Did I Say That? The perfect cup of coffee

One of my fondest boyhood memories is lying in bed beneath the covers on a cold winter morning while my father got up to make a pot of Maxwell House. “Wake up and smell the coffee!” he’d yell. And we’d all groan. He’d put the pot on the gas stove, and as it started to percolate, the house would fill up with the robust aroma of coffee … until it bubbled over and my mother would scream from the bedroom, “THE COFFEE’S BOILING OVER! YOU’RE GONNA RUIN THAT STOVE!” I suppose it was a small price to pay for a … Read more

Did I Say That? The year-end brag

Summer Interns Oliver Klotz, Hannah Gluck, Isabel Connelly, Hannah Sather, and Anneliese Lomas helped organize Norfield Congregational Church's Vibes, Vinyl and Video Sale.

I went through the holidays in a funk. No amount of Christmas cheer could bring me out of it. No ho ho ho. No schnapps. No New Year’s merrymaking. I hope that what happened to me won’t happen to you … unless you’re one of the people responsible for my problem. At this time of year, our expectations often exceed reality when it comes to gifts and resolutions. For the past five years, I’ve asked Santa for a Schwinn Airdyne exercise bike, but it hasn’t been there on Christmas morning. Apparently, I’ve been naughty, not nice. Or my loving wife … Read more

Did I Say That? Putting care into gifts

This year I decided to break with Christmas tradition and do something scandalous, at least in our family. I’m going to buy actual gifts. Yes, genuinely selected, paid for on a maxed-out credit card with excessively high interest rates and wrapped in my own inimitably terrible style with parts of the box peeking through, so that on Christmas morning I can experience all the joy and angst of the holiday when I hear my daughters, sons-in-laws, wife and/or dog emit a yuletide groan or growl that suggests, “Why did you waste your money on this?!? I wanted a gift card!” … Read more

Did I Say That? Snacking in the sheets

When we were kids, there were certain rules we would never break because the consequences were too dire. Our mother was a screamer. Our father, however, was a man of few words, but when you saw him taking off his belt, you knew Armageddon had arrived. The household commandments were pretty straightforward. No sassing back (but we did). No touching the cash in the cookie jar (but we did). No swearing (but we did). And no smoking (no comment). One commandment that begged to be broken was “No eating in bed.” On the occasions when I got caught, retribution was … Read more

Did I Say That? Stepping for supremacy

My family says I’m obsessing, which is nothing new. I’ve been known to succumb to obsessions that would have delighted or frightened, Sigmund Freud and Dr. Phil, not to mention Jerry Springer. I floss several times a day even though a recent study says flossing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t believe it. You can never floss enough. Just ask your teeth. I’ve also been known to rewrite a paragraph 30 times until I get it just right, but this paragraph isn’t one of them, so forgive me because I’m in a hurry. I’m on an urgent mission. … Read more

Did I Say That? Real patriots clean their plates

When we were young, our parents often lectured us about cleaning our plates because they said there were children in China who didn’t have enough to eat. I suppose my mother and father could identify with them because they grew up during the Great Depression and knew what it was like to go to bed hungry. So why should we, in our suburban self-satisfaction, waste so much? Up and down our street and every street, the rallying cry of parents was “clean your plate.” When you didn’t clean your plate, punishments were exacted without the benefit of due process because … Read more

Did I Say That? Just another thing to break

Perhaps you remember when America was great, during the golden age Donald Trump often talks about. There was ABC, NBC and CBS. There were Ford men and there were Chevy men. This was before Toyota, Honda, Bernie Madoff and online pornography. Life was simple. My father was a Ford man. He’d been a Ford man all his life, and when he got rid of his old car after a decade of abuse, he donated it to me and got a tax deduction for assisting America’s teenagers. But before I could hit the open road, I had to pump hundreds of … Read more

Did I Say That? Human obedience school

For me, the study of dog behavior is a fascinating topic, second only to spouse behavior and teenage daughter behavior and about as perplexing as presidential behavior. You see, I’m an amateur behaviorist in the tradition of B.F. Skinner. Over the years, I’ve built up a library of books with titles like “How to Control Your Dog’s Criminal Tendencies,” the ever-popular “Freud for Four-legged Patients” and “The Wee-wee Pad or the Psychiatrist’s Couch?” My all-time favorites are by Cesar Millan, the renowned dog whisperer and canine therapist who wrote “How to Raise the Perfect Dog,” “Be the Pack Leader” and … Read more

Did I Say That? Cleanliness is my wife

We spent Monday morning at the vacuum cleaner repair shop, negotiating a deal for two broken Electroluxes that were so old they belonged on the Antiques Roadshow. The salesman presented us with three options: a trade-in, a very expensive repair job, or a very, very expensive top-of-the-line model equipped with a ray gun, artificial intelligence, robotic arms, and technological wonders Elon Musk probably developed that cost as much as a NASA lunar module. He said one of our vacuum cleaners was so old it could have accompanied Teddy Roosevelt in the Spanish-American War, or some war thereabouts, because it suffered … Read more

Did I Say That? Picking the right career path

Back when I was a senior at St. Joseph High School, they gave us one of those career aptitude tests to determine what direction we should take in life — butcher, baker, candlestick maker or hedge fund manager. This test was something like a Hollywood screening to determine if you should be on the Game of Thrones or the Living Dead. All that was missing was Harvey Weinstein, although we’d meet people like him later on. Our guidance counselor, Father Shea, told us there were no right or wrong answers. “Just be honest,” he said. Famous last words. Whenever anybody … Read more

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