In the forecast this weekend: men swinging sticks.

Every interfaith relationship inevitably has its moments of compromise. Moments when the passionate beliefs of One must yield to accommodate the passionate beliefs of The Other. This is the story of one such occasion for one such relationship.

I wish I could tell you more, but One–or maybe the Other— does not want to be written about, not even under a pseudonym, such as One or the Other.It’s too bad, too, because One or the Other. is one of the most unintentionally funny people I have ever known.

Right now, for example, a mystery I call Operation Black Bean is underway. Last night we discovered that we were both avoiding the black jelly beans left over from Easter. (Even people of differing faith can agree that black jelly beans are icky.) Today, sixteen black jelly beans are strategically lined up on the deck railing. I know there is a purpose to this. I just don’t know for sure what it is. That is what makes it entirely fascinating and/or amusing. I do know enough to wait for the mystery to reveal itself and then it will be funny and I will laugh. On the inside.

His Campaign Against Lazy Bees is another story that would probably have you in stitches. But among the worthwhile life lessons I learned from my father, who was NotElvis (a pseudonym, by the way), the top three are

  1. “Lefty loosy, righty tighty”
  2. “Measure twice, cut once,” and
  3. “It’s not nice to laugh at someone who is being unintentionally funny.”

You’ll just have to take my word for it:  the lazy bee thing was hilarious.

bird dancing

Life ain’t nothin’ but a funny, funny riddle!

As with many interfaith relationships, we respect each other’s core beliefs. In our case, our respective deities are grown men who swing sticks at balls while faithful followers look on. Where we differ is in the details.

While he doesn’t understand the bonding rituals of a large bird dancing to “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” or cheering for one’s favorite condiment in the animated races on the scoreboard, or the charm of Adam Jones delivering a pie to the face, try as I might, I cannot appreciate the finer points of yelling at a ball to “Get in the hole!” or “Baba-bouie!” or last weekend’s “Mashed potatoes!” Oh, yeah? And cheering for Mustard is stupid?

He believes Tiger Woods could stand at home plate and hit a ball clear out of the stadium with very little effort. I believe it would add a degree of difficulty if someone were throwing the ball directly at Tiger at upwards of 90 miles per hour. We have spent more than a little time considering which viewpoint is more valid. And then Mustard and Ketchup are off to the races and we drop the whole pointless discussion.



This weekend our beliefs collide and one will have to concede, to accommodate the other. I will give away the first of my season tickets to Orioles Sunday home games or he will pass on the pollen-free opportunity to watch men swinging sticks at balls at the Masters Tournament from the comfort of the living room couch.

What will it be?

The beautifully landscaped, azalea-lined grounds of Augusta in HD 4K or the view from the first-base line of glorious Oriole Park at Camden Yards?

Peanuts and Crackerjacks or pizza delivery?

“Get in the hole!” or “MUSTARD! MUSTARD! MUSTARD!”

I don’t know for sure. Either way it’s shaping up to be fun.

For now, though, please excuse me. I’m going to go see a guy about some jelly beans.

Also….Let’s go O’s.

From here to Vernazza

It started out like any other weekday and then…boom… a chance encounter with a typical downtown pothole. Thank you, Winter That Will Not End.

One thing led to another and eventually I found myself sitting in the repair shop “lounge,” while behind the scenes a team of people crunched the numbers on just how important — in dollar amounts–it was to me to get on with my day.

While I waited, transported by the dreamy crooning of Barry Manilow circa 1977, I checked email.

The day was about to change for the better.

Much better.

There in the inbox were not just one but two messages that would make this more than a typical Wednesday.

First was the message from the publisher. They loved the manuscript of Hippie Cahier, The Missing Years. An Unauthorized Autobiography.


Time to celebrate…just as soon as the car is. ..


The next message: “Forget stupid winter. Join us in Italy.”

Of course. That was it! I would go to Italy!!

So here I am, less than 24 hours later, sitting at my desk and totally making this up.

But wouldn’t it be nice?




Why I’m boycotting boycotting (and why it’s ok if you do or don’t).

Judging by one of Twitter’s trending hashtags this morning, today we’re boycotting Indiana.  I regret to inform you that my understanding of the underlying issue is intentionally uninformed. While I am sure I should care deeply and passionately, and it is my duty to whomever is offended by whatever it is that Indiana lawmakers have done, I have my own struggles to deal with: winter weight gain, inter-season wardrobe problems, a social engagement that I’d completely forgotten about.

Things are tough. Needless to say, I’m maxed out on righteous indignation. So, I’m just going to go with the understanding that Indiana is on Twitter’s bad side this morning — and btw, India, you’re on Twitter’s less literate bad side (I saw #BoycottIndia and — I am sorry — laughed out loud).

I can tell you that  I vow not to visit Indiana today, or for that matter India. In the interest of full disclosure, this is not an expression of solidarity, although I am sure, based on  the apparently unanimous outrage, that solidarity is called for. It’s just that I have this thing this evening that I’d forgotten about and so there’s no time for me to do anything Indiana (or India) related. I don’t have a thing to wear that fits and that says, “Yes, it’s Spring, but it’s FREEZING.”

Still, I am sure it is the American thing to do to take a stand with whomever is offended by the hell that Indiana hath wrought because that’s what the masses tell me is the cool thing to do. Judging by the clever Photoshop memes and the fact that even poor spellers are offended, it is bad. So shame on you, all of Indiana. Every single one of you. From now until the next trending boycott hashtag, I shall not visit Indiana.

As an aside, it took years for me to get over a boycott of that subset of Indiana known as Indianapolis. Eventually, and not without great personal turmoil and struggle, not to mention that my sainted father had shuffled off this mortal coil, it was Peyton Manning who (unwittingly) coaxed me into cheering for the Colts, albeit only in games where the Ravens had no stake.  Wouldn’t you know that it was also Peyton who allowed me to move on from a nearly lifelong boycott of all things Denver? (See Irsay v. Anyone Who Grew Up Loving the Baltimore Colts and Elway v. Anyone From Baltimore, et al.,  U.S. Court of  Rather Unfavorable Public Opinion).  What Peyton Manning has taught me, other than that Nationwide is on my side, is that eventually you have to let go of someone else’s grudge. It was freeing. This is my way of saying this: That Peyton Manning. Isn’t he adorable? But I digress. . . 

Learning to look at this picture without cringing has been part of My Journey. Thank you, Peyton. (Photo: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports)

Learning to look at this picture without cringing has been part of My Journey. Thank you, Peyton. (Photo: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports)

Earlier this week, or maybe it was last week, Elton John told us all  to boycott Dolce & Gabbana because Dolce, or maybe Gabbana, or maybe a guy named Hervé in Accounting, said something offensive. It is, of course, wrong to say something offensive, unless you’re arguing in favor of freedom of speech, in which case, it’s perfectly American to say something offensive, unless you’re Elton John, in which case, I’m completely lost inside this argument. Let’s just go with this: Elton right, Hervé wrong.

For the duration of that tiff, I am proud to admit that I did not buy a Dolce & Gabbana gown, not even off the rack. It would have been un-American not to join in solidarity with Sir Elton. The man didn’t write “Philadelphia Freedom” — not to mention  invade our brains with “Crocodile Rock” — only to be completely ignored by us Yankees in his time of need.

Also in the interest of full disclosure, my favorite perfume happens to be Dolce & Gabbana. It’s the only perfume that doesn’t give me a headache, except for when someone around me bathes herself in it and we’re stuck in an elevator together. When I found out Hervé had offended Sir Elton, I was a bit distraught. I can proudly tell you that I did not wear it for the duration of the boycott hashtag. Mostly because I was running late in the mornings this week and just pretty much forgot it. But please don’t tell Elton, or for that matter, Hervé. This thing is for them and their Twitter followers to hash  out.

While I’m fully disclosing left and right, I should tell you that I’ve stopped going to Chic-Fil-A.  I wish I could tell you this is staunch support of my friends who are offended by the underlying religious nature of the corporate structure or the beliefs expressed by its owners or some guy named Harvey in Accounting, but to be entirely honest, for the duration of that boycott, I was desperately waiting for it all to be over so I could savor a #1 with waffle fries and a lemonade. I don’t go to Chic-Fil-A anymore for three reasons: (1) I saw Food, Inc. and I can’t get it out of my head when I’m approaching any fast food establishment; (2) dietary restrictions imposed by my doctor, who, I am ready to peevishly admit,  was spot on about what certain ingredients  were doing to my joints; and  (3) Chic-Fil-A cravings have always manifested on Sundays, proof that God wants me to listen to my doctor.

 So there you have it. I lack the passion and commitment and righteous indignation to join the boycotting bandwagon. About the only thing I’m fully committed to boycotting is the word ‘boycott,’ because, I mean, come on. How sexist can you get? Why can’t it be ‘girlcott’ or ‘personcott’ or ‘carbon-based-life-formcott’? Boycott? Really,  America? I’m offended.

You can join me in boycotting ‘boycott’ or not. I won’t will try not to judge. But if you do, we’ll be meeting up for a rally at a Chic-Fil-A in Indiana next week. Please wear Dolce & Gabbana. Number 18 optional.

U.S. Secret Service to build mock White House called “Dave’s Place.”

This week U.S. Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy presented the agency’s budget proposal to  the  House Appropriations Committee. Essentially, deleting a lot of “factual stuff” here,  he made the case that many of the agency’s recent blunders are due in part to inadequate training facilities and so, naturally, we should build a replica White House, you know,  for training purposes.

According to The New York Times, the budget also requests funds “to renovate a ‘live-fire shoot house’ and to repair and enhance a ‘tactical village’ training site that aims to recreate a city street environment.”

Presumably neither currently has a sufficiently appointed man-cave that also serves to impress the ladies. One wonders if the tactical village  renovation will include a replica of Cartagena, Colombia’s Hotel Caribe. Let’s face it: that whole thing was a major disaster that clearly demonstrates the need for better training. Lots of it. Am I right, fellas?


I borrowed this image from the Washingtonian because   my own image collection is inexplicably lacking in pictures of Colombian ladies of the night. It's an illustration by someone or something named "Gluekit." I don't know what that means.

I borrowed this image from the Washingtonian because my own image collection is inexplicably lacking in pictures of Colombian escorts. It’s an illustration by someone or something named “Gluekit.” I don’t know what that means.

Let’s get  back to the mock White House, shall we?

At first blush, $8 million seemed like a lot of pesos.* I was a bit taken aback, befuddled, you might even say, ‘aghast.’  Well, you might not say ‘aghast,’ but I would because it’s fun to say. Try it.

Anyway . . . $8 million? How many homeless children could this feed, and clothe, and teach to read and write?

It didn’t take me long to get on board with this idea, though. Here’s what I’m thinking:

For one thing, this is bound to attract those confused tourists who wander cluelessly around town, usually standing to the left on the Metro escalators—which, if you ask me, should be at least a misdemeanor—and who have been known to point at the U.S. Capitol and say to their charges, in all parental authority, “There’s the White House.” (I’m not making that up. I witnessed it myself. This is why I feel overly qualified to toss about the term “aghast,” all willy-nilly and such. I have no reasonable explanation for tossing about the terms “willy-nilly” or “and such,” other than it amuses me.)

Think about it: those people vote.

So all those people hop on a train, hop off near the faux White House,  inconveniencing no one as they block the escalators all willy-nilly and such, stopping at faux food trucks, picking up faux tee-shirts and other faux tchotchkes, and really, they’re none the wiser, unless they try to hop the fence during a live-shooting exercise. But you really shouldn’t do that anyway, so. . . .

Further, and along those same lines of thinking, since we’re putting  $ 20,596,261,778.49 COP into this live-action manly-man video game, there has to be some return on investment for the American people. To turn a profit, let’s make it a live-action video game for everyone: I’m thinking a bed-and-breakfast kind of thing.

If this is going to be an authentic and exact replica of the White House, it’s going to need people inside. I say we get a faux Commander-In-Chief to live there. I’m thinking  that guy who’s been seen around town who looks just like the President. We’ll call him Dave.

(I’m not entirely convinced it isn’t the President. It will not surprise me in the least when his memoirs come out and he writes about that day he ran into me on the street corner, because it’s kind of hard to keep such a momentous occasion a secret for too long.)

To avoid too much confusion, the faux White House should have a different name, something that appeals to middle America.

Something comfortable and cozy. Something man-cavey. I propose “Dave’s Place.”

For a reasonable rate that compares favorably to any downtown DC family establishment, and after you sign the proper personal injury release forms, Dave and the faux First Family will host you and your family to overnight lodging with complimentary continental breakfast, nightly tuck-in service, all the bells and whistles.  Also included in your package, ten minutes a day sitting behind the desk in the faux Oval Office, signing legislation or stamping vetoes or launching nuclear missiles for fun and games. The deluxe package will allow you to spend a luxury evening at a faux State dinner, where you’ll mingle with faux celebrities and faux world leaders. Choose your own, or allow Dave to choose for you, from Marilyn Monroe to Special Agent Elvis Presley. The Honeymoon Package will, of course, allow the special couple to stay in the faux Lincoln bedroom suite, because let’s face it, nothing says “romance” like Abe’s heart-shaped hot tub.

Kind of a little bit Disney, a little bit Sandals, but with the added adventure of federal agents shooting at you. I’m telling you, this could be big.

At first I was aghast, but now I am totally on board with this.  Please call your Congress-person** and have them vote thumbs-up for Dave’s Place.

White House South Lawn on  Friday at lunch hour.

Dave’s Place will look just like this.

*As I write this, 8 million USD equals 20,596,261,778.49 COP, or Colombian pesos. I knew you would be wondering, perhaps even enough to search for this footnote.

**If you’re not a U.S. resident, call any Congress-person. It won’t matter. You’ll get an intern who’s busy tweeting anyway.  

Random answers to unasked questions and thoughts about changing light bulbs.

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad . . . .Polonius, Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. . . .Ferris Bueller

Laughter is the best medicine. . . . Abraham Lincoln

Ow, my arm hurts. . . .Hippie Cahier

I really wanted to spare you the melodrama, but the fact of the matter is that approximately every other one of these keystrokes is causing me pain. And yet here I am, tap-tap-tapping away, bless my heart, because — as is far too often the case — I feel compelled to explain myself. One entire side of my body hurts and my wrist is in a brace as a reminder that putting the slightest pressure on it is most uncomfortable indeed. This, combined with certain other realities, technical and otherwise, has led to short bursts of social media time, most of it by way of a 4 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ smartphone screen. Neither of those circumstances is conducive to extended reading or writing.

Hence what I expect to be a passing addiction to Twitter hashtag games, which have been a fun challenge to my own creative thinking and an opportunity to enjoy others’ creativity and humor.  I can pop in and out whenever time and WiFi access allow, say something, read something, and walk away.

You may have noticed that brevity doesn’t come naturally to me. Ask me what time it is and I’ll tell you the history of clocks. It’s ridiculous.  Training myself to abbreviate my thoughts is another challenge, one that I clearly have not yet mastered, as evidenced by the fact that we are now three paragraphs into this and I have still not arrived at my point.

So let’s get to that.

This week I started my own Twitter hashtag based on the oft-used theme “#Ask____”.   These hashtags usually start out as humorous and satirical, or maybe sometimes heartfelt questions for celebrities, and too often (d)evolve into something less than good-natured. I was pretty sure mine wouldn’t go that far, but I was willing to risk it anyway, and so #AskHippieCahier was born for no particular reason.

The idea came to me only partially formed on Monday morning. I figured I’d go for it and see what developed because –and it probably won’t surprise you to know this– I’m not getting paid for this. There’s no real measure of success or failure. For me it’s just a break from the real world. For anyone disappointed by the lack of depth or of any particular social value, I would offer that sometimes a person just needs to chill, especially a person whose wrist is currently experiencing excruciating pain. (Strike up the violins.)

Throughout the week I posted the answers to #AskHippieCahier: random answers to random questions that I invented myself.

I did get a few questions, notably from the girl in the glasses, “How many bloggers does it take to change a light bulb?”  

My immediate, abbreviated response, typed against the clock as a commuter train sped toward a tunnel and  lost WiFi connection, went along the lines of the answer depending on how much the light bulb is willing to change. The irony of entering the darkness of the tunnel was not lost on me.

Pondering the question for at least another five or six station stops, it occurred to me that it would take at least one uplifting blogger to encourage the light bulb in its journey, one informative blogger to share the scientific evolution of light bulbs from fluorescent to halogen and beyond, one literary blogger to explore the semiotics of light bulb change,  one home design blogger to offer DIY tips on ways to change your lighting, one foodie blogger to explain how to photograph arugula under different light bulb options, one emo blogger to remind the light bulb of the futility and despair inherent to any struggle with darkness, and one humor blogger to finish this paragraph because this is my train station (and the emo blogger does not appear to be amused).

Try as I might, I could not condense that to 140 characters.

I went back to posting random answers that occurred to me, based on real-life events, to questions no one really asked. Here’s what came of that.

Answer: “Testosterone, exchange-traded funds, and clowns.”
Question: “What are three things that, despite your best efforts, you will never comprehend?”

Answer: “Nellie Bly had a pet monkey (reportedly).”
Question: “What is something you know today that you didn’t know yesterday?”

Answer: “Backgammon.”
Question: ” “Have you ever excelled at something that you no longer know how to do?”

Answer: “Sunday television coverage of NASCAR.”
Question:“What, in your opinion, is the #1 reason that Monday morning has the highest number traffic accidents?” (fake statistic)

Answer: “The never-ending power struggle over how many spaces follow a period.”
Question: “What is most likely to one day cause you to snap, have a Norma Rae tantrum, & storm out of your office?”

Answer: “Dark Wednesday”
Question, posed by everyone’s favorite curmudgeon: “What do you call it when a science experiment goes wrong in the middle of the week?”
Question that inspired the answer: “No #AskHippieCahier tweets b/c I left my phone at home (on Wednesday). Social media blackout.” So, the curmudgeon was close.

Answer: “A nursing home where Saturday night entertainment is Megadeth and Insane Clown Posse cover bands.”
Question: “What is your greatest ‘irrational’ fear about the direction your life is headed?”

Answer: “Personalized stationery embossed with the signature, ‘Sassypants, Esq.’”
Question: “What are you planning to give your daughter for law school graduation?”

Answer: “The one with the blue uniform.”
Question: “Which team will win NCAA Division 1 Championship?”
(Answer elaborated: I don’t know much about college basketball. There’s a much longer story there. When I do get around to picking March Madness brackets, I tend to favor teams in blue, because it seems like the winner is always in blue.)

Answer: “Save the bees!”
Question, again the curmudgeon speaks: “What’s wrong with the 25-Letter Alphabet Movement?” (Funny guy.)
Question that inspired the answer but which is not as funny as the curmudgeon’s: “Of all the political pleas to Pres.Obama in Metro stations, which one tickles your fancy?”
(Answer elaborated: Billboards in DC’s Metro stations are often aimed at the attention of policymakers and others. They are often serious, frequently depressing, and usually urgent. I understand that the issue is all three of those (so please don’t write to school me on the facts), but juxtaposed with anti-Israel sentiments, for example, it just strikes me as humorous: “Dear President Obama – Please help save the bees.”)

Answer: The Swedish chef making salad.
Question: Favorite moment in Muppets history? Question: “Favorite moment in Muppets history?”
(Answer elaborated: Upon further thought, the chocolate mousse episode was pretty hilarious.)
Answer: Augustus Jackson
Question: Who is the most recent addition to your Imaginary Dinner Party guest list?

Answer: Ronald Reagan
Question: “Which PoTUS rides shotgun with you every day?”
(Answer elaborated: Somehow a Ronald Reagan calendar came into my possession and it is tucked into my work bag. I can keep track in important moments in Reagan history. It’s not penguins, but it’s fun.)
Answer:“Just that one time, but I am confident history will show it was justified.”
Question: “Have you ever wished your eyeballs had death rays that you could shoot at someone, instantly disintegrating them?”

Answer: “Maybe she’s trying to tell us she’s a selkie.”
Question: “Do you have a theory that can’t be reduced to 140 characters that explains Kim Kardashian?
(Answer elaborated: A certain hashtag game brought the movie The Secrets of Roan Inish to my mind, which in turn brought to mind the fact that you don’t see a lot of selkie selfies on the Internet (yet). Selfies made me think of Kim Kardashian, Queen of the Selfies. The thought of Kim Kardashian led to That Picture, which, if you think about it in the right light, which may in fact require you to change the bulb, resembles certain depictions of selkies. Maybe she confused the terms and she’s really Queen of the Selkies. It’s all a big . . . misunderstanding.)

And, finally, kindhearted reader Brickhouse Chick, probably sensing that the #AskHippieCahier needed some help, queried, “What makes Hippie, Hippie?”
I don’t know that there will ever be an acceptable answer for that, but I’m sure it has something to do with the type of brain that makes the quantum leap from The Secrets of Roan Inish to Kim Kardashian as Queen of the Selkies in considerably less time than it takes to change a light bulb.