The Cosmopolitan Texan – Not An Oxymoron

A good man can make you feel sexy, strong and able to take on the world…Ohh sorry that’s vodka….vodka does that. Anonymous

Ha! Ha! I’m writing about a good man this week and I Googled quotes on the “good man” and I came across the above which caused me to laugh out loud.

What makes a good man? The first quality that comes to my mind is kindness. Is he kind? Not only to family and friends but to strangers as well? Is he generous of spirit? Does he have empathy? Does he connect with humanity and see his story as part of the fabric of life?
Kindness, generosity, empathy, connectedness are often considered “more” feminine qualities yet they are the first attributes I would use to describe my good friend and confidant, the quite masculine Louis Hughes.

Mr. Hughes was my age, 64, when he hired me in 1986 to work with him in the Development Office of Winter Park Memorial Hospital. This Tuesday past, he celebrated his birthday. Hughes, today, volunteers three days a week in the WPMH emergency room. We lunch several times a month.

Louis Hughes grew-up on a West Texas ranch. During the Dust Bowl Days no less. He experienced the greatest gift any of us every receive, that of the good parent(s). That and oil leases, eh, Louis? Hughes “left” Texas to be educated in the East, served in WWII, eventually living, working and parenting in the Northeast. He worked for Harvard and The University of Pennsylvania Development offices before arriving in Winter Park in 1984 to become the Vice President of Development for WPMH.

The first thing I noticed about Louis was his sartorial habit. He wore three-piece suits everyday. A bit of a clothes-horse myself, I judged his ties rather conservative. His attire contributed to an over-all initial impression that Hughes was formal, formidable and somewhat unapproachable.

Hughes is a snob. He’ll deny it. He’s well read. He likes art. He’s cultured. He plays the piano. Today. He’s been places, seen things. He appears to be the type of gentleman who will not indulge in small talk. It’s all a façade. Not his cultural attributes, his veneer of aloofness. He doesn’t take himself seriously. Hughes resists, however, sophomoric humor (which I do employ) yet will indulge my uncouth, “common” observations. We both appreciate beautiful (in every sense of the word) women. He’s a wonderful, delightful man with which to enjoy life.

Two closing observations. Hughes married for a second time to Arlene “Petie” Showalter of Winter Park, Florida. She was the love of his life and they had over two decades of happiness together before her death.

A final story. Louis and I would, upon arriving for work each morning, stand at the development office receptionist counter for ten or so minutes, coffee in hand, and discuss the “nature” of life. Much laughter ensued. One day, Louis, said in passing, that at one point in his life he had four children in diapers. You could have picked my jaw off the floor.

I only found out some years later that all four of those once-diapered children were adopted. His love for his four children (Ned, Margaret, Justine & Jeff) has been unconditional and unwavering. They give him much joy.

Hughes is a prince among men and on his 91st birthday, vodka is unnecessary (champagne, perhaps) when singing his praises. Happy Birthday, Lad! More!

At The Dance.

Ah, such goodies I have for you.

Many of you will already know from whence I speak. I’ve a book and movie by the same name to recommend. Here’s what Bosley Crowther, movie reviewer for the New York Times, had to say August 13, 1963, “The film that Luchino Visconti and his star, Burt Lancaster, have made from Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s fine novel The Leopard is a stunning visualization of a mood of melancholy and nostalgia at the passing of an age.”

The Leopard was published in 1958 and made into a movie five years later. I highly recommend that you first read the book and then Netflix the movie. The writing, the book is spot-on marvelous. The movie is gorgeous.

It’s Burt Lancaster as the lead who makes the movie so fascinating to watch. Lancaster plays a Sicilian prince in 1860s Italy. Everything is changing. His world is disintegrating. But what’s a prince to do? He hunts. He reads. He conducts scientific experiments. He carouses. He leads his family. He debates with the family priest. He’s sexy. Ironic. He’s a modern man (of sorts) lamenting the loss of his privileged status. He has faults. What man hasn’t? But as one English lady observed of the Prince, after reading the book, “There is a man I could have loved.” And how difficult could it be to have loved the likes and looks of Lancaster?

I cannot specifically remember how I first came to read The Leopard but I was still an impressionable teenager. I missed the movie’s release in 1963, probably not seeing it until Blockbuster Video opened in the late 1980s. What I do vividly recall was my utter fascination with the author’s creation of the primary character, the Prince, a man at the pinnacle of the social order who clearly understood that his day in the sun was inexorably passing. Not only was Italian nobility being replaced by—of all things!—a bourgeoisie middle class but the Prince was now one of the “old ones at the dance.”

I could easily live in Italy today. The land, the food, the history, the art, the climate, the people, Italy is a grand experience. And to have, once-upon-a-time, lived there as a Prince on 700-year-old estates, well, sign me up.

Burt Lancaster was born in 1913 and was 50 years old when The Leopard was released. He looks about as good as a man can look (in life/or movie). He’s trim. He’s fit. He’s handsome. He’s educated. But he’s melancholy. Life, alas, hasn’t stopped, hasn’t paused even briefly for him, a Prince no less. Time unfortunately does not defer to title or social class.

The last 45 minutes of the movie is a gaudy, extravagant ball where the Prince dances with a rapturous Claudia Cardinale, whose character, Angelica, is described in the book as “tall and well made, on an ample scale; her skin looked as if it had the flavor of fresh cream, which it resembled . . . and emanating from her whole person was the invincible calm of a woman sure of her beauty.” So lush a woman that one man upon first seeing her could “feel the veins pulsing in his temples.”

I’d cry, too, as does the Prince in the movie. So much beauty in life—sigh—so quickly gone.

The Leopard captures that dichotomy of human experience, hmmm, shall we say, beautifully.

What Now?

I did not deny God’s existence, but I doubted His absolute justice.
- Elie Wiesel, “Night.”

I’ve been reading a few pages, each evening, of “Night” by Elie Wiesel. I can only take a few pages before I have to set it down. I inwardly shout, “Get out! Leave! Now! Run!” Night recounts Wiesel’s experience as a Romanian Jew during the Holocaust. It is profoundly sad. I can only internalize so much of his account before I become anxious and unsettled.

When I heard of the Connecticut massacre, of 20 children dying (seven adults, too) I was immediately sickened, physically nauseated by the senselessness of killing babies. You ask yourself, “How can this be? How can slaughtering innocence ever be contemplated, let alone acted upon? Why would this happen?”

That’s really not the question needing asked. But rather, how was this massacre perpetrated? (Answer: see assault weapons.)

The timeless question for our species is why is man so prone to violence, so willing to hurt and humiliate?

I was taken aback by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s observation on the Connecticut massacre that, “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?” I found his comments both disgusting and surprising.

Surprising from the perspective that I thought, Huckabee, as an ordained Southern Baptist minister, would have emphasized that God is present everywhere and always. He suggests the contrary. That because prayers are not offered in public schools, what? Death and mayhem shall ensue?

As a non-believer in a personal god, I find such questions intriguing. In the 2011, visually stunning movie, Tree of Life, a character observes, “He sends flies to wounds he should heal.” He, of course, is God. It’s a legitimate observation to me. One, I imagine, discussed from church pulpits all over America last Sunday. It is a question that can only be finessed because that is exactly what the Old Testament God does time and time again.

It begs, however, the question, “Why?” I have questioned the existence of God ever since I was old enough to realize that really bad things happen to good people. Why? Where was God during the Holocaust? Or, during the Trail of Tears? Or, the Moro Massacre? Or, Sandy Hook Elementary School? Was God’s attention diverted, busy creating other universes? Discussing whom to smite with Archangels Gabriel and Michael? Was God on vacation?

I don’t think that is the case because if I were an omnipotent, omniscient, forever-always-present God, I would know that Adam Lanza would on December 14, 2012 systematically execute innocence. These children had no choice of “free will.” If I knew humanity was capable of the Holocaust, would I (God) not reasonably tweak ever so slightly my design of mankind?

Why were children massacred in Newtown? Because a mentally deranged man had ready access to assault weapons. He went off the reservation of “acceptable” human behavior.

No, a far better question is how was the act accomplished? To the degree we can identify and help the mentally ill is one issue, with what ease (how) we slaughter each other is quite another.
Happiness is not a warm gun. John Lennon knew that.

Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other. Elie Wiesel

What now?

I See Republicans . . .

Recall the 1999 Bruce Willis movie titled The Sixth Sense. Out of that quite good little drama came the now famous line, “I See Dead People. And They Don’t Like You.” That catchy expression morfed into many variations but my t-shirt favorite went, “I Hear Voices . . . And They Don’t Like You.”

I’ve been trying to understand what is going on in the Republican Party when it comes to women, their bodies, sex and fertility. It’s essentially a male run concern, the Republican Party, although you have a predictable number of Republican women serving as faithful acolytes. Outliers, if you will, at odds, in their solidarity with their American sisters at large.

American women who willingly participate in their own subjugation remind me of those unfortunate women who perform the barbaric female genital mutilations in Sudan and Somalia. No woman, free of male domination (thinking), would voluntarily oppress other women in such ways.

It is as if Republican men are ignorant of history. For past 8,000 years, the male boot has been firmly placed on the neck of females. I do not know if we’ll ever understand the historical origins of why men came to consider women as “less” than men, but it is undeniable that that is/was the case. Bigger, more ferocious, men like to dominate.

Religions, too, historically, have played a tragic role in the marginalization of women. Although, interestingly enough, it was Martin Luther who, during the 16th century Reformation, jump-started the change in the status of women. He advocated that women be taught to read (imagine that!) and he married (radical idea: a married clergy). Educating women (reading) was the game-changer, however.

Go back and examine the status of Western women even during our more enlightened times. They were hardly enlightened for women. Plato’s Greece, The Renaissance, The Age of Reason were all unquestionably oppressive for women. In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft issued her now seminal A Vindication Of The Rights of Woman and the case for female equality was formally up for public discussion.

It took until the mid-19th century before British women could make any claim to personal property or even to her own wages. Reflect one second on this fact: the United States gave the right to vote to emancipated male slaves—SLAVES—decades before America’s daughters were afforded that right. That is how little women were considered.

There was a time in my grandmother’s adult life when she could not vote. Less than 100 years ago, American women could not vote. That is a nano-second ago, historically speaking.

The Republican Party is the party of female oppression. It revolves around who will control a woman’s sexuality and fertility. The Republican Party Platform (Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan) would have the government, for all intents and purposes, regulating and managing a woman’s uterus. Will our daughters someday—upon the onset of menses—be required to register their uteruses to ensure their compliance with state fertility laws?

Abortion, birth control, fertility, reproductive prerogatives are individual, fundamental female (human) rights. To interject the state into this dynamic is totalitarian and unacceptable.

Republicans would deny female autonomy, would continue to place the historical boot heel of oppression upon the necks of our daughters. Expect each American woman to think and act for herself.

I See Republicans . . . And They Don’t Respect Women.

Vote accordingly.

What’s Wrong With Republican Men?

What is it about “modern” women that Republican men just cannot seem to stomach? Is it that women have minds of their own? Is that it? Or, is it that they have bodies Republican men want to manage? What a shame, huh, that “those” bodies come with minds unfortunately attached, well, at least in Republican circles.

Republican autocrats, ur, excuse me, Republican politicians nationwide feel they are on a quest to save women from themselves. How so, you might legitimately ask? Women have bodies, their own for example, that they simply cannot mange without the “authority” of the state. Ironically, tragically, that is the Republican position.

The typical American woman is incapable of managing her own body. Because of this obvious “biological” fact, Republican public policy argues that the state (government) is morally obligated to supervise “her” fertility, “her” sexuality, “her,” in other words.

Big Brother may be dead in the old Soviet Union but is alive and well in the American gulag (gutter) of Republican politics.

I return to my opening question, what is it about women that Republican men simply cannot tolerate? Is it that women are, in fact, too stupid to manage their own lives, their own bodies? Is that it? Women are simply too stupid. Or, is it that women are obviously too emotional to handle that task? You know, women are so awash in “monthly” hormones, well, their judgment, empirically impaired. Or, does Republican misogyny stem from Biblical pronouncements such as Genesis 3:16-19, “Your husband shall rule over you.” Husband, state, what’s the difference? Get a bridle on that gal.

Republican men nationwide, it would appear, are on a mission from God to save women from themselves. Interesting, however, America is not a theocracy.

What is it about female sexuality that so absorbs Republican men? Why would any reasonable, sane man have the temerity to think that he can legislate what a woman does with her body? Birth control? Abortion? Family planning? If and when to have a child? If and when to have a “fourth” child? These are so inherently personal, individual matters that it boggles the mind as to why Republican men are so intent on introducing the state into such private business.

Perhaps, as has been observed, all American women should incorporate their uteruses, then maybe Republican legislators would keep their hands (laws) off them. Are you laughing yet?

No. Because you have a Missouri Republican U.S. senate candidate (Todd Akin) arguing last week that, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.” This Republican despot, ur, excuse me, honorable six-term member of congress was explaining why he opposed abortion rights even in a case involving your raped daughter and if, gosh, she unfortunately found herself pregnant.

Golleee, Gomer, I wonder what an illegitimate rape feels like?

I do not have a complete answer (Do you?) as to why Republican men do not sufficiently respect women to allow them the management of their own bodies. I do know that for the past thousands of years men have treated women like chattel, property to be managed and disposed of at will. It has only been in the last 200 years that there has been any movement for female equality.

Perhaps Republican men today are the last gasp of a dying, reactionary order. For our daughters, we can only hope.

What Do Women Want?

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
Until someone tears it off me.

Kim Addonizio from her poem, “What Do Women Want”

Over the decades I have earnestly considered just that question. Sigmund Freud famously asked, “The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is “What does a woman want?” I find Freud a stereotypical joke, rather simplistic, chauvinistic and clueless.

One might legitimately ask if women want different things than men? I raised my only daughter to feel/think that that was not the case. That anything a man aspired to, she, as a female, could also attain. That biology was not necessarily destiny. That grit, determination, intelligence and will were just as much feminine as masculine qualities. So, what does a woman want? Besides equal pay for equal work, respect, a man with a slow hand and free pedicures?

Oh, our literature abounds with what modern women want. Sleep. A break from the kids. A man who will clean the toilet. Genuine equal opportunity. A safe, nonthreatening environment (culture). The list of universal wants is not particularly surprising yet each woman’s “wants” are unique to her.

Let me relate my most recent movie experience. I saw “Magic Mike” opening night and I was one of maybe three men in a theater full of “Ooohing” and “Awwing” women who enthusiastically applauded the lean pulsating pelvises of the male strippers featured in the film. Couple (no pun intended) that with the success of the E.L. James’ book trilogy “50 Shades of Gray” which features sexuality, submissiveness and orgasms and, well, as Cindi Lauper so presciently cooed, “Girls, just wanna have fun.” Indeed.

Desire. A woman wants to be desired. Add that to the list. There is a growing field of female researchers who are exploring female sexuality, particularly from the perspective of what women want sexually. Key in that discussion is the function of desire.

Meredith Chivers is a psychology professor at Canada’s Queen’s University. She is on the editorial board of a leading journal on sexual research, the “Archives of Sexual Behavior.” She describes the male/female dynamic as “One part is pumped full of testosterone, is more interested in risk taking, is probably more aggressive, you’ve got a very strong motivational force. It wouldn’t make sense to have another similar force. You need something complementary. And I’ve often thought that there is something really powerful for women’s sexuality about being desired. That receptivity element.”

Another prominent researcher, Marta Meana, a professor of psychology at the University of Nevada said that for women, “being desired is the orgasm.” Hmmm, as a man, I wonder about that. Yet I do agree with Meana’s summation on the nature of female desire, “It is at once the thing craved and the spark of craving.”

What do women want? Oh, everything. Just like men. Yet, as has been suggested, “Didn’t a longing for erotic tenderness coexist with a yearning for alley ravishing?” What? Both ways, women want it both ways?

Indeed. And modern men please take note. By all means let the ravishing begin. But first . . .

“May I get a hanger for that dazzling red dress?”

Republican Values Found In A Diaper.

Republicans keep me in stitches. They’ll predictably trot out familiar old bromides like “Live Free or Die” or “It’s every man for himself.” Even I, on occasion, can be susceptible to such infantile gibberish. Yes, sometimes my latent libertarian nature reflexively embraces simplistic nonsense. “Don’t expect the government to do for you what you should do for yourself!” Republicans regularly run that one up the flagpole for REAL Americans to salute.

Republicans love all humanity until it is born. Un-huh, life is sacred! They get all warm and fuzzy inside at the thought of a zygote attaching to a woman’s uterine wall. It makes them weak in their knees and teary-eyed, however, imagining that process interrupted, aborted, if you will.

Oh, and then the wailing begins just like in Maurice Sendak’s “Where The Wild Things Are.” THEY ROARED THEIR TERRIBLE ROARS! AND GNASHED THEIR TERRIBLE TEETH! AND ROLLED THEIR TERRIBLE EYES! AND SHOWED THEIR TERRIBLE CLAWS! Republicans do exactly that at the thought of coitus interruptus or rather, Zygotus Abortus.

What is it about women and their uteruses that gets Republican men all atwitter and flummoxed? They cannot keep their minds (or laws) off of a woman’s body. Ironically, they applaud corporations as having the same rights as people but think little of eviscerating a woman’s right to reproductive choice. What is it about women? Are women too stupid to manage their own affairs (their own bodies)? Why is it that Republicans are for the government getting the hell out of regulating business yet they are perfectly okay regulating a woman’s fertility, her sexuality? What’s up with that?

Guys, this might be tough for you. Imagine a scenario where it is you who actually becomes pregnant. You’re still the independent operating, functioning individual you’ve always been but you find yourself pregnant. As a man, how well would you cotton to the government telling you what to do with your body?

According to Republicans, you don’t even own your body; it’s the government’s to regulate. Does that scenario sit well with you as a man? Then why should our sisters, daughters, wives or lovers put-up with such intrusions in their personal lives? No self-respecting man would ever countenance such invasive, intrusive oversight. So, why should America’s women?

Oh, it is argued because Republicans “wuv” all life, particularly the unborn. That’s an interesting time in which to be all for life yet, once born, that life is virtually on its own. Irony, hypocrisy, anyone?

Crack whores. Impoverished, destitute homeless women. Raped sisters. Poor women. Third-year medical students. Graduate students. Mothers already nurturing five children. Older women. Unhealthy women. The mentally disturbed. 16-year-olds. Any woman, no matter her circumstances, no matter her wishes or desires, no matter her rights as a free individual—all pregnant, all menstruating women will be regulated by the federal or state government. A woman will give up her independence, she will forfeit her freedom, she will willingly subject herself to the authority of the state.

I once served on the Orlando Planned Parenthood Board of Directors. At that time there was an alternative facility next door purporting to assist pregnant women. They’d persuade “some” to take the fetus to term with the assurance of long-term help. The long-term help consisted of two dozen Pampers. Oh, and a “Good luck, girl!” She’s going to need it.

Real Republican values, folks. Found in two dozen diapers.

An Affair With Himself.

It’s a comfort, it is, that poor taste, bad judgment, infantile behavior and narcissism is such a universal male quality. I mean, what if Jewish boys never acted stupidly or childishly? What if outlandish behavior was, well, strictly a Catholic or Southern Baptist “thing?” But nooooo, being a sexual doofus is just as much a Mormon quality as it is Presbyterian. Blessedly.

Not only that but “it” crosses political lines. When do Republicans and Democrats come together in, uh, agreement? Well, it seems when they are marginalizing women while thinking only with their Johnson’s.

I am so sorry Anthony Weiner isn’t a Republican, you know, one of those “family values” Republicans. Actually, is there any other kind of Republican? I just love Republicans for their family values, don’t you? Particularly when they cut state/federal programs for children and women’s healthcare. Preferably poor children and women.

I really admire Republican family values when they are so publicly at odds with their pious proclamations on the sanctity of marriage. Newt Gingrich set the bar quite high in this regard. His current wife, Tiffany, ur, Callista was Newt’s at-the-time, twenty-something limo-knob-polisher. Newt was, of course, leading the impeachment of President Clinton for lying about sexual improprieties. All the while Newt hypocritically practiced infidelity himself.

Weiner, however, has affairs only with himself. Women want (so I understand) intimacy and fidelity. Weiner offered or violated neither of those. If you’ve read any of the conversations between Weiner and his untouched (by him) paramours, intimacy was not on the agenda, was not the topic of discussion. Organs were described in various stages of turgidity and/or liquidity. There was, at times, graphic dialog as to how and where organs and orifices (all) would be displayed and/or engaged. The language lacked creativity and imagination with no feelings of genuine ardor. What strikes me is the infantile quality of the exchanges.

I do not know whether the Weiner’s will remain married. The wife is a high-powered, accomplished women who signed-up (married) for a much different scenario. I believe the only way Weiner keeps his wife is if he keeps his Congressional office. If he resigns, he potentially loses much more than a job.

What exactly did Weiner do that he should resign? He sex-texted (not even cleverly) women other than his wife. He sent pictures of his bare-naked chest and his Johnson (Atten-hut!). He publicly lied about doing so. He engaged in idiotic exchanges. He appears infantile and profoundly needy (insecure). He did all this while married and a U.S. Congressman.

Personally, I think he should resign but I understand the arguments why he should not. If lying about insipid, juvenile and tasteless behavior sufficient cause for censor and expulsion from Congress, well, how many men would actually remain in office?

I can list a myriad of legislative and executive examples of behavior I find more egregious. Consider President George Bush’s immoral, unjustified invasion of Iraq killing 4,000+ Americans (dying for what?). Reflect on the lies and misrepresentations associated with that war and the resulting death and carnage.

But that is not the issue. Congressman Weiner is a distraction and a joke. He is a buffoon. Pride would suggest he pursue another course. But for all his puffery (and chest-beating), pride is in short supply in the man. Profoundly, obviously so.

Wil on Will.

An aspect of life is about sorrow. There really is no getting around it. We should all be born with a hankie in one hand because they’ll be tears soon enough. A buddy of mine died last week. Longtime Winter Park resident, Wil Wistler died of congestive heart failure at the hospital he once administered and so deeply cared for, Winter Park Memorial Hospital. It was a sorrowful passing.

What is amazing is that Wil and I became buddies. In 1986 I sent Wil my resume. It was a blind cattle call of a letter. I was new to Orlando and was looking for work. I sent a personalized letter to every hospital president in Orlando. Wil walked my letter down the hospital hall to Louis Hughes, Vice President of Development. Hughes hired me and the rest, as they say, is history. Several years later I left the hospital and I thought that was that. What’s the expression, well, there was “water under the bridge.” Let it go. I did. I did not anticipate ever hearing from Wil Wisler again.

Years pass. Nearly 18 years to be exact. And one day I get a call from Wil suggesting lunch sometime? Well, pick me off the floor. And lunch it was. I didn’t know what to expect. It turned out that Wil was my kind of guy, an unapologetic liberal. And, I, evidently his kind of guy at some level. Wil thought war was for fools, and that life in a “good” society was about balancing individual freedom with the greater public good. He’d been reading the Observer for some time and thought it time to reconnect.

And that is exactly what we did. Wil, Louis Hughes and I began having regular lunches. It is civilizing to lunch with friends, to discuss the issues of the world over food. And laugh. Over the foibles of man. Or woman. And at ourselves.

Wil seemed much more at ease with life than when I first knew him as hospital president. Predictably so. He didn’t have to wear the suit, be the face of a prominent institution. He was more willing to let his hair down. He was a different man. He had changed.

And then one day I was informed that Wil fell off his home roof and suffered an incredible head injury. I went to the hospital and left convinced he wouldn’t make it another day, so damaging was the trauma to the brain. But unbelievably, recover he did. Due in large part to the love and commitment of his wife, Carol. If hosannas are sung in heaven for heroic stints of duty, Carol will be at the head of the line.

And, in time, Wil recovered and it was back to lunching. And over a December 17, 2009 meeting I asked Wil to what he attributed his will to live? I had asked earlier that when he appeared unconscious (for so long), where he thought he was? Wil said he thought he was “here” and regarding his will to live, well, he said, “I had a hell of a lot of life left to live.” HE WANTED IT! LIFE. Regardless the hiccup in his giddy-up.

Wil coming back into my life was a gift. He will be missed.

Whatta Boob!

I sometimes talk to the television. I know. I fight it. I do. Someone’s prattling on, talking nonsense, gibberish and I’ll unleash a “Shut the fork up.” Any of the simplistic Tea Party morons or Rick Scott (one and the same) can provoke my ire.

How about the local TV promo? The must see Live at Five, unfolding “Motel Mayhem on the Trail” featuring some disheveled, impoverished shopping-cart-pushing, toothless old hag who saw it “all!” Only on Six!

Or, the TV weatherman, so giddy he’s actually drooling over the impending Armageddon of a “Grab the old ladies. Everyone goes!” approaching storm system. Oh, and screw your Super Doppler, X-Mo, Mabuse-Mo, Skydar-Raydar that sees around corners, under water and up skirts. Jeeeeeez.

You know who watches the national news at 6:30 PM? Men with, erec, uh, extension issues, people without teeth, women whose bones, that if caught in a stiff wind, might break and squirming white guys on job interviews who think that surreptitiously eating a piece of plastic will somehow magically diffuse the gas passing from that, never to be mentioned, orifice. “What are your salary expectations?” Toot! Toot! “That much!?!”

And sick people of every imaginable sort. Invariably, some gray-haired, old fogey, just a few years older than myself looks straight at the camera and starts whining about some aspect of his condition. He’ll reluctantly rub his shoulder and arm and start, “I have this deep, radiating pain . . .”

And I’ll calmly observe to no one, “Yea, it’s called life.”

I do not know anyone who does not have a plate load of life (pain) that they are dealing with. If not themselves personally (at this specific moment) then a family member. A long time unemployed nephew, a niece who can’t get pregnant, an alzheimeric father, an alcoholic sibling, disappointing children, a relative upside-down experiencing foreclosure, a worthless son-in-law, a shrewish, emasculating daughter-in-law, a friend with breast cancer, problems at work or school, any number of money-related issues, a failing business, divorce, disenchantment, disease, despair, depression, suicide, the middle-aged man who came out of the closet late and has yet to reconnect with his parents, broke, destitute, isolated and alone. Did I leave anything out?

Did I mention my boob? That’s right my boob. My pectoral. My breast. For the past five months I’ve had a lump in my right breast. It kept expanding until it was half the size of a chicken egg. In my breast! Just like a woman! Initially, I was a bit miffed. A lump in my breast? That’s what “goils” unfortunately get. Then I thought, “Hmmm, much better in my breast than in my, um, favorite “B” parts. If you catch my drift.

I went to the doctor. He wanted to give me a script for a mammogram. A MAMMOGRAM! Must I wear a skirt, too?

I had done my research. Only 1% of breast cancers are in men and my lump hurt. “Most” cancers do not hurt. So I said, “I’ll wait and see.”

Months passed. Folks (who care about me) got in my face. It didn’t go away.

And then I got the news I had been waiting for. My insurance actually pays for such procedures. Hah! No, seriously.

My x-ray technician said nice skirt and the doc proclaimed it was nothing.

Whatta Boob! I am.

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