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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Man's disgusting best friend

Where would the world be without dogs?
They are man’s best friend, loyal companion and are great at cleaning up food dropped on the floor.
I never truly appreciated that last quality until I had my first kid.
Junior spent more time throwing food on the floor than he did throwing it in his mouth, much to the delight of our two mutts.
The dogs were a little put out when we first brought this squawky little human home, but once he was old enough to eat from a high chair, all was forgiven.
The hounds clued in real fast that the squawky little human was a good source of treats.
Problem was, once Junior got old enough to interact with the dogs, he discovered that if he dropped something they would pounce on it and soon it became a game.
He would be flinging grub around the kitchen like the lid had come off a blender and the dogs were lovin’ every minute of it.
Dogs are also good at barking their heads off when a hoard of bad guys are at the gate and about to invade your home, or if someone walks by, or they hear something, or they think they hear something.
They're a food-disposal system and alarm system all rolled into one. Who could ask for anything more?
Actually I could ask for a few less things, such as a dog’s ability and willingness to eat really disgusting things.
A friend was thoroughly repulsed when he noticed his then three-month-old hound chowing down on a nice, big pile of deer droppings.
He literally had to pull the beast away from the stack of mouth-watering morsels and the closer he got to the hungry hound, the faster the pooch would eat.
I readily admit, I have never sampled deer droppings, or any kind of droppings for that matter, so I cannot definitively say they taste terrible, but I have also never smashed my kneecap with a hammer and I am pretty sure that would hurt.
For some reason, their dog finds stuff like that very appealing. He is now much older and still scrums down on doo-doo every chance he gets.
I present you with reason No. 2 why I never let a dog lick me — ever.
Why is that reason No. 2, because reason No. 1 is equally as bad, but more common among our furry, four-legged friends.
Reason No. 1 is universal among canines. While not all dogs eat poop, every dog I have ever had has eaten their own vomit.
Why? I don’t know. If a cat hacks something up, they look around like someone better clean that up."
If a dog yacks something up, they look around like, “Hey, hey, where did that tasty morsel come from? Don’t mind if I do.”
And then they do.
Don’t blame me if you find the subject gross. I don’t make them dine-on-dog upchuck, I am just saying they do it.
Dead things are also a popular entrĂ©e for hounds — the deader the better.
My dog brought in half a dead mouse that the cat killed and left outside in the middle of January. Murphy the Wonder Dog thought the mouse-sicle was the greatest find ever.
He came bounding into the house with his prize clamped firmly in his jaw and I had to chase him down to see what it was. I finally got hold of him and he clamped down even harder.
It took a minute to figure out what it was, but as I looked closer I noticed his treasure was staring at me with a buggy mouse eye.
I added that to the ever-growing list of why I don’t let dogs lick me — as if poop and puke were not reason enough.
Man’s best friend — absolutely — a very disgusting best friend, but a best friend nonetheless.

Copyright 2017 Darren Handschuh

Friday, June 9, 2017

Yes, I am a spider wimp

I'm man enough to admit it.
I'm not ashamed to admit I made a noise typically reserved for a small, frightened child before fleeing like I was on fire when it happened.
And I had every good reason to be scared, because it was scary.
It happens every spring and gets worse as the days get warmer and stretch into the summer months.
But with all the rain this year and the cooler weather, it really hasn't been that bad.
"It" is interactions of the spider kind.
I hate spiders. Not many things in this world scare me as much as an arachnid. Big, small, fat, skinny, you name it, if it's a spider I do not like it.
My most recent encounter with one of the eight-legged terrors was when I was working in my garage.
I grabbed a pair of coveralls I have hanging from a nail to do an oil change on my car.
For some reason, I shook the garment before putting it on, something I never do.
Call it the voice of God, dumb luck or some other glorious interaction of the divine kind, but when I shook it, a large spider fell out of a sleeve.
Eeeeek! does not even begin to describe how I felt. And this was no ordinary spider. This guy must have been on steroids because I have never seen one this big, this early in the year.
Sure, there are billions of little spiders roaming the area, and being the big, tough guy that I am, they hardly bother me, but this one was the size of a bagel.
It was so big, I could feel the ground vibrate as it fell from my coveralls and landed on the concrete.
OK, maybe the ground didn't vibrate, but I did pee a little and jumped 10 feet straight back as the black mass of doom raced for cover under a nearby cupboard.
It was at that moment, I knew I must take action, for if the monstrosity managed to find cover, I would likely never be able to enter my garage again knowing it was in there, watching, waiting for the right moment to pounce.
So, I summoned up all of my courage and sprang into action: I leapt across the room and smashed my foot down on the offending critter with such force my toes were numb for an hour; the impact of rubber sole hitting the smooth concrete was so loud it sounded like I had shot the spider instead of crushing it to death.
At least, I hoped I crushed it to death. I stood for second frantically looking around to see if the beast,which must have been some sort of Jurassic spider because of its sheer size, was embedded in the bottom of my shoe.
Slowly, I lifted my foot and to my relief I found an assembly of spider guts and legs smooshed into a gooey mass.
Yay, me.
I had survived a potentially lethal encounter with an arachnid.
Then one of the scariest thoughts I have ever had formed in my mind: if this spider was that big this early in the year, what will be waiting for me over the next few weeks.
Even as I write this, I shudder at the thought.
Perhaps going outside is over-rated.
Perhaps there are benefits to living in a sealed room with filters and screens and anti-spider lasers surrounding the house.
Am I over reacting?
No! No, I am not.


Copyright 2017, Darren Handschuh

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Look out, here comes Grandma Dinomite

It was one of those things that was so odd, it was funny.

I was driving down the street when a little, old lady in a silver car pulled in front of me and I had to slam on the brakes to avoid some up-close-and-personal interaction with granny.

I managed to slow down and swerve to the point where the collision was avoided. You could say I was a little annoyed at the almost accident, until I noticed it was a kindly, little, old lady behind the wheel.

That changed my attitude rather quickly because who could possibly be mad at granny?
And besides, stuff happens, no one is perfect and I was sure she simply did not see me. No biggie.

I gave granny a little toot on the horn just to let her know I was there and we almost got to exchange phone numbers and insurance information.

This sweet, kindly, granny-looking, little, old lady, peered into her rearview mirror and proceeded to flip me the bird. 
I must admit, that was probably the last thing I expected a little, old lady to do. Shouldn't she be at home baking cookies for the grandchildren, or knitting something instead of making an obscene gesture?
Especially when you consider it was Grandma Dynamite who was at fault in the first place. And this was not a quick flip of the driving finger.
This was a prolonged, hey-butthead-behind-me-I-got-your-granny-greeting-right-here kind of gesture.

It took a couple of seconds before I fully realized what was going on. At first, I thought she was waving to say sorry for almost causing our insurance rates to go up, but most people use all five fingers to do that.

I stared for the duration of the salute and sure enough granny was giving me the what for with a certain finger reserved for non-verbal communication of the unpleasant kind.

So I did what any other driver would do, I got in close, hit her car from behind and spun her into the on-coming lane where she was creamed by a dump truck.

I'm kidding, of course. It was a cement truck.

In reality, all I could do was look on in a mild state of shock. I pulled up beside the car to make sure it really was a granny and not a teen wearing an old-people costume, but sure enough, this was a full-fledged, grandma-type driver.

I tell you, seniors are getting harder and harder to raise these days.

Once the initial surprise wore off, I had to chuckle at granny for not taking any crap from one of those young whippersnappers.

Now, I have never snapped a whipper in my life, but according to Hostile Hilda in the Honda, I was just some punk kid with an attitude. A punk kid who, at the time, was in his mid-30s.

What is the protocol in that situation? I couldn't give her the finger in return. Flipping granny the bird would be too strange and just seemed plain wrong.

Two wrongs do not make a right, no matter how good that second wrong feels.

Eventually, granny went her way and I went mine, both with stories to tell:
  • Hers was of some jerk in a little, red car who was harassing her with his horn.
  • Mine was of a member of the blue-hair crowd who gave me hope that when I become a senior, I won't have to take any guff from some punk on the street.

Copyright 2017 Darren Handschuh

Sunday, May 28, 2017

I nod, you nod, we all nod

I call it The Nod.
The Nod is when you are walking down the hallway at work, or down the street and you see someone you know, but not very well.
Usually, it is an upward nod for an acquaintance.
And how much you do the up nod depends largely on how well you know the person.
If it is someone you have seen once in a while, there is just a slight upward nod to say yes, I recognize you, but don't really know you. But because we both sort of know each other, social convention dictates we acknowledge each other, so I am sending you the up nod to say I know you, just not very well.
The better you know the person, the bigger the up nod.
A full head tilt means I know you to the point there have been a few conversations, but you are not exactly on my Christmas card list. However, there is a personal connection and I am acknowledging that.
Then, there is the up nod with a smile or perhaps with even a “Hey” thrown in.
This is for people of an even higher social status, but are still not at the point of being considered a friend.
However, their presence is important enough to warrant a full up nod and a vocalization that I see you there, I have some sort of connection to you and in general I would consider it a favourable connection.
There is also the down nod.
The down nod is almost exclusively for those people you don't know at all.
Perhaps you are walking down the street and happen to make eye contact with someone who is also walking down the street.
Rather than stare at each other awkwardly, social convention has developed the down nod.
The down nod says several things:
  • I see you and acknowledge that you are in fact, alive.
  • That you exist on the same planet as I do and because we made eye contact – intentional or otherwise – it is polite to acknowledge that we are both alive and living in the same community even if we don't know each other and will likely never see each other again.
  • It is sort of an “Attaboy for being alive” kind of greeting.
There are numerous variations of the up nod/down nod. And they can be altered to best suit whatever situation you may find yourself in.
You could run into someone you have known for a long time, but don't like. That is when the down nod is acceptable.
But nodding is mostly used for face-to-face encounters.
While operating motorized vehicles, there are other forms of non-verbal communication that can be employed.
We all know what the No. 1 signal is for drivers, but only slightly behind is when you use all five fingers to wave.
Cut someone off in traffic? No problem, a little wave of the hand means I see I cut you off and I acknowledge the fact I did so, but I gave the little wave so that's means it's OK because I just apologized.
Whether the other driver accepts the apology is determined by how many fingers are used to wave back.
If it involves two or more, all is good. The driver is not offended and realizes stuff happens. If they wave with only one finger, then they are not in a forgiving mood.
Cut someone off in a parking lot?
Give them a little wave and all is good.
Nearly hit them backing up in said parking lot?
Wave.
Pull out a little more than than you should have, causing them to touch the brakes and have a hostile look on their face?
Wave.
Run over their garbage can, flower box and garden gnome?
Wave and you are good to go.
Well, that last one may require a little more than a wave.
Perhaps a wave and a nod.

Copyright 2017 Darren Handschuh

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Some free advice for the ladies

Ladies, if I may, I would like to offer some free relationship advice.
I would like to talk about communication between men and women — neither of whom actually speak the same language.
Men can communicate, but not in the same way you ladies can. When guys get together, there is tremendous communication about important things like hockey, cars, the job and other important matters.
What men rarely talk about is emotions.
"Y'know Bob, when you said my mustache looked cheesy, it made me feel all bad inside. It made me feel less attractive."
"I'm sorry, Frank, I meant it as a joke. C'mere, gimme a hug. I love you, man."
I have never, and I mean ever, been a part of such a conversation and I have been a guy for as long as I can remember.
Because men rarely talk to each other about emotions and feelings and all that gooey stuff, we are not very good at talking to our spouses about those same topics.
Women talk freely about their feelings and emotions and how their emotions make them feel. 
Practice makes perfect, and when it comes to talking about inner-most feelings, men are sadly out of practice, while women could make it an Olympic event.
My wife could easily make the national team on sharing feelings, while I would be relegated to the water boy. 
So here is where I will impart my meagre wisdom upon the world, even if it doesn't want it.
When it comes to talking about feelings and emotions, ladies, I implore you to talk slowly, use simple terms and most importantly of all never assume we know how you feel, because we don't — ever.
It is not that men are dumb (I know, there's lots of room for argument there), or we don't care (still more room), it's just we can't pick up subtle hints the lady in our life thinks is a blaring clue as to what is wrong.
If there is a problem, subtle hints work about as well as trying to knock out an elephant with a feather.
But if you say it in simple, straight-forward terms, the chances are much better our man brains will be able to connect with that little, tiny, miniscule part of our grey matter that controls emotions.
Yes, men (most men anyway) do have an area where they can look at and examine their emotions.
It is typically buried under a pile of brain clutter consisting of information about motorcycles, hockey, movies and why beer and nachos are possibly the greatest food combination ever devised.
But once you get through all that stuff, the emotional brain does exist. But subtle hints have little chance of getting past all the other things we find interesting and important.
Not that our significant other's feelings are not important, they are, honest, really, I mean that, but over the centuries men have had to concern themselves with matters other than our emotions such as hunting for food, defending their land from attacking hoards and watching the play offs.
I doubt there is a man alive, now or throughout history, who has not had the line, “Well, you should know how I feel” dropped on them.
We don't know. It's that simple.
After many years of marriage, I can tell when something is bothering my wife and she has learned subtle hints don't work and the direct approach is most often used.
See how it works?
My wife tells me how she is feeling and I recognize how she is feeling and then we have a big, happy talk about how she is feeling. I apologize for whatever it was that made her feel that way and life can get on as normal.


Copyright 2017, Darren Handschuh

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Do you see what I see....probably not

It would seem God gave men and women different eyes.
The mechanics are the same, with retinas and all those other eyeball thingies, but they just don't see the same things.
For example, there can be a few items on the counter and, to a man's eyes, they are just fine where they are, but to a woman they are clutterish (if that is even a real word) and they must be put away — immediately.
A guy can look at the items many times and not see a need to do something with them. That is not to say men are slobs.
OK, some men are slobs, or neatness challenged as the politically correct world calls them, but I am talking about a couple of minor items here.
A woman, or more accurately my wife, can look at a room and see a dozen things that need to be done, changed, moved, cleaned, burned, have an exorcism performed on them or simply left alone.
I can look at the same room and think, Looks good to me.
So how come her eyes can see such a different world than mine do?
Beats me.
However, I have noticed that once we step outside, a role reversal takes place and I start to see things she does not.
Our lawn can be three metres tall with a family of rednecks living in it and she would not see a need to mow the grass. There could be more weed per square foot than Woodstock and she would simply walk by them every single day.
My man eyes, however, see the need to get the motorized lawn chopper out and make the yard somewhat presentable. The weeds, of course, must go, the hedge has to be trimmed, the trees pruned and something must be done with that darned spreading juniper that is attempting to take over the entire front yard rock garden.
“We have a spreading juniper? What's a spreading juniper?”was pretty much my wife's response when I told of the cedar situation that is threatening to create havoc in the entire western hemisphere.
I will show her the bush that is just slightly smaller than an aircraft carrier and she will invariably respond, “Oh, I never noticed it before.”
Funny how that excuse does not work when it comes to a pile of laundry.
“What do you mean you did not notice it? How could you not notice a pile of laundry next to the wash machine behind a closed laundry room door? It's so obvious. Juniper? What juniper?”
Let's just say the yard work has been left mostly to yours truly. Fortunately, I have two big strong sons who willingly jump in and help me with the back 40.
OK, willingly might be a bit of a stretch. I think forcibly is a more accurate description of their helping out with the greenery.
My wife's eyes do notice the gas guage now, which is a good thing. For a while she had a blind spot for that particular vehicular function and I would often jump in the car to go somewhere to find it had less gas than a squirrel fart.
But that's OK, I never quite did get the hang of noticing when we were out of conditioner (Hey, I'm a bald man, conditioner is not a real big concern for me.)
But eyes can be trained. My eyes have learned to notice when the floor needs to be vacuumed, but for some reason I am still somewhat blind to a pile of dirty dishes.
My wife has figured out the gas thing, but for some reason remains oblivious to the plight of the lawn.
Perhaps glasses might help us both.


Copyright 2017, Darren Handschuh

Sunday, May 7, 2017

I'm not Gutzilla...not yet anyway

It was a sad day indeed.
I remember it vividly: the angst, the sorrow, the disappointment.
It was a day where I sat back and took stock of my life: the decisions I made to get me to this point; the paths I should have taken; the paths I did take. 
Yup, it was the day I could no longer suck in my gut to make it look like I didn't really have a gut.
Like I said, it was a dark day indeed.
I knew my gut was getting bigger. 
Hell, it was right there in front of me, so how could I miss it?
It seemed like every day my middle section became more prominent.
For a while, I could clench my abdominal muscles and make it look like I had a flat belly.
However, this could only be done for a short period of time before my face turned red and I passed out from lack of oxygen.
A small price to pay for beauty, though.
However, as Father Time continued to slap me around, sucking in the flab became harder to do until one day I woke up, looked in the mirror and realized no matter how hard I tried, my gut would remain out there for the world to see.
So I did the only logical thing: I bought larger shirts that would seem baggy on me and make me look thinner.
And it worked great – in my mind anyway, but at the end of the day, my abdominal shame was on display for all to see.
I had a shirt full of belly and I knew it.
And the stupid mirror knew it too.
Every time I would walk past the blasted device, my shame was there for me to see — protruding like some sort of carnival side show freak. 
Well, maybe not quite that bad, but it was noticeable.
I was hardly Gutzilla; that would be my neighbour who looks like he is 18 months pregnant with triplets, but I was hardly the svelte lad of yesteryear.
But then again, neither are my friends.
When I go a period of time without seeing them, the first thing I do is compare abdominal regions to see if they have outpaced me in the getting flabby competition.
Some of my friends have, some haven't.
Now, I just spend more time with the ones who are more abdominally enhanced than I am. Not necessarily because they are better friends, but because it makes me feel better about myself.
This works at the beach as well. The key is not to find the best spot with the best view, but to find the fattest person or people.
By dropping your towel next to a weight-enhanced individual, you automatically take a couple steps down the flab-o-metre. 
The problem is when someone does the same thing to you to make themselves look good. Eventually, there is a line of people from XXL to XL to L to M. all in a row along the beach.
But packing on the protruding pounds is part of getting older I suppose.
There are a few exceptions to the rule. I worked with one gentleman who was several years older than I was who was in fantastic shape. Flat belly, outstanding cardio – the guy was as fit as someone half, or even a third his age.
Yup, I really hated that guy.
There was a day when I could eat whatever I wanted and not have to worry about gaining so much as a pound.
Scrumming down a bacon cheeseburger with fries, gravy and Coke at 3 a.m.after a hard night of clubbing was not unheard of. 
And I would not gain an ounce of flab.
Now, just writing about the mouth-watering, late-night treat I put on three pounds.
So, if you will excuse me, I have some really baggy shirts to buy.

Copyright 2017, Darren Handschuh