THE VACATION FROM HELL ( A CHRISTMAS POEM)

The Wolfsies have returned from a Christmas cruise where high seas and bad weather made our journey less than enjoyable. So, in the spirit of Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem spiced with a little Dr. Seuss, I hope you enjoy my memory of the trip. 
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the boat
People were restless so here’s what I wrote
We had decided this Christmas to forego a gift
And instead spend the money to all go adrift 
The Wolfsies were nestled all snug in our beds
While visions of port calls danced in our heads 
Mary Ellen in her nightgown and I in my tee
Were ready for bed and looked out at sea
When out on the deck there arose such a racquet
I ran to our closet and grabbed a life jacket
Then to the port hole to look out on the ocean
That made me seasick…all due to the motion
When what to my listening ears should I hear
But an officer’s voice and the message was clear:
The sea was too choppy, or so said the captain
Disembarking the ship was not gonna happen
Then he whistled and shouted and called them by name
No Honduras, no Cozumel and then, no Belize
I let out a curse word
My wife said, “Oh, geez.”
With no ports to dock in, the message was clear
They couldn’t stock up on food I held dear:
No knockwurst, no blintzes, no lox, and no brisket
The heck with the waves, I thought they should risk it. 
Then in a twinkling an announcement to all
Confirming again there’d be no ports of call
But the captain assured all on the cruise
There would be lots on board to entertain and amuse
Now Johnsons, now Goldbergs, now Reynolds, now Grays
There’s shuffleboard, ping pong and a jukebox that plays
The casino is open, just think about that
Or learn to fold towels in the shape of cat
The people on board could not have been madder
And then out on the deck I heard such a clatter
When what to my wandering eyes should appear
But the head chef himself in his holiday gear
He was dressed all in white like a man from the navy
And his clothes were stained with chocolate and gravy
He had a broad face and a little round belly
And he passed out some pastries and small jars of jelly
Then a wink of his eye and a nod of his head
And now I was sure that I would be fed
He spoke not a word but went right to his station 
Creating his dishes from every known nation 
He pinched thumb to forefinger and said, “magnifique!” 
What a soup he created: I think it was leek.
Then he made a new sauce and a great crème brûlée
Then back to the kitchen to prepare for the next day.
I heard him exclaim as he went out of sight:
Merry Christmas to all and enjoy every bite!

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Grumpy New Man

Grumpy New Man

My wife told me the other day that my New Year’s resolution for 2016 should be to stop being so negative and grouchy. But my humor columns are dependent on those very qualities.  I’ve made a career out of people mistaking my crankiness for wittiness.
I once complained to the manager at Kroger that their entrance and exit doors were on the wrong sides. “I’ll never shop here again,” I told him. “I don’t know if I’m coming or going.” But did he call me grumpy? No, he burst out laughing—and told me I should use that line in my next column.
A few years ago I protested to a couple of Girl Scouts who came to the door selling cookies that their product was too high in fat and that eating S’mores would shoot my lipids through the roof. Their mothers called and thanked me, saying this was a good health lesson for nine-year-olds. These women must not have known I bought six boxes.
This past spring, I complained to some of my neighbors about their unkempt lawns.  I fussed at others who were putting their garbage out at the curb two days before trash pick-up, and I put my foot down about kids making a ruckus shooting hoops in their driveways on Sunday mornings when I was trying to sleep.  Instead of being annoyed, they made me president of the homeowners association. Maybe the problem is that I don’t have the right “old codger” look. I’m going to stop dying my hair and start hoisting my pants up to my ribcage.
I’m optimistic about 2016. I’ve already put together my top 10 list of stuff that makes me grumpy.
I don’t want the clerk to keep asking me if I have a Speedy Rewards Card. I don’t.
I don’t want to buy something in a bag that says tear here. It doesn’t.
I don’t want tech guys telling me it’s as easy as plugging it in. It’s not.
I don’t my wife telling me I can learn to load the dishwasher correctly. I can’t.
I don’t want my son telling me I should look at YouTube cat videos.  I shouldn’t.
I don’t want people asking me if I’m the guy who does the weather. I’m not.
I don’t want people asking me if my dog, Barney, is still alive. He’s not.
I don’t want some telemarketer calling to ask if I would like to try a generic Lipitor made overseas. I wouldn’t.

I don’t want people telling me they read my column in the Indianapolis Star. They can’t.
I don’t want my wife asking me when I’m driving if I know where I’m going. I don’t.
And finally, number 10, just to show you that I don’t end everything on a negative note…
I don’t want someone on the phone asking if I mind holding. I DO!

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