Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Narcissistic Nitwit

The bad thing about being a Narcissistic Nitwit is that—A: you were probably born a Narcissistic Nitwit, and B: you will probably always be a Narcissistic Nitwit.

The good thing is, since you are a Narcissistic Nitwit—A: you don’t mind being a Narcissistic Nitwit, and B: you eventually come to think that being a Narcissistic Nitwit is the greatest thing in the world…if you hadn’t already…which you probably had.

Having said that, I guess one of the nicer things—Narcissistic Nitwit or not— about sitting where I sit nowadays, is I’m able to see the world from both sides of the fence.

Plus I can use confusing double metaphors, which nobody really understands, but won’t question, because they figure I’m old enough and experienced enough that it must mean something…which isn’t necessarily true.

But in this case it is.

What I’m suggesting, or pontificating—which is more accurate—is that when you’re young and coming into your own, you basically think you understand everything there is to know about the universe, in all its grand majesty…plus a couple of other universes that most people aren’t even aware exist.

You feel that once you learned to ride a bike, you also invented the wheel…and the little bell thingie.

And now you can’t wait to tell other people about it.

In fact you can’t imagine how the world has been able to manage without this wheel— let alone the little bell thingie—for so long, in the first place.

But you’re more than happy to share your unique perspectives and insights with all the clueless unfortunates in the world, whose lives you are more than happy to enhance.

Thank me…thank me very much….

I’m more than welcome…yes, I know, I know….

No need to embarrass yourself.  Let me….

Then after you live a while—actually live and experience all the sides and all the angles life has to offer; the light, the shadows and those murky areas in between—you realize that nobody, least of all you, has all the answers.

And boy, let me tell that ever a relief!

I mean who needs all that responsibility?

Not a Narcissistic Nitwit like me….

Sure, it’s natural, once you get a little age under your belt, to have an inclination to help others in avoiding the same mistakes that you made.  So you can’t resist offering a little grey beard advice now and again.

And once you do, whether or not it’s heeded isn’t really your concern. It’s enough that you put it out there.

And, the truth is, we know the lessons best learned were the ones we taught ourselves by making those mistakes in the first place.

And when we fell, we had a choice: sit there and feel sorry for ourselves, hoping someone will come and bail us out…or pick ourselves up and try not to make the same mistake twice.

I usually took the latter approach, mostly because I was too much of a Narcissistic Nitwit to take no for an answer. And because I was a Narcissistic Nitwit, I usually made the same mistake more than twice…with the same results, which is also the definition by some—not me—of crazy.

But the world needs the Narcissistic Nitwit.  Without them we probably wouldn’t have a light bulb, or a computer, or an iPod. We also probably wouldn’t have a couple of dozen buildings and golf courses named Trump, but hey…nobody said it was a perfect system.

 I mean no one asked ME to design it….

Unfortunately, for every successful Narcissistic Nitwit there are probably ten thousand unsuccessful ones, who basically can’t get out of their own way. But they’re not hurting anyone, other than themselves…and their families…and their friends…and their co-workers…and every poor person in the world who has to offer them a service of some sort or another and just don’t know what they’re doing!!!!!

But I digress….

As I said…it gets better with age. Presbyopia aside, you begin to see things a lot clearer the further you move away from your overextended goals.

You start to realize that where you are is really not too bad, and the way you got there, circuitous or not, was the way you needed to go.

And you see the same is true for everyone around you.

They didn’t need to do it the way you thought they needed to do it, when you were young; the way you did or didn’t do it. The way you suddenly discovered and knew would save the world.

Now, you understand; they already knew it and discarded it. Knew it wasn’t for them, much to your disdain and condescending contempt and loathing.

That’s just the way of the world.

Why should you waste all your genius and greatness on them?

And if you’re not smart enough to know that…well then I just feel sorry for you….



Make sure to "Like" the Retorts on Facebook

Or just Tolerate them ...if "Like" is too much of a commitment

For the latest Retorts: Click here 

 on Twitter   

Or subscribe above to receive Retorts by E-Mail
I know...too many options. Probably better to just go back to bed....

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Little Village on the Hill

Z and I had a family reunion of sorts the other day; both hers and mine.

Generally, I’m a little wary of such kinfolk adventures, but we’ve participated in this particular exercise for quite a while now.

The best thing is, unlike other such family events, there’s no squabbling, no judgment, no sage advice or stealthy, butinski information gathering…for the most part.

No…Z and I just drop by and say our hellos, maybe provide an update of interest like the current baseball standings, or the state of this year’s rhododendrons, and basically do what we have to do.

By now you may have guessed that this particular family reunion starts out up on the hill, in the little village within our village, otherwise known as St. Mary’s cemetery.

And, also by now, you might understand why there is very little in the way of familial friction…like I said…for the most part.

It’s a Memorial Day tradition that Z and I sort of inherited in that we were the “chosen ones” of our respective families, who accompanied our predecessors to the cemetery every year for the mulching and weeding of gardens, planting of flowers, trimming of bushes and even the spreading of grass seed to fill in the occasional bare patch.

For a kid, the idea of death is somewhat foreign; something relegated to an “alien distant shore” to quote Mr. Springsteen. 

“Hey, I’m just getting started…you want me to think about the end already?” to quote 10 year old me.

My first tangible memory of this sort of thing was back in 1964, when I had been selected to serve as an altar boy for the annual Memorial Day mass conducted right in the cemetery itself, down where the Mausoleum is now, in front of the big monument. 

It was a grey blustery day, and my primary function was to hold the pages of the liturgy in place so the priest could read it without jumping from Peter to pay Paul and confusing everybody…or everybody who was actually paying attention.  We weren’t far from where a large plot of nuns took their eternal rest, and even in death I could hear their admonishments for me to stand up straight without schlumping my shoulders.

Anyway, as I stood there, back straight, shoulders high, I looked out at all the solemn faces standing in the cold and wondered what the big deal was. What was this all about?

Then the priest kicked my foot and I remembered to turn the page and that was the end of that.

Right after the mass, my dad and I walked up the hill to visit the grave of my Irish, grandfather— my dad’s dad—who had died just a month or so before. It was the first time I was seeing the newly installed headstone and I have to admit it kind of shook me a little to see my last name carved into the granite, and then my gramps’s first name, below, with those tell-tale bracketed years that define a lifetime. 

And then I stated to understand what this was all about.

My dad being my dad didn’t come with flowers. Instead he pulled from his jacket pocket a can of Rheingold beer, cracked it open and took a sip. 

He nudged my shoulder and to my surprise, offered the can to me.

“Really?” I said.

“Just a sip…and don’t tell your mother.”

Which I didn’t…I guess until now.

Then he took the can and placed it by the freshly carved monument to my gramp’s life…and we walked back to the car.

Now, Z and I return every year, without the beer, but instead with flowers, to honor those who lived before us, including my dad who was gone a few short years later…but not because my mom found out about the can of beer.

Z’s the gardener, so she jumps right in and claws through the sun hardened earth while I fetch water and obediently pick up the discarded debris.  We work our way down the hill, to my Irish grandparents, to my great aunt and uncle, who never had kids of their own, and never figured to be remembered nearly 50 years later with red geraniums, let alone a nephew who knew them for less than a decade.

Then on to Z’s never met grandparents, then my grandmother’s best friend, then Z’s great aunt and finally a stop to visit with my Italian grandparents and yet another aunt and uncle in the building situated right on the spot where this story began.  

I don’t know…but as I pass through that solemn space it always reminds me of some sort of ‘Hall of Fame” with all those familiar townfolk names carved into its echoing halls. Perhaps that seems somewhat irreverent, but in a way isn’t that what it really is? Not a shrine for ballplayers for a game well played, but a shrine for those that went before us for a life well lived.

And as I look back up the hill at the village within our village, I don’t see row after row of granite stones. Instead I see row after row of graduates.  They put their time in, lived, loved, thrived and suffered.  Whether at 5 or 25…45 or 105…soldiers and civilians, young and old, family all, they accepted whatever this life had to teach them and moved what, I have no idea, but I think to something. Their stories, written…their lessons learned...their legacies remembered.

There’s peace in that…and that’s why we honor them...and learn from that as well; those of us who have so much more to learn and hopefully so much more to live…whatever that may bring

Then it’s on to the White Plains Rural Cemetery where Z’s mom and dad await a red white and blue patriotic display.

But not red geraniums…anything but, because Z says her mom would rise and die all over again if she ever put a geranium on her grave. 

I don’t argue, even though we have half a dozen red geraniums left in the car and I think Z s being a little melodramatic.

But it’s Memorial Day… we just do the things we do and don’t ask questions.

Though if anyone could pull off that trick it would be Z’s Mom.

Just to prove me wrong….


Also for Memorial Day, 2014

A Memorable Family Tour


If you enjoy the Retort, please click "Like" on the FLR Facebook Page

If you don't like it, please click the same button...but with a negative attitude.

Or you can just

Tolerate the Retorts on Facebook if "Like" is too much of a commitment

Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer is Here…Unofficially

Memorial Day weekend is finally upon us, along with the unofficial start of summer.

How cool is that…unofficially?

And, unofficially, I’m pretty excited about the whole thing.

The beaches are opening…the BBQ’s are lighting…the flips are flopping.

And everyone gets to enjoy a three day weekend to boot!


I don’t really get the whole “unofficial” qualifier.

I mean, obviously, I know all about the whole solstice thing in a few weeks. We even throw a big party to celebrate.

Mostly because no one else does.

In fact, I already have a call into my Druid and Morris Dancer guy.  I don’t want to get shut out again, like last year, and end up with those cut rate Druids who made a mess of the whole human sacrifice thing. 

Plus they don’t clean up after themselves like the real ones do.

But the Solstice is mostly a celestial thing. 

For the most part everyone thinks of Memorial Day as the actual start of the summer season.

So why not just make it official….officially.

I mean we’ve already diminished the true meaning of the day anyway, just like we do all the other holidays we’ve co opted and moved to Mondays for the long weekend and extended sale days.

So let’s just drop the pretense.

What…were a afraid of a few noisy Mystics and Druids?

Believe me…I know Mystics and Druids. They’re all smoke and hot air.

Officially, Z and I still have a lot of Memorial Day deadline work to get in.

You know…the types of things you put on yourself as a way of getting things done before you settle in to enjoy all those lazy hazy daze.

Like putting the finishing touches on our garden planting and mulching.

Putting away our winter clothes.

Putting the screens in the doors.

Returning the Zamboni.

You know… those kinds of things.

Plus I should probably clean out the grill and get rid of all the accumulated grease, left over from the Carter administration.

This year I was thinking of molding a sculpture of myself with it.

I usually try to do a clown…but it always comes out looking like me anyway.

So why go through all that bother of trying to get the buttons right.

Then we’ll probably go to at least a couple of holiday cook outs.  But one’s with Z’s family, which means I’ll spend most of my time fetching drinks, since most of them still think I’m the waiter.

Another possible party situation could be with some old friends, who go way, way back.  They don’t think I’m the waiter, but they still ask me to get them drinks.

I guess it’s the white jacket…and the bowtie.

If we’re lucky we might be able to get a few hours of beach time in.

The first day out is always exciting cuz you get to see all the regulars again and wonder what happened to all the regulars you don’t see.

Elbow Man…Bad Body Betty…Woeful Wedgie Man with the bad tan…Loud Talking Twosome….

There’re a lot more. I could go on and on. I haven’t even broached the life guards yet.

I’m “Too Many Towel Guy”…or at least that’s what I would call myself if I could see myself objectively…which is, you know…impossible.

I outlined the reasons for that moniker in myofficial” beach discourse last year.

So after all the cloudy dank weather we’ve had for most of the week, a trip to the beach would be nice…but only unofficially.

But official or not…the summer is here. 

The humidity will follow….

As will the sound of backs snap, crackle popping like Rice Krispies as we wrestle with our air conditioners, trying to combat it.

Then along come the lightening bugs and their evil mosquito cousins.

Trips to Carvel's for ice cream.

Clear starry nights and steamy summer mornings.

Ice tea, pink lemonade…and did I mention the gin and tonics.

The summer is here and I for one plan to enjoy all of it—every single summer second of it— without looking ahead or counting down to Labor Day…the “unofficial” end of summer…which is only 101 measly days away.

I’m just saying….



From Memorial Day 2011

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Appearances are Important

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about body image.

Apparently it’s important what your body says about you in the way that it presents itself to others.

Like I have control over that?

My body has a mind of its own.

I mean it really has a mind of its own.  It showed up in my chest x-ray, right next to my liver.


I don’t know…I’ve never thought a lot about my body image before. I mean I don’t hear a lot of gasps and things when I walk into a room…at least not since I had the mole that looked like Grandpa Munster removed.

And when I go to the beach and take my shirt off only the toddlers run away…you know, because of my third nipple.

The adults just turn their chairs.

Sure, there were times when I would walk into a dimly lit room and it appeared as if Alfred Hitchcock’s shadow followed me in.

But I’ve been losing weight…again…and Al’s pretty much gone for now.

Now it just looks as if Beetle Bailey walked in.

They say kids have a tough time with body image because of all the beautiful people they see in the movies and on TV.

But I don’t have a problem with that; we need beautiful people in the movies and on TV.

What…I should pay 12 bucks to go look at ugly people?

I can do that for free everyday…every morning…when I look in the mirror.

So there’s that….

Then we have body language…as if I don’t have enough trouble with the regular kind…body or otherwise.

Apparently when we meet someone for the first time our body language does all the talking for us, at least to those who understand such things.

How firmly we shake hands, hold our arms, turn our feet in, turn our feet out …make eye contact, avoid eye contact…stick our fingers in our ears.

All of it matters, especially if you stick your fingers in someone else’s ears.

With or without an explanation….

Then today’s horoscope is telling me my inner self and outer self are going to be out of sync.

Like I need that again…especialy on a Sunday….

The last time my inner self and outer self were out of sync it caused a lot of trouble.

I ran a stop sign and got ticket.

I mistakenly insulted a Canadian.

I picked up the Wall Street Journal instead of the NY Post and ended up placing an order for 2,000 shares of something called “Cookies Crockery” instead of ordering my usual…well, never mind.

I bought low sodium soap instead of soup…the wrong non-dairy creamer.

Met the wrong friend for lunch.

Ate the right lunch but at the wrong table.

And don’t get me started on the Aquarium.

It was really getting to the point that I considered seeking out a professional for some counseling.

But then I went to the men’s room and discovered that I had just put on my underwear backwards, which in itself is disconcerting…at least in the moment.

So I better go and check on that again.

You never know when you’re going to run into another Canadian. …

If you enjoy the Retort, do me a favor and click on the "Like" button, up top on the right (PC's only), or "Like" the FLR Facebook Pagehere. Things have picked up considerably from a week ago and now with a few more "Likes" I'm hoping to cash in on the sea monkey farm. 

If you don't like it, please click the same button...but with a negative attitude. Thanks....

Or Now you can just

"Like" is much too much of a commitment—


Monday, May 21, 2012

Back Attack

Z threw out her back on Saturday.

Yep…just got tired of it and put it out in the garage with the rest of the trash.

I told her that maybe she should have waited until she got the new one before throwing out the old one…but nope…out it went.

Actually, all kidding aside, she really did do something to her back. 

I’ve been warning her to be more careful. Not to take all those risky chances she's so fond of; but she doesn’t listen.  She just plows ahead and does crazy things like picking up that bottle of Clorox in the grocery store.


So now someone's paying the price.

I know….

But I guess it could be worse.

I mean she could be screaming and moaning A LOT more than she is.

Which would be even more annoying.

So I’m dealing….

You know?


I guess we’ve all been there, but you can’t really appreciate it, or understand it, until you are…actually there.

Try watching this relatively youngish person carry out your cocktails like Tim Conway as that 110 year old man.

I mean those ice cubes aren’t going to last forever.

But once I got the tray that attaches to the walker it’s gotten better.

A little….

However, the walker doesn’t work on the stairs too well, with or without the tray…even though I argued that it did.

It doesn’t…..

So it takes Z forever to haul those laundry baskets up and down…both flights to the basement.

Every step an agony unto itself.

Just try listening to that all day.




So risky.

Of course I’m sympathetic and do what I can to help out.

I’m not as critical if she misses a spot when she vacuums or washes the kitchen floor.

I let it slide.

And I didn’t expect her to get all the gardens cleaned out and planted in one day.

Not really…..

But I thought she’d have most of it done by noon on Sunday.

I even gave her a hand.

I told her when the line of marigolds was getting a little uneven.

I’m not sure she would have picked up on that on her own.

You know…because of the tears.

And I told her to skip the lawn this week. 

Well, at least the back.

Behind the garage.

So she appreciated that.

I offered to go to the grocery store to pick up some beer.

I was already down to my last 4 cases, and I don’t usually like it to get below 6.

I even carried most of them into the basement myself.

But, yeah…I guess you could say this weekend’s been a little bit out of whack…just like Z’s back.

At least the Percocet is wearing off.

So there’s less passing out.

But that was only a problem when I was driving…at least for the other drivers.

Anyway, thankfully, Z’s starting to feel better. I can tell because her aim is much more accurate when she throws things at me.

Especially the garden trowel….

So things are slowly getting back to normal…so to speak.

But thanks for caring.

I know…..

Tough to get old….


Friday, May 18, 2012

Dandelion Discourse

There’re a lot of Dandelions this year…a lot.

Those little yellow headed critters that dot our lawns all spring and summer.

Well, not mine…at least not for long.  Let’s just say, they know better than to make a stop on my lawn. 

My grandmother used to eat dandelions, which embarrassed the rest of us.  I mean she could have put them on a plate …or at least picked them out of the grass first.

No…I’m kidding. It’s not like she was some kind of granny goat. She would trudge around the yard, in the dress she always wore instead of pants, and cut them down with a knife. Then she’d clean them up and make a salad out of them. I was the only other person in the family that actually liked them. A little bitter, if I recall, but hey, so am I, so it suited me.

I actually saw my first dandelion pop up as early as February, this year. They’re resilient little guys and you have to admire that. They just don’t get their due, at least as far as flowers go. In fact, I bet most of you just call them weeds. 

Yeah…me too, until I found out the hard way; there’s a lot more to them than that.

I was out the other day; let’s say “dealing” with said dandelions, when one of them starts to chat me up.

I hate that.

Especially when…you know…I have plans for them.

I mean do I really need to assign a face to my dandelions?

Anyway, this dandelion tells me that being a dandelion in this century blows.

That once they were held in very high regard; even given the name of “Lion’s Tooth” to distinguish them from all the other pedestrian vegetation out there.

Now, everyone just sees them as weeds, which they find so insulting. No one sees them for what they are, which, as I said, is really just a flower…a flower like any other kind of flower.

“Well,” I said to the dandelion, “these days folks like to keep their lawns nice and green. In fact they spend a lot of money on it. You guys sort of muck that all up with all that yellow.”

“So what’s wrong with yellow? There’re yellow tulips, carnations, daisies…and what about that obnoxious yellow rose of Texas, who thinks so highly of himself just because someone wrote a song about him? No one complains about any of them!”

Things were starting to get  a little heated  now, at least from the dandelions perspective, so I thought I’d better try to smooth things over a bit.  You don’t want to get a dandelion all worked up. It can take hours to calm them down, once you do.

“Listen, ah…Dan…can I call you Dan?”

“Why would you call me Dan?  My name’s Greg…”

“Oh…sorry…I just assumed—”

“Of course you just assumed….EVERYBODY just assumes, when it comes to the dopey dandelions!”

“Okay calm down….”

“Calm down? Why should I calm down?  Don’t you think I know what you’re up to with that little spray bottle you’re hiding behind your back?”

“Well, no.  I—”

“I bet you don’t know about our medicinal properties?  Or all the nutrients we put back into the soil to make your precious little graminoids flourish.

“My what?”

‘You’re lawn, idiot!”


We’re good for all kinds of things…we even make a tasty salad…just ask your grandmother.”

“You knew my grandmother?  But how…?”

“What…you think this measly little week is all I get?  Hey buddy, wise up.  You know all those little puffy seeds you used to blow on when you were a kid? 


“Well, just more of me, cloning myself over and over again, year after year, decade after decade. But one little squirt from your bottle of poison there and that’s the end of that”

“But that’s the problem”, I said, now armed with a salient point.  “You just scatter to the wind and spread your seed everywhere…there’s no end to where you’ll pop up.”

“Hey, what do you expect…I’m French,” he replied with a wink.

“Alright,” I said.  “You make some good points.  I was really just coming out here to deal with the clover.”

“Good idea…they never were lucky, anyway.   And take care of that Chickweed and Creeping Charlie, while you’re at it.  They’re nothing but a bunch of hooligans that give us all a bad name.”

And so I did.

When I returned a few days later, Greg had already transformed into a little, white puff ball of seed.

Gently, I picked him up from his little patch of earth and recalled our conversation.

Then, I proceeded to blow, gently…all over my neighbor’s lawn.

I don’t need any more obnoxious little know it all dandelions on mine….

If you enjoy the Retort, do me a favor and click on the "Like" button, up top on the right (PC's only), or "Like" the FLR Facebook Pagehere. Things have picked up considerably from a week ago and now with a few more "Likes" I'm hoping to cash in on the sea monkey aquarium.  

If you don't like it, please click the same button...but with a negative attitude. Thanks....

Or Now you can just

 Tolerate the Retorts on Facebook
"Like" is much too much of a commitment—

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Device Difficulties

The first thing I do every morning is turn on all my devices.

Yeah…I know.

I probably shouldn’t have turned them off in the first place…but I do.

I can’t help it…all those little amber lights staring at me in the dark, make me nuts.

And I’m cheap.

Plus, I can’t tolerate the idea of my devices being up all night without me.

I’m afraid I might miss something…or worse, they’ll talk about me.

Because they can do that now, these devices…they can talk to each other.

They’re all pretty smart. 

Too smart….


Kind of makes me long for the days when the only device I had to worry about in the morning was the coffee maker.

But even then I had trouble because my coffee maker had attitude, which in itself wasn’t so bad, but tack that on to the little judgmental thing it had going on…well, who needs that first thing, every day.

But at least the coffee maker didn’t talk to the toaster.

Not that I’m aware of.

Now when I wake up, I turn on my phone, my bedroom TV, my office computer, my office monitor, my office printer, my office scanner, my office TV…my bathroom radio, my all in one ultrasonic toothbrush/razor/nose hair and ear hole trimmer…and that’s just the second floor.

On the first floor I turn on my laptop, sunroom TV, sunroom DVR, sunroom audio system, kitchen TV…and then my new, non-judgmental coffee maker.

Then it’s usually time for lunch.

Imagine if I owned an iPhone.

If I owned an iPhone I’d have to turn that on too.

And I’ve heard iPhones can be really judgmental.

“You gained 2 pounds today…”

“You’re going out in that shirt?”

“Don’t you think it’s time you called your mother?”

Same thing with the iPad.

“Don’t you think it’s time you upgraded me to a 3…I mean don’t the Johnsons have a 3?”

How does it know the Johnsons have a 3?

Who needs that?

It’s bad enough when my computer butts in when I’m in the middle of something important, like this blog, and tells me there’s an upgrade for my badminton software.

Or that my virus definitions are out of date.


Who needs to know the latest description of the swine flu?


Or that a new version of Flash is available.

What the heck is Flash?

That thing my old gym teacher used to teach us?

And besides…what was wrong with the old version?

Or that a nice girl named Mona is trying to make changes to my windows.

I get that one every day for some reasons…and I never find anything new about my windows.

Of course my car can tell me what the temperature is, both inside and out, plus how much air I have in my tires.

I don’t mind that too much, but I do have a problem when it tells me I’ve been eating too much red meat.

Speaking of which…cars, I mean, not red meat…We’re getting a new car in the very near future and I hear the new models now know how to answer your phone for you.

So that might be kind of cool…unless Z’s in the car with me when Mona calls.

I don’t think Z would understand the $8.99 per minute rates that apply.

And now that I think about it, that is a lot of money just to make changes to my windows.

Oh wait…the microwave is beeping…it’s a little insecure and always craves attention.

Or is that the stove?

Nope…I think it’s the dishwasher.

It must have finished paying my bills.

See what I mean…way too many devices.

I better start turning them off, so I can get to bed by midnight.