Roommates I Don’t Need

Note: My Dad passed away about six years ago. A family member recently sent me some memorabilia, and buried within a pile of photos was this short story. He wrote it back in the early 1970’s while on a job assignment in Australia. I felt delighted to be reunited with this little manuscript, and be able to enjoy my father’s humor again. I thought you might like it too. Here is a true story of something very scary my father encountered, while in the land down under . . .

ROOMMATES I DON’T NEED

There I sat last week, after work, working on my daily reports at my desk in the motel room. It was really hot, and I had all of the windows wide open, trying to capture any breeze that happened along. (The air conditioner is off because of the strike at the power plant.)

Anyhow I’m typing away, and frequently taking a swig out of the ever handy good “Victorian” beer. It’s about 8:00 at night. I reach over and take the last sweet guzzle out of the can, lifting my head up high to capture the last drop, and “JEEEZZZZ” what do you think I see right up there on the ceiling next to the light fixture?

Well, I just happened to gaze upon the biggest, hairiest, SPIDER, I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m not kidding you a fraction, that bastard was as big as my outstretched hand. Big, light brown, and as hairy as a hippie. Well, by God, I don’t mind telling you, I just about swallowed that beer can, and broke my chair at the same time.

Not the same arachnid that my dear old Dad encountered, but perhaps a reasonable facsimile.

So, I made my way to the trusty telephone, and rang up the dainty little receptionist. The conversation went something like as follows:

“Hello there, I would like to speak to the manager immediately, if not sooner.”

“I’m sorry sir, the manager is not in at the moment, can I help you?”

So I commence to describe the situation, and also the size of it, and she very calmly explains that . . .

“It’s just one of our HUNTER TARANTULA SPIDERS, and they are very harmless and only eat flies.” She further exclaimed that she really didn’t care much for them either, so it would be up to me to find my own solution to the problem. She suggested that I just “Shoo” it out with a newspaper.

“Shoo it out with a newspaper,” I said, “Holy Christ, that thing looks like it could eat the damn newspaper right along with my arm!”

Well, no help in sight, so I start looking around the room for some kind of weapon. Meanwhile, this creature is just quietly hanging there, seemingly not moving a muscle! It might be my imagination, but I swear I could see him flex as he breathed.

Anyhow, I spots this pressure can full of fly repellent (probably similar to Black Flag). So, I figures out my strategy . . . (I know the stuff won’t kill him, it would be like trying to kill a horse with a BB gun.)

I go over to the front door and open it wide. (All the time wishing there were more than one door to these damn motel rooms.) Then, I quietly move over to the other side of this monster, so that he is between me and the door. The range of the spray should be about six to eight feet, and I figure maybe I can move him toward the door and hopefully OUT . . .

I get in position, and give a short blast in his direction . . . . . . . “nuthin” . . . . . maybe he shakes one leg a little . . . . . .

I give another blast (a longer one). This time he shakes a little, like a puppy getting rid of some water on his back . . . . . . .

I lets out another longer blast, and he moves two feet across the ceiling faster than a speeding bullet . . . then stops. (At least it was in the direction of the door.)

Well, with a chair in one hand, and the bomb in the other, I gives him a good long dose . . . he kind of weaves a little, like he’s dizzy, then lets go of the ceiling and floats to the floor right side up, just like he had a parachute. He bobs up and down a couple of times like he’s doing push-ups, then starts racing directly towards me.

I’d love to jump right through the bay window, but instead I just hold a steady spray right head-on into his oncoming mass. It slows him to a stop with about two feet to spare, and he starts staggering toward the open door at last . . . . .

Several times along the way he deviates from the path, and tries to head for the bed, but I head him off with a stronger blast in that area.

With a sigh of relief, I finally watch him struggle out the door, and onto the parking lot. Once in the fresh air, he seems to get a second wind, and gain his strength back. He’s making his way across the lot pretty good, so I jump in the rental car, and catch him in my headlights . . . .

I run him down with my first attempt before he reaches the other side of the lot, even if I did take out one row of pansies and a rose bush. That was only because of this damn left-hand drive . . . In order to get him, I had to catch him with the right hand tire.

So anyhow, I come on back inside and get back on the phone. I tell the sweet little receptionist that the “little problem” is taken care of, then I also tell her that if any more little problems develop like that, to tell the manager to rent them their own damn room, or I’ll stuff the next one down his neck, dead or alive. (Probably be dead with tire prints.)

Anyhow, she thanked me for calling about the final developments, said she would pass on the information to the manager, said she would have to hang up, and find out what the complaints were from the guests concerning some NUT out in the parking lot, swerving around with a car.

I wished her luck and hung up.

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Does Not Work Well With Others

This vehicle, at the outdoor museum in Goff’s, California, does not work well with others.

I usually got good grades in school. But there was one grade I never scored well at. I never achieved an “O” for “Outstanding” at working well with others. In fact, some of my teachers criticized me for this lack of social skills. Damn you Miss Durklemeyer!

But now that I’m much older I realize that it isn’t just me. Nobody works well with others. Not even Miss Durklemeyer.

This has been very evident to me while dealing with some recent challenges. Early this month my father-in-law, Jake, passed away. And he passed away at an inconvenient time. Damn you Jake! Had Jake been more cooperative, he would have stuck around to deal with the aftermath of an uncooperative tenant.

This tenant had been evicted from one of Jake’s rentals just a week before Jake died. You can read more on her by clicking this link. She was evicted because she wasn’t being cooperative with paying the rent. And she was a hoarder, and she left behind a house and yard full of junk. Damn her!

My wife and I are in the middle of dealing with Jake’s estate. And on top of that we must clean up the property that the evicted hoarder left full of junk. Thus far we have spent nearly $3,000 of estate money on this cleanup, and have hauled away four 30 cubic-yard dumpsters full of rubbish.

But we’ve had help. Help from workers whom we’ve hired. Or are they tortoises? Help from workers who’ve required rides to and from the cleanup site. And help from workers who said they were coming back to help more, and never showed up.

We pay well, but money doesn’t always overcome the human condition. That condition of not working well with others. Damn you condition, and damn you, workers!

We need Jake’s death certificate to handle a number of paperwork issues for the estate. But we’re going on a month since Jake’s uncooperative demise, yet still no certificate. I understand this is normal for our underfunded county. Apparently nobody is allowed to die here, because the county can’t afford it. Damn you, taxpayers, and damn you bureaucrats!

Property appraisers get the value all wrong. Relatives get angry about being left out of the will. And doctor’s offices continue to call, to remind us of upcoming appointments for Jake, even though we’ve told them he’s dead.

Tenants don’t pay the rent. Handymen gouge us when charging for repairs on rentals. And visitors stop by when we’re busy, then stay too long. Damn you all!

Nobody works well with others. This is not my own jeremiad; everyone has this problem. There is no such thing as teamwork. We humans will never cooperate fully with each other.

But maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe this keeps us independent, unique, and interesting. Otherwise maybe we’d be a bunch of robots, slaves to conformity, and dull as dishwater.

I’ve learned that if I want to work with others I must have patience and a sense of humor. Meditating on my omphalos also helps. It calms me down, and prevents me from throttling my uncooperative compatriots.

And as I relax and settle down I reflect that I, too, can be a pain in the ass. I’m not so easy to work with, myself. I demand much from others, and get pissed off when they don’t cooperate. I try to hide my anger, but apparently my red face and creased forehead give me away. Damn my face!

Sometimes I give up and just do the job myself. Yeah, that’s teamwork, right?

I realize I’ve been this way since grade school. At least according to Miss Durklemeyer. And still, I have not learned my lesson.

I’m like everyone else. I do not, and will never, work well with others.

The Mysterious Old Place

MRI of an old fogey’s brain. Mysterious looking old place, ain’t it?

When I was young my grandparents did many strange things. But they were much older than me. Their minds lived in a mysterious old place, packed with esoteric wisdom gathered from decades of experience.

To be old was a mystery that I could not question. I would see them engage in unusual behavior and conclude, “They must know things that I cannot know, because I am so young.”

I remember asking my grandfather why he put his pants on backward. He looked down, then sputtered a bit as if at a loss for words. He began by explaining all the things arthritis does to you, and tried to convince me that wearing backward pants was therapeutic to the hip joints. But when he noticed my creased forehead he gave up and blurted, “Wait’ll you get to my age, then you’ll understand!”

That was all he needed to say. I was convinced he wore his pants that way for a very good reason that one day, many many years down the road, would become clear to me.

And now, here I am, many many years down that road. I now live in the mysterious old place my grandparents once occupied. And I notice how often young people defer to me. They seem to regard me as an oracle of occult knowledge. A possessor of gnosis and ancient arcana. A black box aerated by wafting unseeable winds of wisdom.

And I have come to the same ageless realization that I’m sure my forebears came to. And that is, my grandparents were full of bullshit. And more importantly, I realized that my youth made me blind to the ignorance of my elders.

“Wait‘ll you get to my age,” is a magic bullet explanation that has stood the test of time for countless generations.

Are your grandkids harassing you because you voted for Donald Trump? Just wink at them, give them a wise look, and say something like, “You know, when you’re my age you’ve learned some things that just can’t be explained to young folks like you. But you’ll understand one day, and be glad I voted for him.”

Maybe some youngsters in your family are getting on your case for gambling away your pension at the casino. It won’t work to tell them that you want to win a big pile of money so that just once in your life you can act like a bigshot and do lots of bigshot things before you up and croak. They’ll just tell you that you’re old and going to die soon, and you don’t need anything more than that pension check to carry you creaking along until it’s time for that final ride in the coffin.

Instead you have to play the mystery card. You have to give them a whiff of your black box. Your bullshit box. So just say something like, “I’ve been going to casinos all my life. I don’t make the kind of gambling mistakes that young people make. At my age I’ve learned the right way to gamble. Just wait and see. I’m going to win a big jackpot one day, and you’ll inherit it.”

That should suffice. Young folks are in constant awe of our mysterious old place. We can parlay it into excuses for all kinds of outrageous and foolish behavior. But we do have to be careful. We do have our kryptonite. We have one weakness that can get us into a world of trouble.

And that is when young people suspect us of being senile. Be on the alert when they ask you questions like, “Hi Grandpa, do you remember me?” Or, “Grandpa, what year is it?” Or, “Grandpa, why do you wear velcro shoes?”

They’re trying to gauge your memory skills. So carry crib notes on you at all times. Learn how to fake it. There might even be a book for sale on Amazon on how to cover up dementia. Hell, if there isn’t, write one. If you can remember how to write.

The last thing you need is to be dragged away from the comfort of your own house, to spend the rest of your life in some pissy, stinky nursing home. There’s too many old people at those places, and you might even have to share a room with one of them.

Never forget: It’s far better to live in the mysterious old place, than the crappy old place. So be wise, and keep the mystery alive!

“Girls Don’t Fart”

“It must have been the dog. Girls don’t fart,” she stated as a matter of fact.

I scowled at the dog. He lowered his head and ears and wagged his tail at me. He suspected that for some reason he was in trouble.

“I don’t even like to say the word ‘fart’,” she added. “Farting is what boys do, and I’m not a boy. Don’t ever accuse me of farting, again!”

I averted my eyes from her outraged glare. I kicked the dog out and hung my head. I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I would have the nerve to accuse a girl of farting.

Girls are delicate little things who would never do something like that.

Of course girls don’t fart. Girls are like delicate flowers. They’re too dainty and feminine to do something as crude as that.

But a few minutes later I smelled it again. And the dog was outside. And I knew it wasn’t me.

That was the first secret I ever figured out about girls.

Funny Signs

When you want someone to take you seriously, put up a sign. Signs have all the authority of a deadpan official with zero sense of humor. So I always enjoy the irony when I find a sign that cracks me up. The following are a few such discoveries my camera and I have made over the years:

That’s okay, I’ve got some new clothes and shoes. Look out below!
It creates a safety hazard, you see. Makes the floors slippery.
But how else can anyone have fun riding in an elevator?
You may have guessed that I did not discover this sign in Utah.
So even if you’re too short to deface this sign, you must report your injuries.
I always get a little laugh out of this sign.
This sign appeals to rebels like me. Why, I could stare at it all day long.

Retirement For Kids

“A Boy and a Girl With a Cat and an Eel,” by Judith Leyster, circa 1635.

You’re 12 years old. Puberty has just begun, or it’s just around the corner. Now is the time to start planning your retirement.

Kids, if you plan well you may retire by age 30 or 40. And then you won’t have to work all your life, like your poor dumb parents.

Here are some things you can do right now to plan your retirement:

GET STERILIZED

That’s right, get a vasectomy, or get your tubes tied, just as early in life as possible. Children can cost more than new cars or houses, and this can make it difficult or impossible to save for your retirement.

Besides, these days children are a luxury, unlike a few hundred years ago. Back then they were an effective retirement plan for parents. Parents put them to work on their farms and used their labor for support so that they could kick back in their old age and take it easy.

But nowadays we have Social Security. Parents must rely upon that because it’s very rare for a child to support their aging parents, in these modern times. Hell, it’s almost as rare for their ungrateful offspring to make a phone call, or send them a card.

Children also contribute to global warming. Every human being tramples the earth with a large carbon footprint over the course of their lifetime. So there is no more effective way to reduce your carbon footprint than to refrain from producing human beings. So if not for your retirement, then at least for the purpose of saving the Earth, get yourself sterilized.

QUIT SCHOOL

School’s a drag anyway, so why do you keep attending? You’ll be better off if you stay at home and educate yourself. You can get about six years of public education in one year of self-study, as long as you stay away from video games, smartphones, and the opposite sex.

If you study hard, you’ll be able to test out and get your high school diploma or GED by the time you’re 13. Then you can get a job and begin making some real money. This will give you a big head start on your retirement as you’ll be working while you’re still young and strong, and can easily handle lots of overtime.

STUDY FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

Pick up some good books on financial management and investing, and spend a few hours studying them. None of the many hours of hard work you do from age 13 and beyond will amount to a hill of beans if you don’t know how to save and invest the money you make. A tiny investment in self-study time will save you from fribbling away many thousands of hours of your future labor.

AVOID MARRIAGE

At least 90% of the population likes to spend, spend, spend money. So if you get married there’s a very good chance you’ll end up with a spendthrift for a spouse. Stay single, or at least get a pre-nup, so that you can enjoy the financial security that comes from spending sensibly.

AVOID POLITICS, CAUSES AND CHARITIES

You’ll never change the world, in spite of what you hear all the time in school. But after you retire and have plenty of money, you can always try.

Until then, be your own cause and charity. Avoid controversy. Get all the free stuff you can. Work hard and save harder. And take every opportunity the world offers, for making and saving more and more money.

And then, maybe then, you will be able to retire before the first gray hair appears upon your head.

A Spontaneous Chemical Reaction in the Midst of a Desert


It was high noon at the High Moon Pizza Cafe. The desert sun outside desiccated the rocks, cacti, and Joshua trees. But inside a swamp cooler purred away, refreshing each new customer who staggered through the front door.

It was 98 outside and 88 inside. The swamp cooler only took about 10 degrees off the heat. But it felt like the Antarctic for those seeking refuge from the flaming overhead sun.

This refuge was her place of employ. While El Sol baked brains outside, she baked pizza pies inside. And she waited on zombies. The zombies were her customers. They were the desert rats who staggered through the front door in a state of brain-baked dyscrasia, and as delusional as the heat haze on the horizon.

She was practically a zombie herself, from the effect of the pizza ovens. This heat on the brain plays tricks on people. It boils the cerebral hemispheres, fries the neurons, and sizzles the synapses. And it makes possible a phenomenon between two encephalons that is known as a spontaneous chemical reaction.

Her 22-year-old face and figure were not beautiful, just pretty. Plainly pretty. And then only under cooler circumstances. But today all shreds of prettiness washed away from her.

Her face was enwreathed with sweat. It dripped in beads down her forehead and stung her eyes, burning them red. It formed droplets under her nose, lips, and chin. And it ran rivers down her bare neck, shoulders and meaty arms.

She wore a thin, green, cotton tank top, soaked in moisture. The decolletage of this bodice exposed a hint of sweaty cleavage. Below this beaded valley rolled sweat-stained green hills, and below each of these hills, trapped heat unleashed runnels of perspiration that streaked the fabric of her top from her bosoms to her waistline.

He poked his head through the cafe door, attracted by the 20% discount he’d heard about, for first responders. Then he wiped the sweat off his brow with the palm of his hand, and staggered inside to join the zombies waiting in the queue. He stood behind two other customers and slowly shook his head a bit, trying to clear and orient his heat-hazed mind.

She glanced over their heads and caught sight of the face of this man who was last in line. It struck her like a shot of adrenalin. Her heart flip-flopped. A mysterious, volatile element surged through her internal chemistry.

One millisecond later: Flashpoint!

Then: Explosion!

And suddenly she knew she had glimpsed the face of her future husband.

He was 24 years old, of towering stature, and in peak physical condition. He sported upside-down sunglasses perched atop sweat-soaked auburn hair, which was neatly trimmed around salty wet ears.

He was an EMT, dressed in a close-fitting blue shirt, mottled with blotches of moisture. A black web belt cinctured the narrow waistline of his pants, which stunk of perspiration. A 2-way radio clipped to this belt could quickly drag him back outside into the smoldering heat, to assist at the next car wreck, heat stroke, or other emergency. He prayed to all the gods that this wouldn’t happen until he’d had at least 30 minutes of respite in this cool refuge.

He was a handsome man, at other times, when his sudoriferous skin did not pour waterfalls all over his body. He was for sure much better looking than she. And his income as an EMT was far higher than her fast-food slave wage.

He was cool, magnetic, and possessed of savoir-faire in other seasons. But not so much during the withering heat of the desert summer. However during the fall, winter, and spring, this young man had much more going for him than that young woman.

His zombie eyes were transfixed on the hot pizzas in a glass display, and failed to notice the overheated young lady standing behind them. She finished with a customer. He moved up a step in line, and as he stepped he directed his bleary eyes over the head of the zombie before him, and focused on her perspiration-pocked face.

An electric frisson traveled up his back. He suddenly felt a little queasy and faint. His knees buckled, and the upside-down sunglasses dropped off of his head. He caught them with clammy hands, and fumbled nervously with them, almost jabbing out an eye, until he finally gave up and stuffed the shades in his pocket.

He was plunging into love. He knew it. But he couldn’t explain why. And he couldn’t stop it. His heart practically pounded out of his chest. He couldn’t pry his eyes off of this woman swimming in the product of her own sweat glands.

EMTs are expected to be calm and unflappable in the face of any situation. He wondered what was happening to him. How could such a plain-looking, sweat-drenched woman unhinge such a powerful response in him? Was it the heat?

Of course it was the heat. Heat that induces spontaneous chemical reactions.

He’d managed to remain single up until now, but this happened too quickly to put up any defenses. Besides he felt too weak from the heat to resist. Nature, in her enigmatic, ruthless ways for ensuring reproduction of the human animal, was winning.

She finished with the customer then caught his eye. She smiled with a twinkle of excitement, as beads of moisture dripped from her chin.

“Sir, may I take your order?”