Archive for May, 2011

TO: Karen S. Mattison

FROM: Department of Husbands (DOH)

Investigative Bureau, Complaint Division

CASE NO.: 911991

INCIDENT DATE: Wednesday, May 25, 2011

INCIDENT TIME: 2:30 a.m., approx.

Mrs. Mattison:

It has come to our attention, through a complaint filed with this office, that on the overnight of Tuesday, May 24, and Wednesday, May 25, 2011, you had occasion to awaken, from a sound sleep, our client, whom we also understand fills the void — strike that — fills the role of husband in your matrimonial thrill ride — strike that — relationship.

According to the claim, the complainant was “dead to the world” when you jostled him at 2:30 a.m. with a report that you and a feline companion had “heard something that sounded like a tree fell on the house.”

The fact that, after dragging the complainant by the arm through every room in the house, down the stairs, out the front door, around the yard to the back of the house and then back inside to investigate the remainder of the first level before dragging him by this same now-dislocated and much longer arm back upstairs to determine the noise was caused by the collapse of a shelf in a closet less than two feet from your head as it rests with thundering abandon on your pillow is not in question. Although it may come up during appeal.

Exhibit A: Two holes on the right; one at the rear; closet shelf compromised.

Please afford us the opportunity to review the circumstances that led to the filing of this claim, which we believe to be factual in that they come directly and without corroboration from the aggrieved party.

After reviewing the documentation, we are not convinced that waking your husband to share your concern about this “noise” was in the best interests of the complainant. It is the “waking” more than the source of the “noise” that causes us concern.

Be advised the complainant tends to be a bit of a tenderfoot in many circumstances. These include, but are not limited to, investigating loud noises in the middle of the night. It was not his preference, nor a decision of his choosing, to nervously follow you outside around the yard on the wet grass, in his fashionable sleepwear and his eyes still full of sleep goopies, at 2:30 a.m. However, the alternative — remaining upstairs, alone, shivering under the covers, in a bedroom bathed in every light available — was eliminated as a possibility as soon as he realized the “alone” part.

Also, in the matter of our client’s vulnerability when it comes to having the life scared out of him, it has come to our attention that being awakened in the middle of the night for another one of your “turd hunts,” according to the complainant, is a disorienting and traumatic experience for our client. We understand this is perhaps not the most manly thing to admit, but our client can be — surprisingly, and more often than he is willing to admit — less than manly.

It is our understanding that you are well versed in our client’s track record when it comes to being awakened. We have on file numerous exhibits — in the form of surveillance photos and taped recordings — of him gasping for breath, shrieking in an almost inaudible high-pitched tone, eyes slammed wide open, and, while trying to catch his breath, making what sounds like “whuh whuh whuh whuh” noises simply because you touched his arm and leaned in for a good night smooch.

We also understand this threatening activity on your part has led to the television remote controls, on more than one occasion, coming to rest in a variety of locations on the living room, and bedroom, floors.

Further, we understand this is not the first claim our client has submitted in regard to the closet issue. We have on file a remarkably similar incident from October 2005, available for your perusal at: https://mattisonsavenue.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/when-too-much-is-way-too-much/

As the motto of the Department of Husbands clearly states: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me … you can’t get fooled again.” Not only is this authentic frontier gibberish, but it expresses a courage that is little seen in this day and age.

It is our understanding that on the 25th of this month the closet shelf — featuring a bar from which clothes are to hang, and above which is storage space — collapsed under the weight of everything ever made in the history of mankind for the sole purpose of stuffing into a closet and ignoring for eternity.

We have dispatched a member of our Quality Control team to establish if the 2005 rehanging of the shelf — which, as you most assuredly must recall, collapsed in a thundering, cat-scaring, middle-of-the-night, what-just-hit-the-house, come-with-me-I’m-dragging-you-outside-to-see-what-it-was experience — can be called into question.

Our complainant alleges the shelf was replaced with double the number of wall anchors, which, we can see from the photographs he has provided this agency, have now left double the number of holes in the closet wall.

It is the finding of this agency that it was not the quality of repair work, but rather the expectations — and the 2,000 pounds of crap — placed upon the shelf in question that caused its compromise. We do not believe the law of gravity was considered before being involuntarily enforced.

It is the recommendation of this body that you undergo closet shelf capacity training. It is our learned opinion that as a repeat offender our greatest concern is that this is going to happen again. Evidence points in no other direction.

Additionally, because you thought a tree had hit your house and this triggered a reaction that sent you outside, dragging your husband behind you, to find a noise that emanated from a closet directly next to your head, a representative from our Common Sense Department will be dispatched for follow-up consultations. Someone from the department will contact you to determine the number of visits that will be necessary.

Going outside to find something in the middle of the night is a more understandable decision for those among us with the eyesight of, as an example, a raccoon. The human being’s inability to see in the pitch dark renders such decisions ridiculous.

Strike that. Severely questionable and misguided.

Strike that. Ridiculous.

It should also be mentioned that emptying the closet by piling its contents on the bed in the hope that the ensuing upheaval brought to your normal, obsessive, compulsive, neat, tidy existence will bring about a more rapid return to normalcy and a repaired closet, will instead result in a lumpy and perhaps treacherous night’s sleep, for you, atop piles of crap this agency believes would find better use if instead it was carted out to your driveway and unceremoniously tossed into a rented dumpster.

And finally, this agency recommends you rent a dumpster.


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Circa 1970, mom's flowers against our fence with the Richters' house on the right.

The house next door to us has been empty for a couple of years now. And I can’t figure out why. I admit Karen and I do, on occasion, torment the neighbors, but only the ones we like. And we didn’t like these people. So I don’t get it.

The cretins who lived directly next to us played the music in their house so loudly that it rattled the stuff off the shelves in our living room. (This was the same couple who got so rambunctious with a video game that apparently involved yelling, kicking, punching and jumping that while playing it one day the lady in the relationship went crashing through her sliding screen door and landed out in her yard, laughing like a fool. Actually, this maneuver almost made them seem normal. But they also never, ever, talked to us. I said hi when they first moved in and that was the extent of our interaction for the two years they lived there. Never even learned the lady-person’s name. In fact, this might have been the only time she ever came out of the house. Then, one day, they were gone and the house was empty. OK. What ev. Buh-bye.)

We didn’t get a chance to torment these people. Not like we have other neighbors. Like back in the ’90s when our best friend neighbors were baby-sitting in the very same next door house that now stands vacant and late at night Karen and I snuck into the yard and started running around the outside, banging on the siding, unintentionally making them fear for their safety and that of the child in their care. But we didn’t consider that part when we dreamed up this excellent idea. Ahh, what fun.

Or the time we sent the trick-or-treating Halloween kids down to the house of these once-terrified baby-sitters, telling them the guy with the camping trailer in his driveway was handing out movies on video cassette. Little buggers went running down the street to get their movies, only to find the guy answering the door had no idea what they were talking about. He eventually figured out the source, though. Oh, the laughs.

I am proud to say I gained a lot of my tormenting skills by paying close attention to the interactions between my parents and the neighbors of my childhood.

One of my mom’s greatest hits came at the expense of Uncas Richter. Uncas and Claire lived directly next door to my childhood home. Uncas was a great ol’ guy (I say ol’ instead of old because he was only a few years older than my parents — which still made him light years older than I — but also because ol’, to me, is a reference to someone I regard as a pal.) They were good neighbors.

Despite having moved next to the Mattisons.

Uncas had this thing about keeping track of the stuff going on at the Mattisons’ and making every effort to keep his yard as tidy and presentable as my mom and dad did ours. Mom’s flower gardens, in their prime, were amazing and stretched for great lengths along our property.

Kinda hard to see. The only photo of Uncas I could find.

Uncas called it “Mattisonizing.” As in: “I see Florence’s daffodils are up and blooming already. I better go buy some and Mattisonize my garden, too.” The grownups in this relationship all laughed and joked about it. Uncas had a booming voice and I can still hear pronouncements like this booming from his side of our tidy split-rail fence.

Not to be outdone by mom’s green thumb, one year Uncas planted daffodil bulbs in one of his flower beds. And for the better part of what seemed like forever, that was all he talked about.

“We’ll see how pretty your daffodils look after mine come up,” I remember him chiding mom. “I Mattisonized my garden.”

So, spring came and stuff started popping up in all the neighborhood gardens … except one.

And every morning, Uncas would stand on the deck in back of his house and stare at his dirt. (The deck, I feel compelled to mention, was built for him by my dad, who had built one on the back of our house and obliged Uncas when he asked, “Hey, Keithy-burger” — Uncas called dad Keithy-burger and me Kevvie-burger because he was Uncas and he bellowed — “Hey Keithy-burger, how about Mattisonizing the back of my house?” So dad did.)

And while standing there every morning, coffee in hand, Uncas would stare at the naked piece of dirt where he planted those daffodil bulbs, and not for the life of him could he understand why they weren’t popping through the soil.

At some point in the morning he would come over to ask mom what she thought he did wrong. Did he plant them upside down? Was it a watering thing or a sunlight thing? She really had no answers. And she eventually tired of reiterating that fact day after day.

One day, she decided it was time to end the discussion. She grabbed a handful of plastic daffodils from a vase that I am sure occupied a prominent position in the house because it was the early 1970s and if there was one thing that our house had an ample supply of, it was clear glass things supporting plastic flowers (stuck in green styrofoam).

She waited until after dark, snuck over to Uncas’s failed daffodil experiment, and jammed the plastic flowers into the ground, in her best “maybe that will shut him up” manner. (A manner, I believe, I have inherited, based on the feeling I derive from retaliation. Thank you, mother.)

The next morning, Uncas grabbed his coffee, walked out on the deck, and bellowed, for the entire neighborhood to share: “Hey Flo-burger! They came up! The daffodils came up! Flo-burger! Come see this!”

Ol’ Unkie-burger was ecstatic as he ran across his back yard, leather slippers slipping on the morning dew, bathrobe flopping, coffee spilling on the lawn. “Ahh-ha-haaa. Hee-hee. They grew! They finally grew!”

Never once during any of this — which we witnessed from our back deck because we knew it was going to happen and wouldn’t have missed it for the world — did it cross his mind that in the time between the sun going down the night before and the sun returning for another day, these flowers, which were not even poking out of the ground eight hours previous, had in that time sprouted, grown to full height, and blossomed in full yellow splendor. And that they had all reached identical heights and sizes.

All he could think about was the fact that he planted these things and now they looked better than mom’s. That is, until he reached his little garden, bent over to caress one of his golden gems … and it tipped over with a stiff plastic thud. “Flo-burger!”

Which, while I still enjoy laughing like heck at the look on ol’ Unkie-burger’s face when he realized he got punked by dear ol’ mom, doesn’t explain to me why today the house next door remains vacant.

We don’t start terrorizing our neighbors until after we’ve become good friends. Family tradition.

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A people rant

Behind every silver lining, there’s a dark cloud. Got my feathers ruffled the other day by that very notion. So I thought I’d return the favor.

Because of people, I occasionally find myself yelling at my car radio as I tool along the highway, paying less attention to the lines and lanes on the road and probably more than I should to the goings on on the cursed radio news.

More often than not, Fox News makes the yelling easy and quite therapeutic. But the other day, it wasn’t Fox’s fault. (I should mention that I listen to Fox because it comes on before the WGY local news and I’ve been listening to WGY since the days of Breakfast with Bill. In fact, I don’t buy a car unless WGY is programmed on the radio buttons.)

I digress.

The older I get, it seems, the more easily frustrated I get with people who don’t see things the logical way. Meaning, they don’t see things my way.

Frustrates the living tar out of me.

It’s probably a bad idea for me to be on Facebook every day, because there is a lot of frustration brewed fresh daily there. I love my Facebook friends, but I can’t understand how so many of them have strayed so far from the path of clarity in the 30-plus years I have spent, for the most part, ignoring them.

Plus, everybody’s older, so … there’s that, too. Old people can be real fuddy-duddies.

It also doesn’t help that I tend to sup at the table of the naive. I don’t need to hold in my hands the head of Osama bin Laden, all full of bullet holes, to believe it when the president (no matter which one happens to be in office) tells me that this disgusting, stanked-up, goat of a wasted life has finally been ended.

President goes on TV, says it’s over, I say yay and switch the TV back to the basketball playoffs.

I figure I’ll read about it on the front page of almost every newspaper in the world the next day.

Which is what happened this week.

And while I was doing that, moving on and feeling groovy, there began a groundswell of comments — quiet at first and then growing louder — from all corners, dripping with disbelief that, ding dong, the witch was indeed dead.

It seemed awfully mysterious, the legend grew, that he was killed, swept away, and buried at sea without first being paraded down Main Street on a giant float. Because our president did not produce for the doubting Thomases the witch’s broomstick, there was no reason to think he at last was dead.

Many still don’t believe a word of it. Which leads me to think the doubters — again, without seeing any proof — think the leader of the free world, because it would somehow be very easy, has concocted an elaborate plan.

“I know. Let’s tell everybody Osama’s dead.”

“OK, Mr. President. Then what?”

“Then we can go back to watching the basketball.”

“OK, Mr. President. That sounds easy. Good plan.”

If this was such a great idea so easily pulled off, why didn’t George Bush think of it? You know, while he was decider-ing?

He could have stood on a huge battleship, hung a banner saying “Mission Accomplished”— or something similar — and told us Osama bin Laden had been killed and dumped at sea.

Bet you two bits to one cookie more of today’s doubters would have believed that story. Wonder why it’s so hard to believe now.

I also bet Bush has been kicking himself all week, wishing he had thought of this one first.

Wouldn’t it also follow, by employing the same set of beliefs, that because I can’t see global warming, it can’t be true? I didn’t watch the entire White Sox-Twins game the other night, so I don’t believe Francisco Liriano threw a no-hitter. I was only 9 years old and not allowed to travel far without my parents, so I wasn’t there to verify that people ever walked on the moon.

Actually, that last one is a real belief. The whole moon landing and walking and rock bringing farce was concocted in a studio somewhere. Walking on the moon. Get real. They’ve even made movies about it. (The movie, “Capricorn One,” was pretty good. I will admit that. Before O.J. did or did not kill his wife. Depending on whether you were there or not.)

Are the only things true in this world the things we see with our own eyes?

Besides, of course, the stuff Fox News tells us. (Like: Osama rhymes with Obama and this is very important because they’re both foreigners. Donald Trump said so.) But that’s it.

None of which is why I was yelling at the radio the other day. But you got me sidetracked. Again, your fault. How can you stand yourselves.

I had all this going on in my head when the radio guy from WGY, in a news report, told me I can add the Onondaga Nation to the list of Native Americans outraged, incensed, mortified, appalled, disapproving, angry, hurt, insulted and completely rational over the name of the operation carried out by the U.S. military to capture (or not) bin Laden: Operation Geronimo.

I know. What were they thinking.

This is when I screamed: “WHAT?”

Geronimo, apparently, was used as the code name for Osama bin Laden. The latter being a terrorist and the former being a hero. Use of the name perpetuated a stereotype, the newsman continued. OK, yes, well perhaps.

But how many of us, I continued to scream, would have given it a second thought if attention hadn’t been drawn to it by the very people least interested in having it pointed out? Ugh.

People. Sometimes I think it would be easier without them.

Well, I’ll you what. The next time the United States military locates the world’s most wanted terrorist and develops a plan for his capture or simply-not-believable killing, I hereby give my permission to whomever makes such decisions to call this long-awaited mission Operation Fat Guy. I promise not to be the least bit angered or hurt.

Not only because it doesn’t matter. But, well, yeah, it really doesn’t matter. Most of the names of these operations make no sense to the multitudes, me included, who simply rely on their success. If the objective is to capture or kill Osama bin Laden when he swims back to Pakistan, then let’s just do that and keep our heads out of our you-know-whats.

I appreciate you (especially those responsible for this whole thing) letting me get this off my chest. Walking around with it all bottled up inside is not healthy for a person. And I hope the message here is not lost in any hard feelings. I expect many of you disagree.

As long as the point I am making is not lost. And that is, I really miss Breakfast with Bill.

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