Sunday, September 17, 2017

Standard Features

I like cars.
     What I don't like is going to a car dealership to look at them when I'm not in the market for one, but I'll do it anyway.
     I've already told you: I like cars.
     I like looking at them, I like seeing what new features the car companies continuously come up with, and I like imagining myself behind the wheel of one. Unfortunately, I don't care to deal with the salespeople. They're nice, don't get me wrong, but I don't like to waste their time.
     When they come up to me, I'm quick to tell them I'm just looking, but I'm sure they hear that from everybody who goes in there to buy a car. No one wants to seem too eager to part with their money, I suppose. If the dealership is busy, they'll usually leave me alone. If it's not, then they don't.
     Leave me alone, that is.
     When I am in the market for a car, I'll usually go just before closing time or when there's some big sporting event going on. I do this, because I've found the salespeople more willing to negotiate in my favor when they're anxious to 1) leave for the day, or 2) get back to the big game. If you're there just before they close, they won't close until they've sold you a car. Do you think they want to be there until past midnight?
     Not on your life.
     I don't want to be there that late, but I'll do it to save money.
     This past Super Bowl, my grandson and I went to an Audi dealership, but we were just looking. Usually, when it's a sporting event, the female salespeople, what few of them there are, will be the ones who will approach me first, their male counterparts generally watching the game in the lounge. I know that sounds sexist and stereotypical, but that's the way it is, and that's exactly what happened. A very nice saleslady walked out of the building and greeted us both.
     "We're just looking," I told her.
     "I don't mind," she said, giving my grandson a friendly smile.
     Have I told you?
     My grandson's a good-looking kid. He takes after me. The only difference being, his eyes are blue, whereas mine are brown. And, boy, is that kid sharp. He's always listening, even when he's pretending not to, so I always have to be careful about what I say, because he's not so careful about what he says.
     I took him with me to the Audi dealership because children are a great way to disentangle yourself from an aggressive salesperson. Kids get restless after a short time, so when you say you've got to go, what else can the salesperson do but let you go?
     But my grandson was being especially good, looking at all those brand new cars with me. The lady who was helping us was also being especially good. Helpful, but not too pushy. When I had a question, she was there with an answer, but otherwise she left us alone.
     "Oh, this comes with a dual-zone auto climate control," I noticed. 
     I was looking at an A3.
     "Yes," she said, "and it comes standard. The leather seats come standard, too."
     I like standard features. It doesn't mean I'm not paying for them. It just means they're already included in the sticker price of the vehicle.
     She pointed out a few other features.
     "The panoramic sunroof comes standard, and so does the rearview camera."
     "Nice," I said, and continued checking the car out.
     She used this opportunity to engage with my grandson.
     "My," she said, "aren't you a handsome, young man."
     "Thank you," I said.
     "Thank you," my grandson also said.
     The saleslady was right, whichever one of us she was referring to.
     "And so polite," she said. "Where did you get those beautiful blue eyes?"
     "They came standard," he told her.
Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Monday, September 11, 2017

Stating The Obvious

Like I've told you, my grandson is at an age where he can talk, but is still too young to grasp certain concepts.
       For instance, we were recently at the library. My grandson is a good-looking kid, and I'm not just saying that because he looks like me. Only his eyes are blue, whereas mine are brown.
     "Where did you get those beautiful blue eyes!" the librarian, who had some pretty blue eyes of her own, asked him.
     "They came with my face," he told her.
Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Monday, September 4, 2017

Where's The Nearest Cliff?

"Growing up, my father was king of his castle, but now that he's moved into my castle, it's a constant elbow-nudge between us for that top spot, and my wife's no help, because she caters to him all the time," I explained.
     "That's nice," the veterinarian said, but he really wasn't interested. "Now, what you want to do is lift the tail and, with your thumb and forefinger, squeeze here like this. That will express the anal glands."
     My father's dog suffers from clogged anal glands, and, sadly, that was the only problem my vet had a solution for.
     Later, when I complained to my buddy Maloney about it, he told me, "You think you have problems? My mother-in-law is always feeding our dog table scraps, no matter how many times I ask her not to. My dog's gotten so fat, he can't walk from the kitchen to the living room without taking a nap."
     Good ol' Maloney. There's no problem I have that he can't make about himself. Still, he's right. I've seen his dog. The poor thing looks like a hairy puffer fish at full puff.
     "You look like twins," he tells her when he sees the two of them together. She loves their dog, so she takes it as a compliment. In fact, she loves that dog more than she loves her own grandchildren. Whenever she's out and manages to follow her trail of breadcrumbs back home, she always brings back a treat for him. A snack, a toy, sometimes even a hamburger.
     "What did you bring your grandkids?" Maloney once asked, trying to shame her.
     "What?" she said, caught empty-handed. "I didn't hear you."
     "She'd have heard me if I was offering her a donut," Maloney griped to me later, having learned the hard-way that you can't shame the shameless.
     "What does your wife say?" I asked.
     "What can she say?" he answered. "She's her mother."
     I've told you about Maloney's mother-in-law. She came to visit for a few days, and, eight years later, they're still waiting for her to leave.
     "I'm not saying my mother-in-law is fat," Maloney backtracked, having considered the wisdom of comparing his mother-in-law to an overweight dog. "I'm just saying, when she gets into her clown car, there's not room for the other clowns."
     "Slip," I sputtered, using his nickname "I can't tell you how inappropriate that is."
     "But you're still going to try, aren't you?"
     At least his mother-in-law takes care of their dog. In my house, guess who's going to be in charge of squeezing out my father's dog's anal glands?
     "You want some ice cream, dad?" my wife asked, bringing me back to the point of this story.
     My father and I were sitting at the kitchen table, having just finished a five-star breakfast lovingly prepared by my wife. We continued sitting there, enjoying a nice cup of gourmet coffee. I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. Nor do I gamble or womanize. Gourmet coffee is one of my few indulgences. My father prefers instant, but that's neither here nor there.
     We were reading the morning newspaper. Make that, my father was reading the morning newspaper. I usually help myself to the sections he's done with, which means I sit there paperless because my father hoards the newspaper like Hints From Heloise was printed on gold. I pay for the paper, but my father gets first crack at it.
     Go figure.
     You know, now that I think about it, my father moves pretty quick for an old man. When it comes to beating me to the newspaper, that is. His wallet, well, that's another story.
     But I digress...
     My father looked up from the paper.
     "Huh... well... hmm..." he said. "What's that again?"
     "Would you like some ice cream?"
     "Some what?"
     "Some ice cream."
     "Well, yeah, I could eat some ice cream."
     That wasn't exactly what my wife asked, but it was close enough.
     "What flavor would you like?"
     Sadly, that's where my wife made her mistake. Giving my father a choice.
     "Huh... well... hmm..." he mused, rubbing the stubble on his chin. "What flavor would I like?"
     "Yes, dad. What flavor would you like?"
     "What flavor would I like? What flavor would I like? Well... hmm... what flavors do you have?"
     "We have chocolate and vanilla?"
     "You have what?"

     We only had the same two flavors we always have. My wife might occasionally buy something different, Cherry Garcia or coffee with chocolate chunks are particular favorites, but chocolate and vanilla are the usual suspects in our home.
     "Huh... well... hmm..." my father continued, considering the possibilities. "You said chocolate and vanilla?"
     "Yes, dad, we have chocolate and vanilla."
     "Well, I don't know. You said chocolate and vanilla?"
     "Yes, chocolate and vanilla."
     How did my life derail from reality and become part of an Abbott & Costello routine? Maybe on some level my wife was amused by these shenanigans, but probably not. Me? This time I just stayed quiet, enjoying the show. I knew better than to ask, "Who's on first?"
     So my father thought about it, and then he thought about it a little more.
     "Is that all you have?"
     "Yes, dad. Just chocolate and vanilla."
     "No strawberry?"
     "No strawberry."
     "Well, in that case, let me have vanilla," he finally decided, "but not too much. You always serve me too much."
     My wife turned to me. I was surprised she still remembered I was there.
     "Honey," she said, sweet as a bowl of Ben & Jerry's, "would you like some ice cream?"
     I know she was just being polite asking my father first. In fact, it's the right thing to do, but it still irks me that I come in second in my own home. I've heard that Native Americans have always catered to their elders, but look what happened to the Native Americans.
     "No thanks, sweetie," I told her. "I'm going for a walk."
     Off the nearest cliff.
Anyone wanna express my father's dog's anal glands? Let me know at, @JimDuchene.
as featured in Desert Exposure Magazine
Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Who's Your Daddy?

My grandson is at an age where he can talk, but is still too young to grasp certain concepts.
     For instance, when heard me refer to his great-grandfather, whom he calls Mac, as my father, he asked me, "Mac's your father?"
     "That's right," I told him.
     "And you're my grandfather?"
     "That's also right."
     "Then what... I mean..."
     I knew what he was asking. He was just having trouble finding the words.
     "Mac's your great-grandfather," I explained.
     My grandson considered that.
     "What's so great about him?" he wanted to know.
Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Other Secret

There's a book called The Secret.
     It takes 198 pages and $23.95 of your dollars to tell you this one thing: If you want something, you only need to say it out loud, and it will be yours. There's something about the power of words that sets the universe in motion.
     It must work, because it works for my father. He'll say, "I want a treadmill," and then my wife will say, "We need to buy your dad a treadmill," and, before you know it, he has his treadmill. That's the secret to The Secret, when you say something out loud, you need to say it in front of my wife.
     Treadmills, once you get them home, are pretty simple to set up. Basically, you just unfold them.
     "Well, would you look at that," my father said, looking at his new toy.
     "Let me show you how you use it, dad," I told him, plugging it in.
     "Be careful, son," he said, warning me.
     I didn't take offense, but, really, how hard can using a treadmill be? I used the opportunity to toot my own horn.
      "I don't want to brag, dad, but I'm pretty athletic. I played football in high school, remember? So using a treadmill is no problem. Besides, I bought you the most expensive treadmill there is. It's really top of the line. Like me."
     I turned it on, stepped onto the conveyer belt, and immediately my foot was thrown behind me, carrying the bottom portion of my body with it as well. I rotated briefly in the air, and then landed on my tush.
     My father walked over to survey the damage.
     "Do you know what the trouble is with patting yourself on the back?" he asked. I didn't answer because I knew he was going to tell me anyway. "Your hands aren't free to break your fall."
     Needless to say, he never used the treadmill
Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Last Words

Last words are important.
    You only have one chance to get it right. Get it wrong, and you’ll spend eternity thinking of all the things you should have said, just like you do when you’ve lost an argument with your spouse.
    I bring this up because now that I have my elderly father living with me, I look at him and see myself in the future. He’s 98-years-old, so that’s not necessarily a good thing.
     Gone are the days when I used to think I would live forever. Now I know that no matter how much weight I lift, how many miles I hike, or how many promises to God I make, I’m still going to get old and die.
    And not necessarily in that order.
     Everybody knows the famous words of Patrick Henry, who declared, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Now those would be impressive last words under any circumstance, but, when he died in the comfort of his own home, his actual last words were, “On second thought, just the liberty would be fine.”
    I always thought Queen Elizabeth's last words would be, "Why, Charles... whatsoever are you doing with that pillow?" but that has so far not come to pass.
    You know who didn't have any last words? Reputed prognosticator Nostradamus. On the night he died, the last words he spoke were to his secretary, Jean de Chavigny. He told her, "Get me some coffee."
    No, just kidding.
    What he actually said was, "Tomorrow, I will no longer be here." Well, I don't know where he was planning on going, but the next day he was still there.
    Just dead.
    Now, if he was such a great psychic, why did his own death catch him by surprise?
    I have the same thoughts about Yoko Ono and Nancy Reagan, both wives of two guys whose names you might recognize. Both Nancy and Yoko were really big into astrology, with personal astrologists who were paid mucho dinero to come up with astrological charts predicting their future. Neither woman would make any important decision for themselves or for their husbands without first consulting their astrologists. Do you know what neither astrologer predicted? The assassination of one husband, and an assassination attempt on the other.
    So much for astrology.
    One of my favorite comedians, Steven Wright, says he wishes the first word he ever spoke as a baby was “Quote.” That way, on his deathbed, his last word could be “Unquote.”
    William “I’m Nothing Without Star Trek” Shatner thought long and hard about what Captain Kirk’s last words would be in the movie Star Trek: Here's Another One. All he came up with was a lame, “Oh, my!” which meant… nothing. That’s what happens when actors think they can write.
    My favorite last words were said by one of ventriloquist Jeff Dunham’s dummies. In the TV special I saw, the wooden dummy told the human dummy that a redneck's last words were usually: "Hold my beer and watch this!
    When I asked my father if he ever considered what his last words might be, he answered, “Why? Are you trying to get rid of me?”
    Knowing that I am now closer to the end of my days than the beginning, I’m given comfort by the last words of Heinrich Heine, a poet of the Romantic Period, who said, “God will forgive me. It is His profession.”
    With that, here's what I'm considering for my last words.
I can see all my dead relatives. They’re coming to greet me. Hey, why do they all have horns?
    I like this one a lot. I think it would have made a nifty ending for one of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone episodes.
"Take my brother first."
    This may sound mean, but my brother's a pretty competitive guy, so I'd actually be doing him a favor.
I killed Jimmy Hoffa.”
    I haven’t done anything particularly memorable in my life. This is one way to make it into the history books.
I DARE God to take me right now.”
    This one depends on timing. If you don’t die immediately after saying it, pretend you did.
My one regret is… everything.”
    Now that I think about it, this one sounds an awful lot like the song, “I Hate Everything,” by my wife’s favorite country singer, George Strait. She’s always telling me how handsome he is, how rich he is, and how famous he is.
     I hate that guy.
I never liked you.”
    This works with George Strait and anyone else who happens to be around when you expire. Trust me, they’ll remember your last words for the rest of their lives.
There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
    So you’re telling me I could have done this at the BEGINNING of the movie?
All hail Lord Xenu.”
    Imagine what a hit your funeral will be when Tom Cruise and John Travolta show up in a flying saucer.
You’ll laugh when I tell you where I buried the gold.”
    This is one way to make sure your relatives will be sad you’re dead.
Get me a hooker.”
    Not nice, but very memorable.
Pull my finger.”

    Always a crowd pleaser.
You've seen mine, now show me yours (um, your last words, I mean) at,, and @JimDuchene.
published in Desert Exposure Magazine
Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Viva Las Vegas!

My elderly father and I were sitting in the waiting room of his doctor du jour. I'd make a joke about how old the magazines were, but what would be the point? Besides...
      If the patients can be elderly, why not the magazines?
      Another elderly man sitting next to us was taking advantage of one of those magazines, however. It was an ancient issue of People, and he was doing the crossword puzzle. Crossword puzzles never age. If you haven't done it, then it's new to you. 

     The elderly gentleman went through it pretty quick, but then got stuck on one particular clue.
     My father, always quick to make another person's business his own, leaned back and sneaked a peek over the man's shoulder.
     "Wager," my father told him.
     "Excuse me?" the man said, lifting his eyes.
     "A five-letter word for bet is 'wager,'" my father said again.
     The man looked back down to check. Apparently, my father was correct, because...
     "Thank you," the man said. "I feel silly, it was so obvious."
     My father, his nosiness having come to a satisfactory conclusion, waved the guy an "It was nothing," and immediately lost interest.
     Finding what he thought was a new friend, the man asked my father, "So, do you like crossword puzzles?"
     "What?" my father replied, distracted by someone else doing something else across the room.
     "Do you like crossword puzzles?" he repeated.
     "Nah," my father told him, gruffly. "I just like to gamble."

Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee