Double Entendres

As a writer, I am constantly challenged.  This statement could be understood in two ways, which makes it a really fun figure of speech called the double entendre.  Even though I don’t speak much French, I do know that this phrase has something to do with saying two things at once.  This makes it a cousin to speaking out of both sides of the mouth, which is what politicians have to learn before they get elected.  It doesn’t necessarily involve telling a lie, which is also part of a politician’s portfolio, but can mean two contradictory things.  For instance, if I want to tell someone that I don’t buy their particular brand of malarkey, and avoid getting punched in the nose, I will say, “I couldn’t agree with you more”. This could mean I agree wholeheartedly with them, or that I’ve suddenly found it impossible to agree with them.  Of course, now that I’ve told you, I can’t use this particular double entendre again – unless I intend the statement to be interpreted only one way, which makes it okay.

Literature is chock full of double entendres, and is a favorite form of wit amongst the most intelligent authors, a class that I haven’t been invited to attend yet.  Or maybe I was but just wasn’t bright enough to catch the hidden meaning.  A classic example of the double entendre is when Mr. Cannibal arrives home after a long day of shrinking heads, and Mrs. Cannibal says to him “We’re having missionaries for dinner tonight.”  The missionaries may very well have thought they would be dining on stew when they rang the Cannibal’s doorbell, but would soon discover that they were in a stew.  The 17th century music hall singer, Marie Lloyd, was crazy about putting two meanings in the line of a song because she loved sticking it to the Victorian prudes of the day.  One of her songs was entitled “She Sits Among the Cabbages and Peas”.  This particular type of double entendre, which is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, is called a “homophone”.  The first time I heard that word I thought it was a cruel joke about a gay ET calling home, until I learned it originated from the Greek and means ‘same voice’.  Those Greeks were such sly devils, weren’t they?

Don’t confuse double entendre with a double negative, such as ‘bipartisan support’, or doublespeak, such as the person saying ‘bipartisan support’.  The double entendre usually has a naughty side to it.  The sexy actress of the early silver screen, Mae West once said “I feel like a million tonight – but only one at a time.”  My personal favorite, which I advise anyone to say to the opposite sex in a social situation, especially if they want to spend the rest of the evening playing solitaire, is “If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?”  If you’re interested in the concept of double entendres without all the hassle of trying to think of one, wait until someone says something, like your friend pondering if his car will make it into a parking spot by saying “I don’t think it will fit.”  Without missing a beat, reply, “That’s what she said.”  This is what I call the ‘he said, she said’ game, and can be used in almost any circumstances.  Usually people will roll their eyes and say “Please!” to which you add “That’s what he said.”  See how fun it can be?

You don’t have to go any further than the newspaper headlines to catch examples of a double entendre.  “Stolen Car Found by River” “Miners Refuse to Work after Death” “Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Space” “Colonoscope Considered World’s Most Powerful Telescope Because it Sees Far Past Uranus”.  The list goes on.  I particularly like the headline that read: “Couple Slain: Police Suspect Homicide”.  This peculiarity isn’t confined to newspaper headlines, either.  There’s a sign down the street that warns “Slow Children Ahead”.  Or how about the sign outside a secondhand shop: “We exchange anything – bicycles, washing machines, ect.  Why not bring your wife along and get a wonderful bargain?”  Some double entendres are so cool they’re sick.  I mean, they’re broken.  Uh, they’re like my sweat pants: off the hook.  Just look around or listen carefully and you’re liable to find one.  Let me leave you with a real life example that happened not too long ago:  A female news anchor who, the day after it was supposed to have snowed and hadn’t, turned to the weatherman and asked, “So Bob, where’s that eight inches you promised me last night?”  The station had to go to a commercial because the crew was rolling around on the floor.  If you’re still hungry for more double entendres, you can always ask my friend Hugh Jass.  He’s behind me every step of the way.

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Just Try Not to Die

This world has become interesting and fun!  You never know what’s going to be the next viral hit, the next catch-phrase, the next thing people love to hate, the next rave, the piece of flotsam that happens to catch the world’s eye for a few seconds.  Fifteen seconds to be exact.  It seems our technology has reduced the world to one set of eyes, a single schizophrenic mind oozing with ADD, thousands of millions of plastic cards just one click away from anything money can buy, and of course there’s the whole degradation of humanity thing. You know.  Less time playing Frisbee catch with your dog.  Less time filling the neighborhood with the scent of your barbeque and the upcoming feast you’re going to have while they gag over the night’s TV dinner.  Less time connecting with flesh and blood human beings, each one of us with the eyes of the world, forgetting or pretending we’re not connected in a far more substantial and vital way.  There’s much to be said about sitting face to face with someone, but that is the subject of an entirely different rant.  Please remind me somewhere down the road and I’ll let you know how I feel about being face to face, toe to toe.

Now we have so much knowledge at our fingertips, and in as much depth as we want, too.  Sometimes when we are online and a friend brings a subject up of which we have absolutely no knowledge, we’ll be right there on Google or the Urban Dictionary, and within seconds be able to wax philosophical all the way from da hood to the halls of higher learning.  And as far as credibility, who cares if it’s true or not, long as it looks good and does something to you! (That was for all you vacuous    souls who have no idea I’m talking about you) When I read the news online every morning and evening, I have four different sources, and if three out of the four share one part of the story, that’s what I’m probably going to believe, if at all.  I do it that way because no one source has all the truth.  Our fathers had three channels, a radio and a newspaper.  Not to mention all the scuttlebutt that’s been going round since the dawn of time.  Now we have, well, you KNOW how much we have today that keeps us hooked up with everyone else on the planet.  That’s part of the thrill of living in such an information rich environment.

My favorite thing to do on the internet (okay, my second favorite) is getting to try out different voices, kind of like characters in some cosmic comedy tragedy; you’re liable to encounter a country bumpkin whose goal in life is to be called a redneck, or a snippy old curmudgeon who says the first thing on his mind, or a wise, ancient Master of the Secrets of Everything, or a doting senior citizen who can’t figure out how to put a link to a picture, or simple just the one billion four hundred nineteen thousand six hundred and thirty fifth most interesting man in the world.  I don’t think of it as deceit, no, not at all!  I am not a sociopath, either (I think), so I won’t take your medicine, either. (But I will take that shot.  You know the one.  Yes.  My Precious.)  I am merely riding the ebb and flow the world has given each of us.  It’s like surfing.  I catch my wave, get up on the board and nearly drown because I don’t know how in the hell to surf.  That’s the real secret to life.  Try not to die.

My beloved cousin Dana LisenBee told me once (isn’t is strange how thirty eight people can tell you the same thing, but only one get through) that one way to make it in the world today is to splash yourself everywhere, and you’ve got to be good.  It can be as simple as a single word that catches fire to blaze around the world, or an expression on someone’s face, but in order make a lasting mark upon the fickle whims of the masses, you’ve got to have talent, sure, but you’ve got to be persistent.  The crumbled dust of magnum opuses reach to the sky from those thought not good enough and left to rot in a trunk or closet.  Are you an artist?  Perform your art every single day, I don’t care what the excuse is, DO IT.  Find what it is you do well(well, not THAT, for God’s sake) and completely and utterly consume yourself with it.  Be that person in the family one hundred years from now who is thought of as being passionate about something.  Make a deep mark with whatever stick you’ve got.  I believe every single one of us on this planet is GREAT at something.  I mean better than anyone else who have ever lived.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out what that thing is and then do that with all your guts until it’s your turn to leave this tavern of interest and fun!  Oh, and while, you’re having fun . . . try not to die, ok?

A Grapevine Grievance (or Revealing the Goose in the Gossip)

I have a confession to make.  Long has the world suffered because of my mischievousness.  Innocents have been accused, wars started, marriages have fallen apart, treaties broken, elevator buttons have been pushed out of order and even bunnies have been run over because of me.  I have been responsible for bar room fights, missed appointments and the most recent recession.  Yes, if it weren’t for my carefree ways peace would reign, steaks would be consumed without guilt and gasoline would be twenty-five cents a gallon.  I’m ready for whatever consequences you choose to impose upon me.  I, dear reader, am the source of all rumors.

I’m the one that said that daddy long leg spiders are the most poisonous of all their kind, and that we are all spared from agonizing death by the fact that their mouths are too small to bite us.  I told someone years ago that if you go swimming right after you eat you’ll cramp up and drown.  I blamed a classmate, Majesta Finger, for putting marbles and peanut butter in the tubas before State competition.  I did it all.  Why?  Well, somebody had to do it or the entire world would spend eternity in boredom.  Imagine the fun that would be lost if there was no rumor that the manned space missions to the moon were really done outside of Albuquerque.  Imagine how dreary this world would be if we didn’t wonder if Elvis really was still alive and working as a milkshake operator at the Five Points Burger King in Kalamazoo.  Blame me or thank me – it’s up to you.

Oh, sure, there are multiple scientific studies that claim gossip is as old as time itself.  Cain told Adam that he heard that Eve was the one who bashed Abel over the head with a rock.  I’m not claiming that I invented rumors, although there are a few folks in Martha’s Vineyard who are convinced I’m immortal.  No, rumors have been around far longer than my lifetime.  I’m just saying I’m the one responsible for the ones floating around the world now.  Like I said, someone’s got to do it.  Better me than some schmuck in Bangkok who doesn’t know the fine art of innuendo.  Believe me, as messed up as I’ve made the world, it could have been a whole lot worse.

I’m the White House source that chooses to remain anonymous.  I was the White Horse Souse called Deep Throat from the Watergate debacle, too, for that matter.  I started the hearsay about J. Edgar Hoover wearing women’s clothing – well, that one was true, actually.  I’ve got photos to prove it, but it’ll cost you to see them.  Any rumor disseminated after 1960 is mine.  I’ve actually got Master’s Degrees in Misinformation and Disinformation.  This makes me the absolute best candidate for the job.

The key ingredient in successful rumormongering isn’t coming up with believable hogwash – any bullshit artist can make a lie sound like the truth.  If you don’t believe me, watch C-Span for awhile.  The thing that makes for good scuttlebutt is in knowing who to tell.  We all know someone in the workplace who’s better than the internet with spreading information.  I call them ‘butter knives’ and have a comprehensive list of the top one hundred rumor spreaders around the world.  Remember Baghdad Bob from the first Gulf War?  He was on my list until that time he said on camera that there were no U.S. tanks in Baghdad while they could be seen wandering around behind him.  I had to let him go.  I learned my lesson about getting propaganda sources from the government.  They just can’t be trusted.  My list is a fluid one, because at any given time about a third of my butter knives try to embellish or alter the rumors they get from me.  I can’t abide a dull butter knife.

Why am I stepping up to the plate now and admitting my responsibility to rumors?  Simply put, I’m tired of riding the whole gossip rodeo by myself.  I’m not getting paid a dime for all the work I do.  Yeah, it’s fun, it’s rewarding, but it doesn’t pay the bills.   You have no idea how much time it takes to make sure a good rumor gets cultivated, how many ears I have to bend or how far I have to go to make them believable.  I’ve been trying to convince the Department of Labor to create an occupational job title for me so I can qualify for small business loans to help expand my rumor mill, maybe hire a management team that can brainstorm and take some of the burden off me, but they keep telling me the job already exists.  I don’t think the job description for a Public Relations Specialist comes anywhere close to what I do.  Actually, I could probably qualify as a Gas Compressor and Gas Pumping Station Operator (SOC #51-8092), or – God forbid – a Lawyer (SOC #51-4192), but then I’d have to compromise my personal values.  No, I think it’s time to step down and let someone else run the party line.  Or better yet, let anarchy reign.  Start your own rumors.  I hear you can do a better job of it, anyway.

Words

Writing is very hard work.  I think it’s even harder than digging ditches, performing a lumbar laminectomy or even competition-level peach pit spitting.  Imagine how difficult it is for squirrels to run and up and down trees all day.  Much harder than that.  Let me tell you how hard writing is.  Writing is so hard because there are so many words to choose from.  I just came from a five minute exhaustive search of the internet and discovered that there are about one million words in the English language.  I was going to say that it might take me forever to run out of words but then realized you would probably stop reading me and go on with your life.  That will not do.  I just need to pick the right drops of water from the ocean and mesmerize and entice you until the world around you slips away and my story is a river that takes you over countless rocky rapids and miles of rowing until you come through on the other side having discovered something profound about yourself.  Tell me THAT ain’t hard.  I don’t know the first thing about rapids.

I believe writing involves a responsibility that should never be taken lightly.  It should be taken just before meals to aid in digestion.  Technology has given writing a towering platform in the form of texting from any number of devices, blogs, chat, email and others. (note to self: from now on, any time I say ‘and others,’ it means I ran out of examples)  Most texters today have caused professors all over the world to gnash their teeth, but I for one am in favor of anything that will make writing easier.  Fifty years from now novels will be reduced to a single letter.  Future teenagers will sit around breathing black market air and discussing their summer. “S?” (which means, ‘have you read the book S yet?’)  “N.” (you guessed, ‘no’) “W?” (use to be a curse word but now means ‘wanna hang out?’) “N.”  “H!” (I have no idea what that means . . .)  But for now, writers have a whole BUNCH of words and combinations of words to choose from, and to be accountable for.  Someday some brainy math demigod will finally figure out exactly how many choices the English writer actually has.  I’d be willing to bet it is WAY more than the number of people who get injured by folding chairs each year.  For now let’s just say for the sake of arguing (note to self: whenever I say ‘for the sake of arguing,’ I don’t mean it.  Arguing sucks) that we’re talking about a Huge number of phrases to choose from.  Because words have power (who’s going to dispute that?), mixing them together can produce toxic lies and incredible truths, gripping stories and paint-peeling drivel like this, can inform, delight, incite, quiet, give you a smile or take it away, make you mad, make you sad, make you full, leave you empty, show you the way, show you the way it was.  Words, words, wonderful words, the more you poop the more the turds.  This stuff is harder than you think!  To this point I’ve laid about five hundred and fifty words out on you, and if you think this train has jumped the track, leave the metaphors to the experts, hon.  Like I was saying, we need to own our words.

Don’t just go flailing your words all over the place like I’ve done for years.  They’ll come back to haunt you for sure.  I had a phrase that still gives me nightmares and anxiety.  Ever heard of an “Alabama Hot Pocket”?  I originally coined the phrase to describe the slightly-heavier-than-air farts that result from eating chicken gizzards, pickled eggs and Moon pies – a delicacy in Alabama, – but some pervert stole it and now it’s a disgusting – I’ll tell you later when we’re alone.  You’ll shudder.  You better.  Just be careful about what you write, unless you particularly like being haunted.  And it’s ok to say penis.  After 5pm on the east coast.  Unless you belong to a ‘Ban the Word Penis’ newsgroup.  If that’s the case, be a good Do-Bee and keep your hands away from the keyboard, but above your waist.  But if you have a pet name for it, write away!

Writers never get the money that they are worth.  If I had a nickel for every time I said ‘if I had a nickel,’ I’d have two.  I think writers should have a place to go where they can ply their trade, like going to work.  “Bye, honey, I’m off to work on my biography of Woody Harrelson! Remember, we’ve got that hemp party tonight!”  They can sit around all day and talk, two things writers love to do, because everyone knows the average writer finds it damned near impossible to write anything substantive when there are others around, especially people who understand the colossal amount of brain sweat it takes to crank out five thousand words a day. I’m telling you now, if publishers paid writers what they’re worth one of two things will happen.  Either the writer will step up act and write like the professional she is, fulfilling every nuance of the twelve page contract she signed without really reading it, or wait until the last minute of the deadline to crank out the Great American Novel.  I read it and it’s good.  Here, see for yourself:    M

Oh, What I Could Do

Oh, what I could do with four hours.

Life has gotten so very busy these days.  It seems from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep watching the evening news it is just run, run, run.  I am usually greeted every morning by my cat Jack playing ‘knead the fat man’ and head butting me until I slither out from under him.  Even my bladder tried to push me out of bed in the morning, but I fixed that problem with rubber sheets.  I barely have time for my pill breakfast before the dog pile drives me until I take her outside so she can sniff the entire neighborhood looking for just that right spot to squat, which is usually followed with a hasty retreat back inside before the neighbors discover the treat we left on their doorstep.  I don’t know how he does it, but the cat always seems to get his own leash on and is tapping his paw impatiently waiting for the dog and I to return.  Then Mr. Kitty takes no less than half an hour chasing every bird and squirrel in a three mile radius as I am being dragged behind.  I get my revenge with him, though.  Sometimes when he’s doing the stalking dance he forgets he’s dragging me behind him until I step on a twig, and then you should see him jump.  He looks like an umbrella on a windy day.

Usually I’m able to get half a cup of coffee in me before it’s off to the races.  On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I drive over to my Papa’s place and hang out with him all day.  He’s 91 years old and more active than a pissed off volcano.  Listen, one thing you can say about an old person is that they are a survivor.  He was in the Philippines in World War Two and had to dodge Japanese machine gun rounds.  He told me one bullet pinged off his helmet.  I think that’s about the time I would have gotten to be best friends with the ground.  We spend the majority of the day working on his writing or grocery shopping or chasing skirts in the library (his libido is so large he has to carry it on his back) or what not.  By the time I get him settled in for the evening it’s around 5PM and I head back home.  The days I don’t spend with Papa are usually twice as busy with such things as you will soon read.

After being mobbed by the dog and cat, both of which wanting to smell every square inch of me to see what I had gotten into all day, I finally get to sit down and go on Facebook.

Let me tell you this right now.  I’ve battled alcoholism and severe drug addiction.  I’ve been hooked on everything from clackers and Monopoly to Tetris, crossword puzzles, Mountain Dew and woman.  Nothing, I repeat NOTHING can compare to my obsession with Facebook.  I could inject heroin, crack and meth straight into my brain and not even come close to Facebook.  Even now my entire body is shaking uncontrollably, wanting to

Four hours later: Ok, now where was I?  Oh, yeah, talking about how busy my days are and how I would love to have just four hours of uninterrupted time.  I have three hundred and sixty two books that I need to read and review.  If you are one of the writers I have promised this to, do not despair.  Instead of reading one book at a time, which would leave some books untouched for decades, I’ve decided to read one sentence from each book every day.  This way, I’m able to keep the ball rolling.  Well, that would be more like keeping three hundred and sixty two books rolling, but who’s counting?  It would be nice if I could just sit down and read, but I also have to play fetch with my puppy dog the whole time, too.  I regret the day I brought home a tennis ball, because it has been nothing but BALL BALL BALL since then.  You think I’m addicted to Facebook?  I can’t even hold a candle to my dog’s need to chase after and return the ball.  I swear to you, when she watches me pick the ball up and get ready to throw it, every molecule of her being is locked on.  I bet if I strapped the tennis ball to the overhead fan she would die of vertigo.  So here I am, laptop open and reading my allotted three hundred and sixty two sentences, all the while playing ball with my dog.  This is when my cat chooses to hide under chairs until the dog runs by and then jumps out and tags her with his claws.  Usually this sort of behavior is frowned upon by the dog (I’ve seen her chase the cat up the curtains, and I didn’t know dogs could do such a thing) but when she is in full ball mode she is impervious to any other stimulus.

There always comes a time when the dog just can’t run and fetch any more, and she just lays there, ball in her mouth and her tongue spread out all over the house.  That’s when I get to actually write some.  I always insist on writing two pages a day, come Hell or high water.  Well that’s not true.  If Hell or high water actually came, I’d probably go on Facebook and put it up on my wall.  But, once I get my two pages out of the way I sit down to watch the evening news and then the next thing I know the cat is playing ‘knead the fat man’ on my belly and the dog is doing the pee pee dance by the front door.

Oh, what I could do with four hours!Image

An Unrepentant Audiophile


Thank goodness for Facebook. Because of it, an old friend by the name of Scott was able to hunt me down. In a good way. We became friends over twenty years ago while I was a cab driver in Frederick, Maryland. He used to ride along with me on my twelve hour shift, and we’d make fun of people. Then we’d toss them in the taxicab, take them where they wanted to go, get paid for it, and then made fun of them some more. Those were the days. And you thought New York City was the only place where you could a decent cab ride while being made fun of. Plus, we spoke English, too, for the most part. That part was free. While I’m thinking about it, I did try to get a job driving a taxi in New York City, but I had too many vowels in my name.

Scott and I have always shared a love of music. Now, it’s been over twenty years and my mind isn’t as sharp as it once was (that’s an excuse anyone over fifty get to make legally), but because of Scott I came to appreciate the group Yes, and even learned the names of the band members: Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe. If I’m not mistaken, Scott even got me one of their albums – Yessongs. I tried turning him onto the Moody Blues, but I don’t think my passion for their music ever really stuck to him. Something about them being moody and the blues, whereas Scott was always upbeat and didn’t hanker much to being a downer. We both really loved the group Rush, too. Scott told me once that Rush was the greatest three man band in the world. If it weren’t for ZZ Top I would have agreed one hundred percent. That’s just the Texan in me coming out. Remember the Alamo! Wait, that was too far out – sorry.

We didn’t know it then (and if Scott knew it he certainly never told me) but there was and is a name for people like us. No, ‘insane’ is not the word I was thinking of. We were diehard audiophiles. An audiophile is someone who likes to play around with little songs. And it’s ok to cross state lines with them. I don’t know about Scott, but I am still an unrepentant audiophile. I’ve got hundreds of tunes on my computer, and there’s nothing the FBI can do about it because I’m a card-carrying audiophile with a clean record (get it? ‘clean record’? that one’s for all you older audiophiles who remember records). Now, I haven’t had a chance to share my music library with Scott yet, but I’m pretty sure he’s never heard of some of the groups I listen to, like Maximum the Hormone and Onmyouza. I would bet a barrel of monkeys that he has heard of Rammstein and Chic Corea, though. As a matter of fact, I would bet a barrel of monkeys AND my striped two-piece bathing suit that he knows who did “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Copse and Grooving with a Pict”, and what album it was on. Only a hardcore audiophile would have a deep appreciation for that. I’m pretty sure my cousin Dana is one, but we haven’t done the secret handshake yet.

One of the great things I remember about Scott was his quick wit. Do you realize just how many folks in this world do not have a quick wit? Me neither, but I’m sure it’s a lot. We would take the art of banter to levels only known by such luminaries as Frank Zappa and John Lennon. That reminds me: Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow. You know what I mean. I really admire Scott’s wife Sherrie for letting me borrow him so many times back in the late eighties and early nineties. Those were pretty crazy times back then, and it was awesome to have a quick-witted friend to banter with. Especially an audiophile. Sherrie, I must let you know right now that we always kept our clothes on, ok? There were some things we did, though, that we’ll take to our graves, but hey, that’s an audiophile thing, you know? Also, most of it would have been legal in Alaska, had we been in Alaska.

Scott, I’m listening to Donald Fagen sing Morph the Cat right now, and it’s all for you my brother. Thanks for the memories.