When Left Isn’t Right

I was a six year old first grader when I found out that I was a misfit although I am sure the signs were there all along.  That is when my teacher, Miss Thomas, who although never my favorite teacher, was probably the most memorable one, told me that it was not permissible to be left handed.  We were just learning to print and I was apparently approaching it all wrong.  However, being the slow learner that I am, I resisted authority and continued to take the easy route.   Miss Thomas on the other hand, turned out to be a formidable foe and rose to the task by turning my desk to face the rear of the room where it would remain until I learned to print with my right hand.  It is fortunate for me that cooler heads prevailed in the form of Miss Asher, the principal who thought that to be a little severe and intervened.  Otherwise, I, today, would probably be the oldest kid in first grade.

If nothing else, the encounter awakened me to  one of life’s realities.  That being I could do what I wanted, but it was not going to be easy.  My earliest encounter was with the pencil sharpener mounted on the wall.  The handle was on the wrong side, at least for me.  When I graduated from pencil to a pen, everything I wrote, I smudged.    I remember the first time I picked up a pair of scissors and realized the handle was shaped wrong for my fingers.  Bummer.  And it got worse from there.  All my notebooks were bound on the wrong side to make writing comfortable.  As I grew older, many classes I took had desk chairs.  You know, the ones with the wide right arm that is your writing surface.  Now those were fun. 

I remember my right handed father trying to teach me how to knot my tie.  I finally learned, but did it just the opposite.  And the time I got a little plastic ukulele for Christmas, he had to restring it for me so I could strum it with my left hand.

When I joined the military I quickly found that it is easier to defend our country right handed.  The holster for my sidearm was made to be worn on your right side, making me feel like Barney Fife, and my carbine discharged the spent shell casings out the right side, zipping them past my face.

 Over the years I’ve just kind of learned to deal with the inconvenience.  It is what it is.  So now I use the right handed can opener, dig in the garden with the right handed weeding fork and trim with the right handed pruning sheers.  I’ve learned to read the numbers on my tape measure upside down, and twist the wine corkscrew in the opposite direction.

I read recently that they now manufacture many of the above mentioned  items for lefties, including left handed rulers, smudge proof pencils and pens, and left handed playing cards (numbers in all four corners).  I guess that someone finally realized that about 10% of the population is different, although we prefer to think of ourselves as special.  After all, it is a well known fact that the right side of your brain controls the left side of your body.  Therefore, I conclude that left handed people are the only ones in their right mind.  Just sayin.

Originally published February 2012



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Don’t Forget To Say I Love You

Valentines Day!!!  The day of the year when a woman’s thoughts turn to romance and a man’s thoughts turn to getting lucky.  As a veteran of many Valentines Days past, I can tell you, it is not quite that easy.  And that is because a woman’s idea of romance differs somewhat from that of a man’s. To a woman it represents a time when they are showered with affection and attention while receiving heartfelt cards and gifts expressing the depth of the partners love.  To the guy, it means a chance for sex.

We spend weeks surrounded by ads prompting us to say it with flowers, chocolate, jewelry, etc, but somehow, as a man, I can assure you, we don’t get it.  We continue to only pay attention to beer commercials while subconsciously believing that we have this thing wired.  Well, it is the uncommon man that knows how to cross the finish line, so to speak.

Whether you know it or not, next to her birthday or your anniversary, Valentines day is one of the biggest minefields that you will ever walk through.  Disguised as a chance to bear gifts while expecting rewards in return, it is really a day where the fairer sex has an opportunity to subject the male counterpart to a stress test.  A trial by a jury of one.

So, in an effort to assist my brothers in their quest for the true meaning of Valentines Day, I would like to offer a few Timely Tips that may help keep you off the couch.

Tip #1  A bag of M&M’s is not going to cut it if she hinted that she likes chocolate.  You are going to have to step it up a few notches and spring for something that doesn’t say “Hershey” on it.

Tip #2  If she doesn’t already go to a spa, do not, repeat, do not  buy her a gift certificate to one.  She may hurt you.

Tip #3  Forget the Pajamagram’s.  She is not going to be romantically inclined in a onesey with feet and a hood.  And remember, the more difficult it is for her to put on, the more difficult it will be for you to remove.

Tip #4  If she says “Oh you shouldn’t have”, she is probably right.

Tip #5  Never never put a red bow on a blender. 

Tip #6  Giving her a 12 pack of Bud arranged in the shape of a heart will not be met with a loving response, but it will give you something to drink after you are locked out of the bedroom.

Tip #7  Jewelry from Walgreen’s is never a good idea, especially if you give it to her in the plastic bag containing the sales slip.

Tip #8  If you tell her you are going to take her out for dinner and a show, do not take her to a sports bar with a wide screen.

Tip #9  A nice bottle of wine should not have a twist off top and be served in 12 oz plastic glasses.  Somehow, it just kind of kills the moment.

Tip #10  If your gift is met with the phrase “what the hell were you thinking”, it’s safe to assume that you are not going to score.

I hope you find these helpful.  And remember, if all else fails, don’t forget to say “I love you”.  It won’t save you, but it will give her something to think about until she starts speaking to you again.

Republished as a service to all the guys out there who are marching unsuspectingly toward the abyss:)

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Hiding in the woods
Peeking at my world
Shyly sharing it’s light
The sun furtively advances
Introducing a brand new day










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Help Wanted

I read an interesting article today.  Well, I didn’t think it was going to be interesting and quite frankly, I don’t know why I read it.  But I did, and it was.  It was about turtles.  Doesn’t that peak your interest?  No, me neither.  It was the headline that caught my eye.  It read “Most Sea Turtles Now Female In Great North Barrier Reef”.  At first I thought”OK, so what”?  But then, as so often happens when my brain has been idle for too long, I began to dwell on the ramifications of such a situation.

It seems that warmer temperatures due to climate change influences their sex during incubation. Given that there are over 200,000 nesting females off the east coast of Queensland, Australia, that makes for a lot of little girl turtles and not an awful lot of guys. In fact, currently, the study showed that almost 99% were female.  Further, they are already endangered and this could have a devastating effect on the entire species.

So, what do you do about it.  One of the suggestions has been to erect turtle tents over the beaches that the turtles frequent.  Now admittedly, I know almost nothing (OK, absolutely nothing) about the process of procreation in the turtle world, so I don’t know how much of a role the male turtle plays, but, if they are worried about this population imbalance , the lads have to be messing around in there somewhere.  So, it seems to me that you need to enlist a little help.  Over on the south shore of the reef, the female population is about 69% “female biased”.  (Boy, who ever would have thought that female bias would even be a problem for turtles, but I digress).  It seems to me therefore that you may want to enlist the assistance of a few studly young dudes from over there to move over and slip under one of those tents.  I know, I know.  They already have it pretty good where they are, but come on,  when only one percent of the turtles are guys, it sounds like a no brainer.   The old “I have a headache” becomes obsolete.  They simply say “I hope you feel better in the morning, when I’ll be back, maybe.

I once had a friend at the office ask me if I believed in life after death.  I said “of course I do.  All you have to do is stand near the door at quitting time”.  My only concern about reincarnation however is what I might come back as.  I don’t know if you have a choice, but if you do, I think this boy turtle thing may be worth another look.  But I am sure, once this gets around, there will already be a waiting list.

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Respectfully Yours

Here we are.  Already almost two weeks into a brand new year.  So why do I not feel any different.  No sense of elation at the prospects that a new year may bring.  No satisfaction that the old year is behind me.  Instead, all I feel is a sameness and that is not a good thing.  Normally, being a certified optimist, I would look on this whole thing as an opportunity for renewal.  A chance that things to come will be better then what they are or were.  But no.  I cannot conjure up any warm feelings for the new year.  It is like putting a fresh coat of paint on an old car.  It may look better, but it still runs the same and all the things that didn’t work before, still don’t.

You may think I am talking about major issues surrounding us but I’m not. Politics are what they are and I didn’t expect that the ticking of a clock would have any effect on the advent of another year.  No, I’m talking about us, you and me, and how much has changed around us over time.  I’m talking about the impact social media has had on our ability to address each other with even a modicum of respect.  I see it, read it, hear it, and experience it every day.  This is the “gotcha” generation.  It has become more important to destroy the person that doesn’t agree with us then to seek a solution.  Our opinions rein supreme and don’t even let me hear yours.  

We have become a nation of isolationists.  Not internationally, but personally.  Social introverts if you would.  We seek our news only from the sources that agree with us.  We avoid interaction with anyone that is not in lock step with our views and we are much more comfortable staring at a screen then at each other.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have to consciously suppress  these tendencies every day while also enjoying all the perks that technology has and will continue to provide.    But I also mourn the loss of simpler things like receiving a hand written note expressing a genuine feeling.  I miss friendly banter between real people, sitting across from each other.  And I hate the tendency to label each other.  Everyone has to be defined, cataloged, and processed based on the mores of those around them.

I know, my age is showing.  Those things aren’t important anymore.  They aren’t necessary, so they are dispensable.  And besides, they just slow things down.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, or even participate.  At this point in life, I am more interested in comfort then I am in speed.  I still hang on to the things that have worked for me over several decades as they have held me in good stead.  I still receive pleasure from paying someone a compliment and watching them try to digest it.  I like smiling at people and watching their reaction.  And a well placed word or action is still a powerful thing.  It ‘s like placing a drop of oil in a large machine.  It’s just a little thing and to many it will go unnoticed, but who knows, perhaps something will run a little better.   And I take comfort in knowing that I am not the only one that feels this way.  If I were, no one would ever watch old movies.

Respectfully Yours


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The Greatest Ever Christmas Tree
Part III

The man with a puzzled look
Turned and then a few steps took
Until in front of Hoot he stood
And with all the control he could

Said “Hoot, I know I’m in your debt
You’ve been a big help since we met
It’s obvious that you meant well
Having Toothpick this tree fell

I think, in fact, we are defeated
Our options, it seems, are depleted
I don’t know this Ruckus dude
But I’m ready to conclude

That if I cannot drag this tree
Successful he’s not going to be
But at that moment came a bellow
And there stood an antlered fellow

Broad of shoulder, tall of limb
The man stood in awe of him
“Hello” said Ruckus, “I’m a moose
I’m here to pull your tree loose”

“First, I’ll need your belt and laces
To help me to concoct the traces
That we’ll wrap around the tree
And tie the other end to me

With that done, the big moose strained
And with his eyes on the village trained
Ruckus seemed up to the task
But in success he did not bask

While from his brow sweat did fall,
Ruckus did not stop at all
Step by step, he moved ahead
With Hoot and Toothpick in his stead

“It works, it works” the man yelled
“He’s bringing out the tree you felled”
And on they went, a curious group
Until arriving at the stoop

Of the man’s home that they had sought
Come out and see what we have brought
The tree, my friends have worked so hard
To cut and drag into our yard

Friends and neighbors from the night
Came to see the strangest sight
For there, beside a gorgeous tree
Stood Ruckus, Toothpick, Hoot, and he

Who without them would not have found
The greatest Christmas tree around
“How can I thank you” the man said
Besides assuring that you’re fed

Oh, you don’t owe us anything
We were glad your tree to bring
And if, perhaps, you find it can
Bring a sense of joy to Man

Then there’s just one thing that we pray
As they turned to walk away
Hoot flew o’er them and did call
It’s Peace on earth-Goodwill to all

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The Greatest Ever Christmas Tree
Part II

From the brush there came a rustle
And the bunny with a hustle
Hopped to Hoot and quickly said
I found him but I ran ahead

Tell your friend, do not dismay
Right now Toothpick’s on his way
I told him we don’t have all night
And to bring his appetite

Slowly through the snow he came
With his furry waddling frame
“Hi, I’m Toothpick, I’m a beaver
Nature’s perfect tree retriever”

The man could only stare in awe
Of course, what else were beavers for
But to gnaw and chew on trees
“Hey Hoot” said Toothpick, “If you please”

In the swamp, I was reclining
An engineering feat refining
When Bunny showed up telling me
Something about a Christmas tree

I am here to tell you brother
To me one tree is like another
So this gig had best be good
What’s so special about this wood?

Hoot pointed to the stately fir
And for a moment did demure
I know to you it’s just a tree
But to him it’s ecstasy

Ok, ok, I understand
You want me to lend a hand
Or if you really want the truth
You want me to lend a tooth

To bring this mighty tree to ground
By chewing the trunk round and round
So several nibbles Toothpick took
With every bite the branches shook

At last the tree began to sway
And still the beaver gnawed away
Until there came a mighty roar
And where the  tree had stood before

Now stood a stump and chewed up wood
The man said “Toothpick, you are good
I don’t know what I’d done without you
I can’t believe that I would doubt you

Could bring down my perfect tree
Which I’ll take to my family
To help us celebrate the season
And you my friends, will be the reason

That our holiday is bright
But I can’t stand here all night
I have a long way yet to go
Dragging this tree through the snow

He grabbed the tree and with a heave
He prepared with tree to leave
But with all attempts to trudge
The perfect tree refused to budge

Twas at this point the man’s face paled
For again it seemed he’d failed
He was unable to retire
With the tree of his desire

Toothpick said “Hey, all’s not lost
We’ll get it out at any cost
With that Hoot let out a cry
Let’s let Ruckus have a try

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