Sunday, September 21, 2014

View from the Top - Sunday Archive of Retort - 9/21/12

Here's another adventure from the "past", which always seems sunnier than the "present".

I guess it's just another matter of perspective.

From 9/21/12

View from the Top


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Friday, September 19, 2014

Starry-Eyed in Starbucks

I’m a pretty adventurous guy.

I mean, I drove to Brooklyn last week and everything.

Even walked around Coney Island for a while…you know…until I got scared.

Not that there was anything to be scared of…it’s just a boardwalk and a beach.

But that funny face guy is kind of scary.

Kind of looks like my old chemistry teacher.


Anyway, I consider myself an adventurous sort…within reason.

Like you won’t catch me going into a Starbucks or anything.

Nope…not me…not since the 90s.

One, because I don’t really like it…unless I’m in the mood for a beverage that tastes like it’s been sitting on the burner since last weekend.

And two…I don’t need to be laughed at by a bunch of scraggly faced teenagers in aprons…nope, not me…not again.

But sometimes you don’t have any choice, especially if the only other alternative is the Gas N Sip across the street.

All I wanted was a small coffee…milk, two sugars…some sort of utensil, a spoon or a stick to stir it with, and a top so I can pretend I’m not going to spill it on my shirt or all over my car.

How hard could that be?

But that’s where all the anxiety sets in.

Because you apparently can’t order just a small coffee at Starbucks.

If you order a small coffee at Starbucks you get a response along the lines of… “Short or tall?

To which I reply…”Not that’s it’s any of your business, but I’d say I’m more along the lines of average, amongst the general population.”

“Room or no room?”

“Uh…no thanks…I’ll just take the coffee.”

To which the scraggly faced fellow sneers, shakes his head and shouts out…. “One tall Americano, regular.”

To which I say nothing, yet am at once annoyed that my nationality is of any significance but pleased that he considers me “tall”, and befuddled by the fact that he can tell I’m regular…which I least that day.

As I pay, standing there, waiting to receive my coffee, I’m a bit distracted by the grunts and sighs of the people standing behind me. I’m not really sure what their problem is, but then the scraggly face guy, who I happen to hear called, Barista—I guess it’s a European name— by someone in the back, shouting, “Hey, Barista, tell that guy to step up.”

To which, Barista replies, “Please step up, sir.”

Which annoys me, because again, another reference to my height, which is uncalled for….

Finally I realize that Barista is not going to bring me my coffee, because apparently that’s someone else’s job.

So I wander down the counter where I see another half dozen or so equally confused, starry-eyed but brave, coffee souls, same as myself, hoping to retrieve something that resembles their morning beverage of choice.

First one up is “Half-caf grande mocha cap, wet!”

Nobody moves….

Then the rest start coming fast and furious, sounding something like this…maybe.

“Venti café Misto…”

“Tall Caramel macchiato, upside-down…”

“Grande triple shot de-caf Espresso Macchiato, dry…”

“Tall double shot vanilla latte skinny…”

“Grande decaf Mocha Frappuccino light…”

“Short cap, half-caf double shot wet with room….”

“Venti Triple shot white mocha, extra hot, no room…”

None of which anyone dares move toward, let alone claim. They all just stand there in place, silent, perplexed and befuddled...either forgetting or just not knowing what is was they ordered on that particular day.


“Regular coffee, milk two sugars…”

For which a multitude of hands reach to grab….

“I think that’s mine…”

“No mine….”

“I ordered that a half hour ago…I think…I’m pretty sure….”

And at that point, I turn and walk away.

My caffeine headache has started to kick in and the Gas N Sip across the street is looking pretty good.

“One tall Americano, regular.”

And again I wonder…regular…how do they know?

How does anybody know???



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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Tao of LOL

I get LOL’d a lot.

Which, if you’re trying to write funny, is a good thing.

If I were getting tears and sobs…that would be bad.

The thing is…I really don’t like the LOL.


Not because I have anything against the people that use it, or that I think it’s particularly silly….
It’s just been somewhat abused and overused…if you know what I mean.


People will LOL even when they have no reason to LOL.

They’ll say, “The cat just threw up in my hat…LOL!”

“Just saw my Podiatrist. Things have been better, but they could be worse. Think of all the money I’ll be saving on shoes…LOL!”

“Grandma’s gone missing, again…hope she turns up before Thanksgiving cuz who’s gonna cook the turkey…LOL!”

And of course you can always turn that up a notch, when things get really funny.

When things get really funny you can ROFL…or even ROFLOL…which usually leads to hip displacements, especially if you’re over 40.

If you’re under 40, you just look odd…or worse, sound odd…because, let’s face it…can anyone really verify that you actually are ROFL…or even ROFLOL…or even worse… ROFLOLBAG…and worst still…ROFPML…which nobody wants to see…and I can’t even believe I just wrote that, right here, in a family setting…that is if your family is anything like mine.

And of course, now, for people like me that have a problem with LOL…(LOL!)…there’s hahhahahaha….

Or just ha, if you’re only mildly amused.

If you’re very amused you can go with HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA!

You can also go with the more subdued heheheheheheheheheeh…which is kind of the equivalent of the small little chuckle you give your weird Uncle Al, with the mole that resembles Winston Churchill, whenever he tells his Dunkin Donuts story at Sunday dinner.

And now people are just making stuff up…like this sinister laugh of some sort, mwahhahhahhahwahaahh…or something like that.

Like I said, they’re making stuff up.

Or WOO WOO and its derivative WOOT WOOT…which means something…not sure what.

Maybe that they just sat on a chess piece….most likely the rook.


Then they might respond WTF…which I believe means “where’s the football”…which is what I would say too, if I sat on a rook.

Unless they’re Canadian, in which case they would most likely say WTP or “where’s the puck”…you know, because Canadians like hockey.


And of course these things are also a time and type saver…like when you can say K…instead of the more difficult, time consuming OK.


So basically you can make an acronym out of anything….

Or should I say YCMAAOOA?

There are actually pages and pages of them on-line, most of which, again, you would never say in a public forum such as this.

I mean, I didn’t even get out of the A’s before I nearly blushed myself to death.


BTW…or should I say “Bring the Wipes”—which has never made sense to me but people seem to use it in this context—the real purpose of the LOL..I mean other than to say I’m overwhelmingly hilarious…when you get right down to it, is for people to let you know, they’re really just kidding…or JK…which is shorter, but not used as much as the ubiquitous LOL.


“I think you dress like a tramp steamer...LOL!”

“Who cuts your hair…Edward Scissorhands…LOL?”
“This bean dip is just what I needed to get regular again…LOL!”

Then if you do happen to get tired of acronyms…you can slip right into the emoticons, which I happen to use frequently to express my state of mind.  

I actually carry a bunch of them around with me to use whenever I’m talking to people face to face. You have no idea how many awkward situations that's saved me.

And you can say practically anything to anybody as long as you use a winky emoticon to accentutate your meaning.

Well, I mean as long as they’re not wearing a badge, or a robe, or a hat or a jacket, or gloves…shoes, socks, glasses….


See…that means—

Oh, never mind…if you don’t know by now you’re probably weren’t asked to bring the potato salad to the Mensa meeting this weekend.

I know I wasn't.....


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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Still Summer?

It’s still summer, at least for a little while, but the telltale signs of autumn are making themselves known.

The earth has begun its annual tilt-a-whirl away from the sun, up here in the northern part of the globe.

I mean, I think that’s what it does…who knows.

All I know is, the morning dew has become a little bit thicker, the air a little bit cooler, the afternoon shadows a little bit longer, the fallen leaves beneath my feet a little bit crunchier…and the porch lights come on quite a bit earlier than they did just a month ago.

That, plus the hair on my neighbor’s back is starting to bush up again.

All signs that change is coming…and coming fast.

Despite the 90 degree heat and humidity that creeps back in, every once and while.  But why should I let reality stand in the way of a storyline?


Not that I have a story line. I rarely do. Should I really start changing things now?

Because the truth is, I don’t really know what I mean to say here.

I just know I had to throw on a pair of sweat pants this morning, to cover up my badly goose bumped legs.

First time my legs have been covered up since sometime in June, despite the constant haranguing of certain friends and neighbors.

Hey…it’s not my fault my knobby knees and patches of unchecked leg hair form images that may or may not be appropriate for all ages…especially middle aged women.  

I don’t know what that means either, and to be honest, it’s not really true, which means I lied, so why would you even believe that I’m being honest now, anyway.

Because I said so?

Okay…suit yourself.

I told you I had no idea of a story line here.

So I guess that’s pretty easy to believe.

But if I did have a point, it would be that the world turns…time passes…seasons change…and if we have any hope of maintaining some sort of equilibrium we need to change right along with it.

Attitude, outlook, perception…even long pants.

Adapt and move on.

Summer is tired, quietly slipping into the south.

Fall is fresh, standing in the wings…pumpkins at the ready…crisp days waiting for unwrapping.

Long nights unfolding…warm fires kindling.

Hot chocolates brewing…chestnuts roasting.

Leaf suckers sucking.

All on the way.

Everything in its time….in its place…including all of us.

Knobby knees and all.

 I guess I’m ready.

I have my long pants on….but only sweat pants

Not sure if my jeans will fit…not yet.

It was a pretty long summer….

It sill is.

At least for a little while....


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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ripples - The Sunday Archive of Retort - 3/15/13

Everyone creates ripples…every time we get out of bed in the morning. And you thought you were just looking for your slippers....

From 3/15/13:

Ripples (click click)


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Friday, September 5, 2014

Lost Willpower

I hate to say it but I’ve kind of lost my willpower.

Yep…all of it.

Bad, huh?

I mean, I’m not even sure how that happens.

One day your full of it—willpower, I mean—and the next day it’s gone…gone, just gone.

And I’m not even sure where it went.



Maybe even Kohl’s.

Who knows?

If I had to guess, I’d say somewhere with a temperate climate, all year round.

Possibly a tropical Island, with lots of pretty girls and those frilly, fruity, frozen drinks.

That’s what I’m thinking.

Because if I was my willpower, that’s what I would do.

And if I know anything, I know my willpower has been dreading the impending change of seasons.

Not that my willpower doesn’t like fall.

I’m pretty sure fall is fine with my willpower.

Apples and cider…warm days, cool night. Trees exploding with color above, leaves blowing and crunching underfoot, multiple L.L Bean Christmas catalogues filling up my mailbox…every day.

No…my willpower s okay with fall.

It’s just that it knows fall is followed by winter…and that’s a…well, that’s a whole other kettle of cold.

So my willpower took a powder…early…and to be honest it could be gone for a while.

I mean, wouldn’t you if you could?

I know I would…If I could…but I can’t.

So now I’m stuck here without any willpower at all.

And you know what that means.

Bring on the Carvels, the Häagen-Dazs and all the chocolate chip cookies and Milky Ways you can fit in your car…including the trunk.

And call the carpenter to widen the doors….again.

And break out all those old VHSs of Pewee’s Funhouse…not to mention the Simpson’s marathon of famous “Duh’s”…every last one of them!

And I think I’m having Facebook and Twitter surgically implanted into my hyper thalamus, or some sort of thalamus. Maybe my low-key Thalamus.

And you know those chores I’ve been putting off until the weather got a little cooler…not gonna happen..

Not now…not soon…not even who knows when.

If you happen to ask me what I think of your new mustache, or even your old mustache, I can’t be held responsible for whatever it is I say.

And if you ask me what I think of your husband’s mustache, don’t get mad if I can’t help telling you I like yours better than his.

It’s just how it goes without my willpower. Self-control goes right along with it.


You thought willpower traveled alone?

Nuh-uh…plus it insists on first class.

Won’t accept anything less…not even business…which can be quite comfortable.

But that’s willpower for you.  It has a mind of its own.

Plus it has my phone, which is actually a good thing, because without my willpower, my data charges are just out of control.

But that’s a story for another day.

Data charges…who can make any sense out of them?

Gotta go. My new credit cards just arrived and the Home Shopping Network is featuring garden gnomes all day. 

Gotta get those…all of them.

Who could resist garden gnomes?

They’ll go good with the concrete mushrooms I bought before breakfast.

They should be here pretty soon…I couldn’t resist same day delivery….

Who could?



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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Shoreline Revelations

Well, Labor Day has snuck back into town—a little prematurely,
this year, if you ask me—so before it’s too late, I thought I’d sneak one more beach story in while you can still smell the Coppertone.

Z and I were down on the Jersey Shore a few weeks ago for our annual pilgrimage to renew our…tans.

What?  You thought I was going to say something profound like: renew our spirits or our souls.

Well, yeah…that too. But any dyed in the sand beach person knows that comes standard, along with the shells and the dolphins, and everything else shore related.

And if you’re not a beach person, or have an aversion to rolling waves, sun, sand and a general sense of well-being…then please, just stay where you are and read no further. I wouldn’t want to sway your digitized soul with idyllic sunset allusions and mystical references to whales and pelicans, or take your nose out of your smart phone.

Besides, the line at the pancake house is already way
too long, even on weekdays….

The thing about a beach vacation, aside from the 3 pounds of sand you discover in the lining of your bathing suit when you get home, is that you discover a new revelation every year.

Perhaps a unique, personal insight about love and life, borne from the flotsam washed up and over your beach blanket as you sit way to close to the ocean’s edge, even after your spouse warns you, the tide is still coming in.

Or the correlation between clear morning sunrises and the line to buy cold cuts at the Acme.  Nah…I’m just kidding. There’s no correlation there…there’s always a line to buy cold cuts at the Acme.

No, the real revelation comes when you finally get to place your order at your favorite ice cream joint of choice, only to find they’ve discontinued that Bubble Gum Pineapple Pistachio nut flavor soft serve that you couldn’t get enough of the last three sum

But hey, that all part of the beach experience; the shore line is constantly evolving, so why not the flavor of the week?

This year, the thing that resonated most with me, was the idea that spending a week at the shore…any shore…is like spending a week lost in time.

Really, except for the ice cream, not much changes from decade to decade.

Oh sure, store fronts come and go, and super storms wash away iconic beach shacks from time to  time, but the spirit of the place, the faces and the smiles are constant from year to year…even after nature takes its best shot.

Drive anywhere on the main drag and you’ll find pairs of young boys, towels in tow, standing on the corner, laughing and shoving, just feet from the beach; wet, sun whipped, garbed in droopy bathing suits that could have been bought any time, from the 40’s to today. 

Little girls in ageless sunhats and colorful cover-ups, riding on dad’s shoulders; turned out himself like his dad, granddad and great granddad before him. All of them there, together…in spirit if not form.

Mom’s sporting large, round sunglasses, flopping in universal flips, dragging beach wagons behind, filled with tubes and balls…shovels and buckets soon to be packed with castle making, dragon dreams.

Eyes sparkling, anticipation building…onward and over the dunes, to the beach, dotted with   unchanged, unending umbrellas, spreading to the sea.

Simple, timeless, free and freeing.

Another week at the beach…revealing the past, the present and future in a single glance, on a single street corner…just feet from a timeless shore.

Can’t wait to find what next year brings….


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