Friday, August 29, 2014

The centipede

I worry for the centipede,
With more legs than I'll ever need.
If he puts his best foot forward,
Which one to pick, must be horrid.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

If grandma were alive today ...

Grandma enjoyed the phone so much,
For local gossip, news, and such;
"What number, please?" came from the phone,
Back when there was no dial tone.

And, MI eight-oh-five-four-oh
Was her home number years ago,
Before we'd reached our mobile stage,
When cells are how we now engage.

Our texting, tweets, and emails rate
First place, when we communicate.
If grandma were alive today,
She might not know which choice to weigh.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How I learned to not love jogging

I've never seen a happy jogger.

Looking in my rear-view mirror, I always feel a pang of sympathy as I pass joggers. Red-faced, mouths contorted in discomfort, they gamely jog on, streams of perspiration cascading down their cheeks, foreheads encircled by sodden sweatbands, arms pumping bravely as they gasp for air.

Jogging has always struck me as a form of self-torture. Athletically-challenged, I always avoid running of any sort. I make an exception for the adrenaline-induced kind provided by a chance encounter with an irate bear.

No masochist I, sitting under a poolside umbrella with a good detective novel, always seemed a preferable pursuit to jogging.

Despite my often-stated aversions to the past-time, colleagues assaulted me almost daily with stories about the virtues of jogging, and occasional jeremiads about the physical costs of sloth.

Finally, I gave in and decided to experiment, and made a simple plan: I would buy good running shoes, and jog every other day for a month. At the end of that time, I would decide whether jogging was for me.

Seeking scientific precision, I set the trip-counter on my speedometer to zero, and drove exactly one mile on the course I had chosen for my test.

The sun was just rising on the morning when I set off from my apartment for my first run.

Thirty days later, I sat on my patio and reviewed my impressions about jogging.  I'd lost several pounds, and my muscles had firmed up, but otherwise, I found no significant improvement for body or mind.

However, I did find a negative change; over the course of the month, I developed an unpleasant case of shin splints.

Decision made, and giving a sigh of relief, I picked up my latest detective novel, and gingerly walked over to the pool. Slowly.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On having fun

Now that I've reached seventy four,
An age I never was before,
I sometimes stop, and speculate;
Will life be good, at ninety eight?

We know the future's hard to see,
(Though some count on astrology),
And few predictions are correct;
Life happens when you least expect.

When I was in my teenage years,
And full of adolescent fears,
I hoped that I'd reach twenty one,
The age when grownup life's begun.

That was a long, long time ago,
And now, I know just what I know;
Life's like a book, we turn a page,
And learn new things at every stage.

I'm sure, when I reach ninety eight,
There's stuff I'll still anticipate,
Like celebrating ten times ten,
When I'm a centenarian.

And when I've reached one hundred years,
Long-shorn of adolescent fears,
If I don't reach one hundred one,
I'll be content; I've had some fun!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Magical thinking

The restaurant was abuzz with the hum of dinner-hour activity, as the maitre d' led Sam and Doris to their favorite table by the picture window, with its view of the river where it met the bay.

Night was falling. On the river, a fishing boat, its running-lights turned on, was making its way slowly back to port.

The waiter took their drinks order and lit the two white candles on the table before leaving. Sam smiled at Doris, and glanced around the dining room. He was comforted by the drone of voices at the other tables, the monotone punctuated by occasional laughter.

The restaurant's decor was well thought out; simply-framed nautical prints graced the pale-blue walls, and the tables were informally dressed with royal-blue place mats. Comfortable captain's chairs completed the effect.

Turning back to Doris, he noted, for perhaps the thousandth time, the way she pursed her lips as she scanned the menu.

"What do you think you'll have tonight?" he asked.

"I'm debating whether to have the pan-seared tuna or the salmon. Do you think I should get some clams?"

"I think you should order some clams, and then the salmon, slightly under-done," he said, "and I'll have some Manhattan clam chowder, and the broiled sole."

It was a little game they played. No matter what was on the menu, whenever they dined here, they ordered the same thing; but they had to dance through the ritual of pretending to make a choice.

When their drinks arrived, he ordered, and after the waiter left, he asked,"How were things at work today, busy?"

She took a dainty sip of burgundy, before replying.

"Customers were lined up outside, when we opened this morning. I didn't get away from the register until lunchtime. My feet are still killing me.

"But I have to say, I'm really enjoying myself. I meet so many interesting people."

Doris had retired from teaching, six months earlier. After thirty years of teaching American History to high school seniors, she looked forward to leaving, but the reality of retirement bored her immediately, and within three weeks, she was looking for another job.

Now she was selling jewelry at a department store in a nearby mall. The pay was poor, but it gave her something to do, and it got her out of the house five days a week.

"You probably would have enjoyed that kind of work more then teaching, in the first place," he said.

Sam had also retired recently, from an administrative career with a major charity. He had always wanted to write, and now he was two-thirds of the way toward completing his first novel.

"And how are things with you?" Doris asked, buttering a morsel of bread.

"Great! I'm almost finished with the novel. I'm getting nervous. I'm going to have to figure out how to get an agent soon."

"That's very nice," she said.

"Very nice? Is that all you have to say? You make it sound like I told you I just got the car washed!"

"What do you expect me to say?" she asked. "I know you've been working on it for quite a while. I just said that it's very nice that you're almost finished."

Sam patted his lips with his napkin, and took a deep breath. It was always the same. No matter what his accomplishment, it was always "very nice."

He was angry with himself for expecting a different response.

Life is short

"Life is nasty, brutish, short,"
That was Thomas Hobbes' report.
If life's as pointless as he fears,
I see no gain in wasting tears.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

On marriage

Wedlock can be a quandary;
Which type of marriage should it be?
Outside the tribe, (exogamy)?
Inside the tribe, (endogamy?

I nixed the thought of bigamy;
How could two wives ever agree?
No virtue in polygamy,
If they got mad, where would I flee?

And so, I settled, finally,
On regular monogamy;
That choice was not the best for me,
But we split up quite happily.

My time's my own now, and I'm free;
I live in peace and harmony,
Enjoying my own company,