At the races

Sudden Interruption

At the park, the dog was in the middle of his duty when I dropped the leash handle. The button wasn’t locked, and the reel quickly pulled in the lead. The plastic handle bounced along the ground before smacking him in the left leg, sending him scurrying. I apologized, but the look in his eye said he didn’t believe me. Later, he finished the job, keeping me in sight the whole time.

At the races

Crazy People at the Gym: Mr. and Mrs. Super-Fit-Excess-Sweaters

Now that my various hospital stays have subsided — at least for now — I decided to join a gym. My goal is to lose the weight I gained while healing, and hopefully some more.

My gym has three long rows of elliptical machines, stair-steppers, and treadmills facing a bank of TVs on the wall. As is my habit, just like in 4th grade, I take the back row and begin observing people.

One married couple is entertaining because they work out together. They are young 30s-ish, in great shape, the kind of couple that probably met at the gym, married, had 2.5 kids and still work out together. The problem is, they are rarely apart. The hit the weight machines together, run the treadmills right next to each other, smiling at each other the whole time.

And God knows they are fit. I watched as they both ran at double my lethargic speed, like gazelles on the Serengeti, moving effortlessly. I barely work up a sweat, but it pours off their body from the hard effort they put in. The treadmills spin and churn under their fast feet, while mine moans along with my tired stride.

I try to distract myself from their physical superiority by immersing myself in the Jerry Springer show on one of the TVs. There seems to be a serious fight among the guests, and two women have pulled each other’s wigs off during a round of fisticuffs. Ten minutes later, I spy the fit couple still running at high speed. Their bodies are taught, muscles driving, sweat pouring. A lot of sweat. Their treadmills and the surrounding treadmills look like they were hosed down by the fire department.

I look again at the TV bank and settle on a show featuring a couple trying to decide from among three different houses. The first house has an exceptional wine cellar, the second has a great yard but lousy basement, and the third is historic and charming, but oh, my, it will take months to renovate the kitchen. What will they decide? They make an offer on the charming one, and I know they will soon be on another show called “Renovation Projects We Regret.”

Fit couple is sweating more than ever, the sweat rivers flowing off them, creating a small pond near their machines. Seven minutes later, the pond has become a lake. I see families of geese and ducks moving across the water, occasionally diving for fish.

As the home shopping show ends, the water has risen. My ankles are covered, but I keep walking. Some gym-goers have climbed up on the rails of their machines as the water moves ever higher. I look up to see a police helicopter flying low beneath the closing gap between ceiling and water level. A rumor spreads the police are looking for a family that tried to swim to the exit for safety, only to find they couldn’t open the door from the inside.

The water is up to my chest now. I wonder if I will get electrocuted. Fit couple keeps running, sweating, and smiling. They are holding hands now, looking into each other’s eyes across the treadmill divide. A small fishing boat pulls behind me, a man standing on the bow of the boat, casting into the area near the ab machines. I see a group of teenagers speed by in a water-ski boat near the from windows, two of them skimming the water behind taught ski lines. s

Finally, fit couple wind down their workout, their ocean of sweat filling the gym. You are supposed to wipe down a machine after using it, but I don’t think they will be able. The machines are seven or eight feet below the surface now. Might as well drain the place, hose it down with rubbing alcohol and set it on fire.

At the races

Crazy People at the Gym: Mr. My-Headphones-Are-Bigger-Than-My-Head

Like many people at the gym, Mr. My-Headphones-Are-Bigger-Than-My-Head is into listening to music while working out. To get the best sound, he uses only the best headphones possible. And to duplicate the live concert experience, he likes to use giant headphones that spread out from his head like moons on a planet that never escaped gravity enough to go fully into their own orbit.

At the races

3 Fun Facts About Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day started in 1908. That was a crazy year. That year was the first time they dropped a ball in Times Square to mark the New Year. One old timer explained, “Well, in those days, the ball was made of an iron frame that was really heavy. The first year, the ball fell off the line and bounced down the street into the ocean, dragging a family from Keokuk, Iowa with it.”

Mother’s Day was started by Anna Jarvis of West Virginia. After her mother died in 1905, she began a campaign for a day to honor Mothers. It became an official US holiday in 1914, held in May because that’s the month so many mothers are glad they will soon be sending their kids away to summer camp.

Unfortunately, Jarvis became enraged when Hallmark and other companies created cards for Mother’s Day, saying people should send thoughtful hand written cards, not store bought ones. I hear you Ms. Jarvis. I always create a hand-written poem for my mom on Mother’s Day. This year I wrote:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Although you had six kids
I was the one you said you wished you never knew

I know you were just kidding.

Right, Mom?


At the races

Crazy Golfers: Throw-One-Down-Let-Me-Show-You Guy

This dude is similar to Mr. Instructor. Like Mr. Instructor, he hands out unwanted golf tips with the enthusiasm of an MLM seminar leader. But he takes it one step further. After you hit a shot, he immediately gives you a golf tip, then says, “Got another ball? Throw one down and let me show you.”

This might be alright if the guy didn’t do this all day to every person he meets on every shot they take, and if he actually knew anything beyond what you learn your first year in the game.

At the races

Crazy Golfers: Mr. I-Can’t-Believe-It-Didn’t-Drop!

Mr. I-Can’t-Believe-It-Didn’t-Drop rolls his putt 12 way wide of the hole, but acts like it nearly went in. As the putt travels by the hole, he jumps in the air, bends his body at the waist, yelling “OHHHHHHHH! Almost!” He acts as if the ball singed the edge of the cup, but in reality the ball had no chance at all since you could fit a trash dumpster between the hole and the ball.

At the races

2017 US Open at Erin Hills

I have deep family roots in Wisconsin that go back to the invention of cheese there in Green Bay in 1547, and I can’t wait for the US Open to be played at Erin Hills in Erin, WI June 12-18, 2017.

The Vegas money line favorite at this point is Dustin Johnson, followed by in order:

Rory McIlroy
Jordan Speith
Jason Day
Hideki Matsuyama
Justin Rose
Sergio Garcia
Henrik Stenson
Jon Rahm
Rickie Fowler

So far I don’t see my name. Maybe it’s because of my swing?

At the races

Late Night Facial Surgery

Walking the dog on a late night stroll in the Short North, we walked by the bars around 130am. Two girls came dancing out of Bar 23 ahead of their boyfriends, and went into a Fred Astaire-type dance step together south on High Street. They looked at each other and laughed as they picked up speed. The girl nearest the street turned her gaze back in front of her just as she plowed straight into a street sign pole with her face. KERRANNGGG!!! The sign shook and vibrated as her head snapped straight back.

Careful with those vodka shots, kids.

At the races

The $3.44 Golf Hat Without a Tag

Walking through Big Box Mart on my way to check out, I spied a display of golf caps at the end of an aisle.

The worn-out hat on my head called for a replacement, somebody to come in off the bench and relieve it of the hat duty it had come to despise.

I listened to its pleas, and chose a simple, plain, no logo, black hat with an open mesh back perfect for the hot weather of the coming summer. I clutched it in my hand with the other items and headed for the checkout.

I usually go to self check-out, but that was not an option as it was blocked by empty shopping carts. There were no other checkout lanes available in the huge store save one.

It was 230am, and while there weren’t many people in the store at that hour, they love to shop for everything they need. In the wee hours, no one is fighting them for the last box of Cap’n Crunch, so they take the time to fill carts to the brim. I had to wait in line forever.

Once at the front, my few items went quickly until the cashier got to my hat.

He sighed when he realized there was no tag.

I sighed when I realized there was no tag.

Bad things happen at Big Box Mart when your item doesn’t have a tag.

“It’s $3.44,” I offered cheerily, as I had just come from the display and remembered the amount exactly.

In my days as a cashier back in the mists of time, when an inexpensive item like this hat came to the register without a tag, there were general codes we could use to ring up the purchase and keep the line moving. In this case, the cashier, who appeared to be new on the job, decided to fight the good fight and figure it out on his own.


He punched at buttons valiantly, but nothing was working. Finally, an older lady appeared and asked him if he needed some help. He told her he didn’t know how to run the Price Override.

“It’s $3.44,” I said again helpfully. “I just came from the display, and I guarantee that’s the price.”

“Sir, it is not that I don’t believe you,” said the new cashier.

“Oh, I don’t think you don’t believe me. It just sounded like you needed the price to ring it up,” I said.

The older lady stepped in, punched in the elusive Price Override code, and went about her business.

He was relieved.

I was relieved.

Everybody in the now growing line behind me was relieved.

Soon I would be wearing my new simple, plain, no logo, black golf hat on the drive home.


Again he punched the buttons over and over, like he was trying to figure out the combination of a safe in a Las Vegas heist movie. The beads of sweat began to gather on his forehead, slowly rolling down to the tip of his nose.

“I can run back and get another one just like it if it helps,” I said.

“No, sir,” he said. “You don’t have to do that.”


The older lady again appeared, as if entering from another time-space continuum.

“Still need some help?” she said to the man punching buttons.

“I don’t know the department,” he said.

After some conversation, she asked me, “What department did you buy this in?”

“Men’s clothing. You know, where they have all the shirts and pants and stuff.”

She said to the man, “I don’t know what department code that is.”

They looked at me as if I knew what the department code was. I can tell you I did not know then what the department code was, never knew what the department code was, and still don’t know what the department code is.

“Look, the hat was just a spur of the moment purchase as I was walking toward the register. Really, I don’t need another golf hat. You can just set it to the side, take it off my list of items, finish out my sale and that’s fine.”

“No, we’ll figure it out,” the man said.

“I can run back and get another one with a price tag,” I again offered.

“No, I’ll do it,” the man said.

He set out at snail’s pace, shuffling toward the men’s clothing. My Lord, son, put a little giddyup in your get-go! I’m going to be here all night. I sprinted ahead of him, calling out, “Let me show you where they are.”

We returned to the cash register.

The line now snaked around the main aisle behind the registers, sneaking past the sunglasses and costume jewelry, edging into the grocery department near the granola bars and boxes of cupcakes made to look like baseballs.


The tumblers turned, and the safe finally unlocked.

The sale was complete.

“Thank you for shopping at Big Box Mart,” the man said without a smile. “Hope that didn’t take too long.”

I entered the store at midnight. As I left, I saw the sun rising in the east.

Nah, didn’t take too long at all.

At the races

Facebook Games: Bands I’ve Seen Live

If you are on Facebook, you have to suffer through a series of wacky memes and list games that come around, subside and move on to Twitter to die. The latest fad has posters list 10 bands they’ve seen live, except one is supposedly a lie. Others are to guess which one. How could this possibly be fun?

Prosecutor: Can you describe for the court the paper I’m handing to you right now?
Witness: It’s a list of bands I’ve seen live.
Prosecutor: For example?
Witness: Well…let’s see, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith…um, it was a long time ago…uh, here’s Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd…it goes on…
Prosecutor: So you’re saying you’ve seen ALL the bands on this list.
Witness: Yes.
Prosecutor: Are you SURE?
Witness: Wait…
Prosecutor (approaches witness stand): Isn’t one of these bands a LIE!
Witness: Well…
Prosecutor: Isn’t it TRUE you never saw Depeche Mode during their 2009-2010 world tour?
Witness: Well, everyone was talking about it, so I just went along. I mean…
(Crowd gasps. Judge bangs gavel on bench.)
Prosecutor: YOU JUST WENT ALONG? Isn’t it true you drove by the Hollywood Bowl, bought a t-shirt from a guy on a bike so later you could act like you were at the show? And then you drove straight home so you could be in bed by 9pm after walking the dog????
Witness: The thing is…
Prosecutor: Your honor, I submit this whole list is in question now, and this case should be DISMISSED!”