Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Craven. (With apologies to Edgar Allan Poe.)



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Pounding sand.


I pictured a scene just now. It's 104-degrees out and two people, an executive and a creative are standing in the blistering sun on a sand dune in the middle of the Sahara desert.

They are all alone and the executive, as executives do, starts giving the creative person orders.

The executive says, "Take the sand that's in the back of the truck over there, and distribute it over this sand dune."

The creative looks at the situation. He looks at the bucket. It could probably hold a gallon of sand, tops. And he looks at the shovel. It's one of those tiny ones kids usually lose on the beach.

"That will take me months," the creative says. "And why? There's already enough sand here to, er, fill a desert."

The executive's assistant shows up with one very large iced-coffee, light, two Splendas. Decorously, the executive unwraps the straw and takes a long sip on the drink.

"We've read some studies by the ICSS," the executive said as the assistant began fanning him.

"ICSS," the creative asked?

"Yes. The International Commission on Spreading Sand. Their studies indicate that consumers prefer "always-on" sand spreading. It's not about needing sand or wanting sand, it's the always on-ness that matters."

"I'm sure I don't understand," the creative said.

"Well, according to our internal team of Sand Strategists, the best strategy for spreading sand is to spread sand." 

"But the sand serves no purpose. It annoys people. It's wasteful, profligate and doesn't do anything for anyone. If the sand I'm about to spread weren't spread, no one would know the difference. They'd be better off without me spreading this sand."

"That's well and good," the executive said, "but how else would our agency make money? The ICSS has convinced our clients that sand-spreading is vital to their business. And now clients paying us to spread sand is vital to our business. Besides you are fully-scoped to spread sand especially in this always-on silica ecosystem."


A gratuitous picture because I am often accused of being unrelenting with words.

A large helicopter landed. The executive tossed his non-biodegradable cup into the desert and flew off, leaving the creative alone in the heat.


The creative picked up the small shovel and began filling the small pail.

"Always-on sand-spreading," the creative thought. 

The creative dug and spread and dug and spread, working hour after hour, day after day, week, month, year after year. Doing nothing that made a difference. Nothing that anyone noticed.

"That's advertising," the creative thought. 


Monday, March 30, 2020

The First-Ever In-Apro-pros.

I got up at the crack of dawn this morning.

Dawn never seems to mind.

I headed to the local supermarket, the Big Y.

I had noticed during my last shopping sojourn that the Big Y sold The New York Times.

Outside of my wife, my children and my dog, there’s very little I like more than doing the Sunday New York Times crossword. It’s challenging and by and large it makes me think.

Before I finish, I usually overcome a bit of trepidation that it will defeat me. But more often than not, as I did this Sunday, I prevail.

As I flipped through the magazine, I got an idea for a blog post. When you post as often as I do, you are constantly on the hunt for subject matter. You try coming up with 250 interesting things to say a year.

It took me about nine seconds, after I saw an ad on the inside back cover of the magazine. I’d create an awards’ show. The most tone-deaf ads in the broad wake of Plague 2.0.

So, thanks to a special "Travel" edition of the Times' Magazine, the first annual "In-Apro-pros."


This is the ad that was facing the crossword. I'd suggest pulling a trashcan over to your chair, or a paper bag. The whole thing could make you puke.


Here's another Gold In-Apro-pro. "It was unlike any other cruise." If you've been in the business a while, say more than six hours, you've probably had events force you to pull an ad or commercial. Why not this one? Why not now?




Besides the lack of social distancing in the above, and the fact that so many financial portfolios have lost double-digits in value, the idea that a private bank is part of almost "every aspect of our life," (the self-centeredness) and the pomposity of this disgusted me.

 

As did this ad. It takes a special sort of blithe and oblivious $350 shoe-narcissism to be a free-spirit as thousands are dying (maybe millions) around the world. The tagline asks, "where to?" Maybe the ICU. "Oooh, these pinch in the heel."




Above is my candidate for the Grand In-Apro-pro. I love the completely un-funny lack of humor and absolutely no Bingo entry for "Ventilator."

Of course in advertising, and life, shit happens. Ads run that unplanned-for events dictate shouldn't run.

But the Covid-19 crisis has been going on for months. The Times should have killed the theme of the section. 

And it's time for brands and their agencies to think a bit more about people as people--with lives, fears, consciences and worries. It's pretty simple. People need to be regarded as people, not archetypes, personas or targets. Or protoplasm to squeeze dollars from.

So much of what I see coming from marketers and their agencies is devoid of humanity and real emotion. The fattest nation in history of the world doesn't have a single person in any ad anywhere who isn't slim, cut and beautiful.

According to Federal data, since 1999 suicide rates in the US have increased by 33%. And according to the Center for Disease Control, from 2007 to 2017 the suicide rate for Americans aged 10-24 jumped 56%.

Yet, outside of a phony pharma ad for anti-depressive drugs (which usually show an attractive young woman hugging a wall in the dark) you seldom see an ad where every model isn't wearing a plasticine smile the size of a Macy's parade float.

The In-Apro-pros commence today.

They've be going on for decades.







Friday, March 27, 2020

"George, I don't know what to do."

A few hours ago I had an online chat with the guy who handles my vast Croesus-like fortune. The ducats, drachmas and dollars I've amassed over my 36 years in advertising.

TODAY 

  • Coach it's suppose to be Opening Day!  What are we going to do?







    Baseball when the grass was real.  Not a problem for Cubs fans. The game was better in these clips anyway. We will survive-- and I'm not looking at my money. Right?


    Thanks Coach and that is right, don't look.  Remember the markets hate the unknown more than anything, and as the unknown becomes known, things will calm down.
    --
  • George Tannenbaum sent the following message at 10:03 AM
Because of my baseball days from so long ago, Marty calls me Coach. And because baseball for many men of my generation is social glue, when we don't want to bemoan the collapse of the markets and the depreciation of our life's earnings we talk about the old game.

If I had to make a wager, I'd say more advertising people are baseball fans than the fans of any other sport. Even as my interest in sports has all but evaporated, baseball has remained steady in my gaze.

Advertising is more like baseball than any other sport. That's why I think it rings true for many of us.

Since the bottom fell out of the world's economy because the leader of the world's largest economy decided not to take a worldwide pandemic seriously (this is his fault) a lot of people have been reaching out to me. A lot of people are scared. I don't blame them.

The economic ship of state seems to have hit an ice-berg and no one quite knows if the damage to our bow is above or below the waterline. In other words, will we get soaked? Or will we sink?

The wise and all-knowing Martin XXXXXXXX does know. He looks to baseball. As an advertising person, I too, look to baseball.

First off, baseball, like advertising, is a game of failure. 

A $6 million a year player hits safely just 27% of the time. And if you are better than that, if you hit safely 31% of the time, you're well on your way to having a bronze plaque in some hall-of-fame somewhere.

Let's think about failure and advertising.

Advertising is failure. 

Even people like me who are judged by many to have had a successful career has been fired four times or five and quit without another job twice, I think, though it might have been three times. I've come up with a lot of work that didn't win awards, that didn't carry the day, that was pulled very nearly a minute after it ran. And, I've probably won fewer than one-third of the pitches I've been involved in and less than one-half of the gang bangs.

I've had accounts taken from me. Bosses who have hated me. Clients who wanted me off their business. And teams that hated working for me. 

I'll betcha if there were some sort of baseball-derived algorithm weighing my advertising failures and my advertising successes, my batting average would be roughly similar to what it was 45 summers ago when I manned la esquina caliente (the hot corner) for the Seraperos de Saltillo and hit a hardly-scorching .277.

But here's the thing about advertising and baseball. Here's the thing to everyone writing to me about our impending employment (or unemployment) miasma.

You go up to bat. You knock the dust out of your spikes. If you're not worried about coronavirus, you might spit on your hands, wipe those hands on your flannels. And you take your whacks.

When the pitches come in tight, you keep your head screwed on tight and you don't bail out. If they're aiming at your noggin, well, that comes with the territory, and you're probably thinking more than is good for you anyway. Who couldn't stand losing a few brain-cells?

If you're lousy with the breaking stuff, move up in the box and swat at the pill before it bends. 

The thing is you take your cuts.

As George W. Plunkitt said a century and a quarter ago, "I seed my opportunities and I took 'em."

As Marty says, "the markets hate the unknown more than anything, and as the unknown becomes known, things will calm down."

Yep. In advertising, too.

Somewhere in this favored land, some executive who's earning her keep is telling her people something smart. 

Here's what I might say: "Hello, friends. This will take two-minutes. Brands need us more now than ever. Brands need to adjust. Brands need to re-locate their centers. Brands need to reconnect with people. Brands need to be useful. Brands create clarity and order. Brands make decisions easier to make. When they do all that--and we, ladies and gentlemen, know how to guide brands in those directions, we will reassert our value as an industry. 

"Not our value to the awards industry. Not our value to cost-cutting corporate doyens and the shareholder value they prop up by undervaluing their employees. But our true value.
Of making brands matter.

"With logic. With emotion. With truth. With relevance.

"Yeah, there could be a depression. Yeah, three-million people filed for unemployment last week. Yeah, a lot of things. But people buy soap, and beer, and burritos and cars. And we need to help them."

Or, as my friend and advertising leader Claudia Caplan said yesterday: 

"I would like to say to all my advertising and marketing friends and all the ad and marketing publications out there who are compelled to send emails about “Marketing in the time of Covid 19” and “Brands reacting to Covid 19” and whether Covid 19 ads should be eligible for awards etc, no one gives a FUCK. Are you that self-absorbed? Just chill. Life will return to ad biz normal - whatever that is, but in the meantime, give it a rest."

In baseball (Claudia is Nat's fan--not the bug, the baseball team) that's called going up to the plate and taking your swats. In advertising, it's called showing up and doing the real work of the business.

You can't do much more than work hard everyday, swing hard every day, and run out every grounder.

And remember, nobody likes anyone who retires without getting his uniform dirty.





Thursday, March 26, 2020

Save 20% during our Mass-Extinction Virusathon.

Since the impending doom of civilization raised its ugly prime-time head a few weeks ago, in addition to a deadly virus, our species has also been at the mercy of deadeningly dumb marketers.


How Not To Communicate cartoon
Thanks to Bob Hoffman, the Ad Contrarian, for pointing this cartoon out to me.
It started almost immediately. With emails from companies that for whatever reason feel they are free to communicate with us because we bought a sandwich from them once or a thumb-drive or a much-needed pair of replacement shoelaces.


Some of this e-ssault comes from the misguided and pernicious notion that we have relationships with brands--
that they mean something to us. That's what we've been told by customer relationship management experts, so it must be true. To keep our relationship "robust," these brands feel the compulsion to tell us how compelled they are to tell us that they have a compulsion to tell us that they care.

If you believe the experts, you have a relationship with three or four airlines, three or six hotel chains, your fucking phone company, your even more fucking cable company, your car company and your local dealer and the service center, a few dozen restaurant chains, about 20 state and local politicians, in addition to your barber, your dry cleaner, your butcher, fish-monger, green-grocer, mailman, doorman, porter, concierge, superintendent and more. 

The fact of the matter is you could take all the true caring in the world that emanates from a corporate suite in the direction of an actual "target," centrifuge it for two-minutes and get it down to where it could fit in the space between the dot and the letter i in a sentence writ in 2-point type. 

We care means we care that you have money we want.

Next to jump on the banal brand bandwagon were the award-fetishizers. All at once, logos with hands were replaced by logos with elbows bumping. Hahahahahaha. Type was spread apart to remind us to keep our distance. And in a blink, the very idea of a typographic ligature practically became a "serif-non-grata," a typographic symbol about as socially acceptable as a swastika.

The bigger issue here is I think all of these self-serving efforts only reinforce a something terrible about our business.

Ninety-nine percent of people who work in marketing or advertising or social or digital or whatever it is au courant today to call it have forgotten the industry's basic reason for being.

We are here to impart useful consumer information.

Not platitudes.

Not androidal fauxmotions devoid of real humanity but approved by 17-rounds of non-humans in corporate clothing.

Not to win praise for our skill, cleverness and craft.

We are here to help people. 

Help them make wise decisions.

Help them with good information.

Help them find something of value.

We are not meant to pelt people with inanities in a shrill, shouting and always on way. Sorry, Gary. 

We can be friendly but we are not friends. "Hey, Saran Wrap, if you're not doing anything after you've preserved the just-sliced-in-the-deli-freshness of my bologna sandwich, you wanna get a drink after work?"

Friendship (I hate to be so reductive about this) comes not from saying you're friendly but from being actually helpful. 

Advertising today--or whatever we decide to call it--is rightfully being met with an tidal wave of, at best indifference, at worst disdain.

There's something worse than not caring about people. It's not caring and pretending you do. For your own self-aggrandizement.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A storm. A call. And Faulkner.

When my wife decided we would evacuate the city, she asked me for some help in finding a place we might call home for six weeks. I'm not much for the rental home finding sites. I find their search mechanisms awful, the photos on their sites even worse, and a near complete lack of useful information.

(In fact, I find all search woeful. It's all been ruined by companies buying prime positioning. We were better off with the Yellow Pages.)



Even so, the first house I found seemed to be very nearly perfect. A little run-down, maybe, but with expansive views of the Long Island Sound, and yes, Long Island itself. That's Mattituck across the water some 15 miles away. On a good day, with the wind blowing just right and the moving south, it's a good bet I could skip a well-tossed stone from the beach here and hit a fat man on a beach over there. Ouch!

We looked around at some other houses just to be on the safe side and just to make sure nothing should ever be easy. But in the end, we wound up in the first place I found. Saturday and Sunday were glorious days, chilly but with deep blue skies and bright sunshine. Spring seemed just over the horizon.

On Sunday night, however, I woke up hearing the wind and rain lashing at the plate-glass. The waves in the usually placid Sound are white-capped and large. They broke over the seawall and sent seawater across walkways and onto the streets. 

The rain and wind have roared all day, howling a gale, as Popeye might have acked. Gorshk, Oliff. That were quite a storm.

When we had departed New York, I had left my ancient Gloucester oilskin at home. I had reckoned, wrongly, that winter was done and spring was in the offing. I didn't want to bring two coats so I opted for a thinner, lighter one.

A mistake.

Today, amid the wet and wind and bluster, we walked along the water with Whiskey a good three and a half miles. We were out early, long before the press of near-incessant conference calls. 

What I've noticed more and more about conference calls, especially as I have been out of the office for nearly two weeks now, is how strange meetings sound once you stop the toxic IV-drip of Korporate Kool-Aid. They have an urgency and a hyperbolic language all their own as if the world will collapse if such-and-such a banner doesn't get out. The gravity of stand-up meetings isn't much different from Mission Control trying to bring home safely a damaged space craft. Except you're doing things of very little consequence.


Now that we've seen the world actually teeter on its way to actual collapse, the banner-induced self-importance and fear-mongering of missing-the-delivery-of-something-resolutely inconsequential seems very much less real. The gravity of the thing has been replaced by near weightlessness.


I suppose we have to regard this nonsense seriously, or what's the point of it all? It's perfectly normal even during the end times when millions might die to have 16 people on a call every half-hour and have every call virtually the same as the one before it. 

We start with people saying they're sorry they're late but their previous call went long. Then we ask if Jennifer is on. Then we ask if the Diamond Team should begin, like they did yesterday. Then someone adds something to what the Diamond Team spokesperson had to say. Then someone says, well, if there's nothing else we can all get a few minutes back in our day. HAHAHA. People laugh at that with an obligatory chuckle--it's the only thing that approaches humanity. In fact it's about as human as the hold music and canned voices we spend our days listening to. It's as if these calls are gifts from heaven itself. Then there is something else that comes up and the call that was meant to be short goes over. Starting the next call a trifle late and the whole thing starts over again.

But, we go on.

As Con Ed used to say back when I was growing up in the Kodachrome years of Amerika, "Dig we must." We work. We listen. Conference Call We Must.



No one knows what will happen, in the US or in any other country. No one knows how long this will last and if the effects of this crisis will be worse or less grievous than people are predicting. No one knows.

I guess in a pre-apocalypse world in a post-apocalypse industry, this is how we'll endure.

I hate to make Faulkner a liar.

He's right. We will endure. 

But I doubt we will prevail.

We're on back to back calls.



Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Getting misty over seltzer.

Much of my adult life has been a quest to stay hydrated.

I suffered from a kidney stone at an early age and since that time have rarely been more than an axe's length away from some sort of liquid. 

And I do mean suffered.

("I need more morphine." "We're already giving you what we give burn victims.")

I stopped drinking alcohol a decade or two ago and for about the past thirty years good old New York seltzer has been my libation of choice.

Back when I was young and sinewy, I started lugging bottles from the grocery store a couple times a week. One day as I was lugging, my arms stretched to simian lengths, I spotted an old van on my corner. An even older man wheezed out and dragged out an old wooden crate with the old-tymey siphon seltzer bottles. He was delivering it right to someone's door.




Cost be damned, I went all in. I signed up for a case a week. And for about a decade my family and I enjoyed seltzer as it should be. Spritzed from a glass bottles nearing a century old.

A few moments ago I read in the Times the obituary "The last of the Seltzer Men," who died on March 12th at his home in Brooklyn at the age of 86. You can read the obituary here.

The movie on Mr. Miller is only 2:50 long and is well-worth the misting you might get in your eyes. It includes one of the great lines in all of movie-dom and that includes "Here's looking at you, kid." "I coulda been a contender." And "'Twas beauty killed the beast." I'm not typing it here, because you should hear it for yourself. Straight from the horse's mouth. Or, better, the bottle's siphon.

About five years ago when my wife renovated our apartment I left virtually all the decision-making in her more than capable hands. I had just one request.

I had seen, I think at Heard City an audio studio in New York, an in-the-tap seltzer dispenser. I found one online--made by a fancy-schmancy company called Grohe.


Seltzer from the tap.

Cold. Effervescent. Wonderful.


The only work on my part is running down to a welding supply store on 12th and 52nd to get giant scuba-tank sized canisters of CO2 about every other month, and occasionally changing an expensive filter.

It's wonderful. 

When the virus-dust settles, come on up to the Upper East Side and we'll bend an elbow.


We can reminisce about seltzer men we have loved.

Or seltzer women.

Until that carbonated day in the sunshine, stay hydrated. Stay sane. Stay clean. Stay away. And stay positive.

Now, with apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer and everyone else who has read this far,

Oh, somewhere in this favored land, the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
Somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville, all our seltzer has run out.

xx

Monday, March 23, 2020

From the wilds of Connecticut. And the depths of despair.

There is something, I think, hard-wired into the corpuscles of Jewish women. Maybe you can trace it back to the bi-monthly rapings they suffered at the hands and appendages of hordes of pogromming Cossacks as they huddled in their rickety shacks and fed a family of 19 with potato shavings and goose feathers. Maybe it's more recent. Surviving the near annihilation of our people at the guns' end and ovens' maw of the closer-at-hand holocaust.
"Whaddaya wanna do tonight, Ivan?"
"I dunno, Fyodor, why don't we burn a shtetl to the ground."
"Aw, we do that every night, Ivan..."

Whatever the case, when Jewish women begin to hear the far off peals of the chimes at midnight, when the last ding-dong of doom tintinnabulates through well-heeled neighborhoods, they do one thing. They put on the Burberry jackets, zip up their Longchamps bags and head to the nearest grocery store to buy food they will never eat.

My personal Jewish woman has been for about two weeks in a state of near apoplexy. Convinced that the foundations of civilization are about to collapse like the Fall of the House of Usher. She has shopped daily for food and has various non-perishables stored in nearly every crevice and corner of our apartment, and yes, has loaded up too the cavernous trunk of my 1966 Simca 1500.

Happiest when she can share her panic, she's dealing with her panic by spreading it around. So, incessantly, she began speaking of a city without food, with marauding bands of knife-wielding miscreants roaming the alleys and byways. Of pestilence, famine and horrors untold visiting our co-op.

I tried to temporize. The city will not starve, I reassure. If there's one remaining thing America is good at, besides opioid addiction, it is our supply chains.

But panic begets panic, and she listens to the news and our impending virusageddon. I attempt to assure her that we had enough food in the house, money in the bank and more to survive. I asked her, jokingly, if there was a Leningrad in our future. That city survived a 900 day Nazi siege which effectively saw every bird and rat and sprig of green in the city eaten, as well as a terrifying rise in cannibalism. She takes me seriously.
My wife (background) forcing me out of the city.
As wives have been doing since the institution of marriage was divined by, I think, Marquis de Sade so many centuries ago, if I were on fire she would attempt to put me out with an axe. She ignored me completely and made plans to wrest me from the only place I've ever felt at home to a house along the water in Old Saybrook, CT.

We are in this town now, and it is a beautiful locale surrounded by a sparkling Long Island Sound and the width of the Connecticut River, at 401 miles in length, New England's longest.

It was here in the 1630s that the white man landed and began killing Niantic Indians and Pequots with a couple score of Mohicans thrown in for good measure. Once safe on these fecund shores, they engaged in slave-trading with Caribbean planters and killed all the whales within harpoon shot. The wheels of progress turn inexorably.

I've read rose-colored notes from friends telling dorsal tales of dolphins returning to the canals of Venice and the clear air of Los Angeles due to the absence of man-made pollution. And I wonder if, since we've been locked down or sheltered-in-place for the better part of 48-hours now, if some half-naked savage will remove my pate one night with a stone tomahawk while I sleep and shoot Whiskey, my eight-year-old golden retriever with a jagged arrowhead, while carrying my wife off to a longhouse somewhere to become a docile concubine to some petty chieftain with a weakness for hamentashen.


Image result for walts old saybrook
Walt's, a local institution since Eisenhower was president, has everything.
Except what you want.



So here we are, in the wilds of New England, far from the madding cry of New York. My wife has already galloped through Walt's, a local supermarket and bought everything on every shelf so I can carry six bags home while walking two miles home through darkest suburbia, indians not withstanding, but surely lurking behind every old-growth oak.



Did I look like the great Harold Lloyd in his 1924 smash "Hot Water" and I struggled my way home from Walt's to our rental home 2.2 miles away with 2.2 tons of groceries in tow.

You be the judge.

I'll be too busy running from Zombies.


Friday, March 20, 2020

My temperature's rising.


Wednesday night, after being pelted for what seemed like the past 96 years with missives from the very edge of doom, I went into my sanctum sanctorum to do my required reading before I try to fall asleep for the night. Reading, for those out there in Sporesylvania, is what a psychotherapist (one-word in this case) might call “my restorative niche.”

It’s something I do every day for about an hour or until I read the same bit nine times over because I’m so drowsy it chases my prodigious concentrative powers away. No matter what’s happened to me that day, or what’s happened at work, or what’s happening in the world, I leave the world for an hour a night and find succor—assistance and support in times of hardship and distress—from visiting other eras, other lands, problems or people.
The Four Horseman, Dopey, Sneezy, Grumpy and Trumpy.

Wednesday evening, however, my breathtakingly level-headed wife was anything but level-headed. She was convinced she was hearing the galloping hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse circling the Upper East Side and looking for a parking spot prior to Visiting our three-bedroom aerie.

As I was reading about the end of the Weimar and Germany’s descent into twelve years of hell, my ever-loving bustled into my space.

She was shaking her delicate right mitt like she had just touched a too-hot (and too-expensive) designer Wolf four-burner stovetop like the one that sits in our recently remodeled kitchen which many people believe is New York’s most lavish and expensive.

I quickly saw that she hadn’t burned her meat hand, but instead was brandishing an old mercury thermometer. It was a device her grandmother gave her probably when she went away to college back when Gerald Ford was President.
The last patient to use this thermometer won the 1954 Kentucky Derby going away,

I did some math in my head and quickly concluded that my temperature was about to be measured on a 45-year-old apparatus that likely cost 79-cents when it was spanking new. She shoved the device back to my epiglottis like she was clearing a hair-clogged drain. Then she left the room to watch the remaining 19 hours of Sergei Bondarchuk’s 1965 adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
Said to be the most-expensive movie of all time except for a Pepsi spot shot by Pytka.

Finally having not heard from me in a while my wife remembered to return to the scene of the insertion and read the thermometer.

She looked ashen. Pale. Downright disconsolate.

“It’s 105.2,” she tremuloed.

“It can’t be,” I said. “Yesterday I was my typical 81 degrees.” (I have the blood of a garden snake.)

She took my temperature again.

The same result.

“That thermometer is broken,” I barked.

She gave me the once over, wondering if any of her three or four little black dresses was appropriately funereal.  She slowly gave me the once over, her dark eyes scanned my girth, sizing me up for a casket.

I wish I could say that was that. That the little incident didn’t keep me up Wednesday night. That every little sneeze or hack or even itch I feel is some indication that I ain’t got long for this world.

At around ten-thirty, having already completed a day’s work or two, I went out on a Quixote like quest for rubbing alcohol. Apparently, this most-vital of all liquids is absolutely necessary for our survival and there is none of the stuff between here and Alpha Centauri.

I found peroxide, which I suppose would do in a pinch. At the cash registers, between the king sized candy bars (do kings eat Snickers?) and little tubes of wart remover was a shelf with modern electronic thermometers.

When I returned home I was like a kid on Christmas morning.

I ripped open the almost-impossible-to-open packaging. I even did something I had never done before: I read the instructions.

Finally, I took my temperature. Dreading seeing the death sentence of 105.2.

98.1

Have a good weekend all.

Stay sane.

Stay safe.