I Can’t Make You Read This But My Monkey Can

Sometimes the music is eerily perceptive of thoughts and ideas floating through my head and I wonder if the song placed an idea or two inside or if it just brought them to the surface.

The thermostat in the car flipped back and forth between 97 and 100 but I didn’t care because the difference is negligible for me.

Though I have noticed I don’t feel the same about the distinction between seven and 10 but am always grateful for 29 as opposed to 26.

Suffice it to say I am a man who will take the heat over the cold of a Chicago or cleveland.  Might as well include little sister’s adopted state of New Jersey which is too freaking cold for too long during the winter for me to want to live there.

One day I’ll tell you how people have remarked that I do very well in the very cold and I look at those natives and wonder if their brains have frozen, but that is not a story for today.

I Can’t Make You Read This But My Monkey Can

The words are flowing fast and furiously here and in some other places but some people will never see them because I can’t make them read.

I could tell them to look at the last half dozen or so posts because there has been some good material there but it won’t matter because they won’t do it.

My ‘monkey,’ the silverback at the top of the page could motivate them to do so but he is far away and I am not enamored with the idea.

It is tied into my letting go of some people and part of this particular stage of the journey. Someone asked me recently why I don’t stay in touch and I said if I died they wouldn’t notice.

They thought it was rude but I wasn’t being snarky. I was being honest.

If it wasn’t for Facebook they wouldn’t know a thing about me and their memories would be of the guy I was 30 years ago.

He was a good guy and I liked him. I see that guy all the time and I like him, but he is a small part of me.

How sad would it be if you knew me then and now and said I never changed.

If I thought you hadn’t changed and or grown in 30 years I probably wouldn’t want to spend any time with you any more than you would want to be with me..

BTW, I stumbled across an Irish version of the song above and think it is kind of cool.

The Mel Brooks/Marx Brothers Test

A gym buddy tells me he figures out whether the people he knows are good or bad based upon whether his dog likes them or not.

I tell him I sometimes wonder about people who have cats but really focus more upon the Mel Brooks/Marx Brothers test.

“What kind of test is that? Do you test them on quotes or movie knowledge?”

“No, not that at all. It is more of a question of whether they find them funny. If you tell me you don’t think Mel is funny or that you think Groucho and company are stupid I know we’re unlikely to be really good friends.

It is not fool proof or scientific, but it has generally proven to be true.”

He says he never thought about it and wonders if the humor translates because of age.

“My kids laugh at much of it and it’s not necessarily the slapstick stuff. Some comedy is pretty cerebral.”

When he tells me you don’t have to be particularly intelligent to be a comedian I decide I don’t care to correct him.

Yeah, I mean it like that.

There is some intellect required for comedy and while I am certain it doesn’t always have to be like that I’ll wager there are quite a few comedians who are pretty damn smart.


The funny part of this is instead of moving on to a different topic this guy tells me he thinks many comics did poorly in school and that grades are indicative of intelligence.

“Stick to lifting or something you can back up. Grades aren’t indicative of success or intelligence. Hell they aren’t uniform and I can point out tons of people whose grades weren’t particularly good but are very successful.”

“Josh, that is offensive and I’ll assume you say that because your grades weren’t good. Careful that might reflect poorly upon your kids.”

I didn’t grab him by the collar and shake him like a rag doll nor did I accidentally drop a dumbbell on his foot…but I thought about it.

“My daughter has straight A’s and finished Algebra in 8th grade. My son was accepted into a honors program that included college classes in high school. I never worried about their grades or felt that their intelligence is based upon being to regurgitate facts.

Let’s not involve them.”

“Josh, grades are important. Did you not go to college? Why don’t you understand this?”

“Grades are meaningless to me, almost always have been. I had a B+ average through most of school and was admitted to the honors program at my university. But if you look at my college grades outside of my major, there are some that aren’t stellar.

I got bored easily and you can see it on my report card. Now I could tell you how good I was at finding angles to get by and that I was a master at cramming, not to mention I was good at tests.

But what difference does it make. Decades later no one ever asks me if I did well in school. I have never not gotten hired or lost of a position because of my grades. It is just mental masturbation.”

Last Words

My phone rings around 8:30 on Wednesday night.

Dad is on the phone and he sounds incredible.

“Did you go to chemo this week? You sound like you feel pretty good.”

“I do. Not sure what changed, but I feel good.”

We have a really good conversation and when I hang up two thoughts occur to me.

1) My folks still have a land line so when you call the house there is no guarantee who will pick up. If one of my sisters is over I might get to talk to them and both of my parents. That kind of thing doesn’t happen with cellphones.

2) That is the first conversation with dad that has felt normal since just before he started chemo and I am grateful. That doesn’t mean the others were horrible, but it was nice to have a moment where I didn’t spend the conversation wondering.


The texts start rolling in around late afternoon today.

Mom wants us to know that everything is ok, but says they have been in the ER since early in the morning.

I don’t respond to the group text, I just watch and read.

If they need me to speak they’ll let me know, but for now there is nothing to add so I am silent.

Later on I picture my dad’s cancer standing in front of me.

“Cancer you motherfucker, if you want to do a little dance you’re welcome to take a shot but I promise I will fuck you up so badly you’ll feel like an early strain of strep that got knocked out by Penicillin”

It is ridiculous and I know it, but it is part of a ritual I have developed.

I wonder if that old man from the Africa song knows more than he says, maybe his advice to hurry boy it is waiting for you holds meaning I wasn’t aware of.


I look up palms face up and arms outstretched but my hands remain empty and the silence is deafening.

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