Archive for April, 2015

A Question A Day Keeps Your Demons At Bay; Business Isn’t All Fun And Games

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

So.  I’m thinking it’s time for an update on the results of my treatments for prostate cancer.  A month has passed since my last attack from The Great Radiator, my side effect symptoms have waxed and are now waning somewhat, and the mountain juniper allergy season is going out with a bang.  Trying to not whine about my shit, let me start with the bad and move towards the good.

The reason I plan to go from bad to good is that I had a psychology class to college at The University of Texas at Austin back to when it was only known as The University of Texas.  Only one University of Texas in the entire universe, and Texas was a nice state in which to live, and the University of Texas a great place to matriculate into.  OK, in which to matriculate at for advanced educational studies after having, at least, graduated from high school, or, if likewise passing additional course loads at some other advanced-level educational facility—you being  one of those “can’t get too much education” shitheads.

Said, and same, psychology class was taken by me in an attempt to get somewhat closer to a young coed named Samanta Ignatius Amorogaretti—a dark haired beauty with whom I was enamored beyond personal controls.  Having bribed a student worker over to the Registrar’s Office to provide me with a copy of Sammie’s class schedule, I endeavored to place myself near to her at every opportunity.  Of her eighteen hours of course loadings, the only available slot for a C-level, Major-not-yet-classified slacker, was in Psychology 325- Advanced Business Psychology.

Of course, there were no slackers back to the 1960’s, only hippies, druggies and lazybones, of which categories all fit me to a Tee.  “You smell like pot and beer, Mr. Johnson.  Please move to another seat before I get a contact high,” and then, “Isn’t that the same shirt you wore yesterday?  I recognize the burning seed pop pattern on the pocket.”

That would be the now famous brain doctor, Dr. Sam I. Am-Johnson, on that day of the second week of classes all those years ago.  “University might be a joke to you, sir, but I intend to actually do something with my life.”

“Me too, cutie-roo.  I intend to marry you and have a dozen babies.”

Don’t forget that this was the Sixties and even we hippies wanted a VW bus full of family.

“And how would you propose to support that large swarm of heathens, Mr. Johnson?”  This, it seemed to me, a serious and promising question.

“Oh, that one’s easy.  I’m taking over my Gram’s magic mushroom business.  No need to worry your pretty little head over the money side of things, you…”

That was the one time in the last almost fifty years I said the words “pretty little head” in that order.  To the entertainment of the entire 10:00 am class of Psychology 325, I was lectured quite loudly as to precisely why I was to never utter those words again.  To her or any other female, at the penalty of having her find my scraggly ass and, and here I’ll quote my lovely first ex-wife when I tell you what she said to me, she said, “Or I’ll hunt your scraggly ass down and eat your balls with a knife and fork and shit their remains on your head.”

That’s when I knew that I was in love.

Anyway, it was about the third day of class—the day before the day when I was asked to withdraw from attendance by the professor—when I heard the lecture re: “Always give the bad news first in any business communication”.  It seems that I was learning that business communications must have a lot of bad news, and at least it seemed at that time, that peoples’ brains adjust to bad news more quickly when followed by good news.  Me, I was a great teller of jokes during those days, and “good news/bad news” jokes were quite popular.

I raised my hand and stood, waited and waited some more.  The Professor was acting as if I was disturbing him when he said, “You there, yes, you, next to Miss Amorogaretti.   Yes, you, the fidgety one.  Please stand still and what do you want?”

I stilled my nervous feet, put on my best studious student face, and took a deep breath.  This, I felt, was an important opportunity to impress Miss Amorogaretti.  “Uh, Professor Smithson, how does this theory apply to good news/bad news jokes?” I asked.  “Most of the funniest jokes tell the good news first, and I hear that businessmen are always telling jokes.  OK, wait.  Is a joke told in a business sitting even business communication?  Huh, me?  My major?  Uh, well, ah, I was thinking of Agriculture but didn’t want to go to Texas A&M because, see, Aggie jokes are my actual favorite jokes and Mother tells me I’m not yet mature enough to appreciate self-deprecating humor.  Did you hear the one about the Aggie moving to Oklahoma?  No?  You don’t like jokes?  Really?  You’ll love this one, sir, it’s really short.  Well, it seems he raised the IQ in both states?  Oh.  Really?  OK, well me, I think that’s some funny shit.  Oh, for fucksakes, Professor Smithson, shit isn’t a cussword.  I must have missed the part where you said no cussing.  Huh, can I please answer the question?  What, I asked you a question?  What do you mean by you asked me the question?  No, I asked the question. What question?  You know, the question I asked before.”

I wasn’t hurt when asked to resign from the course as I had already determined that Sammie was a high caliber student and would learn all the psychology we’d ever need, and it has just dawned on me that mayhaps my lovely first ex-wife and psychotherapist might should have taken some advanced studies in Attention Deficit Disorder.  Seems that thirty years of treatment have done nothing more than scrape the scab off that particular sore.

OK, but, and again, ADD and its big brother the dreaded ADHD, weren’t invented until the late 1970’s, early 1980’s, factual information having absolutely no bearing on the simple fact that I have distracted our attentions to the point of bewilderment.  It isn’t Sammie’s fault I’m an ADD-addled fuckbrain.  If I believed in the Christian God I’d blame Him, as He would be responsible for every fucking thing that happens.

I mean really.  What God in His right mind would inflict ADD on the world?  The Black Plague only lasted a couple centuries and killed fewer than 200 million people.  I get that a vengeful God might feel the need to cleanse our populace by 30-40% when we get off track.  But ADD?

And prostate cancer.  Every man alive will get prostate cancer if he lives long enough?  Fucking really?  My God categorizes prostate and the other cancers as, “Shit happens, Mooner.”  That I get.  Then again, my God seems to actually like me.

So, what was the question?

Fuck Walmart!

Red Tape And Bloody Scrapes; Memory Loss For Dummies

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

So.  The box was sitting inside the front gate when I arrived back to La Casita Johnson de Santa Fe yesterday afternoon sometime after three.  I had a Mini trunk loaded with the monthly haul from Costco, as yesterday was the day in April chosen by me to make the trip to the ABQ, whereat the closest Costco abides.  Actually, it was the planned arrival today of my son and his somewhat new bride that spurred me to Spring clean, said and same cleaning is what spurred the Squirt to get all up in my ass to leave the house.

“Take a fucking break, shithead, the sound of that vacuum is driving us batty.”

That was the adorable brown puppy remarking on the racket made by my Shark cleaning machine—one of the best purchases made by me in recent years.  The one downside is that its motor whirrs at high revolutions, which in turn generates high-pitched air modulations that drive the dogs nuts.  As I hadn’t run the little plastic dirt eater for a couple weeks, the accumulated and hidden hair encrusted dust bunnies were more common than eggs at a Baptist Easter Hunt from back to the 1950’s.

Asshole child that I was, the entire Easter Bunny-Easter Eggs and Baskets-Resurrection of Jesus scenario was totally beyond my grasp.  I mean really—Peter fucking Cottontail?  Really?

“I don’t understand it, Gram.  Rabbits crap out these little brown balls—not eggs—chickens lay eggs.  I’ve seen it.  How does the Easter Bunny carry all those eggies and baskets?  Santa Claus is supposed to have a sleigh and I don’t see how that dealio works either.  You showed me how to dye eggs and that was messy.  Peter Cottontail will have stained fur and be too tired to carry all those baskets.  And eggs are heavy and they break.  I think you guys are lying to me.  And you told me Uncle Henry was dead and I’d never see him again because he’s fucking dead.  Isn’t Jesus fucking dead too, like Uncle Henry?”

That’s when my Gram gave me my first dosing of the mushroom potion she titled “Yer too young ta ask that question, ya disruptive little shit”.  I got a dose often from that first year of questioning authority until I was old enough to ignore Mother’s demands to attend Baptist church.  Developed a taste for mushroom juice that lingers still.

My monthly trips to Costco are for all our hard liquor, paper products, coffee, free trade sugar, tennis shoes for $19.95, and any other stuff Costco carries that I need.  Or want.  I tripled-up on toilet paper this trip—what with my digestive system still hyper-activated from radiation bombardment, I’ve a two-rolls-per-day habit.  Oh, and the industrial size of baby wipes—unscented.  Chaffing was a mentioned side effect from my pre-treatment readings, a condition I can fully support.  And, I always try on the new shoobies to insure proper fit, and chose to wear yesterday’s purchase while I shopped.

As I arrived back to the house with my Costco goodies, I could hear the dogs yapping to get out.  The Squirt squeals like a little piggy to get outside after a few hours of confinement.  So I grabbed two of the six bundles of TP under my arms and a bottle of Hornitos in each hand.  Put one of each to the ground when I reached the gate, opened it and walked through where I promptly tripped over the box and skinned my palms on the gravel that is my front yard.

“Mother fucker!” Grateful it wasn’t a mugger who tripped me, I was still pissed.  “Who, inthefuck, would leave a box there?”

Simple answer, “Oh, its UPS.”

The UPS label was pasted onto the white butcher paper box wrappings at an awkward angle, and the package looked as though it came from a war zone.  The wrapped box was the size of a copy paper carton, was dented and scraped, and it was sealed with bright red duct tape.  I didn’t need to read the label to know from which wench it came.  The red tape is my Gram’s trademark—matching reds with her Ferrari—and she slathers it on with reckless abandon.  The dents and scrapes are also Gram’s mark as she can’t seem to get any addresses written with precision, and her packages often take side trips before arriving to their destinations.

This label said:

Mooner Johnson

2501 XXXXXX Street (Maybe 3677 an maybe YYY Drive)

Santi Fay, Over to New Mexico north a Jarez

(it’s tha one with tha brown wall anna shitty old dead tree out inna front)

I’ve been tempted to print a bunch of shipping labels for her, but I figure UPS needs to earn their keep.  This particular package seems to have put them through their paces.

I gathered all my Costco shit and the box, stacked them by the front door, and opened the house to find the dogs sitting quietly, each beside a fresh pile of poop.  The one I call Squirt had a smile on her face.

“You know better, shithead.  How many times do I have to tell you to park the car, let us out and only then do whatever it is you might think is important?  Huh?  How many times?”

I had to think.  “OK, I’m guessing too many.  But this wasn’t my fault.  The UPS person left a box from Gram right inside the gate and I tripped over it.  Here,” and I showed her my skinned hands, “I messed my hands all up when I hit the…”

“A package from Gram!  Let’s open it!”  The little brown puppy spun in circles as Gram’s packages always contain something for the dogs.

“I hope its pig ears again.  We love pig ears.”

Now, the both of them are spinning circles around me, and in an effort to move inside without entanglements, I stepped in Yoda’s shit with my newly-purchased Costco $19.95 sneaker.  The heavy waffle tread of my new right shoe had gooey dog crap mashed in a dollar bill-shaped mass.  Normally, this would send me into a tizzy, but I deserved this one.  It’s not nice to make anyone wait to use the bathroom—a condition I have recently learned in its complete width and breadth.

I removed the sneakers and put them on the front porch and then placed the package on the dining room table to open.  It is for these present openings alone that I allow the dogs onto the table.  They jumped up and started sniffing the package and Squirt said, “Smells like piggy ears to me, Yoda.  What do you think?”

The white puppy mill refugee sniffed and snorted his wispy voice.  Squirt told me, “It’s unanimous for pig ears.  Hurry up, asswipe, and open it!”

I ripped the red tape and white paper to reveal a shopworn legal storage file and more red tape.  Mountains of red tape, an appropriate allegory for a legal storage file in my eyes.  Maybe it’s better said as a metaphor, but who really gives a shit?

I pulled enough tape aside to get the top open to reveal a giant plastic baggie of pig ears, several dozen brown glass tincture bottles wrapped in bubble stuff, and a note written on a ripped chunk of the white butcher paper.  The note was written in crayon on the slick side of the paper:

“Ears er fer tha dogs.  Call yer crazy fuckin mother”

I gave each dog an ear and they headed to their “quiet spots” to chew and contemplate life.  I started unwrapping the bottles.  There are twenty-nine in total and they come from two batches of Gram’s potions.  The first twenty-eight I unwrapped are called “Pecker pain be gone!” and my assumption is that it treats my side effects from radiation treatments.  The hand-scrawled label informs that, “Contains a touch a snot from yer fucking pig.”  I’m grateful it didn’t say pig blood.  Gram and Rush Limbaugh the pig don’t see eye-to-eye on much of anything.

The last bottle—number twenty-nine—was different.  The bottle was a different shape and color and was slightly larger.  The label was faded and my grandmother’s handwriting less shaky, more legible.  It read, “Daddy’s cancer kin kiss my ass!”

My father died of cancer eighteen years ago last month.  I let the day pass without a thought, and for the first time since he died.  Had Gram’s package been properly labeled it would have arrived just before that March date, and provided me with a potion to toast in his memory.  I’m toasting late this year.

Fuck Walmart!

Spring, Sprang and Sprung; Needlepoint For Beginners

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

So.  Spring has sprung and all my fruit trees are low hung with the colorful blossoms that promise a bountiful harvest of cherries, pears and apples.   Then again, our average last freeze is April 15th, and a hard freeze on that date will nullify that promised bounty.  Having said that, colorful blossoms hung without care brings to mind the phone call from Gram last night.  When my caller ID informed me that “Gram” was on the line, I punched the speaker button, and answered.

“Hey, baby, how’s it hanging?”

“Loose n low, shithead, like ya had ta fuckin’ ask.  But tha major dominatrix question here is how’s yers a hangin’?  Yer aint Hilda said she was reading somwheres as ta how them atomic blasters kin put a serious hurtin’ on that tiny pecker a yurs.  Makes yer shit shrivel right on up.  Do I need ta send ya one a them magnaphone spy glass dealios?  Hate ta have ya loose sight a yer manhoodie an’ get yerself all googlated.”

The chicken cackle giggle of my randy old grandmother filled my ears.  Filled my heart as well.  If there is a person breathing who can make my troubles go away with a simple laugh, it would be my Gram.  And her slaughter of the language brings extra joy.

She went on, “Er, maybe ya could tie a string on it an’ pin tha string ta yer zipper, cluck, cluck, cluck.  Yer pants zipper, not the pecker zipper.”  Her giggles were near maniacal.

The referred-to pecker zipper is a longish story that ends with me living my life since childhood with a chunk of the rusted zipper from a pair of men’s coveralls pinned in a small, twisted scar on my penis.  The fact that my Gram can poke fun and laugh at it makes her all the more endearing.

I tell her, I say, “Me, I’m hanging long and lean, old woman, and ready for action.  Two megatons of X-rays aren’t nearly enough poison to kill this Johnson’s johnson.  Can’t seem to stop peeing long enough to find suitable company yet, but that situation should change soon.”

“Why’nt ya call tha Sacster an’ have her bring tha stunner gunnie.  That oughtta git yer man meat started right on back ta work.”

Again with the sounds of happy chicken.  I’m unsure if I know another person, besides me, who says “man meat” in that context, and it always makes me laugh coming from her.  That thought hit me, and then I realized where the majority of my genes had originated.

“I love you, Gram, and I miss you terribly.”

There was a pause, and then Gram said to me, she said, “You OK, Mooner?  Don’t you be a tellin’ me tha fucking cancer came back.  I’ll kick yer ass if’fn ya still got tha cancer.”

“Nah, I’m OK, just missing your mangy old ass.  We’ll know in a couple months if the treatment worked.  Really, I’m doing alright.  Besides.  SAC Ellen likes her job and The US Department of Homeland Security does not even like me.”

“Well, if yer OK, why ain’t ya called yer crazy fuckin’ mother?”

Oh, for shitsakes.  I call Mother most days and sometimes more than once.

“Oh, for shitsakes, Gram.  Do I need to send you a phone bill to get everyone off my ass?  I hung up from Mother less than an hour ago.  Better yet, check that loony old martyr’s phone bill when you next go visit.  Highlight my numbers for her and call me in the morning.”

Dementia is hell when you are living with a loved one who has it.  OK, a mostly loved one in this particular case.  But imagine what it must be like to be the demented.  I freak when I misplace my keys, so I can’t imagine losing decades of memories.  Or the last ten minutes.  I’m looking forward to when Mother can’t remember who I am.  Then I’ll be, “That nice young Johnson fellow who calls all the time.”

Which reminds me.  Dr. Sam I. Am-Johnson gave me the name of this acupuncturist lady who says she successfully treats the side effects of radiation therapies.  Me, I find myself quite reluctant to visit any alternative medical facilities, as having a witch doctor for a grandmother has created bias.  However, having the need to carry a gag and muzzle for myself those times I must pee in a multi-fixtured public bathroom, I was willing to try anything to ease my symptoms.

Arrived the ten minutes early I was asked so as to complete my paperwork, I walked into an empty reception area.  An open door to my left revealed sight of a skinny man in his undies, bent and twisted into a pretzel, and the sounds of his grunts were accompanied by the aggravating noise of his Germanic-voiced tormentor.

“Find your chi, Robert.  Passt auft, Robert, pay your attention!”

I stood and wondered, for not the first time, why “pay attention” sounds so like “pissed off” in German.  I walked to a chair and sat, and before I could ask that question aloud, Herr Zen Master stuck face around the door jam.  I was surprised to see a smallish woman’s face and not that of a six-foot SS officer.  “What you want?  Who are you?  What is your name?”

I had to think.  “OK…Ah, well that would first be nothing from you even if my appointment is with you.  I’m next the man who has a 10:00 appointment at this address getting interrogated by a rude person, and finally, name’s Mooner Johnson, man-about-town and general bon vivant.”

Pretzel man snickered, the head disappeared, door slammed and, “You tink dats funny, Robert?”

Later, as I lay on a table impersonating a victim of porcupine assault, I heard the sounds of one of those humming bowls humming and the terse German voice saying.  “Find your chi, Robert, and find eternal harmony.”

The yoga lady next door might be a terrific stretching and Zen teacher.  But for my money, I want my lessons in soft French vowels and sloppy consonants rather than the crisp, harsh German dialect.  “Lick my titties,” in German sounds like a scold.  Try it, say it aloud with a German accent:  “Kusse meine Bruste.”

Anyway, my lingual bigotry aside, I did the new patient intake, which from my perspectives was an outlay, and only made a few minor, yet intemtional, misstatements as to my personal habits.  I did tell the lady doc about my urination issues, but I’ve long ago learned that medical professionals lack the constitution to hear that one human can consume an ounce of weed, half-a-pound of magic mushrooms, and a case of Carta Blanca beer each week.  Doesn’t help to tell them that you aren’t a binger, that you pretty much enjoy average doses daily.  They all remember a bad acid trip from back to their college days and get all preachy on your ass.

But let’s not let my ADD get us waylaid even though a waid lay would be my first lay in months.  When the nice lady needle poker told me to get up and put my shoes and socks back  on after my treatment, I asked her, I said, “Did you get all the needles out?  Several spots still sting quite a bit.”

She gave me a quite sweet shit-eating grin, and said, “Of course, Mr. Johnson.  How amateurish would it be for me to leave needles in your person.  Acupuncture is powerful medicine.  It would be dangerous to you and I’d, well I’d never.  Those stings are the powerful chi working on your issues.”

Spent the rest of the day scratching the stinging itch at my right ankle and bitching to the dogs about it.  Then, when I had undressed last night and sat on the pot for a last pre-bedtime pee event, the Squirt came in to ask what we were going to do today.  This is our daily routine, as the little brown puppy likes to sleep on the next day’s plans so as to determine any alterations she might find suitable.

Instead, she stared at my ankle for a minute and then said, she asked me, “You have some stun gun sex today, shithead?”

“Huh?” my reply.  “What are you even talking about?  Gram mentioned it on the phone, but I took no actions.”

“Looks to me like you had some electrified sex and one of the barbs is still attached to your ankle.”

Sure enough, I could see the blue-green plastic top of an acupuncture needle boinging in the air as I bent to take a look.  I pulled the little fucker out—which action hurt—and held it up to see.  It was bent about 3/8ths-of-an-inch from the end where is was stuck in my flesh and twisted at a 90-degree angle by my sock.  It had been like that since 11:00 yesterday morning.

I’m leaving now to go apply for a refund.  Powerful medicine my rosy red ass.  And by the way.  Fuck Walmart!