Patsy Porco

Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Flash Judgments

In Humor, politics on March 5, 2017 at 12:30 am

This now-famous picture jogged a memory, which eventually led me to make an unsubstantiated and uncharitable judgment of the woman in the forefront, Kellyanne Conway. This photo has unleashed the judge in all of us. Just check Twitter, which is awash in criticism of Kellyanne’s despoiling of our national couch.

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My initial reaction to this photo was, “Why doesn’t she have a hair stylist?” I didn’t really notice that she had made herself uncomfortably comfortable in the Oval Office.

Once the photo hit the fan, though, the mainstream media, as well as the general public on Twitter and Facebook, were up in arms over her lack of respect for the president … and his sofa. This was surprising to me considering that we live in a very relaxed society where pretty much anything goes, and respect for a person or his or her office is usually offered posthumously, if at all. In fact, President Trump is the recipient of far more public disrespect than respect but, for some reason, his couch is considered off-limits.

Anyway, I began to see this photo on Facebook along with my friends’ and their friends’ comments. One that struck me was: “Trump is banging her.” That hadn’t occurred to me until that moment, but I immediately decided it was true. “She was marking her territory by kneeling on that couch,” I thought. “Regular employees would never take such liberties.”

I soon regretted my conclusion, but here is my justification for reaching it: Years ago, I was hired to edit a book that would be published by the company that hired me. The author, Joe, was probably brilliant, but his tiresome personality overshadowed his talents. He was the poster boy for narcissism. He had no time for anyone’s opinion but his own. If you disagreed with him, or even had the temerity to talk when he wanted to speak, he would shout your name over and over until you stopped talking. Then he’d speak for an eternity on whatever the subject was. Without going into too much detail, for fear of a lawsuit, I will say that he was difficult to work for. Fortunately, I was able to avoid seeing him too much. Generally, he hand-wrote his book all night long, and the next day I would pick up the pages, take them home, type them up, and then edit the pages.

I did have to come into the office occasionally, though, on the days that Joe conducted interviews with people in his profession. On an interview day, I would take an old-fashioned cassette recorder into the room and tape the interview. After the interview, I would transcribe the tape into a Question-and-Answer format and give the pages to Joe to approve, or improve upon. The interviews followed the same pattern: Joe would ask a question, the interviewee would answer, and then Joe would often decide that he had a better answer to his question. He would then answer his own question and tell me to say that the interviewee said it. If the interviewee objected, Joe would say, “That’s what you meant.” Every person who was interviewed left the room shaking his or her head.

On the day of the last interview, Joe and I were sitting in the conference room waiting for the woman he was interviewing to arrive. It was morning so he was having his usual breakfast of a Yoo-hoo and a family-sized bag of M&Ms. He also had a few large bags of chips on his desk. The woman to be interviewed arrived. Her name was Jennifer and she was tall and slim, with wavy blonde hair and green eyes. She was dressed in a conservative gray jacket and skirt, and black pumps.

The author introduced himself and she introduced herself to him and to me. Jennifer put her briefcase down on the floor beside her chair and the interview began. Joe began asking her questions and supplying her answers. She initially tried to correct Joe, but he shouted her name until she became quiet. Joe told me what her responses were to his questions. Finally, Jennifer’s patience snapped and she said, “That’s NOT what I said or what I meant.” Joe said that if she didn’t like how he was doing the interview, she could forget about being in his book. This seemed like bullying to me, but she agreed to let him answer for her with long, convoluted, hard-to-comprehend responses. This went on for awhile. I guess she got bored because she kicked off her shoes and put her feet on the office chair next to her. Bored or not, this struck me as odd. What was even odder was that she then reached across the table and stuck her hand into his bag of M&Ms. He told her to keep her hands off his candy but she just laughed and pulled out a large handful and ate them. Then she grabbed one of his bags of chips and opened them.

At this point, I felt like I had missed something. How had this buttoned-up professional woman who didn’t know Joe quickly become comfortable enough with him to kick off her shoes and help herself to his food? There was definitely a puzzle piece missing.

Joe decided to ignore Jennifer’s antics and went back to interviewing her and supplying her answers. This continued until Joe asked and began to answer a question that Jennifer must have really wanted to respond to in her own words, because she interrupted him mid-response. “I would never say that,” she said. “My answer to that question would be —”

“This is the right answer,” Joe interrupted, “and it’s what’s going in the book … if I decide to let you be in the book.”

Jennifer looked like she was going to explode with frustration. “I’m going to the bathroom,” Jennifer said. She put her shoes on and left the office. Joe then proceeded to go insane.

“How dare she leave the room? That is so insulting! I’m cutting her out of the book right now. By leaving the room she is not showing me the respect I deserve. I’ve had it with her!” he ranted and raved.

This was a freelance job for me, and while I was being well-paid, I had my limits. “You are a bully,” I said to him. “She has every right to leave to use the bathroom.” I told him.

Joe was startled. “I am not a bully! By leaving, she is being disrespectful to me!” he screamed.

“You left to use the bathroom earlier,” I said. “Why can’t she do the same thing?”

Joe sputtered. “Don’t take up for her! I’m the one paying you, and if you don’t like it here, then leave!”

“Fine,” I said, resignedly. Working with him had been exhausting, like working in an emotional minefield. I got up and went to my desk and started organizing my notes and cassette tapes for him. I showed him where everything was and I left.

As I was in the staircase, going downstairs to the exit, the door above me opened and a frantic Jennifer ran out. “Where are you going?” she asked.

“I quit because of the horrible way he treated you, me, and everyone else he works with.” I said.

“No, you can’t quit!” she said, panicked.

“I already did,” I said.

She looked stricken. “I can’t have him mad at me because you quit,” she said. “Please come back. Please,” she begged.

I was confused. What was going on? Why did she care so much if he was mad at her? She must really want to be in this book, I thought.

“I can’t go back. I already quit,” I said.

She reached out, grabbed my arm and started pulling me up the stairs. “Yes, you can. It’ll be fine. I’ll smooth it over.”

My mind reeled. Did I even want to go back, other than for the pay? And could I even go back, since I had told Joe off and then left?

By the time I had had these thoughts, I was back upstairs in the office. Jennifer urged me into the conference room. Despite her assurance to smooth things over, she stood outside the room. It was just me and Joe. He looked up from the papers he was reading. “Jennifer asked me not to quit,” I said.

“Okay,” he said. “Let’s get back to work. Jennifer, who was listening outside the door, came back in.

“I think you owe us a pizza,” she said to Joe.

“Fine,” he said. “You order it.”

“Give me your credit card,” she said. He handed it over.

Later, looking back on this incident, I realized that they were having an affair. When she kicked off her shoes and dove into his candy bag (double entendre intended), she was marking her territory, i.e., letting me know that she was more than a stranger being interviewed. I don’t know why she wanted me to know. I was no threat; I shy away from insane people, and I take my marriage vows more seriously than she took hers. In fact, they were both married and, hence, their initial pretense of never having met. They weren’t very good at subterfuge, however, since everyone in the office suspected that they were more than acquaintances. Their dysfunctional relationship became even more apparent over the next few weeks, as Joe kicked her out of the book, put her back in, and then kicked her out again. The final version of the book had her in it, but by that time, I was finished with that job, and glad to be. I only discovered her presence in the book when I was sent a copy.

This all brings me back to the picture that launched a million tweets. When I considered the photo against my previous experience, I decided that Kellyanne was, by tucking her feet into the couch’s cushions, also marking her territory and disclosing, with body language, that she was very comfortable with President Trump.

The next day, however, when she was criticized in the press for putting her feet on the royal couch, she said that she was only trying to get a good angle for the photograph of so many people. Then I saw the other photographs and it made sense. She probably sat on that couch all day long and didn’t think twice about sitting on it in front of all of the president’s guests. And, since she was trying to fit them all into a frame on her camera, she had to find the best vantage point, even if it involved kneeling on the couch. She might have even been told to go over to the couch to take the picture. It does seem like the best place to take the picture from.

Once I saw the picture below, and all of the smiling people near her who appreciated her efforts and didn’t seem taken aback by her behavior, I was kind of abashed at my agreement with the Facebook commenter who sent my mind on a trip to the gutter.

I learned two valuable lessons, though: 1) A picture might be worth a thousand words, but those words aren’t always well-intentioned, or even based on facts; and 2) Get all of the facts before passing judgment, or at least all of the pictures.

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Delayed Gratification

In Aging, Humor, Valentine's Day on February 14, 2017 at 3:17 am

It’s Valentine’s Day, otherwise known as the one day each year when couples over-spend in order to prove the depth of their love for each other.

After 25 years of marriage, I might be a little jaded, but my cynicism is practical. My husband and I haven’t stopped celebrating Valentine’s Day. We just move it forward by a few days. The date we celebrate depends on when Walgreen’s reduces the price of their Valentine’s candy by 75%.

I’m not crazy. Why would I settle for one small heart of chocolate that costs $20 when I can have a shopping-cart full of giant hearts for the same $20 a few days later?

I learned the hard way. In our first year of dating, my husband and I were on the way to dinner when he handed me a box of beautiful handmade chocolates (that his friend’s sister made and forcefully sold to all of his friends). I was touched. They were almost too pretty to eat. The candy set the tone for the evening. I was giddy with romance and anticipating our romantic dinner.

When we got to the restaurant, my husband gallantly came around the car to open my door. I stepped out of the car and the expensive candy which was on my lap fell onto the ground and scattered all over the parking lot. That was embarrassing. And expensive for my husband.

Now I get truckloads of marked-down candy that tastes as sweet as it would have on Valentine’s Day, and if I drop it in the street, it’s really no big loss.

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Off With Its Head

In Food, Humor, Sushi on January 14, 2017 at 10:35 pm

One of my brothers once told me that, if you wanted to kill a tapeworm that was inside of you, you had to wave a piece of meat in front of your mouth. He said the tapeworm would work its way toward the scent and its head would pop out of your mouth. When the head emerged, you had to grab it, pull it out a little, and then chop off its head with the knife you had standing by. It had to be a big, sharp knife, he said.

To be honest, I never really believed that this was the most efficient way to kill a tapeworm.pngtapeworm. I wasn’t even sure that it was a real way to kill it. Fortunately, up to now, I’ve never had to worry about killing a tapeworm that lived in my digestive tract.

Today, a friend of mine upended my complacency. She posted an article from a reputable source, NBC CT, that said that a salmon that was caught off the North Alaska coast had a tapeworm in it. The article said that, “The tapeworm, known as Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense, has caused thousands of infections in the Asia Pacific since 2008, according to the Washington Post” and that a study found “an increased popularity of eating raw fish and ‘global importation’ has caused the reemergence of the tapeworm.” The article went on to say that “researchers determined people who eat raw salmon caught in North America may be at risk of contracting the tapeworm infections.”

Well, hell. I recently developed a love of sushi, after years of saying that, “I ain’t eatin’ no raw fish.” My fear was of catching parasites. My sushi-loving friends, and some hipsters I know, all said that my fear was unfounded, and that sushi and sashimi were safe to eat.

It turns out that they were wrong. I’d better sharpen my cleaver.

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A Pregnant Pause

In Greek Mythology, Humor on January 5, 2017 at 3:33 pm

I have always liked the expression, “a pregnant pause.” It means a break in conversation that is filled with possibility, but not the possibility of a baby. That would just be pregnancy.

Because I live in the northeast U.S., I always think of late fall and winter as being a pregnant pause, albeit a long one, before the good weather arrives.

The Greeks blamed this miserable period on their harvest goddess, Demeter, whose nitwit daughter, Persephone, married Hades/Pluto, the god of the underworld, and had to spend half of the year down below.(Okay, she was technically abducted, but she should have been paying attention.)

Persephone could have come back for good if she hadn’t eaten a handful of pomegranate seeds while in the underworld. Because of that, she had to go back every year. If I were going to make a deal with the devil, I’d want a hell of a lot more than a few seeds.

Demeter mourned the loss of her daughter during the months that Persephone was Queen of Hades. She was so grief-stricken that she couldn’t attend to her Mother Nature duties; thus, the land became barren and cold. Her inertia was blamed on her depression, but I personally think that it was vengeful; she wanted everyone to share in her unhappiness.

She got her wish. Those of us living with the cold and snow are all in Hades, along with her daughter. Come back soon, Persephone. Maybe you can make some pomegranate wine, get Hades drunk, and slip away when he’s sleeping?

Oh, don’t bother. You’ll probably get abducted again, anyway.

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Happy New Year from Beyond!

In 2017, Humor on December 31, 2016 at 11:45 pm

My sister and my niece are on vacation in Scotland, where the New Year is rung in five hours before it is in Connecticut, where I live. So, while it’s 2017 there, it’s still 2016 here.

She just sent me a Facebook message:

My sister: I’m speaking to you from the future. We are 4 hours into 2017. We are allowed to send one message. Happy New Year. 
Me: You used your one message for me?! I’m so honored! Are things much different in 2017? I can only imagine.

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Holiday Activities

In Humor on December 29, 2016 at 6:29 pm

My husband just came home from work. I met him at the door and asked him what he wanted for dinner, and if he wanted to go out tonight.

He answered, “I just got home. Let me decompose for a minute.”

“Decompose?” I asked. “Don’t you mean decompress?”

He took off his coat and hung it up. “No,” he responded.

I put on my coat and went out to buy some air freshener.

 

Two-Hundred-and-Thirty-Eight Dollars

In Humor on December 29, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Back in the day, when I worked in the radio industry, talk-show hosts would compile a reel-to-reel tape of shows that they had done throughout the year, which they called their “Best of” reel (e.g., “The Best of the Tom Jerry Show”), and during the last week of the year, the radio station would play one show a day. The shows were rarely their best, but the hosts just wanted their voices on the air during their vacation week. In the spirit of the “Best of” week, I’m rerunning some of my old blog posts. In my case, I think they really are my best ones. This one was published six years ago, so only my hardcore fans have read it. It’s been searched for, via Google, over the years, so I think people like it. I hope you do, too.

It all started in the middle of the night. A bag of bread, which was on our kitchen table when we went to bed, had been relocated to a kitchen chair and half-eaten when we awoke the next morning.

Being the brave rodent hunters that we are, we immediately summoned an exterminator. The guy showed up, said, “You’ve got mice,” put out some bait and said, “That will be $238. You have a four-month guarantee.” Then he told me to plug up areas under the sink with steel wool and ended with, “Call us in a month if you see any more activity.”

“Two-hundred and thirty eight dollars for bait?” my husband and I asked each other … after the guy left, of course. We didn’t want to look cheap. “We could have bought bait for a lot less than that,” my husband noted. What made the deal worse was that we were really only getting a three-month guarantee since we had to observe “activity” for a month before calling in reinforcements.

Of course we saw activity during the exterminator’s grace period. I was greeted every morning by black rice-sized excrement that I had to sweep up before I served my son his breakfast. One morning, I had to sweep up a dead field mouse. The problem seemed to be over at that point and we all forgot about it. Then, one morning, my husband found a gnawed banana on a dining room chair. The fruit bowl was on the dining room table, so something had dragged it down onto the chair before eating it.

Once again, we called the exterminator. A different guy showed up this time—their “wildlife expert”—and he told us that we still had mice, and that he had seen “activity” in the basement. So, he re-baited the traps. He then pointed out additional gaps that I had to fill. He told me that steel wool wasn’t good enough and that I had to buy foam insulation that turned hard once it was sprayed into crevices, and that I had to fill every hole with it. I told my husband what he said and my husband asked why we had to do the work when we were paying the exterminating company. I told him that the exterminator obviously had his limits as to what he would do for $238. Then I headed out to buy the foam insulation.

The next day, despite the insulation, the invader had again visited our dining room, where he took an apple from the fruit bowl, carried it into the kitchen, and nibbled on it under the kitchen cabinets. When my husband asked why in the world I had left anything edible out, I told him that we were trapping an animal, and this particular animal liked fruit, so of course I would leave fruit out.  He just shook his head and threw out the fruit that was still left in the bowl.

Later that day, on a walk with our dog, I spotted a cache of acorns at the base of an oak tree. I scooped up about thirty or forty and put them in a bag for my friend who likes acorns. When I got home, I put the bag on the dining room table. The next morning, the acorns were gone. The bag was still there, ripped to shreds, but the nuts were nowhere to be found. My husband and son claimed that they knew nothing about the acorns and even insinuated that the acorns were never there in the first place. If it weren’t for the ripped-up bag, I might have believed them.

Later that night, the dog started sniffing around the base of the stove. I peered under the stove and saw an acorn. I knew that whatever happened next wasn’t going to be good. My husband had the good fortune to be at work, so my son and I pulled out the stove. What we saw was horrifying: a real-live rat’s nest comprising a mass of insulation and steel wool, and piles of acorns, dog food, and excrement … plus a measuring cup, a stick of gum, and a Frisbee. It was like the Borrowers had moved in. As we stared in horror at the mess—while holding the stove in mid-air—the mess moved. Slowly, a very large, very black rat emerged from the piles.

We almost dropped the stove. Then the rat ambled over to a hole behind the stove and disappeared. The rest happened in a blur. We pulled the stove all the way out and started cleaning up the nest. After a large trash bag was filled with the detritus, we had to clean up the hole, which was crammed with acorns and steel wool, which made us wonder how the rat had gotten through the hole in the first place. Then the scouring and disinfecting began.

The next day, the head exterminator came and pulled out all the stops. He apologized for his team’s botching of the job and told us that he wouldn’t charge us the rat extermination fee. Apparently the $238 only covered putting out mice bait and making us do all the grunt work. He put out spring traps that could catch a horse and told us to call him after the weekend was over. We were supposed to, once again, observe “activity,” and if necessary, “finish the rat off” with a hammer if he got caught in a trap and didn’t die. T0 hell with that. We put the dog in the kennel, packed bags, and moved into a hotel. The rat won. He could have the house.

On Monday morning, after dropping our son off at school, we called the head exterminator and told him that we’d meet him at our home. We all crept into the kitchen, not knowing what we would encounter. Thankfully, the rat had met his maker, down in the basement. The exterminator offered to show us the dead object of our terror. I declined, but my husband reasoned that it couldn’t bother us now, so he looked. He later told me that the rat was bigger than his foot. After disposing of the rat, the exterminator returned and re-set traps. He also told us that we needed to have a “cement guy” reinforce our foundation so that nothing else could venture inside.

Wouldn’t you think that we would have done that immediately? Nah, spring seems soon enough. We still have a few months left on our four-month guarantee. We want to get our 238 dollars’ worth.dollars-in-bunches

Merry Christmas Season

In Christmas, Humor, Religion on December 28, 2016 at 11:09 pm

This was originally published in December 2015. If you didn’t read it a year ago, then, as NBC used to say about its reruns, “It’s new to you!”

As our pastor, Rev. Michael Boccaccio, points out every year, “Christmas is not a day, it’s a season.” The Christmas season traditionally starts on Christmas Day and ends on the Feast of the Epiphany (or Little Christmas in some parts of the world), which is on January 6, the day the Wise Men showed up at the stable in Bethlehem.

Partridge in a Pear TreeFather Boccaccio told us that, in the Catholic Church, the Christmas season officially draws to a close on the day that Jesus was baptized. That date varies from year to year, and can extend to January 15 or so. He insists that no Christmas trees or decorations can be taken down until that day. He threatens to make surprise visits to our homes to check that our decorations are still up after January 1, but we all know that he won’t visit, just like he knows that our trees and holly will be long gone before the middle of January.

But back to the Epiphany and the Wise Men: I’ve always had a problem with that story. Mary and Joseph were on their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for Emperor Augustus’ mandatory census when Jesus was born. Penalties for disobeying the emperor were undoubtedly stiff back then, so I imagine Joseph bundled Mary and Jesus up shortly after Jesus’ birth and hustled them out of the stable and off to the census bureau.

I don’t see them staying in a stable for 12 days. And even if the landlord did let them linger awhile, it probably took those Wise Men from the general area known as “the East” longer than 12 days to get there. They were following a star, and stars are only visible at night, so they would have had to have taken the days off to wait for nightfall … and to shop for gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

nativity_Depending on how far east they were, it could have taken them months, or years. But, if they were only a few miles east, they could have made it in time, star notwithstanding. However, nobody knows where they started from. I’ve heard stories that they showed up at Mary and Joseph’s house when Jesus was a toddler. Then again, the accepted story is that they were definitely at the stable at the same time that Jesus and His parents were.

This reminds me of David Sedaris’ story about the six to eight black men who accompany Santa on his rounds in Holland. Sedaris wondered why no one had gotten an accurate count over several centuries. I personally wonder why the whole Wise Men story is so vague, when the other details of Jesus’ birth were documented so clearly. A visiting priest to our parish complicated the story further by saying that there was no mention of three Wise Men in the Bible; only three gifts were noted. That means that any number of Wise Men could have been there bearing three gifts. Or maybe only the three best gifts were recorded, and the Diaper Genie and bottle sterilizer were left out.

Here’s another question I have: Why is the revised end of the Christmas season on the day of Jesus’ baptism — which occurred 30 years or so after His birth? I suppose the Church is playing it safe using that date, since The Wise Men had to have arrived within three decades.

However, if we use that logic, Father Boccaccio will make us keep our trees up year-round.

Wise Men

 

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? Does Anybody Really Care?

In Humor on December 28, 2016 at 4:12 pm

If it weren’t for my pill organizer, I wouldn’t have any idea what day it is.pill-organizer

My company’s office has been closed since December 23, but we’re still supposed to put in two days of work from home before the office opens again on January 2. Sixteen hours of work should, in theory, be easy to fulfill in ten days.

However, the days have sped by in a flurry of holiday activity and now that things have calmed down, I can’t seem to get out of my pajamas until the sun sets.

Luckily for me, I don’t have to get dressed in order to work from home … or go to Walmart, where my satin, leopard-print ensemble fits right in.

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(Credit to Chicago for the title of this post.)

Photos Are for Display Purposes Only

In Humor on November 28, 2016 at 1:16 am

Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. You expect one thing and get another. For instance, tonight, I checked out one of the online community tag sale sites I belong to. I expected to scroll through the latest sale items, see something I liked or not, and click off the site. I did not expect to laugh out loud when I read the comments under an ad for workout pants. Here’s the post. People are nuts.

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