Sunday, February 18, 2018

What Happened Next

When all the hubbub was over and my father was back sitting in his favorite chair, happily eating the very same snacks that he almost choked to death on, my mother wanted to know why he got mad at her for turning off the TV, and my father quite reasonably answered, "Because, if it was my time to go, I wanted to go watching my favorite TV show."
Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Monday, February 12, 2018

What Happened First

Back when my beloved mother was still alive, she told me about something scary that happened to her and my father when they were home alone.
    Not scary in the “Boo!” kind of way, even though the house I grew up in was supposed to be haunted. Nothing frightening or supernatural ever happened to me, unless you count the spooky noises and noxious fumes that emanated from my brother’s side of the bedroom we shared, if you get my drift.

     If you don't, that's probably for the best.
    They were sitting in the den, watching TV together. She was sitting on the couch and my father was in his favorite chair, when—all of a sudden—my father began to choke.
    “Honey!” my mother screamed as my father began to turn purple.
    In a panic, she picked up the remote and turned off the TV, and then began to slap him hard on the back, trying to dislodge whatever it was he was choking on.
    It didn’t help,
    My father’s hands were clawing at his throat and his eyes were bulging out of their sockets. Passing out, he fell to the floor.
    THAT helped.
    The obstruction moved and my father was able to breathe again.
     “Honey,” my mother was crying as she hunched over him. “Are you okay?”
    My father was gasping for air.
    “Why did you turn off the TV?” he wanted to know.
  Raising My American Chimpanzee

Monday, February 5, 2018

Super Bowl LII

I always like to say I enjoy sports as much as the next guy, as long as the next guy doesn't enjoy sports at all.
     For example, yesterday I spent the afternoon doing yard work. When I was done, I asked my sixteen-year-old daughter, "Who won Super Bowl LII?"
     "Philly, dad," she told me.
     "Yo, Adrian!" I said, using my best Sylvester Stallone voice. "We did it!"
     And then I started jumping up and down with my arms up in the air like Rocky Balboa at the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's steps.
     You know the saying: "I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you."?
     Well, I'm pretty sure my daughter was laughing at me.
     Keeping that in mind, this is the email my brother sent me today:
When you talk to your buddies at work, remember... yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday.
     1) It was not the last game of the World Series.
     2) It was not the Horseshoe Throwing Championship.
     3) It was not a great bowl of soup.
     4) It was the Eagles vs. the Patriots, not the Dreamers vs. the Trump Supporters.
     5) It was not an excuse to get drunk and riot, although that's what Philadelphia fans seem to think it is.
     6) They score touchdowns in football. Not home runs, goals, or holes in one.
     7) New England is located in North America, and not where the next royal wedding is taking place.
     8) A Hail Mary, at least in football, is not a prayer, although some praying may be involved. What it is, is a long pass into the End Zone.
     9) The End Zone is not a reboot of the old Rod Serling TV show.
     10) The Eagles won the Super Bowl.
     And that's what happens when Tom Brady can't deflate his footballs properly.
Raising My Father
JimDuchene  American Chimpanzee

Thursday, February 1, 2018

No Good Deed

as featured in Desert Exposure Magazine
I don’t know what it is about newspapers, but they must think their readers have unlimited time and money to cook the recipes they feature in their pages.
    Most of us, we have jobs. We don’t want to come home and spend hours fixing something that can easily be bought at Sam’s or Costco or the corner gas station. Not to mention the cleanup afterward. Also, if I fill my refrigerator with food, where am I going to keep my beer?
    The recipes always seem to require a cornucopia of ingredients that you probably don’t have and will never use again. I don’t think Jesus multiplied the fishes into a number that high. It just seems to me that newspapers should acknowledge that we live in a different world now, and there’s no longer enough hours in the day for us to prepare these extravagant meals.
    Recently, my local newspaper printed something by The Culinary Institute of America. By recently, I mean I’m too lazy to look up the actual date. It was an article on how to cook Mole Poblano.
   The recipe, if you can call it that since it's about the same length as Moby Dick, required twenty-six--TWENTY-SIX!--different ingredients. The Institute assured it’s readers it would only take an approximate three hours to prepare and cook from start to finish. That much and that long just to feed eight people.
    Five, if you include my mother-in-law.
   The way I figure it, the time the article says the dish requires to prepare is a best-case scenario, because I know for an average guy like me it would take closer to six hours, maybe more. Six hours, because you have to factor in the time I’ll spend driving to Walmart.
     Why Walmart?
     Because I’m cheap.
    Anyway, in addition to that, there’s my wandering around lost, going up and down the food aisles, searching for the ingredients I don’t have, which is ALL of them, and finally ending my adventure standing in a long checkout line, stuck behind someone with their shopping cart filled to overflowing, because I always have at least one item too many to enter the Ten Items Or Less line.
   Throwing good sense to the wind, I decided to surprise my wife and cook her an early Valentine’s Day dinner. She LOVES mole, so I knew it would be a real treat for her. She might even desire to reward me later with an early Valentine’s Day present of her own, if you get my drift.
    If you don’t, that’s okay, too.
    So I left to purchase what I needed. As it turned out, the total came to $94.93.
     For ONE meal!
     I opened my wallet and saw a lonely moth fly out. Once home, I had to find all the required measuring equipment and cooking utensils. With twenty-six ingredients to prepare, what were the odds I had all the necessary equipment?
   Turns out, I didn’t.
   Once back from Walmart, after buying the one cooking tool I didn’t have, I began to prepare my twenty-five ingredients.
   Okay, I’m back.
   I began to prepare my twenty-six ingredients.
   If there’s one thing in life I’ve learned, it’s that everything takes longer than it’s supposed to. That was especially true in this case. When I was done and the mole was simmering, I put the leftover ingredients away for when I might have an occasion to use them again. In other words, I’ll be throwing them away a year from now.
    My father shuffled over to take a look.
    “What are you doing?” he wanted to know.
    “I’m making dinner,” I told him.
    “I’m not eating that,” he told me back.
    This, from a man who used to catch and cook lizards in the Philippine jungle during World War Two.
   My wife seemed to enjoy my efforts.
    “It’s good,” she said, just before excusing herself to go throw up in the bathroom.
    She thoughtfully only spent half the time in the bathroom than she did when she got Montezuma’s Revenge on our last vacation out of the country. As it turns out, you really aren’t supposed to drink the water in Mexico.
    I put what was left over into my father’s dog’s food dish. Dogs will eat anything. Anything, that is, except my cooking. He took one sniff, and then waddled out of the kitchen. If he  had fingers, I’m sure he would have done something interesting with one of them.
   By the end of the affair, I was disheartened. With the amount of time and money I spent, I would have been better off taking my lovely wife out for a nice dinner at her favorite restaurant. No fuss. No muss. No reason to cuss.
    By being romantic I had the whole kitchen to clean up, dishes to wash, and an empty bank account to replenish. Not to mention a wife politely trying to keep her volume in our bathroom on low so it wouldn’t interrupt my father’s television viewing.
    She’s thoughtful that way.
    Briefly, I wondered if she’d fall for the old “I cooked, you clean.”
    Probably not.
    Well, chalk that one up to experience.
    I looked around for some cleaning supplies.
    I had to go back to Walmart.
Visit,, or @JimDuchene and learn important cooking tips.
Such as not leaving chicken out too long. 
Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Sunday, January 21, 2018

An Email To My Brother (1-21-18)

I saw an advertisement for INTRODUCING! The New Glock! It was a HOT DEAL! at $559.99! You know what? It looks just like the OLD Glock.
     Just more expensive.
     I looked carefully at the picture and couldn’t see anything that was new about it. It’s like when Colgate toothpaste advertised “New Colgate! Now With MFP!”
    Well, MFP turned out to stand for “More Fluoride Power.” In other words, it had fluoride, which it always had. There was nothing new about it at all. I guess what PT Barnum said was true:
    There’s one of you born every minute.
    I’ve got some bad news.
    I was listening to KROQ’s Kevin & Bean show, and they were talking about how Daryl Strawberry was so sex addicted he would arrange to have sex during baseball games he was playing in.
    Remember those days?
    Not with YOUR Alzheimer’s, you don’t.
    I don’t call it Sex Addiction. I call it Sexual Opportunities. If you’re at work and a cute girl wants to play doctor, you’ll take advantage of that opportunity. It has nothing to do with addiction.
    Masturbate too much? You’re bored. You don't have enough going on in your life.
    Celebrities always claim to be sexually addicted when they get caught cheating on their wives, but it’s really just them being surrounded with a lot of girls who are willing to have sex with them.
     Remember our Aunt’s funeral? The one you weren't invited to? Remember how it was said that her eldest son Fredo was stealthily handing out invitations with accompanying directions to his house to only a select few for the private wake afterwards? (The food was delicious, by the way.)
     I know you tried to defend him, but the story continues...
     His wife’s mother died just before Christmas. They kept her cold, and her funeral is tomorrow. His two older sisters are flying in from out of town to attend. Even my wife and I were planning on going because, since it’s on a Saturday, I didn’t have work as an excuse not to go.
     I say “were,” because Fredo called his youngest sister Connie to have her call the rest of the Duchene family to let them know that the wake after the funeral would only be for his wife's family, no one else. His father. Not invited. His younger brothers Sonny and Michael. Not invited. Connie, the one he called to do his dirty work. Not invited. The sisters from out of town. Not invited. Only his wife's family.
     “It’s cheaper that way,” he probably thought, but didn’t say.
     What he DID say was: “We can all go out to eat at a restaurant the day after,” he told Connie to inform the others, but not offering to pick up the tab.
      “Great, I have to pay for a flight AND pay for my own meal to honor a woman I’m not related to?” the two older sisters probably groused. 
     Uncle Vito probably thought, “All those times I used to pound that cake outside in my car at family gatherings, and I can’t go to her wake?”
      In a related story, we were at Michael and his wife's house for Christmas and I was sitting outside with Uncle Vito. Fredo’s eldest son arrived, came outside, and walked right past us, ignoring his grandfather. I know you'll probably want to defend him the way you defended his father Fredo from years before, but there was no way he could miss us because we were sitting right by the door. Ignore me, I could understand, but walking right past his father’s father without even looking at him, I don’t.
     He said hello and started talking to our cousin Connie’s oldest son who works for him as a trainer at the gym he owns. Connie’s daughter also works for him. She’s been there for four years and has never gotten a raise. Your nickel raise back in the 60s that you still complain about all these years later doesn’t seem so bad now, does it? Anyway...
     I went inside, so I don’t know if he said hello to Uncle Vito on his way back into the house.
     In confidence, Uncle Vito has told Michael (who told his wife, who told my wife, who told me) that, “I don’t like that guy.”
     Michael's wife is going to the funeral, but she refuses to go out to eat with Fredo and his wife the next day.
     “You have to go,” Michael told her. “You’re my wife.”
     “I’m not going,” she told him back, digging in her heels. She would have threatened him with not giving him any booty, but she doesn’t do that anyway.
     The Unwanted Duchenes are all going out to eat together by themselves after the funeral. 
     By the way, I hear your favorite team the Raiders got a new coach.
     It’s your old coach from the catholic high school you went to:
     Father Haywood Jablomie.

Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Once A Dog...

Even before he was diagnosed pre-Alzheimer’s, my father never had an internal editor to filter out the things he shouldn’t say. If you had a question, but didn’t want an honest answer, my father was not the one to ask.
     He was more than blunt, he was brutally blunt.
     Another thing he was, especially in his younger days before he was married, was a hound dog. If you’ve ever heard the song Nosy Joe by Bull Moose Jackson, it pretty much tells the story of my father’s bachelor years.
     I remember once going with my father to look at a truck he saw advertised in the Classifieds section of the newspaper. He was going to go alone, but my mother made him take me along.
     He pulled up to the house. We both got off, and he knocked on the door. A very attractive lady greeted us, and then went inside to get her husband.
      When the man came outside, my father was already checking out the truck, which was parked in the driveway with a For Sale sign taped to the inside of the rear window.
     “So,” the man said, “are you thinking about buying my truck?”
     “No,” my father told him, “I’m just looking at your truck. What I’m thinking about is your wife.”

Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Christmas Memory Re-Remembered

Somehow, my brother remembers Christmas like this:
     "That year I got the top of the line, decked out, most expensive Schwinn bicycle ever. It must have cost our father a week's salary, maybe two. You got an air pump, a tire-repair kit, two tire tubes, and a dollar. You looked at what Santa left you and asked our father, 'Dad, why did Santa Claus bring me this stuff?'
     "Dad answered, 'In case your brother gets a flat. And the dollar is for you to buy him a soda.'
     "Best Christmas ever..."
Raising My Father  American Chimpanzee