Thursday, July 31, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Me at the Hampton Inn 1999


The year is 1999. The place is The Hampton Inn, Lionville, Pennsylvania.  The job is hotel front desk clerk.

After 37 years in the banking industry (trust operations), I decided to take a part-time job at The Hampton Inn as a weekend night auditor.

Me with my co-worker Angelo Vasquez at the Hampton Inn, Lionville, PA 1999


The first job I had when I got out of the Army in January of 1963 was as a night auditor at the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel at the Golden Triangle in Pittsburgh, PA.  

I had no experience for that job.  It was the first place the employment agency sent me for a job interview.  The Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel hired me at $250 a month, less taxes, payable on the 15th and 31st.  I had to pay the employment agency a fee of $250 for the job, money which I borrowed from my brother Isaac (I paid him back).

Back then a night auditor's job was a lot different than it was at the Hampton Inn. There were six of us.  Each one of us had to audit (check the math) of each one of the hotel's six restaurants. Then we had the head auditor who would settle our figures which we entered on a columnar pad.  

Being a night auditor back in those days was an easy job.  We went in at 11 PM and left when we settled our restaurants, which was never past 1 PM.  With the exception of my friend Fred Hunt (who was also an Army veteran), all the other guys were daytime students earning a little extra money.  Very little by the way because after taxes, $250 a month didn't go too far.

I worked a very short time at the Marriott Residence Inn in Lionville, PA in 2006 - before I moved to Delaware


I lived in a furnished one room apartment in an old Victorian house in Shadyside, Pittsburgh.  My rent was $8.00 a week.  I had to share a bathroom with 
four other apartments in this old mansion.  THAT was a problem because there was usually someone in the bathroom when needed to use it or when I was in the bathroom someone was knocking on the door asking "Will you be long?"  Not a great question to ask when one is on the hopper (need to concentrate).  

I only had the hotel job in Pittsburgh for three months before I quit.  I was lonely.  I went to Pittsburgh after I got out of the Army because I planned to come out as a gay man (which I did) and a friend from my Ft. Meade days (he was in the Air Force) lived in nearby Elizabeth, PA.  I thought Pittsburgh would be my nirvana but it didn't quite work out that way.  Like I said I was very lonely.  Not that I lacked for attention when I came out but I got too much attention, the wrong kind.  But that's another blog entry that I won't go descend to those depths here.

I quit, went home to Downingtown, and after a two year detour of working as an accounts payable clerk at Lipsett Steel Products in Coatesville, PA; I met Bill, moved in with him and got a job at Girard Bank in Philadelphia.

Thirty-seven years later, and four banks later, I was out of a job.  I saw an ad for "Weekend night auditor" in the local paper.  I applied for it and got it.  Guess what?  The night auditor job was now a LOT different.  First, I had to stay there from 11 PM to 7 AM (try that).  And . . . . I had to work the front desk, something which I didn't have to do at the Pittsburgh Hilton.  We all worked in the basement of the hotel, never saw the front desk.  I did see Milton Berle once, bumped into him as I was going in the elevator and he coming out.  One of my (very) infrequent brushes with celebrity during my lifetime.

I was reluctant to work the front desk but I was assured there was "very little to do at that time."  Of course that wasn't true but guess what?  I LOVED THE JOB.  I liked the challenge of working the front desk.  It was fun.  And here I am today, still working the front desk.  

The hotel where I work now doesn't have a night auditor who works from 11 PM to 7 AM. We're too small.  However, I do run the daily night audit before I get off my shift at 11 PM.  

Tomorrow I am working the next three days at the hotel.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 3 PM to 11 PM.  Monday and Tuesday, day shift from 7 AM to 3 PM.  Working as a hotel front desk clerk (or "agent" as we're now called - la de la da) can be challenging and sometimes frustrating but I can honestly say I love the job.  I am now working my eleventh year as the person you see when you walk into the hotel who says "Are you checking in?"

By the way, I have NO pictures of my Pittsburgh Adventure.  I have thousands of pictures of my life history but for some inexplicable reason I never thought to take photos (or even a camera) during those three months I was in Pittsburgh.  For one thing I didn't have ANY money and another, I was way too caught up in the coming out as a gay man and fending off of my unsuitable suitors.  

So this is this week's edition of "Throwback Thursday."  I didn't mean for it to get this wordy but you know me.

Where I work now, a small, exclusive boutique hotel in Lewes DE - "checking in?"




Toronto - Here We Come

A selfie of Pat and his friend "Rob" last night

Just finished talking to Pat on FaceTime.  Only two weeks to go until I fly the Big Bird north and land in Tornonto (via way of Buffalo, New York).

Pat laid down a "Vegan Challenge" to me: only eat vegan while I'm in Canada.  You know folks?  I think I can do that without too much sacrifice.  I'm pretty much doing it anyway now. 

Cherry tomatoes freshly picked (about 1/2 hour ago) from my compost pile tomato plant


Pat wasn't sure I would be able to manage two weeks without meat or dairy products.  You know what folks?  I think I can do it!  Oh yes.  

I just made a fresh tomato/cucumber/red onion salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  Wow!  SOOOOO GOOD.  

When I make good food like this I think of all those years I ate processed food junk.  All that trash in my body.  It's a wonder I made it this far. Not that I don't have problems but it's a wonder I'm not worse for all the chemicals and preservatives I've ingested just so food manufactures can have a long shelf life in the food stores to make MORE money.

By the way, I told Pat that the selfie he took last night with Mayor Ford cutout looks so real.  




Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hummus



HUMMUS:

Hummus is a Levantine food dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.  Today, it is popular through the Middle East, North Africa, and in Middle Eastern cuisine around the globe.

I grew up in a household of very limited cooking abilities.  When my Mother married my hillbilly father, his mother taught my Mom how to make the staple of the Hillbilly Diet, biscuits.

 
And my Mom made them good but as she often said, "Not as good as Mrs. Tipton makes them."  But her mother-in-law told her "If you're going to marry one of my sons (she had eleven sons, no daughters) you going to have to feed him biscuits or else your marriage won't last."  For sixty years my parents were married and I can barely remember a day that my Mom didn't make my father biscuits, sometimes twice a day.

Homemade Hillbilly Biscuits
The Irish have their potatoes, the Italians have their pasta and hillbillies have their biscuits - major diet staple - goes with anything - slather gravy on top - YUM!


Other than biscuits (and gravy), my Mom's culinary skills were rather ("rawther") limited.  

Once I got away from home (at 18 years of age going the Army) I had food for the first time in my life that I never "et" before.  "Exotic" food like veal, rice (regular rice not rice pudding which is what I thought Chinese always ate, rice pudding), salads (we had corn on the cob and pickled beans, a salad bowl never graced our table), and chili (my Mom's version of "chili" was string beans and tomatoes - NO chili powder - first time I ever tasted chili powder was when I was in the A.R.M.Y).  You get the idea?  Haute cuisine was not the forte at the Tipton Household.  Fried chicken, pig's feet
and beans (yum!), squirrels and dumplings (I'm telling the truth), an occasional buckshot loaded rabbit (have your teeth crunch down on a rabbit leg with just ONE buck shot and WOW, you're breaking your tooth), and of course that old hillbilly mainstay scrapple which is basically seasoned cornmeal and all the parts of a left over butchered pig including the ears, snout, and . . . . . butt hole (oh my father always had a great time of reminding me and my brothers that we were eating pig asshole).  So you get the idea. 

Scrapple - I LIKE! (as long as it's cooked properly)


Once I got away from home, first stop the Army, I was introduced to a whole new culinary kaleidoscope of foodstuff to put down my pie hole. I won't go through the whole itinerary on this blog post, which longer already than I had planned, but suffice it to say I've migrated away from pulling squirrel skulls out of Mom's famous Squirrel and Dumpling Stew and sucking squirrel brains out of the dead squirrel's eye sockets (true story - Pop loved it! Used to make a big sucking sound every time sucked these squirrel brains out) to my current fav: HUMMUS




Poor Pop, he must be rolling over in his grave now knowing that I'm eating an ARAB dish.  Mom too.  I loved both of my parents (Mom more than Pop) but both were brainwashed, conspiracy Fox News addicts.  They would never eat one of THOSE dishes that the A-RABS ate.  I'm eat hummus every day.  I've been eating hummus every day for about six years now.



So how did I come upon Hummus?  As regular followers of this blog know I work part-time at a chi chi boutique hotel in Lewes, Delaware.  Frequently we have "events" at the hotel which is nothing more than an off site for business meetings or some other such gathering of Our Betters who will decided how they're going to get our money (see my earlier "Sheep and Wolves" posting).  Many of these events are catered by local chi chi chefs.  And I'm not talking a Big Bag of KFC chicken.  Oh no, we have the fou fou Food.  "Stuff" like broccoli rate (delicious!) and all such manner of for hors d'oeuvres.  In the Tipton household hors d'oeuvres would be pickled string beans.  

About six years ago, after one such event I was helping my co-worker Sandi (who was the event coordinator) to clean up after the event.  As so often happens, there were left overs.  

LEFTOVERS! I LOVE LEFTOVERS!

She showed me this one huge bowl of a pale, tan mush.  I said "What's that?"  She said "Hummus"  I said "What's that?"  She repeated herself "Hummus."  I said "I don't know what hummus is. I've never heard of it."  She asked me "How old are  you?" (I was 66 at the time, old enough to know better but still attractively ignorant as I am today - he said tongue in cheek - don't always take everything I say seriously folks in this blog - lighten up) 

She said "Taste it!"  I eyed the light tan mush that reminded me of cat poo and tentatively dipped my forefinger into the bowl and deposited about a half teaspoonful on my finger with I "put the plane in the hanger" in my mouth. 

Hmmmmm . . . . good!  I like!  Thus folks, that evening, I was converted to hummus.

Now most folks use hummus as a dip.  That's fine but what I use hummus for is to slather it on a wrap, sprinkle it with feta cheese (another Arab food, oh how my parents' must be twirling in their final resting places) and roll it up,  cut it in half and have my hummus wrap with homemade soup for lunch . . . . every day.  Yes  you read that right folks. . . . EVERY DAY.

But I had a problem, I could only buy hummus in the little "dip" packages in the local supermarket Food Lion.  Quite an expensive proposition if I'm eating a hummus wrap every day.  Fortunately I found that the wholesale store in Millsboro (B.J.'s) offers industrial sized hummus.  Thus my regular forays to B.J.'s were started by my addiction for hummus.

Oh this blog posting is going on a lot longer than I intended.  I'll wrap up this sordid tale now.  Yesterday I decided to make my own hummus.  I was inspired by my friend Pat who makes his own hummus all the time.  He just whips up a batch, thinks nothing of it.  So, thusly inspired I got the ingredients and MADE IT.  





Guess what folks?  IT WAS DELICIOUS!  WOW!  Better than store made.  And so simple to make.  Well, sort of.  You have to put all the ingredients in a blender and the consistency is sort of like cement, especially getting it out of the mixer.  My hummus recipe isn't a smooth and creamy as the store bought but man oh man, is it ever tasty.  

Here's the recipe:

You Will Need
  • One 15-ounce can (425 grams) chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) tahini (we used Krinos)
  • Half of a large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
  • Dash of ground paprika for serving

So there you go folks.  Chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini (ground sesame seed), garlic, kosher salt, olive oil, cumin and water. Simple . . . . and delicious.  


Sorry B.J.'s, I make my own hummus from now on.  Again, just another example of what I make homemade is way better than anything I can find and buy in the store or restaurants.  

My red skin potato salad is to die for.

Facebook Friend Request



This is my latest Facebook friend request.  

I.DO.NOT.KNOW.THIS.PERSON

I've had my Facebook account for several years now.  I sometimes go on, but more often I'm off.  Some of my (innocent) posts on Facebook have gotten me into more trouble than I care to admit.  From a confrontation with the husband of one of my co-workers who took offense to me posting a video of two men (brothers) dancing the tango to my sister-in-law taking personal offense to me posting a picture of her daughter in her Little House in the Prairie dress (photo taken back in the 70's).  

The offended husband is now history (he was using his wife's Facebook name to spy on me and others) and the sister-in-law and I are now estranged (I'm not making the first move, I didn't intend any harm.  She's just a little too sensitive and needs to get over it).  

When I do use Facebook these days it's to post old family photos for those family members who I haven't offended yet (my other brother unfriended me on a non Facebook matter - I got married to Bill, he felt I was being too public with my gayness).  He didn't get the memo, I don't subscribe to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in my private life.  I had to when I was in the military, I don't have too now and I don't intend to, no matter how many of my family members are embarrassed by me being gay.  Same goes with my friends, no matter how long I've known them.  You marginalize me, belittle me by asking "when are you going to marry your pet?", I take offense and that attitude affects our friendship.  Because of who I love and I dare to publicly proclaim that love and that embarrasses you?  You need to get over it if you still want me for a friend.  

So I don't use Facebook a whole lot these days.  I go in occasionally to see what some of my remaining family members are up to and see their photos.  Once in a great while I'll post a nice scenic photo or a photo of me if I'm visiting an interesting place.  But mostly, I leave Facebook alone.

Every one and then (like tonight), I'll get a "friend" request from someone I've never heard of in my life.  What's up with that?  Is it like my You Tube "friend" requests?  They are almost always some musician wanting me to sign on to their lame You Tube account so they can get their views up. 

NOT INTERESTED

So I get this latest "friend" request. 

NOT INTERESTED


At least the friend requests from the buxom Russian women have stopped.  That's progress.



Getting Ready for the Big Trip



Larry, me and Pat - did someone just give me Rabbit Ears?

Time for a roundup of my random thoughts folks.

Today I don't have to go to work at the hotel.  Don't have to go tomorrow either.  But then . . . . .
I began a five day marathon.  Yep, I work Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Thursday.  

I'm filling in for a vacationing co-worker.  The same co-worker who is going to take me to the Philadelphia International Airport early (4:30 AM) in the morning of August 15th for my flight to Buffalo, New York.  Pat will be picking me up in Buffalo (will I be shuffling off to Buffalo?) and completing the last leg of my two week sojourn at his minimalist home in Tiny Town, Toronto, Canada.

While in Canada we will meet up with fellow bloggers Dr. Spo and Someone and . . . . this I just found out last night . . . . two other fellow Canadian bloggers (Larry the Muffin and Will the Tell) will also rendezvous with us in Toronto.  Sounds like a mini Bloggerpalooza if you ask me. 
All of us Old Guys getting together, guaranteed a good time.  You know there was one time in my shallow, callow youth when I feared getting older. "How can old guys have fun, they're SO OLD?" You know what folks?  I'm having the best time of my life.  So that old Noel Coward quote "Youth is wasted on the young" is true!


Noel Coward

I awoke this morning to a cool Canadian front, and I'm not talking about Pat. We've been sweltering in the high 80's with mucho humidity for way too long.  This morning the temperature was a downright chilly 59 degrees.  I'll take it.  I had asked Pat to send some of those cool Canadian temperatures down here.  Thanks Pat! I just hope when I visit him that the cool Canadian temps are still in Toronto because Pat DOESN'T have air conditioning.  


Pat's living room and backyard

I should stay on the computer this morning and catch up on my e-mails and finished that Ancestry.com research that I was doing for one of my distant Tipton cousins but I think I'll take advantage of this fabulous weather and go outside and rake grass.  

Have a great day everyone!  




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Miss Scarlett

AAUGH!

My friend Pat told me last night he's going to see a new movie today.  I asked "Which one?"  He says "Lucy."  So immediately I think "Oh, about Lucille Ball?"  Uh . . . no.  Then I think "Is it Lucy of Charlie Brown fame? The one who keeps pulling the football away from Charlie just as he's about to kick it?" (the Story of my Life by the way).  He says "No."  Sooooooo . . . I put "Lucy" in my Internet browser and this is what I get:


Wait a minute?!?  Is that . . . . . 


Scarlett Johansson?  

The same Scarlett Johansson named SEXIEST WOMAN ALIVE by Esquire magazine not once but (are you sitting down) TWICE.  Once in 2006 and once last year 2013.



Excuse me, I know I'm gay and to whom I'm sexually attracted to doesn't travel the Blonde Woman Road but . . . . WHAT?  

Is it me or am I the only one who DOESN'T GET SCARLETT JOHANSSON?  

Sexy to me is:

Hedy Lamarr

Marilyn Monroe

Elizabeth Taylor

Sophia Loren


Even as a 100% gay men, these women, in their prime, caused this gay man to stop and take notice.  At times I actually felt faint (very) stirrings of desire (yikes)!

Now before any of you Scarlett Johansson fans take umbrage (i.e., get your nose out of joint), I don't know Scarlett.  I have no doubt that she is a very nice person.  At least I haven't heard any of those typical celebrity horror stories, "Do you KNOW who I am?" about her.
  



Of course the obvious answer to that pompous and arrogant question is "No, have you forgotten?"

Folks, I'm sure that Scarlett is a WONDERFUL person but here's my question:

WHY.IS.SHE.IN.EVERY.OTHER.MOVIE?

WTF?  

This is the problem I have with Hollywood.  They get a "bankable" star and then they put them in just about every friggen movie.  What happens if one doesn't want to see the twice voted Sexiest Woman Alive in a movie because she reminds one of Miss Piggy?


So Pat asks me "Then I guess you're not going to see this movie?"  Uh . . . . . no.

I'm about as likely to see this movie as I am to see the next Brad Pitt (he of the ever changing hair doo) movie, another "Sexiest Person Alive" that I don't get and who also appears in just about every other movie.


Sexy? I don't get it. (about as sexy as a blonde possum)




Same with old Snaggle Tooth, Tom "Who Cares if He's Gay" Cruise.  


I never "got" this one either. 


Maybe it's me folks. Maybe I'm an old fuddy duddy after all. Maybe I'm one of those Angry Old Men.  

Do you think?


John McCain - Angry Old Man - "I can't believe I lost the election to . . . . . Brrrrrrack OBAMA!"

Dreams

Dreamer
Last night I had a doozy of a dream.  And I can actually remember most of it. Usually I can't remember my dreams, only if they were intense, good or bad.  But this one last night . . . . I remember.  Maybe it was because of all the red onions that I ate in that gyro I had last night at the restaurant.  I ordered a veggie gyro and what I got was a pita pocket stuffed with red onions, chopped iceberg lettuce and tzatziki sauce.  I only mention this because I think my disappointment in my gyro and the resulting onion burps were the source of my dream activity.


This WASN'T the way my gyro looked last night.  I wish. Mine was all red onions and iceberg lettuce with maybe two teeny weeny bits of tomatoes - maybe that's why the restaurant we go to rarely has anyone there and is always changing ownership
So here was my weird dream last night:

I dreamed that I was going to a corporate seminar (shades of my Previous Life banking career).

I was to go by car that with about five other corporate types. 




The car was too small.  I was squeezed in the back (no leg room) with my carry on bag.

One of the guys, who I was NOT interested in, flirted with me all the way up (I think we were going to Buffalo which is ironic since I am taking a plane to Buffalo on the first leg of my Canadian trip/vacation/sojourn in a couple of weeks - think there is a connection?)

We finally get to our destination.  My legs are cramped and I'm irritable, having to fend off that guy who was flirting with me all during our cramped car ride.

The seminar room was huge.

There were other groups there.

We were advised to put our things down on our chair, "they will be safe".  

I was reluctant to do so, I like to hang onto my "things."  I don't trust anybody, no matter how often they say "It will be safe." Yeah, right. 

I hear a commotion up in front of the room.  I hear "oohs!"   and "ahhhs!"  Apparently, the seminar organizers, in a bid to get our attention brought out one of the really good-looking corporate types and took his clothes off, much to his amusement and the on-lookers delight.

By the time I realized what all the commotion was about they had his pants off and one of the women was fluffing his penis (yeah, I said it) to the obvious delight of the crowd.  The guy (again, a young corporate type, not one of those bland, Hollywood types) was laughing, and in on getting the crowd's attention.  He certainly had my attention. I needed to get a closer look





Reluctantly, I moved away from my folding chair which held my overcoat (don't ask me why I had an overcoat) and my carry on luggage (to be deposited later at a hotel room, this was an overnight stay seminar).

As I moved to the front of the room the show and tell fun and games with this guy's penis was over, and they began the boring seminar business information.

I go back to my chair and . . . . . . IT IS EMPTY!

My "stuff" is gone.  I immediately zero in on one of the event organizers and tell them.  

They tell me "Don't worry. We'll take care of it."  

WHAT?  I told them "I want my things now!" I don't want to wait.  


I.WANT.THEM.NOW!"

Again they reassure me "not to worry." But I am worrying.

Now what happens next is a little hazy but the next thing I know I'm looking for my room.

The hotel where we're staying at, all the doors and wall paper is the same pattern.  

I realize a man who I used to work with years ago lives at this hotel.  He lives there with his wife/girlfriend.  He's black (not that has anything to do with it).

I didn't know what room he was in so I had this great idea to ring the doorbell on each room figuring he will come out and I would recognize him as he would me.  Jim Brooks is his name.  Usually I don't have names in my dreams but this time I did.  Go figure.

I go down the hallway ringing every bell.  After I get down the end of the hallway I think "What if someone else comes out of the other rooms? They will think I'm some kind of weirdo."

While standing at the end of the hallway, pondering this question, I realize I 


HAVE.NO.CLOTHES.ON


I.AM.BUCK.NAKED

Now folks, this "theme" of me being naked in my dreams is an oft occurring happening.  Usually I don't have pants or underwear on.  I just have a shirt and shoes.  And I usually don't realize I don't have pants or underwear on until I'm out shopping at Walmart or Food Lion.  I was so busy that I forgot my bottom half.  However, in this dream I have 


NO CLOTHES ON - I AM NAKED

Already I see some other people in the hallway looking at me funny.  After all, I just went down the hallway ringing every doorbell and I'm stark naked.  They might get the wrong idea. I figure if I told them I was looking for an old friend wouldn't fly.

I started to panic.  I had to get out of there.  Over by the elevator I see a woman's dress crumpled in the corner.  

Real quick, when the few folks milling about were turned away, talking to each other in hushed tones, occasionally turning around and casting "I don't believe what I'm seeing" looks at me, I pull the one piece dress over my head.

The dress is made of a "springy" material that fits my slim form JUST PERFECT.  In fact, I rather like it, much to my surprise because I'm not one of those gay guys who has a secret desire to dress up in women's clothes (this year's Bloggerpalooza Old Time Photo the exception - THAT was a failed lark inspired by my friend Dr. Spo's venture into drag).




Now properly clothed I went to the elevator and pushed the "DOWN" button . . . . I'm getting out of there before they call the police.  

Funny thing though, I was still rather please with my outfit.  I thought "I just may wear this more often." Very fetching. 

Then I woke up.  

I know, I know.  It was a weird dream.

After a dream like this, most of which I can' t remember the details (this one I did though) I try to analyze them.  


So here's what I came up with.  


The showing of the penis to get our attention.  I think that was a result of a discussion (blog comments) that I had with a friend who saw the show "The Real Monty."  You know that movie don't you?  That's the one where the WHOLE movie is about showing the WHOLE MONTY and they DON'T show it.  Too cute by half.  Oh I know the explanations, "it's more about character and story development."  Oh give me a break.  Don't do the Big Tease then cop out at the end.  Another typical, arrogant, script writers' deceit a la "Twin Peaks" where the script writers created a mystery with no ending. 





The thing about me being nude . . . . and stuck out in public?  That's an oft occurring theme in my dreams.  One that upsets me a lot.  I don't know what THAT's all about.

The other reoccurring theme I have is losing my briefc
ase/wallet or important papers.  

All I know is that I am SO RELIEVED when I wake up and realize it's only a dream.

But folks, what is going on in my head?  




Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wolves and Sheep



You know I figured out a long time ago that this world was made up of wolves and sheep.  When  you're born into this world, you're either a wolf or you're a sheep.  You either take or you're taken.

I guess one could equate wolves and sheep with good and evil.  But I think this equation is a bit more complicated than that.  

Both wolves and sheep seek to survive.  Wolves are made that way, aggressors.  Sheep are made the way they are too, to be meek and submissive.  

If you're born a sheep you quickly figure out the best way to survive is to stay in the middle of the mob (what a gathering of sheep is called).  Stick your neck out and some wolf is going to take you down.  

Wolves don't look at you as an individual put only part of a mass of meat, to be eaten.  They have no feeling other than to take.  And there are always a mob of sheep around, with some sheep hanging around the edges of the mob, ripe for the picking. 

I'm a sheep.  I don't take.  I used to hide in the middle of the mob, hoping the wolves circling the sheep would miss me.  So far so good.

I've had some close calls though.  A few times I thought I was with other sheep and they turned out to be wolves in sheep's clothing.  You all know those folks don't you?  



You think they're one of you and they're not.  They're wolves only out to eat you.

Now I'm not sending a cryptic message to anyone here.  I'm proud to say that my friends today are all sheep like I am.  Wise sheep, but sheep all the same.  They're not out to eat someone else.  I've known those wolves and I've eliminated them out of my life.  

But, every day my phone rings.  Usually the caller ID says "Out of Area".  Oh my, who could that be?  Oh yes, it's another wolf wanting to "help" me.  Calling me out of the blue to "help" me.  Oh sure.  

As I said, these days I have great neighbors, co-workers and wonderful friends.  How lucky am I? I even have some relatives who still like me after I got married to my same sex partner.  

But I still have to be on my guard.  Each day I open my e-mail, there's another "free" offer for me. Another phone call.  Or someone, who I don't know, who is going to coat my driveway cheap or wants me to contribute to his college fund, "just buy this magazine subscription."  

Even the ads on TV who promise you amazing results if you only buy their product.  Politicians who promise you everything if you only vote for them.  Beware, make sure you're not buying from a wolf or voting for a wolf.  They're all over, sometimes in sheep's clothing.


So folks, just remember that although a wolf sometimes is beautiful and exciting, they will devour you if you let them.


Further Adventures of a Wimpy Kid (Part 3)

Me, 1951 - about to leave for a two week summer vacation "in the country" with my Aunt Mildred and her family and my little buddy "Ducky" Vance - Photo taken on Washington Avenue, Downingtown, Pennsylvania


And we return to those days of yesteryear (sounds like the old "Long Ranger" screed doesn't it?) and visit the continuing adventures of The Wimpy Kid (that would be me).  

Now let's see, where did we leave off?  Ah yes . . . . . . the year was 1948 and I was entering first grade, or trying to once I got past the bully who kept pushing me to the ground outside the East Ward elementary school.

You know, it is very interesting that I remember clearly all my elementary school teachers except fourth grade.  

1st grade:    Mrs. Warren

2nd grade:    Miss Sara Way
3rd grade:    Miss Elizabeth Ezrah
4th grade:    Miss Powell (I think)
5th grade:    Mrs. Schollenberger
6th grade:    Mrs. Rhoda Yost

Ah, first grade.  Mrs. Warren.  


SHE.SCARED.ME.TO.DEATH


Unfortunately I don't have any photos of Mrs. Warren.  No iPhone or digital cameras back in this black and white days.  But oh do I ever remember MRS. WARREN.  



Hope Emerson - the actress who reminded me of my 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Warren - could be sisters!!!!


She was a big woman.  Big bones. Sharp, hawk-like features. Dark hair with a "just a touch" of gray.  Glasses.  Shiny, steely, wire rimmed glasses.  
Baritone voice. And . . . . . . the one feature of Mrs. Warren I will never forget . . . . she wore those "sensible", solid, women's prison warden shoes.  Oh how I remember those shoes.  

I remember seeing Hope Emerson in the 1950 movie "Caged."  She played a sadistic women's prison warden.  She SCARED.ME.TO.DEATH. Mrs. Warren SCARED.ME.TO.DEATH.


Mrs. Warren ran her classroom like Hope Emerson's character ran her women's prison.  One step out of line and WHACK!  You would be sorry if you crossed Mrs. Warren.  





I crossed Mrs. Warren.

Here's what happened. 


When I began school, I was a stutterer.  


I was shy, timid, no self confidence and basically I was afraid of the world.  


Mrs. Warren knew I was a stutterer and it annoyed her.  I dreaded when she would call on me in class because I knew I would always answer with "Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, ………..I, I, I don't, don't, don't know, know." (my best typing version of stuttering).  


I sat in the back of the class.  In those Pre Kid Sensitive Days, tall kids (which I was one) and kids with the name at the end of the alphabet (which I was also one, my last name beginning with a "T") were placed in the back of the classroom.  Sitting in the back of the class (for me) was another sign that I wasn't "as good" as my some of my classmates who were shorter than me (most of them) and who were lucky enough to be born with names like Ash and Brookover (both short guys too).  


Mrs. Warren is reading a book in front of the classroom.  She stops and looks up.  I know what she's going to do.  


SHE.IS.GOING.TO.CALL.ON.ME


She does.  I answer "Ah….ah…..ah……."


I see the steeling glint in her eyes behind her steel frames Himmler glasses focus in on me.


She closes her book and slams it down on her desk.


She sets her beady eyes on my and "CLUMP! CLUMP! CLUMP!" her women's prison warden shoes back to me and 


SMACKS ME ON THE SIDE OF MY HEAD!!!


and says "STOP IT!"  


You know the worst part about this whole episode?  It wasn't the smack on the side of my head (which did hurt but no damage other than to my pride).  


The worst part was those three to five seconds it took her to clump back to the rear of the classroom where I was sitting and knowing that I was going to be humiliated with a whack on the side of my head.  


And the rest of the class knew what was going to happened.  I still remember the rustle of my little girl classmates and their crinoline puffy dresses as they turned to see Mrs. Warren mete out "punishment" to the doofus who stuttered in the back of the classroom.  


My face was burning but not from the slap to the side of my head but from embarrassment.  I was SOOO embarrassed. But you know what?  I think she cured me of my stuttering. I never stuttered again in class.  


Of course these days Mrs. Warren's way of curing my stuttering would be considered child cruelty but man oh man, it worked back then.  And you know why?  I just did not want to be embarrassed in front of my classmates again.  


I still have the propensity to stutter but what I do now is if I feel a stutter coming on, I just don't say anything until I feel the words forming.  Those who know me have probably noticed that sometimes I don't respond immediately while we're having a conversation, that's because I feel the stutter.  But that rarely happens these days because I think I stuttered because I was intimidated.  I don't think anyone intimidates me these days.  I'm not a Wimpy Kid anymore. 

But do not fear, I have more "Wimpy Kid" memories which I will share in future blog posts.  


Below is a trailer for the film "Caged" which Hope Emerson played the "Mrs. Warren" role.  "Orange is the New Black" this is not.