28 August 2018

An Espresso, Sugar, a Conversation, A Proposition

“Why do you always bring me sugar with my espresso? Everyday I come here for breakfast and everyday when I finish eating I order an espresso and everyday you bring me the espresso and sugar, yet I never, ever put sugar in my espresso and you know this because you usually sit with me while I drink it.”

“Is this something for you to get upset about? Is it really such a big deal. So don’t use the sugar, my putting the sugar on the table doesn’t hurt you one bit.”

“Okay, so it’s not a big deal but I just don’t understand why you always put the sugar on the table. Why?”

“It’s just a habit. Whenever I serve coffee to anyone I automatically bring the sugar. I’m supposed to.”

“Even to me who doesn’t use the sugar.”

“I still don’t get why this is such a big deal. What do you care?”

“It just bothers me is all.”

“Why should such a little thing bother you? Haven’t you got other cares in the world? Why be bothered about something that doesn’t put you out in the slightest?”

“It’s a waste of your time. Maybe I just don’t like seeing you waste your time.”

“Okay, if it’ll make you feel any better I won't bring the sugar to your table next time you order an espresso.”

“Now I’m sorry I made such a big deal out of it.”

“After all that now you decide you’re sorry about making such a big deal out of it. Geez, you’re hard to figure.”

“I guess I’m getting crotchety in my old age.”

“Old age? You’re not that old.”

“I’m a good two dozen years older than you.”

“The heck you are. I’m 32.”

“Well I’m 60, so there you have it?”

“In a pig’s eye you’re 60. I’d have trouble believing you’re 50.”

“You want me to whip out my driver’s license?”

“As long as that’s the only thing you whip out.”

“When have I ever done the slightest thing that suggested that I’m a dirty old man?”

“I’m just teasin’ ya, but I do see the way you look at my ass when I walk away.”

“Wait a second, how can you tell if someone is looking at your ass if you’re walking away?”

“See that mirror over there?”

“Geez I’m busted. Well in my defense you’ve got a nice one.”

“I suppose that’s a compliment.”

“Of course it is. There’s nothing wrong with suggesting you’ve got a cute ass, it’s not as if I don’t enjoy talking to you and don’t enjoy your intellect.”


“You’re a very bright person and I always like talking to you. Why do you think I tip you so well?”

“I always thought the tips were on account of my ass. And don’t think I don’t notice you sneaking a peak at my tits when I bend over to serve you.”

“Well how the hell can I not see them? They’re practically in my face.”

“Not that you mind.”

“Not that I mind, indeed.”

“Haven’t you dated since your wife died?”

“Couple of times, but I didn’t enjoy it. There was no spark and it was too much work getting to know someone from scratch. I could do it when I was young, but I haven’t the energy.”

“I know what you mean. It’s been hard for me to get back in the dating scene since my divorce. I guess I just don’t trust men anymore.”

“You can trust me.”

“Like you said, you’re a couple of centuries older than I am.”

“I said a couple of dozen years!”

“Still, that’s a pretty big gap.”

“You might like an older man.”

“Are you flirting with me?”

“Hell, just about all I do is flirt with you. Hadn’t you noticed?”

“There’s different kind of flirting. What you’ve done before was just for fun, this time it seems you're trying to get something out of it.”

“You can’t blame a fella for trying.”

“Well, I’m flattered.”

“Maybe I can put a character based on you in my next novel.”

“Not sure how I feel about that. But wait, are you saying you’d do that so I’d sleep with you?”

“Now don’t get all worked up, I’m just having fun. Besides, I wasn’t thinking of sleeping.”

“I’ll bet you weren’t.”

“How about a one-night stand?”

“I believe you’re serious.”

“If you say 'yes' then I’m dead serious, if you say 'no' then I was just fooling around.”

“Hmm, I do have to say you’re in pretty good shape.”

“For a man of my age?”

“I’d say for a man of a certain age, you look ten years younger.”


“But that’s still a lot older than me.”

“Age is just a number.”

“You’ve got a point there.”

“So really I never thought of this before, but why don’t we, well, start off with dinner some night, how about that?”

“And I suppose that I’m the dessert?”

“Depends on how you look at it, maybe I’m the dessert.”

“I’ve always thought you were a wit.”

“That’s just one of my strong suits.”

“I suppose another is your prowess in the bedroom.”

“Well, I don’t like to brag.”

“No, I’m sure you don’t.”

“So whattaya say? Dinner and a nightcap at my place? I have a really nice apartment.”

“I should hope you do, you being a big time author.”

“I don’t know that I’m big time. Whatever I am as a writer it’s only enough to make me middle class.”

“Just that, huh?”

“Maybe upper middle class.”


“So are you thinking about it?”

“Look, you don’t have to buy me dinner. How about I just come up to your place some night and chat and we see where the evening takes us.”

“I’m loving this conversation. I’m sure glad it’s slow here today.”

“Yeah I bet you are. But I need the tips.”

“Okay so you want to come over tonight?”

“Sure, my calendar is open. But no promises.”

“Hey I’ll be happy just to spend time with you somewhere besides in this restaurant. Anything else that happens is a bonus.”

“Bonus, huh? Well we’ll just have to see if you earn that bonus Mr. Novelist.”

“You are a sexy woman.”

“By the way, your espresso is getting cold.”

“Needs more sugar.”


24 August 2018

I Get News of a Fortune Coming My Way and Respond to the Glad Tidings

Today I received the following email. For some strange reason it wound up in my spam folder. I have included my response below.

Edward Williams Thu, Aug 23, 2018 at 2:32 AM
Reply-To: Edward Williams
Dear Beneficiary,

It's my pleasure to inform you that after our Board of Directors meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs we have concluded to release your Overdue Inheritance Funds Worth US$4.5 Million via our service western union Remittance.

Moreover based on our agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs you will be receiving US$5,000 on a daily basis until your total payments Worth US$4.5 Million is completely transferred.

Sender’s First Name:__Nuel

Sender’s Last Name:___Richard

Amount sent:___$5000

Meanwhile you are required to provide the below details accordingly:
1) Your Full Name: 
2) Your Full Address:    
3) Phone Number:

Furthermore you are required to send US$150 which will enable our authority the Ministry of Finance signs the Funds Release Order We are waiting for your urgent respond to enable us commence with this project.

Yours in Service
Agent Edward Williams
General Manager western union

Dear Ed, What a pleasure to receive your email and discover that I am soon to be a wealthy man. I can't tell you how happy this makes me (mainly because it doesn't). But before I receive this largesse I have a few questions. Why did you misspell both "official" and "western" in your email address? Or have there been changes in the spellings of these words that I am unaware of? Or did you really mean officail? Maybe this is a new word? And perhaps werstern is a new word too.

It must have been a thrill for you to meet with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However you neglected to mention which country this high mucky muck represents. Narnia? Freedonia? Prussia? Also, I'm curious as to how you decided that I am the rightful heir to this fortune. I have no wealthy relatives that I am aware of. Did a former student of mine go on to a successful life of crime and was said student inspired on this path by my class and did this student want to reward his or her inspiration? Perhaps it was a death bed wish after being plugged full of lead by a rival. The mind reels at the possibilities.

You say that I am required to send my full name. Don't you know it? Surely this is a mistake. You have to know who I am if it has been decided that I am the one due these millions of bucks. I'll assume that it's an oversight and not an indication that this is a sham.

So I'm required to send $150 to get the ball rolling. How bout this instead: you deduct it from my first $5,000 payment. Hell, given how much I've got coming my way why not double it, take $300, consider it a little something for you and your family.

Once again, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to cashing your checks and to the answers to my questions above. Let me know where you kids are holed up and as I'll be jet-setting round with all my dough I'll pop in and take you to lunch. It's a promise.

Your pal,

P.S. This is on the level, isn't it?

13 August 2018

Take A Knee for Racial Justice

Imagine being black and standing for the national anthem and looking “proudly” at the American flag. A flag that waved and an anthem that was played when your ancestors were being kidnapped in Africa and brought over to this country in chains. The same anthem and flag in use when your ancestors were being sold on auction blocks, worked in fields, whipped, raped and denied decent quarters, good food and an education. The same anthem and flag in use when your ancestors suffered under the oppressive Black Codes, the Jim Crow laws and the arbitrary and cruel injustice of the lynch mobs. The same anthem and flag in use when your ancestors were denied equality in housing, schools, transportation and entertainment. The same anthem and flag in use when your ancestors were subjected to fire hoses, batons, and angry dogs when they dared march and protest for equality. Imagine standing for that anthem. Yet they did, because despite it all they saw hope and opportunity and progress and believed in their future. But when some young black brothers in the National Football League grew weary of a criminal justice system and law enforcement officers who denied them their civil rights and made a mockery of their hard won freedoms, refused to stand for the anthem, they were vilified. Their leader, Colin Kaepernick was blackballed from the NFL.

In the antebellum south, slave owners and overseers would “break” young black men and women. Those who stood up to them and refused to yield were beaten and whipped until they were compliant. Today there resides in the White House a racist president who wants to see black NFL players who refuse to stand for the flag and the anthem, broken. He wants them suspended. He calls them names like “son-of-a-bitches.” This man wants to deny them their constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech, he wants their NFL “owners” to punish them. He wants them broken. He wants them subjugated.

(In the mid 1960s a young boxer named Cassius Clay won the heavyweight boxing championship. This was fine with white America, especially since he had beaten another black man, Sonny Liston. But when Clay became a Muslim and changed his name to Muhammad Ali, the white American establishment recoiled. Then when Ali, on religious and moral grounds, refused to be inducted into the US army, they’d had enough. They thought they could break him by taking away his championship. They were wrong. After two and half years in boxing exile the courts ruled in his favor, Ali did not have to join the army and was finally able to box again. He eventually regained the championship.)

African Americans are currently incarcerated at a rate five times higher than that for whites. Prisons are the new slave plantations. It starts earlier with African Americans suspended and expelled from public schools at a rate three times higher than white students. When I was teaching in a public school I was told that the goal with “challenging students” as they were euphemistically called, was to get them enough days of suspension so that the district could move for expulsion. Then those students would go to another district were the cycle would be repeated. School budgets are slashed yearly eliminating programs that could help at risk students. Not that there is equality in schools. Just compare an inner city school with one in rich suburban areas. The difference is striking. Meanwhile money for prisons is plentiful.

Then there are the police — those charged with serving and “protecting” the citizenry are part of 21st century version of the lynch mob. According to an analysis of 2015 police killings by the Guardian. Racial minorities made up about 37.4 percent of the general population in the US and 46.6 percent of armed and unarmed victims, but they made up 62.7 percent of unarmed people killed by police.

How can anyone, white or black, NOT join in symbolic protests against both the overt and institutionalized racism that plagues this country?

Of course our bigot-in-chief, like many others, wishes that black athletes would find other means of expressing their discontent. You know, in a way that no one has to actually see it. I can think of no better way to call attention to this nation’s ills than refusing to stand for a song and a flag that to many have stood for so much that is wrong with this country.

I urge all Americans with a conscience to take a knee until there is real progress in addressing the bigotry that still infests this country and that horrible racist is driven out of the presidency. Power to the people.

04 August 2018

A Group of 9th Grade Boys Have a Chat Early in the School Year

“That assembly was retarded.”

“God Jake, you totally can’t say that.”

“What, why?”

“Declan is right, dude. You’re not supposed to call anything retarded.”

“Or anyone.”

“Why not? What if some dude is retarded?”

“First of all, it’s offensive, people who are retarded don’t like it.”

“What the fuck are you talking about? Retarded people don’t care what you call them.”

“Goddamnit Jake, yes they do. Just cause they’re retarded doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings.”

“But mostly it's the families of people who are retarded that don’t like the word being used. It’s too negative.”

“Negative? Shit, it’s what they are.”

“It doesn’t matter, man. You cannot use the word.”

“Well fucking great, what are you supposed to call retarded people?”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“Isn’t something like people with special needs?”

“What kind of horseshit is that? Special needs, gimme a break.”

“Actually I think special needs is for people with disabilities.”

“Being retarded is a disability.’

“No, for people with physical ones.”

“Ones what?"

"Disabilities, ass wipe.”

“You don’t have to get all crude about it.”

“No, I think I do because you’re getting on everybody’s nerves.”

“Yeah but look none of you have said what we’re supposed to call retarded people. I mean okay, I get we don’t call them that but will someone give me a substitute word?”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“Okay, here’s what I found on the internet and it matches what Mr. Kadeski said in Science class last year. ‘Intellectually and developmentally disabled’ is one there’s also ‘cognitive disability’ ‘intellectual disability’ and ‘developmental disability.’”

“Okay, okay, I’ll got with developmentally disabled. I just don’t see why these names have to be so damn long. Retarded was one short word. Now everything is like two or three long words.”

“Actually, I know what you mean. My dad said that when he was a kid black people were called negroes and it wasn’t considered like a bad word like the n word is. Then at some point it changed to African American. He also said something about people from Asia all being called orients or something.”


“What’s wrong with Oriental? Jesus why do names for people have to change?”

“I honestly don’t know what’s wrong with Oriental. Declan, you want to look that one up too?”

“I’m on it….Ya know, I’m not finding a reason. People seem just to not like it but it was never used, like ‘retarded' is as a negative term.”

“That’s so fucked up. Some people just decide its offensive without saying why and now we can’t use it?”

“Do you really want to use it, Jake? Do you really need to?”

“No, of course not, Allan, but I don’t like all these words being taken away for no good reason.”

“Some of them are taken away for good reason, they’ve been used to hurt people. People are offended by them.”

“Maybe people shouldn’t get so easily offended. Maybe they should realize that they’re just words.”

“So if I call you a fucking asshole is that's ‘just words.’”

“C’mon, Declan you know that’s different, those are words that are meant to hurt people. Oriental isn’t meant to hurt anyone, neither is retarded.”

“Okay I see what you’re saying but still people should be able to tell other people what they do and don’t wanna be called.”

“So what if I don’t want to be called ‘white’?” What if a whole bunch of us decide that ‘white’ is offensive. Will non-white people stop using it?”

“It depends, do you have a good reason — do you have any reason — for saying white is offensive?”

“First of all its a bad description. Paper is white, our skin is not white, it’s as close to pink as it is to white.”

“That’s a decent point.”

“Plus the way some African Americans use the word ‘white’ like we’re all bad, ya know how they’ll say shit like, ‘you white people always be doing this or saying that.’”

“Okay Jake but listen are a lot of white people really complaining about the word?”

“No, but maybe they should be. Maybe —- .”

“What word would you want to be used instead of white?”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“Okay, I admit I don't know, but there’s gotta be another word that’s better.”

“You think of it Jake and let us know.”

“Maybe you like caucasian better.”

“I could think of worse.”

“So you seriously want to go with caucasian? Such a weird word.”

“Doesn’t it come from some mountains in Russia or something? Declan, check it out.”

“I’m on it….Yup, there are mountains and they border Europe and Asia. In Russia and a few other countries.”

“So how do you get caucasian as a name for white people out of that?”

“I’m looking right now…..Well I’m a little shaky and how it relates to the mountains — although maybe because the original white people came from the area. Anyway, it’s like negroid and mongoloid ‘cause it refers to a race of people.”

“I don’t like the idea of being referred to as a caucasian.”

“Me either.”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“Have you ever heard European-American? There’s some bullshit there.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well you’re lumping all these people together from totally different places. Like you Allan, you’re family is from Sweden and Michael Tomaso’s parents came from Italy and I’m like part English, Irish and French and yet we’re all just European American.”

“What about African American? There are like 50 countries in Africa.”

“Yeah but black people here don’t usually know where their ancestors come from, I mean like which country, they just know that they come from the continent.”

“Sometimes I think all this hyphenating is just bullshit.”

“It can be, but if your family is all from one place like Japan then being Japanese-American makes sense.”

“I ‘spose, but why can’t we all just be Americans?”

“Because a lot of people are proud of their heritage and they want to be identified that way.”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“Hey, speaking of ‘identifying’ can you believe Marcus not wanting to be called by he or him because he’s — what he say he was?”

“Gender neutral.”

“What the fuck kind of crazy bullshit is that?”

“Marcus doesn’t feel like a man or a woman — yet.”

“Jesus, do you think that he’s going to turn himself into a woman, like have his dick cut off.”

“I don’t know, man, I don’t even like to think about it.”

“Hey, check it out, what about that dude Chris I hear he’s — ”

“If you mean Chris who wears the red jacket all the time he’s not a dude, man, that’s a chick.”

“No way.”

“Yeah, Declan is right, she’s a Christine, not a Christopher.’

“She must totally be a lesbian.”

“Ya think?”

“Well, Becky McAllister came out as lesbian in like the seventh grade.”

“Yeah that was no surprise.”

“And no loss.”

“Isn’t Peter Wright gay?”

“Yeah, he’s told a few people.”

“I’m cool with it. I mean thinking about the sex they do is totally gross but as long as they’re not bothering me….”

“Jake, dude, like some gay guy is going to hit on you.”

“Well it could happen.”

“I’m pretty sure that they only hit on people they know are gay.”

“How can they tell?”

“You’ve heard of having gaydar, right? Well they have it ten times stronger than any straight person ever could.”

“My mom said we’re lucky because when she was going to school, like nobody was out of the closet. Like you’d practically get killed if you came out.”

“Yeah, I guess that would suck.”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“I’m gonna get a girlfriend this year.”

“Me too. I’m tired of the kind of pretending like we did back in middle school where a guy and a girl say they’re a couple or are going together but they never do anything.”

“I know, I was going with Jenny McCall for a few months in 8th grade and all we ever did was talk on the phone, text and hang together at school dances. I think we kissed like twice.”

“Declan, you still going with Annie.”

“Yeah, I guess for awhile.”

“You two ever make out yet?”

“Yeah a lot of times.”

“Get any further.”

“If I did I wouldn’t tell you.”

“He hasn’t.”

“I’m ready to get laid.”

“Dude, me too and that’s all I want to do. I don’t want or need a girlfriend to do that.”

“So, Jake, you sayin’ you’re going to be a player.”


“Shit, it’s nearly five o’clock, I gotta go, my parents are going to kill me.”

“Yeah I should be getting home too.”

“Good talk everybody. See ya.”



“Fucking first period P.E. tomorrow, see you there.”