Sunday, October 7, 2018

"All You Can Eat" Or "All YOU Can Eat"?

The recent funerals of Aretha Franklin and John "Wet-Start" McCain (an old fighter pilot nickname of his) reminded me of how my father has become rather fond of attending them.
     It gives him something to do, he gets to socialize with friends and family he hasn't seen in awhile, and the food is usually good.
     At one recent funeral, the food was especially good. Instead of a pot luck where everybody brought something, they family of the deceased had it catered. I noticed that my father went back time after time for seconds, thirds, and even fourths.
     "You're going back again?" I asked him, when he got up for a fifth time.
     "Why not?" he asked me back.
     "People will start to think you eat like a pig," I told him.
     "They won't," he told me back.
     "Why won't they?"
     "Because I've been telling them it's for you."
Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Monday, October 1, 2018

My Wife Is A Great Cook

as featured in Desert Exposure Magazine
My wife's a great cook.
    In fact, she's such a great cook she can even make English food taste good, and any food you have to put vinegar on to improve the flavor of, well, let's just say you'd have to admit that it would be a challenge. She makes everything from scratch, and doesn’t mind spending hours in the kitchen preparing a delectable feast for those she loves.
    I include myself in that group.
    One time, my beloved mother, when she was still alive and my wife wasn't around, asked me who the better cook was.
    I was diplomatic, but honest.
    “Mom,” I told her, “when it comes to cooking Mexican food, you're the best, but my wife's the better cook when it comes to cooking different kinds of food.”
    Since Mexican food is all my mother ever made, she was happy with my answer.
    Recently, my wife made some delicious fried rice. It had corn, it had peas, it had carrots, but what it mainly had were large chunks of perfectly seasoned chicken. Moist and tender.
    Just like my wife.
    I served myself. My father, on the other hand, likes to be served or he won't eat. He's old-school that way. Myself, I don't believe in going hungry.
    To be honest, my wife serving my father is something I’m always a little irked by, but who else is going to do it? Me? I’m not thoughtful that way. I figure, if you can make it to the table, you can get your own plate.
    That reminds me of the old saying about fish. If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime, but if you GIVE a man a fish, he’ll beat you with it and steal the rest from you. Anyway…
    Napkin, utensils, drink, dinner, dessert... it was all on the table. All he had to do was sit and eat, and sitting and eating is what he does best. Even when my father isn't feeling well he still has a healthy appetite. Once, when he was on one of his many deathbeds, my mother asked him why he wanted her to make him a snack.
    “Honey,” he told her, very sincerely, “it's not my stomach's fault I'm sick.”
    Anyway, the fried rice was great, and I made it a point to tell my wife just that. She smiled that modest smile of hers.
    She knew it was great.
    My father, meanwhile, was still chowing down. Chomp, chomp, chomp! He cleaned his plate in record time. If he was a kid, I could imagine him lifting the plate to his face and licking it clean.
    “Did you like the fried rice, pop?” I asked him.
    It was obvious he did.
    “Did you like it?”
    “Like what?”
    “The fried rice.”
    “The fried rice?”
    “Did I like it?”
    “It was good,” he told me, “but the chicken was kind of tough.”
    My wife didn’t meet anyone’s eyes. She just got up from the table and walked away.
    For the record, my wife has never made a tough piece of chicken in her life.
    “Where's she going?” my father--the diplomat--asked, and then looked around to see who was going to serve him seconds, thirds, and maybe even fourths.
    The thing of it is, that's my father's idea of a compliment.
    I may have already told you this story. If I have, well, get ready to hear it again. My wife and I took my parents on a three day/four night cruise to Mexico. As we stood there walking along the beautiful Ensenada beach, my father told us, “You know, I’ve been to beaches prettier than this one.”
    See what I mean?
    If not, let me tell you about one particularly hot summer when my parent’s air conditioner finally gave up the ghost. Out of the goodness of my heart (and with a little nudging from my wife) I decided to buy them a new one. The store we bought it from gave us a day and a time it would be delivered and installed. I made it a point to be there just in case, you know, anything went wrong. Like my father kicking the workers off his property before they were finished with the installation, for example.
    The workers got up on the roof and removed the old air conditioner, the one that came with the house. When they brought it down to ground level, my father and I took a look at it. Yeah, it was past its expiration date.
    Just like my ex-wife.
    But I digress...
    The workers then retrieved a huge box from their work van. As they tore the cardboard open, my father examined his new air conditioner closely.
    “Plastic?” he complained. “It's made out of plastic? Where'd you buy it, the dollar store?”
     No, actually I bought it at Sears, and, for the record, only the shell of the air conditioner was made out of a hard plastic. Everything on the inside was quality merchandise. Plastic makes sense. It's a way to save money, sell it for less, and make it lighter to transport. I won't mention the actual brand I bought, although I have a politician’s healthy appreciation for payola, but it was a name brand and the model I bought was top of the line. It was actually more air conditioner than they needed.
    “Don’t ruin your generosity, son,” he advised me, “by being cheap.”
    Like I said, that's my father's way of giving a compliment.
And you can send YOUR compliments to,, or @JimDuchene.

American Chimpanzee

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Not One To Be Chastised

By the many stories I've told you, it may sound like my father got pulled over a lot for speeding, and maybe he did, but I take full responsibility for that.
     You see, my brother and I were very rambunctious as young boys, and he had to spend half of his driving time threatening us in the backseat to get us to stop fighting with one another.
     It was a stormy night, as this memory takes place, and my father had pulled to the side of the road because a police officer had pulled us over. In his yellow rain slicker, it was obvious the police officer was not happy to be doing his job.
     "Isn't it stupid of you to be speeding with your family in the car with you?" he tried to chastise my father.
     My father isn't one to be chastised.
     "Stupid? Me?" he told the police officer. "YOU'RE the one standing in the rain."
Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Email To My Brother: The Difference

What's the difference between a girlfriend and a wife?
     Anal sex and annual sex.
     Your proctologist was saying that the last time he was checking your prostate he asked you, “Henry, how’s your sex life?”
     “Doc,” you said, “this IS my sex life.”

Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Lest You Think

as featured in Desert Exposure Magazine 
Lest you think I consider my father a burden, I don't.
     It's just if all I wrote about were unicorns and rainbows, both you and I would be bored. Besides, I find everything my father does incredibly entertaining. Maybe not at the time, but, you know, when I look back. Now I understand the saying, "I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you." I'm not laughing at my father, because I'm just like him. I'm laughing with him, because I can see what the future has in store for me.      Old age takes pity on no one.

    One of the reasons we bought this particular house is because it had a small guest house in the front where we knew my father could live and have his privacy. It was a way for him to keep his independence, yet let us keep an eye on him at the same time. In his home away from home he has his own TV with its own satellite signal. Now that I think about it, his TV gets more stations than mine does. He has a radio/CD player. Telephone. Refrigerated air. Heck, it sounds so good, I think I'm going to start living there.
    The problem is he likes to watch TV in the main house, and that forces everybody else to watch TV someplace else. While he's busy hogging the TV, he's also busy complaining our house is too cold.
    "Why don't you put on a sweater, dad?" my wife will ask him.
    "I don't want to wear a sweater."
    "But, if you're cold, a sweater might help warm you up."
    "The problem isn't that I'm cold, the problem is that the house is cold."
    So my wife will feel sorry for him, turn up the heat, and the rest of us have to suffer.
    "Pop," I've told him, sweating like a pig, "maybe you'd be more comfortable watching TV in your room."
    "I don’t think so."
    "You could watch what you want to watch."
    "I do that here."
    "You could have your house as warm as you want."
    "I don't know, it's pretty warm here. Except when it's cold."
    So what can I do? I sit in a hot house watching something on TV that doesn't particularly entertain me, and, man, I hate the heat. I try to avoid it like it was the police. You can dress for the cold. You can put on a sweater, you can wear a scarf, but there's nothing you can do about the heat. When it's hot, it's just hot.
    The times I beat my father to the TV, he'll come in, sit down, and watch for a bit. Then he'll look at me, and then back at the TV. At me, then the TV. Me. The TV.
    "There's not a baseball game on?" he'll ask no one in particular.
    He knows perfectly well there's a baseball game on. In fact, we pay extra for an entire channel devoted to nothing but baseball games for him. So, at any given time, my father can watch one if he wants to...  and he always wants to.
    "This show's pretty good, pop. You should give it a chance."
    "Oh, okay," he’ll say.  And he'll watch. For awhile. Then he'll look at me, and then back at the TV. At me, then the TV. Me. The TV.
    "There's not a baseball game on?"
    My wife will eventually feel sorry enough for him to change the channel from whatever it is I'm watching.
    "Can you also turn up the heat?" he'll ask her. "It's too cold in here."
    Once again, I can't watch my programs. I think he pretends to watch baseball on the outside, and laughs at me on the inside.
    "Heh, heh, heh," he laughs to himself. "Heh, heh, heh."
    Trust me, I understand why my father prefers watching baseball. He's hard of hearing, so it's difficult for him to follow the stories on the programs I watch. Baseball, he understands, and when he can't hear the color commentators, he makes it up himself.
    "You know," he'll say, in between chewing on the snacks my lovely wife provides. Smack, smack, smack. "These games are fixed."
    "Are they, pop?"
    "Yeah--smack, smack--fixed. I don't even know why I watch them."
    “I don’t either.”
    The bases might be loaded, and the batter will hit a home run.
    "See?  I knew he was going to hit a home run. I had that feeling--smack, smack, smack--the games are fixed--smack--I knew they were going to win the game."
    "Did you, pop?"
    "Ahhh, yeah. They're all fixed so the owners can make more money." He'll laugh, and shake his head a bit. "I don't know, I don't know. How else can you explain their scoring four runs and winning?"
    "Maybe the batter just hit a home run, pop. I mean, somebody has to win."
    "Nah, they're fixed. How else can you explain it?"
    By this time my wife will have already gone upstairs to bed.
    "Goodnight, pop," I'll tell him.
    "Huh… ahh... wha?"
    "I'm going to bed, pop. Can you turn off the TV and lights before you go to bed?"
    "Sure, son. Don't worry."
    And then, sometime in the middle of the night, I'll wake up, go check the locks, and find the TV, the lights, and the heater all on. The door leading out of our house and to his will be unlocked, and my father will be in his room. Sleeping like a baby. He knows how to turn everything off, but for some reason he won't do it.
    Maybe that's his way of paying me back for not letting him watch baseball.
Lest you think I’ve forgotten, you can find more nonsense at,, and @JimDuchene.

Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Well, What Would YOU Do?

My grandson, who's a pretty bright kid (he gets it from me), was telling me how he was learning about fire safety at school.
     He's in single digits, and they were teaching him about Stop-Drop-And-Roll, dialing 9-1-1, and that it's "Smokey Bear," not "Smokey the Bear."
     Testing his knowledge, I asked him, "What would you do if your school clothes were on fire?"
     Probably remembering how his mother lays them out for him in the morning, he said, "I'd leave them on the bed."
Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Monday, August 20, 2018

Opposites Attract

I’ve told you how my buddy Maloney and his wife ended up living together...
     ...but I've never told you how they got married.
   Maloney was laid low with an aggressive bout of the flu, and Gail moved in to take care of him. Unfortunately, once he got better, she never moved out. As far as I could tell, her taking care of him consisted of Maloney sleeping the entire day and Gail eating bonbons and watching TV.
   But that’s neither here nor there.
   Well, maybe not here, but it DID end up there. At the Justice of the Peace, I mean. Where the two of them entered only the first of what’s considered a trifecta of fine institutions. Prison being the second, and a mental facility being the third.
   “You’re already living together,” I pointed out. “Why get married?”
   “It’s a case of opposites attracting,” he told me. “SHE’S pregnant, and I’m not.”
RaisingDad  American Chimpanzee