Tag Archives: humor

The Local News and “??!!” Oh My!

When first in the U.S. we mistakenly scoured the local news channels and local papers for world news. We saw items on food safety inspectors finding armadillo meat and live frogs for sale in a market, a “Bodies” exhibition in Seattle with “real human bodies” the real news being that someone stole a kidney from the biology demo. “Sewer project interrupts residents’ lives” was a headliner and a page of national and international news had a lead item of “Long overdue book is back at library.”

Seattle's Commercial Real Estate
Seattle’s Commercial Real Estate (Photo credit: Canadian Pacific)

Seattle is unconventional and cosmopolitan, Tacoma is more blue collar and Olympia is, to be kind, liberal, but really just a little bit “out there” so forgetting our quest for world news, we turned to the wealth of alternative free newspapers in the area – the names of which will give you an idea – “The Stranger”, “Sitting Duck”, “Conscious Choice”, “The Voice of Reality” and “Wisdom of the Heavens, Earth, Mind, Body & Soul” amongst many others. Jimmy and I have come to the conclusion that we are just a teensy weensy bit naïve after reading them.

The Supersonic Soul Pimps performing at Vivian...
The Supersonic Soul Pimps performing at Vivian McPeak’s 50th Birthday Party, King Cat Theater, Seattle, Washington, U.S. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had picked up a copy of the “The Stranger” (where a typical advertisement is the Laughing Buddha tattoo parlour where you can “give the gift of transformation . . . get a gift certificate. Hurting Seattle since 1996.”) but didn’t read it in time to enjoy all sorts of treats on New Year’s Eve. The Little Red Studio’s New Year’s Eve Gala offered “beauty, art and the erotic for couples and singles of all persuasions.” The Supersonic Soul Pimps were playing at High Dive. We could have gone to Cowgirls, Inc. for a “fun ass time” with “rowdy sexy entertainment” and a mechanical bull. The rest were too tacky.

The categories were the usual women seeking men, men seeking women, men seeking men, women seeking women and then there was a column for Swingers. Most interestingly the last category was called “??!!”, no words, just “??!!”, which was my excuse for glancing at the page in the first place. After reading them all out loud to Jimmy and alternating between laughter and bewilderment, I’m afraid to say that I felt completely unable to commit any of them to print. It was all too much. I had to go bake a cake, arrange some flowers and try to resume my innocence.VerdeCanyon 011

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid – Part 3

Jimmy trying to escape from the sales manager
Jimmy trying to escape from the sales manager

Explain to me the logic of returning to that same dealer for our next purchase. Could it have been that we’d trashed the engine on the Chevy Tahoe we bought from them using it to tow a heavy travel trailer twice around the United States so would feel some vindication trading it back to them? Were we feeling too good about ourselves and felt the need for a little abuse? Was it bad karma that for a second time when searching for a vehicle that only this dealer in the whole of the State of Washington had the exact make and model that suited Jimmy? Were the Gods sending us back there to punish us for some heinous crime we were unaware of. Perhaps we were too trusting in human nature. Or were we just stupid?

Disregarding the wrecked engine and gearbox which wouldn’t make itself apparent if it was trialled on the level busy roads around the dealership, Jimmy had studied the trade-in and retail value of the Tahoe and knew to within a few dollars its worth. After a satisfactory test drive in a new truck to pull our trailer, Jimmy quizzed the salesman. There was no sign of Teddy if you’re wondering. “What’s the towing capacity of the truck?”

“7,000 pounds.”

“That’s the weight of the truck. What’s the towing capacity?”

“I don’t know.” Jimmy knew the answer. The salesman didn’t. Jimmy gave me one of his looks. Here we go again. All I knew was that I wanted the truck because it had a cool reversing camera.

After an appraising glance over our Tahoe, Jimmy was invited into the showroom to talk money. I can’t tell you anything about the salesman as I was trying to close down my radar to anyone involved in car sales after previous experiences.

I was languishing in our Tahoe when Jimmy, hotly pursued by the salesman, came steaming out of the sales office and yanked open my door. “They’ve offered me $8,000 trade-in!”

“You’re kidding!” I said.

“No. Wait a minute! Wait a minute!” trilled a harassed voice.

“That’s an insult!” Jimmy said.

“Come back in the showroom!” said the voice on the edge of panic.

“C’mon. Let’s go.” I said.

“Don’t go!” pleaded the voice.

“I don’t know why I came here in the first place,” said Jimmy.

“Wait, Jimmy. Don’t go!” The salesman, on the verge of a breakdown, obviously needed a few more lessons in the art of negotiation.

The lure of the perfect vehicle was not going to overcome common sense this time. Or was it? The sales manager, not the
lumberjack from the Tahoe purchase
 but a younger, more thrusting and aggressive man we’d been introduced to briefly before the test drive came running out of the showroom anxious to salvage the sale. His only similarity to the previous sales manager was his dress sense. His rumpled apparel wasn’t fit for a charity shop. So desperate and unprofessional was he that he actually grabbed Jimmy by the arm to stop him getting away! He wasn’t offering any more money, just using a rather surprising bullying sales technique. Jimmy struggled to extricate himself, got in the car, closed the door and started the engine. Why did we go back there? Why? Why? Why?

Driving away, my pulse and blood pressure began to slide down. The throbbing in my head had started to ease when Jimmy’s phone rang. He checked the number and didn’t answer. “It’s them,” he hissed as I continued with my stress-reducing deep breathing exercises. Five minutes later his phone rang again. Same number. I was chanting mantras now, peeeeace and serenity, calm, calm, caaaalm . . . . .

I’m sure anxiety over car purchases is now firmly fixed in my cell DNA. I may need therapy.

There is, however, a happy ending. A few days later, at a Chevrolet dealer just a few miles away from where we were staying in our RV we encountered a polite, laid-back salesman who offered Jimmy $13,000 trade-in for the Tahoe. Better still, he did a deal with the previous unmentionable dealership and got the truck we wanted, at the price we wanted. The icing on the cake was that the unmentionable dealership diddled themselves out of $1500 on the paperwork transaction which came off the final price!!!

We love our Chevy. Car salesmen? Not so much. Not all of them.

How Not to Buy a Car – Part 2

The rest of the story is so excruciating I can hardly bear to relate it to you. After waiting a week, Teddy, the grinning salesman, was anxious to conclude the deal and phoned us to check on the progress of our funds. Jimmy advised him that we were approximately $3,000 short of the total not feeling the need to explain why (sales tax booboo).

Teddy was asked if a post dated check for the balance would be acceptable and he agreed. We borrowed truck and drove a wearisome hour and a half in the snow up the busy Interstate 5 through Seattle to pay for and collect our car.

On our arrival at the dealership Teddy showed us the car, anxious to get rid of it and us no doubt, handed us the keys and our temporary license plates. We moved on to the reception desk to make payment with two checks, the second of which would be post-dated as agreed. Only at this point did dear Teddy decide it would be prudent to check with his manager if that would be acceptable.

We were left standing drumming our fingers on the reception desk for ten minutes, dangling the new keys and expecting at any moment to drive away in our new car. You can guess the rest. I’m a little too ashamed of my behaviour to relate it in full but I let the sales manager and finance manager know that I was displeased that they had all wasted our time.

Jimmy was angry as well but anxious to salvage the deal that had already been struck for the one car in the whole of the State of Washington that was exactly what he wanted.

Before embarking on a fourth trip up the tiresome Interstate, Jimmy took the precaution of phoning the finance manager to be told he wasn’t in on the day and at the time when he had promised us he would be.

The duty manager phoned back and told us that our now proposed plan of paying partially by check and the small outstanding amount on my brother’s credit card (our own credit cards were still an unresolved issue, No Credit !*#@!), as had been suggested previously by the finance manager, would be subject to a 3% charge on the credit card portion. Apoplectic, we got increasingly terse with this new member of the saga until he said he would take care of it.

Jimmy went in to conclude the deal while I was told in no uncertain terms to stay in the car until the transaction was completed. I pondered possible scenarios of outcomes at great length to amuse myself; the dealer would knock the outstanding $3,000 off the purchase price as compensation for our wasted trips and distress or throw in a motorcycle that stood oddly out of place in the showroom or give us free coffees. It was only the previously offered car keys and temporary plates with which Jimmy returned.

When we went back to collect our permanent license plates I asked to be dropped at IKEA on the way. Foolishly, I thought I’d seen the last of that dealership. There is, I’m sorry to say, a Part 3.

How Not to Buy a Car – Part 1

Pumped with excitement at buying a car in our new country, Jimmy phoned. “I found the one!”

ChevyTahoe2007
ChevyTahoe2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“What color is it?”

“You’re such a girl.”

“Well?”

“It’s grey.”

“Oh.” I guess I should have asked about the model, the year, the engine size and the accessories.

“You can see what you think of the salesman, Teddy, next week.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ll see.”

When we arrived into a sea of Chevys, Teddy, handsome in his Labrador-eyed, toothy way, grasped me warmly by the hand and hauled me onto my feet. “HI! I’m Teddy! You must be Carol! Would you like to see your new car?!” He grinned and bounced a bit. If he had a tail, it would have been wagging furiously.

In the showroom, Teddy lounged back proprietarily in his chair, hands behind his head, elbows up, feet up, chewing gum visibly but when he was gone a series of people raided the desk drawers. Teddy didn’t even have his own desk.

When he arrived back, I was surprised to see on a page of scribbles that the price of the car was $3,000 more than Jimmy had told me. “Were you aware that the price you agreed didn’t include tax?” I whispered.

“Yes,” Jimmy bluffed for the benefit of the salesman. I should have reminded Jimmy that, unlike in Britain where sales tax is included in the ticket price, it is always added on at the point of purchase in the U.S. as a nasty aftershock. It’s not so grave when the extra amount is $3 but $3,000, well; we were both a bit nonplussed.

Then expected to sign away thousands of dollars, give or take as Teddy put it, I asked “What do you mean give or take?”

“Well my math isn’t real good so I’ve guessed tax and licensing fees at 10%.” Jimmy and I exchanged looks of amazement and horror. Not only was Teddy guessing at a high ticket price, he was expecting payment in full.

Teddy Bear
Teddy Bear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“You realise I’m not paying for the car today,” Jimmy told Teddy and Teddy blinked blankly at him. “I told you yesterday on the phone that my funds haven’t come through from the U.K. yet.” No signs of comprehension yet from Teddy. “I’m here to put a deposit on the car.” Teddy smiled benignly at Jimmy. “How much deposit would you like?”

Teddy snapped out of his trance, “How much would you like to put down?”

“Well, how much would you like to put down?” Teddy was out of his depth again.

“How about 10 per cent?” This added more confusion so Teddy hoofed it for 10 minutes to get help with his numbers and then returned, pushing more doodles at us.

“You want me to sign this?” I asked Jimmy, dumbfounded. He shrugged. I signed. Teddy swept up the hand scrawled page of numbers and stopped chewing long enough to grin broadly at us as he whisked it off to the finance office. “I’m not comfortable spending several thousand dollars with a man who can’t add up,” I said.

“Nor am I.”

“What do you want to do?” But Teddy was back and explained that we were waiting for the finance officer.

Jimmy took the opportunity to try to conclude other issues, “You’ll give us the handbook for the car and the disk for the sat nav.”

“I’ll find you a handbook and I’ll give you a good price on the disk.”

“The car was advertised with sat nav so it should come with the disk.”

Sat Nav“I already know all that, Teddy.”

“I’ll see if I can get it for you at cost.”

“NO!’ we chorused.

Teddy sprang out of his chair and out of the door like a puppy after a stick. “He’s going to try to pinch one out of another car,” Jimmy surmised. Sure enough Teddy reappeared with a DVD box in his hand and promptly disappeared into the manager’s office.

“I’m really uncomfortable with all this,” I told Jimmy.

“If he messes me about any more I’m going to walk,” Jimmy spat.

“Shouldn’t we be talking to the sales manager?”

“Have you seen him?” Jimmy asked incredulously.

I turned to see a lumberjack trudge past. “You can’t mean that man with the walrus moustache, flannel shirt, torn jeans and cap with ear flaps.”

“Yep.”

“Oh boy,” I said, not as in OH BOY! but as in oh help.

We were both gripping the arms of our chairs ready to bolt for the door – angry, cold, frustrated and heads fizzing with the raucous inane showroom TV when the finance manager appeared. He was well spoken, clean shaven, wearing a white shirt and a tie and led us into his professional looking office. He quickly took us through all the details of our purchase, came up with an exact price, then congratulated us on our new car and extracted a check for the deposit from Jimmy.

You didn’t really think that was the end of the story did you? Oh no . . . . . to be continued.

Spoiler alert! We did eventually liberate the car from the dealer
Spoiler alert! We did eventually liberate the car from the dealer. It’s dark gray I’m told. Looks blue to me. Nice, don’t you think?

Bad Seat Karma

Back at Heathrow in the departure lounge after two weeks on my own in England and smelling like a tart’s boudoir after a visit to the perfume shop I settled down to watch the overhead screens for my flight.

Like the flibbertigibbet I am when tense, my eyes flitted from screen to book to screen to magazine to screen to newspaper to screen and took in nothing other than the fact that the departure gate hadn’t been announced for my 10 hour flight with only 20 minutes left until departure time. Had I missed something? Had the aircraft come and gone without me? Wishing my absent minder to share in my panic though there was nothing he could do to help me I decided to text him. Good journey to H’row. Watching screens for gate. Paying attn. Wont miss flight. XX.  He’ll know that’s not true and wonder what is wrong.

By perusing best sellers, window shopping, drinking cappuccinos, reading sensational headlines on tabloids before returning them to the shelf dog-eared, trips to the loo and trying on bracelets I’d ambled right down to gate 25. When my gate number popped up on the overhead screen for boarding – gate 1a – it was completely at the other end of the terminal building.

My minder would be cross with me if he knew. He would remind me of the time I missed my flight from New York to Baltimore because I was playing video games or the time all the cars on the Seattle ferry were honking at him because he had to wait behind the wheel of our car, engine running, while I stood at the rail of the ferry watching the approach of the fetching Seattle skyline oblivious to his ire (until I got back in the car that is). He would have made me stay put near my gate. Oh well.

I huffed and puffed the length of the terminal building carrying in my heavy backpack a large bottle of water, five magazines, three books and a newspaper for the flight knowing I would probably watch two films, drink the airline’s wine and fall asleep instead. Flustered, I sprinted straight through the now nearly empty gate to board . . . . a bus.

What? Where am I? The bus station? Mustn’t procrastinate when I’m on my own and pay better attention. Ah yes, the aircraft had been abandoned halfway across the tarmac and we were to be bussed out to it. Looking around for familiar faces on the bus to reassure myself I was in the right place, a few unfamiliar weary faces glanced back at me. I realised that as I’d checked in online, not queued at check-in, I wouldn’t recognise my fellow passengers. I could be about to jet off anywhere in the world if I’d bounded through the wrong gate and the ground staff happened to glaze over just at the point when I handed over the scrap of paper that I’d printed off as my boarding card. I made a mental note to check our destination as I boarded the plane, like some addled old dear.

Taking my pick of seats at the back of the bus, I chose an empty side-facing bench that would seat three(ish). A plump florid blond collapsed beside me and scooted across as far as she possibly could to leave a narrow gap between us. As the bus filled to capacity with standing room only I could see no further than the belly in front of my face. A voice speaking Arabic or Farsi made me look up to see a dark-eyed beauty homing in on the tiny space beside me. She began to rotate and I hoped she was looking for another seat but like a dog in his bed, she circled twice then began to reverse her ample bottom towards the gap between me and the blond.

Blondie and I exchanged looks of wide-eyed dismay. Either I hadn’t appreciated the size of Sultry Beauty’s aft section or how small the proposed seating area was but as Sultry Beauty’s left bum cheek made contact with my right shoulder I lost sight of Blondie. The large cheek slid down my arm, slithered over my hip, and on impacting the seat squeezed me into a bolt upright position, forcing the air from my lungs and crushing my ribs against the metal armrest.

Afraid to move a muscle for fear of disrupting numerous pressure points and squirting myself out of my seat and across the bus, I prayed that this was my bad seat karma for the journey knowing I could be this unlucky for the next ten hours on the plane. I was breathing shallowly, with eyes bulging when the bus driver eventually braked and eek, eek, eeked to a halt. As I was thrown from side to side my left ribcage was bruised on the arm rest while alternately my whole right side was cushioned in billowing flesh.

The dilemma then was whether to attempt to get up first and extricate myself like a toilet plunger stuck to the floor or stay put. I was wedged under the armrest on one side and a longitudinal section of my thigh on the other side was trapped under Sultry’s voluminous thigh with a pinching sensation as though a row of bulldog clips had been attached. My leg was going numb but rather than leave a strip of flesh behind, I awaited developments. I didn’t need to wait for long. My wide beamed travelling companion bounded to her feet with surprising ease. I gawped at her agility as I fell over across the seat upon release from the body trap and exchanged looks of bemused relief with Blondie, the remaining seat hostage, as Sultry Beauty was swallowed up by the crowd.

The outsome? Seattle flight. Aisle seat. Three seats to myself. Hooray!

The “Wrong” Side

Homesick for my adopted country, England, I spent two weeks basking in glorious sunshine having left himself behind in his adopted country to contend with yet more torrential downpours. A daily occurrence on the Puget Sound he told me on the phone. Oh golly.

I was not allowed to pick up a rental car from Heathrow Airport on arrival after a night flight as my minder/usual travelling companion feared I would either circle London endlessly on the M25 or fall asleep at the wheel. Unable to defend myself I hopped on the tube.

After a day’s R & R from jet lag, I collected a teeny rental car and was completely flummoxed by a) a manual gearbox, b) a clutch, c) having to drive on the left again, d) sitting my bum so close to the road and e) an empty gas tank. I hadn’t touched a petrol/gas/diesel pump in over two years and the hand I usually had spare from not having to change gears had become accustomed to holding a cup of coffee.

Firing up disused neural pathways along with the engine, I successfully exited the rental car parking lot using an eleven point turn while pumping the clutch as though inflating an air bed. Had I been a fool to refuse the collision damage waiver to save a few pennies?

With intense concentration, I avoided all the other road users without a blast from their horns or angry hand gestures, sidled into a nearby petrol station on the correct side of the pump (ha!), filled the tank and drove up to the kiosk to pay. I felt I had achieved a major feat. Smiling triumphantly, debit card in hand, I was asked “Which pump?”

“What?”

“Pump number?”

“Oh. I don’t know.” Deflated and much to the chagrin of the drivers in the queue of cars behind me, I squeezed out of the car having neatly pulled up an arm’s length from the kiosk so I could reach the window. I winced at the looks of pure hostility of the DRIVERS IN A HURRY. Three was my number and I slunk back to the car.

It’s shocking how I’d allowed myself to coast into blond tag-along mode. Having slowly and happily let my independence slip away over the years, I had to give myself a mental slap and take responsibility for myself for at least two weeks. Once that was accomplished, I enjoyed being responsible only for myself. Meals when I was hungry instead of at mealtime, trashy TV at full volume, junk food with no looks of disapproval, shopping more than was good for my wallet and a curious feeling of liberation when stepping out of the door without telling anyone where I was going or when I’d be back.

Driving on the wrong side soon became the right side even though it was the left side. And driving on the right when I returned to the States would then feel wrong even though it was right.

Not me but this is how I felt. I fell down into the rental car and climbed up out it, more used to climbing up into our SUV and falling out of it!

You Wore What?@#*?

Oh how I wish I had taken my camera because mere words cannot possibly do this justice: A parade of government employees dressed as fruit and vegetables danced from the library to the market place to celebrate the grand opening of the farmer’s market in the local town shortly after we’d moved to America. These normally drab civil servants appeared as human sized Chiquita bananas, pineapples, ears of corn, pea pods, carrots, strawberries, slices of melon, a bunch of grapes (which made me feel faintly queasy – large purple orbs dangling off a pretty girl), tomatoes and a roundish, faded, three-foot in diameter green orb which could have been any number of foods.

Carmen Miranda was there with a banana impaled on her forehead and grapes rolling down the back of her head. She had aged since I saw her last and looked a little scrawny.

The procession was led by seven big green elves (who appeared to have had a skirmish over their costumes in the dressing room with all of them coming off rather badly) playing jungle rhythms on drums. A group of multi-sized ladies, with uninhibited senses of dress, performed to the drum beat but their swaying arms and legs showed little in the way of a gift for dance. Those who didn’t happen to have a piece of fruit apparel in their wardrobe simply wore anything outlandish or bright – shiny green St. Patrick’s Day hats, hula skirts, clown feet, last year’s Halloween mask, last year’s Mardi Gras beads.

We were invited to take part, but declined, preferring to scurry along beside the parade, pretending not to be associated with these deranged people. As we watched with morbid fascination, not quite believing that grown-ups could look and behave like that, we trampled the town hall gardens that lined the street, finishing up at the market.

The fruit and veg items on sale didn’t tempt us that day. Costumes are fun but fruit people are frightening. What would possess someone to want to do something like that? Google vegetable costumes. Go on. What do you think?

Bears! Run!

We learned early on when RVing in the U.S. to take nature seriously. One evening, when still quite new to the RV-in-the-back-woods thing and taking a walk after dinner, we stopped at the campsite facilities before returning to our trailer. Posted prominently outside the shower block were instructions on what to do if you see a bear. It seemed at first, for a tourist, entertaining reading. This is what you should do:

1. Stop
2. Stay calm
3. Appear large
4. Fight back
5. Make noise

We were laughing and debating fighting techniques and what stances we would take in order to “appear large.” Jimmy flapped his arms in the manner of a little boy playing airplanes which to me didn’t get across the appropriate level of aggression. My impression of hailing a cab was no better.

We discussed whether we would even have the presence of mind to make loud, scary noises or just run and scream like girls. Then we read the last line on the poster. “Last bear seen at this site on _____.” The “on” was crossed out and written in large caps was:

FREQUENTLY

We didn’t run. We didn’t scream. We didn’t hang around either.

Not the view you want of a bear.
This is better.

The Pink Notebook and Cushions

Some things just aren’t worth trying to explain to our other halves.

We had access to an office suite with two online computers at the apartment complex where we started our stay in the United States. It was a small room so quite difficult to tune out other people’s conversations. I was surfing mindlessly when I overheard the following conversation between a young woman and her other half:

“When we finish here we need to go to Office Depot or Staples or somewhere so I can buy a pink notebook and some pink pens.”

“Why?”

“So I can start planning my sister’s wedding.”

“You need a special notebook for that?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I just do.”

“Why?”

“They’ll help me with my planning.”

“How?”

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t get it.”

It was still amicable at that point but he clearly was showing no signs of comprehension of her needs and she was at a loss to explain. I couldn’t stand it any longer so butted in, “It’s a girl thing. You’re not meant to understand.” Startled to be interrupted, they both turned to me then laughed fortunately instead of telling me to mind my own business.

“Ah, I get it now,” he grinned. “So while you go to the store,” he said to her, “I’ll stay at home and drink beer.”

“Yes, and that’s a guy thing,” I laughed and we all went back to our computers.

Jimmy and I demonstrated this same relationship yin and yang when buying cushions for our new apartment from a heap marked 75% off.

“Why do you want them?”

“The sofa doesn’t look right without them.”

“It looks fine to me and they just get in the way.”

“This isn’t your area of expertise. Go and look at some wine while I choose them,” but he was afraid to leave me alone with a pile of wildly discounted cushions. “I’ll have two rust-colored ones and one gold one.”

“Why do you need three?”

I didn’t bother to try to explain that two cushions wouldn’t look right, that sometimes an odd number is better, that the rust cushions would link to the pattern on the gold cushion and the gold color would link to the sofa. He’s a man and cushions are just redundant. For redundant the thesaurus suggests uncalled-for. Jimmy would agree.

“They’re only five dollars.” I mean really, how much more explanation do you need? So he resigned himself to doing his man thing, checked the cushions for flaws and then carried them out of the shop.

They disintegrated within weeks but himself had the good grace not to pursue the cushion issue further.

But I say cushions are versatile and attractive additions to any home. Wouldn’t you agree?

Don’t they look nice all on their own?

Obesity Solved

As newbies to civilization the cause of the American obesity problem became clear to us. Cable TV is in the process of transforming us all into couch potatoes. As Jack, the cable guy, snipped and plugged and programmed, Jimmy and I were astonished at the channel list – Home and Garden, Country Music, Classic Rock, Vintage Cars, The Military Channel, A & E, Speed, Canal 52, Digital Music, Digital FM Radio and on and on and on. “Ooo! Look! There’s a jewelry channel.”


For the past two years we’d “enjoyed” watching a tiny flat screen TV in our caravan, receiving terrestrial channels broadcast in French and Spanish. Having a smattering of both languages helped little with translation. Ensconced in our new apartment, we were as excited as kids at Christmas at the prospect of television shows that we could understand.

As soon as Jack left, Jimmy commandeered the remote and splayed himself across the couch, mouth open, eyes glued to the screen. Every 30 seconds or so I would hear, “Oh! BBC World News,” or “There’s a soccer channel!” Excitement mounted as an eyebrow exercised a facial muscle, “Sky Sports News!” Then a little arm action, “Premiership football!” and lastly most of the upper body celebrated “Arsenal vs. Chelsea tonight!” He’d been deprived of European football/soccer in any language. Things calmed down again and after some leg raises – right and left onto the coffee table, and arm raises – right and left crossed over chest. He was sedated once more by the big flat screen with only some high speed thumb action flicking endlessly between football and motorcycle racing and the occasional yelp or groan emanating from him.

OK, confession time. I have made fun of Jimmy, but after I’d been up for an hour and a half by 7:00 am the day after cable installation, my thumb joint was sore. I’d surfed and searched and watched an evangelical lady preacher with big gems on her fingers, Sponge Bob Square Pants, all 15 minutes of a commercial for the tempur-pedic mattress having noted the toll free number and envied everyone getting a good night’s sleep, a Wal-Mart advert in Spanish and then settled on cruising through the 79 digital radio channels on TV, everything from Adult Alternative (uncensored) to Rap, Rock, Retroactive and Rock en Español. I was transfixed with the Traditional Christmas Music channel and Gene Autry singing the cowboy version of Frosty the Snowman.


I’m now doing telly yoga and meditation. “The spirit of light in me respects the spirit of light in you.” This rather lovely and calming meditation was swiftly followed by a boisterous advert for a “Yoga Booty Ballet” DVD.  “Only two payments of $19.95! Order now and firm up your booty! 30-day money back guarantee!”

I have to tell you, though, that when Jimmy got up (only in the sense of not still in bed), and fell into his dent on the couch, I found him in a trance staring at a still picture on the TV-cum-radio of Bob Seger sitting on a Harley while singing (Bob not Jimmy) The Little Drummer Boy.

When the novelty wears off, we’ll get some exercise. Or not. But our waistlines tells me we should.

Apologies for the title. I haven’t solved the problem, just identified it. There’s no magic bullet here.