Entry 765: Things I’ve Learned as a First-Time Grandfather

Well, I’ve been a grandfather for about 24 hours now, and I’m ready to impart some essential advice to readers who plan on following in my grandfatherly footsteps. In no particular order . . .

  • Before accepting a used high-tech diaper disposal unit from a relative, be sure there aren’t any 2-year-old used diapers inside.
  • Also on the subject of hand-me-downs: Furniture–okay. Unstained clothing–okay. Burping towels–buy new ones for the kid, you cheap bastard.
  • Don’t assume you remember anything about caring for a newborn. Which is actually okay, because…
  • ….pretty much everything you did when your child was born was wrong, and it’s a miracle she made it to kindergarten.
  • When your daughter tells you she plans to wake her newborn up every two hours for a feeding, try not to laugh.
  • When your daughter shows you ultrasound photos, it’s okay to pretend you can identify the various body parts as long as you don’t point and say things like, “She’s got a cute nose.” You will invariably be pointing to the baby’s toe.
  • When your wife and pregnant daughter tell you that your daughter is having minor pregnancy issues and you don’t want to know about them, they are correct.
  • Advise your daughter not to schedule a birth around the date of a royal wedding. To quote my wife last week, “Everybody’s talking about Meghan Markle and nobody’s talking about my granddaughter.” Fortunately, by the time our granddaughter was born, Meghan was old news.
  • Newborns are now required to have something called “tummy time” every day. This is to avoid the unintended consequences (like flattened skulls and undeveloped muscles) of forcing babies to sleep on their backs to avoid SIDS. But the sleeping on the back thing started in 1992, and the tummy time thing began in 1998 so, presumably, there are now a bunch of 20-something weaklings in the world who are unable to get a hat to fit properly.
  • When you hear that the baby’s other set of grandparents are giving the parents-to-be a SNOO*, and you Google it to see what the hell that is, don’t be shocked when you discover that, each night, the baby is mummified and clipped into place, like a very tiny insane person in an asylum.
  • A few times a week, your wife will approach you with tiny garments and say “Look what I found on sale. Isn’t it cute? It was only five bucks.”
  • Fifty times five is $250.
  • As far as your daughter is concerned, the most important person in the delivery room will be the person who takes the first pictures of the baby. That job usually falls to the father, especially in my daughter’s case because she’s having a scheduled c-section so her husband doesn’t have to be preoccupied with helping her breathe. I’m a little jealous, because taking that photo is a lot easier these days. I remember that my wife’s doctor, while doing her c-section, had to take time out from the operation to remind me to remove the lens cap of our camera.
  • The first pictures will be out in the world seconds after the baby is out in the world. Back in our day, we had to get them developed (the pictures, not the babies).
  • Here’s something else I remember from our daughter’s birth which I passed down to our son-in-law. During the c-section, they place a screen roughly halfway down the woman’s torso and tell the father not to look on the other side of it. That is some of the best advice you will get in your life.
  • Millennials don’t do the cigar thing.
  • Do not be alarmed when you go to the hospital to see your new granddaughter and notice she’s got some sort of device attached to her ankle. She is not already under house arrest. It’s a security thing; the staff will take it off when she is taken home, as if the baby has just been purchased at a clothing store.
  • When you go to the hospital the first day, also do not be alarmed when it appears that your wife will not relinquish her hold on the baby under any circumstances.
  • There are aspects of your daughter’s pregnancy that are reminiscent of the months before her wedding. Here’s one that comes to mind: When your wife and your daughter are arguing about something that seems silly or obvious to you, do not participate in the debate. Somehow, you will piss both of them off.
  • Evidently you cannot announce a baby’s name these days unless you first check to see that the domain name is available.
  • Here’s an observation my wife shared with me after a trip to Buy Buy Baby: “You wouldn’t believe,” she said, “how many different kinds of nipples there are.”
  • When your daughter, in her eighth month, says, “That’s it. I am now officially just a belly,” there is no appropriate response.
  • Seriously, don’t even try to install the car seat.

See you soon, and keep scrolling down.

*I actually did know what a SNOO was, because I had recently read an article about its inventor, a self-proclaimed baby sleep expert who says that infants as a whole have not had a decent night’s sleep since parents began forcing them to sleep on their backs to prevent SIDS. Which I guess means that parents in the 90’s had to deal with cranky, flat-headed infants who couldn’t even lift a pacifier.

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Entry 764:. . . and Lyft is Working with the Navy on Water Taxis

Well, here’s a team-up I didn’t see coming: the United States Army and . . .

. . . Uber.

I know what you’re thinking, but, no, the following scenario will not be played out in Afghanistan:

  • Soldier #1: According to the app, our Uber driver, Ahmad, will be picking us up here in Arghandab at 31.6547°N 65.6494°E in about a half hour because he’s in Kanduhar now.
  • Soldier #2: I never remember: do we tip with cash?

But while Ahmad may not be driving his 2013 Ford Fusion to extract U.S. soldiers, he may be flying there.

In his 2022 Ford Fusion.

That’s because the project Uber is working on with the U.S. Army is flying cars.

And best of all, these airborne autos won’t be just for military use. Soon we’ll all be flying around in our Camrys before we drop from the sky like dead pigeons because none of us know how to fly.

According to a joint release from Uber and the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command, they expect to spend $1 million to develop and test prototypes for a rotor system that would be used on a vertical take-off and landing vehicle.

You may now be asking two questions about that statement:

QUESTION #1. “Vertical take-off and landing vehicle”–um, isn’t that a helicopter?
You are correct. But Uber and the Army have determined that there are instances when a helicopter is a poor solution for vertical take-offs and landings, such as when the army desires not to draw attention to itself with excessive noise, or when some moron summons an Uber from an underground parking garage.

Uber actually does intend to use these things as taxis, possibly as a replacement for their self-driving cars, which have been driving themselves into things and people on a regular basis. “Achieving ultra-low noise is one of the critical obstacles to deploying aerial taxis in urban areas,” said Rob McDonald, head of vehicle engineering for Uber Elevate, the company’s flying car operation.

Yes, that would definitely be one of the critical obstacles, along with enticing people to get into a car-o-copter with Greg, who is flying for Uber part-time in addition to his day job as a bicycle messenger.

Plus, judging from the artist renderings handed out by Uber, I’m guessing that, in addition to making the flying car quieter, they would also need to make it a good deal smaller. Somehow, I can’t see this thing landing on Broadway and 38th Street to pick up a passenger.

And I think Homeland Security might have something to say about having all these cars flying around tall buildings.

QUESTION #2. I’m sorry, but did you say they were spending $1 million on development of the flying car? Doesn’t it cost the Army more than that to develop a hammer?
I see where you’re going with that question, and I agree that $1 million doesn’t seem like a lot to spend on developing an Aerojeep. In fact, I was sure it was a typo that was missing several zeroes, but I checked a number of stories, and they all said $1 million. Of course, in these times when journalism mostly consists of cutting and pasting stuff from one website to another, it’s quite possible that the site I cut and pasted it from had cut and pasted it from another site that got it wrong.

On the other hand, if that figure is accurate, it indicates that neither Uber nor the Army is making a huge commitment to the vertical take-off and landing vehicle market. It’s more like, “Here’s a few bucks; see what you can do with it.” After all, the cost of developing a new regular car model starts at $1 billion, and that can result in something like the Fiat 500 Pop, which can barely make it up a hill, much less take to the air.

In conclusion, it really doesn’t sound like you’ll be picked up at the restaurant by a Fluber anytime soon. But if it does come to pass, I want full credit (and royalties) for creating the word “Fluber™.”

See you soon.

P.S. That’s “Fluber” as in “flying Uber,” not “Flubber,” which is the ingredient that may be used to make the flying Uber fly.

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Entry 763: Party Line

In one of the most nauseating news stories of 2018, New York Magazine reports that President Trump and Fox News personality Sean Hannity talk on the phone almost every night. According to the report . . .

“All White House phone numbers begin with the same six digits: 202-456. Hannity calls the White House switchboard, a number listed publicly, and reaches an operator. The operator refers to a list of cleared callers, a few dozen friends and family members outside the administration who may contact President Donald Trump through this official channel — among them his adult sons, Eric and Don Jr.; private-equity billionaire Stephen Schwarzman; media billionaire Rupert Murdoch; real-estate billionaire Tom Barrack; Patriots owner and also-billionaire Robert Kraft; and Hannity.”

Trump’s non-adult son, Barron, evidently has to call Mike Pence for fatherly advice, while his daughters, Ivanka and Tiffany, presumably would prefer not to talk to dad while he’s unsupervised.

But getting back to Hannity, the article reports that he calls the White House around 10pm every night, which would be right after his show on Fox News ends. I’m not sure why I find this routine so stomach-churning. Maybe it’s because of the optics. Not the real optics, but the scene playing in my head of Sean and Donny gabbing on the phone every night like two teenaged girls.

Of course, I have no clue what two teenaged girls sound like on the phone, or if they even talk on phones anymore. But according to New York, Sean and Donny’s calls begin with “How are yous and what’s going ons,” so I’ll start there.

Sean: How are you?
Donny: My poll numbers are up.
Sean: What else is going on? You sound triggered.
Donny: NGI, that Michael Cohen has me feelin’ roasted.
Sean: I told you he was sus.
Donny: Then why did you use him?
Sean: Because you told me to.
Donny: Yeah, well I didn’t know he was such a tool.
Sean: Obvi. But don’t be boofin’.
Donny: I’m shook, Sean.
Sean: Can we just swipe left and talk about something nice?
Donny: Wait–what’s “swipe left?” I thought it was “swipe right” when the chick on Tinder is hot.
Sean: Yeah, well “swipe left” is, like “change the subject.”
Donny: Haven’t heard that one.
Sean: I just made it up. So how are things with Vlad?
Donny: I don’t know. I’m feeling curved.
Sean: Don’t be emo. He loves you.
Donny: I think this ship is at peak feels.
Sean: Oh, just say “Bye, Felicia” already. Vlad’s such a wanksta.
Donny: But he was my wanksta.
Sean: What do you think Mueller is gonna…
Donny: Sean, I can’t even. Don’t get me started on that basic bitch. I’m taking care of him.
Sean: Speaking of which, can I ask you a question? Guiliani? For reals? He’s such a creeper.
Donny: I want him in my squad, Sean.
Sean: I don’t know, bruh. I think he’s crashy.
Donny: Netflix and chill, Sean.
Sean: Um, Donny, I don’t think that means what you think it means.
Donny: Like chillaxin, right?
Sean: Not so much, no.
Donny: Hmm. I’ll ask Ivanka next time I see her. I’ll say, “Hey, Ivanka, wanna Netflix and chill?”
Sean: NAGI! NAGI!
Donny: Well, HAK, Sean. gotta go to bed so I can get up early for Fox & Friends.
Sean: Night, Donny. TTYL.

Yes, I think that’s what their nightly calls might sound like.

See you soon.

P.S. Obvi, I had to consult a number of English-to-teen translation websites for this post, and I’m sure I’ve misused terms so that people will be texting “SMH.” On the other hand, I can’t imagine Sean and Donny using the terms correctly either, can you? Donny can’t even use regular English correctly.

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Entry 762: I’m Not a Real Person; I Just Play One on TV

I’ve waited long enough. It’s time I used this platform to address one of the scourges of our society, something almost every American can agree on even in these devisive times, something nearly everyone hates, regardless of political affiliation, ethnicity, religion, or status.

Supporters of the #metoo movement hate them. Male chauvinists hate them. Neo-Nazis hate them. Jews and Arabs hate them equally. Baby boomers hate them, Generation X hates them. Millennials hate them and parody them. Even Donald Trump probably hates them, although he hasn’t mentioned them in tweets (to my knowledge).

I speak, of course, about those damn Chevy commercials.

You know the ones. With the real people instead of unreal actors reacting with undue enthusiasm as the bearded host extols the features of a Chevy vehicle or lists all the awards Chevy has won.

“Really?” “Go, Chevy!” “Where can I get me one of these?” “That’s amazing!” “Awesome!”

Most sane people agree that these sorts of responses seem out of proportion to the revelation that the Chevy Cruze has Bluetooth.

These commercials are so ubiquitous and so annoying, I decided to take action on behalf of my fellow Americans and do some actual research in order to answer some of the questions all of us have about these inane spots. After a grueling five minutes, here’s what I found out:

Question: Are the real people really real people?
Answer: Yes. Obviously they are not androids running on artificial intelligence unless there’s something seriously wrong with their programming. And, as promised, they are not actors, except that the commercials are filmed in Los Angeles, so I’m sure some “actors” slip in there in the guise of waiters and office temps.

Question: Do real actors get offended at the implication that they are not real people?
Answer: Only someone who has not personally known an actor would ask that question.

Question: How many people are actually filmed in order to make one commercial?
Answer: I don’t know exactly. Everyone involved in these things has to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so it’s difficult to get inside info. But enough information has leaked out so that we know the people are recruited off the street and gathered in some large venue like the Los Angeles Convention Center. This is not, in itself, indicative of how many people are filmed, because they also need the space to set up their ridiculous reveals, like cars popping out from the wall or SUVs stacked on top of one another. However, if you watch just one commercial carefully, you’ll usually see at least a dozen different people. They make it difficult to count, though, because you see groups of four or more in wide shots, and often from behind. My guess is that if they actually use a dozen, they must film about fifty and then sit in an editing room going “I don’t like her mole.” “What is that between his teeth? Spinach?” “She looks too much like Jan from the Toyota commercials” and so on.

Question: Do the commercials work?
Answer: One thing I learned from my ad agency days is that advertising executives are able to describe any campaign as “working.” It’s just a matter of finding and bending the right statistics. (“Oh, yes, since the inception of this campaign, in-store trial among the coveted 25-27 year old audience is up 12 percent, taking into account the snow storm in the midwest and the flu epidemic in the northeast.”) I would assume the Chevy spots are “working” according to whatever metrics they’re looking at, otherwise we would no longer be looking at the spots.

Question: How much money do these people get to make fools of themselves over and over on national TV?
Answer: That’s the big question, isn’t it? It’s what we ask ourselves every time we see one of these commercials. After all, we can’t imagine ourselves saying such ludicrous things about any automobile, much less a Chevy, unless there was a lot of money involved.

It’s kind of like being in porn. You know you’re going to be seen prostituting yourself for a buck. You’ll be out there in all your glory, probably forever, thanks to internet immortality. And you’re at risk of future employers and future mates finding out about your past errors of judgment and wondering how you could possibly have done such a thing.

According to leaked information, the participants in the Chevy commercials get a $150 Visa gift card for participating, another $50 later on by mail, and an undisclosed amount of money if they are actually used in the commercials. For comparison, a porn actress gets about $500-$2000, depending on what she does and how many vehicles she does it with.

But here’s the thing: the porn actress knows what she’s signing up for. The poor Chevy people don’t know how ridiculous they’re going to sound until they find themselves saying “It looks kinda dope” about a Chevy Malibu and then it’s too late, because they’ve already signed over the rights to use whatever stupid things come out of their mouths.

The most interesting thing I turned up about these spots is a description of the sort of mass hypnosis that overcomes the participants:

“It was weird because, once we got in there, he didn’t tell us where to stand or anything. He didn’t point at anything. We just magically got in that line of four people horizontally right in front of him. It was like they had this weird power. When I was talking to people in the lobby, no one seemed that enthusiastic about anything. The second we got in there, it was like magically everyone was the world’s biggest Chevrolet fan.”

In other words, the possibility of being in a TV commercial was instantly and universally more important to people than what they had to do or say to be in it. Money wasn’t the factor; it was perceived celebrity, even if that celebrity was in the form of folks saying, “Oh, you’re the moron in that car commercial who found the back-up camera so exciting.”

See you soon.

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Entry 761: Crying 101

The University of Utah now has a cry closet.

It’s in the school’s library. And its sole purpose is to provide a shelter to cry on.

It’s been a long time since I was in college, but I don’t remember there being a cry closet on campus. On the other hand, I went to Queens College, which is a commuter school, so we could go home and cry in our own closets. Sometimes we just cried in our cars because we couldn’t find a parking space.

It’s possible that there was no need for such a thing before millennials came along. Millennials are just so emotional. But then again, they probably use the cry closet as a private space from which to call their parents so they can cry to them.

Of course, the University of Utah (UU?) cry closet has rules. You have to knock before entering, for instance, and you can’t be in there for longer than 10 minutes. There’s even a timer. Wouldn’t it be horrible if you were in there bawling your heart out and this timer started going off and now you have to leave the closet because your 10 minutes are up and someone’s knocking and you can’t stand this pressure and why won’t everyone just leave you alone and somebody make that friggin’ timer stop, okay (sob, sob) I’ll be right out, you bastard, can’t you hear how upset I am?

How much better do you feel now?

I have some other questions:

  1. Why is the cry closet in the library? Do college kids even use the library anymore? Isn’t everything online? Maybe it’s in the library to increase library usage. (“Tuesday night: Cry-a-thon in the library! FREE snacks!”)
  2. Has a study been done that indicates the library is where students are most likely to start blubbering? Maybe that’s where they break up with each other these days. I thought they just texted, but I could be wrong.
  3. Is there some reason why students don’t want to cry in their dorm rooms? Do they have to sneak out to the library, or can they be upfront with their roommates? (“I’m going down to the library to have a cry. Don’t eat my ramen.”)
  4. From the photo, it appears as though the cry closet is not much bigger than a regular linen closet. What if a member of the football team is sad? It doesn’t look like they’d fit. Maybe there’s a larger closet in the locker room.
  5. Shouldn’t there be a councilor in the closet? I mean, if the kid is depressed enough to lock themself in a small room just to cry, it seems to me there should be help nearby. Or maybe there’s a hotline phone inside.
  6. Maybe they should build another closet right next to this one. Then put a small window through both walls. Then put a priest in the second closet. You know, just in case you’re crying about some sin you committed. Obviously, this only works for Catholics. I know Jews wouldn’t need a cry closet in the first place; we’ll whine anywhere.
  7. Since the cry closet is in the library, do you have to sob quietly?
  8. Who keeps the closet stocked with tissues?
  9. What if someone needs to cry because they’re claustrophobic?
  10. Do you get credits for crying? Can you audit the closet and just watch somebody else crying?
  11. Does anyone ever mistake the cry closet for a Porta-potty? And, if so, does that make the person who uses it next cry even more?
  12. Will this change some of our vernacular? For instance, will “he came out of the closet” now mean he’s just feeling better?

To be fair, the cry closet at good old UU is actually an art installation by a current student, Nemo Miller (pictured), who is a ceramics major with a minor in sculpture, so it’s difficult to imagine which course the cry closet would have been a project for, unless it’s made out of clay. I guess she thought her fellow students would need such a thing, especially during finals week, which was when it was installed.

It’s unclear whether this is an idea that may spread to other schools. Certainly some colleges like Cornell, which is famous for its suicide gorges, might benefit from a less, um, fatal emotional release. I also don’t know if the cry closet will even be a permanent fixture at the University of Utah. But I do know this: given the reputation of the rear sections of college libraries, adding a small, private room may also require that someone keep it stocked with condoms.

See you soon.

P.S. Interestingly, the photo above of the couple kissing in a library is from a commercial for a Canadian university that was trying to increase enrollment. Imagine if they had a cry closet!

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Entry 760: Let Them Eat Fakes

I’ve written a few times about art, and what makes one thing art and something else a stack of car parts welded together.

It is clear to me that if somebody rolls out of bed in the morning, the bed they roll out of, complete with empty liquor bottles, stained sheets and used condoms, is not a work of art, even if you put ropes around it and give it an uninspired title like “My Bed.”

To me, such a thing is fake art, even if some idiot pays millions of dollars for it. The same goes for a canvas painted black.

On the other hand, at least stuff like that is real fake art. But what about fake real art?

Over the past few years, there has been a rash of stories about forgeries on display in museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery in London and even the Louvre (motto: “Yes, we know, you didn’t expect her to be that small.”)

Nobody actually knows how many museum pieces are fake. Art experts now estimate that at least 20 per cent of paintings owned by major museums across the world may be forgeries. But since many of those art experts are the people who authenticated the fakes in the first place, the percentage could be much higher.

Until recently, it had been surprisingly simple to forge great works of art. That’s because the art world depended on “connoisseurship,” which did not rely on science but, instead, put its faith in an expert’s ability to “sense the presence of a great artist’s hand.”

Apparently, this ability is on a par with a psychic’s ability to sense a dead person’s presence, or a meteorologist’s ability to sense the weather 10 days from now.

To demonstrate, the most recent scandal involves the Terrus Museum in Elne, France. It is dedicated to a local artist named Etienne Terrus, a contemporary (and friend) of Henri Matisse. You would think, wouldn’t you, that a museum dedicated to only one artist, and that is situated in the town where that artist worked, and that is actually named for that artist, would be home to the world’s most crackerjack authenticators of that artist’s masterpieces. You would think, wouldn’t you, that the curators and experts who are employed by the Terrus Museum could identify a genuine Terrus from across the room.

And yet, it seems as though a few of the Etienne Terrus paintings at the museum dedicated to Etienne Terrus art are really terrific fakes. Well, maybe more than “a few.” Actually, it has been determined that more than half of the Etienne Terrus paintings at the Terrus Museum are forgeries, and that some of them aren’t even that terrific. Some pieces fooled the experts even though they depict buildings which didn’t exist while Terrus was alive!

Isn’t that terrible?

“It’s a catastrophe,” Yves Barniol, the mayor of Elne, said, seemingly in answer to my question. “I put myself in the place of all the people who came to visit the museum, who saw fake works of art, who paid an entrance fee. It’s intolerable and I hope we find those responsible.”

Well, okay. I get that a private collector who spends a fortune on a painting by a particular artist is entitled to the genuine article because the price they paid was set as much by the “brand name” as by the beauty inherent in the piece. If you’re the artist and you happen to still be alive, I can see how you might be a tad upset if someone was making money copying your work. And I can certainly understand a museum being embarrassed by falling for these scams.

But the people who come to visit those museums? Why should they care?

I mean, if the forgery is good enough to fool the folks who run the museum, does it really matter if the Botticelli you’re staring at is actually a Balducci? If I came up to you while you were admiring the intricate brush strokes of a Renoir and informed you that the piece was actually painted by Renoir’s mailman, would the brush strokes suddenly become less intricate?

Take a look at the two girls with pearl earrings below. Do you know which one is the real one? I’ll give you a moment to study them.

[cue Final Jeopardy music]

Okay? Do you have your guess? The answer is: the one you like best. Because that’s all that should matter . . . to you. Do they look exactly the same to you? Then why does it matter which is fake? Do you perceive, perhaps, a touch more shadow in one . . . does she somehow look a little sadder . . . a little more flirtatious . . . a little more pensive in one than the other? Are you trying to determine which earring looks better on her?

Does one affect you just a little more? Then that’s the real one.

If art is for beauty’s sake, then the one you find more beautiful is the real one. If art is for value’s sake, then it’s the one on the right.

See you soon.

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Entry 759: If Everyone Else is Crazy, You’re the One Who’s Screwed

My cousin-in-law Douglas, who I’ve mentioned previously in this blog after he asked me why I never mentioned him in this blog, gave me a pair of books for my birthday.

One was Living Successfully With Screwed-Up People, which is a great title for a book. It has, according to its cover, sold over 500,000 copies since it was published in 1999. That’s a half million buyers who think somebody they know is living with screwed-up people.

I’m assuming here that most of the copies were given as gifts. That would have to be the case, wouldn’t it? Otherwise how much trouble would you be in if you were living with a screwed-up person and they caught you reading a copy of Living Successfully With Screwed-Up People that you had purchased for yourself?

And it is a great gift. Just giving this book to someone is a compliment, because it implies that the recipient is not, himself, screwed up.

I thought Douglas knew me better than that.

Although I know Douglas reads this blog religiously (in case I mention him again), I must be honest and say that this is precisely the type of book I would never read. That’s not because I don’t live with screwed up people, although I will deny that I do, because my wife Barbara also reads this blog religiously. It’s that I don’t read self-help books.

Which is not to say I don’t need help. It’s just that self-help books are directed at the person least likely to offer me any assistance.

Just a glance at the Table of Contents of Living Successfully With Screwed-Up People lets me know that it’s not for me. “Get Off the Fence,” is the title of one chapter. “Heal the Hidden Wound” is another. And “Pull Out the Splinters.”

Sorry, Douglas, but all of those titles seem to be saying that I need to change something. The only thing I’m likely to change at my age is my underwear.

Besides, shouldn’t it be the screwed up people that have to change (not that I’m living with any)? If they’re so screwed up that somebody needs a book just to be able to reside in the same house, it seems to me that it’s incumbent upon them to perform splinterectomies. After all, I’m fine. Douglas thinks so, anyway. Otherwise he wouldn’t have given me the book.

And, by the way, what does that say about what Douglas thinks of my wife, his cousin? I mean, Barbara is the only person I’m currently living with, unless you count my dog, Riley, who is kinda crazy but more or less normal for a dog, and while I will go to my grave swearing that my wife is completely sane, Douglas obviously has a different opinion.

Not that I want to be the cause of any familial conflict.

One interesting thing about the book, which, as I mentioned, was first published in 1999, is that it has an “Introduction to the 2010 Edition.” It makes me wonder what may have changed in the decade after the original version. Did the whole Y2K thing drive everyone crazy? 9/11? The proliferation of quinoa?

Were people screwed up differently in 2010 than they were in 1999?

Well, of course they were. I know this without even reading that introduction to the 2010 edition. Because the one thing that changed for just about everybody since the turn of the century was the use of social media. That has probably screwed up more people in more ways than any invention in human history. Good news indeed for the author of Living Successfully With Screwed-Up People, because the more screwed-up people there are, the bigger the audience for the book. Except that I’m not sure there are many unscrewed-up people left to sell it to, unless it’s screwed-up people who are buying it for the rare unscrewed-up person in their lives so that person can continue to live with them.

Knowing Douglas, that makes perfect sense.

I do appreciate the gift, though, Douglas, but I suspect I’ll make better use of the second book you got me, The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm. It has already become one of my most cherished possessions. I will keep it on my desk always, and refer to it constantly.

See you soon.

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