#270 – What’s Lent

I doubt I’d suffer half as many run-ins with my mother-in-law if she’d simply remember I’m Jewish. Problematically, for me, each time she forgets this minor detail, she interprets my failure to follow Catholic tenets as evidence of at least mortal sin, and at most satanic possession. This year’s Lent controversy represents only the latest example.

At Sunday dinner yesterday, my wife asked her family what each of them had given up for Lent. The answers from my mother-in-law, father-in-law and sister-in-law were, respectively: “knitting”; “Home Depot”; and “cursing.” Before her husband could say a word, my sister-in-law spoke for him as well: “Giuseppe’s giving up whores this year.” (Clearly, a week’s passage hasn’t dimmed Gina’s furor after discovering her hubby’s $2,000 trip to a Nevada brothel in January.) Then she hilariously compounded her Lenten breach by adding: “Shit! I cursed.”

Once the ensuing argument between Gina and Giuseppe died down, my mother-in-law asked me for the activity I’d suspended this year. I initially tried to sidestep the issue by paraphrasing a blonde joke I’d heard involving Lent. I told Maria: “I’d planned to sacrifice sex this year, but when I told Sophia I couldn’t make love to her because it’s Lent, she complained: ‘Well, who borrowed it? And why can’t you get it back?’”

No one laughed; big surprise. After several moments of appalled silence, Maria again piped up: “Quit joking, Richard. What’d you really give up for Lent?”

I know. I could’ve (and probably should’ve) replied: “Nothing … because I’m Jewish!” Instead, I opted for an alternative direction, after first confirming the fundamentals of a Lenten sacrifice: “I’m supposed to give up something I love, or do all the time, right?”

Maria answered in the affirmative, while offering me her “What kind of Catholic doesn’t already know that?” look.

In what seems, in retrospect, an ill-advised decision, I announced without further ado: “I’m giving up devil worship for Lent!”

I use the term “ill-advised” because I should’ve known better than to feed Maria’s longstanding suspicions about my tainted Christianity. Thanks to my incautious remark, once Lent concludes, I’ll need to watch my back. So Giuseppe informed me this morning, after overhearing snippets of the old lady’s telephone conversation with her priest: “Father, you said you wanted more proof before you’d agree to do an exorcism. Well, listen to what my son-in-law said yesterday!”

Can one give up Satanism for Lent?

#271 – A Cock & Bull Story

Little Richard rarely gets an opportunity to say “I told you so” to Rational Richard. And when the smug retort concerns bulls’ testicles, the occasion turns from rare to unique. Certainly, last night’s circumstances qualified as one of a kind.

Prior to Valentine’s Day, I’d come across an internet food vendor from England selling an exotic dish for the holiday. Advertised as an Aphrodisiac entrée, the “Cock & Bull Pie” complemented its ordinary meat pie ingredients with certain special items famed for their romance-enhancing qualities, including bulls’ testicles. Since the sexcapades in the marital bedroom have grown almost non-existent of late, I thought the Cock & Bull Pies might provide just the edge needed to get Sophia back in the mood on Valentine’s night. I bought four of them.

The voice in my head representing my penis, which I call “Little Richard,” enthusiastically supported the purchase. No surprise there. As the expected chief beneficiary of every Aphrodisiac morsel, he’d hardly oppose the idea.

Surprisingly, my logical side, which I refer to as “Rational Richard,” didn’t say boo while I entered my billing information, or when I pressed the button to complete the gastronomic purchase. Rational Richard instead waited until the pies arrived to voice his disapproval: Idiot, what’re the odds that a woman who hasn’t willingly put balls in her mouth since we exchanged “I dos” will agree to eat bulls’ testicles, much less swallow them without puking her guts out?

Naturally, Little Richard dismissed Rational Richard’s concerns, opining: Who says we have to tell her the ingredients? What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, and the results in the boudoir will speak for themselves.

As much as I longed to agree with Little Richard, I couldn’t dispute Rational Richard’s logic. Instead of serving the Cock & Bull Pies for Valentine’s Day, I stuck them in the freezer and simply told Sophia they were “some gourmet meat pies I bought for a rainy day.”

It must’ve rained last night. While I ate an early dinner with a client, my wife invited her parents to our house for supper. But she ran late at the office and didn’t have time to cook her intended meal. Options limited, she saw my gourmet pies as a perfect substitute.

I returned home in time to witness the three gourmands scarfing down their last pastry-filled bites. Sophia showed no sign of discomfort, much less imminent vomiting. As a matter of fact, she told me the “meat pie” tasted delicious.

The dish also had an impact on my in-laws. No sooner did their forks drop than my father-in-law leaned over and whispered into my mother-in-law’s ear. Her eyes widened and she audibly questioned: “Really?” With an answering nod, seventy-five-year-old Vito grabbed seventy-year-old Maria’s hand, thanked Sophia for dinner, and bolted for home … prompting Little Richard’s self-satisfied: I told you so!

For that added boost to the ole’ libido

#272 – Playback’s a Bitch!

I subscribe to the old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” but I never thought I’d apply it to Simon Cowell. Yet watching American Idol this season, I’ve found myself ruing his departure. That’s why I spliced together some of his best moments from the show … into the recording which has me in hot water with my wife’s family, again.

Sophia and I love American Idol, but we applauded the exodus of Mr. Cowell and the mean-spirited barbs he couched as “constructive criticism.” Last season, we considered the kindness of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler a refreshing change. Not anymore though. This year, the judges at most seem to offer milquetoast criticisms; and especially since winnowing the field to the top twenty-four, the panel has limited their most cutting remarks to something along the lines of: “That may not have been the best song for you.” The Mrs. and I began sharing “What the F*&@?” looks at the same performances the judges praised as the Second Coming. That’s when we began to long for just one more “that was utterly horrendous” from Mr. Cowell.

Simon obviously won’t return to American Idol anytime soon. Even so, I figured, his voice and words could still play a part in our viewing experience. I consequently combed the internet this past weekend for snippets of his best critiques and welded them together into a file I stored on my iPhone. Last night, I planned to surprise Sophia by playing back the file at appropriate moments while watching the show. First, however, I had to eat dinner at the in-laws’.

After the meal, Sophia’s sister-in-law announced that her four-year-old daughter wanted to sing a song she’d learned in pre-school. The whole family served as the girl’s captive audience. I don’t use the term “captive” in jest either. Sadly, little Maria isn’t a child prodigy, and her performance didn’t exactly impress. I grew so bored, so fast, that I pulled out my phone and cued up the Simon Cowell recording, just so it’d be ready to roll when needed.

Spotting my rude behavior, Sophia kicked me in the shin and silently mouthed: “Put that phone away or else.” I grudgingly complied but, in the process, accidentally pressed “play” while sliding the device into its holster.

Moments later, the minute performer burst into tears, while her parents, grandparents and one mortified aunt glared witheringly at me, after Simon Cowell’s voice echoed through the room:

I can’t listen to this anymore. It’s just awful. It’s everything I hate. I mean, the whole act is excruciatingly bad. Honestly it’s just terrible.

To be honest with you, the whole thing was just horrendous. I mean, from the outfit to the song choice. And what was even more frightening is that you sounded like a baby.

I don’t think you’ve got star quality, and I don’t think you ever will.



Behind that smile rests a barbed tongue.

#273 – The Forgiven Five

I don’t know what they’re called, but some couples create lists of the five celebrities each is allowed to sleep with in the unlikely event an opportunity arises. I’ve often wondered whether those protected rolls work as well in practice as in concept. After all, some lucky souls, somewhere, sometime, must’ve nailed a person or two they’d designated. Did their significant others actually hand out free passes as theoretically intended? This morning, I learned of at least one situation where the answer to that question was a resounding “no.”

My newest client, “Don,” has been sued for divorce on the grounds of adultery. Although he admits to having sex with other women while married, he nonetheless defends his conduct. He claims he and his wife had created protected lists, and he insists that each of his paramours had been entered on his. His list is in writing too, and he showed me a copy. In particular, he called my attention to a sentence preceding the hallowed names which read: “Sexual relations between the bearer of this document and any or all of the following five persons will not be deemed cheating.”

After perusing the clause, I asked him: “Do you consider this an enforceable contract with your wife, so she can’t claim adultery?”

“Absolutely! Any reason why I can’t?”

I took another gander before responding: “I’m pretty sure Georgia law won’t enforce any agreement permitting adultery. But even if such a contract could fly, there’s no signature from your wife on this one. Did she execute a copy?”

“No,” Don conceded. “Once she saw the names I included, she refused to sign.”

“About those names…” I questioned. “You certainly picked an obscure group of celebrities. I can’t say I recognize any of them!”

“Oh, they’re not technically celebrities,” Don admitted.

“’Technically’? Then who are they?” I asked.

Perusing his list, Don answered: “Let’s see, we have my wife’s tennis partner, her best friend, her second cousin, our kids’ nanny, and our next door neighbor.”

“Jesus! No wonder your wife refused to sign. What’d you expect when you asked for her blessing to sleep with these women?”

Don shrugged his shoulders and further explained: “To be completely accurate, I’d already banged them when I made the list. You see, when my wife and I decided to exchange fantasy rosters, no one said the sex had to be future.”


If my wife ever lets me create a list, this woman will definitely be on it!

#274 – Baby on Board

I don’t think opposites attract nearly as well in friendship as they do in love, especially when personal ethics are involved. My wife has reached that conclusion too. Under the circumstances, I can’t say I blame her.

Sophia is the first to admit her ineligibility for sainthood. Nonetheless, except for the occasional white lie, she’s an honest person who tries to speak the truth. She believes others should operate under the same guidelines as well.

Until yesterday, she thought her soon-to-be-former-friend, Rebecca, lived by the same rules. The two met a couple of years ago at the gym and have since become frequent social companions. Sophia figured she knew her friend inside out, and she identified Rebecca as a kindred spirit. Yet after last night, that character evaluation will need a substantial makeover.

While visiting Rebecca’s home yesterday evening, Sophia spied flower arrangements, fruit baskets and greeting cards covering the kitchen’s center island. While her hostess was otherwise occupied, my wife took the opportunity to peruse several of the notes. All messages conveyed condolences for the loss of Rebecca’s unborn fetus!

The sentiments came as a surprise to Sophia. Not only had Rebecca failed to mention being with child, but her tight fitting gym outfit had never exhibited the slightest sign of growing life.

Sophia understandably felt compelled to pose a question or two. In answer, Rebecca seemed more than ready to explain: “We have a really big parking lot at work, and I’m always drawing a spot far from the building’s entrance. But my boss has a designated space in the front row, and being the chivalrous sort he lets any pregnant employee use it. So, about six months ago, I told him I was pregnant, and I’ve been enjoying that parking space ever since.”

Stunned, my wife stuttered: “But, but … you don’t look pregnant!”

“Not at the moment, I don’t,” Rebecca replied. “When I went to work though, I wore the same prosthetic that actresses wear on TV to make it seem like they’re carrying. I managed a very convincing bulge too.”

Even more astonished, Sophia queried: “Oohh kaaay. Then what’s with the miscarriage?”

“Well, I’m only allowed to use the parking spot till I deliver, and I’m obviously not giving birth. So, two weeks ago, a month before my ‘due date,’ I called in sick after suffering a tragic late-term miscarriage. My understanding boss told me to take as much time off as I needed. As you can see, my concerned co-workers have been showering me with cards, flowers and gift baskets. I’ll have to thank them all when I go back to the office on Monday.”

Before disgustedly excusing herself, Sophia offered a sarcastic parting remark: “A shame you’ll have to park in the boonies from now on.”

“For a little while,” Rebecca acknowledged. “But my husband and I are going to try to conceive again real soon, and I have a strong feeling I’ll have another bun in the oven before long.”

Only after the front door shut behind her did it occur to Sophia: Wait a minute. She’s not married!”

A thoughtful expression of sympathy for one of life’s greatest tragedies

#275 – An Engagement to End All Engagements

It’s hard for me to choose the more welcomed news I received this afternoon. As much as I jumped for joy upon receiving my dis-invite to the upcoming McFarland-Davidson wedding, I nearly peed my pants laughing after learning I’d also been unfriended on Facebook by the bride’s father. Neither result surprises me, however, since the only thing smaller than John McFarland’s sense of humor is his religious tolerance.

I have no one but myself to blame for renewing a relationship with the horse’s ass I’ve known since high school. I considered him a pompous, insufferable bore as a teenager, and I hadn’t noted any marked improvements during the few times I’d run into him as an adult. If anything, his successful career as an orthopedic surgeon exacerbated his already ingrained beliefs. He thinks his rigid views are the only ones which matter, insists that strangers and friends call him “doctor,” and knows he works harder than everyone else, especially Ivy Leaguers. As it seems to me, the over-inflated ego of a guy who attended a lower tier college and medical school represents nothing short of penis envy.

Within a month of accepting John as my Facebook friend last year, his deluge of posts touting his own achievements and expressing his opinions as truths from God left me regretting my decision. If only I’d unfriended him then, I wouldn’t have numbered among the multitude receiving last week’s invitation to his daughter’s upcoming wedding gala.

While dithering over my response, I took time out to prepare a joke engagement announcement for the fiancés. Yesterday, I e-mailed it to John. Today, I received the “highly insulted” man’s reply, which gave me the welcomed news I’ve already mentioned and added a reminder that I’ll burn in hell. (Not the first time I’d heard that threat from him either.)

While John undoubtedly took umbrage at my substitution of his profile photo for the couple’s, and he clearly disliked my doctoring of the announcement to look like his local paper had published it, I suspect it was the article’s content which had him frothing at the mouth:

Dr. and Mrs. Doctor John Temple McFarland wish to announce the engagement of their daughter, Sheila Diane, to Robert Scott Davidson, son of Henry and Maryanne Davidson.

The bride’s father, a registered Republican and Christian fundamentalist, is a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon. A 1982 high school graduate who morally, socially and economically eclipsed all other members of his class, Dr. McFarland earned his B.S. from Crapbottom University in 1986 and obtained a medical degree from a respected facility/chicken farm in Grenada sometime thereafter.

* * *

Over the past 20 years, Dr. McFarland has skyrocketed to prominence among Connecticut’s medical elite, in the process earning the unstinting praise of his peers, the eternal gratitude of his patients, and a monthly paycheck large enough to make the Queen of England blanche. His meteoric rise naturally demanded the greatest of sacrifices, as Dr. McFarland toiled the kind of lengthy hours only another surgeon could appreciate, but certainly not the slackers engaged in less worthy professions (i.e., everyone else, especially lawyers). Critically, Dr. McFarland’s success represents a triumph of true American brains and ingenuity over the imbecility and incompetence of the Ivy League graduates, whose paper qualifications bear no relation to their merited entitlements.

A June 2012 wedding is planned.


A practical joke with ideal unintended consequences

#276 – Inviting Trouble

I apologized to Ned this morning for standing him up yesterday. But at least our phone call cleared up the mystery that’s had my wife in a tizzy. Now the only question is, do I tell her?

My friend and I were supposed to go head to head online yesterday using our PS3s. As agreed, Ned sent me a custom game invite at our 1:00 p.m. start time. When I failed to respond to his initial message, he transmitted another. Over the course of the following hour, he delivered two more requests before finally giving up.

Each of Ned’s game invites appeared on the top right corner of my television screen. With each subsequent message, he conveyed his growing exasperation, mainly by amping up the foulness of his language. Here are Ned’s missives, in order:

It’s time to get your ass whipped, boy!

Put your dick back in your pants so we can get busy!

What the hell, cocksucker? Your punishment awaits.

Finish fucking your dog, wash your hands and come meet your maker!

As I admitted to Ned, I completely forgot about our PlayStation date. I spent the entire afternoon helping my buddy Jimmy install shelving in his garage. Consequently, I wasn’t in our media room when Ned’s invites appeared on screen. But my mother-in-law was.

Knowing I’d be gone for the day, Sophia had invited her mom over for some one-on-one time. They chatted for a while before my wife suggested watching a movie. We’d recently signed up for Netflix, and I’d shown her how to stream content using the PS3. When Sophia told her mother they could watch practically any film, Maria named a title she’d long desired to see, but never had. It happened to be available, and Sophia cued it up at 12:50 p.m.

Because she’d already seen the movie, Sophia temporarily excused herself after five minutes. She meant to put in a single load of laundry and quickly return. Instead, she lost track of the time, and a good hour passed while she busied herself with chores. She’d just finished changing our bedding when she caught sight of her mother heading for the front door.

When asked to explain her abrupt departure, the extremely annoyed old lady told her daughter, in heavily-accented English: “I didn’t like that movie at all. Those subtitles were disgusting! And to think, Pinocchio’s supposed to be for kids!”

A movie suitable for kids of all ages, usually

#277 – Sharing Kony

What is it with me and Facebook? To all outward appearances, the application seems simple enough. Yet somehow, unintentionally, I’ve repeatedly managed to misuse its features. Last night’s “share” fiasco was only the latest.

First off, to all the haters who’ve written nasty comments and insulted me, I am not in fact a psychopath or a lover of genocidal maniacs. I neither condone the mass abduction of children and slaughter of their families nor seek to oppose those wishing to stop such horrific practices. In short, I detest the murdering bastard as much as you do!

After viewing the “Kony 2012” link shared by some of my Facebook friends, I too ached to destroy the monster, Joseph Kony. Like so many others, I’d never heard of this Ugandan rebel leader who’s spent twenty-six years directing his army of kidnapped, forcibly-recruited children to maim and kill innocent people, including the children’s own parents! I admired the video’s creator, a journalist who devoted the past ten years of his life to arresting Kony and freeing the kids whose lives he’d corrupted. And when the journalist described his campaign to make Kony so infamous that the world generally, and key U.S. policymakers specifically, will take steps to capture him this year, I wanted to help spread the word.

The Facebook share from my friends showed a frame from the journalist’s video containing Joseph Kony’s name and photo; and the embedded link to YouTube was labeled “Kony 2012.” While everyone who posted the link affixed their own messages, their posts also included the typical Facebook refrain: so and so “shared a link.” 

When I hit the share button and added my personal message, I assumed the post would look the same as the others. It didn’t! As I’ve since learned – from a plethora of rude comments – no photo or reference to Joseph Kony appeared in my post. Instead, the link accompanying my personal message merely stated: “YouTube.”

So, once again, I apologize for any confusion. But just to be clear, I fully support all efforts to arrest the despicable warlord, Joseph Kony; and I was referring to that son of a bitch, not to the journalist who seeks to bring him down, when I wrote the words accompanying my share: “This guy needs to be stopped.”

My share was supposed to look like this one!

#278 – The Family Crest

Thanks to my wife, I got caught between a rock and a hard place last night. She’d volunteered my services to communicate with her nephew, who’s home from college for spring break. Marcello has informed his parents he wants to quit the fraternity he joined last fall. Believing their boy too much of a loner, his parents feel group participation will benefit him in the long run. They’ve urged him to reconsider, but he’s stubbornly refused their entreaties. That’s where I entered the picture. Sophia told her brother that the boy respects me and that I’d gladly convince him to remain. Right!

Marcello hadn’t yet offered justification for his stance. Accordingly, when he picked up the phone yesterday, I asked him: “What’s wrong with the frat?”

“Uncle Richard, my family’s a bunch of ‘nutjobs’!”

While inwardly I didn’t disagree, I chose tact over honesty for once: “Marcello, how ’bout we leave your parents out of this and stick to the frat? Anyway, I’m sure they only want what’s best for you.”

“Huh? I’m not talking about my parents, Uncle Richard. I mean my fraternity family.”

As Marcello proceeded to explain, his fraternity contains numerous “families.” Each one consists of a “little,” “big,” “grandbig,” and “great grandbig.” Every time a new member joins the frat, he’s taken under the wing of an existing member. The new member then becomes a little (brother), and the mentor becomes his big (brother). The mentor’s big thereupon becomes the little’s grandbig, and so forth. 

Each family has its own crest and maintains its own traditions. Each also creates its own rituals, the most important being the ceremony for a little’s adoption into the unit.

Marcello confessed that he’d already quit the frat, during his adoption ceremony no less. According to him, the rite proved merely his last straw. His first occurred while rooming with his big in the month preceding the ceremony, when Marcello returned early from class one afternoon and discovered “the pig” masturbating in their quarters.

Obeying my wife’s instructions, I jokingly downplayed the incident: “I’m sure you’d rather not see your big brother jerking off, but unless he came on your pillow, I’d hardly call it a reason to quit the frat.”

“Not on my pillow, Uncle Richard; in my sock!”

Sticking to my prime directive, I told him: “Alright, so your big has boundary issues. Just make sure you don’t room with him next year. Anything else?”

Without pause, he replied: “Oh yeah! At the adoption ceremony, my grandbig said everyone in the family has to get tattooed with the family crest…”

I interrupted, making a final attempt to nudge him along his parents’ path: “I hear you. And I’m not personally a huge fan of tattoos, but don’t you already have one?”

“I do,” Marcello conceded. “But it’s not a five-inch woodpecker sitting on a tree branch; and it’s not perched on my ass cheek, like the ones my big, grandbig and great grandbig showed me!”

A fine family crest, perhaps … when properly utilized

#279 – Throwing Her off the Scent

I doubt anyone who’s been married would dispute the importance of trust and respect for a successful relationship. The absence of either greatly increases the odds of divorce, and without both qualities, a couple can pretty much kiss their marriage goodbye. When my newest client reported that very situation in his union, I admittedly felt sympathetic, at first.

“Phil” walked into my office this morning, told me he needs a divorce lawyer, and asked: “How can I stay married to someone who thinks I’m a complete idiot?”

“Why do you say she thinks you’re an idiot?” I inquired.

“This!” Phil replied, whereupon he placed three silver vials on my desk and continued: “Before you ask, they’re bottles of cologne from a collection called ‘Alibis.’ One’s ‘my car broke down’; another’s called ‘we were out sailing’; and the last is ‘I was working late.’ A strip club in South Africa makes them to support customers’ excuses to their wives. For instance, if a guy tells his wife he came home late because his car broke down, he wears that cologne and supposedly smells like gas, burnt rubber and grease. Or …”

I couldn’t help but interrupt: “That’s ridiculous! What woman with half a brain would believe a stupid excuse based on the scent of cologne? And what husband’s dumb enough to think this product actually works as advertised? I’ll tell you…”

It was Phil’s turn to cut in: “That’s my point! I’m no moron, and I know cologne with a broken-down car smell isn’t going to fool a doubting wife. But I didn’t buy this stuff! A friend of mine who went to South Africa did, and he gave me the bottles as a joke. When my wife caught sight of ’em, she presumed I’d gotten them to cover up an affair. In her mind, possession alone was reason enough to hire a private investigator so she could confirm her suspicions.”

“I think I understand, except for one detail,” I offered. “Do you want a divorce because your wife thinks you’re stupid or because she doesn’t trust you?”

Phil barely paused before replying: “Technically speaking, neither. The fact of the matter is, I am cheating. And after the private investigator showed my wife some compromising pictures he’d taken, she sued me for divorce!”


For sale by the Mavericks Gentleman’s Club in Cape Town, South Africa. International mail orders accepted.