Thursday, October 31, 2013

Alas alack: Bigger is Better

Is bigger better?


It is in our neighborhood.


You see, a few days ago, and for the last 20 years, we have handed out full size candy bars on Halloween.


Children come from all over.


It's a known fact in  the local world of trick-or-treat.  And it seems that word has spread.


That family off Lloyd Road gives out full size.


Snickers so big  they seem to hold court in the bottom of your pillow case.


Lording it over those itsy-bitsy excuses for candy bars that the whole world has gravitated to.


Those tiny bars are called "fun size" or "snack size".




I just call it cheap.


The dollar doesn't stretch like it used to.


That goes for everyone these days.


That's why Hershey's and Mars and NestlĂ© invented midget confections sold with 48  in a plastic bag.


Walmart, Target, and Marc's ring up millions of dollars in sales with these plastic bags filled with scaled-down versions of the real McCoy.


But I remember the old days when a box of milk duds was so big you could cause bruising if you threw it at someone (based on real life experience).


Devouring a full-size Nestlé's crunch bar!


Reese's Peter Buttercup, with two cups!


A Baby Ruth designed to fill you up!


No, we are not made out of money.


But trick-or-treating has changed so much these days, what with the danger of weirdos putting strange things in apples and other reasons for kids to be wary.


And my own kids are all grown up, pursuing dietary habits that don't include heavy doses of milk chocolate, layered with creamy nougat and roasted peanuts.


That means Nancy and I have this unique annual opportunity to relive our own childhood through the eyes of those ringing our doorbell in hopes of the Holy Grail.


Full size candy.


So, for one night,  as a way to reward those youngsters still willing to brave the cold and the rain that usually accompanies old hallows eve, we have continued to do something special.


For one night, ours is the hero house.


Everyone wants to visit.


Just a few nights ago, Dracula, Superman, and a fairy princess looked at me with big eyes filled with joy at the size of a big candy bar dropped into their bag of loot.


Superheroes and Frankenstein monsters, you and your associates are all welcome.


And that goes for you too, Skeletor.


The Lynch family continues to go big.


Live large.


Oh, and one more thing.


Do as I did lo these many Halloweens ago.


Remove a few bars and hide a secret stash of your own for a later time.


Big brothers and sisters are known to pilfer when those with super powers are sleeping.


I should know.


With seven older siblings, I was easy picking as I snored away in a sugar induced stupor.


Hide the jewels, Superman.


The Lynch family has them to give out.


See you next year.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dogs have Souls

My dog Marby died this past Tuesday.


I loved her.


Today I know for sure that animals have souls.


Because her absence has created a hole in my heart only possible because a warm loving soul has made an unexpected exit from my life.


She was a golden retriever a little on the small side.


She was the runt of the litter, born with a heart murmur that made her unmarketable for the dog breeder.


We rescued her from the  euthanasia needle because she seemed to tell us she belonged in our family.


She was right.


For nine years, she defined gentleness and unconditional love.


Her favorite game consisted of waiting for you to leave the room.


Then she would grab anything of yours and take it to wherever you went.






Cell phones.


When you went to grab it out of her mouth, she pulled away at the last second.


Funny thing.


She never scratched or damaged any object she ran away with in her mouth.


She knew these were delicate items, so she treated them delicately.


Well, maybe a little drool, but that's harmless.


Most importantly, she wanted to be where I was.


Many late nights, I'd be toiling away at the computer.


In my Dave-cave in the basement.


Marby would always  camp out right next to my desk.


Being with me.


I've  heard it said that if you want to show someone that you love them, spend time with them.


Marby did that in spades.


She couldn't form words.


But she could be with me.


Sometimes listening to my troubles.


Looking right at me with those soulful brown eyes and amazingly expressive eyebrows.


And at times of struggle, she seemed to sense it.


Her expression told me that she would gladly substitute herself for me and absorb my pain if she could.


But for the moment, she would do all that she could.


She would be with me.


In the Old Testament Book of Ruth, a young woman tells her widowed mother-in-law not to be sad or lonely.


"Where you go, I will follow."


That's a moving tale about unparalleled love and loyalty.


That's what Marby gave us.


I'm having a hard time now, watching TV.


I look to the spot where Marby pressed against my stocking feet and I  miss her terribly.


She's there.


But when I reach down to scratch her on her favorite spot, my hand finds air.


Dogs have souls.


I know because I ache  for one who left her furry body just a few days ago.


Admit it.


They aren't just pets.


They are very dear family members.


I cried when we got to spend a few minutes clutching her lifeless body at the pet hospital.


She looked peaceful and content.


That's how she made me feel.


Even in times of distress.


Love you, Marbs.


Someday we'll walk together again.


I miss my best friend.



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rebel who is telling us about a cause

Is fat funny?


I don't think so.


Recently I watched a sitcom starring an actress by the name of Rebel Wilson.


This young lady is a terrific comedic actress 27 years old and she is on top of the world.


ABC is promoting the television program "Super Fun Night" starring Wilson in  one hilarious moment after another.


Here's the problem.


Half of the jokes revolve around Miss Wilson's rather gigantic waist, chunky legs, and conglomeration of chins, all of which are testament to her extreme obesity.


All of us know that the fat comic has been a staple of humorous entertainment for very long time.


Oliver Hardy.


Fatty Arbuckle.


Jackie Gleason.


John Candy.


These folks are legends of comedy and were willing to let their  rotund figures serve as important aids in their slapstick  escapades.


But what does that say about us?


We know the dangers inherent in carrying around extra pounds on our frames.


Despite this, we continue to reward film and television producers who parade one jiggly fatty after another before us in search of ratings and box office bonanzas.


There is  something wrong about that.


But there is something even worse.


I'm troubled that we are willing to let these larded court jesters make fun of themselves to earn the dollars the networks and film studios are willing to throw at them.


We've turned these giant sized gluttons into  pathetic victims in a tragic comedy.


And that's not just because so many of these media clowns have come to a bad end in the county morgue wearing a tag marked drug and alcohol victim.


There's  something about living a life that's larger-than-life in a body overtaxing the cardio-pulmonary  system that seems sadly typical for these giant comedy giants.


Belushi and Farley's horrible demise at the hands of booze and cocaine.


Unfortunately not uncommon.


I have a theory.


It's wrong for us to encourage these entertainers to eat themselves into ZIP Code size trousers as a way of promoting their art.


And their careers.


But I also think that deep down inside these objects of their many fans love are killing themselves with  loneliness.


Loneliness and sadness that is a function of the realization that they are desired, not because of who they are, but because of the laughter created by their overweight appearance.


The fat guy is always the life of the party, right?


You laugh at their antics?


I hope not.


But the fact is that we have been laughing at their shenanigans for very long time.


Rebel Wilson is a clever and talented actress and I have only  best wishes for her.


But for the rest of us, I wish us to look into our hearts and stop laughing at those whose hearts are enlarged by years of obesity.


And to stop laughing at those whose hearts are breaking.


I began this column by asking if fat was funny.


Here's the answer.


It's not.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Save your judgement for cooking contests

I have a friend who's beating himself up.


And I'm writing this column to bring a small degree of relief so that he can realize he's only human.



Here's the story.


This middle-aged fellow had experienced a fruitful and fulfilling marriage with a beautiful lady.


He was living that commitment and he felt that in his heart.


Like many marriages, there were some ups and downs and of course the inevitable staleness that occasionally presents itself when you been living with the same person for very long time.


True love overcomes all that, right?


Well, that is generally true.


He just happened to run into an old flame.


This was a girl that he had fallen in love with many years ago as a youth.


He had formed an idealized picture of this gal from many years ago.

And this picture  stuck in the back of his mind and perhaps even in some corner of his heart for very long time.


In any case, this long-lost love from long ago somehow crossed paths with  my friend.


And in some unexplainable moment of weakness, that part of his inner psyche that gives us permission to do the unthinkable got the better of him.


He began an affair with a girl he had never quite forgotten, and foolishly sacrificed his happy marriage.


You can probably guess where the rest of this story is going.


With the divorce over, he  shifted his new relationship into first gear to finally fulfill all the dreams that he had been harboring since junior high school.


Only it turns out that Miss Wonderful, viewed up close and personal from a vantage point that he had never had before, turned out to be not so wonderful.


A few weeks ago, my dear friend woke up in a cold sweat, only to realize that he had tossed aside a really good thing for an  idealized vision that could never be a reality.


The old flame turned out to be an old hag in terms of her true personality.


This fellow is not the first to abandon a good woman in pursuit of something more exciting.


It's easy for all of us to judge him.


But the fact is that making  mistakes like this is part of the human condition.


It's just that in some instances the fall from grace seems more spectacular because it's all out there for everyone to see.


My friend made a mistake.


All I'm trying to get at is that there are times when we have to figure out a way to forgive ourselves and move on.


And then the rest of us have to learn how to extend kind understanding and compassion for those  feeling wounded because of their own screw ups.


Welcome to the human race, kiddo.


We still love you and you can still count on your friends to be there for you.


Every person who is perfect and always has been perfect is invited to offer criticism of this column.


The rest of you?


The rest of you should consider this column  your annual certification for membership in the human race.



Friday, October 4, 2013

Laugh all you want but this really got to me

Some of you are going to find this column ridiculous.


Some of you are going to judge me wimpy and without manly fortitude.


I was driving down the street yesterday, about two blocks from my house.


A squirrel  darted across my path just ahead of me.


For an instant, I thought he made it.


But then I heard this kind of thump that told me that Rocky had an encounter with my tires.


I looked in my rearview mirror to see what carnage I had caused.


This little creature was spinning in a circle, pivoting around a single point where his limb had been flattened to the ground.


I drove even more slowly, keeping my eyes on the rearview mirror.


Eventually, the spinning stopped and this little rodent somehow was able to get the smashed portion of his body unstuck from the pavement.


Then he clumsily dragged himself to the other side of the street.


I was overcome with a sense of guilt.


This animal obviously was experiencing excruciating pain.


I began to fantasize about this innocent creature returning to his nest.


Family members would react in horror, observing the mangled and bloody body of their  loved one.


Imagine the suffering you experience at the dentist's office or in the emergency room when some minor procedure is undertaken.


At least you have the chance to receive an anesthetic or maybe a shot of Novocain.


I briefly said a prayer to the patron saint of animals, St. Francis, and asked him to intercede on behalf of this furry animal and to ask God to grant me a little forgiveness.


Some of you are laughing right now, thinking about my overreaction to events affecting only a dumb animal.


Maybe you've got a 10 point buck mounted on the wall of your rumpus room and discussions regarding animal suffering are regarded by you as silly.


I just know how I felt at the moment.


Yes, I know that it was an accident.


But that didn't and  still doesn't make me feel any better.


What do we really know about the suffering of animals?


Are  their nerve endings  so different from our own that they can't really experience the kind of pain that we do?


I don't believe that.


Animal pain is just as painful as human pain.


Some animals form such deep relationships with one another that they go into deep mourning when one of them is lost or destroyed.


Studies of elephant herds describe the deep depression experienced when the mother loses a child to the attack of a lion or the shotgun blast of a poacher.


Look, I'm not a member of PETA or a radical who will throw a cup of blood on the starlet wearing a fur coat to a Broadway opening.


I just know what I felt.


I felt somehow connected to the agony and the sadness and the tragedy of running over a squirrel.


And it made me think.


I drive more slowly and more carefully in the neighborhoods these days.


And I'm still thinking.


Are you?