🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Having a plan is a far different thing from having a plan work out. I’m really good at the former, yet the latter seems to be extremely elusive.
Yesterday, my plan was to take the huge pile of chopped-down cedar-tree limbs that have been in my backyard for two or three weeks and burn the hell out of them. It’s very much a Missourah thing to burn stuff in your backyard. You can be driving down a road in rural Missourah and see a huge cloud of black smoke billowing skyward from miles away, and your first thought is never, “Holy crap! I hope everyone is OK!” It is always, “Wow. He must be burnin’ somethin’ real good. I’m jealous.”
The plan was to do my Missourah God Given Right before the temperature reached the expected high of 99 degrees, and on this I was successful.
I went outside at around 8:30 a.m. to commence the burning, only to remember that, oh yeah, the last time I attempted to light this pile on fire, I’d used an entire can — our only can — of lighter fluid and accomplished nothing other than royally pissing off a rabbit that had made a temporary home under the pile. I blamed the fact it had rained the day before, but as we’ll soon see together, that probably wasn’t it.
I momentarily eyed the can of lawn mower gas before actually hearing Wifey Poo’s voice telling me, “Really John? Really? We’re gonna do this. Really?”
Off to Wal-Mart I went. Here’s a thing about me: I could go into the same Wal-Mart 50,000 times over the course of two weeks and if Wifey Poo texted me to say, “Hey, could you pick up come Oreos,” still I would spend at least 15 minutes wandering the aisles like the Jews in the dessert, wondering why God was punishing me.
Lighter fluid is a far more obscure item than Oreos. Why, during the summer, the Evil Wal-Mart Overlords would hide it and the charcoal way the hell over in the garden center is beyond me, but it took me three laps of the freaking store, including one in which I walked right by it thinking “Why isn’t the lighter fluid with the charcoal?” before I found it.
Then I decided to get a car wash, and, because I have $55 in gift cards to Starbucks, I thought, “Why the hell not?” and swung by there too.
But we’re not done.
I know that when society collapses I’m screwed. I am not what you’d call a survivalist. Once things go south, I’ve got maybe two weeks to live.
I understand that starting a fire with lighter fluid (!!!!!) should be an easy task to accomplish, especially on a day with no wind and in which, thanks to my wanderings around Wal-Mart and associated other trips, the temperature had risen to just below the flashpoint for spontaneous human combustion.
“Should” applies to people not named me.
Three-quarters of can of lighter fluid later, I was already sweating through my shirt and beginning to realize I was going to have to go back to Wal-Mart for more lighter fluid. I’d get a small little fire going, and then it would peter out. Repeat attempts failed.
Call it divine intervention or a sudden flash of brilliance, but after walking a little too close to one of the ends of the branches stacked up on the pile and getting scraped yet again (my legs look like I fought with Little Person Edward Scissorhands), I realized that the stuff at the end of the branches — the very brown, very dead needles of the cedar tree — would probably make for good kindling.
So I unpiled all the branches, snapped off a bunch of the ends, stuck them at the bottom, and lit them on fire before quickly throwing more branches on top as the inferno grew. Pretty soon, I had this:
That’s when things got a little crazy.
Here’s the thing about fires: They’re hot.
Duh, right? I mean, we’ve all sat by a campfire or fireplace and felt that. What I wasn’t quite aware of, however, was that a fire with cedar branches burns hotter, and a fire with an entire crapton of cedar branches burns a lot hotter.
Soon, my shirt was soaked through. So I took it off. Calm down, ladies. Keep it together. And don’t be jealous that you can’t do that. You could. We live way the hell out in the country. You could go around buck naked and only manage to confuse the deer and the squirrels.
But word of warning … That’s when I learned another thing about fires: The ash that comes off of raging infernos like the one above? It, too, is hot, especially when it lands on your exposed chest hairs.
It’s now The Morning After, and that pile of branches has been reduces to a small lump outside the window out of which I’m now looking. Overnight and morning rains have thoroughly soaked it.
Ya know what else happened this morning? The realization that, ultimately, to get the fire actually lit and really roaring, I needed not one drop of lighter fluid.
“Sweat” was the theme of the day yesterday. After the Battle of the Burn Pile, I came in and realized I was about an hour and a half away from having to take Boy The Younger to his baseball tryouts, which made a shower seem more like a waste of water than a smart thing to do. So I mopped off, sprayed some Ax body spray (there’s never a can too far away when you have a teenage boy) and soon headed back into the swamp-ass heat that makes me question why in God’s name I live someplace in which you can lick the air.
To be fair, BTY had it worse, actually down on the field in the sun, while I sat in the shade in the stands, still, dripping sweat off my head and down my back and chest. Yes, a kid who was trying out barfed from the heat, in case you were wondering.
The thermometer on my car on the drive over hit 105.
When I got home, I finally showered, only to head back out into the heat again, this time with Wifey Poo for the Jewel concert (and oh yeah, Blues Travel and Train).
There, we sweat together, as all good couples do. Jewel was magnificent. She was sweating like a pig, too. The best line of the night? “This girl’s Alaska ass is melting. I don’t know how you people do this.”
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more fascinated by the human body’s eccentricities, many of which involve hair. For example, if I didn’t shave the hair that remains on my head, what would grow our is in that weird old-man horseshoe shape. Yet if I didn’t shave the hair that wants to grow out of my ears and trim those that try to extend from my nostrils, I likely would be able to wrap them around my head and look like Elvis in about a week and a half.
I’m only 47!
Then there’s the matter of a different nose hair. About five years ago, I went to scratch the tip of my nose and felt something there. Not a big thing. But a thing. Just a thing. Not a thing thing.
I forgot about it.
A few days later, it happened again.
So I went to look in the mirror. If I tilted my head just … so… I could see one lone hair, no more than a centimeter, extending from the tip of my nose.
What the hell?
No one wants a single hair growing from the tip of their nose. I’m quite sure that, whether we evolved from apes or were placed here as-is from a creator god, we never were meant to have a hair extending from the tip of our noses. Running through a catalog of all animals stored in my brain, I can think of no animal that has any hair on the tip of its nose … not a fur-covered nose and certainly not one singular hair.
So I plucked it out with a pair of tweezers Wifey Poo keeps in her drawer in the bathroom. And that was that.
Except it wasn’t.
About six months later, the hair came back. Why it took six months to come back is anyone’s guess. I imagine the answer can be found somewhere in the same section as the “Why does a singular hair grow out of a person’s nose?” answer.
So I plucked it again.
Several months later, it came back.
There’s no rhyme or reason I can discern for the hair’s arrival. It’s not like it pops up for my birthday or Christmas. It doesn’t appear only when I’m stressed or not stressed. There’s a day that it’s not there and then a day when I sense it and am like, “Hmm. How long have you been growing?” It’s always in the same place, it’s always just one hair.
This, my friends, is middle age.
In Other Writing
RadioShack is taking a controversial approach to its social media marketing. It’s capturing attention. But will the new approach grow sales? “If you find a squirter, marry her.” RadioShack’s Twitter RadioShack getting horny with its marketing is kind of like walking in on your grandparents having sex, and yet here we are, standing in the…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Anxiously awaiting the next nose hair appearance.
- It’s actually supposed to be only in the 70s today!
- There are more branches on the cedar tree to trim before felling the actual tree. And then I get to burn the entire thing!
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oil Change 👨🔧Goose Lover🛦Church & State⛪ Based on my history, the last place anyone should ever look for me is underneath a car. Yet that’s where I found myself late this morning, side-by-side with Boy The Elder as he showed me exactly how stupid I’ve been all my life. I’m not…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Media Bias 📰Rudy’s Sandals 🩴Lack of Faith ⚖️ I’ve watched with interest the blowback against newspaper tyrant Gannett following its reminder to its journalists in the wake of the Supreme Court’s undoing of Roe v. Wade that they are not to take sides on social media. “You cannot use social media…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Censorship 🍈🍈Newspaper Talk 📰Toothbrush 🦷 I did my first actual “work” thing at my new job yesterday. The first two-plus days have been filled with meeting new people and learning about the kazillion awesome products we sell so I can talk somewhat intelligently about what we do. But then Nu Bossman…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hitler Talk ⚖️Chicken Postscript 🐣Green Seats ⚾ I wonder when the average German in the 1930s/1940s said something akin to “Oh shit.” There has to be a point when the rational, sane sauerkraut-lover realized that perhaps his or her vote for a certain mustachioed politician was a really bad idea. For…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Take Me Away🛀Period Tracker🩸Choose Wisely💒 Arriving for the first day at a new job is kind of like showing up in a new town after throwing away your old identity. It’s a blank slate, and you can be anyone you’d like to be. Want to go by a different name? Go…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Racist Billboard🐲Roe Silence😶Guest Bulldog🐶 Driving out of rural northern Arkansas today to return home after several days in a cabin in the boonies, I passed a billboard that was startling, to say the least. It starts off innocently enough with a very true statement: “It’s not racist to 💗 people.” I…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Uranus Sleeper🔭Cabin Rules🩲Taco Seasoning🌮 What does Cuba, Uranus, Sleeper, Doolittle and a billboard saying “If we don’t return to 2 Chronicles, than were finished” have in common? They all were on the route from my Humble Rural Missourah Home to the cabin in the boonies of Arkansas that is my home…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Check Engine 🚗Declined 🥡Murder Suspect 🔪 Every once in awhile, life throws you a pleasant surprise that seems to even the score a bit. Wifey Poo’s car is up for an emissions inspection this year. Her “check engine” light has been going on and off for a year or so, and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩River Thoughts 🛶Little Annoyances 😠Birthday Boy 🎂 I didn’t know what a float trip was until I met Wifey Poo. I’m not even sure today that the term “float trip” is used outside Missourah. But if you’re a Missourahn, when someone says, “Wanna go on a float trip?” you know a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Boys 👨👦👦Work Drinking🥃Feeling Good 😎 I’ve understood since seventh-grade science class how a child is a somewhat random and yet somewhat traceable mish-mash of his parents and their parents and their parents ad infinitum. It’s so cool to see that play out with my own boys. Boy The Elder is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Stinger 🦂Inflation 🎈Housing Costs 🏘️ There’s something quite amazing about witnessing a human dinosaur be thrown through a stack of four tables. That was just one of the scenes from last night as Boys The Elder & Younger and I attended AEW Dynamite and Rampage. The biggest news from the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shitty Goodbye 💩Bald Is Beautiful 👨🦲Housing Market 🏘️ It’s official: My duty ensuring the continued breathing of roughly 20 chickens for Wifey Poo’s and Boy The Younger’s vacationing friends is over. Success! All birds were present and accounted for this morning, as I said goodbye to my new friends — Gertrude,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩CrytpoStupidity ₿Coffee Seltzer ☕Chicken Update🐓 I like to make fun of Matt Damon. I know this comes from a place of deep-seated insecurity because Matt Damon is, well, Matt Damon and I am not. Yet it’s fun to make fun of Matt Damon, precisely because he is Matt Damon — all…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Meatloaf🦎Ugly Fish🐟Chicken Update🐓 You can buy insurance for many things. Your car. Your home. Your boat. Your health. Your eyes, teeth or brain (which, for some reason, is separate from your health). And now, according to a Missourah court, you can buy insurance that pays you if you contract a sexually…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Kentucky Fried Idiot 🍗Johnny Boy Marketing✏️Airplanes!🛦🛦🛦🛦🛦 There’s a scene in the 1979 film Rocky II in which the titular character (sorry, I’ve always wanted to write that …) is tasked by his trainer Mickey with chasing a chicken. Rocky was pummeled into oblivion — though somehow managed to eek out a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Rogue Golfers 🐝Nay Voters🐟Chicken Day🥤 Golfers are known as being a genial sort. Whereas a basketball player could maul an opponent driving the lane, leaving him bloody and unconscious, and still complain about the foul called on him, golfers actually call fouls on themselves! Yet the world of professional golf is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bees Suck 🐝Bees As Fish🐟Cup O’ Pee🥤 I hate bees. Yes, I know they’re somehow the lynchpin on which our species’ survival will turn, but seriously, if we’re so fragile that we’re depending on a stinging invertebrate to keep us going, well, perhaps we’re not really so special after all. My…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poultry Responsibilities 🐔Fine Dining🥩Crappy Year For Music🎵 I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a marketing guy, a storyteller, a jokester, a damn good parallel parker and a guy who played on a basketball team that lost 135-3. What I am not is a farmer. I left my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩NASCAR President ₿Creepy Coffee☕Chef BTE 🍖 We all know that just about every politician at any level is, in some way, bought and paid for, right? I mean, perhaps your local school board representative isn’t (though she might be owned by her kid), but when you reach the state and national…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dessert, Not Desert 🍨Happy Belated Birthday, McLovin 🎁Men Kissing 🏳️🌈 I started out my career in the news business and quickly learned that people suck. I mean, back in the mid-1990s, the internet was just becoming a thing — we even capitalized it … Internet … and wrote “e-mail” instead of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Job🧑💼Happy Times🤗Small World ⚾ Buckle up. It’s story time. Today I made a reservation for Ruth’s Chris steakhouse on Sunday for me, Wifey Poo and Boys The Elder and Younger. The Core Four is getting dressed up. Keep in mind, we are not Ruth’s Chris people. It’s not that we…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pants on the Ground👖Pimp Slap✋Pissin’ in the Wind🌬️ I had occasion to wear a suit yesterday. This was notable because I evidently hadn’t worn said suit in about a year. Over those 365 days, I’ve lost roughly 30 pounds. Thus, I showed up to the engagement necessitating a suit looking like…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chainsaws Suck🪓Early Arrival✈️Shrimp on the Barbie🦐 I awoke bright and early this morning, kissed Wifey Poo on the forehead and went outside ready to put chainsaw to felled tree. I live far enough out in the country that crankin’ up a chainsaw at 6:30 a.m. on a holiday morning isn’t a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Racin’🏎️Heat☀️Gorilla Guy🦍 When I was a small boy, the Indianapolis 500 was must-see TV. I’m not sure exactly how it started, but it must have been around 1978 — when I was a 4-year-old boy who loved Matchbox cars and big wrecks. It was around that time that Pops brought home…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Fullback 🚑Sicky Poo 🤒Helium Shortage 🎈 I don’t get paid anywhere close to enough to deal with St. Louis traffic when it rains. Not that St. Louis drivers are uniquely bad. I would imagine large swaths of drivers in other cities react just as poorly to the presence of moisture…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Taking Toys Away 🔫Checked Out ✈️Windsurfing Kid 🌬️ Many moons ago, I had a toy rubber snake. That my parents would have allowed such a purchase is shocking, given that Mother Dearest was terrified of anything remotely reptilian and Sister wasn’t that far behind. Yet there, in the depths of my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shut Up🤫Waffle House 🧇Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes🤗 So here’s something I don’t quite understand: Why is anyone, especially our political leaders, expressing “shock” over what happened in Texas yesterday. Dude … the sun rose yesterday. The sun has risen every single freaking day for the course of humanity. The sun will rise tomorrow. That’s…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Subway Obsession😞Guard Dog 🐶Chainsaw John🪓 Every child is peculiar in his or her own way. It’s an early indication we all should recognize that none of us is normal. We’re all weird. And that’s OK. Boy The Younger has always had his peculiarities. As a small child, he was fascinated with…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Musical History🎹Why Write? 🖊️Loser Level😔 We finally have only one piano in our house! Now, don’t get to thinking we’re this uber-musical family. We’re not. Wifey Poo, from what I hear, was a helluva clarinetist back in her day and did, indeed, take piano lessons. Boy The Elder is really good…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beyond Tired😫Busting Ass 🐝Covid Sadness😔 Everything is knowable. When I look back at the pace of change in my life, I think that’s the biggest difference between my life as a child and my life as an adult. Back then, if you wondered something, you just … wondered it. I mean,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sad Anniversary😞My Back! 😳Dachau😭 Thirty-five years ago today, my first grandparent died. Grandpa was my favorite grandparent, and in looking back, I think it was because of his willingness to join my world. Grandpa played games with me endlessly. He taught me how to play rummy. He would spend hours on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bye-Bye BTE✈️Rival Riot Rumble 🤼♂️Old Man John🤕 In a few hours, Boy The Elder will board a plane headed for Germany. He just completed his sophomore year at Mizzou, and now he’s going overseas for a two-week study-abroad session in which he’ll allegedly learn more about food science and fermentation and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double-U🧸Big Sis 🦸♀️Preggo Healer 🤰 Anyone remember Speak & Spell? If you’ve seen E.T., you’ve seen it before. Don’t know why, but I was thinking about this toy the other day. For some reason, spelling wasn’t school if you had one of these things to play with. I can still hear…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Heat Wave🥵Lawn Mowing🚜Last Podcast 🎙️ It’s hotter than balls outside in my section of Missourah, and I’m not happy about it. I am not a hot-weather person. I hate heat. I sweat easily. I turn red even easier. Having a bald head does not match well with sun exposure. And has…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Friends😔What To Do?🙋Creepy Dolls 🎎 Yesterday was a rough day. It’s one thing to be a person with essentially no friends. It’s another thing altogether to not be friends with yourself. That’s where I was yesterday — all up in my head and imagining the worst was about to happen in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Losing Money 🥊The Best F’N Mom Ever👩Heat 🥵 Wifey Poo and I took our weekly date Saturday and went to the city made famous in the original National Lampoon’s Vacation movie: East St. Louis. No, East St. Louis isn’t in Missouri and no, it’s not a popular data destination, but what…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩One Long Sentence 🖊️Birthday Boy🎂Wine & Chocolate 🍷🍫 I remember being a kid and wanting to be an adult. I wanted to drive and have a girlfriend and be able to do whatever it was that I wanted to do, not what someone else said I should do. And now, here…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ink Stain 🖊️Big Week 🎂Gas Pumps 😂 If getting a link of ink right across the front of your shirt while trying to catch a falling pen isn’t one of the Mondayest of Monday things that can happen to a dude, I’m sure there aren’t too many things that can beat…Keep reading