Category Archives: Muddled Musings

A New Relativity (or How Life Equals I See Squared)


Indulge me for a moment, please.

What’s your age? I know it’s a personal question, but say that number out loud (if only to yourself).

Next, subtract five. Say that number aloud (no one’s listening, promise).

Pretty similar, huh? Numerically, they’re not that distant. And if you were blessed enough to live into the double digits, live decades even, the difference may be marginal, at best.

Now return of that first number, your age. Think of all you went through to get to this moment. The loves and the hates, the brokered peaces and the broken pieces, the exes and the ohs, the wisdom and the foolishness that somehow did not topple you. It’s no small feat. When you think long enough of the road you hoed, it can leave a body fatigued. And ain’t we all?

But now, think of that second number, when you were five years younger. What did you used to be able to do? How long could you work, walk, play, engage? What occupied your frontal lobe? Who did you see in the mirror? It’s only five years, but when you think of that body, that traveler, the steps feel more springy.

It doesn’t matter your age. Five years ago, you were a young person. We can’t help but polish memory to a shine.

It could seem a cold realization, that time is little more than a candied apple which cloaks bruising that remains nonetheless.

But here’s the good part.

Think of five years from now. Perhaps you won’t like the number. Perhaps you don’t care. Either way, you will look back at today and see a young person. One who could walk for miles, smile for days, commit the beautiful and horrific errors of youth. Someone somehow…different.

That person is here. That person is now. That person is you.

Forget what I said about apples. Time is like a TV. You can go broke investing in resolution. Ultimately, a television’s worth rests solely on viewing angle.

For once, the automakers were right. That object, the one that’s in the mirror.

It’s closer than it appears.



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Benny Bobblehead and Constance Cussalot



I love fast food.

It’s not an easy confession to make. It’s like saying you love commercials (which I occasionally do too, and not just during the Super Bowl).

But you rarely hear someone professing their love of, say, Big Macs, though their personal economies may suggest otherwise. If anything, that giant M has become a scarlet letter of sorts, aglow in neon and pastels. A friend’s daughter makes sure the car is free of McD wrappers before mom picks up friends, lest they discover evidence she ate crap. The loss of that demographic must haunt the ghost of Ray Kroc. 

But take the M off sign, the Jack out of the box, the crown from the King, and the experience becomes something different. If you stopped at a local coffee shop every morning for your drink and biscuit, we’d find it quaint. The people cooking your food may wear a different uniform, but they are doing the same thing, providing the same service. Just in plastic.

Screw that. I get to know my fast food servers, who know my dog by name (and inquire when she’s not in the car with me). This morning, the manager of my local Jack in the Box literally chased me down before I pulled out of the drive-thru to give me a “VIP” key chain, good for 10% off any order, at any outlet, no expiration date or usage limitations. It’s a dubious honor, to be sure. I’m surprised they even have such a thing. But let’s see a Starbucks — or any coffee shop — offer customers something similar.

Plus, with fast food, you get experiences like Benny Bobblehead and Constance Cussalot, my favorite homeless denizens of my local McD‘s.

Benny is a homeless man who waits at the end of the McD drive-thru. He bobs his head constantly to peek around the corner to greet drivers after they’ve  they’ve picked up their orders (and change). It’s a brilliant location, one that rivals freeway exits. Regardless of whether you give him change, his response is the same: “God bless.”

Connie doesn’t request money, though she is less diplomatic. She waits at the exit of McD‘s, cussing up a storm. She’s more of a “goddamnit” girl than a godbless one. Keep your window rolled down, and, if she notices, she’ll toss a “motherfucker,” “bitch” or “asshole” your way. I wonder how many parents have had to explain Constance  Cussalot to their kids.

Last weekend, both were in fine form. Benny was looking dapper, decked out in a sport coat (minus the shirt). He’s more hirsute than I thought.  I gave him my change (though, confession: I keep the quarters), and, with windows yawning open, braced for Connie’s wrath. She was spewing Category 5 expletives.

“Damn motherfuckers!” she yelled at no one in particular. “Sonofabitches!!”

As we neared the exit, Esme heard the rant. Her ears perked as she stood on her hind legs, just tall enough to look out the passenger window at the commotion. She saw Connie and, for the first time, Connie saw her.

“GODDAMN!!…” Connie began — until she saw Esme. “Awwwww! Wittle doggie!! Whooz a good baby??!! Whoooz a good doggie??!! WHOOOOZ A GOOD DOGGIEEE???!!!”

Her kind vitriol trailed off as we merged into traffic. I assume she returned to her tirade at the next soccer mom she saw.

America may hold its baristas dear. I prefer to hold the pickles, hold the lettuce.



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“Operator! Give me the number for 911!”


Innocent statements only cinematic villains say, but regular people should:

  • ‘Where are my manners?’
  • ‘Awww, did somebody hurt you?’
  • ‘Now you know the truth.’
  •  ‘I am your father.’

And now, dearest bitches, a less contentious factslap:

  • The Simpsons released an album in 1990 and the lead single “Do the Bartman” was a worldwide hit. It was co-produced by Michael Jackson, who also provided background vocals and was a big fan of the show.
  • In 1923, Babe Ruth set the record for the most home runs in a season, while also striking out more than any other player in Major League Baseball.
  • At age 22, Walt Disney was fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.”
  • A study showed that it’s not necessary to run, swim or work out at the gym. Household chores such as vacuuming or scrubbing the floor, or merely walking to work provide enough exercise to protect the heart and extend life.
  • If you’re an artist or a scientist, you’ll be most likely to have your biggest creative breakthrough in your late-30s, according to a study of scientific innovators and Nobel Prize winners.
  • The state of South Carolina gave Marilyn Manson $40,000 not to play there, and schools in Florida threatened to expel students who attended his shows.
  • Sharks have rush hour, too: a study found that shark traffic on major routes around Palmyra Atoll peaked between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

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