Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bed that inclines, reclines and declines

You spend a third or more of your life in one of these things.

    Kay and I are saving for one of three things on our wish list. We’ve yet to agree on which of the three we’re saving for, because Kay has her priorities all messed up.

I refuse to let the squabble end our marriage, but I’ve got to say, a less patient husband would’ve walked long ago.

The list? Kay and I have wanted to go on a trip to the Northwest for the longest. Oregon, Washington and then a cruise to Alaska. The trip will cost about two million dollars. I did the math.

    New flooring in the living room and study is a definite priority… to Kay. She wants to yank up the carpet and put down some kind of wood-flooring so all our floors will match. The House of Matching Floors sounds more like a bad horror movie than a feasible way to spend money we don’t have.

    Kay is torn between these two costly endeavors. Me? I want what’s behind door number three. -- A new bed! -- And, there is singing in the streets.

    Some of you are thinking that the cost of a bed doesn’t match with the cost of a trip or flooring. That’s ‘cause you’re thinking about a bad bed. I’m thinking about a tempurpedic, bed that will incline, decline and recline. In other words, I want a giant hospital bed without the visitors, the tubes and the blood pressure thing that wakes you up every 10 minutes.

    What I’m looking for will cost well over $5000. The mattress ads won’t tell you that, but the guy in the mattress shop has to. Of course, it’s the last thing he tells you. He’s got you lying on the proverbial lap of luxury, in a reclined position just perfect for watching TV or reading. Now, he can hit you with the price.

Kablooey! Kay wasn’t with me during the sale’s pitch or she would’ve likely kneed the salesman. “Don’t you ever throw a price like that at me again! Ever!”
Before I ran home and told Kay the price, I told her some of what the salesman said. We spend a third of our lives in bed. Isn’t that something? And, then I added, “If we got a bed that we could read and watch TV in, we could spend two thirds of your life in bed.  

We could get the king size dual recliner. “If you want your feet lower, lower ‘em! If you want your back higher, raise that mamba! I can touch my feet to my toes and you can lay flat for all I care!”  -- Then I hit her with the price. Fortunately, I blocked her knee.

I think we’ve purchased two mattresses during our 40-year marriage. Two pillows, too. I used to have a Tempurpedic pillow that cost me $100, but I left it in a cheap motel in Atoka, Oklahoma. I would’ve called and asked them to mail it back, but I felt too sorry for the maid. The minute she put her head on that thing, she couldn’t give it up.

They’ve got fake Tempurpedic that’s a lot cheaper than the real. Is it just as good as the real stuff? The salesman swears it is… right after you tell him you can’t afford the real Tempurpedic.

The thing is, there are people who can’t stand their Tempurpedic mattresses. That’d be terrible. They took their child’s college fund to buy the bed, and end up not liking the thing, because it’s too hard and doesn’t bounce. They should’ve gone on a trip to the Northwest with their kid’s college fund. 

You wanna know something scary as all get out? Of course you do. Someone in the Asian community has invented an air-conditioned bed. What I’m sayin’?

I want the last bed I ever buy to be air-conditioned and reclining. Since I will be spending much of my later life in bed, it needs to be the best there is.

All I have to do is get Kay to bite on this notion. One of my best arguments has been that if we spend our money on a trip, we’ll end up back home sleeping on an old, non-reclining, unair-conditioned bed forever.

And, the flooring? Since we’ve been living in this house, we’ve yet to have a single soul ask if our living room floor matched all the other floors. Yet, almost daily, someone asks me, “Hey, Mark, how’d you sleep last night?” I get that a lot. Maybe 3, 12 times a day. More if it helps.

You know what’s gonna happen don’t you? If I keep pressing this thing, Kay will take a cruise to Alaska right after registering me in a room with a twin bed that reclines with a railing on it that secures the remote control and some of the tubes that will be sticking in several of my orifices.

Oh, yeah. And, the blood pressure machine that goes off every ten minutes.


You can reach Mark at

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Who's still alive out there?

“He can’t have just died!”

    Did you know that Abe Vigoda is still alive? I had no idea. I’m glad as I can be that he’s not dead, but I sure thought he was.

    I learned the news about Vigoda while looking to find others I had mistakenly thought dead. Seems there are several actors, the names of whom, I have prematurely filed in the “demised” folder of my brain. (I’ve decided to attempt one proper sounding sentence in every third article. That was it. Boy, did it hurt.)

    It was the shocking news of Ernest Borgnine that launched my quest. Last week, the news of his death about freaked me out. I thought for sure the guy was already dead, and I’ve got the memory to prove it. I obviously based my finding on something really wrong. I’m blaming it on the “The Poseidon Adventure.”

When the family went to see Poseidon, I punched Jill the minute Borgnine’s character showed up. I said something to the effect that Borgnine would never leave the ship alive. I’ve always had a knack for spotting the dead characters.

Unfortunately for me, Borgnine’s character made it off the Poseidon. I thought sure Gene Hackman would survive, while Red Buttons and Borgnine would buy the proverbial farms. Unfortunately, I had it completely reversed. I think it would’ve been a much better movie had I written the ending.

Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah. After I discovering that Borgnine had actually been alive before last week, I got to wondering how many other actors I had mysteriously killed off. So, I did some research and was able to re-file Abe Vigoda among the living.

Andy Griffith was right where I thought he was. The news of his death didn’t surprise me. Before I got the news, I was pretty sure he was still alive. His recent death did sadden me quite a bit, though, because I really liked Andy Taylor.

Unfortunately, Andy Taylor died to me about the time the show went from black and white to color. Of course, we didn’t have a color TV at the time, but I could tell things had changed for the bad. Howard Sprague? Emmet Clark? What was that all about?

The only ones left from the original show are Opie and Gomer. If I learn next week that Aunt Bee just died, I’m gonna freak.

Last year when David Nelson died, the news hit me hard. Ozzie, Ricky, Harriet… and then David, the older brother. No more Nelson family. (Did you know that Ricky Nelson’s real name was “Eric”? This article is turning up one surprise after another.)

Not too long ago I bought a 100-episode collection of “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.” I’ve watched half of ‘em. Kay quit watching with me after the third episode. She somehow thought the family boring. When Jill visits, she absolutely refuses to watch any of the episodes. She hates “Ozzie and Harriet” even more than “Have Gun Will Travel.” And, yes, I’m still mourning the loss of Richard Boone.

Speaking of “Gunsmoke,” except for Buck Taylor and Burt Reynolds, everyone is dead. I didn’t remember Dennis Weaver dying, but he sure did. Probably the majority of all the character actors who appeared on “Gunsmoke” are also gone. Must’ve been a few thousand of them.  

I think that everyone on Bewitched, Bonanza, and I Love Lucy is gone. I guess I should check just to make sure. Give me a second. – Okay, here’s what I found. From “Bewitched,” Tabitha and some character named Dr. Bombay are the only ones living.

While I did like Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York (the first Darren) I never cared much for the series. I rate it right down there with Gilligan’s Island. Speaking of which, Ginger, The Professor and Mary Ann are the only ones still living from Gilligan’s Island. Figured you want to know.

With regard to “Bonanza,” it’s likely no surprise that all the Cartwrights are dead. The guy who played Candy is still living. Never cared for his character. He was the Howard Sprague of “Bonanza.” The actor, David Canary, who played Candy, was a really bad guy in the movie “Hombre.” He played it so well, that I just couldn’t see him as a good guy on “Bonanza.”

    Which reminds me of Andy Griffith. Did you ever see Andy play a bad guy? Let me tell you, he wasmost convincing. I absolutely hated to see Andy Taylor acting mean. Scared me is what he did.

Andy Griffith: Face in a Crowd. Mean man.

    Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah. There are several actors, the deaths of whom I’ve greatly exaggerated. I don’t know what to do about that other than apologize. So, Tab Hunter, I’m sorry, man. I thought sure… Uh, Larry Storch. What can I say? I loved “F-Troop and the news that you’re still alive.

    Adam West, Julie Newmar, Rose Marie… And, the list goes on and on.


You can reach Mark at

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Elsie didn't trust us so much to give the right answers.

“Mom vs mom”

    Tuesday, I had one of my “I’ve-gotta-call-Mom” moments. Something in the newspaper triggered a desire to share something.

    I’ve had fewer and fewer of these episodes over the years. I doubt I would’ve had this one had it not been for the fact that Mom passed away six years ago today. There’s obviously something biological that causes our brains to equate certain events with position of the sun.

    You could blindfold me, stick me in the middle of a field, and, come fall, I’d be thinking about football. Late May still feels like the end of school to me. The first time the thermometer dips below 60, I sense that Christmas is a day or two away.

    And, ever since I got the call from Larry late in the night, my thoughts of Mom seem to pick up as July 12 approaches.

    Kay and I were having breakfast for supper at IHOP a couple of weeks back, and a lady walked in with her near-two-year old daughter. They were seated at a booth across from ours. As soon as they got seated, the mother asked, “Now, are we going to be a good girl this time?” The kid thought for a second and then said, “No.”

    I immediately thought of Mom. My mother never asked our intentions. -- Are you gonna behave? Are you gonna be nice to your sister?– Mom had seven kids, and not one of us ever had such a question directed at us.

    Mom didn’t trust us to come up with the right answers, so she never asked. She told us what we were going to do. “You’re gonna behave yourselves in the store, or you’ll be walking home… with a limp.” 

    The mother at IHOP also said, “Summer, please put the fork down.” Summer thought about it for a second and then dropped the fork. The mother thanked her.

    Elsie never began an order with a “please.” Nor did she ever thank us for doing what she told us to do.  -- “Dennis, please quit strangling your brother.” THUD. “Thank you, son. Now who’s a nice boy? Oh, yes you are.”

    No, it would go more like this:  Whop! “Leave your brother alone!” A good WHOP took care of just about anything. 

Regardless of the discipline, I loved Elsie so much. Respected the daylights out of her. I knew she loved us, yet, she showed no favoritism. We all got spanked pretty much the same. Except for Big Al. You ask me, that little dweeb suffered from too few whoppings.

    Truth is, Mom saved my life hundreds of times. She did it by not telling Dad. When Dennis and I got into some big trouble – the kind Dad needed in on – Mom would say, “You just wait till your daddy gets home.”

That always sobered us up big time. As I remember, she told on us one time. She waited till she caught Dad in a good mood and then sprang the news on him. We walked away with a stiff lecture. Important thing is – We walked away.

I doubt Elsie-discipline would hold up in this day and age. Somebody would end up spending some serious time in lockup. – “Mrs. Hayter, it says here that you threatened to -- Let me see – ‘Kick your son into next Thursday.’ How do you plead?”

I would have to testify in Mom’s defense. It was the only way she could control us. I feel certain we would’ve laughed at “please” and “thank you.” We were experts at exploiting any sign of weakness. 

No, a good threat and an occasional spanking worked with us. The more humorous the threat, the more effective it was. If you can get a kid laughing at the thought of what you might do to him, you’ve pretty well won his heart and soul.

Mom took a chunk of my heart with her when she left us on that July night. During my youth, that woman cooked, cleaned up after, shopped for, and prodded me along the way I should go.

And, during my adulthood she kept the family close. We’d have cookouts, parties and get-togethers every other weekend. -- Now? Not so much. It’s just the way of things.

One of the things I miss most about not having her around is the fact that my mother prayed for each of her kids everyday. When she went to bed on the night she died, I’m certain she mentioned me to God.

Wish I could call her and tell her how much that meant to me. I know she knew, but still…


Sunday, July 8, 2012

“Vampires, Zombies and Husbands”

    Can you spare a few minutes listening to me talk about movies and TV programs? Few people I talk with watch TV or go to the movies. I can understand that. Movie tickets cost too much and the price of a bag of popcorn would send 18 Canadians to the Olympics. Perhaps an exaggeration.

    Many people don’t watch TV so they can feel superior to the rest of us who do. –  “No, I don’t watch TV, ‘cause I’m so much better than you.” – That’s just the way I hear it.

    Truth is, you can learn a bunch of important stuff from movies and TV programs. Take the movie Kay and I saw last week. We spent $13 on tickets and $12 on a medium popcorn and soda. That’s $25 to learn one of the most fascinating things in history.

    Hey, I’ve taught history. History and I go way back. Yet, I completely missed the part about Abraham Lincoln hunting vampires. I must’ve cut class on the day it was mentioned. Fortunately, we were not tested over the vampire part. I could pass the test now. Let me tell you, Abe Lincoln kicked some serious vampire rear.

    I never dreamed vampires would become as popular as they have. The first one I ever knew was played by Bela Lugosi. Just not that frightening to me. And, to be honest, I thought he was pretty much the only one out there. Oh, he had a couple of female vampires that followed him around, but they were pretty much thrown in to attract the older guys. Girl vampires? Give me a break.

    Lugosi wasn’t even all that strong. His big power was hypnosis… and biting. He bit a lot. If he couldn’t control your mind, I think you could beat the daylights out of him.

    Today’s vampires are kick-in-the-rear tough. They’re fast, strong as all get out, and some of ‘em can turn invisible. And, there are millions of them. There may actually be as many vampires as zombies, and there are a lot of zombies.

    Unless you watch TV and movies you don’t realize that zombies have become fast and really aggressive. They don’t take a shot to the head well, but they’re some tough walking stuff. Smart even.

    But, it’s all pretty much lost on me. Unless Abe Lincoln, The Bee Gees or one of the founding fathers is involved, I count myself among the few disinterested in vampires and zombies.

    What I’m into now are the investigative murder shows on TV. You know, “Dateline”, “Unusual Suspects”, “48 Hours”, “The New Detectives”, “On the Case with Paula Zahn”… Those of you who see TV time as a waste are really missing out on a lot of sneaky stuff that goes around.

One thing I’ve picked up on is the fact that husbands kill their wives a lot. If you find the body of a married woman, the first thing you do is arrest the husband. I don’t care if he was in another country at the time of the killing, the guy did it.

It’s almost the same with wives. If a husband dies “mysteriously” it’s either his wife or girlfriend who did it. But, in defense of the wives, I’ve gotta say that there are a lot of husbands out there who need a serious whomping.

These shows are so informative. If you watch enough of ‘em it will ruin you for jury duty. – “I just don’t think there’s enough evidence that points to the defendant.” – “Did you miss the part where they said he was THE HUSBAND?”

The one thing that really irritates me about these shows is that many stories could be told in ten minutes, yet they drag ‘em out for the whole hour. At times they’ll even make the lame story into a two-parter.

They manage to do this by rehashing everything they’ve told you after each commercial. If you have to actually sit through the commercials and the retelling of the same set of facts every ten minutes, your life span will be shortened two weeks for each episode you watch. You’d be better off smoking four packs a day.

There are so many other movies and TV programs I would like to share with you. So many things we few who waste our time and money going to the movies and watching TV have learned over the years.

Sure there are other ways to entertain oneself. Reading comes to mind. I enjoy a good read… but it’s so slow. And, I can’t read and eat popcorn. It’s way too distracting. The reading. I’m pretty serious about my popcorn.