Thanks to Atlanta, I Had to go to England for Good News

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comThis is one of those good news, bad news days.

The bad news is, my idea for this week’s column started fizzling around 9:30 last night when Atlanta began the process of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the Super Bowl — thereby dashing the hopes of long-suffering Falcons fans and millions of other people everywhere who don’t like the Patriots very much.

For the record, count me in the latter group. I’ve never been a Falcons fan, but I rode the bandwagon for 4 hours last night.

But that’s the bad news.

The good news is that Queen Elizabeth II celebrated 65 years on the throne this week.

Yes, I had to reach across the big pond for the good news, but I found some, and I think it is worthy of mentioning.

The queen is the only British monarch ever to serve for this many years. When she was crowned, some guy named Winston Churchill was Britain’s prime minister.

I didn’t know it, but Elizabeth was never supposed to be queen in the first place. My knowledge of British royalty is about as extensive as the average American commoner, I suppose.

Here’s how it happened.

Elizabeth’s uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson, who was from the United States and had already been divorced twice.

Elizabeth’s father then became king. His name was Albert, but when he started feeling the whole Buckingham Palace crown-and-throne thing, he adopted the name George VI.

He died in 1952, and suddenly, at 25 years old Elizabeth was crowned queen.

To put some perspective on this, in 1952 the US was fighting the Korean War and 50,000 people died from polio. Harry Truman was president.

“Singing in the Rain” was released.

An article about Elizabeth from NBCNews.com summed up her longevity by saying, “Decades of duty have defined the queen. She has traveled more than a million miles, visited about 120 countries and met with 12 U.S. presidents.”

One of the reasons I find this whole story so intriguing is because of the way the queen has always presented herself. She is the personification of grace and decorum in a world lacking grace and decorum.

She has ruled, as the NBC piece put it, “65 years without publicly saying anything inappropriate.”

I hope she never gets a Twitter account.

I feel kind of sorry for Prince Charles, though, who has been heir apparent to the throne since 1952 (you know, Korea, polio, Truman, blah, blah, blah).

I’m sure he loves his mum to the ends of the earth, but you surely know he is ready for the big promotion. No 68-year-old man wants to be called prince anymore.

I feel your pain, Charles. In a past life, I had the same job title for several years, and it gets a little stale after a while.

He probably calls the queen every morning. “Hello, mum, how are you feeling today? Oh, drat. I mean, that’s wonderful. Have you smoked those cigars I gave you yet? No, I don’t want to play tennis with you again today. Let’s go get cheeseburgers instead.”

Of course, in today’s world, not even 65 years of dignified service earns you respect from everyone. One British political faction wants Elizabeth to abdicate the throne on her Sapphire Jubilee.

One British newspaper, wrote, “… having celebrated her 90th birthday last year and suffering a heavy cold over Christmas that caused her to miss church, questions are being raised as to how long she can continue in her role as head of state.”

Seriously? The old gal phones it in one Sunday in 65 years, and people want her to quit?

Hang in there until you’re 100, queen.

If things go the way they look like they’re going, you might see a Lombardi trophy or two in Atlanta.

Still Waiting on Snow After All These Years

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI grew up just inside Tennessee on the Alabama border.

It never snowed much down there. And when it did, we rarely ever got out of school because of it.

I mean rarely to the nth degree.

I cannot express to you how much I wanted a snow day every now and then. I worked hard. I deserved one. Plus, every other school system around got them.

Therefore, every time the weatherman said the S word, I would be called to duty.

First, I would get my hopes up. That was the easy part. It happened almost instantaneously until I was about a junior or senior in high school. By then, I was cynical; but in the elementary school years, I was a bouncing bundle of enthusiasm.

Second, I would send up a little prayer. I didn’t ask for much. Is asking for enough snow to cause school to be called off such a tall order? I wasn’t picky. I would’ve taken ice, sleet or even freezing rain. We didn’t have black ice in those days. And for the record, I still don’t know what that means.

Third, I would ready my battle station, which meant putting a stool in the utility room so I could sit while I looked out the door for that first flake to waft into the beam of the back porch light.

When snow was in the forecast — during every commercial break all evening long — I would run to the utility room, flip on the porch light and fully expect to see hundreds of huge, wet, fat snowflakes falling to the frozen ground and piling on top of each other like a big thick blanket.

Pfft.

No precipitation was bad enough. Rain was even worse, because it was just a tease — especially since our outdoor thermometer was stuck on 33 every school night from November to March.

The weatherman would always backpedal. Here’s how the progression would go: early on, he would say “snow”, then he would say “rain possibly changing to snow,” then he would say the dreaded “little or no accumulation,” followed by — you guessed it, the snow-day death knell, “higher elevations.” 

Oh, Lord, to live in those mystical “higher elevations,” or Narnia if you’re CS Lewis.

I was desperate. 

I even toyed around with the idea that if Mother Nature wasn’t going to cooperate, I could step in.

I’m not sure if it was accurate or not, but our school principal was widely rumored to have the power to call off school on those rare occasions when it did snow.

I recall thinking how some of us could go to his house under the cover of darkness, take his hosepipe and squirt water on the ground and bushes around his back porch to make him think it had iced over when he looked out his back door.

For the record, I still think it would’ve worked.

Now, I live about 150 miles east and just about 10 miles farther north from where I grew up.

The other night, the meteorologist — with his millions of dollars of equipment, advanced degrees and experience — called for the possibility of snow.

Actually, he started mentioning it 2 weeks before when a little bitty fickle storm system started forming somewhere in the Midwest.

Right on cue, though, at dark that night I went to the back door and flipped on the light — the same way I have for more than four decades.

I went back three or four more times.

Pfft. 

By 9 p.m., I could see the moon. On twitter, I learned that the higher elevations had received some accumulation.

Naturally.

Of course, school had already been called off, simply because the meteorologist said the S word.

Or, maybe a group of young patriots went to the principal’s house, turned on the hosepipe and took matters into their own hands.

Early Spring Cleaning of the Idea File

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comPeople ask me all the time how I come up with such great ideas for this column week after week.

Okay, nobody ever asks me that. I just wanted type it and see how it looked.

The other night, however, someone did tell me they liked my column, “Diary of a Madman.”

I told them “Diary of a Madman” was an Ozzy Osbourne record, but I appreciated the compliment nonetheless.

I keep a running list of column ideas using the Notes app on my phone. Regardless of what I’m doing, when I get an idea, I will whip out my phone and type it in.

It took me a couple of years, but I finally came to realize that the old, “Oh, I’ll never forget that idea” approach never works. I always forget it, regardless of how impactful it was at the time.

Sometimes, however, I look back at these notes and wonder what I meant by what I hurriedly typed. Other times, I know what I meant, but there isn’t enough substance there to justify 700 words.

Since the weather is acting like spring, I decided to do some spring cleaning and declutter my idea list. Here are the entries I’m getting rid of:

  • “Kickoff to Summer. What changes?” I think I got this from a television commercial last spring. I have no idea where I thought I would go with this.
  • “Cub Scouts.” I have fond memories of being a Cub Scout. Each Tuesday after school during my second grade year, we would pile into the back of the den leader’s station wagon and go to her house for the meeting. We did crafts and took field trips. Sometimes we went out in the woods and learned about the outdoors.  Once in Cub Scouts we did a skit about famous explorers. I gave a stellar performance as everyone’s favorite Icelandic trailblazer, Leif Erikson. Broadway never called, but the crowd in my school cafeteria was abuzz, I am certain of it.
  • “I can’t wait until 2032. That’s when our peppermint candy will be gone.” We’d been to Sam’s. If you need a starlight mint — I mean if you ever need one — I’m your guy.”
  • “Listening to loud music. (I have three entries that say this).” I think I wanted to pontificate that at least when we listened to loud music back in my day, it was music worth listening to. I know that sounds curmudgeonly, but I just find the current releases pretty slim pickings these days.
  • “The Constitution isn’t a salad bar.” I believe I could do a whole book on this, but you probably came here to escape politics for a minute, and I’m not going to disappoint you. However, I do reserve the right to revisit this one at a later date.
  • “The world would be a better place if everyone had a cast iron skillet.” I truly believe this, but not enough to come up with 700 words to convince you of it.
  • “Cookie sheet will not fit in oven.” Yes, I bought a cookie sheet that was too long to fit in the oven. I don’t take all the blame for this. Who on earth makes a cookie sheet that doesn’t fit in a standard-size oven?
  • “Buying food out of the back of a truck.” This may have had something to do with the farmers market. I love supporting local farmers directly. Hopefully, the weather during the growing season of 2017 won’t resemble the weather in the Mojave desert as much as it did last year.

There  you have it — my complete list of ideas that either didn’t make the cut or were complete mysteries to me.

I guess you’ve figured out by now that I didn’t find anything in my so-called good ideas I wanted to write about this week.

It happens to me sometimes.

I’ll bet it even happens to Ozzy too from time to time.

Pinpointing the Cause of the Doldrums

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI have been out of sorts for a few days.

By last count, I had been six of the seven dwarfs since the first of the year.

It’s not the time of year, really it’s not. I don’t have Seasonal Affective Disorder. In fact, I wanted to get back into the swing of things more than anyone following the holidays. And, like I said a couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled to bid farewell to the great train wreck that was 2016.

This crazy weather kerfuffle certainly hasn’t made things any better. The temperature went from feels-like-3 to 73 in the course of about four days. If it doesn’t straighten up soon, I will have to mow the yard before Valentine’s day.

I also hated to hear the news that the Greatest Show on Earth is shutting down. I have some good memories of us taking Grant to the Ringling Brothers Circus a couple of times when he was very young. I guess I thought we might go again someday.

This is a stressful time of year for us self-employed people. This is when we have the unpleasant task of getting the bookkeeping stuff in good enough shape to send to the accountant. 

This doesn’t come easy for me. I mean, how am I supposed to remember what this 89-cent dollar store receipt from March was for?

You would be appalled at some of the things I call office supplies.

I suppose all those things and a few more have been dragging me down, but my biggest issue, however, started back in the middle of December.

One of my crowns came loose.

This is a squeamish subject for me, so don’t worry, I’m not going to subject you to any details.

Since this has happened before, I knew the visit to get it reattached would be short and easy. Well, I was pretty sure it would be short and easy, but nothing in life is certain.

I remained in denial until it got close enough to Christmas that I had a decent reason to put it off until after Santa came.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is no time to go to the dentist either, so I continued to chew on my right side.

The next time you sit down to eat, make a conscious effort to chew on the opposite side from the one you normally use.

Bon appetit.

On Tuesday, Jan. 3, I finally called to make an appointment.

I now should take this time to salute all the brave men and women who work at the dentist’s office, especially the ones who answer the phone and must ask questions such as, “Is it all the way off or just loose?”

In order to make sure they wouldn’t say “just come on in now,” I called at precisely 4:55 p.m. I knew I couldn’t go the next day because they were probably closed for National Spaghetti Day (look it up). Thursday wasn’t an option because there was snow in the forecast — for somewhere, I’m sure.

I really wanted to go on Friday, but (oh, no!) the dentist is closed on Fridays. Just my luck.

Monday? Yeah, right. I’m scheduling a dentist appointment for a Monday.

Tuesday was out, because Tuesday is just Monday with a day of experience.

In a conversation that resembled a hostage negotiation, we decided on the following Wednesday. So yes, when I finally decided to fix a problem I should’ve fixed a month ago, I made the appointment for 8 days in the future.

Naturally, he fixed it in about 30 seconds. It was glorious. The sky was bluer that day.

The next morning, it was loose again.

I wanted to see those blue skies again so badly, I only waited 4 days to call. When I did, I made the appointment for as soon as they could do it.

Hopefully, I won’t be that seventh dwarf anytime soon.

What Falls on the Child in the House Stays in the House

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comBy now, you’ve probably seen the video of the 2-year-old being rescued by his twin brother after a dresser fell on him.

In case you haven’t, let me recap it for you:

The video looks to be shot from some kind of a video camera or what people call a “nanny cam.” This is a device that lets parents watch little Johnny on a little screen instead of watching him in real life.

Anyway, the two kids were climbing in and out of the dresser’s drawers when it tipped over and trapped one of them underneath. In a few seconds, the other boy pushed the dresser off of his brother, and another internet phenomenon was born.

For the record, count me in the growing number of people who suspect the video may have been staged. I’m no Columbo, but the drawers were empty and the video camera was aimed at the dresser.

Of course, the parents did what everyone does these days. They posted the video on Facebook.

“We were hesitant to post this video initially,” Ricky Shoff, the father was quoted in a CNN story, “but a lot of parents have probably made the same mistake that we made: (They) don’t have their furniture secure or bolted to a wall.”

He went on to say, “Our house is very childproof. We are really cautious about all this stuff, so it never really crossed our minds that something like this could happen.”

I know exactly what’s crossing these parents’ minds.

Let’s see what we have here.

Two toddlers apparently narrowly escape serious injury.

The parents watch the video.

They post it on Facebook.

Then they hit the talk show circuit.

NBC said the video highlighted “furniture danger.”

I guess gravity could not be reached for comment.

Assuming these kids’ guardian angels don’t hit the road for an easier gig, they will grow up, watch the video and wonder why the parents ever made it public in the first place.

This has Menendez brothers written all over it.

Of course, accidents do happen — even to the best of us.

When Grant was 15 months or so, I had brought him home from daycare after work. Kim hadn’t gotten home yet.

I was in the kitchen when I heard a crash from the living room.

Under the felled Christmas tree, I could see a little hand and foot flailing about as a cascade of ornaments danced around on the floor.

It looked like the Hallmark store ate my child in the living room then threw up.

After setting the tree back up and getting most of the sap out of Grant’s hair, we began the process of trying to cover up the unfortunate incident before mom got home.

We had our story straight: I wasn’t talking, and he didn’t know how to.

Of course, it was a hatchet job. Kim didn’t have her shoes off before she noticed how the ornaments were crammed haphazardly on the tree. Or, maybe she noticed the sap in the hair first, I don’t remember.

The bottom line is, we kept it to ourselves.

What falls on the child in the house stays in the house.

Facebook didn’t exist, and even if it had, I wouldn’t have posted the video showing me as the bungling idiot who let a tree fall on my child.

George Stephanopoulos didn’t call. Katie Couric didn’t call. Anderson Cooper didn’t call.

I didn’t blame gravity. 

I didn’t blame the tree or the tree stand. I didn’t blame Kim for being at work. I didn’t blame the daycare for letting me bring him home in the first place. I didn’t blame the Germans for inventing the Christmas tree 500 years ago.

I took the blame, learned something in the process and kept my mouth shut about it.

Sometimes, gravity happens. And there’s no need to tell the world for 20 years or so.

I Must Confess, I Had a Glimmer of Hope

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.com(Wednesday 8 a.m.)

Almost a year ago, I wrote about how I expected to win the historic $300 million Powerball drawing.

I said that as soon as I finished writing the column I was going to go buy my winning ticket.

Of course, I didn’t buy one. I knew I wasn’t going to when I said I was. I take a little poetic license every now and then to make the story more interesting.

You wouldn’t read it if I didn’t.

Come on, if The Partridge Family had owned a Roto-Rooter franchise in Peoria would anyone have watched? Of course not.

But today is different. I really do have two Powerball tickets for tonight’s drawing. In a peculiarly uncharacteristic move, my mother-in-law gave them to me on Christmas.

I’m not sure which is more unusual: the fact that she bought lottery tickets in the first place or the fact that she gave them to me on Christmas day, which was on a Sunday no less. It may be time to have her seen about, but I cannot worry myself with that today.

All I am concerned with today is passing the time until 10:59 p.m., because that’s when the good folks at Powerball draw the numbers. I fully expect to win.

There is only one problem.

The jackpot is only $60 million.

When I saw that number on a lottery billboard yesterday, I was genuinely a little disappointed.

Sixty million paltry dollars.

Before taxes!

I wanted to win $300 million, remember? That’s what the jackpot was a year ago.

This is a mere 20 percent of that.

I wonder if the big check they will present me at the press conference will be 80 percent smaller than the check they gave those nimrods last January who won $300 million?

Even if I do win it, there is no guarantee it will be all mine. I may have to share it with someone else whose mother-in-law also bought them tickets for Christmas.

I’m an only child to begin with, so sharing is not an activity I partake in with much gusto, but the thought of having to split a measly jackpot like $60 million two ways is unthinkable.

I’m not even sure third cousins would come out of the woodwork for a share of $30 million.

Plus, I believe I told my mother-in-law I would give her back her $2 if I won. I was joking, but if she holds my feet to the fire about it, there go two more bucks up in smoke.

I suppose I could survive on my take, but don’t get me wrong, I would much prefer the cushion — and the multiple Ferraris — that $300 million would provide.

(Wednesday, 10:59 p.m.)

Well, guess whose 2001 Dodge truck is still in the driveway where his Ferrari belongs?

When I said I fully expected to win, I guess I was exaggerating again. But, I must admit I did have some glimmer of hope that those bouncy-bouncy little ping pong balls would have my numbers on them.

The next time someone calls me a cynic, I am going to whip out this story.

To make myself feel better, I did some research and learned the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338.

The odds of someone being struck by lightning twice in their lifetime are 1 in 9 million, which is 32 times more likely than winning Powerball.

Nobody won the jackpot last night, by the way. I didn’t hear about anyone getting struck by lightning either, so I guess it’s a wash.

I’m usually pretty realistic when it comes to things like this. So don’t look for me in line to buy a lottery ticket. 

If someone gives me one, I will happily take it. 

But if I win, you’ll never see me out in the middle of a field dancing around on the hood of my Ferrari if a dark cloud is approaching.

Hey, 2016, Don’t Let The Door Hit You…

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comAlmost a year ago, I watched the ball drop in Times Square signaling the hope and promise of 2016.

Just like every year, television cameras captured shivering revelers kissing each other, popping champagne and dancing in the streets of Manhattan.

I’ll bet it didn’t take them long to feel pretty dumb.

I’ve never been one to think that a new year would change much of anything. I’ve always considered it just another day — but one with lots of football.

But this New Year’s eve, ladies and gentlemen, don’t try to reach me, because I will be somewhere shouting the countdown and leading the conga line.

This 366-day train wreck we called 2016 is nearly over, and I for one cannot wait.

We cannot put this year in rice. It’s beyond repair.

You don’t believe me?

Consider this:

  • Let’s get the main one out of the way right off the bat. The election cycle which featured the two most unpopular candidates in American history brought out the worst in all of us, caused an increase in hate crimes against minorities and showed the world our bare backside in our worst moment. Plus, it was infinitely too long. Hopefully, Americans will not allow this travesty ever to happen again.
  • Zika. Apparently, we needed another reason to dislike mosquitoes.
  • Contaminated drinking water in several US cities including Flint, Mich., and Corpus Christi, Texas, looked more like scenes from an undeveloped country.
  • The mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando took 49 innocent lives. We cannot fix the gun problem in America until we agree on whether or not we have a gun problem in the first place. Between 2000 and 2014, there were 160 worldwide mass shootings. Of that number, 130 occurred in the US. Maybe someone will come up with a solution in 2017.
  • Prince dying was especially sad for me. He was always one of my favorite artists and he was definitely the most underrated guitarist in rock history. Twenty-sixteen was a terrible year for celebrity deaths. A few that were notable for me: Glen Frey, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer, Gene Wilder, Florence Henderson, John Glenn, and most recently, George Michael.
  • the battle of Aleppo. We — as well as most of the world — have ignored the Syrian civil war for 5 years, but the pictures and reports of genocide in Aleppo this year are horrifying. Too bad Syria doesn’t produce enough crude oil to get us involved.  
  • Good old 2016 also gave us fake news websites — or at least brought them to the forefront of the national conversation. I am not going to publicize any by name, but the same one that was responsible for the story claiming the democratic party ran a child sex operation out of a pizza restaurant also claims the Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax. I’m not sure what infuriates me more: people who write this garbage or the people who read, share and/or believe it. 
  • Of course, Tennessee had way more than its fair share of natural disasters. A year-long drought of seemingly Biblical proportion paved the way for the deadly wildfires, which finally were put out by the same storm system that brought tornadoes.
  • Lots of people got in a snit about the whole gender-neutral bathroom controversy. Twenty-sixteen truly was the year of the controversy. As long as so many people’s lives revolve around social media, that trend, sadly, isn’t going to change regardless of what the calendar says.

I wanted to be fair, so I researched to find some good things that happened this year. 

I learned that the wild tiger population went up. And, the giant Panda is no longer endangered. That’s good, I suppose, unless all those extra tigers decide Panda burgers sound yummy.

It was a good year for Cubs fans. 

Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl.

Then he retired. Thanks again, 2016.

I guess the best news is that you and I survived it. Let’s be thankful for that. 

But, let’s also hold open the door so 2016 can exit quickly, and we can start doing the conga.

Like Magic, Holiday Spirit Arrives Each Year

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI am going to attempt to take a few days off after Christmas.

My goal is to unplug as much as someone can in the 21st century. Since my self-awareness is better than my willpower, however, I know I’ll struggle to step away from my electronic devices.

But at the very least, I plan to absolve myself of as many of my normal responsibilities as possible for a couple of weeks.

To do that, I have to work ahead. Among other things, that means writing this column ahead of time.

I started writing this installment for Christmas during the first week of December.

That turned out to be a big mistake.

I usually write something sappy at Christmas, but I wasn’t in a sappy mood, so I decided I would take the humor route and write a satirical letter to Santa.

I had the formula all figured out.

I began by thanking that jolly old elf for how good he had been to me over the years. 

Then I chided him for the go-cart I still haven’t received. Although he has brought some pretty neat stuff down my chimney for as long as I can remember, he never won the big one, so to speak. 

Then I started making a list of famous people and the gifts I think they deserve. Naturally, I had Donald and Hillary in there. I also included Nick Saban, the New England Patriots and the Kardashians.

After I had suggested that Santa give lumps of coal eight or nine times in a row, I realized it wasn’t funny. I continued to struggle with it a couple more days, thinking I could somehow salvage it. Nothing is more deflating to me than to spend time working on something, then realize it cannot be saved.

The more I toyed with it, the more sarcastic and cynical it sounded.

It had a whole lot more Ebenezer Scrooge than it had Jimmy Stewart. It wasn’t very Christmasy.

I deleted it.

Of course, I know what my problem was. I never should’ve tried writing anything to do with Christmas before I was in the Christmas spirit.

I once toured RCA Studio B in Nashville, where Elvis recorded a Christmas album. Because he was recording in July, he had the people in charge turn down the air conditioning as low as it would go and put up Christmas decorations.

Maybe it worked for The King, but I have never been able to manufacture the Christmas spirit. But year after year, it always manages to happen.

This year, it hit me at church.

The brass and glass Christmas candlesticks at the ends of the pews were lit, and the sanctuary was decorated. We sang “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

It’s hard to sing, “glory to the new born king” four times in a row and not feel something.

It’s also hard to sing those hymns and not think about the past.

For how many children’s church Christmas programs did I dress up in a bathrobe with someone’s cane and join my fellow children in telling the Christmas story?

We always ended with “Joy to the World.” And everyone was transformed.

I have always thought it is miraculous how the spirit of the season magically overtakes nearly all of us this time of year. It truly is a special phenomenon that defies explanation.

It transcends religion. Nearly everyone catches the spirit in their own way.

It exudes hope, love and peace. It benefits us all.

It gives us a gentleness. Hopefully it gives us an opportunity to love one another.

I wish you all a joyous holiday season.

And Santa, if you’re reading this, you can officially forget the go-cart thing.

Instead, just bring us all the peace you can fit on your sleigh.

You Are Now Entering the Dad Joke Zone

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comThis aging thing is for the birds. 

Gravity is the enemy. Time is the enemy. Clothes shrink uncontrollably.

It isn’t easy, but I’ve come to grips with most of it. And I have complained here about my ever-expanding forehead and various other unpleasant physical changes.

The other night, though I got blindsided. 

I’ve never thought of myself as an overly talented person, but I have always had a knack for making people laugh.

Since I was pre-school age, I have known I possessed this ability.

In fact, at a high school reunion just a few years ago, one of my friends told me my sense of humor is what he always remembers about me.

I am afraid, however, that my humor is nearing its expiration date.

A few nights ago, I was talking with a few people at a social gathering. During the course of the conversation, I made a comment I thought was pretty funny, but no one laughed.

Then, I joked about how no one laughed at my original joke.

A young lady in the group (who wasn’t all that young) said, “It was funny, but it was a dad joke.”

Huh?

I wasn’t 100 percent sure exactly what she meant, but I had a pretty good idea. Certainly, I knew it wasn’t meant as a compliment.

So I looked up the definition of a dad joke.

Wikipedia says, “The dad joke is a pejorative term used to describe a corny, unfunny, or predictable joke, typically a pun. Generally inoffensive, dad jokes are traditionally told by fathers among family, either with sincere humorous intent, or to intentionally provoke a negative reaction to its ‘dagginess.’”

Then I looked up dagginess. It means not trendy, out of fashion, uncool. Obviously, I was too uncool to know what dagginess meant.

Well, isn’t this just great news.

If I had known my sense of humor was going to go out of style nearly as quickly as my Member’s Only jacket, I would’ve kept up those piano lessons in the third grade.

To add insult to injury, over the weekend, my 22-year-old son said people my age who like contemporary pop music are thought of among his generation as “creepy.”

That was right after I corrected him for saying Taylor Swift had a song called “Bad Love.”

The song is titled “Bad Blood.”

Everybody knows that, right?

I don’t think liking some contemporary music makes me creepy. It’s not like I’m getting ear gauges and hanging out at a hookah lounge.

I like Taylor Swift. Of course, I cannot relate to her lyrics the way most of her fans do, but t I still appreciate the way she can write fun, hooky pop songs.

That’s pretty much all pop music is supposed to be, anyway.

What happened to “age is just a number?” In this case, it seems more like “age is just a number, and the bigger your number the more repulsive you become.”

I thought I was witty and in-touch with society. Turns out now I’m unfunny — and creepy to boot.

I’m probably on some dad joke database somewhere that precludes me from living within 300 feet where cool people congregate. I should check to see if I’ve been banned from going to the mall on weekend nights.

I should get a flower that squirts water or an exploding cigar.

On the other hand, I’ve been known to over react from time to time. Maybe that’s what I’m doing now. Maybe I’m putting too much stock in other peoples’ opinions.

I’ve been thinking about it, and I think I’m going to stay the course. I’m going to keep saying the things I think are funny and hope it makes people laugh. If the millennials don’t get it, that’s not my problem.

It’s like Taylor says, “haters gonna hate.”

A Loaf of White Bread, Because it’s My Birthday

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comMy birthday is right around the corner, and I know exactly what I want.

A loaf of white bread.

I know, I know. You were probably expecting me to say world peace, reduced greenhouse gas emissions or a Tennessee Vol defense that allows fewer than 700 yards per game.

That’s the stuff dreams are made of all right, but I am making it easy on my loved ones this year.

Of course, I need a pair of a shoes, but what fun is that? It’s my birthday. I should get something I want — not something I need.

And all I want is a loaf of white bread. Here’s why.

The other night, I saw a bottle of Karo Light Corn Syrup at one of my favorite restaurants, which triggered a childhood memory.

When I was growing up, we had dessert after every meal. Usually it was cake or pie. Sometimes it might be pudding or ice cream. On those rare occasions when we didn’t have a dessert sitting around, we improvised.

My favorite improvisation was what we called Karo and bread.

Daddy would give everyone a piece of white bread, butter it, cut it into nine pieces like a tic-tac-toe board and pour Karo syrup on it.

It was sweet, creamy and sticky. It was delicious. It was delightful.

I would eat the four corner pieces first to get them out of the way because they had the most crust. Then I would eat the four remaining outside pieces, saving the center piece for last. It was the one with the most butter, the most syrup and no crust.

Nowadays in our house, we eat whole wheat bread, just like all other good health-conscious folks. Karo and bread doesn’t translate to whole wheat bread.

It’s my birthday. I get to make one exception.

Besides, one loaf of white bread won’t kill me. I probably won’t even eat all of it.

I fully believe my request will trigger your generosity, which certainly is already buckling under the weight of all this Christmas spirit.

So, in order to keep bread truck after bread truck from lining up down my street, and thereby making my neighbors mad at me, I have made a list of alternative birthday gifts I will also happily accept.

  • a gallon of whole milk. I dearly love milk, and I drink skim like it’s going out of style. But let’s face it, when I slather up that white bread with butter and Karo syrup, I’m going to need whole milk to wash it down. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to go all the way.
  • plugs that work either way you put them in the receptacle. I’m convinced I get it wrong about 99 out of a hundred times.
  • the fortitude to delete the old emails in my inbox which have no chance of never being relevant again.
  • someone to help me eat the super economy-size cereal I bought last week. I’m the only one in the house who eats cereal, which means I should’ve passed by it at Sam’s Club the other night. But I was hungry, and I just couldn’t. So I now have a double-wide box with two huge bags filled with cereal. I’ve been eating on it daily and have barely made a dent in it. 
  • a helium-filled hula hoop. I tried hula hooping the other day — 40 years too late, apparently.

I make this silly list to illustrate the point that like most of you, I don’t really need any more material things. In fact, I would love to downsize.

Just give me a celebratory meal, and I’ll be happy.

And for dessert, you already know what I fully intend to have.

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