Your decomposing pumpkin could threaten mankind

(It’s time for this week’s Flashback Sunday! That special day each week when I wait until no one is looking, then dig into the archives for a while before pulling out something very few have seen. Wait! I know how that sounds and I apologize! I also promise I washed my hands before posting this…)

This weekend, watch for falling pumpkins.

I left the house this morning and made an important realization: What I had assumed was a fleece-lined, bright orange sweatshirt laying crumpled on the front steps was actually NOT a garment at all.

It was our jack-o-lantern.

This realization was made while attempting to pick it up. Though my intention was to give my children a stern lecture on taking care of their clothing, I decided instead to scream uncontrollably after grabbing a handful of pumpkin mucus. Somehow, our pumpkin’s aging process had accelerated, causing it to collapse in on itself and sprout white fur — literally — overnight.

This isn’t an isolated incident. Anyone who hasn’t disposed of their jack-o-lantern by now has witnessed this process, which we can all agree defies the natural laws of physics. One morning, your pumpkin’s face is triangle-eyed and gap-toothed as normal. The next morning, it is Buddy Hackett. Continue reading

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Self-aware leftovers: The forgotten victims of divorce

[A quick note about this post: Over the years, my wife has mentioned that this column — which I wrote after my divorce 10 years ago — is one of her favorites. It’s also the first column of mine that she read. And yet, she still went out with me…]

_DSC0009 copy There’s nothing funny about divorce. At least, not until you have time to gain some perspective and accept the fact that staying up until 2 a.m. reconfiguring the salt and pepper shakers on your dining room table is just part of the healing process.

Like vacuuming the kitchen tile and mopping the living room carpet.

Or getting excited over having extra closet space while at the same time avoiding that space as much as possible.

After a few months, I suddenly turned around and realized I had moved forward. As strange as it sounds, I think it started the day I threw away the last of the leftovers from when my ex-wife and I were still together.

Granted, they had been in there for quite a while already. Possibly even as far back as Cinco de Mayo, though I couldn’t be sure since the contents appeared to be a member of an unidentified fifth food group. Continue reading

Don’t become the victim of an unprovoked gravy ambush

Maintaining “situational awareness” is key to preventing yourself from becoming the victim of a gravy ambush.

Admittedly, the closest I have been to an actual military “hot zone” was when, on a grey August day in 1977, my Cub Scout troop was deployed to sell candy on the same block as the Girl Scouts. Our prime objective was Hilltop Road, which was a critical strategic vector. At least in terms of foot traffic.

Because our troop transport had overheated in the Carl’s Jr. drive-thru, the Girl Scouts had already claimed the high ground next to a busy movie theater. Outnumbered and without tactical advantage, we implemented our most effective defensive strategy, which was to form a tight perimeter directly behind 200-pound Billy Schlependorf. Continue reading