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Monday, October 31, 2011

A Note to the Facilities Department of an Anonymous Fortune 500 Company...

TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 2010

To: Facilities From: Jerry Ford: Subject: Men’s Restroom, ****

To Whom It May Concern:

First of all, I would like to thank you for the prompt response to my letter of the 15th regarding the stagnant water pool near the smoking area by the volleyball courts. As you know, this could be an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes and other bloodthirsty parasites that could possibly trigger an epidemic of West Nile Virus, or Valley Fever, which could actually decimate the smokers and their ilk quicker and even more efficiently than the aggressive cancers which will inevitably ravage their
voiceboxes and lungs, but I digress. Dumping 7 metric tons of kitty litter into the swamp was genius, although now we seem to have created a quagmire of quicksand that may prove dangerous in its stead. What toll this will take on the smokers only time will tell, but I call it a worthwhile and equitable tradeoff.

Also, the cleverly placed wasp-nest you jokesters attached to the underside of my desk was quite the folly. I suppose this was an affectionate practical joke to let me know that you appreciate my humble letters suggesting minor (but logical!)improvements to our building and grounds. Who would have known that such a small nest could hold so many wasps?! And on a side-note, I might have never discovered my allergy to wasp-stings were it not for your little prank. Anyhow, once the fog of pesticide had cleared and the emergency medical personnel had gone, and the talented backwoods gentleman in the fancy bee-keeper outfit had safely removed the nest, we
had quite the chuckle here in Learning and Development.

However, regarding the bathroom here at the home building: I was mildly chagrined to find that both of the motion-sensor paper-towel dispensers had stopped working after washing my hands yesterday, leaving myself and any other unfortunate users with no other recourse than waving our hands about like Al Jolson in blackface and wiping them on our trousers to get them dry. Now, I am a fan of technology as much as any other – in fact, I believe that once I get past the inconvenient habit of leaving my IPod, cellphone and any other miniature technological gizmo in my pants pocket and running them unmercifully through the laundry every other month, I will truly become a diehard fan.

But technology aside, does it not make sense to save money by forgoing the state of the art, motion sensors in favor of a reliable one with a hand crank? It’s not like I’m asking to return to hand-churned ice cream, though that would be a delight, or
silent films, I simply want to feel secure in the knowledge that I can wash my hands and saunter over to a paper towel machine and find a paper towel hanging there, instead of hermetically sealed inside the opaque machinery like the Goddamn Declaration of Independence. A side note: Beating the machine did little good; it only sprayed the water from my clean, clenched fists around the bathroom like a lawn sprinkler.

I know that there are some that will argue that the motion sensors prevent the spread of germs that can spread disease and famine and world hunger, but I beg to argue with these sissified morons that my hands are fucking clean when Iapproach the towel dispenser. In fact, that’s why I approached the dispenser in the first place – I just got done WASHING MY FUCKING HANDS. So hold your germophobic water until you get home and dry your hands on the nice “clean” linen towel on which your goddamned inbred, retarded syphilitic son probably wiped a booger from one of his six-fingered hands when he got done rubbing one out on your bathmat. That’s right, Lord Fauntleroy, play it safe.

I don’t mean to sound like sour grapes or anything – I just want to dry my hands on something other than my britches. I knowwhat goes on down there and that’s three weeks of sick days just waiting to happen.

As always, if there is anything I can do to assist, do not hesitate to let me know.

Regards, Jerry Ford

A Note to the Cafeteria of an Anonymous Fortune

MONDAY, MAY 3, 2010

To Whom It May Concern,

I was visiting the cafeteria today and noticed with glee the shiny new condiment dispensers. Brightly colored and clearly labeled, I see we are now offering – for free – portion-cup sized dollops of our favorites: ketchup, mustard, mayo, barbecue sauce and sweet relish. Although the color of the ketchup and barbecue sauce dispensers are a little too close for my personal comfort (I would hate to approach the inevitably popular area in a rush and reach through the crowd and mistakenly squirt my beloved French fries with a blast of barbecue sauce instead of ketchup - that would truly be a tragedy, especially given the time and cost it would take me to order another helping of the deep fried goodness), I agree with your thinking that it would probably take a true idiot to make such a mistake, especially with the colorful dispensers being so clearly labeled and all, but I digress. While nearly giddy with excitement over the bright, shiny new dispensers, by the time I got back to my desk with my banana, for which I had paid a dollar and seven cents, I realized that the surface beauty of the dispensers and my impulsive love for anything new and shiny and brightly colored had been dulled a bit by the excessive price of the tropical Musaceae. I usually stopped by Circle K and bought a banana for 20 cents. I was vexed. Perhaps a better plan to grab customers might be in order.

And I am pleased to help.

It seems to me, that the purchase of five condiment dispensers may have been a bit over-optimistic, if not foolhardy. I can understand ketchup and mustard and for the most part mayonnaise, although many might balk at the idea of a gallon of mayonnaise sitting out at room temperature all day. Not myself, for I come from a long line of drunken, bleary Irish who would eat most anything slopped on a plate and usually mistake spoilt mayonnaise for Miracle Whip. But sweet relish – really? A gallon? I thought back to how often we serve hot dogs and could only recall twice in recent memory, and both of those times being vendor-sponsored events, where packets were
probably easily procured and paid for by those sponsoring the event. Since a case usually comes with a minimum of six million of these packets and by my estimate only about 2% of the living population even considers sweet relish outside a ballpark, a case of sweet relish should last approximately 75 years. And I could think of no other single food item on which sweet relish isused. No need for the dispenser.

And barbecue sauce, while tasty, probably does not deserve a gallon dispenser of its own, just as it does not deserve any more than a sentence to note its worthlessness.

And upon further rumination, I recalled that the tortillas used in the quesadillas had seemed to decrease in size from the standard 10” to something resembling an 8” substitute – of course, this is only an estimate and my sense of measurement and in particular length are somewhat skewed, according to women I have dated. But the tortillas are smaller nonetheless, even by my myopic standards. Is this really how you want to save on food-cost, by cutting back on quesadilla size? It is an affront to fiestas everywhere. Here’s an idea: Cut the price per ounce on the self-serve salad and make up the money on the amount of lettuce you will sell over that which you throw away at the end of the day. I feel I can safely speak on behalf of my teammates when I say “NO!” to the eight dollar self-serve salad. It only makes us bitter and resentful for trying to be healthy. And stop catering to the weak. Ordering special items for those with intolerances and allergies to peanuts and wheat and fun and humor and latex will only cost you money and eventually a lawsuit. Don’t worry about them, they will either bring their own chow, or mercifully die.

I guess what I’m saying is “Keep it simple, folks”. Give me a greasy burger and some fries, with ketchup, or some pasta or a few tacos when I have a hangover – I don’t need Chicken Kiev, or Marsala, or Piccata or Cacciatore or any of that fancy stuff, nor do I need colorful dispensers for my Miracle Whip. Then maybe we can keep up with Circle K when it comes to the banana-thing. And we want Monster drinks and chewing gum again. And low-cut outfits for the ladies.

Thanks for listening.

(Originally Posted May 3, 2010)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Previous Letter to Facilities of an Anonymous Fortune 500 Company...

To: Facilities
December, 2009
From: Jerry Ford

Subject: Men's Restroom, *** Street

To Whom It May Concern:

I happened to be using the restroom next to the break room at *** Street this morning and wanted to bring something to your attention.

Now, let it be stated that I am not one to saddle anyone with useless work - we used to call it "busy-work" - in fact, I am of the firm and unshakeable belief that if one does their work in a competent and reliable fashion that they should be rewarded with a shorter work week, a pay raise, a puppy at Christmas and a picnic at Easter as a reward for their competence and foresight, but I digress.

I was tending to my business at the urinal, planning out my next two hours at work, wondering what was on the lunch menu and contemplating the spread for the Superbowl. All the while, I was musing to myself over the competency and reliability of my own workmanship as well as what type of puppy the holiday was certain to bring, when there was a sudden "WHOOSH" sound, followed by a stinging in my eyes and throat and a horrible flashback to a mace mishap at a frat party in 1981.

I screamed and backed away from the urinal, my hands instinctively flying to my eyes, unwittingly ruining my shoes and providing extra cleanup duty for the 11am cleanup crew. I cursed, once I had regained my speech and most of my eyesight and saw, much to my surprise, a battery-powered, time-released air-freshener that had apparently been installed to freshon the air around the urinals in a toxic cloud of citrus-scented Zyklon B.

Installed at head-level above the urinals.

This seems to lack foresight.

Perhaps, instead of hanging the "freshener" above the urinals and aiming the deadly mist at users' eyeballs, we should think about re-installing them across from the stalls, where the really serious odors are generated. After all, while it is indeed funny to imagine people screaming and spraying the floors while pawing ineffectively at their eyes and creating, in essence, their own little mini-biohazard, it seems likely that the cycle of bad karma set into motion would far outweigh the actual joy over the implementation of the prank.

And all the while, the methane gas on the other side of the restroom remains unchecked and the most likely cause of the strange smells and random fire-alarms that plague our building.

Once again, I don't wish to create extra work for anyone and am all in favor of a good joke. In fact, I laugh at the Three Stooges every time Shemp gets his head stuck in a steam iron. I simply want to make certain that our safe work environment is maintained and policed at every level.

If there is anything I can do to assist in this matter, please do not hesitate to let me know.


Jerry Ford

(Originally published June 17, 2010)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wives - Doing the Math...

I am clearly not the voice of reason when it comes to marriage. My first two trips down the aisle ended in divorce, my third has lasted the longest, but the reason for the longevity of this relationship may be due in part to the fact that the spouse has been in a different country for all but a few weeks of the marriage, which is perfect, really. I can eat when I want to, watch sports on TV and leave the seat up if I am so inclined. I can travel there for occasional maintenence and hightail it back to the comfort of the man-cave when the conversation wanes. On the downside, I have to do my own cooking and laundry - seems a fair trade.

That said, I saw an article about the fact that there are so few women in certain parts of India that men have to sometimes share their wives with their brothers... Or whomever. In my opinion, it seems like bad planning when you eliminate pregnancies when they are found to be of female gender. That's easy math - a couple of generations of that sort of backward thinking and you find yourself taking deli-numbers for a few minutes of procreational hoo-ha with the three lucky gals on the block. Clearly not thinking ahead, the Indians.

Compare this to the glut of women in the camp of Warren Jeffs, the old-school Mormon fellow who took it upon himself to form his own town where the wives were plentiful enough that each man could have his share and more. This sounds like a better scenario than not having enough women, if you want my two cents. You can sleep with a different gal every night, your house would damned clean if you had six or seven wives helping with the upkeep and dinner would probably be a smorgasboard of delight. On the other hand, you would have to listen to a constant cacophony of yammering and in-house cat-fighting and those gals probably don't like the sexy underthings. Or the religion probably doesn't. I don't know for certain, but I'm guessing someone is putting the kibosh on the lacy undergarments. That's how it works - we'll have a few wives, but we'll dress them like Laura Ingalls so no one realizes we're being gluttons...

There has to be some sort of happy medium here - granted, having one wife can get tiresome, even if she's living in another country - but having to share one with family just doesn't feel right to me. What if someone in your little ring around the rosy passes along a dose of clap or some crabs - I'm thinking that makes for a tough Thanksgiving dinner, with everyone glaring at each othor over the cranberry sauce. If I open a Christmas gift from my brother and find a tube of cream for pubic-lice, there is going to be a fracas. A big fracas.

Having multiple wives, on the other hands, seems like overkill to me. If you think one woman talking during the basketball game is a pain in the ass, try having six of them pulling at your pantleg - literally and figuratively - every minute of the day. On the plus side, I'd probably be filthy rich, because I would never come home from work until at least half the spouses were sound asleep. The other three would, of course, be busy keeping my dinner warm...

I do have a solution for this gross mismanagement of the marital blueprint. I think either the Mormon folks should go live in these Indian villages or the Indians should come and settle down with the Mormons. Some kind of system could be worked out wherein the wives are distributed in an equitable fashion - perhaps it could be like a fantasy football draft or something - and a firm guideline for future dissemanation of the females should be put into place immediately. We are definitely not letting the Indians run this one - the last time they tried to manage the female offspring was obviously a royal disaster.

I welcome your thoughts - in the meantime, I will continue to stay on the straight and narrow, mining the single-wife situation the best I can. It seems really easy - especially with her being in another country and all. Try it. Or move to India or Utah - whichever suits your needs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monsters - The Skinny

I have been watching a television show on legendary monsters, which only makes me further doubt my ability to manage my time in a responsible fashion. I could be watching the news, learning about the folks who want to take over Wall Street, or about the nuts and bolts of how our nation has gone into the shitter or whether our current choice for the Presidential Punching Bag is good or bad. I could be discovering a cure for cancer, finding a means, illegal or otherwise, to get my wife back into the country, or reading a good book. Instead, I'm watching a melodramatic documentary on the non-existence of the Loch Ness Monster, The Yeti, Sasquatch, werewolves and vampires. The fact that I already know these things do not exist does not dissuade me from watching this fiddle-faddle. In fact, it makes it easier, since I don't have to burn a lot of calories following along and trying to come to a logical conclusion.

On the other hand, every documentary I watch concerning ancient aliens being the brains behind the great pyramids, crop circles, giant drawings of wildlife only visible from the air - not to mention the Mayan timetable and Antikythera mechanism only serve to make me more convinced that we are being endlessly hounded by creatures from another world. What an irony it would be if the unidentifiable other-worldly beings behind these enduring mysteries turned out to be vampires, werewolves or really smart Yetis.

The difference between aliens from another planet and these mysterious creatures of lore is the fact that aliens have the ability to disappear - they simply hop in their space-mobiles and head out. Vampires, werewolves, Yetis, Bigfoot and Nessy do not have this luxury - they are forced to die among us. And the fact that we have never found a bone, dwelling, carcass or piece of scat from any of these creatures should close the book on the matter. The fact that most of the photos, grainy video and eyewitness accounts have proven to be bullshit should further poo-poo the existence of these monstuary icons. The same cannot be said of the aliens, however. It's like believing in God - you can't prove He exists, but you can't prove He doesn't. That said, I've seen a UFO and I have yet to have an encounter with anything even remotely resembling a messenger from The Lord. Unless you count a gal I once met in the parking lot of a Denny's in 1987. She was heavenly, but no angel...

I digress. If you have been paying attention, you may have noticed that I have not mentioned the Frankenstein Monster. I doubt that Mary Shelley was writing an accurate expose on the creation of a man-made monster, but the fact that we haven't seen this one come to fruition at this point does not mean that it won't one day. We are cloning sheep and rats and it won't be long until we clone a monkey, then at some point, a human baby... Frankenstein's Monster may one day walk among us - the fun comes when we find out if it's been cloned from Mother Teresa or Hannibal Lector.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Yapper Zapper - Pure Genius

I knew it was only a matter of time before someone figured out a way for the everyman to block cell-phone signals via some sort of high-tech gizmo. Well, let me introduce The Yapper Zapper. For a hundred dollars or so, you can buy one of these pocket-sized contraptions and effectively kill all cell phones within a thirty foot radius with the press of a button. For me personally, this is a Godsend. At the risk of sounding like the grumpy old man telling the neighbor kids to stay the hell off his lawn, there is nothing more irritating than trying to carry on a conversation with someone who is staring at their Smartphone as if it is spitting out real-time data on the location of the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Granted, my conversational abilities may be lacking in substance, humor or importance, but that still doesn't mean a person should go back to his game of "Angry Bird" or checking his status on Facebook. And I am guilty of this as well, since I find most peoples' conversational abilities lacking even more than my own. It's a vicious circle of ambivilence and attention deficit disorder. We all need a good slap on the hand - or electrical shock - when we go into "phone-mode".

I believe that all automobiles should be equipped with such a device, with an override switch in case of emergency. The switch will, however, be located inconveniently in the trunk and inoperable unless the car is not running. Enough with the texting and chatting while you drive, people. We drive poorly enough without compounding the problem trying to figure out which button puts the dashes in "nasty-assed clap-trap" while negotiating a freeway cloverleaf. And I know - I've typed this phrase while driving on a cloverleaf and it is totally unsafe.

Restaurants, supermarket check-out lanes and all bank, fast-food outlet and liquor store drive-thrus should be similarly equipped. Don't waste my time yammering on your phone in the drive-thru when I need to buy a quart of Thunderbird and three Mickey's Big Mouths. Just sayin'.

The irony is that this beautiful little invention is illegal. Apparently jamming cell-phone signals is against the law and runs up a fine of $11,000. This seems a bit extreme for saving innocent bystanders the pain and suffering of listening to the loud, drunken blowhard at the next table talk about "how fucking jacked-up" he is that he scored those "kick-ass" hockey tickets. It is an unfair, overblown punishment and I think that those taking the time to block signals appropriately should instead be compensated for their efforts, like crime-fighters, firemen, dead-animal pickup technicians and astronauts.

All I know is that I want one. I would like to be able to use it unabashedly, jamming all offenders breaking the rules of good cell-phone decorum. Yapping in the public washroom while I'm trying to take care of my business - ZAP! Carrying on about your wax-job (auto or bikini) via speaker-function in line at McDonalds - ZAP! Need to have your phone on during the movie? I don't think so - ZAP! Talking nasty to your boyfriend while sitting next to me on the lightrail - we'll let that one slide this time, I suppose, but keep it interesting.

We should all have them, I think - equal-opportunity jamming. Chances are, if you jam me, I have deserved it and will hold my phone up and say "Good call - my bad. Thank you!" In fact, when I am King, that will be the protocal - if you have been blocked, chances are you had it coming - be aware of your convesations at all times. If we put his attitude into practice now, in a kind of common sense move, with adequate signage, I wouldn't have to block your phone in the first place. Which is how it should be.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I want a monkey.

I need to clarify this title. I want a monkey only if it will not or is incapable of eating my face off. And since I do not trust the "will not" portion of this caveat, I will settle for the following: "I want a monkey who is incapable of eating my face off". Whether this is brought about because the monkey, once it is big and strong enough to eat my face off is heavily drugged with a monkey-tranquilizer, or has been fitted with some handsome, but harmless, soft plastic monkey-teeth does not matter to me. In fact, once the chimp is big and strong enough to eat my face off, I will probably have stopped trusting it anyhow and manifested some sort of watchful paranoia in the presence of the animal, which would ultimately break the animal's heart and devastate the beast, who had come to love me, as much as an ape can love a man.

My fear of wild animals is well-documented. I have an irrational fear of many things - among them, in no particular order are: Circus clowns, wild animals in general, wolverines in particular, the sea and all creatures that inhabit its untrustworthy waters, children with two different colored eyes and certain types of wood. That all said, it is my theory that the animal kingdom is gearing up for a big takeover - all the news stories of bear-mauling, rogue schools of giant jellyfish, reptiles, big cats, kangaroos and fire ants all gone completely man-hungry simply serve to illustrate my point.

But that's not why I'm writing today. I watched a show on television this weekend called "Fatal Attractions". It was not the sassy Michael Douglas/Glenn Close suspense thriller I was hoping to watch - the fact that it was on a channel labeled "Animal Planet" should have clued me in. It was actually a show that offered up stories of "animal-hoarders", who stockpiled flocks, pits and packs of dangerous pets, often to the point of depriving themselves of living space, food, health and, as the title suggests, sometimes their lives. The show I saw featured a man who was eaten by his brace of giant lizards. I don't know that a group of lizards is called a "brace", but it sounded better than a "lounge" of lizards, which was my first instinct. The second show - yes, I watched two of them - detailed the last hours of a woman bitten by one of her great menagerie of venomous vipers. "What the hell?" I asked the television. What kind of dumbass keeps a bed of poisonous snakes roaming free in their shitty apartment? A DEAD dumbass, I answered myself, also aloud. I was shaken and disturbed and had to turn to a 1959's sci-fi movie whose plot had more holes in it than the carcass of the dumbass who had been eaten by his lizards. The fact that the movie had special effects by Ray Harryhausen made it easier to recover from the animal-hoarder show, regardless of the shoddy plotline.

I guess my point is this: Let's not bring wild animals into our homes. No lion cubs, no cute little monitor lizards, no wolf pups and sadly, no monkeys. These animals belong in the wild, where they can join their carnivorous friends in planning their takeover of the world. The weak and slow end up in a zoo - their peers appreciate them being removed from their ranks, it only serves to make them faster and stronger. The weakest of all are trained and used in the movies. I find it hard to believe, however, that they don't snap and chew somebody's face off now and again.

And a final note to those who make this "Fatal Attraction" television show: Knock it off, will you? You've already ruined my dream of owning a monkey I could dress up like a 19th century Italian immigrant and teach to smoke cigars. Haven't you done enough?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Whatever happened to sportsmanship?

I was watching sports on television today - something I really need to cut back on. I should be working diligently on a book a song or a play or a tree fort, or out in the sunshine, fine-tuning my melanoma, but here I sit, watching the home team put forth an amazing display of mediocrity. As I was wondering how I could somehow manipulate my own mediocrity into an obscene paycheck like these lackards, a question came to my mind - just when did sportsmanship turn into showmanship?

I thought about the old days when a ballplayer would smash a homerun into the upper deck, lower his head and trot around the bases, careful not to show up the opposing pitcher. Of course, back then, if you showed up an opposing pitcher, you might wind up taking a fastball to the kidney. That's how it worked back then; the game policed itself. Now, players crowd the plate and suit up in more armor than a medieval knight when they get in the batter's box. Back in the old days, that would have brought a little chin-music and the umpire would have watched with a bemused grin.

These days, players hit a rocket out of the park, drop the bat and admire their handiwork for a few seconds before taking a leisurely canter from bag to bag. A batter will hit a single through a gap in the infield and upon reaching first base, will make the sign of the cross, kiss his blingy crucifix necklace and point to the heavens, presumably thanking the man upstairs for his assistance in hitting the ball. I always wonder why they don't flip off the sky when they fail to reach base two-thirds of their turns at the plate. If you're gonna give the Big Guy credit for a hit, you might as well blame Him for the strike out, right? In a slump? Blame Jesus.

In football, players will flex their muscles and dance and carry on after a routine tackle as if they had just found the cure for cancer, even though their team is down 24 points and their QB is on the sideline taking an oral concussion test. I just don't get it... Basketball players have always reveled in making their opponents look stupid - I blame that on the Harlem Globetrotters with all their fancy passing and the Washington Generals' bench full of stiffs hired to take the nightly beating.

My point is this, I guess - leave the macho-in-your-face showmanship for the wrestling crowd. If I want to see a fancy dance, I will drive to Vegas and check out "Love" by the Cirque De Solei folks - I hear it's dandy. I want to watch sports when I turn on a sporting event, not a bunch of over-paid, juiced-up athletes who are more likely to sprain their shoulders patting themselves on the back than hurting themselves grinding out the extra three inches needed for the first down or diving for the seeing-eye grounder. Those legs are too valuable for that kind of nonsense, I suppose.

You can watch film of Babe Ruth dominating the game of baseball back in the twenties and throttling every pitcher who dared toss a ball in the vicinity of the plate. He would drop his bat and go into his little chubby trot - never showing up the opposing pitcher, even though he had proven at every level of the game that he had certainly earned the right to do so. There was the legendary "called shot" - which could have been construed as showing up the pitcher and the entire opposing team, but there is no solid proof that it ever even happened and eyewitness testimony to the incident varied. And you would never see Mickey Mantle standing at home plate to admire one his tape-measure jobs, even if he hit them completely out of the ballpark, which he did - several times. Just put his head down and trotted around the bases. Of course, he was probably drunk, but that only adds to the humility of the man. I readily admit that if I hit a 500-foot homerun, I would not only stand and admire the shot, I would run to the mound and kiss the pitcher right on the mouth. If that's not showing him up, I don't know what is. That's why I am not a professional athlete, I suppose.

All I'm saying is, have a little humility, fellas. Act like you've done it before. You make enough money to go take some lessons, or something. Or watch some old film of the games back when they had some class. Sometimes it's not entirely about you and your really bitchin accomplishment of the moment. Sometimes it's about preserving some of the dignity that the games worked so hard to acquire. Just sayin'.

When Daddy's Little Girls Grow Up...

The passing of time is a Royal Cruel Bitch. I remember turning around, sometime around 1990 and thinking, "what in the hell happened to my twenties???" The same thing happened again in 2000 and 2010, except upon the realization of these milestones, I had accumulated some valuable baggage - my twin daughters, Allison and Logan. Somehow, hitting 40, then 50 didn't have quite the impact of imagining my daughters were 7, then 17. Now, on the dramatic cusp of 18, the girls are ready to move out of the house and into the real world and all I can think is "what the hell happened to my little girls???"

Logan lives with her mother in Dubuque, Iowa, the only town in America, I believe, that has three "u's" in its name. She is graduating a semester early and planning on moving to Wisconsin from Iowa - a lateral move, in my opinion. Allison lives with me and is leaving Wednesday to test the waters in the Berkeley area of California. What the hell - already? Allie purchased her ticket to the Bay Area a couple of weeks ago and has been haphazardly packing all her stuff for me to drive out to her in December, should the move take. Today, I walked into her room and it was entirely packed up and the boxes were stacked and ready to go. "So, you're serious with this move-thing?" I asked. "I thought you were just fooling around..." Nope, she's moving. Logan is making her plans as well. Mike Lyon pointed out, "they've moved out before..." He's right - they've moved from my place to their Mom's a couple of different times - that's how it works, apparently, in these situations where the parents are no longer an item. "Yes," I said, patiently. "But this time she's moving out out..." There is a big difference.

So, my mind has been going over all the memories that have whizzed by since the girls were young enough that it seemed as if there were time for millions more - the possibilities were endless. And just like that, suddenly they're going to be 18 and moving on to make memories of their own, with their Pop taking the backseat and lining up the putt for his Last Great Adventure. It all just went so quickly.

Some random memories:

I remember the tension of their first two months, spent in an NICU in Albuquerque, New Mexico (the other city with three u's in its name - WTF?) and our joy at bringing them home. Our greater joy as the years went by and the girls grew up with no major lingering effects from their premature entry into the world.

I remember bundling them up in their snow gear as toddlers and letting them run in the snow, with me forming and firing snowballs at their backs as they attempted to scamper away in thigh-high snow. My still-supple and accurate arm cut them down as they ran, the snowballs sending them reeling into the drifts. The would rise and howl with laughter and beg for more. I would oblige.

In the days before DVD players in the car, I came up with the idea of putting in their favorite Disney and Pooh videos and running a direct line to my cassette recorder - the same one I used for my mix-tapes (see next memory) - and throwing the cassette into the player in the mini-van on long road trips. They would ride in silence, staring at the dome-light, the movie playing in their heads as we drove and they listened to the soundtracks. A move of sheer genius that I do not receive enough credit for.

I would make mix-tapes of music with everything from Tom Jones and Dean Martin to rare Beatle tracks and Tubes songs. I would crank up the end of "Mondo Bondage" by the Tubes, where there is a huuuge growl and the girls' eyes would pop out of their little bald heads in anticipation of the racket. The beginning of "State of the Heart" by Rick Springfield used to freak them out, Allie reminded me. I do not recall it, but apparently there is a spoken-word intro that I don't remember that used to play before the actual song. That's how strong the memories are. When the girls were still in their mom's tummy, I used to stretch my headphones over the belly and pipe Dean Martin songs in to the twins - when they would get cranky in their high-chairs, I would throw on some Dino and they would quiet the hell down. Another stroke of genius, the prenatal Dino. The girls would sing along with the mix tapes - Allie would sing "SHE'S A LA-DAH" with Tom Jones and "CAN'T YOU SEE - 'EAH!" , leaving the "Y" off "YEAH" in the Beatles' "That Means A Lot" from the Anthology CD.

Music has remained a vital part of the girls' lives and both are talented musicians and songwriters. It makes me proud to think that they sprang from the same hillbilly well that produced a man (my father) who would write a song called "You're Bound to Look Like a Monkey When You Grow Old" about his own son (me). I have encouraged them to try and have a solid back-up plan, just in case the music thing doesn't carry them to the top of the charts and I think they listened. We shall see.

The most lasting memory I have is the laughter that we have shared over the years. They both have marvelous senses of humor and for that I am grateful. Had I been forced to raise a couple of tight-assed, humorless shrews, I might have hurled myself into a live volcano years ago. I once purchased them a beta fish - one of those japanese fighting fish, to put into a tank to test the water. If the water wasn't ready for habitation, the fish would most likely not survive. I explained this to the girls as we drove home, in preparation for the devastation that would most likely occur, should the fish perish. "What should we name the fish?" Logan asked, over and over again. I explained it didn't matter and they could name it whatever they wanted. "Name it 'Ringo" for all I care," I said. There was a slight pause and Logan replied, "If it's going to die, wouldn't it be more appropriate to name it 'John'?" IRONY!!!! I thought to myself. MY GIRLS GET IRONY!!!! We have shared many thousands of laughs over the years and I have bamboozled them into thinking that I am the funniest man on the planet. Great work when you can get it. I often tell them, "enjoy this now - there will be a time when you are changing my diaper and feeding me Scotch in a sippy-cup and saying, 'remember when he was sharp and funny?'"

So it goes. The next stage is up to them and all I can hope is that those of us who have had a hand in their development have done a good enough job to at least get the boat out of the harbor safely. I just want to have the good fortune to be standing nearby, with my hearing aide adjusted so that I can hear them say, "what the hell happened to my thirties???" and smile. And take another sip from my sippy-cup