog or in this case the under seed, rice being the seminal part of the monocot plant.

I’m not sure when we started putting moisture-absorbing rice in the salt, but I know it’s at least been a couple of years.

I found this out last night when Josie said I played a malicious rice-salt prank on her last year, one which I don’t remember.

“Yeah,” she said, “I asked you how come there’s rice in the salt and you told me to look on the bottom of the shaker. I turned it over and dumped a whole ton of salt on my hamburger.”

Why I don’t remember that is a mystery. It’s a good little prank, one you’d think I’d have blogged about as soon as I thought of it.

It’s one of those juvenile pranks many adult diners would fall for, like asking for the time from someone wearing a wrist watch while holding a cup of coffee in their left hand.


I read that rice accounts for one fifth of all the caloric intake of every human on the planet.

That seems high to me, but it must take into account densely populated Far East regions where people eat rice three meals a day the way we Westerners eat wings and pizza.

I probably eat one rice dish every week or so.

I make a great spicy New Orleans-style shrimp dish served over rice that’s a big hit with mostly the whole family, the exception being the 7 year old who — she turns 8 on Sunday — pouts till I give her a nutrition-free Pop Tart.

The trick for me with getting perfect rice is to put in a little more water than necessary and then sitting back and being sure not to rush the rice. Boil it and let it sit and never ever peak under the lid. Give it time and the rice will absorb all the water.

The heating is essential, too. You can’t in order to save time just take a spoonful of uncooked rice and wash it down with a glass of warm water, one of the few things I learned in college that stuck.

We were discussing the rice salt phenomenon at the bar the other day when several friends said rice is so absorbent it’s recommended that if you drop your phone in a toilet, you’re to retrieve it, remove the battery and set the phone in a bowl of rice.

It is said the rice will absorb the moisture and you’ll have a nice dry phone with just a slight hint of piquant pee residue.

I’m proud of my daughters, but as I make my journey through life it seems increasingly likely that my greatest achievement will be that I’ve never dropped my phone in the crapper.

It’s a good thing, too, because if I ever do my plan is to just flush repeatedly until the phone disappears.

I’ll not reach into any toilet — even a brand new one with the sanitary strip still on the seat — to retrieve a device I use mostly to order take-out food and check out the baseball scores.

It’s not like I’ll be abandoning Rachel McAdams’s secret phone number or some earnest death-bed message Mandela left me that I play at parties.

In fact, you could argue my phone stores so much crap that dropping it in a toilet is merely putting it where it’s belonged all along. 

And I don’t think my dignity would ever recover from the memory of me rolling up my sleeves and reaching elbow deep into the porcelain pond.

Guaranteed, I’d never floss again.

If I was really desperate, I guess I know some guys I could probably pay $20 to fish it out. 

If they were still skittish about the task I could share with them a secret I know about phones in toilets where the wouldn’t even have to reach into the toilet.

Just look for the instructions on the bottom.

Related . . .