Monday, January 30, 2012

Dear Logan,

It is perfectly fine to be single. There is no crime and/or shame in being unattached. It is a perfectly respectful state to be in, as opposed to say perpetual terror or Delaware.

In fact, Biblically, people who remain single are to be revered above others. Although I’m sure Westboro Baptist Church would disagree. But hey, should they intervene, your name would be on Fox News so your visibility and popularity among sane people would increase. So that would be a plus, wouldn’t it?

And then there’s Newt Gingrich’s take which is “Married? Single? Who cares? Do her! Now let’s run for President!” However, dear young man, I know you well enough to know you have higher moral standards than anyone running for public office, as well as a much lower annual income. Let’s just move along, shall we?

Upon his marriage to Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt was asked what he felt was the biggest difference between being married and being single. His answer? “When you are married you can fart and eat crackers in bed and not have to worry.” Hmm…wonder how Angelina feels about that?

Now I am not knocking marriage. I am sure it is a perfectly wonderful state. I know many happy people who are married. I also know of many happy people who have been married many, many times.

I’ve never been married myself, almost three times but never actually got to the whole legal schlemiel. Had I gone through with them, I’m sure I would still be very happy and relatively well adjusted. Of course after three marriages I would probably be running for public office or, more than likely, standing by the road side dressed in a barrel holding up a sign that says “Will work for alimony”.

I am sure, Young Grasshopper, should you really, really not want to be single the time will come when you will not be. Don’t obsess about it. There are so many other important things to obsess over, like having on matching socks, making sure you don’t put the frozen turkey on top of the bread in the grocery bag again and whether or not “General Hospital” is getting cancelled.

When the time is right, I have no doubt that this unattached state you worry over will take care of itself. Someday, a lucky young lady will decide you are the one and that will be that. Before you can say “Brad Pitt” she will grab you by the Coast Guard, drag you to the nearest church and slam your head against the altar until you scream “I do” for mercy.

However, since I have never been wed, I cannot speak of that which I do not know. (I am not running for President) Therefore, I can only speak of being single, the pros and cons, the ins and outs and the random manic depressive obsessive compulsive glories of single life.

First of all, disregard Mr. Pitts quote. When you are single, you sleep alone (most of the time) so no one will care if you fart and eat crackers in bed. I have to tell you this is NEVER a problem.

Now I am obviously single, but I don’t sleep alone. I sleep with a dog. This is not a sexist slur against anyone I am dating. I actually sleep with a dog…literally…the four legged furry kind. While she doesn’t particularly care for it when I fart in bed, she does, however, love it when I eat crackers. In turn, I don’t have to sleep in the crumbs, just something to think about.

Of course, sleeping with a dog does lead to a few minor negatives. There’s the whole lay down with dogs, get up with fleas thing. I just keep Pixie clean and innocently chalk up any stray itching to dry skin.

Being single does add a certain ideal freedom to one’s life and as a young man you may take full advantage of these. Most importantly there are a number of questions you never have to answer. Examples being “Where are you going?”, “Can we afford that?” and “You're not really going to wear that, are you?” For the record, “Does this make my butt look big?” will always, always haunt us.

There is one question you will have to deal with constantly and the longer you are single the more you will hear it. Yes, my friend, the dreaded question, “Why are you still single?” Face it, it’s a rude, stupid question asked by rude, stupid however well-meaning people. Prepare for it.

There are many, many variations to this question; “Why haven’t you ever married?”, “Still looking for the right woman?”, “Not finished sewing the wild oats yet?”, “Would you like to meet my brother?” All in all, each of these variations on a single theme boil down to one thing.

If you aren’t a married man by a certain age, many in society assume there is a deep character flaw within you that has caused members of the opposite sex to run screaming for Delaware every time you walk in a room. They simply cannot stand knowing what it is, and think you will be caught off guard enough by the question to answer it.

The obvious answer is the wrong one. Be warned. Never, ever answer the “Why aren’t you married” question with “There’s nothing wrong with being single”. This will only lead to argumentative conversation.

“Why aren’t you married?”

“There’s nothing wrong with being single.”

“Yes there is.”

“No there’s not.”

“Most serial killers are single.”

“Statistically, most serial killers are divorced.”

“Are you calling me a liar?”

…See where that got you?

The best answer to the dreaded, rude question in my many years of experience is “If I knew the answer to that question, I’d be married now wouldn’t I?” With that answer you have properly deflected the rudeness by forcing them to have to answer the unanswerable question themselves. These people think of themselves as polite and PC, and would never ever admit what they think your character flaws are (to your face). Of course, they will forever wonder what is so wrong with you that no one will marry you, but they’ll at least stop asking you what it is.

There is also the dreaded “So, are you seeing anybody question?” Once again, the initial response is the incorrect one. If you say “No”, they will immediately begin fixing you up. Oh, the empty wallets and nights of sheer terror that will lead to, unless of course, you are in to that sort of thing. The proper answer to that question is precarious, so tread lightly.

“So, are you seeing anyone?”


Oh? Whom?”

See why treading lightly is important here? For years I told people I was dating Ellen Degeneres. It made sense for awhile. It explained why they never saw us together, that I went out of town a lot and why I was always broke. Then the “Time” came and now most of my rude friends from that era think I never married because I turn the women I date into lesbians.

I have learned, over time, that the proper answer to the question is, “Yes, and I think this may be the one. It’s all new and I don’t want to jinx it.” Obviously, you say, doesn’t that give them the option to ask the question later?

Yes, Logan. Yes it does. Then your answer becomes, “We broke up and I’m still very upset. Please (add lip quiver here—they LOVE that) let’s not talk about it.” From there you can keep the questions in perfect circle.

See? Learn from my experience.

Now, you will get a few who will try and stage an intervention. Not married interventions are the reason that many single people choose to carry weapons. There are no easy outs with these “people”. Just deal with them on a one by one basis, and carry a permit in your wallet or weapon of choice holder.

I remember, when I was a few years older than you, mid-twenties at the latest, a woman a few years older than I, right here in Johnson County, decided to step in an attempt a coup. Her younger, inbred sister was my age and also unmarried. I answered all the questions correctly and unfortunately this was before Ellen came out, so I had no tragic flaw back up.

She insisted I just get over myself and get married. It was expected at my age. I argued that I was waiting for the right woman, and was sure that love in full 3D Cinemascope was just around the corner. She was having none of it. I was told that when she was my age, she just found a single man, got married and now had a happy normal life with three children and one on the way.

I finally just told her I wasn’t interested. She snorted and gave me that “Well, obviously you’re gay” look (You’ll know it when you see it, get used to it) and moved on. Three days later her husband tried to French kiss me. So you see how well THAT philosophy works out.

I now see both of them once a week buying groceries…separately. She doesn’t speak to me and gives me a silent “I’m still better than you” glare then miserably opens a box of cookies to eat and not pay for. He seems very happy with his partner, although I do continue to insist I have no interest in meeting his brother.

That brings us to the financial expense of being single. This is the one negative you’ll just have to deal with. The truth is that being single, it will cost you the same amount to live as a family of three. There is no way around this.

They don’t make utility bills and rent for one, like Campbell’s soup and frozen entrees. And just like Soup for One and frozen entrees they suck and are cheaper to buy in bulk to freeze for later. Even though the Bible says differently, society, especially Church groups, Utility boards and Landlords will always treat single people as “Special Needs Children”. (Oh, they are so sweet but thank God there’s not one in my family!)

Just stop worrying about being single. You’re gonna be just fine. If the right girl doesn’t come along you have two options we’ve already covered. You can meet someone’s brother or you can get a dog, fart and eat crackers in bed happily ever after.

You can live happily until the day you die an unmarried man. Smile my friend, knowing that your obituary will read:

“So and so, who never married, passed away. We now know what was wrong with him.”

And the chicken dances on…

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Silent, Yet Deadly Visual Shame

Do my socks really have to match? Am I violating some unwritten rule I was never made clearly aware of if I cover my feet with two not quite the same colors? Has this deviation set me up for heartache and disaster?

Will the butterfly effect cause wars to start and children to starve? Is this simple over sight setting me up to fail? Has the improper attention to my lower extremities been the reasoning behind my lack of measurable success in the eyes of the world?

Was it correctable in the morning after my shower as I reached into the sock drawer? Or could the problem only have been resolved before I shoved them in there? Perhaps, it all began somewhere in the wash cycle? Must I think back all the way to the moment before I put them in the dirty clothes hamper or is this something much deeper and darker, going all the way back to my delicate formative years?

Could my lack of detail be the reasoning behind my crippling battle with depression? Does the one black crew neck and one not as black French cut explain my three failed engagements? (One claimed it was part of my quirky charm, the lying bitch.) Did the difference in sock textures actually cause my car accident in 2002, or did it merely make it worse?

Should I take immediate action to correct this egregious character flaw? Must I leave Post It notes with color charts on my underwear as a defense measurement? Is there a support group and/or twelve step program I need to seek out with some sense of urgency?

What if I fail? Again? What are the consequences? Could the perilous United States economy hinge on my ankles being covered in the same exact fabric, color and cut? Would the Senate, the House and the Executive Administrator finally be able to stop fighting over the blue shovel in the sand box with the simple act of pulling the exact same pair out of my top drawer? Do I actually have the power within my bleary eyed morning grasp to send gas prices spiraling in the opposite direction, the Real Estate market to unstagnate and the Unemployment Rate to plunge to miraculously record low levels?

And is it really such a big deal? One really shouldn’t see my mismatched socks if I were dressed properly. Then again, if I were dressed properly would I have on mismatched socks? And shouldn't you only be offended at my socks if I squatted or sat down? Frankly, if I squatted I would hope you had something better to gander at than my ankles.

Truthfully, I haven’t got a sculpture ready behind. It wouldn’t exactly stop traffic if I bent over to pick up a quarter on the sidewalk, but I think I’ve got a nice butt. Then again, at 53, it is kind of drooling closer to the floor, although I swear getting shorter is the major cause of that. Yet, surely my saggy rear is much nicer to gaze at than my ankles.

I have to admit, and I am usually very astute about these things, my ankles are one of my least attractive features. They are boney and the hair on my legs comes to a very clear, definitive line at my ankles. They also tend to be dry and itchy, especially during seasonal changes. Yes, along with my shoulder, my ankles serve as a barometer. If you want to know whether or not it’s too early to plant your potatoes, just ask me if my ankles have started itching come Spring.

Said ankles are rather strange and ugly to begin with. My cousins called me “Monkey Feet” growing up, but then I guess that’s more about my feet than my ankles. In the positive column, I am able to pick up pencils with my toes, and soap in the shower which is a talent that would be handy should I ever be incarcerated which I am not planning on happening unless, of course, there is a law about mismatched socks that I am also unaware of.

Perhaps all of life's misfortunes do come to fruition simply because I am wearing mismatched socks. But it’s not like I wear one black and one white, or even one navy blue and one black. I only own black socks. Well, there are a couple of white socks but I keep them in a totally separate drawer so not to be caught unconscious after an accident wearing one black and one white. When I buy them I only purchase Gold Toe socks, but sometimes, as gifts, I have received other brands.

Does it behoove me to refuse gifts? Is it rude to politely tell well-meaning gift givers that they are altering the effects of the universe negatively by buying the wrong brand of sock? Perhaps Congress should simply outlaw all brands but the correct one? I’m sure that after spending billions of dollars on research and adding several additional million dollars in codicils for tax hikes, legal wire tappings and funding for road improvement on highways that don’t exist they should all be able to get together, agree and quickly pass something so important by at least the Tri-centennial.

Maybe people should just stop buying socks as gifts for single men over thirty for whom they have no idea what to buy. Barnes & Noble gift cards are nice, and chocolate is sublime, both much better and more appreciated as gifts. Of course, if the gift buyer thinks underwear is a good gift, then by all means purchase socks, Gold Toe Black socks.

I digress.

Am I reading far too much into this? Are my mismatched socks truly a sign of unchecked psychosis and rushed potty training? Is this horrendous offense to society, the environment and universal balance not a mental disorder at all?

Obviously. It has nothing to do with Freud, Rohrshach and Fox Network News or surely some nice Southern Conservative lady would have kindly alerted the media to correct the problem quickly and efficiently. This is all simply a fear gotten slightly out of control. Mismatched socks are obviously not a mental disorder, a sign of impending brain stem malfunction nor a lifestyle of choice which is a relief to my family who feared protests at my funeral from members of Westboro Baptist Church.

Perhaps this is all simply physical, maybe dietary. Am I not getting the correct amount of vitamins, minerals and trans-fatty acids in my food intake? I admit that I don’t eat peas or anything purple. Purple food is just unnatural and I can’t bring myself to do it. As for peas, well chalk that up to Manley Workman flipping a big booger into Bonnie Cully’s forkful at lunchtime. A pea cannot come within a plate of my lips without bringing back the trauma of lunch time tables of third graders barfing all over the pink and black tiles of Maywood Elementary School’s cafeteria.

Maybe I should scan television commercials more closely. Have a missed a supplement I could add to my daily regimen? Is the stigmatic embarrassment of this physical disorder keeping me from an active, normal life via a tiny blue capsule that could rid me of this horror?

That’s it. This is all only fear. I am not a fearful person. I have been through so much, but I have done it all bravely and come out the better for it. Surely I can speak, in confidence of course, to my General Practitioner. I am just one of many living with this silent yet deadly visual shame.

Help is available. All I need do is admit that I have a problem. I am in need. After a quiet, confidential chat with my doctor this could all be amended. After coughing up several hundred dollars for a 30 day supply, I could be living life like the rest of modern society, confidently walking in public wearing two identical socks and keeping a close eye on minor side effects possibilities including liver damage, thoughts of suicide and erections that last more than five hours.

I would be cured but what if…what if…what if it is neither mental nor physical?

My only true fear, other than forced pea puking or blacking out in a WalMart and purchasing a Justin Bieber CD, is the fear of what really happens to the sock that disappears in the dryer. Why is it always just one, and how dare that sock force someone into a lifetime of one naked ankle?

It’s not talked about, but there is a widely circulated belief that not all socks are actually socks. Undocumented, but whispered about in hushed conclaves of government offices (*COUGH* Tea Party *COUGH*), is the proof that some socks are actually visitors from another planet trapped here on Earth. Those that disappear have managed to find transportation via the combination of fabric softener, dryer vents and static cling to return to their home planet.

Shocking, but this does happen. However, like lost puppies returned to the children they were separated from, E.T. phoning home and “Work It” being cancelled after two episodes this is a good thing. We should not worry about this. This is to be celebrated, not feared. We are not in danger.

Unless of course, one of those escaping Gold Toe disguised Other Worlders, while attempting to transport home, meets up with and, God forbid, procreates with one of the grapes I constantly find rolling across the grocery store floor far from the plastic bag we trap them in. While I would sympathize with a poor Sock-Grape Alien child, the consequences would spell disaster for the human race. A new diabolic subculture could rise to power.

It is too evil to think about and I am not free to discuss the details here. They are watching me, tracking my every move, documenting my thoughts, feelings and lack of color co-ordination. They are watching us all.

Beware! Beware! They want to take over! They want to force us all to break spaghetti in half before we boil it and listen to Elvis Presley sing “Blue Christmas” non-stop at Holiday time. They want is to wear discolored Martian children on our feet and marry a Kardashian for 72 days and THINK it’s a good thing!

It’s not! It’s not a good thing! We must demand freedom! We must demand an end to it all! This is worse than anyone realizes! They’ve polluted our air! They’ve dumped trash in our rivers! They freakin’ cancelled “One Life To Life” for cryin’ out loud! Life as we know it is coming to an end!

This is worse than anyone could image. It worse than if Brian Frons and Michelle Bachman had a baby and named it The Situation! These Rayon Fruit Babies have paved paradise and put up a Drive-thru Chicken and Beer Joint. It’s made out of kudzu and Andrew Dice Clay chest hair! God help us all!

So does it really matter that my socks don’t match?

I don’t think so.

The chicken dances on…