Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections loathes reruns. Disguising them as ‘classics” or ‘encores’ does no good. However, they are away today for a long weekend to The Time of Legends visiting their relations so I’m gambling they won’t notice this tiny leaf I’m slipping into the pile. Yesterday I wrote about The Story Teller archetype, which prompted me to look back into the archives for one to repost. So here it is. It is a bit of nonsense but I like it. I hope you do too. Spo.

The Lord-Great-Jaguar-Paw ruled a kingdom so old and ancient the homes and palaces were heated with rocks still cooling down from the Archaean. Lord-Great-Jaguar-Paw was the king’s official title as his preferred name “Most butch” was deemed too silly.

Lord-Great-Jaguar-Paw (known to his mother as Kitten) lorded over a very large province and a large family. His children were a source of great joy – and a puzzlement – for surely, he had ED. Yet every year Queen Sheila-Badger-Breath put out another child.  “Goodness knows where she gets them!” he would exclaim.

Some of his children were a worry. His oldest was a charming boy who liked nothing better than to make paper airplanes and race cars out of pinewood. Since neither of these means of transport would be invented for  ~ 3000 years  no one understood what the hell they were for.

The second son was a merry lad who liked nothing more than to arrange flowers and design next year’s robes for the high priests. He also choreographed the slaves who danced at the state banquets. “He will make some woman a good husband!”  LGJP would say to with satisfaction.

The third son had the unfortunate name of Evelyn. Apparently no one looked closely when he was born, and by the time of his baptism it was too late.

In a month that had two Mondays in the same week, Evelyn fell sick. He was speaking nonstop ‘in tongues’. At first it was assumed he had been blessed by the gods; people came from afar to hear his words. But soon it became apparent Evelyn was as crazy as a shi-t house rat.

LGJP called for Spo-Hugger-and-Kisser-of-Bears, M.D. to practice his craft. Dr. SHKB realized if he was discovered for the great physician he is he would never be released from service. Besides, he had theatre tickets that evening. At first he denied who he was. But with threats to cut off his tea supply, he changed his mind. He performed his shaman dance and sang prayers. He injected Thorazine. Lo! Evelyn was better and FSHKB’s worse fears were realized: he was appointed court shrink to LGJP.

He became famous for his healing. A little blue diamond-shaped pill from the far off kingdom of Pfizer cured LGJP of his personal problem, much to the chagrin of his wife.

He also cured the queen of her depression. He chose not to use the old Sumerian prescription of smashed pearls, cobra venom and mare’s blood (a remedy that killed as swift as a knife to the throat ). Rather, he administered a little green and white pill, 20mg, taken with food. Her relief was great but alas, she was no longer interested in sex, let alone with LGJP.

So Lord-Great etc. took onto himself a new wife and soon there were another troop of kiddies banging up the palace furniture.

To everyone’s surprise, Sheila did not hate the new queen.

The moral of this legend?  People are incalculable.

I was recently asked ‘Are you a story teller?” I had to pause, to first clarify what the inquisitor meant. By her definition, no, I am not a Storyteller. I tell a lot of stories, but I don’t do this for a living nor is it one of my main Archetypes of my psyche. However, it is a vital part of my psyche. Worse luck it isn’t more active.

The archetype of The Storyteller is an ancient one. Since the dawn of time mankind has used stories to entertain and explain things. Hearing the words ‘once upon a time” conjures up nostalgia of childhood memories of our elders telling us tales that were not true but contained Truth. Most of us never grow out of our need for stories.  Savvy leaders know telling a story gets others’ attention far better than merely telling the facts. 

I love stories. I recently wrote about ‘Star Wars’. For all its special effects it is merely another version of The Hero’s Journey. This is no accident. Mr. Lucas carefully planned it out this way, down to the now iconic opening:  

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”.  

It sounds like a bedtime story. 

I have plenty of memorized stories from my youth, and I have a handful of my own, and a few I think are mine but it turns out they are not.* Alas, Babylon! I don’t have an audience. I am like an eager actor with no stage. Long gone are the days when I was in Boy Scouts when I was called upon to tell tales by campfire (I wasn’t good at knots but I told a keen ghost story). The niblings are no longer interested in Uncle Spo’s tales.  I want to wear a button “Ask me to tell you a story”.   

People nowadays don’t seem as interested in stories, let alone adore The Story Teller. Mostly they want to talk about themselves or they have the attention span of a goldfish: they want you to get to the point. I may be one of The Last of The Mohicans (there’s a good story!) who relish sitting back and hearing someone tell a story. I wish my job gave me more time for such, for folks have many tales to tell. 

It is no wonder I listen to a lot of podcasts like “Myths and Legends” and my book shelves are full up with fiction and folk tales and such. There’s nothing like a Saturday night at Heorot Johnson II for hearing The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections lay out a saga or an edda. **  

One of the niceties of having a headful of stories is even when no ones wants to hear them, at any moment I can recall them for myself. Indeed, at life’s end, when I have few resources upon which to entertain myself, I only have to conjure up Bilbo Baggins or Jerome the Frog or Pippi Longstalking or even Odysseus (in a pinch) and I am comforted. 

*Sometimes I catch myself telling a vignette that I think is personal, only to realize it was something that was told to me. Just hate when that happens. 

**Slater-Wotan tells a fine yarn – provided he is not too deep in his cups. Herbert, on the other hand, bores us to tears with his ‘adventure stories’ in accounting. 

What’s top of my mind: Summer plans. There’s a lot I wish to do, particularly traveling. Some of the pleasure trips rests on clarifying when I ought to go to Michigan for my turns at visiting and caretaking Father. I need to get these in place. Afterwards, I need to get Someone to sit down with me to plan what we can do/afford to do as traveling being expensive. We have an elderly dog to consider. How long/far can we go with her at the boarding place? Many variables to consider.

Where I’ve been: Costco.
I went last Sunday afternoon and I went alone. Oh the horror. If Mr. Dante were alive today he’d put this scenario in his Inferno, perhaps between levels 2 and 3. With that said it wasn’t too hellish. It was a sort of game of trying to maneuver around the shoppers with their oversized carts to get from A to B without ructions. Costco sells things in bulk. We now have enough paper towel and bathroom tissue to last a life time. I also got a tankful of Tide detergent, enough to wash our clothes until Christmas, which is good that I don’t have to return to their vast halls any time soon. As a treat, I brought home one of their broiled chickens, you know the ones, the birds they glaze with some unidentified addicting habit-forming substance. We’ve been eating off this bird for a few meals. I will use the carcass to make stone soup.

Where I’m going: The Good Dentist. This afternoon I see The Good Dentist for a routine check up. I hope he tells me all is good. I’ve been procrastinating going back to the oral surgeon to get a replacement tooth for the back molar that was pulled in early 2020 prior to the shut down. Getting a replacement will be time-consuming and quite costly; I often wonder if it is is worth it. Thanks to my journals, I was able to look up and recall the name of my bouncy young dental hygienist* so I can go in greet him today by name. He is a dear well over four feet. He makes me feel eighty years old.

What I’m watching: The cement pond. Last weekend it developed an emerald green coating around its edges and on the steps going down into the deep end. That ain’t good! I gave the thing a good scrubbing with a stiff brush not unlike toothbrushing. Then I “shocked” it with a bag of nasty chemicals that made me asphyxiate but it seemed to clear the waters up. Once algae appears it can be a challenge to keep from returning. Jenny Greenteeth will be quite cross I cleaned her abode so. I must remember to swim with the light on so she doesn’t drag me down to my doom for my industry.

What I’m reading: ‘Stuck between two bad options? You need to ‘knock the flagpole down”.
This funny saying is based upon a real-life contentious debate about flying flags on a certain pole. No compromise could be made. The impasse was solved as it were when someone (accidently or intentionally) backed up into the thing and knocked it down. Problem solved. The gist of the article is trying to get people to look at other solutions than “mine or yours”. When we’re stuck between two bad options, our mindsets become fixed. We think: These are the only options. And then we stop getting creative. But of course, there are always more options. When we knock the figurative flagpole down, we are clearing out space to see beyond our problems. We are giving ourselves permission to take action, rather than to simply settle.

What I’m listening to: “Castle in Spain”. This is a Disney tune from ‘Babes in Toyland” I don’t remember the movie much, but I remember the song, for as a boy I had a LP record. Later in life during my dancing days (circa the 90s) “Castle in Spain” was often played in dance class as the students learned to tango. In my innocent days, I had no clue to the economic references in its lyrics. It’s actually a nasty capitalistic song but jolly good fun to dance to. When I hear it, I can almost remember how to tango.

What I’m eating: A doughnut. To be specific, a chocolate doughnut with chocolate glaze. It’s been months since I had anything like this. In celebration of my lab work (see below) I thought I would ‘celebrate” with a sugar-fried cake of death. Oh the horror; oh the euphoria. After months of ‘no sugar” this tasted obscenely sweet and not in a nice way. It was sort of like one note really loud, with no nuance. On the other hand the dissolution of the dough and the taste of chocolate came together in my mouth like The Wonder Twins to make a scrumptious euphoria. Funny though I don’t see myself wanting to do much sweets anymore. I’ve grown accustomed to the ‘no sugar’ taste of food. I can live without it.**

Who needs a good slap: Thems who run the stoplights at entrance ramps to highways. Most of the ‘on-ramps” in Phoenix have two lane merging into one, each with its own red/green light to make people enter the highway one at a time, every other car. Cars often run through these, not even bothering to slow down in a show of feigned compliance. It is a simple case of folks breaking the law as they know no one is looking and they can get away with it. I’ve been honked at from behind for following the law and stopping at the red light for my turn to go. I wonder about these folks who break the law because they know they can. What else do they do? Steal from work? Cheat at their taxes or their spouses? I define integrity as doing the Right Thing even when no one is looking.

On my 1-5 rating scale, I give 2 slaps.

What I’m planning: An outrage. I am rather shocked at this, but when I thought out the question this is what popped up. Sort of like Tolkein saying out of nowhere he wrote on a blank piece of paper “In a hole in the ground live a hobbit”. Now where did that come from? Possibly The Skanks or someone like them. When I think of ‘outrage’ I think of the Monty Python line to ‘set fire to some public building” or the voice of Binky The clown advising you about your boots to through them out the window. I’ve been oh so conventional these days; perhaps a bit of outrage would be good. Perhaps I could run a red light on the on-ramp?

What’s making me smile: My latest lab work. Happy Joy! I am pleased as Punch to announce my non-pharmaceutical interventions of diet and exercise were adequate to normalize my labs. There is no sugar in the urine and my fasting glucose is 93. No metformin for me! The Good Doctor was pleased too. My PSA was OK too. My viral load came back again at non-detectable, which has been the case for so long I don’t remember when last it wasn’t. So it looks like I am sailing into my sixties relatively in good shape.


**With that said for my birthday in July I plan on making love to a big bag of Gummi-bears.

#14: Buy a cheap blender and use it to finely chop onions (it saves on time and tears).

Urs Truly isn’t very good at chopping onions. This is probably a combination of using not-sharp-enough knives and he being an A-1 Schimel. I’ve watched all the videos of the cooking pros on how to properly cut onions; they all manage to take an unpeeled onion and turn it into homogenous diced bits as fast as lighting, but it hasn’t helped honed my skills. No matter which great expert’s advice I take my grates aren’t so great. So the notion of a mechanical device sounds attractive.

I take umbrage at the notion of having a ‘cheap blender’. Mine is a king-sized-titanic-unsinkable-molly-brown contraption that laughs at onions. I confess I’ve never used it to dice onions (fine or otherwise) so I shouldn’t judge its efficacy until I try it and compare it to my amateurish attempts on the cutting board. On the other hand, isn’t The Cuisinart designed for this sort of thing? I have two of them: a large and a small. I will see if either is preferable when it comes to finely chopping onions and saving time.

Ah, but let’s look at the big picture on the ‘saving time” part of the equation. Perhaps a motorized chopper (blender or Cuisinart) may save time to dice, but there is also the time factor to get it out and set up the thing and more time to disassemble it for the dishwasher – and you better have a dishwasher as washing The Cuisinart parts by hand is a tedious and time-consuming job. Talk about penny-wise/pound-foolish.

I suppose I don’t bother to use the appliances as chopping onions seems to be something a budding chef like myself should be able to do. How does one get to finely chopped onions? Practice. I recall a scene in a movie about Julia Child in the kitchen is inundated by the aroma of cut onions as she tearfully cuts away at a basket of them. Oh the pain.

I tear up quickly when chopping onions. So far as I can tell all hacks to discourage this happening don’t work, other than having a sharp knife and cutting longitudinally rather than across the latitudes so as not to break as many cells. Less time on the cutting board helps too so this gets back to the pros and cons of using that cheap blender. I will keep hacking away at the alliums until I get it right enough, tears be damned. Besides, wielding a large knife is less tidy-up than The Cuisinart and jolly more fun to boot.

Sometimes improving life slightly isn’t worth the tears.

How do you cut your onions?

Does anyone do this in a blender or Cuisinart?

Yes yes yes it my attempts to thwart having to take pre-diabetes medication has paid off. I had a look-see at my lab work, which shows no sugar in the urine and a fasting glucose of 93. I am pleased as Punch. It is a comfort knowing sensible interventions of ‘no sugar’ and no snacks (oh the pain) and regular exercise paid off. Let’s hear it for non-living.

The cement pond in the backyard is showing some virescence and that ain’t good. I texted The Pool Boy my concern and he responded right back I should drain the pool and replenish it with fresh water. He also advised me again to cut down the backyard tree as the so-called reason for the situation. He’s been cross about the tree from the get-go. I fear either the tree goes or he goes.

One of insurance companies at work recently connected the dots I don’t have admitting privileges to hospital and what am I to do about this. I wrote back saying this has been so since 2005 and if someone needs to be admitted I tell them they should sensibly get to the nearest ER where the staff therein can figure out what to do. I sense this will be unacceptable and the insurance company will threaten to leave, resulting in a stand off. Historically this would make me worried but after thirty years I’ve grown wiser, less anxious, or perhaps jaded I don’t seem to care.

Last week Father had a bad reaction to a shingles shot and on top of this it sounds like he ate something bad so he’s feeling lousy all over and this made his moods quite despondent, poor fellow. Perhaps it is age as he has never been one to have sudden reactive mood swings. He called daily to say he is sick and tired of being sick and tired and all he does is go to doctor appointments. He asked about an antidepressant; I told him to have Brother #3 turn on a Pink Panther movie. Father called on Saturday sounding more cheerful saying this remedy helped. One of my favorite professors once told me whenever he took life or the world too seriously he would go watch a Marx Brothers movie. ‘Horse Feathers’ is good, but in very bad cases ‘Duck Soup’ is better*

This reminds me I owe a few Spo-fans an entry on the seven ways to deal with the absurdity of life. Perhaps this week.

To end Sunday Spo-bits on a happy note, I received in the post the coffee beans mentioned in last Wednesday’s Ws entry. I forgot or didn’t know these demonic beans are brewed ‘from the dark heart of Ohio” Patience above! Sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury but apparently it is OK to drink dreck from Columbus.

*Duck Soup is arguably one of the funniest films ever. Do not dare to question this.

I remember dragging Father to cinema in the 80s to see “The Empire Strikes Back”, only to discover I had to continually whisper clarifications during the movie as he was confused who and what was happening. It dawned on him halfway through the movie The Empire was the bad guy. I was appalled. How could he be so dense when it was so easy and obvious to follow? Well, Time has had his laugh as is his wont. The tables have turned and I can’t remember much about the series, other than The Empire is the bad guy and C3PO was a whiny drama queen throughout.

I have a fancy to re-see these spectacles, although I am befuddled how to go about doing this. There have been more than a handful of new ones since I saw the first lot. I don’t know if it is better to see them in order of appearance or in order of story-timeline. Either way I need some Star Wars enthusiast to hold my hand and tell me what to see.[1]

My memory of ‘Star Wars’ resembles that of a man peeking through an old-fashioned keyhole of a door into a room. I see some things clearly, a few things are fuzzy on the periphery, but most of the room is not visible. Funny the things I do remember. I remember there was a line in the first movie [2] I found hilarious. It the one where the two droids walking into a cantina bar in which there are all sorts of creatures only to hear the bartender shout “We don’t serve their kind!” I remember several times questioning the laws of physics and biology being bent if not entirely discarded for the sake of a good story. Perhaps I was taking it all too seriously but I know some folks who take this Star Wars stuff quite seriously; Doubting their devotion is an effrontery along the line of questioning their religious beliefs.

I didn’t care for the shoot-em-up scenes nor the sword fights (which were sort of boring) but I liked the aliens and beasts. I like monsters and there were plenty to be had in the Star Wars movies. [3] I especially liked The Jawas, as they sounded like intoxicated chipmunks and I despised The Ewoks as too-cute-for words. I also liked Mr. Williams’ music which was well-matched to the movies, provided you could hear it over the blasts and roaring of the spacecraft, which by the way, would not happen in space as there is no air.

Yes, I want to view these movies again and see if I will as bedazzled as I was in the 70s-80s when I first saw them. I’ve longed to to choke someone using ‘The Force’, not for their impudence but for bad manners and dangling particles – Yoda excepted. The dear! He wasn’t speaking poor English but a sort of Middle English syntax. I still have my two inch-tall Yoda ‘action figure’ (don’t call it a doll). No, I haven’t seen “Baby Yoda” nor do I care to. Whoever made up that monstrosity can go suck a Bantha.

[1] Spo-fans who knows these sort of things: please give advice. I would be most grateful.

[2] I think the first movie is now considered the fourth movie – or maybe the fifth or the sixth by. The titles keep getting rearranged. Oh the pain.

[3] I wonder if some Star Wars nut-job put together a bestiary book. I am particularly intrigued to learn more about the what-do-you-call-it thing in which people were being thrown into its mouth in the desert scene. I say ‘mouth’ but it looked uncannily like an anus. Somebody in the drawing room was having fun wit this one.

This Thursday evening we go see The Stray Cat production of Sondheim’s ‘Assassins’. It is our first Stray Cat show in many years; it will be cheery to attend.* However, The Stray Cat doesn’t put on cheery shows and “Assassins'” is no exception. For thems unfamiliar with this musical, it is about the men and women who shot or attempted to shoot U.S. Presidents. I like history and psychology so it is fascinating to try to understand why someone would want to kill one.

Over time thems that shoot sovereigns transform into clichés and legends; it is hard to know who they really were and their motives. My ‘favorite” (if that is the right word) is Charles j Guiteau who shot and killed President Garfield. Neither man got into the national muscle memory like Mr. Booth or Mr. Oswald. This is probably because Mr. G and President G were sort of bland and the scene of the shooting was ‘tame’ and the latter fellow sort of languished and died in a relatively quiet way. No public spectacle was involved. No fun this.

I suppose my interest in Mr. Guiteau’s case is because by modern accounts he was more than a little nuts. He wasn’t driven by political beliefs or economic matters like some of the others, he was driven mostly by delusional thinking he had greatly contributed to Garfield’s election and was therefore owed a political payback in a job. When this sensibly did not happen, he figured to save his political party, Garfield had to go. He wasn’t tried as a lunatic but as a political anarchist and was hanged.

In tonight’s play as Mr. Guiteau mounts the scaffold he sings a slightly deranged song full of grandiose delusional religious zeal “I am going to the Lordy”:

“Charlie said hell, if I am guilty than G-d is as well.
But G-d was acquitted and Charlie committed, to hang”

I never know whether to laugh or cry to see this. Religiousity combined with paranoia makes for some of the worse tragedies of mankind* but it does have its dark humor. If you are going to make a musical about killers one has to include some farce to make the lunacy bearable.

In hindsight Charles G would have been not judged not guilty by reasons of insanity and locked up and President Garfield wouldn’t have died given modern surgery and antibiotics. The real tragedy is this stuff keeps happening as there are always inspired zealots with access to guns to keep on the tradition of taking pot-shots at presidents. It’s all rather sad.

* Hong Kiuquan comes to mind here. Oh the horror.

*The odds are good both of us will fall asleep before the first number. Oh the embarrassment.

What’s top of my mind: Breathing. During the day I continually check in on my breathing as well, for when excited/worried/working etc. I tend to take short shallow unconscious breaths – when I am breathing at all. I pause to close my eyes, sit or stand straight, and take in a couple of better breaths: deep, slow, quiet, and from the abdomen. Whenever there is an impediment like waiting for a call or the computer to come up, rather than fretting I see these times as opportunities for a few deep breaths. This does me a world of good.

Where I’ve been: The living room.
This sounds odd, so let me explain. La Casa de Spo is sort of “H-shaped” with the two wings, east and west. In the middle is a hallway and a large open space, divided into two areas: the dining room and the formal sitting room. Neither one of us ever uses this area, not even to sit. Someone does his sitting in the the ‘family room” in the west and I like the comfy chair in the master bedroom in the east. Once in awhile I go to the living room to dust, as it gets thick in there from lack of use. On the positive, the couch and chairs are nearly new. In my next house I don’t want one so large it has useless rooms.

Where I’m going: ‘Costco’ Sooner I’d eat Rats at Tewkesbury than go to Costco on a weekend, so I will go near closing time on the weekday. I want to buy some protein powder* and we are running low on toilet paper. I hope by now thems that shop at Costco aren’t lunatics about the latter and there will be some available. My cousin tells me Costco has the best wieners – or is it pizza? – which sounds suspicious as Costco and haute cuisine sound incompatible. While there I am get one of their chickens. These are good for a few meals and the carcass makes an excellent base for stone soup.

What I’m watching: The post. I ordered some coffee beans from my favorite beanery, Spring-heeled Jack coffee. All their beans sound morbid, but they get rave reviews by thems at work who drink the stuff. Thanks to my making proper coffee (no rubbish types) I’ve been authorized at work as Coffee Master. Oh the horror. This is a lofty title indeed for someone who prefers tea (also no rubbish). Back to the beans, I’ve order something called The Hessian:

What I’m reading: “When medical myths outlast the evidence”. You will be shocked to know doctors don’t always change their approaches in the light of new data that negates their long-time beliefs and practices. MDs, despite their protestations they are rationale thinkers, are still human and they tend to stick to their experiences rather than change. I suppose I am no different that the great minds of Psychiatry repeatedly tell me there is little if any evidence to support adding an antidepressant medication to a case bipolar-type depression, yet thirty years of clinical experience tells me this often work/helps. I am continually aware of the evolution of Medicine to discard so-called dogmas. If I didn’t, I would be diagnosing women as hysterics and treating OCD types with psychoanalysis.*

What I’m listening to: ‘Enemy Slayer – A Navajo Oratorio’. I go regularly to concerts. Once in a while, there is a performance that sticks in my memory, something extraordinary that is almost numinous. Years ago I attend the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra that did a world premiere of piece about a young Navajo man’s journey to war as a G.I. and his descent into PTSD and madness and his ascent back to his tribe. The audience were told it was being recorded and please hold the applause at the end for editing sake. It was an extraordinary piece of music and the energy in the audience was high. It was one of the few time I actually leapt up to do a standing ovation. Nowadays everyone stands for everything and we applaud singers for clearing their throats. I have a recording of this music; it reminds me of that marvelous night and I was there.

What I’m eating: Eggs and things. I recently heard a two hour-long lecture on nutrition and working out. It reminded me in order to ‘gain bulk’ I must have extra protein, not just ‘enough to function”. I am not a fan of protein drinks so I need to eat my protein. I like eggs, so I am eating a few each day (sometimes without the yolk) mostly in hardboiled form. I have plenty of lovely salty toppings to apply to them. At the moment Zehnder’s from Frakenmuth, MI is my favorite, for it tastes like chicken dinners at Christmas time. Another one I use is ‘Arizona Habanero’ which is basically dried habaneros and salt. Oh the pain.

Hot puppies!

Who needs a good slap: I suppose the most likely candidate this week is the villain who invited the credit card device at counters or in restaurants, the type that ends not with ‘Do you want to leave a tip?” but how much tip do you want to leave? There are usually four choices, the lowest is 20% and the highest is 35%. There is no easy option to leave less or none at all (in favor of paper money). One feels cornered as the waiter is watching and I feel sheepish to ask how do I negate the tip option.

On my 1-5 rating scale, I give the inventor three slaps (and no tip).

What I’m planning: A trip to Goodwill. On my weekend list of ‘there’s-work-to-be-done” chores is locate the nearest Goodwill store and Grinch-like haul my goods up Mt. Krumpit to dump it. I have heaps. I hear tell Goodwill has grown snippy as to donations. I wonder if I can drop things of surreptitiously like a foundling baby or a box of kittens.

What’s making me smile: A card in the post. Ron (the dear!) sent me a card. In it he writes:

Sometimes it bears saying again. I appreciate your friendship.

It made my week. Thank you, Ron.

*If it is too expensive, I will throw up my hands in disgust and exclaim ‘No whey!”

**After centuries of seeing hysteria as a valid diagnosis we no longer see female symptoms due to wandering uteruses, and psychoanalysis has been shown to be no good for OCD, yet once upon a time it was THE treatment for such. Handwashing, as everyone knows, is really a subconscious acting out of guilt for being angry about having desires to kill your father. Just look how long it took to remove homosexuality from the manual as a psychiatric illness in need of treatment.

I have four short-sleeved shirts: a blue one, a white one, and two red/white striped things I made from long-sleeved shirts when their sleeves became too short from washing. These four shirts are enough it seems. On Saturday I wash them and on Sunday I iron them. Monday through Thursday I wear them. Friday, out of whimsy, I wear a Spo-shirt. This routine doesn’t vary in the heat of the summer. I don’t bother wearing long sleeved shirts (unless I am going to symphony) and I haven’t bought new ones for years. A fashion plate I am not.

Mind! I have plenty of dress trousers and a few fancy shirts, but these never get worn. For one thing, it’s too hot to wear them and another is some of them don’t fit. As for trousers, I wear the same khakis over and over, along with 2-3 pairs of shoes out of the dozen I own. It’s all getting dog-eared from regular use; when they become beyond decency I am likely to to buy a duplicate as a replacement.

It’s sort of nice having a ‘uniform’ as it were. I don’t have to think what to wear and I can get dressed half asleep (which I’ve done on many mornings). Patient like seeing me the same way year in and year out. This isn’t in line with The APA Secret Police policy to ‘dress always to contemporary professional standards”. So far as I can tell, no one has complained online that Dr. Spo looks like a charity case and he doesn’t inspire confidence.*

On weekends my outfits are similarly uniform consisting of a polo shirt with khaki shorts for going outside and T-shirt and boxer shorts for inside.**

Since we are on the topic of oh-so-practical repetitive attire, I wear the same Fitbit watch regardless of the occasion. The men-folk in my family had a variety of wristwatches they wore for different events. Whenever I see an ad for a Rolex I wonder who on earth wears that sort of thing these days. What was once considered a status symbol “hey I got money enough to blow on a wristwatch” is now looked upon as boring and a sign of senility and no movement. My grandfather had a Rolex and none of his descendants wanted it – after all, all it does is tell time.

I feel guilty about the bow tie collection. When was the last time I wore one? For thems unfamiliar with a bow tie, they are tied snug and aren’t ‘loosened’ like neckties. They look ridiculous with short sleeved shirts unless you are selling ice cream out of The Good Humor truck (remember those?)

One of these weekends I should take down my suits (I have three I believe) and sports jackets (four) and see if any still fit. I daresay they don’t. A gentleman should always have one suit and jacket ‘at the ready’ for important events like funerals or weddings or interviews. The dress slacks may be keepers provided I still fit in them (oh the embarrassment). The rest of the stuff I could probably donate to the Veterans Society who are looking for donations this month. My closest would look a bleak but perhaps better than a lot of clothes never used.

Do you wear the same things over and over?

How often to you buy new clothes?

*I still remember one of my evaluations at work in which the professor stated “Spo has a good mind and nature to be a good doctor. Unfortunately he lacks élan’ Now wasn’t that sweet?

** I keep proper trousers are at the ready just in case there is someone at the door like The LDS lads or the JWs – or maybe I won’t. “Won’t you come in my dear!” I would love to say to them “I’ve been hoping you’d stop by!”

Spo-fans prone to anxiety and depression may want to skip this one.

Several Spo-fans have recently asked me when it comes to retirement I am pessimistic about mine. I’ve avoided writing about this as it is a gloomy topic, a near-guarantee to make the readers feel bad.

Mind! What I am about to write is stuff I don’t totally believe in. I have enough wisdom to know my inner-Glum hasn’t a leg to stand on when it comes to the arguments for these jeremiad grumblings . After all, one cannot predict the future. My concerns are all speculative.  If I really believed these rubbish-like concerns were genuine, I wouldn’t keep up my health, nor would I keep contributing towards retirement – which I do on a regular basis. I am scribbling down my thoughts if only to get them out of my head. Perhaps on paper they won’t seem so dire. 

First strike against retirement is my health. I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol (both genetic) with creeping pre-diabetes and diminished kidney functions.  None of these are bad at the moment; I do what I can to keep these in check. As a lot, they don’t point to a long life. Then there is my baseline matter. I’ve had the miraculous fortune to have lived thirty years with ‘the bug’. The Good Doctor says I am now more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than an opportunistic infection.  All the same I don’t know of anyone with HIV to have lived long life. Apparently having it excels all things medical, and on the eve of turning sixty I might as well be seventy. With these conditions, the odds of seeing retirement are suspect. 

The second strike is the cost of staying alive. The meds I take a frightfully expensive, even with insurance. I feel obliged to work as long as possible to keep health insurance as without any I could not afford to keep them.  If Medicare (that’s at 65 is it not?) takes over I wonder how much these necessary meds would cost or even if they are covered. Who can say.

The final strike is cost: I’ve seen my funds drop from the sky like paralyzed pigeons. We bought our house at the height of the housing boom in 2005 only to watch its value drop in the housing crash to a fraction of its worth. The place needs many major repairs. I doubt we could sell it even at the cost. To retire and move means selling La Casa de Spo probably at a loss, a big one – taking another bite out of the retirement funds. 

Let’s say for the sake of argument I manage to see seventy. Will my Social Security still exist? Will my funds at Merrill Lynch still be there? I have the terrible intuition they won’t, given national and international upheavals and what’s to come. I’ve heard many assure me ‘social security can’t go under” but then I’ve been assured our government would never be overthrown or my marriage will be legally dissolved*. 

Retirement – should I survive and the nation/world does so as well- looks to be a meager time with little affordability other than medical bills to do any of the things I hope retirement would be. If this is the case, it doesn’t seem worthwhile to pursue really. It is probably better to drop dead while working and miss the horrors that are to come. 

 *After ‘Roe’ is overturned I predict marriage equality will be next. I wonder what happens to our combined monies?

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May 2022

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018