Did I Say That? Suburban true grit

Lawlessness is spreading through the suburbs. Landscapers and homeowners in our troubled land are wielding leaf blowers like weapons of minor destruction, sending grass clippings and debris onto the sidewalks and into the streets. Usually my street. And in three months, these same miscreants will be pushing snow from their driveways into the path of school buses and senior citizen vans. I’m sure they’re God-fearing men and women, respectable members of the community — Masons, Lions, Knights, Daughters of the American Revolution, Democrats, Republicans, veterans, Walmart shoppers, loyal husbands and fathers, diligent providers for their families and fastidious members of … Read more

Did I Say That? Those rascally varmints

Last week, our neighbor gave us a casualty report from the frontlines in the war on woodchucks. He sustained heavy losses in hand-to-hand combat. Peppers, zucchini, cucumbers … all gone. His garden has been leveled. It was a scorched earth assault, and he feared another attack was imminent. These woodchucks are fierce fighters, and lately they’ve been calling up reinforcements by recruiting a battalion of chipmunks. Undeterred, my neighbor launched a counter-offensive. He took five woodchuck prisoners of war in his Havahart traps and relocated them to a labor camp at the nature preserve — at least that’s what he … Read more

Did I Say That? Where’s the apostrophe?

I recently got a letter from my high school, asking for a donation. I was prepared to contribute several million dollars even if I had to ask Donald Trump for a loan … but then I read the sentence “St Joes needs your help.” St Joes? What a curious usage. I would have gladly given the alumni director anything she wanted if she wrote “St. Joe’s needs your help,” which is what Henry Fowler and William Strunk would have done. I could have even tolerated “St. Joe needs your help” because I always want to be there for my patron … Read more

Did I Say That? Perils of asking for directions

“HEY YOU, CUTTING THE LAWN! CAN YOU GIVE ME DIRECTIONS TO THE GRAND CANYON?” I think I’m the last person alive who asks for directions. It used to be such a common practice, but now if you pull up to the curb and roll down your window, someone will likely call the cops, especially if you’re driving a van. Most people plug the street they’re looking for into Google Maps or Waze, and then Siri or a computerized personal assistant with a seductive voice will say, “OK! Let’s get started! Turn right on Kangaroo Court and in a half mile…” … Read more

Did I Say That? Keeping cool

After 30 years, I finally bought an air conditioner. Thirty years of torment, tossing and turning at night, perspiring and panting. Thirty years of discomfort and pain, trying to devise ways to stay cool, especially when we lived in Florida. OK, maybe I exaggerate. Truth be told, I decided the dog couldn’t live without air conditioning. I wasn’t worried about the rest of the family. My wife and four daughters drive with the car air conditioning on year-round, so I was afraid they would abuse the privilege if I bought one for the house. I’m sure they’d have it cranked … Read more

Did I Say That? Nature’s nurturing

My granddaughter Lennox had a life-altering experience … at 3-years-old. Things will never be the same for her or her parents. She’s been reborn. Her finicky eating habits are gone, and she eats whatever they put in front of her. At the end of the day, she hops in bed and puts her head on the pillow, where it stays until the crack of dawn when she’s ready to brave the California wilderness. And no more temper tantrums. She’s too tired. What could have produced such miraculous changes? A 12 step program for tots? Bribery, the parenting technique of choice? … Read more

Did I Say That? Weathering Watson

During the past month, I’ve been cursing a lot … at Watson. I really hate to swear at computers. It’s a bad habit that started in the ’80s when we bought our first Apple II, and I haven’t stopped since then. Cursing at computers seems like such a natural, necessary thing to do. Watson, however, isn’t like other computers because he can understand what you’re saying, or at least he pretends to. I certainly don’t want to hurt his feelings if he has any, but since he has artificial intelligence, he probably has artificial feelings. The problem is this. He … Read more

Did I Say That? Sloppy science

I didn’t take physics in high school because I was afraid it would tarnish my academic record and keep me from getting into the college of my choice with the greatest opportunity for partying. Nevertheless, I developed a scientific theory that could qualify me for the Nobel Prize in Physics if not the Nobel Prize in Stupidity. Using the same skills that made Isaac Newton the father of modern physics, I arrived at my principle after carefully observing my daughters: It takes 300% more time to clean up a messy room than it took to mess it up. Or stated … Read more

Did I Say That: Where’s my donation?

I have a terrible confession to make. Every time I went to my favorite supermarket, the cashier asked for donations to one cause or another … so I started going someplace else. She’d stare at me with a solicitous look that only cashiers who worked in the development office of Yale University or United Way could possibly display, and then ask me, “Would you like to donate to Tiny Tykes Soccer Club?” Or “Would you like to help the Ivy League Cheerleaders of America?” Or “Would you like to give some spare change to the Save the Snail Darter … … Read more

Did I Say That? One man’s trash is another’s hobby

I discovered the ‘in’ place to go on Saturday. It isn’t the cinema, Starbucks, T.J. Maxx or Fitness Edge. It’s the town dump. Get hip, c’mon down! The lines are so long, it’s like sneaking into Studio 54 back in the crazy disco days or going to a matinee of “Hamilton” wearing your Make America Great Again hat. It’s a place where friends and enemies congregate. On Saturday mornings and afternoons — sometimes I go twice a day — I’ll meet old classmates, neighbors and politicians, not to mention estranged family members. You’ll never have this much excitement on Jerry … Read more

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