Friday, November 13, 2015

In response to Senator McCaskill

In response to the comments of  Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) suggesting that men shut up regarding womens' issues, I thought I'd revisit a T-Times post I sent in March, a futuristic piece entitled "When Womyn Rule America."  Who knows?  It might be a better world.  Then again, maybe not.  Just ask an Arab about former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir or a Pakistani about Indira Gandhi.

The following is a likely transcript from of the House Subcommittee On Equal Rights in the not-so-distant future. The issues under discussion are two political hot potatoes: One would give men the right to vote. The other is even more radical. It would allow men to sit anywhere they want on public transportation and not restrict them to the back of the bus. The committee chairwomyn is Rep. Shulamith Firestone Franklin Fonda (Republicrat - Womynnesota). 

Chairwomyn: The chair recognizes our esteemed sister, Congresswomyn Gloria Peterbilt, who has a martyr’s burden of representing that wishy washy, fence-straddling, knee jerking, testosterone polluted state of Calipornia. I suppose you’re going to play devil’s advocate?

Rep. Peterbilt: Well, the voting rights thingy is a non-issue in my house. The male unit will vote the way I tell him to vote, and anyway, the only things he reads are recipes, horoscopes and fashion tips. Anything else, especially something as complicated as a ballot measure, is just beyond the little dear. But isn’t it about time we allowed male units unrestricted seating on public transportation?

Chairwomyn: What for? So they can plunk their brutish bodies down anywhere they want on the bus? Don’t be absurd. Just because you don’t care who violates your sacred space, think of how your mother would feel, or your daughter, for Goddess’s sake, if some hairy lout reeking of Aqua Velva presumed to be so…so….uppity…as to actually sit next to her innocent flowering Sheness! The mind reels!

Rep. Peterbilt: Yes, I can see where that might be troublesome for some unenlightened souls, but a properly trained male unit would never presume to sit just anywhere on a bus if the back wasn’t already overflowing with nattering giggling male units.

Chairwomyn (sighing): I know, I know. They get really annoying in a group. That’s why I stopped my male unit from having Schtupperwear and clingerie parties at our house. All those chubby male bodies stuffed into Speedos like cheese blintzes, cooing over plastic food containers. Worse, they whine about their personal circumstances. How we don’t understand them. How don’t care about their needs. How we expect them to have sex at what they consider inopportune times, like at a funeral or on a windswept beach in the rain. Hell, a little wet sand up their butts may have a cleansing effect, so what’s the problem?

Rep Peterbilt: Excuse me, Madam Chairwomyn, but we were discussing voting rights and public transportation. There are political and social reasons why we should allow male units voting rights and equal seating under the law.

Chairwomyn: Oh for Minerva’s sake, what the hell are they?

Rep. Peterbilt: As for the voter franchise, the political reason is voter apathy with absentee ballots mailed prior to primary elections. Many indifferent womyn just turn the ballot over to the male unit like a Sudoko card and allow him to mark it up with a Crayola. I mean, they are already de facto voting anyway. Why not register them in the hope that they may create a landslide mandate when directed by their womyn? Two votes for the price of one. And maybe they’ll feel responsible enough to stop marking ballots with crayons.

Chairwomyn: I know. Makes the ballot boxes all waxy. Still, we’re working on some attack ads showing the effects of male units being allowed even a sub rosa voice in the outcome of national elections. Unrestricted seating on buses is just for openers. Soon they’ll protest being required to sit in theater balconies. Who knows? They may even insist on having their brainless entertainment legally broadcast on national television. Imagine having a nice weekend ruined with games of baseballs or footballs blaring out of your TV. Anyway, what’s the social reason for giving male units the vote?

Rep. Peterbilt: A declining birthrate among the desirable demographics
Chairwomyn: You mean eligible voters not on public assistance. Go on.

Rep. Peterbilt: My staff is seeing an alarming trend. An increasing number of my constituents write that their male units get sulky during womyn’s estrus cycles and refuse to sleep with them. Instead of getting in bed, their male units curl up in tight little balls on couches, like armadillos, and cry all night about not being treated as equals. That includes open seating on buses and being able to vote.

Chairwomyn: Well, have your constituents tried distracting their male units away from substantive issues with chocolates and new shoes?

Rep. Peterbilt: Many reported doing both. Didn’t work. They think chocolates make their butts look big. That made them whinier than ever. As for new shoes, have you tried shopping for shoes with your male unit? They can never make up their minds. They try on everything in the store on before settling on a pair of pumps they could’ve picked up at a factory outlet for half the price.

Chairwomyn: Okay, so how will giving male units equal seating on the bus, not to mention the vote, arrest the decline of the retail shoe market and benefit womynkind?

Rep. Peterbilt: It would be the first step, so to speak, in giving them full citizenship under the law.

Chairwomyn: What the hell for? Look, if we give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. Everyone knows that all male units are good for is spending money and being decorative. Other than that, the little dears are just plain useless. They can’t even take out the trash or kill a spider in the bathtub. One other thing, if you care to hear about a really alarming consequence of giving male units the vote
Rep. Peterbilt: And what would that be?

Chairwomyn: Male units in Congress, that’s what! How does that grab you?

Rep. Peterbilt: Oh nonsense. That would never happen. Never
Chairwomyn: Oh? And why, by all that’s holy in the name of Athena, not?

Rep. Peterbilt: Well, even equality has it limits.

Chairwomyn: Don’t count on it!. They may even try to put a male unit in the White House! Imagine that!

Rep. Peterbilt: Oh please, Madame Chairwomyn, I mean really! Surely, even in the great state of Womynnesota, you’ve heard the word “ninny”?

Chairwomyn: I have. Usually applied to misguided Calipornians. I say we table this issue and let it die in the Rules Committee, along with that lunatic balanced budget and arms reduction bill. Let’s move on. What’s the next agenda item?  


Thursday, October 1, 2015

My Hospital Visit

This week The Lady Karen took me to the VA hospital for a lung scan ordered by my primary care doctor.  The doc wants to see if my lung trouble, from decades of smoking, is something worse than mere shortness of breath. 

Last week the primary care doc spotted a spot on one of my lungs that she did not like the look of, and ordered an x-ray scan of everything from the waist up. She also wanted to hear what the pulmonary people had to say about treatment. So I had two appointments that day, two hours apart.

The first appointment was with a radiology tech to have my lungs scanned for unwelcome critters. The tech was a big male bouncer in scrubs.  He needled me with a syringe full of a radioactive cocktail to see if I was carrying any little lung bugs that would show up on the scan. Then he had me lie on a stretcher for an hour in a darkened exam room. By myself. Not even a book or an old Sports Illustrated to read.  Just me and my vivid imagination, dammit. So I feel asleep. We old farts do that.

Upon awakening I was walked to a room full of equipment from the Starship Enterprise, including a great big tube that looked like it could launch torpedoes. For this procedure I had to drop my pants and undies to my knees and lie on a stretcher, thinking some guys pay big bucks for this kind of abuse from someone named Mistress Whiplash, but instead I was politely bullied by Tech Bouncer, who inserted my partly naked bod on a stretcher into the tube, like a torpedo in a WW2 submarine movie. I felt like saying “swoooosh,” like a launched torpedo but didn't. Tech B also jabbed my finger and an artery to Dracula some blood for a diabetes test.

The torpedo run took 15 minutes as the scanner x-rayed my innards. I had a second appointment two hours later with Dr. Duc Ha, the lung guy.  He's Vietnamese.  Imagine growing up in country torn by war, speaking at least two languages, and earning a degree or two in medicine, then practicing his art for a fixed income in hospital full of limping, wheezing and doddering penniless military vets. I admire him.

Since it was around noon, and I hadn't eaten anything in the past 24 hours per doctor's orders, or had anything to drink for the prior six hours, also per doctor's orders, Lady K wheelchaired me to the hospital cafe where I had an artery clogging cheeseburger with fries and glug-glugged a deliciously unhealthy Coke.

I pulled out my wallet and handed it to Lady K to pay for our lunches at the cashier's register. She ignored me and my wallet and sprung for the meal. I didn't argue. I didn't feel like wasting time with even a token protest before getting at my gourmand's meal.

Next was an appointment with Dr. Duc Ha for the prognosis. A lot of Asians work for the VA here in San Diego.  I noticed the same thing up north.  They're very efficient without being brusque.  No matter what they do to you, they're polite about it.   Lady K who had patiently waited in the hallway working a Sudoko puzzle while I was being a torpedo, wheeled me through a labyrinth of hallways to Dr Ha's cubbyhole for the test results.

Dr. Ha was accompanied by two other physicians -- one a token minority white male, the other an Asian lady --  when he delivered my prognosis.  The spot on my long abused lungs is not cancerous. It's just a spot, but he wants another look-see in three months. And I don't have diabetes either.

I felt like celebrating with a carton of Oreos while reflecting on my state of grace, grace being defined as undeserved good fortune, and the kindness and compassion of my friend, The Lady Karen Simons.


Mike, some of the more interesting (and telling) essays I've read have been by physicians who were themselves subject to a battery of 'tests' in a hospital setting, and of course those who could and would write about the experience for publication might tend to be more insightful, but the common thread seemed to be a new since of humility about what "they" put "us" through routinely  -- Hadleigh SJ

I frickin' hate doctors, hospitals and tests. Glad you're clear. -- Lady Writer

Well, I suppose I'd feel the same way if I was a lady with all those complicated hidden lady parts that get poked, prodded and spread wide with cold metal instruments during "routine" pelvic exams that would send the burliest of men screaming for an exit with his hands fig-leafed protectively over his hanging jewels.  Call women the weaker sex, my ass! MB

Quite accurate!  Female friend of mine got the same fright in January after four decades of 2 packs of mentholated Dunhill cigs a day. Scared to death she was when the spot was discovered.  She went through the same exams as you did and was finally declared perfectly healthy. Next thing was the booze. A bottle of whiskey a day for 20 years, until she "quit drinking" and got plastered each day on white wine for 10 years. Past 4 p.m she would hit furniture and tumble to bed by 7p.m until the next day. An ex saved her life, accepting to have her back if she stopped drinking. Since last July she's been on alcohol-free beer.  Now, I realize what I didn't have to go through for giving up smoking 27 years ago. Not a single puff ever since. As for booze, were it not for the religious bullshit, I'd be an almost perfect Mormon. Forgot to say how happy I am to know you'll still be around for quite a while – Gerard

Well, for awhile anyway. MB

My condolences for your fright and hospital indignities, but you ain't got nothin' here, Tomato. One day, when the "monetized blog" that our friend Mrs. Summers insists I launch is up and running (yeah, right), I will regale you of my many hospital experiences over the last few years. I'm surprised I'm still alive, but I've kicked the oxycodone to which I kept getting reintroduced. -- Mike L.

Thank goodness you're ok! – Pamela

Whew-- glad the spot was nothing more! You have a good friend there. – Linda F

Ah, so happy it all turned out well for you my dear friend. Hang in there! -- Lynda A

Having just experienced a 44-minute trip in 'the tube', I feel your pain, although if they had suggested I drop my drawers, there would've been trouble. Thanks for waiting until the last fucking second to tell me you did not have cancer. Scared me to death. --Linda V 

Well, that's what I was thinking -- you waited until the last fucking second to tell us you are okay. I wasn't sure I could hold my breath that long, but I made it. Mike, I am very glad you are okay. One reason is that I want to thoroughly enjoy your writing for a long time to come.  I forbid you to cheat us out of it for a long, long time. -- Zoey

Glad the news was good. Stay well! – Soy

Me too. Thanks ever'buddy for your kind words. MB

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Making Peace With The Pacific

The ocean can be sarcastic as hell. I mean, last month I moved to San Diego from California's version of Omaha with palm trees, Sacramento. When I arrived, Ocean talked to me in a bored snotty tone.

“Well, well, well,” Ocean sneered. “Look who's here. The ungrateful little wretch I carried all the way to Asia without drowning when he was a young ungrateful little wretch. I even threw in a pair of dolphins to show the way, otherwise that fat gray tub in which he was riding would have gotten as lost as Columbus did, the ninny.”

“Hello Ocean. Nice to see you too. Killed any Japanese lately?”

“Try, just this once, not to be a smartass,” Ocean said with an exasperated sigh. “They knew they were in tsunami country when they built their flimsy bamboo houses right smack on the beach. Too tempting a target. Same with that lunatic nuclear reactor that I swamped to show them the error of their ways. But never mind that. What brings you to my shore, you aged ex-sailor boy you? Got a death wish?”

“Not today, but thanks for offering. Besides, you'll recall that I'm descended from Norwegian sailors and the seagoing Native Americans of Southeastern Alaska. So my fatal attraction to you is genetic.”

“Oh yeah, the sardine eaters and foul tempered canoe jockeys with hyphenated names. So, you moved here because your wretched landlubber's heart is filled with love for little ol' me? I'm flattered right down to my tide pools, dearie me.”

“You do have your good moments. After all, Balboa named you Pacific, or peaceful..”

“Yeah, that was before I smacked him around some. Then Pizarro came along and accused him of some made up charges, and Balboa lost his head back in Spain. See? No good deed goes unpunished.”

“Oh?  Since when are you such a moralist?  And with a cliché at that. Tsk tsk.”

“Moi?  A moralist?  Perish the thought, laddie buck.  And keep your girlish tsks to yourself. If the headsman's ax or the lousy medieval mutton and pork diet hadn't nailed Balboa, I might've.   Moralist?  It is to laugh. Ha ha. After all, I got Magellan.”

“Beg to differ, Ocean. Filipino warriors killed Magellan. Maybe they thought he was an evil spirit, or maybe he groped someone's sister.”

“Yeah, well, let's get back on point here, kiddo. So what brings you to my fair shores?”

“Some friends who thought I'd be better off in closer proximity to you, for some reason, rather than slowly baking amid the pesticide ridden fields and the furnace heat of the Sacramento Valley in summer.

“Ha!” barked Ocean. “And will you stroll my shore with your 'trousers rolled,' like T.S. Eliot's J. Alfred Prufrock?”

“Oh probably. I'll even dare to eat a peach, like Prufrock didn't.”

“Fine,” Ocean said. “Just don't spit peach pits in my waves. Don't pee in them when wading either, even with your trousers rolled."

“Don't tempt me."

"Don't provoke me."

"Deal," I said, and ate a peach.


Comments, critiques, corrections -- maybe cash -- are welcome:

Very funny!  -- Shannon

I hope you kept your pit and your, well, you know, in your pants. -- Beaty

You're no fun.  MB


Question, why is FOX news so bad?  Is it because they lean toward the Republican side or am I wrong on that?  -- CM

Fox boss Roger Ailes was the head honcho on the Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes presidential campaigns.  He adopted the motto "fair and balanced," when making the Fox network a megaphone for conservative values, even though its broadcasts are neither fair nor balanced.  The slogan has succeeded in constipating liberals and making them grind their teeth in their sleep, as Mr. Ailes intended. MB

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Big Change

As I was saying, before being interrupted by the passage of months and some nice people who forcibly U-Hauled me and my Betta fish out of my Sacramento garret and into a San Diego condo, change is inevitable.

I hate change. I mean big change. Little changes, like underwear, are okay in moderation. But now and then a big change will tsunami its inexorable way into the most placid of lives, however hysterical the resistance of the placidee.

I mean, my new home is a beautiful place in a beautiful city, but a childhood of being frequently bunted between the far north and the deep south with a foray to the midwest by adventure stricken parents gave me a ironclad longing to stay-the-hell put and screw the adventure. I wanted permanence, goddamnit, and thought I had it in pleasantly dull Sacramento.

“Har de har har” the Fates laughed. The sonsabitches do that to the complacent and I found myself piloting an 18' truck in a two vehicle caravan down I-5, San Diego bound. Me, Mr. Don Simons and Mr. Rip (my tropical Betta fish) were in the truck. Mrs. Simons was driving my car, a 1986 Snitt.  That's what I call it.  

See, I always wanted to “leave in a snit,”  so I made up a fake automaker which I claimed made the car, adding that I  planned to eventually trade up to a Huff.  The car is actually a Honda Accord. I don't have right letters for Snit or Huff, but maybe I can fabricate a metal logo to read Doodah instead of Honda, but that's a project I'll procrastinate later. Anyway, because of the 55 mph speed limit imposed on trucks, and a big detour around L.A., we took two days to reach our destination.

I have a brief history in San Diego, a rite of passage due to failing high school grades and a runaway social maladjustment that landed me in the Navy right after my 17th birthday. Aside from a case of pneumonia in boot camp, which I aggravated by sneaking cigarettes in an isolation ward, I had good memories of San Diego, especially for its proximity to the fleshpots of Mexico where bartenders weren't fussy about IDs.

These days my only interest in Mexico does not extend beyond a beef burrito at a Taco Bell. Seems I've become more provincial and less worldly. What an old fuddy-duddy. But I draw the line at completing the Sudoko puzzle in the San Diego Union-Tribune, wearing my khaki pants halfway up my scrawny chest, or grumbling because the local PBS channel doesn't carry Lawrence Welk reruns. Even fuddy-duddies have their vanity and delusions of an embroidered youth.   I never liked Lawrence Welk's music anyway.  

San Diego has a lot more to offer than Sacramento for even the fuddiest of duddies.   An ocean, for starters. The Sacramento Valley is short on oceans, even though it was once the bottom of an inland sea. Some cynics who are less than enchanted with state government wish it was still submerged.   Not me.   Live and let live I say, but please, no more changes for awhile.   At least not in what passes for my back yard, a small balcony the owner optimistically festooned with live plants. I'm not a plant person.  In fact, I have a plant killing black thumb.  But maybe that will change too.   

Oh, and the above photo with an airplane?   That was taken during a visit to San Diego in April, before I was permanently moved as the only ex-pilot to be hijacked to Soutrhern California.



You needed a change.  I'm thrilled for you.  -- LadyWriter


Wow..that's quite a change!! Hope you enjoy the weather, the water, the winter, the wonderfulness, and all the rest that SD has to offer. Email me if you get lonely in your new digs. I wish you the best -- Sac is poorer without your presence! (Getting hard to breathe up here with all the NorCal fires...cough, cough!)   -- Cyn


The zoo, the zoo!  All I know about San Diego is that it has a great zoo. No one, in our age bracket should have to make a major move. It is very unsettling. Glad you made it though. Go to the ocean, it's worth a look-see!  - Beaty


As a member of the Internet Fuddy Duddy gang, I couldn't sort out how to comment on this one. Anyway, it's wonderful writing, and LOL stuff. You should send it to the SD Union-Trib or Cal mag or re-jigger it a bit and send to NY Times.  -- Tim

California Magazine went belly up in '87 after publishing a some columns of mine.  But its demise wasn't all my fault.  Honest.  MB


I love San Diego!   I lived there twice - once for five years across from the ocean in OB/Sunset Cliffs, and another time in Pt. Loma area.   -- Tab


Maybe I've got one more move left in me.     Excuse me while I procrastinate another year.   -- Zoey


The indignity of it all... to be hijacked in a road hugging four wheeler instead of a bi-wing open cockpit or P-41 Mustang! --  Kent

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Gift Of A City

Don and Karen Simons gave me San Diego for my birthday.  Well, not the entire city.  Just the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, the Hotel Del Coronado, the Old Globe Theatre, Montgomery Field, a helicopter ride and a plate of Philippine noodles.  It was way too much loot to fit in my carry-on bag for the flight home to Sacramento.  I left everything as it was except for the noodles, which I ate.

Also included was a breakfast with Mr. and Mrs. Edward R. Murphy, Jr.  Mr. Murphy is a former Navy lieutenant.  He was also the education officer of the Subic Bay Naval Station in the Philippines in 1962 where he confined Seaman Browne  to the base until Seaman Browne passed a high school GED test, the tyrant.

Mr. Murphy later served as the executive officer of the USS Pueblo, the Navy spy ship captured by North Korea in international waters in 1968.   The 82 crewmen were imprisoned under medieval conditions for 11 months of physical and mental torture.  He co-authored a book about the experience:

Mr, Murphy – he will always be Mr. Murphy to me.  Navy training takes lasting grip --  is also the recipient of the Navy Marine Corps medal for lifesaving.

Don and Karen Simons volunteer as tuxedo-clad ushers at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park, a replica of its London namesake where the son of a glove maker named William Shakespeare staged his plays.  The Simons thought it would be a socko idea if I volunteered to usher too. 

So packed my second hand tuxedo for the occasion, a performance of  Buyer And Cellar.  The premise is an out of work actor hired to perform as a dress shop clerk in a fake mall in Barbra Streisand’s basement where the estimable Ms. Streisand is the only customer and very picky one at that.  Her character is never seen.  Actor and author Jonathan Tollins is the only presence on the theatre-in-the-round stage for an hour and forty minutes of very funny monologue.  He was given a well earned standing ovation.

So, my thanks to Don and Karen Simons, Karen’s mother, Wanda, and the family’s feisty ball of white fluff, a pooch named Cody, for a week of the best birthday ever.



Thanks so much for keeping me in the loop of your words. Whether they are old memories and fresh ones, I've found keeping memories written down to reread on occasion is a bit of reliving it that goes down well. Life isn't as much a plan for tomorrow as it is a whole bunch of memories of yesterday re-experienced at a certain age.

I hope you remember your great birthday present and that your fish lives plenty long to give you untold numbers of stares through the deep aquarium address he now shares with you. --- ZoZo

It’s already cut my toxic TV habit by 80%.


Happy belated birthday.  By the way, have you named your fish? (Not that it'll come when you call it, but it seems it's the thing to do.)  - Beaty

I have.  Since it’s a Betta fighting fish, I’ve named him Rip Finley, Fish Ninja. 

Good job, as usual.  – Bob


Wonderful as always!  -- Juli


Sounds like a great birthday!  Glad you had fun!  -- Shannon


You lucky dog!!  -- Wht

Monday, April 6, 2015

My New BFF - Best Fish Friend


Spent time with my two of my favorite ladies last week:  Blythe, age 10 (almost), and her grandmother, The Lady Karen.  We met at a coffee shop halfway between Sacramento and the Bay Area, where Blythe lives and where Lady K was visiting.  They brought gifts of licorice candy and a new best friend:  a fish.

Oh but not just any fish, but a genuine tropical orange and purple ninja fighting fish, called a Betta.  The fish came with a combination ninja dojo and bachelor pad water tank, a water filter, a light, some stylish fish furniture and accessories, and enough food to keep the fish in fighting trim.

Thing is, it doesn’t have another fish to fight. That’s a good thing if you want to keep your Betta on a long term basis, but there are reflecting surfaces on the inside of the tank.  This way it can happily hurl threats and insults at what seems to be another fish without risking injury and other fish mayhem. 

I haven’t told the fish that it’s only seeing reflection of itself and I don’t plan to.  It might get depressed and just sulk all day in a hidden recess of the stylish fish accessories  and be no fun at all. 

There are other benefits to having an active fish in an aquarium.   For one thing, it relaxes me.  For another, I spend less time watching TV and more time watching the fish. Unlike the TV, the fish doesn’t blab doom and gloom about the economy, reveal the personal secrets of celebrities I’ve never heard of, or try to sell me anything for $19.95 plus shipping and handling.  I find that refreshing.

I have made one minor lifestyle change now that the fish and I are roomies: I don’t make tuna sandwiches where the fish can see me. That’s just good manners


Sunday, March 29, 2015

High Times

Airliners makes me grumpy.  I mean, I like flying.  Hell, I’m a former pilot.  Second generation.  My dad was a pioneer pilot in South America and Alaska whose flying career spanned 40 years. I grew up around and in aircraft. eventually becoming an honest-to-gosh legally licensed airborne hazard myself.  So I know the risks inherent in doing something as unnatural for a wingless creature as "slipping the surly bonds of earth and dancing aloft on laughter silvered wings," as that unbelievably cornball poem "High Flight" has it.     

Anyway, this week I'm slipping the surly bonds of earth on an airline flight to San Diego. The risks will be to my sanity,not my safety.  They include  being jammed into narrow seat upholstered in cement with an armrest hogging garlic eater on one side and an oblivious mother with a shrieking pooper on the other.  Oh, and someone’s little angel in back of me kicking my cement seat.

Then there are the folks of the Transportation Security Administration who will bombard my alabaster body with radioactivity to determine if that thing in my pants is not a small bazooka, and who will worry that I might hijack an airliner with an eight ounce can of shaving cream in my ZipLoc terrorist kit, which I'll  have to get rid of before boarding the plane.

The two ounce size is okay, though, in case you’re thinking of hijacking a turboprop commuter flight.  But I doubt too much terror will be struck in the hearts and minds of other passengers by a hijacker holding a can of Gillette Foamy to the neck of an annoyed flight attendant and demanding that the flight arrive on time.

I’ll be flying on Southwest Airlines.  I like Southwest.  When a man named Herb Kelleher bought Texas Air and renamed it Southwest, he came up with a really radical idea:  Give flight crews a greater say in management decisions about working conditions. That made his competitors snort in derision.

“Snort snort,” they derision.  “Who is this Kelleher person? Employees <snort> should be grateful that we even notice them, at least when we do notice them for other than <snort> handing them a  <snort> furlough notice. Hey!  <snort> Look at me! I can <snort> talk and snort at the same time! <snort snort>  

Ah, but the result of Mr.Kelleher’s unconventional thinking resulted in happy flight crews. Happy flight crews were encouraged to be creative and funny with cabin announcements, which resulted in passengers actually paying attention during the pre-takeoff safety talk from the happy flight attendants.  Happy passengers are often repeat passengers, and that makes management happy.   A swell deal all around.

Now if only Southwest would allow cabin crews to add a little Thorazine to the beverages served to little poopers, annoying seat kickers and armrest hogging garlic eaters whose breath could start a truck.  
Makes me wish I could sprout feathers, wings and webbed feet and just flap my way to San Diego without being hassled by TSA gropers and seatmates from hell. 

Oh well, it’s only a 90 minute flight and I know better than to pray for patience.  Prayers can result in a Divine Response in the form of a test, like Job got, the poor bastard.. Even an atheist like me knows better than provoke other peoples' gods. I suppose I could make the trip on laughter silvered wings, but I quit drinking alcohol years ago.

# # #


One of the last experiences I had was a direct flight to Boston from someplace. I think the midway point was St. Louis. Thunder storms greeted us, eventually passed, and we taxied to fall in line behind other delayed planes for the last leg of the journey. There was a smarmy, odorous European on my left. I had my nose buried in the window (thank God for small seating favors). After an hour I was becoming more than anxious. We were told we would be taking off shortly, but that didn't seem likely. At the two hour mark, the pilot announced that we had to go back to the gate. (Some man's oxygen had run out. God bless him.) I was right behind him. The stewardess told me she couldn't guarantee it wouldn't be another two hours, so I bolted for the terminal in a full-blown panic attack. The airline was very polite, gave me food vouchers and booked me on the next flight, which conveniently had about 10 people on it. I took a seat, lifted the arm rests and had 3 seats to myself. I buckled up and took a nice long nap. The only person I inconvenienced by doing this was my brother, who had gone to Logan to pick me up. This was a long, long time ago, before cell phones and rules about wait times. I wasn't a good flyer then, and I don't fly now, if at all possible. Thanks for you story. I hope you have a great flight!   -- Beaty


Nicely done and well-feathered -- Kent

Thank you.  I've noticed that ducks get mighty skittish around orange sauce and Chinese restaurants.  MB


I love it Mike. Of course, we would be wedged between unruly and loud babies, uncouth or stupid passengers sitting so close as to feel their breath and gum chewing model wannabes. You see them all I fear. At least it is only 90 minutes from here to San Diego.

Figure this on a flight from Sacramento to Atlanta and add a few more babies, young children whose stuffed animals make incessant godawful noises, and who seem to feel the back seat of the passenger in front of them (in which I sit) is a locked gate that needs to be opened by battering rams--Daddy or mommy saying sweetly, 'please stop that'. And then the crying and all. Now I love babies but honestly, there should be a plane just for these kids with their parents. For some reason I like peace and quiet and sleep.

I hope you are doing well. If my dad were alive he would say hello and treat you to more stories and songs. – Peggy

I too wish that elegant gentleman was still alive. MB


My experiences with airlines and planes is very limited, as I've flown about as many times as I can count on one hand. However, even with my severely limited flying stories, I did have some issues on flights.

Once, I sat next to a man on a flight who had no capacity to be anything but marginally civil, and I'm absolutely certain him treating me like a turnip is something he did to everyone. He simply had no social skills whatsoever, so he chose to just pretend no one but him existed, which was....well...creepy. Not that I want to talk to strangers non-stop on a long flight (from Seattle to Chicago), but I said, creepy just the same.

Second,  the food. I would hope that over the ten years I haven't flown, the food has improved. Yep. I'm going to say it....ready? It tasted like cardboard. Not even salted cardboard. I don't even remember what it was, but I'm reasonably sure it was supposed to be some kind of pasta, but it was awful. I couldn't even eat the little bag of peanuts they tried to give me - I'm allergic. So, I ate an orange I had brought, or I would have withered away to nothing. (Okay, go along with me on that.) I was glad the man who met me at John Wayne Airport whisked me off to have dinner. Whew.

I will say that people complain about little "puddle jumpers", those planes that have transported me from my town to Seattle in half an hour. I always found them to be sort of fun. I'm not sure if that makes me weird, but oh well. The loud-ish, bumpy jaunt in a cramped seat just seems like some sort of high carnival ride to me.
Anyway, thanks for sending me the great stuff you write.  -- Z.

Thank you for reading it.   MB


What a great read! Reminds me of the times when I was single and would take short jaunts to Las Vegas just to go dancing with strangers, and maybe hit the nickel slots...

Too bad about the pooper and the garlicman!!! I found a thrill every time I rode in a plane. I won a trip to Bal Harbour in Florida back in '84, and wow, what fun to look at the clouds … I met wonderful people on every flight when I was alone.  Great story, Mike, I want to see your work in PRINT. -- Amanda