Thursday, December 22, 2016

Who Moved My Mascarpone?

by Rose A. Valenta

Yesterday, I took old Mrs. Russo shopping at the Italian Market in South Philadelphia. She was buying seafood. I had my goal list all ready:

• Olive oil, prosciutto, capicola and imported pasta from Claudio’s
• Olive salad and cheese from DiBruno’s
• Lamb, pork roasts and ground beef from Esposito’s
• Locatelli and fresh produce from Giordano’s
• Spices and coffee from the Spice Corner
• Some pastry from Isgro’s

I was looking forward to a refreshing walk while enjoying the sights and smells of the South Philly marketplace and do some Christmas shopping.

I was asked to pick Teresa up at her sister’s house.

Teresa Russo has been a friend of our family for years. She went to school with one of my aunts. She was born and raised in South Philadelphia. Her temperament is a bit surly, but expected, as she grew up in a tough neighborhood. She doesn’t get around much by herself anymore, so taking her shopping was my idea and good deed for the day.

I decided to take her to Pat’s Steaks for lunch.

When I picked her up, I noticed that the jacket she was wearing was wrinkled and out of shape.

“What’s up with the jacket?” I asked, as she got into the car.

“Flak jacket underneath.” She answered. “I got it from Louie ‘The Nose.”

“Come on, Teresa, you’re 80 years old. Who’s going to mess with you?”

“Hey, they let that Gambino guy off. You know, John ‘junior’ Gatti. Now, they call him ‘Teflon John.’ He don’t have friends in South Philadelphia. Two guys came down from New York last week and started something near the Sports Complex. I smell trouble like we got the malocchio or something. Maybe we shouldn’t go today.”

“Teresa, people don’t believe in the ‘evil eye’ anymore. You shouldn’t be so superstitious. Of course, we should go shopping. Those guys all hang out in a different neighborhood.”

“Yeah? What are we gonna do if they decide they want to eat something at Mama Mia’s and start a fight?”

“Teresa, they don’t mess with old ladies. Besides, we're going to eat at Pat's.”

“Speak for yourself, I’m not old.” She said.

When we got to the Italian Market and parked the car at the three dollar lot on Washington Avenue, we were approached by some guy, who looked like Alec Baldwin, saying he was from the Trump campaign and was taking a poll. Teresa broke his pencil and told him to get lost.

“OK,” I said. “I take back what I said. They don’t mess with NICE old ladies.”

“Statazete! (Shutup)” she snapped. “We should have stayed home. That guy was a pickpocket. Check your wallet.”

“I have it” I said. “Nothing is missing. Will you just relax and enjoy yourself? Put on your happy face, that should confuse everybody.”

Everything went smoothly until Teresa spotted a black limousine driving up 9th Street. She dove under a vendor table and about 50 live blue crabs and two dozen oranges went scurrying and rolling in all directions. Crustaceans were everywhere. I saw one of them booking down Montrose Street. You could hear the screams for blocks.

“What, are you on somebody’s hit list, or just crazy - are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m sorry.” She said.

“Yes, what? Yes, you’re crazy or yes, you’re OK?”

“Alright already - both!”

The guy, who rented the vendor table, was furious, cussing in Italian, and running around with tongs trying to gather up the runaway crustaceans before they pinched someone.

“Che cazzo...?” he shouted, “C'รจ un casino della Madonna qui.” (Meaning “What the hell…?” and his vocabulary went down-hill after that.)

After we paid him for the crabs that were still missing in action, I swore to myself that I would never do another good deed like this again. What started out as a fun shopping trip had turned into a total nightmare.

We never got to Isgro’s.

On the way home, Teresa apologized for her behavior all day. She told me she is into Ronny ‘The Rat’ for $100 to pay for the exterminator.

Apparently, while she was Spring cleaning two weeks ago, she found mice running around in her basement. Ronny had threatened her. She was supposed to pay him $125 by yesterday, or he would import a hundred mice and set them loose in her house. So, for the rest of the week, until she pays him on Friday, Teresa is spending nights with her sister.

“Ronny is a spostata (jerk).” She said.

“Teresa, the next time you need money, call me. I will lend it to you, no mice and no interest, capiche?”

I went home, poured myself a Chianti, and listened to a little Lou Monte.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Did the First Turducken Happen in Mid-Air?

by Rose A. Valenta

Bah! Humbug!" ~ Ebenezer Scrooge

How do you actually plan for a fiasco? I asked myself after planning to put a bicycle lock on the can of whipping cream in the refrigerator. The adults misbehave at Christmas worse than the kids. Uncles Harry and Dick have never quite grown up, thanks to the enablers, who keep inviting them over for dinner. I pondered their next move.

Last year, Christmas got off to a good start. Just before dinner, my son-in-law hit his head on an heirloom sconce in the dining room; it crashed, sending about a thousand tiny glass slivers all over the floor. This was even before beer and wine were served.

Plates and glasses were snatched off the set table and rewashed as a just-in-case maneuver. Luckily, the buffet was safely in the next room. Condiments were moved closer to the Infant of Prague statue and prayed over, while salt was thrown over about a dozen shoulders.

At prayer time, our 6-year-old pagan, Missy, was sucking her thumb and screaming expletives that she had learned from her older brother during an Xbox game. We used duct tape and said an Act of Contrition. We also threatened to blow up the NORAD Santa tracker before he got to our house.

We had ham and turkey, and a wide variety of side dishes. Since our family is diverse, the sides ranged from carrot raisin casserole to Arroz Rojo to pot stickers. Everybody avoided cousin Kim's Kung Pao gizzards and "Elf balls." At least that is what it sounded like she said (I always wondered what we did with The Elf on the Shelf, now I know).

After beer was served, Uncles Harry and Dick got into a heated argument over the White House Christmas tree. Harry swore that it was a Kwanzaa tree with seven branches, while Dick said that was unconstitutional, unless they also added a Menorah and Nativity scene. They also fought over whether or not the very first Turducken happened in mid-air. Every year, they pick something ridiculous to fight about.

By dessert time, Harry had already spritzed whipping cream on Dick’s nose, hoping the family dog, Spuds, would attack him. Spuds maintained his cool, drooled over the cheerleaders on the TV, then looked at Dick’s nostrils and groaned. In his youth, Dick used to look like Jimmy Durante; now that he is older, and certain body parts are succumbing to gravity, he closely resembles a Proboscis monkey.

I already had Harry’s sleeping bag out in the barn with the kerosene heater. I was leaving nothing to chance.

The men went into the family room to watch football, teenagers were champing at the bit to go to the mall the next day, little ones sat playing Penguins and Facebook games on several hi-tech iPods and notebook PCs, our Grandson was on his 25th rendition of "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas" on the Nintendo guitar, the cat was chasing its eye-floaters, and the rest of us sat around the dining room table gossiping. We finally agreed that the first Turducken actually did happen in mid-air over Uncle Harry's house and dropped down the chimney while he was watching his signature film "Scrooge" for the 100th time.

My eyes were as glazed over as our left-over ham by 11:00 pm, so I excused myself and went upstairs; leaving my husband to entertain our overnight guests. About five minutes later, he snuck upstairs and accused me of abandoning ship.

“Football doesn’t turn me on,” I said. “Besides, look at the bright side, your mundane life would suck without overnight house guests trying to come up with a perfect bracket for the upcoming March Madness.”

I am so not looking forward to another family fiasco!

© 2010-2016, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

Saturday, November 26, 2016

When Santa Had to See a Man About a Reindeer

by Rose A. Valenta

For as long as I can remember, Black Friday and Cyber Monday never meant Jack Schitt in my house. Those are the days everyone in my family stay away from the shopping Malls, clogged traffic arteries, and shopping cart demolition derbies. The only exception being our teenagers, who like to hang out at the food courts, eating pizza, and watching all the viral shoppers knock each other over like Yulefest Weebles to save a yuletide dollar.

Occasionally, the kids report back to the house with their iPods that someone took a header out in the parking lot; some sweet little old lady whacked a kid with a candy cane because she thought he was memorizing her PIN number, so he could treat himself to another beef jerky; someone was seen jumping around Starbucks like the police sergeant at 13th and Chestnut Sts. in Philadelphia, who was denied the restroom facilities for not buying a red cup of coffee first; or someone just got pepper-sprayed in the long sale line by a frustrated shopper.

Additionally, nobody ever said that after hundreds of servings of milk and cookies, Kris Kringle wouldn’t have to tinkle. However, according to this Reuters photographer at a shopping mall in Hamburg, Germany, who wanted to preserve the moment for posterity, Santa had to see a man about a reindeer and he didn't appreciate the Tabloid paparazzi!

Santa was pissed!

No one knows if the photographer was shooting for a new line of American Greetings, a Coca-Cola commercial, or was developing a new and improved 'Twas the Beer Before Christmas clip for YouTube, but he made Santa’s naughty list and will not be getting that expensive Canon Super Telephoto Lens that he wants for Christmas.

Santa angrily adjusted his zipper and pointed out that his sleigh broke down during a pre-Black Friday holiday dry run and a Coca-Cola 18 wheeler rescued him and the reindeer over Hamburg, They drank a lot of Coke, and if the photographer was doing his homework he would have spotted Rudolph and Comet doing the same thing over by the old Elm tree just outside the Mall.

"That's not going to win you the Deeper Perspective Photographer of The Year Award, son," Santa said. Then, laying his finger aside of his nose, he added, “You don’t want to mess with Santa!”

© 2010-16, Valenta, All rights reserved.
To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Thanksgiving Plans - Remember the Titanic!

by Rose A. Valenta

Seize the moment, remember all those women on the ‘Titanic,’ who waved off the dessert cart.” ~ Erma Bombeck.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and everyone is frantically making plans. Although, it has been my experience that the best made plans often end up like the Titanic, seat a few icebergs at the dinner table and you're sunk.

Those who are hosting are worried about seating arrangements and folks, who get along; as opposed to those you need to take sharp instruments away from when they sit next to each other like my Uncles Harry and Dick.

Others are planning to bring side dishes, which reminds me of the famous Forrest Gump quote “Life is like a box of chocolates...”

“Hey Rose, are you keeping an eye on the weather forecast?” my husband asked. “You can’t make Harry sleep out in the barn in a sleeping bag unless you let him have the kerosene heater. Then, if you do that, you have to get one of the kids to go out there and clear out the debris. I think paintballs, hay, and boardwalk souvenirs are flammable.”

“Why don’t you do that,” I answered. “They will listen to you. If I ask them, they will pile it all in one of the spots that leak when it rains. Empty bucket and pot locations are not clues to them. Besides, I’m busy trying to figure out my Grandma Chappell’s pumpkin pie recipe. She left out an ingredient on the list, gave it to me, and then she died.”

“Okay, men, hit the deck and put on some old clothes, we are going out to the barn for some exercise.” He said to our 14 and 11-year-old grandsons, who were spending the week with us while their parents are in Atlantic City trying to hit the tuition to send them to Harvard.

My husband has been a gung-ho Marine his whole life and has a few choice expressions that he learned in boot camp. He yells some of them to keep the kids in line. He cussed and they all went out to the barn.

I found myself alone in the kitchen looking at an 8x10 photo of Grandma Chappell over the spice rack, in a white apron, holding a large blue 1st prize cake ribbon, appearing to laugh at my predicament.

I remembered those summers that I spent with her in Olean, NY, when I was very young and she was the head baker at the Olean House. Her high-rise cakes were known and enjoyed in practically every county in the State of New York and Pennsylvania. People traveled for miles to get her desserts. I haven’t seen anything like that again since they closed Olga’s diner on Route 73 in NJ. At Olga’s, it was the lemon meringue pies that caused the pilgrimage; at the Olean House, it was her orange bundt cakes with orange glaze icing.

The first time I ever experienced an excruciating blow to my ego, was when she stood me on a chair in her kitchen, with an electric mixer, flour, eggs, vanilla extract, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and some other ingredients and watched me like a hawk while she dictated the recipe and method of creating one of her famous orange cakes. She had the scientific process down to the number of times each ingredient was even touched by human hands, let alone the number of turns in the mixer.

After all that, when the cake came out of the oven, it would have made a great paper weight advertisement for Steve’s Oversized Crullers over on Route 17.

She never forgave me for that one. She was on the telephone all morning bragging to her friends about how I was making the orange cake, under her supervision, for their afternoon tea.

Me and my bruised ego helped her serve store-bought cookies.

I think that’s why she left out an ingredient in the pumpkin pie recipe, just to get even.

So, now with Thanksgiving bearing down on me like a Hurricane, I Googled all the pumpkin pie recipes and compared them to the one she gave me.

I still couldn’t figure it out, so I seized the moment, dialed our local bakery and ordered two pumpkin pies and a mincemeat. I can hide the empty bakery boxes alongside Uncle Harry out in the barn, before guests arrive.

I’m sure everyone will be smiling, except for the turkey!

© 2010-2016, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Friday, November 18, 2016

When the Economy Goes in the Crapper

Protesters are asking "What if our President-elect screws up the economy?"

There is always hope. You can start your own franchise.

The Modern Toilet, is a popular restaurant chain in Taiwan that is expanding into all parts of Asia. It features disgustingly named foods, served on mini toilet bowls. Drinks are served in tiny urinals. Patrons are seated on the throne at their glass tables.

Among the most popular food items are Mongolian hot pot, curries, pasta, and fried chicken, as well as desserts called "diarrhea with dried droppings" (chocolate), “bloody poop” (strawberry sundae), and "green dysentery" (kiwi).

There is nothing more disgusting than seeing curry dripping down the side of a commode.

In stead of belching after a meal, patrons simply compliment the chef by saying "it tastes like good shit.”

The important point is when everything the commander in chief touches turns to shit, give him a chance, it can be a good thing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How to Create a Turducken

by Rose A. Valenta

   Since hunting season is fast approaching and the holidays are not far off, old timers and senior sports enthusiasts have been writing to me asking about the newfangled holiday bird dubbed “Turducken.”  One gentleman wanted to know if it involved a mid-air collision and what weapon was required to hunt the thing down. Five written letters and some emails later, I realized that not many people are familiar with the beast at all; so, I decided to document a process far less complicated than tracking down Sasquatch. 

   My beta test went well; I suffered only minor burns and splinters. During the next two attempts, there were no injuries and the turducken was delicious.
   I sent each person, who wrote to me, the following information and share it with you here:
   The word “turducken” itself is a recent addition to the American vocabulary and culture. It can mean one of two things:
1. A popular, but ghastly holiday feast where a duck is stuffed into a turkey and a chicken is stuffed into the duck; or
2. As a simile, a plan that is rather futile or unnecessary.
   I have experienced both scenarios and will address them simultaneously.
Required Tools and Ingredients:
1 slightly greased, fully equipped QF 25-pounder Howitzer cannon.
1 roll of duct tape.
1 steel tripod, set up at 100 yards in front of the Howitzer.
1 cleaned and plucked 25 lb. turkey, firmly mounted on the tripod in “tee-off” position (i.e., backside facing the Howitzer with knees slightly bent).
1 9 lb. lame duck seized and bound into the shape of a cannon ball - tail up.
2 live 3 lb. chickens (you really only need one, the backup is necessary in case the first little bugger misses its target).
1 blowtorch, used to sear any unlikely remaining feathers.
1 half cup of homemade gunpowder (15% Charcoal, 10% Sulphur and 75% Potassium Nitrate combined in that order, and milled for 24 hours).
1 first-aid kit.
1 greased 48” x 72” wooden ramp.
1 bottle of Cognac (to drink while following the process).

   You will need the assistance of an unemployed Sumo Wrestler to load and unload the cannon.  Pay him minimum wage – no benefits. This is very expensive if you happen to live in the District of Columbia, where minimum wage is at an all-time high of $11.50, as opposed to the other U.S. States that are still allowing slave labor at $7.92. Whatever you do, don't seek him in the $15 picket lines.

   Using the wooden ramp, pile all of the tools and ingredients into a rented U-Haul truck, drive about 100 miles away from civilization, and park. 

   Throwback a shot of Cognac.

   After about three hours of tugging and pushing, the cannon will eventually slide down the wooden ramp and be removed from the truck. Set the cannon up at a 25-degree angle.

     Throwback a shot of Cognac.

   Get the tripod and turkey, walk 100 paces in front of the Howitzer, and secure the tripod to the nearest tree. Next, mount the turkey to the tripod in “tee-off” position. Secure the turkey with duct tape. Walk back and sight the Howitzer, aiming directly at the part of the turkey that goes over the fence last, or as it is known in some circles “the Pope’s nose.”

   Put three tablespoons of gunpowder into the cannon and insert the duck - tail first.

   Fire when ready.

   Throwback a shot of Cognac.

   Assuming that the duck is on target, reload by putting two tablespoons of gunpowder into the cannon and toss in one of the panic-stricken chickens.

   Fire when ready.

  Throwback a shot of Cognac.

   If the first little bugger has missed, put two more tablespoons of gunpowder into the cannon and toss in the other chicken, if it hasn’t already scared itself to death.

   Fire when ready.

   Throwback a shot of Cognac.

   At this point, if there are any ruffled feathers sticking out of the turducken, you may sear them with the blow torch. However, the entire process usually eliminates bones and feathers.

   Gather up all the remaining tools and ingredients; put them back into the truck and drive back home.

   If there are any gaps or holes in the bird, you may fill them with the Swedish Chef’s recipe for smashed potato and onion stuffing.

   Roast the anomaly for eight hours in a 350-degree oven.

   Finish the remaining Cognac in front of a nice warm fire.

   The good news about this exercise in futility is that if it was not quite successful and there is a bloody mess on your hands, you are now drunk and do not care; plus, you still end up with a turducken of sorts (see definition 2 above).

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Be Careful What You Wish For

by Rose A. Valenta

Remember the good old days, when you could turn on the UHF channel and watch Bishop Sheen on a Sunday? I really miss him. Our culture has suffered his loss. He was a great teacher, then everything went downhill and they gave his chalk board to Glenn Beck, who started using it to teach fractured religion before he finally quit his day job.

In those days, we went to Church every Sunday, and every day during Holy Week. We had respect for our elders, obeyed authority figures; and didn’t even know what flipping the bird meant, let alone use it to signal a traffic cop on foot.

Children had respect for their parents and grandparents, didn’t cuss in mixed company, didn’t expose their butt cracks in public, and used terms like “sir” and “ma’am,” instead of “dude” and “WTF?”

As a family, we were closer on rainy days by playing interactive games like Candy Land, Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, Operation, poker, Scrabble, and Yahtzee; not sitting solo in front of the TV, wearing headphones connected to an Xbox and swearing loud enough to wake up the dead.

We encouraged the older children to take at least 20 minutes out of their day to play Fish with younger siblings, not sacrifice them to The Hunger Games.

Some frustrated parents began giving their kids biblical names like Joshua, Jacob, Rebecca, and Ruth; only to find out their little demon was flipping the bird to the teacher in kindergarten class and got a tear drop tattoo at recess.

Keep them away from drugs? Right! The teachers are screaming for Ritalin by second grade. So, you’re faced with two choices: zombie or a drop-out.

The entertainment industry is corrupting our kids. All of it: movies, radio, TV, and video games. You have a better shot at hitting Mega Millions, than teaching culture to our kids. We had to ban "Naked and Afraid" in our house during Holy Week.

They should have Toastmasters for kids. At least that would get the “duuude” and “bro” out of the vocabulary, right? The word "dude" for instance, can mean many different things depending on voice inflections.

We can't even teach our children good presentation skills as long as we have political candidates like Donald Trump running for POTUS, who cannot put two sentences together without first disparaging women, minorities, Obama, a federal judge, the Pope; and bullying his competition.

One teacher exposed two parents as being unfit. Their defense attorney proved they were not at fault because they both grew up watching Roadrunner cartoons. One of them got religion:

We’re screwed!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wednesday Monologue

by Rose A. Valenta

This has been an exciting week in politics. We have folks applying for the highest position in the country, who are inexperienced, obnoxious, under investigation by the FBI, have no definitive plans that address the issues; and some, who are outstanding. Sadly for us, many of the 16 more qualified candidates simply could not get out from under Trump’s che cazzo grandstanding, which is like an in vitro serving of unachievable bullshit.

Really, Donald, the office of the presidency isn’t a “fake it till you make it” kind of job.

To paraphrase Will Rogers, “If you want to go into politics, you should live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot as a senior companion to gossip columnist Liz Smith.”

The Skinny as follows:

Donald Trump ordered "Bible CliffsNotes" from Amazon, so he can answer next time an reporter asks for his favorite verse. Unless his campaign manager whacks them first for asking.

Iowans know that he lied, the hashtag #Trumpbible is still trending on Twitter. My favorite is “When Jesus said give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses he didn't mean at the expense of our capitalist infrastructure.”

Obama was so appalled by Trump's lack of knowledge during the debates, he sent him a copy of "The U.S. Constitution for Dummies."

Trump has been bashing Cruz for his "NY values" comment at one of the debates. The Naked Cowboy said "no worries," he ran for POTUS last time.

The Gallup Poll says 51% of women, who once hurled their knickers at Tom Jones when he sang "Sex Bomb," are hoping for a brokered convention so they can vote for Marco Rubio. Polls don't lie.

Both of the front-runners have over one million fake followers on Twitter; a good indication of what else they have been faking.

The latest Hillary scandal is "StartingGate." That's when a politician commits an impeachable offense even before the election. She says "What, me worry? Nah, Bill always remembers to hit the links with Obama. I can do what I want."

Hillary had trouble using the subway turnstile. Bill's latest NY hooker said she should "take a number."

Chris Christie wants to track illegal immigrants like FedEx packages. His mother wrote to Seton Hall University School of Law asking for a refund.

Flake on flake: Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) called Trump’s campaign “offensive” and “laughable.” Don’t you just cringe at the thought of an uncouth braggart in the White House armed with “Top Secret” information and nukes? Me too.

Trump went after Anthony Weiner in his Massachusetts speech, calling him a "sleazebag." People close to him should remind him that "folks who live in glass houses..." after all, most of us still remember his infidelity hitting the front page of the National Enquirer from the slopes of Aspen in 1990, when he was a "very bad man" to his first wife.

Bernie Sanders said he believes the DNC party leaders have rigged the debate schedule in favor of front-runner Hillary Clinton. I’m glad he finally caught on.

My Uncle Harry belongs to Mensa, he says "We have the most embarrassing First Family of the '90s and a mentally disturbed billionaire still listed as front-runners in the polls. Ultimately, it means we’re screwed!"

I think for the 2016 general election what this country really needs is a good neurosurgeon.

© 2010-2016, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Monday, March 7, 2016

Grandma Hello Kitty Onesie and The Strangely Suffocating Snow Day

by Rose A. Valenta

School closings are being announced on the radio due to snow. Mother Nature is again proving to be my nemesis. Mother Nature and I haven’t been on speaking terms since my water broke in Philadelphia at 34th and Vine back in 1979, and our daughter was born; as the old love potion song goes: “I held my nose, I closed my eyes…” -- it didn’t help.

Yesterday, our daughter brought grandson, Abner, to our home kicking and screaming. She was not the one doing the kicking and screaming. It was Abner’s gut instinct regarding the state of his well-being during his next several days with us that made him angst-ridden. I attribute his trepidation to my mother-in-law, Surly Kate, who regrettably still lives here.

Abner and Kate wear on my nerves like tethered flags during a hurricane. No school means I am now trapped inside the house with both of them. Mercifully, I have some Scotch whiskey in a glass bottle, properly labeled, to break in case of an emergency.

By noontime, Kate is in the bathroom yelling expletives with the door locked; Abner is in the next room losing an X-box game, his vocabulary is exactly like Kate’s – vile and hereditary; and I, with no time to dress, am still in my onesie and bathrobe.

Soon, water commences to trickle from beneath the bathroom door, the encumbrance of having indoor plumbing. Now, I have to stop what I am doing -- disconnecting all the smoke detectors -- a task I always perform when making grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch; to get a bathroom key, two bars of soap for them to suck on and a mop.¬

It is beyond my comprehension why entrepreneurs can develop complicated video games, but can’t invent useful things like smoke detectors with artificial intelligence, so you can teach it personal cooking habits before piercing one’s ear drums at meal time; toilets equipped with smart garbage disposals, so you won’t have to call Roto-Rooter every time your mother-in-law eats nails for breakfast; and marshmallow eradicator for laptop keyboards.

Manufacturers should also affix the following warning label on computer flash drives: “Children: Do not use this product to stab marshmallows while creating s'mores on the indoor roaster.”

After lunch, I send the little rogue outdoors to play with the other neighborhood children, who are doing normal things: building snowmen, having snowball fights and making snow angels. Of course, Abner gets into the tool shed and finds the clothesline. He jury-rigs a dog-sled, dognaps all the canines within a five-block radius, amidst raucous protests from the dognapped, and organizes a neighborhood Iditarod.

Someone summons the police.

Since the chip off the old block is a mile away, I do the intelligent thing and have a martini.

Unfortunately, the police return him.

At the end of the day, I am still baffled by the underlying literary message in Abner’s “alleged” required reading: Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers.

© 2010-2016, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here