Thursday, December 12, 2013

X marks the Mas

Ah Christmas time. Here in ‘Murica it is a time when we celebrate our corporate overlords by purchasing massive amounts of completely unnecessary items to pad the wallets of CEOs who generally make more than a thousand times of their average indentured servants…I mean employees. It is also a time where the fortunate gather around a recently killed tree, in most cases a fir tree of some sort because mulberry trees drop nasty little berries all over the place, and spend time together by exchanging items wrapped in festive paper decorated with snowmen, Santa’s, and puppies wearing antlers. We tear into the paper with the avarice of hungry puppies when a bowl of chow is poured or when a burrito is left unattended. Some gifts are cherished, some are returned and some find their way into a box labeled either Goodwill or yard sale. 

It is in this spirit of goodwill, the kindly attitude not the donation center, that I have compiled a list of x-mas wants, nay, needs, addressed to the reason for the season: Santa Claus. Before I begin, let me say that the right jolly old elf has not paid me a visit in many decades. Despite my best efforts to remain on the nice list, I have been forsaken. I will not list my good deeds because I feel a good deed unseen by many but felt by one is a good deed indeed. Suffice to say, I think I belong on the nice list. Hell, I don’t know. Maybe I don’t belong on it. There was that incident involving the vicious dwarf hamster and the hungry pelican. Anyways, without further ado, (I’m not quite sure if the preceding statements would qualify as ado, but if I did do ado I wouldn’t do ado publicly), here is the list: 

 My dearest Santa, please bring me this stuff. *(formality is necessary or else the beggar’s inventory of desires will be discarded or worse, you could be put on the naughty list. And while in certain circumstances it is good to be naughty, this is not one of them). 

 1). A Pot ‘O Gold. My Irish heritage demands this. While I have never caught a leprechaun per se, I did catch a fish once that said it would grant me three wishes if I would let him go. I said, “I wish you never said that,” and I ate him. 

 2). A tambourine. If no other reason so I can dance naked in the moonlight on the winter solstice while slapping my tambourine. My conundrum lies in the fact that the solstice comes before Christmas. On second thought, a naked fat white guy dancing around at night would probably end up in jail or shot. So make that castanet’s for naked Cinco De Mayo dancing. 

3). A taco. 

 4). A weenie whistle. I asked Santa for one when I was a kid and when I didn’t get it, I no longer believed in Santa and I became a cynic and a therapist. Wait…I’m confusing myself with Judge Reinhold again. 

 Video of the Judge. Go on, click this link.


 5). A turkey farm. I want to wake up before sunrise, till the earth, and sow the turkey eggs in the fresh plowed soil. And with plenty of water and sunlight, I’ll harvest a fresh crop of 100% organic turkeys. 

6). Diabetes. This is not to make light of the disease, I just need a reason to stop eating so many of those damn butterscotch hard candies. 

7). Play-Doh. I took a sculpting class once, and to be honest, on what I make as an author I can’t afford proper clay. Besides, Play-Doh smells so delicious. It is edible isn’t it? Colorful, squishy…it has to be. I mean look at this set. It even comes with it’s own insulin syringe. 

It screams EAT ME!

8). Fancy pants. I’ve never owned fancy pants. I’m assuming you have to be fabulously wealthy to own something as fancy as fancy pants. My budget affords me things like trousers and britches, and the occasional slacks. Are fancy pants encrusted with diamonds? It seems like they would chafe during the summer if they were. 

9). Gold Bond powder. 

10). A pirate ship. Nothing big, a sloop would be fine. I’ve always wanted one, even before the Pirates of the Caribbean movies made people want to be pirates. I’d name her The Bastard Sea-hag. I would sail the seven seas and liberate unwary seafarers of their fancy pants and run them up the mast and people would know and fear me. I’d be the scourge of the Pacific. But then again, I’ve only been on the ocean twice, and both times I emptied my stomach of everything I had eaten the days prior. I think I even puked up one of my own ribs. Scratch that…I be a land lubber. Just bring me a Lego set instead.

Why the hell are they fighting ninjas?

I fully expect all of the above items to be under the aforementioned dead tree this year. So I guess I’ll need to kill a bigger tree. Happy holidays to all. It's almost time for a New Year's resolution. Now I have that Beatles song stuck in my head; so you say you want a resolution...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

PSA & Prostate Exam For Your Entertainment

In a departure from my usual nonsense and begging for people to buy my books, and as a public service to my multitude of (7 or 8) readers I am taking this moment to discuss a high PSA result from a routine blood test. First of all, let me say that I am NOT advocating ignoring high scores. And I am NOT advocating not going to see a qualified urologist after receiving the news that your PSA is high. 

For those who don’t know what a high PSA means, I will give you the basics in layman’s or, more accurately, lame man’s terms: PSA is a doctorish acronym for Prostate-Specific Antigen. A PSA reading of 4 or higher, depending on age, is an indicator of an increased risk of prostate cancer. But don’t let that scare you. It could mean any number of other more benign things as well, such as an infection called prostatitis. Or BPH, which is an enlargement of the prostate. Other reasons could simply be because you had sex the day before your blood test or even the DRE itself can cause the elevated numbers. Age is also a factor as are, and I repeat this, any number of other things, so don’t crap yourself thinking the end is near. Regardless of potential causes, your high PSA should NOT be ignored. Go get another blood test, abstaining from any form of sex for a couple days prior and get a DRE to see if the prostate gland is enlarged. 

What is a DRE you ask? Well I’m about to tell you and I believe it’s the reason why a lot of guys don’t get the exam. (Trust me, it’s not a rapper/mogul/producer, but it does involve seeing a doctor). DRE is another of those doctorish acronyms for Digital Rectal Exam. Digital, meaning finger; Rectal, meaning asshole; and Exam, meaning the doctor sticking his finger in your asshole and feeling around as if he were searching for his lost wedding ring. I’m gonna be honest here—I don’t care what lifestyle you live, getting prodded with a greedy middle finger is not a pleasant experience. As unpleasant as it may be, I’ve had it done about 5 times in the past year because my numbers are all over the place. In fact, I believe my urologist and my derrière are on a first name basis now. 

“Good morning Mr. Tookus,” says the doctor. “Open up and say ah.” 

“Sure thing doc,” Mr. Tookus says. “But don’t go digging too deep, I had Mexican food last night.” 

I have been fortunate so far, in spite of my high PSA numbers, that I am showing no other symptoms of prostate cancer and other tests have strongly indicated that I do not have it as of yet. However, if it does come to that, I am way ahead of the game and will catch it early. As a side note: It is called Prostate not Prostrate. Prostrate is when you lie face down. And while you might feel like lying in said position after the exam, they have two different meanings. So don’t tell people you had a prostrate exam, they’ll think you took a test while lying on your stomach. [BTP] BTP means Back To Point for those of you who are not regular readers of this amazing blog. 

Even though you might have high numbers, it’s not a diagnosis of anything. Further test are absolutely necessary. Today, I had one those further test. It involved the doctor pressing on my prostate until some prostatic fluid came out of the only other opening below the belt so it could be collected on a slide for further examination. As unpleasant as a DRE is, this takes it to a new level. It is really uncomfortable. However, I don’t want to scare anybody away from getting these necessary tests so to that I say, “Man-up and go get fingered. Real men get fingered. Quit being a puss!” 

During this exam, my doctor said, “Don’t stand on your tip-toes, it makes it harder.” Now the first thing that crossed my mind was, ‘What the hell is getting harder?’ The last thing I wanted to hear while somebody had their arm buried up to their elbow in my backside and also while giving me a nightmare of a reach-around, was for him to mention something was getting harder. However, much to my relief, I soon realized what he meant to say was I was making it more difficult. Phew! Perhaps he should choose his wording more carefully. 

But my relief was short-lived. When the doctor withdrew his severely elongated middle finger and while he was squeezing my manliness like a farmer trying to milk a dry cow to get the last drop of  fluid out, the female medical assistant knocked once, threw open the door and entered the exam room, proclaiming that she had found the lost lab results she had earlier misplaced. I now know what the saying ‘getting caught with your pants down’ means. There I stood, pants around my knees, with the door wide open, while nurse googly-eyes fixed her gaze upon things that I would rather not have googly-eyes fixed upon, especially during a time such as this. I scrambled to raise my undergarments while she backed out of the room, eyes still glued and googly. The doctor then handed me a box of tissue. Told me to clean up, and then walked out while I was still attempting to cover up. 

To be honest, it was nothing like Peter Griffin’s prostate exam on Family Guy.

After all was said and done, the exam showed nothing was amiss, so I get to repeat the process in three months. While it was not a fun time, it was necessary. And I did leave with a story to tell my wife. In the United States, Prostate cancer has the second highest mortality rate of cancers in men behind lung cancer. Early detection is the key to survival. Get your PSA blood test yearly to keep a close eye on it, regardless of whether or not you think you need it. Some common risk factors are a close family history of the disease, age and race, and a high fat diet. So quit eating those burgers and pizza, fat ass (I can say that because I am guilty and I’m saying it more to myself). If you go into your first exam with a humorous mindset it will help make it all the easier. Make a comment to the doctor during or after like “Did the canary survive?” or “Did you find your keys?” or even, “Next time I at least want dinner and a movie,” or “I better not feel both hands on my shoulders.” Joke with your friends afterward to raise awareness, because if you have testosterone and a prostate you’re at risk. Personally, even though my grandfather died from this disease, until I got the blood test I never thought I was at risk. Hopefully it won’t progress because I’m only 46 and I still have a bunch books to write and to beg for you to buy. 

For more information about Prostate crap check these sites: 

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Interview With The Penguin

Hello. Um…You’re a penguin. I wasn’t expecting a penguin. 

Leepoh: Fortunately for me, my parents were. Could you imagine their shock if they had hatched a Toucan? 

I didn’t know penguins could speak. 

Leepoh: I thought this was an interview. Are you going to make statements about your ignorance all day or are you going to ask me some questions? 

Okay, okay. Why don’t you tell the audience a little about yourself? 

Leepoh: I don’t because you haven’t asked me too yet. 

(Interviewer grunts). Tell us a little about yourself, Leepoh. 

Leepoh: I’m about three flippers tall, my plumage is black and white, and I have orange-ish pink feet and an orange beak. 
Leepoh-penguinis annoyingus

Okay…that’s a start. Tell us something a little more personal. 

Leepoh: Us? Are there more than one you? I only see one of you. If you think there is more than one of you, then I best be on my way. I once talked to a Macaroni penguin who always referred to himself in the third penguin and in future tense. By the time I left, I was convinced he was a reflection of tomorrow. 

I’m reasonably certain that there is only one me here. When I refer to us, I’m referring to all of the people around the world who will be reading this interview. 

Leepoh: Oh! Hah! You guys then. Hi humans! I’m Leepoh. I’ve killed a bunch of you! 

I don’t think that’s going to win you any friends. 

Leepoh: Bah! I’m not here to win any friends, friend. I’m here as a liaison between our worlds. Apparently some human who calls himself Steven Hammond wrote a book documenting the War of the Species. I’m being forced to talk to you by his imagination. 

So you’re not here? 

Leepoh: Are you? 


Leepoh: Then I am too. 

Well with that cleared up; let’s get to the meat of the interview, shall we? 

Leepoh: I like meat! Well squid meat. Maybe not just the meat, but the whole squid. To be honest, there really isn’t too much difference between the meat and the not meat of a squid. I think a squid is just a slippery, multi-legged sack of meat. Mmm. Now that you mentioned squid, I’m getting hungry. 

I never mentioned squid. 

Leepoh: Yes you did. 

No. I said meat. 

Leepoh: I like meat! Well squid meat. Maybe not just the meat, but the whole squid. To be hon— 

Stop! You just said that. 

Leepoh: Said what? 

I like meat! 

Leepoh: Me too. Well squid meat. Maybe not just the meat—

That’s enough. Stop! Let’s move on. Okay, where were we? 

Leepoh: Right here. 

I know we’re here. I meant where were we in the interview? 

Leepoh: Was that one of the questions? Because the answer is still right here. 

No. Forget I asked. According to the book, RISE OF THE PENGUINS, you appear to have died. Can you explain this? 

Leepoh: Apparently appearances aren't what they appear to be.

Okay. I guess that makes sense. There is another historical writing which will soon be released titled—THE WARLORD, THE WARRIOR, THE WAR. It tells us about a particular battle during the War of the Species and will tie in with the first book and the third book, which will be released next spring. You’re not featured in the second book. How does that make you feel? 

Leepoh: Like I wasn’t there. How am I supposed to know? Let me make this clear, I’m only doing this interview because the guy who made me up is forcing me to. 

Okay. No need to get surly. Are you saying that you have been forced into a kind of slavery? 

Leepoh: Let’s just call it indentured servitude. 

You don’t get paid? 

Leepoh: Bah! I’m a fictional penguin. What am I going to with money? 

If you’re fictional; then how am I talking to you? 

Leepoh: Are you talking to me? 

Yes. Back to the subject of the next book. Who is the Warlord? 

Leepoh: Oh him. He’s the Warlord of Planarseae. His name is Talus. He was put in command of Forward Command One after General Diutes ran off and got himself in trouble with the Rockhoppers. He kinda scares me. Talus that is, not Diutes. He’s not insane like a lot of the Royal Emperor penguins. But he is strong and he loves to kill things like seals and humans and penguins and crabs and fish and squids and sea worms. I could have joined up with him, but I don’t think our personalities would’ve meshed. Who knows, maybe in the future we will. I’ll talk to the author about that. 

Very good. What about this Warrior? Who is he or she? 

Leepoh: He’s a human. He likes fighting too. I think him and the Warlord ended up in some sort of scrap. A whole fight to the finish type of thing. The human’s name is Trofim Grekov, or some unpronounceable name. I don’t know. The author seems to have a propensity to assign us difficult to say names. 

Like Leepoh? 

Leepoh: Hah! Anyways, this Trofim is a mercenary from some place called Rush uh. 

You mean Russia. 

Leepoh: Rush a what? 

No. Russia—the country. 

Leepoh: Why would I want to rush a country? Or better yet, how? How do I urge a country to hurry up? Is it that far behind? 

You’d be surprised. But never mind that. Let’s just conclude this interview, shall we? 

Leepoh: We shall. 

Is there anything you’d like to say to all of the millions of humans reading this? 

Leepoh: Yes. Yes I would. 

(Long pause) Go ahead. 

Leepoh: Go read RISE OF THE PENGUINS and THE WARLORD, THE WARRIOR, THE WAR. They are the true historical accounts of things you didn’t know about. If you don’t, the penguins will come and sack your town and take all of the squid for our consumption and your children will cry when they find out that all of their squid are gone. And the children’s tears will flood the world and the penguins will frolic in the tears, happily and with bellies full of squids. 

To be honest, human children don’t eat a whole of squid. And we call squid calamari. 

Leepoh: Calamari? That’s hard to say. You’re like the author. Hey! Are you him? 

Thank you for being here, Leepoh. Now back to where you came from. 

Leepoh: No! Have you ever been in an author’s mind? It’s bizarre and this one takes a lot of pictures of ducks.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


As a writer I am constantly bothered with the fact that I have to write a bio about myself for various public functions and events. You would think that a writer wouldn’t have a problem with writing anything, especially about himself. We writers are notoriously vain and spend most of our days incessantly blathering on about just how amazing we are to anybody or anything that may or may not have the capacity to hear. I once spent six hours talking to June Bug about what it took to write a 700 page novel based on creatures I have only seen in a zoo and about locations I have never been to.

But therein lays the problem. I’m pretty good at lying making crap things up. It was a skill I developed early in my life to avoid doing things like going to school around Christmas time so I could stay home while my parents were at work, unwrap the presents, play with the toys and carefully re-wrap them. But being good at playing make believe doesn’t translate well into telling the truth about oneself, or at least not at making it interesting anyway. 

So how do I solve this conundrum? (It seriously just took me five attempts to type out conundrum) I thought about lauding myself with words befitting an author of my caliber and who is held in such high esteem by his peers that at least three or four other authors purchased my first book RISE OF THE PENGUINS. But to me, singing my own praises in a public venue is akin to peeing in a Wal-mart parking lot. It’s all fine and great until somebody sees it and either points and laughs or calls the cops and a police K-9 that was rewarded with Snausages during training thinks it’s treat time. 

Since I don’t like to say I’m all great and stuff, my next option is to lie. I can say I have earned all sorts of literary awards that cannot be verified by any living person. e.g. The Charles Charlie Chuck Charleston III Award for the Most Superfluously Worded Fiction Novel Written by a Person Either Male or Female Who can Write Inessential Words With Either a Type-writer or Word Processor or Ink-Pen or Pencil or Crayon or Vine Charcoal or Finger-paint and Who Writes the Superfluous Words with such Dispensable Superfluity that Extra Words Become Extraneously Superfluous. But that won’t work either.

So in the end I’ll just have to be who I am. I’ll mix a bit of the truth, like how I wrote my first novel while on short breaks working long night shifts and how nearly dying from a heart attack at an early age motivated me to chase my dreams; and I’ll add some less than true stuff like how in high school I was voted least likely to mate with a member of his own species. Like my bio on Amazon says, “Life has taught him to never take himself too seriously because that just takes all of the fun out it.”

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Devil and Miss Cyrus

As I sat down today to put the final touches on my new book THE WARLORD, THE WARRIOR, THE WAR, I fully realized an unfortunate fact: summer is back! For some that may be an exciting time. Images of beaches, lemonade stands and palm trees come to mind. But for me, this is the time of year where I seek shelter. I become even more reclusive as I seek out cool, shadowy refuge from the ever present burning orb threatening to ring the moisture from my body through a process known as ‘Swamp-ass.’ As I have stated before, I live in a region of California called Devil’s Tookus and swamp ass is a common condition in this area. I don’t need to go into detail about what is involved with swamp ass, suffice to say you should envision a swamp and an ass and combine the two. Instead of flocking to the beach with the other gulls, I shelter myself away and through a miracle of nature I become more pasty white than I am during the winter. I’ll leave the sun-induced melanoma to others. If I can help it, I only go out at night. There, the cruel and hate-filled sun has retired and only his radiant heat is left behind to torture weary travelers such as I. But there is no true relief while residing in Devil’s Tookus. At 11 p.m. the temperature is still 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Swamp ass at midnight is not something you want to experience. No amount of Gold Bond powder will do you any good. And I checked the latest forecast and it shows a picture of Satan holding a lighter up to his derriere and farting flames on a sleepy town for the next five days.

Devil Farting Fire on Fresno. Crayon on Paper, 2013 *years of art training went into this.

 A thought occurred to me as to how to help the drought ridden areas of the world. But as the thought developed, I discovered that I have limits to what I can handle visualizing before the gag reflex kicks in. But I’m guessing that you the reader do not have such issues, so here it goes. And I’m relatively certain that this could work. As I said earlier, swamp ass is a very real problem. But it can be used for the greater good. We, as a nation, could set up swamp ass milking stations across the country and, eventually, the world. You simply step into a private booth, remove your preparation soaked undies (yeah I said undies. So what of it?) and put them in the chonies-press to ring out and remove the excess moisture. From there the perspiration is gathered in a cistern where it is desalinated and then sent to be flash pasteurized. The ‘moisture product’ could then be sold to major retailers, marketed under the name, END RESULT, or it can be shipped to Nebraska in drums simply marked ‘WATERS.’


*I call it moisture product because of Kraft Singles. If you look at the package, Kraft says the slices are Cheese Food or product. It’s either cheese or it’s not. I don’t call a sirloin steak a meat product nor does Nabisco call Oreos cookie things. Damn it, I made myself queasy again thinking about cheese singles/slices product food stuff. It’s not even really cheese colored. It’s more of a fleshy orange-ish pink. I could use it to color a picture of Miley Cyrus, who, like so many before her, seems to be collapsing under the weight of having a fully mature vagina. On that note, I would like to propose a bill making it illegal for any girl to gain celebrity until they reach the age of 29 and only after they have dealt with the harsh reality that without a doubt the world does not revolve around them. The bill would have to contain a Bieber provision which makes all boy bands and Bieber-like performers banned for the entirety of civilization. I’m certain that the bill would have to be amended to outlaw Kanye Kardashian and Honey Boo-Boo as well. And don’t even get me started on truth in advertising where it concerns the History Channel. I would dearly love to see most of their programming disappear into history. But discussing how shows about truck drivers relate to history is best left for another day, because I need to head to the chonies-press.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The penguins made me do it

While getting ready to release my next book, a novella titled THE WARLORD, THE WARRIOR, THE WAR, due out this Fall, I got the chance to speak with one of the people who read my first book in the series RISE OF THE PENGUINS today. From what I was told, the biggest hindrance to people actually reading the novel was its size. Now I know 700+ pages seem like a lot, but also I know most people out there read 150,000 words a day in people’s news feeds on Facebook or Twitter or Tumbler or… the list goes on. But the conversation didn’t stop there; she continued to tell me that she was intrigued by the unusual concept and gave it a shot. And wouldn’t you know it; she couldn’t stop reading the book. She told me she read it faster than some 300 page books that endlessly slog on and never get to the point. And then she said she even learned a few things from my book.

Mission accomplished! If a reader can be entertained and take some knowledge from something I created, then I have achieved what 10,000 books about the undead with BDS&M fetishes couldn’t and can’t do. Which is not to say that I am a book snob. Quite the contrary. My books are not for people who enjoy blathering on about the beautiful prose of the latest Pulitzer Prize winner. It’s my personal opinion that a lot of the lauded award winning fiction out there is completely self-absorbed. Yes, my books have an underlying message about the environment and corporate greed and even the military being used for corporate gain, but I assure you that you will rarely find yourself reaching for the thesaurus or dictionary to look up words that nobody will ever use in a sentence in real life.

Buy it here! 
  My books are fun. They are about penguins. They are meant to entertain and if you learn something while you’re reading them, then that’s great. If you don’t like learning while you read, there’s plenty of action and drama and laughs to keep you happy. And my books are engaging and quick reads. In fact, one the best compliments I received was in a review where the reader said he finished the book within 48 hours. I would say that if you finish reading a 700+ page novel in less than 48 hours that is an accomplishment. So if you haven’t had the chance yet, pick up the book from Amazon or on my website and you might pleasantly surprised. If you’re a book snob, then maybe the latest offering from Annie Proulx would be more to your liking. Which is not to say that her and other past winners are not talented, they are, but I write books for people that are not about sexual depravity or falling in love with the undead. If there’s something you do or don’t like about my work, send me a message on the Facebook fan page. Unlike some authors, I listen to my fans and I will answer you. 

Enough of this stuff. Join me next time when I talk about the difference between lumbering and lumbering. Yeah there is a difference

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Old Man and the Tacos

I was going to begin this with a rant about the geriatric members of our society. But I do have respect for them. My parents are old. Hell…some people consider me old. I hope to be old one day. Because when or if I make it to the ripe age of old, I get to revert to toddlerisms. Toddlers get to say whatever they want. The only difference between a toddler and say…my dad, is the toddler gets reprimanded for saying something he shouldn’t. A toddler is developing his internal monologue—that function which keeps our thoughts separated from our words. My dad lost that ability back in 1982. Was he old then? No, he was younger than I am now.

While it’s true that he didn’t have a blog like I have to say things he shouldn’t say, his internal monologue was already in an advanced state of decay for someone who was only forty-two. So imagine it now, thirty-one years later. And this is where my adventure began—three decades after the time when he would mortify me by flirting with every person who had a higher level of estrogen than him while standing in line at the grocery store. Seriously, it was every person that likely had lady parts. And I say likely because there were times when I wasn’t quite sure of which gender he was speaking to. With that said, is it any wonder my mom divorced him? (Maybe I’ll get to my mom’s age rage during a later blog).

So my dad and I went to lunch at a chain eatery called Baja something or another. He arrived before me and, of course, he had to make me the brunt of his jokes with the worker there. Knowing from experience that I was walking into one of his ill-conceived shticks, I saw the young woman behind the counter looking at me and I knew right away what had taken place. I swore under my breath and made the slow walk to the counter. “He’s not ugly,” the young woman said to him, at which I forced a smile and tried to suppress the oncoming migraine.

The ordering process is where my dad transforms into a cantankerous curmudgeon. My dad has hearing aids. Add to that, my dad turns down the hearing aids while in public places to reduce the background noise or he forgets to change the batteries every time we meet for lunch. So when the young woman asked my dad whether he would like black or pinto beans, he snapped back with, “What? I don’t want pinto beans.” The young woman looked to me with an expression that said, “What happened to the jocular merry old guy that was just insulting your looks?”

I pointed to my ears in a very nonchalant gesture so as to avoid setting the old man along a path of future rants, hoping she would understand. He continued to grumpily order his food then switched back to joking-man when he told the cashier that I’m on his bill. I have no objections to letting the old man pay; I’m a starving artist/author and a free meal means I get to keep some of huge meager royalties I’ve made off of my debut novel RISE OF THE PENGUINS. That said, the cashier told him the total. At this point I cringed. He prattled off about the exorbitant cost of fourteen U.S. dollars and the cashier smiled and got a sinister glint in her eye. I thought nothing of it—I’ve been getting that look in my eye when dealing with my dad since 1972.

We sat down and engaged in conversation about his travels, my art and writing, and him telling me to get a real job. I didn’t bother telling him that writing is a real job and the conversation switched to him asking about my visit to the cardiologist or urologist. (OMG! I don’t use things like OMG when I write, but crap! Shouldn’t my dad be the one talking about his doctor appointments? Maybe I’m the old one).

During the conversation he asked me about my last prostate exam. As I previously mentioned, his hearing aids are less than reliable, so on the third attempt to tell him I’m yelling in a crowded restaurant the details of bending over the exam table with my pants down as the doctor stuck his finger in places usually designated as EXIT ONLY. The angry glares from the mother of two youngsters sitting at the next table made me decide to get up and get a refill of refreshing Coke Zero. 

As I walked back from the drink fountain, it happened. I dismissed it as a rumble caused by the digestion of tacos americano. I looked around the room and saw the cooks chatting happily with the cashier, I saw my dad merrily eating his Wahoo taco or whatever the hell he had ordered that came with black beans and I even saw the angry mom. Nothing seemed amiss. I sat down and the conversation resumed. I showed him pictures of my art on my phone, which he took from me to get a closer look, smearing pico de gallo across the screen. All the while my stomach was becoming more and more angry. I say angry and not upset because it was beginning to feel like I was pregnant with a baby warthog that was kicking my abdomen with its angry little warthog hooves.

I wrapped up the conversation and meal and grabbed a mint on the way out hoping to pacify the pissed-off warthog. I waved to the cashier who was telling us about her gratitude for us eating at the Baja place and she gave my dad another of those smiles, a I know something that you don’t smile. I said my goodbyes and jumped into my Chrysler. (Chrysler? Really? Old person car). Seven miles to home and the pissed warthog in my gut was kicking with all fours. I briefly considered going back in the restaurant to use the restroom, but I remembered it was strategically located next to the soda fountain, probably to deter people from using it for the purposes I was considering. Seven miles to home that’s all…no problem, the freeway took up three of those miles.

As expected, the freeway traffic was easy at one in the afternoon, so driving at 75 miles per hour I made good time. I’d be home in no time. As I exited I had to stop for a red light. I made my turn and forty-three feet later I stopped for another red light. It was only a little irritating, but the warthog seemed to be napping so I mused about my dad, wondering how many servers or waiters/waitresses he had pissed off with his toddlerisms. This led me to the next thought—and this is more than a little gross, but it did cross my mind—I wondered how many ounces of spit he had ingested as acts of revenge by angry food servers over the years. The light turned green and I drove one hundred-twenty-three feet to the next red light. Sitting there, I recalled the knowing look the cashier gave my dad, then the flirtatious interaction between her and the cook. I was driving another eighty feet to the next red light when it occurred to me—what if the cook put something in the food of the spitty kind, intended for my dad but had put it in my tacos instead? This thought fully awakened the angry warthog and it began bucking with full force.

One red light after another, each strategically placed enough distance apart to where you can never actually reach the speed limit, hindered my progress and the warthog was vigorously twisting about in my stomach. Why the hell would a city put traffic signals every eighty feet? I considered stopping at a gas station, but I was driving through a part of town where if I used the public restroom, I was sure I would likely contract syphilitic cholera herpes from the toilet seat. I pressed on knowing that there was a stretch of road ahead with fewer lights and a higher speed limit.

After another red light, I reached the open stretch of road and put my foot down. It’s a little known fact that the act of speeding isn’t illegal if one has a case of the Bee-Gees (bubble-guts, sorry brothers Gibb).  Okay, maybe it’s not fact, but I was dearly hoping that was the case. As it turned out the idea of speeding was about to become a moot point. I got behind a mini-van which was straddling both lanes of the road. I tried to pass, but the driver swerved in my path. My anger roiled as did the warthog. I eventually found a break and passed the van via the bike-lane. I looked at the driver, intending to give him the salute, but all I saw behind the wheel was a poof of white hair resting atop of a wrinkly brow. I shook my head and sped forward only to have my path blocked again, this time by a sixty-foot long Continental. I didn’t even have to look to know it was another senior. I found a break when the car swerved into the bike-lane, nearly hitting the curb. But the break was short-lived. Ahead were two cars, a pristine Ford Ranger moving at negative eight miles per hour and a Cadillac Seville mimicking the mini-van's driving technique by swerving all over hell and back.

The warthog bucked hard and sweat began to drip down my face. Each and every car was driven by someone who was at least an octogenarian. I felt like I had entered a layer of hell where I was stuck in a perpetual Shriner’s parade. The only things missing were the ahooga horns and fezzes. Thoughts of digesting someone’s saliva filled my head as I raced through the parade. I finally broke free of the Shriner’s and made the dash for home. I took the turn into my neighborhood like it was turn four on the final lap at Daytona and screeched to a stop in the driveway. I duck walked through the house and to the bathroom where sweet white porcelain relief awaited me.

After giving birth to the warthog I left the bathroom and collapsed on the bed. I called my dad to check on him and he was fine with no issues whatsoever. Maybe the Baja cook didn’t give any extra toppings or maybe he did. If he did, well at least I took it for the old guy. I made a vow to order for my dad when I could and when he wasn’t looking. Not just to prevent future intestinal distress, but to save my dad the frustration of not being able to hear a conversation. It’s the least I can do for a free meal. I lied back, letting the anger of being stuck in the Shriner’s parade ooze from mind. And then I remembered…I used to be a Shriner too. OMG! I am old.