Good Enough

“It’s never good enough,” Harry said.

“I love you,” Therese said, “and I want you to do well. That’s why I tell you these things.”

“I love you too, but it never seems good enough.”

For three hours, Harry and Therese had been at each other, yelling, screaming, slamming doors. They were in their mid-forties, married for five years.

“I’m getting the hell outta here,” he said.

“Fine. Just go,” the dark-haired woman yelled and went into their bedroom and threw her body onto the bed and cried.

“I will,” he called to her. Then he stalked out the front door, pushing the door behind him closed. He was surprised to hear it slam.

“Shit.”

He kicked the tires of her Ford and said shit again. He moved on to his blue ’57 Chevy pickup, got into its cab, and backed out of the driveway.

Ten minutes later, he pulled into the parking lot of the Alley-Oops Tavern. There was a sign above the building of a giant cave man, his right hand holding a mug of beer topped off by suds. His left was wrapped around his girlfriend Oola’s waist. Five o’clock and only two cars were in the parking lot. None of the regulars had showed up yet.

The owner Jewel with her gray “Lucille Ball” poodle cut stood behind the mahogany bar. The Drifters crooned from the jukebox. Behind the bar and above the liquor bottles was a large mural of Ted Williams at bat. It was one of several baseball oils distributed along the walls of the small pub, all done by her thirty-five year old boyfriend, Marty.

Marty was at his usual spot at the end of the bar, nursing a bottle of Schlitz and puffing on a Marlborough. He wasn’t wearing a tie. Harry had never seen him without one.

Jewel came over and reached up to Harry and gave him a big hug.

“How’s my favorite brother-in-law?” the fifty-five-year old woman asked. “Hmm, let’s see. Not good.” She released him and escorted him to one of the stools. Behind the bar again, she pulled out a bottle of Hamm’s, popped the cap open and sat it down before him.

He took a swig from the beer.

“He’s a big deal now,” Jewel motioned toward Marty. “Got a promotion.”

“Great,” Harry said, lifting his beer toward the other man. “Congrats.” He took a drink of the beer, then sat it back on the counter.

“Yep. I’m a big deal now.” Marty said.

“I knew he had it in him,” she said, smiling at Marty.

She walked over to him, patted him on the cheek, kissed him light on the mouth. At the end of the kiss, Marty took her hand into his and massaged it for just a moment. Then he released her hand. He took a last drag on his cigarette and stubbed it out in the ashtray. He lifted the beer that made Milwaukee famous to his lips and finished it off. “You want me to get you some supper?” he asked Jewel.

“Burger and fries sounds fine.” The bar didn’t serve food, only snacks.

“Okee doke. See ya, Harry.” Marty’s six-foot-three frame stood up, reached over and kissed her, and sauntered out of the bar.

Jewel walked back over to Harry. “I’d be proud of him no matter what.” She studied his face briefly. “Want to tell Jewel your troubles?” she asked. “You do have troubles, don’t you? You know I can tell from those sad, puppy-dog eyes of yours.”

“How have you and Marty been able to keep it together for fifteen years?”

“”Tain’t easy,” she said as she wiped the last of several mugs dry and sat it in its place below the counter. “We both keep our mouths shut and wait for things to pass. It took me two divorces to learn that.”

She opened the refrigerator and took out a glass of ice tea. Placing it on a coaster on the counter, she sat down across from him. Her sky blue eyes searched his brown ones as she sipped the tea. She had given up alcohol after her second marriage. That had been the one that had convinced her that she was an alcoholic.

Another swig from the Hamm’s for Harry. Elvis sang in the background.

“You know,” he said, “I don’t even remem…oh, yeah. It was over that piece of shit she calls a car. I knew it was a lemon when she bought it and I told her so. But she don’t listen. Then she says she shouldn’t have listened to me. Like I wanted her to buy it.”

Jewel took another sip of her tea.

“Damn, I hate Edsels,” he said and drank the last of the beer. “It wasn’t even that good a Ford new. And she got it used. And red too. Damn piece of shit, that’s what it is.”

Jewel handed him another Hamm’s. He started laughing. She looked at him with a what on her face.

“I was just thinking,” he said, “how much I love my ’57 red. Man, that’s a man’s ride.”

Harry looked at his watch. 6:00. He took one last swig of the beer. “And how much I love my sister-in-law.” He gave Jewel a kiss on the cheek, then made toward the door. He stopped.

“Jewel, why don’t you and Marty come over Sunday? You know, we’ll put on some steaks. Therese makes the best homemade ice cream.”

“We’ll be there,” Jewel said. “Sundays a good day for homemade ice cream.” She closed Alley-Oops on Sundays, the day she referred to as “the Lord’s Day.”

Harry walked out into the early evening daylight and over to his truck. Marty was leaning against the Chevy bed. Tears were in his eyes.

Before he could ask, Marty blurted out, “Jewel has cancer.”

“What?”

“The doctor gives her six months. Maybe,” Marty choked out. “Don’t tell her I told you.” A long pause, then, “And for God’s sake, don’t tell Therese.”

For the next five minutes or so, the two friends stood quiet and tried to think of something to say. But nothing came.

Finally Marty said, “Well, I got to go get some burgers.”

“Yeah, man.” Harry watched as Marty walked away. He pulled himself into the truck and took his time putting the key into the ignition. He started the engine and turned on the radio.

“Here’s a new one,” the d. j. announced. “It’s Patsy Cline singing ‘I Fall to Pieces’.” Harry pulled out of his parking spot and headed onto the street. The song seemed to assuage some of his grief as the voice, words and music perfectly mirrored his sorrow.

On the drive home, the people in his life passed through his imagination person by person. His buddy Frank, dead at Normandy. His mother Mavis in the small cemetery by the country church just outside of town. His no good son-of-a-bitch brother Tom, serving a life sentence for murder. His kid Jimmy, hadn’t seen him in twenty-three years. All these passed through his mind as he kept driving. And Jewel. Man, he was going to miss her. She had more spunk in her than most women half her age.

Sitting at a stop light, he remembered the first time he saw Therese. When they met, she was still on her first marriage and he was finishing off his second. She was a waitress in a small diner where he ate breakfast as he started his delivery route each weekday morning. Sitting on one of the stools and nursing his cup of coffee, he watched her body move around behind that counter and he knew he was in love.

“You doing anything after work?” he asked.

“I’m married. See,” she said, showing him her ring.

“Your husband won’t treat you as good as I will.”

“How do you know?”

“I know these things,” Harry said.

Two years later they were married, and they’d fought once or twice a week since. Disagreements, they called them. But, after five years, they were fights, and both of them knew they were fights.

Crossing the intersection, his muscles ached from the loneliness he’d feel if he gave up on his marriage. And soon he’d be sixty, seventy, and his life would be all gone. He’d return to the dirt in the ground just like his old man, all alone.

He swiped the tears from his eyes. He heard Ray Charles come onto the AM station with “I can’t stop loving you.” He listened. The words in the song cut him to the quick. He pulled the Chevy up behind Therese’s Edsel and braked and stopped. Getting out of the truck, it hit him.

His life was more than good enough. It was damn good! And he was not about to miss out on showing his appreciation for that.

Nine New Gadgets You Don’t Want to Miss

There was a time when the only mail was snail mail. If you wanted to listen to music, you had to have a turntable. No .mp3s or .wavs. Apples were things you ate. If you said google, people thought you were talking about goggles you wear on your face. There was definitely no way you could surf a net. You could fish with one but no surfing. And everybody thought that a tablet was the thing Moses brought down from Mount Sinai with the Big Ten on it.

It’s amazing the technological advances we’ve seen in the last fifty years. In Uncle Bardie’s lifetime, I have seen a man land on the moon. I have seen the personal computer blossom. I have seen the internet spring from nothing and give the consumer the shopping experience of a lifetime. I have seen the smart phone, the iPod and the iPhone.

So it is with some excitement Uncle Bardie reports on some wonderful new gadgets about to be revealed to the public. I think you will agree these gadgets will transform our lives.

1.iWipes for the pooper in all of us. Its motto: “A little dab’ll do you.

2.And to compliment this accessory the iFlush for those of us who don’t have the time to flush our waste down the pipes.

3.iSmile for those days you don’t want to turn that frown upside-down.

4.iGesundheit: You never have to worry about getting a gesundheit no matter where you are. You could be alone in Antartica and you will get a gesundheit.

5.And its companion, the iSneeze. Just in case you need a gesundheit to pep up your day. Maybe you feel like you’ve earned a gesundheit and nobody seems to care.

6.iLawn will mow itself.

7.iHouse is that house you will never have to clean again. In fact, it may be cleaning you if you aren’t careful. That is an extra little feature the designers feel is the icing on the cake.

8.iFood for the finicky eater or the gourmand.

9.iPet. You can walk him and you don’t have to scoop up his poop. Or if you choose the kitty version, it even sings “Oops there goes another rubber tree plant” each time it eliminates those pesky little vermin. And each of these comes in an assortment of colors.

One little note of caution here: Make sure you purchase the super dooper security package. You don’t want iHackers to spread an iVirus in your iGadgets. Just imagine what that might do to your iPet. It could end up with iRabies and you certainly won’t look attractive with an iFoam around the mouth.

The Miseries

It’s that time again. Every year about this time I get the sneezes. Better known as allergies. I live in Florida and winter is upon us. Then spring is upon us. Then winter again. Then spring. Again. And all this may occur on the same day. The weather is having a knock-down-drag-out with itself.

The plants die. Then they are reborn. Then they die. Then they are reborn. Happens every year. I see a flower blooming this time of year, I know I am in trouble. Instead of an achy-breaky heart, I get an achy-breaky nose.

They say misery loves company. My sneezes prove that proposition. They come in threes. And I don’t get just an itsy bitsy ah-choo. My sneezes could send a man to Mars. Just one of my sneezes could light up Los Angeles. Too bad I can’t figure a way to can them and sell them. I could make a mint off the utility companies.

In an effort to combat this conflict, I have pulled out the big guns. First it was one medication. That worked for some years. Then I tried another. It worked wonders. I didn’t sneeze. But it upset my stomach. Darn those side effects. Now I have a truckload of a third medication pull up to my front door in January and dump its load into my living room. I know sneezing time is just around the corner. It doesn’t completely stop the itching and the sneezing. All it does is keep it under control.

Soon April will show its pretty face and the miseries will come to an end. Before it does though, the weather will have one final go at me. It will do an April Fool’s. The weather will warm up late in March, then we get another cold snap along about April First. That’s nature saying, “Fooled you.” But I have taken to singing, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. I’ll double-up on the meds and have one last go ’round. Then I don’t have to sing this song anymore:

It’s Sneezing Time

(Sung to the tune of “It’s Crying Time”, written by Buck Owens, recorded by Ray Charles.).

Oh, it’s allergy time again, sneezes gonna leave me
You can see that itchy look in my eyes
You can tell by the way the pollen holds me
It won’t be long before it’s sneezing time

Now they say that plants give the world wonder
When they do bud, their blooms they grow
And they say that my sneezing won’t get stronger
What the hell do they think they know?

Oh, it’s sneezing time again, sneezes gonna leave me
I can see that in my very stopped-up nose
I can tell by the way my eyes are itching
Won’t be long before sneezes hit my toes.

You say gesundheits make me feel better
That’s the way it’s happened every time before
As sure as the flowers bloom tomorrow
Sneezing time starts when plants bloom some more

Oh, it’s allergy time again, the sneezes gonna leave me
You can see that itchy look in my eyes
You can tell by the way the pollen holds me
It won’t be long before it’s sneezing time.

No problem like an internet problem

Just so you know I am not a techie or a geek. Normally I boot my computer up and hope that the steam will take it to full throttle. Oh, you say, computers don’t run on steam. Mine does. Else what is that mist coming out of its sides?

The other day I had a bit of trouble with my internet. My comp wasn’t wifi-ing correctly. The dumaflachie that tells me it’s on had become the Invisible Man. So I called the It-that-shall-not-be-named Internet Provider I pay a small fortune to.

I related the problem to Mr. Low-level who took my call. Let’s just call him LL for short. Over the phone, I heard a smirk coming from this guy on the other side of the world. Some place in Canada, I believe. The smirker tried to cover it up. That is often the game they play. The “why you smirking at me” game. They go into complete denial when you call them on their smirking. Dumb fool that I am, expecting customer service. All I get is a: “Well, sir, it’s against our policy to smirk at a customer. However, if you wish, we can email you our new smirker app. At no cost to you, sir. It will smirk at all your friends.”

I knew he smirked. I just knew it. But, after 3 hours of being put on hold, then spending another three hours getting tossed from Department A to Department Z back to Department B, I didn’t have the energy to argue. I just wanted the internet to work and the steam to go away.

LL directed me to unplug the whatchamacallit from the thingamajig, stick it up my butt for thirty seconds. I followed his directions. You know how cold and sticky that thingamajig is? Well, let’s just say it’s cold and sticky. I plugged it back into the computer. This did not solve the problem. I knew it wouldn’t. It never does.

The steam was pouring out of the computer, and I still couldn’t get on the internet, even if my life depended on it. In addition to that, my butt was hurting something fierce from the whatchamacallit I’d stuck up my rear end only a few minutes ago.

By this time, I was losing any kind of patience I had left. There was enough steam in my house to be able to run a locomotive from D. C. to L. A. and have some left over for a return trip. All I wanted to do was get on the internet and order a new computer. Sure I could’ve gone down to the local Computerama Store and picked one up the easy way. But no, I didn’t want to do that.

Amazon is my best friend. We have spent a lot of time bonding. It always shows me the love. I would have felt that I betrayed it. It might have been hurt and stopped all that free shipping I have received over the years.

LL said to me, “Sir, I am going to put you on hold. I have to consult one of my partners-in-crime here.” He put me on hold but I could hear him talking. About surfing of all things. He wasn’t trying to help me with my problem. He was worried about his big-assed surfboard. It was enough to make me want to fly up to Canada, walk into that call center and shove a surf board up his you-know-what. See how he felt.

Finally, after more waiting and more waiting, he said to me, “I think we have a solution to your problem, sir. What you need to do is—”

“Click,” I heard my cell phone say. “You are out of your monthly allotment of minutes. To add minutes, we will need three credit cards and your first born child.” I tried to explain to the darn thing that I didn’t have a first-born child. It was not listening.

Wasn’t that just fine and dandy? No computer. No internet. No phone.

Anyway to make a long story longer, I went down to Computerama and bought a brand spanking new computer. It has an antenna I placed on the roof so I can receive the internet. The way it works is that it contacts an alien spacecraft hovering over earth and bounces a wave back to me. I can now contact any website on the nine planets of our solar system. (And, yes, Pluto is a planet.) Oh, and my new service includes unlimited phone service.

All it is costing me is a monthly allotment of the plutonium in my head. But that’s okay. I have plenty to spare. So no more steam and no more whatchamacallits up my rump. There is only one problem. I am getting Dear John letters from Amazon. It doesn’t love me anymore. I sent it flowers. That didn’t work.

Any suggestions what I can do to get Amazon to love me again?

Passwords, Passwords and More Passwords

How the heck do I keep track of them?

All the passwords I have to create to enter various and sundry sites on the web. I mean, I have passwords for my work, for my credit union, for WordPress, for my computer, for my router, for my credit card account, for my cell phone, for Facebook, for my health insurance account, for my car insurance site, for Netflix, for my cable company, for my utilities company, for my antivirus account, for my library account, for this and for that and for more of the same.

I have passwords to get to my passwords, and passwords to get to those passwords. And the experts tell me not to use the same passwords. How do I keep track of the darned things? What happens if I get the alzheimers and can’t remember any of them? Pretty soon I will need a password just to get into my car and one to get into my house. God help me if I ever forget those.

There are so many of the darn things to remember and I’m supposed to change them every fifteen minutes or so. It has become overwhelming. On top of all my personal passwords, I have to remember passwords at work. And all these passwords are supposed to be alphanumeric with this that or the other emoji so some hacker in Russia can’t break in and steal some of my prized possessions.

One of these days all my brain will contain is passwords. I’ll meet a friend and say, “Well, hello, loopy4837….oh, sorry, hello George….” All the technological revolution in the past twenty years has caused is making me into one big worry wort.

“What was that dad-nab-it password?” Oops, I just forgot the password to my brain.

I know, I know. Our computers have gotten a lot smarter. They remember passwords. But what happens if someone steals my computer?

Pretty soon I’ll find out they’ve logged into my Frogger Game Online and are playing in my name and they are losing. I had twenty gadzillion points racked up and now they’ve lost every last one of them. All because I stored my passwords on my computer. Or horror of horrors, they’ve logged into my WordPress Account and are writing my blogs for me. And the darned thief spells worse than I do.

Years ago I worked in the data processing department at my local library. (These days it would be called the IT Department.) I remember this cartoon my boss had tacked onto the bulletin board in our office. It showed an open grave and a woman standing over it, saying a prayer. A man in a suit was leaning over and asking her, “Did he … give you the password?”

Wonder what will happen if God forgets Her passwords? We will be in a real world of hurt.

Just a thought: maybe She can contact the NSA.