“The One Nation Under Fog Tour”

Long Island Ice Tea presidential candidate, Duck D. Duck, under the political guidance of campaign manager, Winifred P. Jumpingbean, has already eliminated Donald Trump, Mitch Daniels and Newt Geingrich as viable GOP Tea Party candidates. 

The following is the list of the remaining “hopefuls” Ms. Duck is confident of vanquishing, one lightweight at a time:

  • Jon Huntsman, (Our man in China.)

  • Tim Pawlenty, (Paint-drying in hell.)

  • Rick Perry, (Texas anti-US Union secessionist.)

  • Newt Geingrich, (Multiple Christian divorcee who serves papers to his wives while they’re laying on their deathbeds – at the same he’s time chalking-up 500,000-K at Tiffany’s  for his mistresses’ (a.k.a. Callista, wife & mistress #3…that we know-of.)   

  • Michelle Bachmann, (Hoarding children like feral cats and making a lot less sense.)

  • Rudy Giuliani, (In the right place at the right/wrong time during 9/11 – an opportunist and incoherent FOX philanderer.)

  • Herman Cain, (Best known as the CEO of ‘Godfather Pizza.)

  • Mitt Romney, (God’s liberal GOP healthcare representative from the Church of the Latter-day Saints.)

  • Rick Santorum, (Open-mouth, change feet.)

  • Rand and/or Ron Paul, (They‘re basically an interchangeable libertarian dynasty.)

  • Chris Christie, (Eehh-aahh-eehh-bih-debada-bih-debada, that’s all folks!)

  • AND last – but by all means least, Sarah Palin, (Whatever the hell she‘s up-to-on her terrifying family vacation road-trip from hell…)

Sarah Palin was 2 blocks away from Winnie’s and my house today.  We live near the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, and Palin felt a photo-opp coming-on.  I have every confidence Palin confused the 18th century-reproduction guard-houses flanking Independence Hall as port-o-potties.  

She may be a thrilling sight to autograph-seekers, but normal people were overcome by the heat and humidity – so thus stayed indoors ignoring her altogether.

Winnie and I felt no need to brave the heat to see her.  We ‘shunned’ her.  I’m delighted that woman is touring the country during the most insufferable pre-summer heat-wave since the ‘Climate Change’) debate first began in-earnest in the 1970’s.  

Palin is a faux presidential shill – sent out prior to the primaries with a cozy POX News contract and an insider’s camera crew,  jockeying herself into becoming the Right Wing’s ‘kingmaker.’  She isn’t promoting herself for anything serious, nor is anyone taking her seriously.  Palin’s running purely for money and attention.  Just like Trump.

I watched the footage of Palin making ‘cooing’ faces at disenfranchised vets who suddenly feel an uncontrollable need to vote from their crotches. 

Speaking of crotches, Palin and the aforementioned Donald Trump are having pizza tonight in New York at one of the buildings that bares his chapter 11 name-brand – I can just see them snarfing-up pizza while talking with their mouths full. 

Even as I write these words. Palin and Trump are discussing whether one prefers “Oysters or clams…”   Speaking of which, Duck, has chosen a clam as her running mate.  Apparently there is no law against eating a clam if it’s your running mate and replacing it with another look-alike.  It’s the comb-over that makes all the decisions.  (That’s the only serious political mistake Obama made – he chose an inedible V.P. with plugs instead of a comb-over.)

On TV today I watched local footage of Ms. Palin licking her lips for the patriotic erectile-dysfunction crowd.  I watched her tuck-in her blouse and do barely-audible-breathing to insure her famous Gibson-Girl waistline.  I know that move well, I’d done myself while perched on the precipice of early middle-age.  

I used to apply Just for Men to convince myself my goatee wasn’t going gray.  I got over it when I developed an allergy to the stuff.  On the other hand, Sarah is now using Soul Mutilating Skin Cleanser by Un’Reâlé.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’d vote for a woman president in a heartbeat, I’d merely like to see more than her birth certificate and verification that she’s breathing.  

I prefer my leaders to be bright.

I’m not asking to see her private parts to convince me she was a natural born female.  I don’t ask a lot.  I want to hear coherent full sentences delivered by a thoughtful adult.

Fortunately Callista Gingrich hasn’t yet realized she polls better than her husband.  Reptiles, the both of them.  No offense against raptors and lizards.  One merely has to draw the line somewhere.

Fair warning…
If you don’t Vote ‘Duck’ in 2012, you’ll be stuck with our nation’s first  African American Commander in Chief for four more years.  You’ll have to endure a patient man with a resume so impressive, it could only mean nothing to you – if you’re a racist. 

I bet the neo-cons of the nation would be really, really awed by O’Bama if he was white Anglo-Saxon Protestant and screwing the living daylights out of them.  News flash – he’s not screwing anyone.  The gullible are simply longing for the same old, familiar pain they think hurts so good.

Quacking Points

Quacking Points…

Duck D. Duck, who recently announced her on-again, off-again bid for the presidency as the ‘Grand Old Tea Party’ candidate for 2012 claims to have a ‘fire in her belly‘ which comes from eating Mexicans.  Her platform(s) will mostly be shoes.  A statement will be made at a later date purely designed to confuse the press and the voting public.  Duck will discuss at length, such issues as the environment, the economy and relations with foreigners, of which she’s had extensive back-room experience.  And while she doesn’t care about the environment in general, she will allow no ‘fracking’ in her own personal pond.  All other ways and means of destroying the planet are acceptable just so long as Duck can personally profit from them.

Once elected, duck, as an entrée, will no longer be served at the White House but other endangered species will be dished-up at her pleasure.  All fish and wildlife will be placed on high alert.  Color codes as yet to be announced.  At state dinners and visits with foreign dignitaries, she solemnly swears to ‘quack’ incessantly throughout all other country’s national anthems.

Duck, being the ‘titular head’ of the ‘Long Island Ice Tea Party’ will make greed the core value of her agenda, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen – starting with mandatory euthanization of all poor and middleclass senior citizens in order to cut-down on Medicare costs while blaming Democrats.  This has won her the ecstatic support of Wall Street and the Insurance Lobby, who promise to continue charging those seniors well past the date of their actual expiration.  

Other cost saving measures include dissolving any and all forms of education, be they local, state or federal in exchange for an IQ voucher program.  The lower the collective IQ of any particular voting district, the more electrocuted college votes they will accrue.  As implied, this includes the electrocution of all college graduates.

Duck D. Duck has the enthusiastic support of the Koch Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus who have graciously smoothed her way financially through the generosity of the Pocatello, Idaho Chamber of Commerce, POX News and the good people of the Beijing Prison and Child Labor System, (soon to be implemented in the late great state of Maine.)

On the advise of Duck’s close personal and political advisor, Winifred P. Jumpingbean, they have purchased a 1.5 million dollar mansion in Arizona so Ms. Duck can be closer to John McCain, and to establish residency among rednecks while having no intention whatsoever of actually being available at home.  Instead Duck will be concentrating her time on her upcoming bus-tour called the “One Nation Under Fog Tour.”   Duck denies any discord or competition between she and Sarah Palin’s copycat bus tour with a less catchy title. 

Spokes dog, Winifred P. Jumpingbean, has leaked word to the press that Duck is scheduled to announce her plans to either run or not run five minutes before or five minutes after Michelle Bachmann announces her confused delusions purely to steal Ms Bachmann’s gassy thunder.  It is widely speculated that Ms Duck’s running mate will be a clam with a Donald Trump comb-over.  This has yet to be verified, but pundits are certain at least the comb over itself will be endorsing her.

Political contributions in exchange for unconscionable favors can be sent c/o:
The Duck D. Duck for President Campaign Headquarters
The Pond, Texas 66666-6666

False Profits and Fools

Fear is the world’s most potent weapon, frequently used by evil, yet clever people with ulterior motives.  Bush-Cheney used fear as a tool to get us into two endless wars alarming the nation with color-codes to a point where the public became numb to the spectrum.  Both politics and religion effectively use fear to their best advantage as a mighty fundraising tool. 

False profit and congenital idiot, Harold Camping has amassed a cool $72,000,000 scaring the be-Jesus out of people with a string of highly inaccurate predictions touting the end of the world.  He got the faithful to send him their money… (side-bar here) …what in the world is he going to do with all that loot at the ripe old age of 89?  What happened to all that horse-puckie about relinquishing one’s worldly goods to the poor so as to be fit to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?  Harold Camping would seem overly burdened with riches effectively swindled from the simple-minded making his pockets far too heavy to lift him up into the firmament of heaven.  He’ll be standing behind the velvet ropes like Twinkies at an after-hours club while the bouncers bar-the-door.

Perhaps he’ll have better luck with the 2012 Mayan calendar.  Camping was “flabbergasted” when rapture never came to pass.  He’s decided his math was off.  Mr. Camping is determined to end the world if it’s the last thing he ever does – and at the ripe old age of 89, it just might be…  For HIM.

Atheists took it upon themselves to take a watch over some of the sad gaggle of foolish believers so they wouldn’t commit mass suicide.  Others laughed themselves all the way to the bank selling pet-insurance so Fido would be fed and walked post-rapture.  Dogs and cats aren’t allowed in heaven, even though they’re frequently far better than people.  If there’s a hell, false profit, Harold Camping will deserve his own personal chamber.

And then there’s an apocalypse far more threatening – especially to the elderly: Paul Ryan.  Paul Ryan is another manipulator using and misusing fear.  Fear is a legitimate emotion – sometimes justified but more often than not it‘s a basic ‘scare-tactic.’  Fear is planted in the back of the brain, (assuming FOX News followers even have a frontal lobe), causing ruminations and anxiety purposefully planted in the thoughts people with little or no ability to reason on their own.  Fear is a very useful tool whether trying to convince people Social Security is on the verge of collapse or justifying our marching into a sovereign nation merely to steal their natural resources.  The wars were wrong, mishandled and have financially ruined us.  Social Security on the other hand is solvent for the next 3 to 4 decades if we stop robbing from it to finance the aforementioned illegal wars while subsidizing highly profitable oil companies.  Conservatives may say the “bookkeeping doesn’t reflect my comment” – but it does.  America has squandered all the dreams of the middleclass to bolster the coffers of the rich and powerful – and whoever dies or is maimed in the process – well, it’s the cost of doing business… 

In spite of having two arms, Paul Ryan does one-armed push-ups in his now famous grueling workout routine.  He‘s in the peak of physical health and will brag about it ‘til he’s blue in the face.  But perfect health does not last forever.  Privatized health insurance vouchers for the elderly insures only one thing:  Seniors will neither be able to afford it, nor secure it unless they’re too rich to actually require it.

Paul Ryan’s greedy little scheme just cost the Republicans a vital seat in congress all due to his ill-considered plan to slash Medicare and replace it with vouchers to be paid to directly to obscenely rich insurance companies.  Loosing this important New York seat in the House of Representatives was neatly accomplished after moral-majority champion Rep. Christopher Lee was busted posting half-nude photos of himself on Craigslist to secure extra-marital sex while attending a summit on governmental internet security. 

The mind reels… 

After Lee hastily stepped down, a special run-off election was held May 24th, and won by Democrat, Kathy Hochul.  She won an upset in a district so red it voted decisively for only republican candidates for countless decades.  Even Scott Brown of Massachusetts sees the handwriting on the wall and has flip-flopped – distancing himself from Ryan’s toxic plan.

Perhaps people are catching-on, and they should.  House speaker Eric Cantor, a close associate of Paul Ryan, threw a body-block in the way of FEMA funding for the recent tornado victims in Missouri.  Cantor and Ryan both are men I’d best describe as spiritually incomplete.  Neither have the best interests of the American people at heart.  No doubt those Missouri tornado victims had genuine pause to believe they were in the path of Harold Camping’s ‘Rapture,’ and one can reasonably understand why.  Nature is on a rampage while corporate interests destroy the planet for fun and profit.

To which I say: “We have nothing to fear but fools themselves.”

A Pair of Jokers

My friend Susan made the observation that Newt Gingrich’s wife Callista bears and uncanny resemblance to Heath Ledger as the Joker in the last Batman movie.  Newt may BE the Joker, but Callista’s got the look.  After all, what kind of woman takes-up with a man who’s already twice divorced – both times when his wives fell ill(?)  An opportunist, that’s who.

I greatly enjoyed seeing Newt and Helmet-head sprinkled with glitter.  Most young people today don’t recall how much divisive damage the Newster wrought on this country with his “Contract on America” during the Clinton years – but I do.  Gingrich is an evil man filled to the brim with ambitions that are all about his own advancement, and not the good of the country.  Callista on the other hand is the tart he’s trying to pass-off as acceptable in polite company – but look at the company she keeps…

When the gay activist showered them both with glitter, the security thug who tossed the kid from the room said “We don’t disrupt YOUR events” – or something to that effect.  Oh contraire – the right wing does indeed disrupt gay events with great regularity.  Mostly the morons from the Westboro church, but they aren’t the only ones.  The whole bunch of them love to hate in the name of Jesus.  Big deal, “Rapture” is only 6 to 8 hours away as I write this.

Barring any human being the basic right to live and love as they choose does nothing to solve America’s problems, be it needless wars to and ailing economy or the pollution of our environment.  Gay bashing is a tired old wedge issue which is proving to be less and less fertile with time.  53% of the country now favors gay marriage.  Certainly that can’t be any less holy that the philandering of all the hypocritical politicians espousing “family values“ while banging their mistresses in the ‘House on C Street.’

Last week Newt got himself in trouble speaking out against Paul Ryan’s dangerous economic plan to dismantle Social Security and other entitlements programs American’s have paid into for generations.  (That’s why they’re called “entitlements” – we paid into them, and are thus “entitled” TO them.  Newt then back-peddled essentially saying anyone who quotes him will be lying.  Now there’s an interesting take on truth and reality.  I like Rachael Maddow’s comment last night on the subject saying both are test-polling right up there with “potholes and intestinal flu.” 

Newt and Callista – consider your political ambitions “flushed.” 


Presidential Candidate Duck D. Duck Speaks Out on Her Energy Policy.

Strong GOTP woman candidate, Duck D. Duck speaks out on her energy policy. “Freakin’ frackin’ will fuckin’ cause your kitchen faucet to catch fire. Who the hell wants to sit down to a nice cuppa tea only to singe your eyebrows?”

Vote DUCK 2012 – providing the world doesn’t end May 21st at 6pm EST – or is that WST or Thailand time…  Whatever,..

If You Can’t Vote in the Primaries, Then Register Prior to 2012

I have very little to say on this subject other than this:  If you don’t register to vote and participate in the process, then you have NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to voice any complaint about your leaders.  Be they city council reps, town or city mayors, senators, congressmen, or state and local judges…  You forfeit your right to complain about ANYTHING.  Your opinion is less than vapor with no meaning.

So shut your pie-hole or participate.

On more than one occasion people who possess fully detailed knowledge of who won ‘Dancing With the Stars’ or texted-in their vote for whatever brain-dead shallow talentless travesty filled with embarrassing contestants and shameless self-promotion.  Some of the has-been failure second-string celebs – all frauds sucking-up obscene salaries merely to renew contracts on tired and boring faux “reality” TV programs.

But intelligent people I talk to have no idea of the mortgage crisis.  The extent of the graft and corruption on Wall Street.  These folks work 9 to 5 jobs and have no patience for absorbing the information which truly impacts their lives. 

We’re talking REAL life here.  People in the Middle East are loosing their lives and limbs to obtain the very rights we take for granted while failing to take advantage OF those very same hard-won historic gifts.  

Read.  Think.  Talk to people who both agree and disagree with you and pull the levers you believe-in.  For if you do not, you then fail the generations who follow you.

I don’t know if I can be any more clear.  Whatever state in which your live – believe in something fair and right, and stand behind that belief.  Failing to do so is a foolish folly ignored at your own peril.

VOTE…!!!  It’s that easy.  If you can’t vote this election cycle, then register.  You might be surprised to discover your vote matters.

The Startling Similarities Between Newt, Trump & Bin Laden

So much has been happening in the news lately, its nigh unto impossible to keep abreast of it all – especially now that Duck D. Duck has announced her candidacy for president.  It must be noted that Duck is distancing herself from “The” Donald, after viewing rare footage of Larry King picking head lice out of Trumps scalp.  And while Duck finds lice on occasion to be a tasty snack, “The” Donald himself is a louse, and would only bring-down her chances for winning the oval office.  Therefore, after conferring with her top adviser, Winifred P. Jumpingbean, Ms. Duck has chosen a clam with a comb-over as her running mate.  Both believe the public will never notice any difference between either VP running mate.

In other news, Newt Gingrich is running on the amphibious reptile ticket with the latest of his wives by his side.  The Tilex in her coffee must not be working, as she is still healthy, and yet to be cheated-on and divorced.  Newt (all kidding aside), first married his high school sweetheart, who happened to also be his math teacher.  He dumped wife number one promptly after she developed uterine cancer – with him serving her divorce papers while she was hospitalized so as to marry mistress number two, who he later dumped once she came-down-with multiple sclerosis only to marry mistress number three, Callista the Scary.  Callista was the one he was stuchmping while wife number two was battling MS.  Newt certainly is there for a woman when she needs him…’til death doth he desert them.  Bear in mind all this chicanery was taking place while the Newtster was trying to impeach Clinton over the Monica Lewinski non-event.   Boys will be boys – which is why Duck is running.  We need a strong woman in the White House – a woman like Duck D. Duck who can lay an egg without male fertilization.

Speaking of male fertilization, Osama Bin Whackin’ was discovered to have an enormous stash of pornography in his million-dollar compound where he was hiding in plain sight for the past 5 years.  Again, boys will be boys.  He also had lots of Viagra, and 3 wives who never found his porn stash.  No doubt, it was hiding in plain sight as well.  Those wives were either dumb as a box of rocks, or greatly relieved not to have that hideous creature crawling all over them.  Condoleezza Rice who has never made a porn film due to a lack of demand, stated the other day how the Bush Administration was aware of Bin Laden’s courier-connections and whereabouts.  She felt George Bush deserved more credit for the snuffing of Bin Laden even though they never acted on the “intelligence” and blithely marched the nation into a war with the wrong country.  Whatever you say Condi… whatever you say.  But we’re 2 years into Obama’s first term, so it’s a little late for Bush to be receiving any “intelligence” accolades.  

In closing, Winnie and Duck would like to leave you with this thought.  Trump, Gingrich and Bin Laden have all have multiple wives.  I smell a conspiracy.  And Newt currently has three wives all rolled into one.  For evidence we offer (above) this facial comparison of Newt’s current (as yet undiagnosed) wife. Our collective determination is her illness is more psychological than physical.  She strongly resembles Norman Bates in a bad, blonde Dynel wig and drag make-up.  I for one would never shower in the same motel as her.

Winnie and Duck Come Out as Strong GOP Women

As the Republican Party drifts further and further out to sea with icebergs in their cross-hairs, it’s difficult to imagine the “Grand ‘Ole Party” getting any crazier than they’ve already demonstrated.  But we’re barely in election season – just the run-off toward it while Trump and all the other philanders have diminished hthemselves in front of the entire planet.  Republican men have a stunning litany of bankruptcies, both moral and financial, the GOP is left having to turn to their women-folk.  However… Michelle Bachmann is clearly swigging radioactive isotopes and Drano before each and every public appearance…  And what’s left to say about Sarah Palin that Tina Fey hasn’t already artfully nailed…(?)

So Winifred P. Jumpingbean has made the difficult decision to endorse the Honorable Ms. Duck D. Duck as the first viable, strong woman candidate in the GOP field.  When asked about managing Duck‘s campaign, Ms. Jumpingbean was quoted as saying, “Duck has everything required to run the White House as efficiently as Sarah Palin or a stuffed moose head.”  Among Duck’s attributes are, the inherent talent to lay an egg without male fertilization AND the ability to fly short distances up to 20’ at a time – cutting down on campaign travel expenses.  

Ms. Jumbingbean was proud to announce “Hooters” as Duck’s first corporate sponsor in accordance with the Citizen’s United decision by the Supremes, (also a feminist ‘girl group.’)  During this afternoon’s press conference at the Trav-L-odge Cocktail Lounge and pinball arena off Houston’s North Freeway, IH-45 across from the IHOP, reporters asked Ms. Duck how she would deal with the international world stage – Ms Duck replied, “I rarely attend the theater, but was tempted to bring a grenade when I once saw an Andrew Lloyd Weber production of Jesus Christ Superstar.”

When further pressed about her faith, Ms Duck admitted to burning both the Book of Mormon and the Bible.  She choose not to burn the Qu’ran, as being so “yesterday,” and “already been done,” therefore beneath her dignity which is difficult to imagine.  That said, she was certain Scientology’s philosophies were infinitely combustible – inflammatory even.”  

Addressing the economy, Duck has come-out in favor of prostitution, drugs, alcohol and money laundering, but is behind the curve, as she freely admitted to having no affiliation to either the Chamber of Commerce or the House on ’C’ Street.  Her answer to all other questions is as follows:  “wear a condom, they now come in flavors.” 

VOTE ‘DUCK in 2012″

Lunch With Betty at the Caribou Cafe

This is my personal favorite story about Grandma Betty and me – along with my favorite WinnieToon – in honor of Mother’s Day.   Enjoy…


Parents are people you intimately know nothing about.  Mothers in particular.  Mothers try very hard to allow only a certain view of themselves for their children to see.  You might call it leading by example or you might look at it as a diversionary tactic to distract you from catching on to the fact that they often don‘t know any more than you do. 

When I was growing up, my mother, Betty, drove home the point, that I needed to keep myself occupied and quiet, while she spent most of her life begging for attention, I wasn‘t wise to it at that age, and I have no idea what sparked this personality trait in her.  I thought everyone‘s mother was like that.  I wasn’t one of those little boys prone to sports, so my mother gave me paper and pencils and told me to draw pictures in front of the TV.  She would then tell me to stop making “such a mess in front of the TV“, and go sit quietly in a chair.  I never knew what to do.  But if I received attention when my pictures was good, mom (under the guise of the ‘proud parent’) would frequently turn it around to be all about her.  She can still do it, going on about how I got my talent from her, and so on and so forth…  But when I was a little kid, I accepted all that as the natural order of things.  Whatever any adult told me was irrefutable truth. 

Granted, everyone needs a little bit of attention but hopefully one tempers their outcry with a modicum of dignity.  Sweet as she can be, my mother’s spent her life nurturing insecurities you’d expect a person to have gotten over by age ten.  She would never have considered therapy, as that meant ‘scandal’ by her lights. So her sense of authority was derived from having absolutely no idea on earth what she was doing, or skillfully making it look that way. 

Later in life I found our roles reversed with me as the parent, and that’s when I got real a taste of my mother as a child, and me having no idea what I was doing.  Early one Saturday morning the telephone rang, and I made the mistake of answering.

“B-i-ll….(?)” – my mother crooned into the phone sounding indecisive while completely sure of her mission.

“Yes Mom…” I said, still half asleep.

“I hope I didn’t wake you, dear, but you’ve always been an early riser.“

“Not on weekends…“  I eked out.

“Are you taking me to the hairdresser this morning?” she said with a slightly argumentative tone in her voice, it was like storm clouds gathering on the horizon.  It wasn’t yet raining but the threat was in the air.  I was still shaking the sleep out of my head thinking, of course I am, its Saturday.  “I always take you to the hairdresser on Saturdays, but you aren‘t due there until 10AM – same as the Saturday before, and the Saturday before that.  Its barely ten after seven, my alarm hasn’t even gone off, can I please go back to sleep now?”

“There’s no reason to take that tone with me.  Its disrespectful.”

“Duly noted, “ I said, “but I’d like to go back to bed”. My mother lived down the street, and the hairdresser was only another block away, but Mom refused to walk, let alone go anywhere by herself.  I’d moved her to Philadelphia from the New Jersey suburbs, and all she’d ever seen on TV where Philadelphia was concerned was crime.  She felt much safer in Jersey even though the new owners of a house down the road had found a body in the cement in the kitchen when they were remodeling.  Jersey may be the ‘Garden State’ but its no walk in the park.

However, I’d moved her to be closer to me for other safety concerns following a couple minor falls – mostly orchestrated in such a way as to ruin dates, dinner parties, plans with friends, business engagements and even destroy the opening of an exhibit of my own artwork.  As a non-driver, I’d have to beg rides off friends to look after her, because her home wasn’t anywhere near public transportation.  Mom’s timing was uncanny regarding these ‘spells‘. When I‘d arrive all out of breath, disrupting the lives of my friends, she‘d be sitting up having tea, perfectly fine, having fully recovered.  Mom was lonely after my father died, but instead of making new friends, or volunteering, I became the primary focus of her attention.   My brother, moved her up from after she kept inventing emergencies that pulled him from important meetings where he worked as an agent for the FBI.  She’d get a receptionist on the phone and say “Its his mother, I need to talk to him right away!“.  The newer secretaries would fall for this, bring him to the phone, only to find she was trying an trap him into small talk.  He brought her up on the auto train depositing her in an apartment complex near absolutely nothing, a good hours away from me, and as he turned to leave, he whispered “hot potato in my ear.”  So now mom called me continually, waking me from a sound sleep on one of the only mornings I could sleep in.

“Are you going to return that microwave you bought me last week?”  She asked.

“If I have time,” I replied.  “But I have GOT to be home no later than 2PM for a portrait sitting.  I haven’t had nearly enough time with that client, and the piece is starting to drag on. 

I’d thought that once she was living near me in Washington Square, she’d see what a safe and walk-able city Philadelphia really is.  I placed her so she was less than a block away from hospitals, drug stores, shoe repair, tailors, little restaurants, theater, and above all, A hairdresser.  Not to mention, ME.  I decorated her cute little apartment in advance of her arrival to resemble all the things she had liked from her youth, photos of loved ones gone before were positioned where she could see them, and I surrounded her with her furniture and memories in such a way that her apartment was more like a shrunken version of larger homes from her past.  I built her an elaborate dollhouse to transport her memories to a place where she could recall that past in the way she chose to remember it.

I remember looking forward to her moving into town.  Optimistically I’d imagined myself taking her to the Academy of Music or one of the plays around town.  But mom had no interest in doing any of that.  She watched television, and fussed over her nearly perfect silver-pearl white hair and complained about a city she made no effort to learn to know.  She stayed in and coordinated little outfits everyday, but only the television got to see them, unless she invented an emergency to lure me over.

I tried to get her involved in senior activates or even go to the movies, but to no avail.  Her new doctor at Pennsylvania Hospital urged her repeatedly to become more active – to walk, and take advantage of her golden years.  But he cautioned me, “Your mother would like nothing more than for you to give up your entire life and spend all your time reading to her.”  I knew he was right.  I’d seen her stare out the window with her back turned to him while he’d offer her sound, practical advise about trying to be more independent.  “You have your work cut out for you.”  He said on more than one occasion. 

But while on the phone with her pleading for one more half hour of sleep, my mom kept on talking, as if I were mute.  Perhaps that’s why dad had started to go deaf…?

“Last night I made myself a baked potato.”  She forged ahead with no apparent segue.

“OK, Mom, I don’t quite know how to respond to that. But does this mean I have to introduce you to my friends as ‘Mrs Potato head?’  Can you turn yourself back?  Consult your book of spells”.

“I’m not prone to spells, I‘m ‘sharp-as-a-tack”.  ‘(Attack being the operative word…)  I don’t like that microwave.  The potato wasn’t good.  Maybe if you’d gotten me the black one instead of the white one?”  (As if the color of an identical appliance had anything whatsoever to do with how it functioned).

Betty has made a science of nagging and wailing on me until I’d cave to her will.  So I got up, showered and did all the puttering I needed to do before pouring her into her wheelchair for our jaunt to the hairdresser.  At the time, she didn’t really need to be in a wheelchair, but I’d once made the mistake of putting her in one when we visited Longwood Gardens.  I was thinking a woman in her early eighties would tire and miss seeing some of the further reaching gardens and displays. 

I realized my error I when people started fawning over her.

My mom has always been a pretty little lady, but no one ever paid her the attention she felt she deserved until after she took to the wheelchair.  There she’d sit pretty as you please, almost regal in her chariot, fresh from the hairdresser like a duchess on casters.  Truth to tell, I’ve always thought my mother’s hair looked better when she left it alone.  A fresh styling often made her resemble Johanne Sebastian Bach.  But my venerable little mama is a member in good standing of the ‘hairdresser generation of proper American ladies’.  A woman from Moorestown never went longer than a week without getting her hair done.  More importantly, it’s a lifeline to fresh, gossip while decrying the sins of others indulging in such.

I’d wheel her to the salon and transfer her to the shampoo chair like moving a weighted stocking doll from one spot to another.  There was nothing wrong with her legs other than getting a broken a blood vestal in her calf after someone bumped into her with a shopping cart.  That, plus a trip to Longwood Gardens, and my mother was completely sold on the benefits of disability.  Not to mention, a wheelchair came with a son attached to it.  She’d never deign to using her arms to propel the thing – that might be mistaken for exercise.  Offering independence, I suggested a motorized wheelchair but that was completely out of the question.  “What it if goes haywire and injures someone?” she’d cautiously point out.

The doctor refused to write a prescription for a wheelchair, in fact several doctors did, but my mother made me crazy until I got her one paid for out of her own pocket, while she vehemently decried the shortcomings of Social Security. 

Wheeling someone else about takes a little getting used to.  We had a ‘Benny Hill’ moment early on, when I first put her in the damn thing.  I accidentally pitched her out of or the chair, neatly depositing her in a mud-puddle.  It wasn’t my fault.  The front wheels got caught in a crack in the sidewalk, turned sideways stopping us dead and catapulting her into the air.  We weren’t even going all that fast, it seemed to happen faster than lightening in slow motion.  She landed without so much as a scratch or bruise.  But before I could register what had taken place, a passing male nurse lifted her light as a feather and placed her back in the chair.  He advised me to get a seat belt installed.  Apparently tiny seniors often go airborne from wheelchairs. 

I was always careful with my mother when she was in the chair after that.  I kept her strapped down for safety.  Sure, once in a while I’d kid with her by wheeling about pretending to chase pigeons making the chair follow their paths, saying, “Go get ‘em Betty, get ‘em”,  She’d cluck mild disapproval, as the chair wove back and forth causing the birds to scatter every which way.  Secretly she enjoyed that little game even though she always protested.  Oh well maybe she didn’t lie it. who knows…

After the hairdresser, mom and I would make our weekly appearance at the Caribou Café, a quaint, dark wood paneledFrench restaurant not far from the salon. But while she was being rinsed, set, and placed under the dryer, I dutifully ran a marathon through the entire city on foot, picking up her dry-cleaning, prescriptions, and deciphering shopping lists all the while trying to track down products long since discontinued.  I’d deliver the goods to her sweetly decorated little apartment, putting everything away where she could easily reach what she wanted.  Bear in mind, she walked perfectly upright around the apartment, she just never appeared in public on foot.  Sedan chairs required more than one gay son, so a wheelchair had to do.

I’d been trying to be a good son, when I’d installed her in the tidy new senior apartment complex less than 100 feet from my front door.  I thought it would be easier on us both.  In hindsight, I have no idea what I could have been thinking. 
I Suddenly found myself running back and forth to loosen lids and unclasp lockets.  But I wasn’t thinking, I was merely following script.  A script that had been written for me long before I realized I even HAD the buttons my own mother had installed deep within me.  There wasn’t a youngest daughter’s life to destroy, so who better than an aging gay son to look after her?  Once a mother gets over the horror of having given birth to a socially un-conventional sexual deviate, the wise older parent begins to note tremendous advantages in having an unmarried-adult/child-slave to do one’s “biddy-ing“.  Yes, a mean ‘biddy-ing’.

Without stopping to breathe, I’d wind my way back to the hairdresser, and whisk the old gal off to lunch at the Caribou Café, where things generally went pretty much just like this…

…I’d be sitting across from her at a little table-for-two smack dab center of the restaurant.  We choose that spot for the ease of gliding her wheelchair tableside.  It was our regular table, marked ’Reserved’ every Saturday at noon.  Even before I took my seat, my favorite waitress, Susan would already have a glass of Shiraz waiting for me.  I’d down the first and be waiting for a refill, as Betty’d begin to craft the odd and revealing things we were going to discuss that day.  She wouldn’t start the conversation.  She’d make me go first to see what kind of material I’d provide her to pounce-on.

“I ordered you a new microwave in black”, I said, initiating the first round.  “And I dropped off your cameo on Jewelers Row to have the clasp fixed.”

“That’s nice dear, but what have YOU been up to? 

“Nothing really.  Oh, by the way, I got you the mini chocolate cupcakes you like“.   Mom preferred doll-sized portions of everything.

“Yes dear, but tell me what you’ve been doing during all that time when I don’t get to see you.”   I was trying to think of a day when she hadn’t fabricated something that ate a hole in what precious little free time I had to myself… But like a man being led to the gallows, I started telling her about a commission I‘d been awarded to paint a portrait of two lovely young girls.  Feeling it was safe territory, I started telling Mom how the younger girl is immediately pretty upon first glance, but the older sister seemed plain, and bookish. But I after spending time working on the study drawings, I’d come to realize the older sister wasn’t a pretty girl, but rather a young woman on the verge of becoming beautiful, it just required a deeper second look. Both sisters were reaching that moment in youth when each was transforming into her own unique beauty.

“I wish I’d been beautiful.” Mom interrupted as a way to re-direct the conversation to what she considered a more agreeable topic.  My mother does that. Off and running she stated, “I’ve never been considered to be very pretty.  My brothers and sisters always teased me about it.  They would chant ‘Betty Boop is full of poop’.  It always made me cry, but now that I’m older, people are forever telling me how beautiful I am, and I just don’t understand why…(?)” She stressed the word, “why.”

“Mom, maybe its because those people, genuinely find you to be pretty. Just thank them.”   She was itching to start something, I could feel it coming on.  There never needed to be a reason, but my father was no longer around to spar with, so she’d turned to me.  I think she did it for the stimulation, and after enough bating, like a properly trained codependent, I’d eventually take the bait.  It was part of our dynamic.  But it was never how I wanted our relationship to be.  So in an effort to diffuse her, I suggested, “Be gracious and accept the compliment.”

“I wouldn’t know what to say. I’ve always been ridiculed for being too skinny, or not good-looking enough to be married to your father”.

“Mom, you’ve always been a good looking woman.  Stop fishing.”  I said trying to make light of it all.

“I’m not fishing,” she snapped, “and don’t accuse me of things! You’re always accusing me of things! When I was younger, I tried to bake the best cakes and pies so my sisters would tell me I was pretty and nice”.

“It might have helped if you’d been marginally civil to them, and slapped-on some lipstick…”  Oh god, I was already in too deep…   “From where I sit, I see no connection between baked goods and beauty…”   Long after her brothers and sisters had all passed away, mom was still bearing old grudges and fighting old fights, while nostalgically missing them all in the very next breath.

“I had a wonderful childhood growing up in the depression.  We never wanted for anything.”  She missed being part of a big family.  “Now everyone is scattered all over the country.”  (Fled was more like it).

“I tried to keep the tidiest home, but my sisters pretended to never notice. And Helen would bristle if anyone said we looked alike. You have no idea how that hurt…” 

At this point I thought better of making a comment, deciding to allow her to derail that train all by herself.  I looked around at the vintage turn of the century French poster collection on the walls and let her go on about things.  Whether it was how many Swedish meatballs she had shaped by hand for my cousin Barbara’s wedding, or when three of her five sisters went to Winterthur for the day without inviting her to come along, the old battles kept being fought over and over.  I’d attempted to diffuse her on any number of occasions, but thinking back instinctively I knew she wanted the fight more than any olive branch.  It was our family dynamic.

Traditionally we discussed family problems at the dinner table, but you could onlyleave the table once you’d cleared your plate.  Once after dinner when I was still a little boy, II wandered into the kitchen and took a piece of cheese.  I sat on the floor savoring it, allowing it to slowly dissolve in my mouth..  My mother, watching me from the door, said, “Will you please chew that the hell up and swallow it!“  As a result, I eat in record time to this day except when I try really, really hard not to. 

But as I daydreamed, back in the Caribou Café, Betty was dredging up topics I’d heard countless times before.

“Edna and Helen once knitted a suit for Elaine. Helen knitted the skirt and Edna knitted the jacket. Why couldn’t one have knitted something for me, and the other knitted something for Elaine?”.

Nothing I was going to say was going to be right, so I jumped in feet first,
“Mom, Aunt Elaine was the baby – that’s just how people think”.

“I was the baby once…” she declared.   (…And always will be, to this observer’s eye… God, I hope I only thought that, and didn’t say it aloud. I’d had a couple glasses of Shiraz…)  

She continued, “…Your Uncle Burt said, when I was born, a teacup could have fit on my head”.

(I fought the urge to hail our waitress and have her bring one over, if only to try it on for size).

“But my sisters never paid any attention to me. Couldn’t they have just once told me I was pretty – even once?”

“Mom, you are pretty, and you always have been”.

“NO I’M NOT…!!!”, she barked a little too loudly, causing people at a nearby booth to glance over at our table.

I took another sip of my wine. “OK, Mom, have it your way. You’re the ‘Creature From the Black Lagoon’.”

“Didn’t Brooke Shields star in that picture?”  She queried.   “You‘d think they could at least keep the soup of the day hot.” 

(Why can’t I stop myself from replying…?  Why can’t I just let it go?)

“Its supposed to be cold, Mom, its Vichyssoise.”

“I don’t care what they think it is, I still think its cold.”

“I’ll have them heat it for you. I’d like another glass of wine any way”. “Ahhh, look, here comes your entrée.”  The waitress placed a platter in front of my mother, piled high with roast beef and melted Swiss on a mini-baguette with a side of pommes frites.  It was an upscale French restaurant’s version of a Philly cheese stake.  It was a cute little sandwich, NOTHING like the monster sandwiches atPat’s steaks.

“I don’t understand why everything has to be so big anymore.”  She stated.  “Will
you just look at all this meat!!  Who can eat all this?  Why I can barely get my mouth around all this meat.  I like beef as much as the next person, but this is ridiculous.  Its way too much food.”

“Would you like me to send it back, have ‘em scrape half off, and courier the rest to Bangladesh?“

“No, but I think you should have some.”

“I’m perfectly happy with my salad.  You eat it”.

“You used to like beef when you were a little boy, don’t you like it any more?”

“Yes, I prefer my beef on a different kind of bun.”

“Well that isn’t going to be enough lunch for you.  A grown man picking at a salad.  You should at least have some desert?  They have those little chocolate puffs you like, served with ice cream.“

“Preferiterols?  Thank you, no, I’m trying to loose weight”

“If you ask me, you’re too thin now.”

“No one’s asking you”.  I said, trying to smile at the adjacent table.

“Why are you doing this all of the sudden?” she queried,  “I just don’t think its healthy.”

“I’m doing it FOR my health, Mom.  I hired a fitness trainer, and if I don’t do what he tells me, then why am I hiring him?

“Why indeed?!  You’re paying HIM, you should be telling tell HIM what you’re going to eat”.

“That isn’t how it works, Mom. If I’m going to benefit from his training, I have to eat how he tells me to eat”.

“I still say it isn’t healthy, I don’t understand why you’re doing this all of the sudden.  Why do you even care how you look this far along in your fifties?”.

“Its not entirely about what I look like, Mom – I’m doing this so I won’t end up in a wheelchair when I’M eight-five”.  

Uh oh…

“You’ll never make to it to eighty-five – you don’t have the grit!”

“People are looking at our table, Betty…”  I whispered.

“Don‘t call me Betty, I‘m your Mother”.  (After a drink or two I’d get bold and start calling her Betty to her face).  “let them look.” she said in a hushed roar, mocking my whisper.  “When you’re eight-five years old you’re allowed to do or say anything you want.  I‘ve earned it”
“Outliving the rest of the known world carries no particular perks.” I replied.  “As far as I know proper etiquette still applies, age notwithstanding”.

“I won’t have you treating me like a child!” Mom blurted, “Now have some desert.”   

“I will, but only if you’ll walk home.  The doctor tells me you can.  Besides, it would do you a world of good if you did.”

At that very moment, with no warning, a tremendous clap of thunder caused everyone in the café to jump.  In an instant all the outdoor diners rushed to grab plates and glasses as waiters scurried to help everyone inside.  Damp patrons filled-in every available seat in the already crowded dining room, leaving a bit of a circle around Betty and me watching us, stunned, like polite theater goers who’d mistakenly found themselves holding ring-side seats to a cockfight.  Betty rivaled the storm outside.

“How are you going to get me home in all this weather?”  she snapped.  “Did you think to bring along an umbrella?”

There was always a compact umbrella in the back pocket of her wheelchair, but an umbrella would never do.  The rain was coming down sideways pounding the sidewalk.  The restaurant staff were closing the floor to ceiling French doors, and rolling back the awning fighting against the wind.

“My hair is going to be ruined.  RUINED!!” Betty hissed, “I paid two hundred and forty five dollars for this perm, plus tip.” 

“You paid WHAT?”, I said with a dropped jaw.

“Well the girl gave me a cut and did my nails too”.

“How long have you been spending that kind of money?” I asked.

“My entire adult life, dear” she answered.  “It’s my only luxury now that I’m a shut-in”.

“Good lord, woman, if you’d put that money away over the last six decades, you could have invested in income property and owned the very building you’re living in.  Instead you’ve thrown it all away on your hair. 

“How dare you insult my hair”.  She shrieked.

“Give your hair my apologies, and while you‘re at it, have your hair remind you to do more walking like the doctor told you to.”  The both of us were bickering like professional full grown children, stepping up to the plate, and honing our sparring skills.

“What does that old fool know any way?”  She snapped.  “I’m the one who knows whether I can walk or not,” drawing in a breath for her next assault, “And the INSOLENCE of you insulting my hair!  Besides, if you’d used your money more wisely, you could have bought a larger house, and then I could be living with you instead of hidden away in an apartment building full of old people.”

“YOU, LIVING WITH ME…?!!!  You’ve got to be kidding!  I’d be dancing around with scarves on my head while raccoons ate the wallpaper.  Flawed as it may be, our present arrangement is just fine”.  Reaching a saturation point, I glanced at my watch none too subtly, when it hit me, it was well past 1:30, and my portrait clients were due at 2 o’clock rain or shine.

“Come on Betty, we’re going.  I’ll pay the check, and we’ll be on our way.”

“In all this rain, not on your life.  I’m staying put.  Don’t you think for one minute, I’m going to allow your selfishness to ruin my hair.”

“We’re going.  Period.  I have an appointment.  End of discussion.”

“And just exactly HOW do you plan on getting me home DRY in all this weather?  My shoes are going to get ruined and my blouse will get soaked…!!!”

I hailed the waitress. “Susan, do you have any garbage bags back in the kitchen?  Heavy duty industrial strength garbage bags?”  She promptly went off to find me some.

“Stand up Mother.  Unhook your seatbelt and STAND.”

“I’ll do no such thing.”

“Oh yes you will.”  I said as I unhooked her seatbelt, lifting her to her feet.  “Remember when you visited my brother’s family down in Florida and your grandchildren all locked you out of the house for hours, giggling while you beat on the windows with a wooden spoon?  Well Betty, this is another one of those moments where you’re up against forces far greater than yourself.  Now STAND!”

Susan arrived with a couple of large dark green plastic bags.  I turned one inside-out placing it on the floor at my mother‘s feet.  “Mother, step ONTO the bag.”  Stunned, she did what I said.  I wasted no time pulling it up to just under her under her sagging bodice, and tied it off.

I took another bag and ripping a hole in the top I lowered it over my mother’s freshly coiffed head.  “What are you doing CHILD?!!  This is assault!!!” 

“You have no idea how tempting it would be to NOT give you an air source, Betty.”  I said as I pulled the remainder of the second bag down over her flailing arms, tying it tightly just below her knees.  ‘God, I wish I had duct tape’  I thought as I observed my Mother’s plastic ensemble transform from deranged empire to a ’restrained’ flapper. 

But still, her freshly coiffed hairdo was potentially exposed to the elements. Without missing a beat, Susan produced several smaller plastic shopping bags, one of which read “Imperial Cheese – We deliver”.  Taking a second bag, I twisted it and fed it through the handles of the first making a bonnet sporting a tidy, fashionable Chloe bow right under Betty’s chin.  Her indignant little face poked out below the inflated cheese bag containing the white lacquered pile of cotton candy on top of her head, as she stuck out her tongue at me.

With a wheezing fluff of trapped wind, my tiny mother sat all of her 87 pounds back down into the wheelchair, hissing and leaking air as she settled in.  It was then I realized the entire restaurant was completely transfixed by our escapades.  People could barely contain themselves at the sight of that feisty, little old lady whistling wind as she sank further down into her seat.  The room erupted into spontaneous laughter and applause. She was a vision.

Fighting to shake her tiny constrained fist through the green plastic straight-jacket, she said, “My own son has made a spectacle of me!”

“No Mother, I’ve only designed the consumes.”   With that said, the weekly ritual of lunch with Betty began its standard conclusion, as the staff of the Caribou Café standing at attention like palace guards, pulled chairs aside and held open doors so we could wheel our way out into the storm.

I leaned into the rain, sailing through deep puddles as Betty remained dry as a bone.   We flew past Moriarty’s Irish Pub taking a short cut down the service ally where The Bike Stop Bar meets the restaurant dumpsters.  Slowing down for a moment in front of a dumpster, I quietly dismissed the thought, pushing ahead with Betty chattering about something I’m glad I couldn’t hear.  Suddenly I started giggling like a madman, sailing down the street with Betty in tow and rain coming down at us from all sides.  To this day Betty has no idea how close she came, or how lucky she was that I actually delivered her to her cute little apartment, totally dry, still in one piece, and with nary one single hair out of place.