Your Stuffed Animal Advisor

Animals are our friends, but pets can also upchuck on our white wall-to-wall carpeting, or tear up a new pair of pumps we just bought last week on sale.  That’s why stuffed animals are often better friends than real ones.  Got a question about our fake little furry friends? Ask Your Stuffed Animal Advisor!

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Save the manatees–collect them.

Dear Stuffed Animal Advisor:

When I broke up with my boyfriend “Todd” a year ago because he could never bring himself to “pop the question,” I did not go out and get a cat like a lot of women I know.  I was not going to end up like them, making popcorn on a Saturday night and watching Lifetime movies with fourteen pounds of fur named “Kitzi” on my lap. So I began to collect stuffed animals which as you suggest are a lot easier to take care of.  They never escape outside and have to be lured back in by leaving a plate of food on the back porch like my girlfriends Mary Anne and Jeanie do whenever their cats run off into the woods.  Also they don’t pee on the rug.  The cats, not my girlfriends.

Now that I have joined the ranks of “virtual pet owners” I have a question.  I have a growing collection of stuffed dogs, cats and turtles.  I checked our local zoning code and it says nothing about legal occupancy for a one-bedroom apartment by unrelated inanimate figurines.  Is 162 (not including me) too many, or can I get the “My Little Puppy Friends” special Christmas edition when it arrives in stores next week?

Miriam Urshel, North Hollywood, Florida

Dear Miriam:

Your Stuffed Animal Advisor says “The more the merrier!” when it comes to the toy buddies that make our lives so rewarding when human beings like “Todd” prove incapable of making a commitment.  Make sure you don’t block fire exits with your little furry friends, and you may want to buy a free-standing storage shelter to hide your “stuffed stuff” when nosy mental health professionals from local government bodies come snooping around.

Image result for stuffed animal set
Get the Grab ‘n Go Sixpack.

Dear Your Stuff Animal Advisor:

I am a guy, as you can probably deduce from my name below.  As a boy I was excluded from many youth sports activities because of the crippling effects of Osgood Schlatter’s Disease, and as a result I remained attached to my stuffed animals longer than most young men.

I have now become engaged to a wonderful young lady–I will call her “Opal” because that is her name–who is a real “go-getter.”  She was recently re-elected to a second term as County Prothonotary, the second highest-ranking official around here with plenary powers to issue and revoke licenses for fishing and all-terrain vehicles. Opal has her eye on County Commissioner, and a run for higher office would put her in the local “media spotlight,” which is pretty intense around here what with a newspaper and two radio stations, one “Classic Country” the other “Top 40” format. My concern is that some jerk reporter will find out about my collection–which is now in the high three figures–and try to make an “expose” out of it.

I am willing to take the heat, but I do not want to impede Opal’s career and so am wondering if I should switch to a more conventional hobby such as bowling or fishing.

Norman “Bud” Ohlrich, Keokuk, Iowa

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Dear Bud:

The stigma formerly attached to adult male stuffed animal collectors has declined over the years as our society has become more “accepting” of our nation’s hobby diversity.  I say turn what some people may consider a liability into a campaign asset by becoming an “out-and-proud” stuffed animal nut!  Pollster Ed Francis of Mid-States Political Consultants says a lot of weird hobbyists are “swing” voters who can tilt an election against an anti-stuffed animal candidate in a close race.

Image result for furby

Dear Stuffed Animal Advisor Lady:

Please settle an “e-commerce” dispute for me.  I recently bought what was advertised as an original issue, limited edition “Furby” on from a seller named lloydinknobnoster.  When the package arrived the thing didn’t look right so I turned it upside down and the label said “Fruby,” made in Deng Xiaoping City, China.  I tried to stop payment but it was too late, so I filed a complaint with the webmaster who says there was nothing they can do, “lloydinknobnoster” is a “Platinum” member with an unimpeachable record.

I contacted “Lloyd” by mail–there are not that many people in Knob Noster so the postmaster knew who it was.  “Lloyd” says I should be thanking him, not complaining, it’s a collector’s item.  I said I wouldn’t take him to small claims court if he would abide by your decision and he agreed although he said he wasn’t waiving “sovereign immunity” whatever that means.

Curt Dwinnel, Hill Jack, MO

Dear Curt–

I’m afraid I’m going to have to side with Lloyd on this one.  Furbies with the spelling “Fruby” down in the crotch where you insert the two “D” batteries are commanding top prices on world collectible markets.  Apparently Chinese stuffed animal workers are only given one bathroom break per week and as a result sometimes lose consciousness while impressing plastic parts with basic information such as product name, serial number, and toll-free number to call if you spill something on the fur. I hope your new acquisition brings peace to your life.  If not, please stay off stuffed animal websites for awhile as I’m bidding on a number of items and don’t want to get caught up in your legal hurricane, thank you very much.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

Your Foodie Action Reporter

Got a roommate who’s suddenly developed a taste for truffles?  Find an inflatable Julia Child love doll in your husband’s tool closet?  Better call the Foodie Action Reporter–before it’s too late!

Dear Foodie Action Reporter:

I got divorced two years and am just now getting over the pain of losing Francine to a brush hog salesman.  I met a woman named “Giselle” on, and after some preliminary winking and nudging, we agreed to meet in the parking lot at Bing’s Plaza and if things “clicked” we would go into the mall for dinner because she said she loved foreign foods.



Well, long story short I fell head over heels in love with “Giselle” (she did not wear her “quotation” marks to the date).  I don’t know what it is, I just go crazy over women with raccoon-like levels of eye liner and mascara that looks like it’s been spread on with a trowel, and that was Giselle “to a T.”

After five minutes of palaver in the car I said “I’m game if you are,” and she said “sure,” so we got out but instead of going to the mall there is that International House of Pancakes up close to the exit onto Highway 50, so I started walking up that way because I love their “Pigs in a Blanket” and she said she liked foreign foods.

Cochons dans la Couverture

I don’t know if I did or said something wrong but Giselle just sat there the whole time with a grumpy look on her face.  I don’t think she has a legitimate beef since the place is international and they have the Nutella Crepes, which I understand are both French and English.

DeWayne Lollard, Grain Valley Junction, Iowa


Dear DeWayne:

Foodie Action Reporter will give you “A” for effort but “C+” for sensitivity.  Obviously someone with heavy eyeliner and a French name is going to want something a little more “special” than IHOP, even if you don’t have a $1-off-higher-priced-entree coupon to use there.  I “Googled” your location and it appears there is a very nice (which is a city in France) “boit de nuit” named “Les Deux Escargots” on the outskirts of Lincoln, a pleasant two-day drive.  Take along some “pommes frites” (French fries) in case your car breaks down!

“This little thing?  Uh, it’s a two-way ankle fax machine.”


Dear Foodie Action Reporter:

I met this guy “Ian” at a speed dating event a few weeks ago, and now he has asked me over to his house for dinner!  I don’t want to blow it, as the last guy I dated seriously now wears an ankle monitor for ID theft and can’t leave his house.

My concern is this:  “Ian” is a real foodie, he subscribes to Gourmet and makes his own pasta.  He said he would cook “pesto” for me if I liked it.  I said “You bet!” even though I didn’t know what it was.

Ian is into all-natural ingredients, and I am wondering whether he will use actual pests in his pesto, or if I am thinking of some other dish.

Cindy Wynne, Seekonk, Mass.

Pesto:  Yum–I guess.


Dear Cindy–

Pesto is an Italian sauce made from garlic, pine nuts, salt, basil leaves, and romano and parmesan cheese, all blended into olive oil.  It looks disgusting, but is actually quite delicious when prepared properly.  It typically contains no insects other than those that infest your host’s kitchen.

“Which one of you’s the virgin?”


Dear Foodie Action Reporter:

I have been dating this guy “Craig” for several months.  We are starting to get serious, but have not yet “done the deed,” if you know what I mean.  I am not the kind of girl who will hop into the sack with a guy just because he buys you dinner at restaurant that has a non-stick tablecloth.

Craig has been a perfect gentlemen, but lately he has begun to drop little hints unless I’m misreading his remarks.  Last night when we were out to dinner at DiScallopini’s he looked at the menu and said he thought “extra virgin olive oil” was overrated and not worth the price.  He said it in kind of a bitter way, and I am writing to see whether you think he was being sarcastic.

Moira Oehrke, Mahway, New Jersey


Dear Moira–

Not to worry!  “Extra virgin” refers to olive oil that has no more than 0.8% free acidity, resulting in favorable flavor characteristics–and try saying that five times fast.

So it is neither a compliment nor an insult to use the term in the presence of a single woman, although it is a fairly unattainable standard.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

Your Senior Green Advisor

It’s hard for senior citizens to keep up with the latest in environmental catastrophes, much less the ever-changing rules about what’s “green,” what’s “unclean” and what’s “in-between.”  They’ve been busy despoiling the earth while they accumulated the worldly goods needed to enjoy their “golden years,” which is why Your Senior Green Advisor is here!

Dear Senior Green Advisor:

I am writing from the lounge at the Middlesex Senior Center on Route 135, I had to get out of the house after what happened.  My son’s girlfriend Charletta (the one with the ring in her nose, not the one he was dating senior year in high school), just lit into me because I have plastic-stemmed cotton swabs.  (N.B.: They are staying here because they can’t afford an apartment but I do NOT let them sleep together.)  She came out of the bathroom all red in the face and screamed at me because there’s some “meme” whatever that is on the World Wide Web about a seahorse and a plastic swab.

The reason I came down to the Senior Center is they have a nice aquarium that is very soothing and restful to look at while I wonder whether I will be able to stretch my Social Security check to the end of the month since my late husband was an independent sales rep with no pension plan.  Anyway, there is a little seahorse in the tank, he is very cute, but I notice he doesn’t have ears.  Why would a seahorse need a “Q-Tip” if that’s the case?

Thank you,


Lynette Fletcher, Natick, Mass.


Dear Lynette:

I believe what Charletta is talking about is the enormous amount of plastic waste that we throw in the ocean every day, not the personal hygiene of the seahorse.   Perhaps you two can find some common ground if you remember the sage old medical advice “Never put anything in your ear but your elbow, and never put a ring in your nose unless you’re a bull.”

Dear Senior Green Advisor:

My 34-year-old daughter Tina is unemployed again, her third job in two years.  She says she has been “furloughed” but I don’t believe it.  Every day when I open up the Tri-County Penny Saver I see plenty of job openings but when I try to show her she goes “Duh, nobody reads the papers anymore, everything is on-line.”

Despite her attitude I try to keep her healthy and so bought her some yogurt instead of the lunch meat and ketchup sandwiches she wolfs down.  I should mention, Tina got caught up in the “grunge” movement that swept America in the 90s and has never gotten over it.   When she saw the containers of Yoplait Twisted Strawberry Mango Tango in the refrigerator she went ballistic on me, saying don’t you know this is the yogurt that skunks get trapped in and die a horrible death?

Ms. Senior Green Advisor, how was I supposed to know that something as tasty and delicious as fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt could be a death trap for a skunk, and why should I care about skunks anyway–they stink!  I don’t know what is with kids these days, you try to do something nice for them and you get nothing but back-talk.

Eunice Alpharasian, Keokuk, Iowa

WARNING: The Surgeon General has determined that it may be hard to get your head out of this container.


Dear Ms. Alpharasian:

Thanks to the efforts of environmental fanatics Yoplait yogurt now comes in “skunk-safe” containers, with wide openings that our stinky little friends can easily get into as well as out of.  You might drop a hint to “Tina” that she should follow the skunk’s example and get “out of” your home and “into” a place of her own if she wants to get married before she dies.

Image result for Animal caught in six pack Yoke. Size: 326 x 160. Source:

Hey Senior Green Advisor–

Long-time reader, first time writer.  I notice that a lot of the expensive “craft beers” like blueberry IPA and Belgian wheat lagers no longer come with the traditional six-pack plastic rings, instead they’re sold in 4-packs attached by like plastic lids on top.  I think it’s bad enough that the “millennial” brewers are not only trying to reduce the amount of beer I drink, but they also charge the same or even more than your good old-fashioned watery beers Americans have loved for so long.

When I made a crack about this to the check-out girl at Cannon’s Expensive Craft Liquors–which I normally wouldn’t go to but it was on my way home from bowling–she said it’s because turtles and squirrels and other animals get stuck in the six-pack “yokes” and grow up deformed.

Ms. Senior Green Advisor, I couldn’t resist, I made a crack about maybe the critters shouldn’t be so stupid, and the girls says I am now “banned” from Cannon’s for thirty days and have to undergo sensitivity training before they’ll let me come back.  “Don’t worry,” I said, “I’ll take my business to a place that cares more about humans than animals.”  Just curious, have you heard from any like-minded drinkers who will join the fight to keep six beers in every six-pack instead of four?

Bill Archstrong, Traverse City, Michigan


Dear Bill–

I’m not sure how to explain this to you except by a story about Yogi Berra, who was once asked whether he wanted his pizza cut in six or eight slices.  “Six,” he said, “I can’t eat eight.”  With a four-pack of sixteen-ounce cans or bottles you get 64 ounces; with a six-pack of twelve-ouncers you get 72 ounces.  Buy one twelve-ounce can or bottle from the “loose beer” bin in the walk-in cooler, and you’ll have an additional four ounces of alcohol to impair your math skills!

Your Senior Love Advisor

“Sixty is the new sexty” according to nine out of ten physicians who have nothing better to do than fill out on-line surveys, but what if you don’t know Dr. Phil, Oprah or Dr. Ruth personally?  Better check in with Your Senior Love Advisor before you try anything complicated.

Get your derriere out of your chair-e-air!


Dear Senior Love Advisor:

I have been single now for the better part of a decade since my wife Earline was killed in a tragic water cooler accident at the Pneumatic Band-Ag Fastener Plant on north 50 highway, right before the fork in the road.  I recently met and “hit it off” with a woman whose husband got dragged by the Goodyear Blimp when his foot was caught in a mooring cable, so we had the death of a spouse in common.

Ms. Senior Love Advisor, I am ready to “take the plunge” except for one thing: my new girlfriend tells me she has had two hip replacements, one on each side, so she is “bionic” (her term, not mine).  I have only made love to women with original factory parts, and am wondering what the chances are her replacement hips will fall out when we “do the deed.”  I would not want to be stuck with her repair bill as I have a high deductible on all of my insurance policies due to my fixed income.

Thanks in advance for your help,


Eugene Chaclas, Sweet Springs MO.



Dear Eugene–

I think you are right to be careful, “senior sex” is risky because the chassis is off the power train warranty.  I would go slowly at first, proceeding cautiously from kissing to hickeys to digital manipulation.  If everything seems to be in working order, you can then graduate from “driver’s ed.”


Dear Senior Love Advisor:

Please settle a dispute for me: I say it is impossible for a woman to get pregnant if a man has a vasectomy.  This fifty-something bartender at the Horse’s Rear Bar & Grill in town claims she is carrying my baby when we only fooled around for a little while after I recovered from having my tubes tied at Urologists ‘R Us, the “fast casual” vasectomy shop my brother-in-law started.  He went to the best med school on the island of Grenada, and graduated shortly after the heroic U.S. invasion of that island nation in 1983.

Your opinion means a lot, so there is a possible “gratuity” in this for you if you give me the right answer.

Chuck Libscomb, Ottumwa, Iowa

Free the med students!


Dear Mr. Libscomb:

I am honor-bound by the Advice Columnists Code of Ethics to charge only posted rates for deciding wagers in favor of readers, and so must know the extent of your financial wherewithal before responding.

That said, the success rate of vasectomies varies widely with the credentials of urologists.  Ask to see your brother-in-law’s diploma, and if necessary take it to a “Notario publico” for translation from “Grenadian” to good-old-fashioned U.S. of A. English to make sure he didn’t attend refrigeration and air conditioning school.


Dear Senior Love Advisor:

I am very “smitten” with an elderly man “Mel” who plays shuffleboard at my senior living facility.  He is very refined and such a gentleman that when I “came on to him like a bitch wolf in heat” as Myrna Linstrom of Unit 6A so caustically put it, he said he wanted to wait until he got to know me better as he had never had sex with a woman before dating at least six months.

My problem is that the doctors have now put him on a feeding tube following a heart attack and he is not expected to live out the month.  Do you think it would be “okay” if I snuck into his room and you-know-what with him or is there some kind of law against that?


Sue Helpfer, Utica, New York

Dear Sue–

You are in luck, outdated “necrophilia” laws are tumbling across America and anyway would not apply in your case as long as “Mel” is on life support.   Check out the “Summer Blowout Sale” on my six-cassette set “How to Make Yourself Beneficiary of a Comatose Man’s Will”–operators are standing by!


Dear Senior Love Advisor:

I have what is a mathematical question so you may want to get your calculator out.  I am a 62-year-old widower and so get the 10% senior discount at Golden Corral.  I am going out on a date with a younger woman “Eunice” who is only 59, so she doesn’t qualify.  I like to go “Dutch” on the first date so there is no obligation if I get the sense that a woman is a “gold digger” who is only interested in my late wife’s Hummel figurine collection.  What would you suggest as a fair split of the bill with these many variables involved?

Walter L. Shugart, Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Dear Walter–

Pardon me while I collect my thoughts–for a moment there I thought I was back in sixth grade being asked how much rope can Ted and Bob buy for twenty-seven cents a foot if they are on a train traveling 85 miles an hour on the second Tuesday of the month.

I think the main point you want to get across on a first date is that you are a good “catch” but not a pushover.  I would offer to split things right down the middle with “Eunice” even though you are entitled to the “lion’s share” of the senior discount so she won’t slander your name by spreading around what a tightwad you are.

Ask Mr. Car Person

Spring is here, which means driving fun time, unless your vehicle is a garbage truck or there’s a guy in the back seat with a gun who demands that you take him to an Eagles reunion concert.  How do you keep your car in tip-top shape?  Ask Mr. Car Person!

Dear Mr. Car Person:

My wife and I decided to get our daughter a new car as a surprise graduation gift.  I went down to the Toyota dealer after work to take care of it since it was my wife’s bowling night.  I called her up after I signed the papers (my wife, not my daughter–that would have ruined the surprise) and told her I got the Toyota Highlander, not the Sport model just the basic one without leather seats.  My wife started screaming and said don’t you know that if you drive around in a Highlander with the back windows down and the front windows up your head will explode, she heard it on the Today Show or Good Morning America, she can’t remember which.

At least my head didn’t explode!”

Mr. Car Person, now I am worried that my daughter will forget about the back window problem some night and her head will explode and she will be permanently disfigured, which will hurt her marriage prospects as she already looks like my mother-in-law.  Any suggestions?

Durnell Holman, Knob Noster MO

“Why is that little light blinking?”

Dear Durnell–

Relax!  While the Highlander did indeed suffer from the exploding head defect from the time it was first introduced in 2009 until 2013, Toyota has added a dashboard light beginning with the 2014 model year that gives drivers ample warning before they lose consciousness.  Bonus safety feature–if only one rear window is rolled down damage is limited to internal organs!

Oldsmobile Delta 88–sweet.

Mr. Car Person–

Last night I let my son Wayne borrow my restored 1995 Oldsmobile Delta 88 to take his girlfriend Sue Ellen to the Dairy Freeze, we were out of ice cream.  They didn’t get home until like 12:30, and this morning I noticed there’s a big spot on the back seat.  I asked Wayne how it got there and he says “Dad, with a front engine/rear-wheel drive layout you often get transmission fluid leaking into the back seat cushion, don’t get all bent out of shape.”  Do you think Wayne is lying?

Oren Embree, Paducah, Kentucky

“That spot?  We, uh, spilled some ice cream.  Over our shoulders.”

Dear Oren:

Our children represent the future, and we must trust them if they are ever going to mature into irresponsible adults such as us.  Because the Delta 88 featured the patented “Tilt-Away” steering wheel, there would be no need for teenagers to crawl into the backseat to “do what comes naturally.”  You are apparently projecting your unfulfilled sexual needs onto your son, and your time would be better spent trolling the internet.

Dear Mr. Car Person–

There is this girl at school who I will call “Tina” because that is her name.  She is nice to me whenever I drive to school but if I have to walk she ignores me and just hangs out with the Pep Squad.  I tried out for the Pep Squad but didn’t make it because my stupid mother put my pom-poms in the washer the night before and they came out looking like overcooked spaghetti.  How can I tell if “Tina” likes me for who I am or is just “along for the ride.”

Linda Lou Holcomb, Hoxie, Arkansas

Tina: Sometimes gets carried away.

Dear Linda Lou–

You should not hold a grudge against your mother as she apparently allows you to drive to school sometimes, which is more than a lot of kids get.  I have referred your question to the Teen Beat columnist, who will answer it if space permits.

Pepsi-Cola hits the spot!

Hey Car Person–

I have been told if your radiator overheats you can use soda to cool it down until you get to a gas station.  Last night I asked this girl Lurleen who I was on a first date with if I could pour her Diet Dr. Pepper into my six-cylinder Honda as the needle was inching up into the “red zone,” and she says “Don’t you know anything?  Diet soda only works in four cylinder engines.”  When I got to the Sunoco station out on South 65 the guy says your cylinders are scored, you need to get them sleeved quick or else you’ll have to buy a whole new engine block.  I told Lurleen she had to walk home, I wasn’t going to risk any more damage, and now she’s gone and told everybody I’m not a gentleman.  The way I see it, she should pay my repair bill.  What do you think?

Mike Dalton, Jr., Ottumwa, Iowa

Next time, come prepared.

Dear Mike–

The answer to your question depends on the “ground rules” you set before Lurleen ever got into your car.  Unless you agreed to go “Dutch treat,” your date has no liability for engine damage even if you paid for her soda, according to Dewayne Norbert, Esq., a lawyer who has written extensively on pre-marital dating claims.  You can get a good styrofoam cooler for $1.99 at any Kwik-Trip convenience store, and I suggest that next time you come prepared for an emergency with extra cans of soda.  The Honda owner’s manual recommends Mountain Dew.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

Fake Your Way With Biz Cliches

If you want to get ahead in business, it is not enough to be intelligent, hard-working, and decisive.  The Great Plains of Commerce are littered with the corpses of men and women who possess these qualities, and who were nonetheless stung to death by a swarm of buzzwords.

“. . . at the end of the day, it’s the end of the day.”


My own shortcomings in this regard became apparent a few years ago when I made the mistake of saying in a meeting that a proposed course of action, while potentially sound, might be perceived as a bit too–I groped for le mot juste; aggressive? greedy? rapacious?  Everybody ignored me and we plowed ahead until a v.c.–that’s a venture capitalist, not a Viet Cong–who had arrived late stopped us in our tracks.  “I don’t like it,” he said.  “The optics aren’t right.”

Of course! everyone agreed.  How dense we’d all been! What were we thinking? How did we lose sight of long-term fundamentals?  It’s the optics, stupid!  The problem wasn’t that it was wrong–the problem was, it looked wrong.

Deep down, we’d been very shallow.

“. . . in order to interface our core competencies with our first-mover advantage . . .”


In the mad scramble to the top of the heap, it is thus important that you know just the right thing to say if you want to avoid claw marks on your back and inflict them on others.  Thankfully, the friendly folks at MSN have compiled “12 Workplace Phrases You Probably Don’t Know . . . But Should,” so you can acquire a core competency in first-mover advantage while you bladda-bladda . . .

“Let’s all touch the screen on Bob’s laptop and leave greasy fingerprints!”


Wait a minute.  The first rule of business is–you don’t have time to read!  That’s what assistant vice presidents are for!  That’s why they put business books on tape, or edit them down to the length of a candy bar wrapper.

In the interest of saving your valuable time, I have distilled the top 12 workplace phrases currently in circulation down to the really top 4.  After all, you don’t want to be in the lower two-thirds of anything!

Let’s Not Boil the Monkey:  In order for a business phrase to achieve widespread usage, it is essential that it be both colorful and obscure.  Thus when Todd Breathmintsky from the Midwest regional office flies in to corporate headquarters to propose a consolidation of distribution centers to maximize supply-chain efficiencies (yawn), the only way to cut off his path to the promotion that is rightfully yours is to furrow your brow, purse your lips, put your fingers together in a little church-and-steeple and drop this stink bomb on him:  “That’s all well and good, Todd, but let’s not boil the monkey, okay?”

“Todd is such an idiot!”


What does it mean?  Who cares?  The all-knowing way in which you say it will cast doubt upon everything Todd has just said, and will ever say again in his miserable career.  In six months he’ll be sleeping under a bridge.

Who screwed the iguana?  A few years ago the phrase “screw the pooch” became popular, for reasons that remain obscure.  It meant “make a terrible mistake,” but this wasn’t always apparent from the context of the discussion, or the tone of the speaker’s voice.  As a result, those who didn’t “get it” would return to their offices and search for “screw the pooch” on their computers.  When they were directed to bestiality websites, the guys in the information technology department would report them to compliance, and security would usher them out of the building after giving them just enough time to remove family pictures from their desks.  Maybe that was the plan all along.

“Officer, I never met that pooch before in my life!”


A backlash resulted, and “screw the iguana” was eventually accepted as a conversational safe harbor because there are no pictures of anybody screwing an iguana on the internet–yet.  Even iguanas don’t like to screw iguanas.

Sparadigm.  Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” is a highly-readable work of philosophy, and for that reason alone we ought to cut him some slack.  But his term “paradigm shift” entered the business world and became an all-purpose chew toy, something to gnaw on when your jaws needed a workout.

As a result of overuse, there has been a paradigm shift away from “paradigm shift” towards “sparadigm,” which refers to a course of action that, while it may not be the best, is the only one your company can afford.

It’s not rocket surgery.  When sniveling, weak-kneed, limp-wristed eunuchs in the engineering department raise objections to your Five-Year Plan for Market Domination, saying it can’t be done without an investment of resources comparable to that which went into the Space Race, turn your most withering gaze upon them and say “It’s not rocket surgery, you nimmy-not!”

“No, really, it’s safe.  You go first!”


Like a sucker punch, this out-of-the-blue non sequitur will stun your critics, who will be left scratching their heads, while you torpedo their careers by whispering to the CEO “I think you’d better check those engineers for head lice–they seem to scratch a lot.”


Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

Ask the Worldly Traveler

Wondering whether your carry-on item will fit in the overhead compartment?  Concerned that the stewardess won’t reach your row with a complimentary bag of peanuts before the plane lands?  Ask the Worldly Traveler–she’s been everywhere!

“Now hop on one leg and make a noise like your favorite animal.”

Dear Worldly Traveler:

I am currently waiting to board my flight to Dubuque at Quad Cities International Airport and noticed that the pilot and one of the stewardesses were flirting as they got on the plane.  I am not comfortable entrusting myself and my collection of Beanie Babies to a “flight crew” that looks like they’re ready for a lap dance in the cockpit.  Isn’t there any regulation against this sort of thing?  I don’t care what these people do in their spare time, but I would prefer not to be consumed in a fireball of flames just because some hotshot air jockey can’t keep his pecker in his pocket.

Claude Schucter, Ottumwa Collectibles, Ottumwa, Iowa.

“Step out of line please–I need to inspect those things for, uh, contraband.”

Dear Mr. Schucter:

As a matter of fact our “Federal Aviation Administration” has strict rules about both fraternizing AND sororitizing among flight crew members:  all sexual acts and gestures of flirtation must cease at least twelve (12) hours before “wheels up” time.  Zip on over to the Quad City Airport Business Centre (free fax cover sheets!), print out my reply and show it to the two love birds.

“Well, sweetie, no cute 4-year-old girl has hijacked a plane yet, but better safe than sorry.”

Dear Worldly Traveler–

I have been supporting my fiancé, whom I will call “Chuck” because his name is Charles, while he undergoed (underwent?) the arduous training required to become a Transportation Safety Agency security screener.  Now that he has graduated and is about to become gainfully employed looking at the bodies of random females through X-ray machines, I have become concerned that he may be tempted to stray, leaving me with sky-high credit card bills for the on-line courses he took to learn how to operate the Professional High Sensitivity Hand Held Metal Detector Guard Security Wand with Vibration MD 3003B1 that TSA mandates.  I don’t want to be judgmental, but dammit–I’m trying to make this relationship work!  Is there a high rate of infidelity among TSA security scanners?


Wanda Evarts, Eau Claire, WI 54701

“C’mere, look–this guy’s hung like a Missouri mule!”

Dear Wanda–

Glad you asked!  Security scanners are under strict orders to look only for potential weapons of mass destruction such as nail clippers and NOT at women’s mammary glands or “lady parts” during routine inspections.  TSA employees are required to fill out Form TSA-1215 before pulling a female passenger out of line for a full cross-your-heart examination.

Here to serve you!  Also to feel you up.

Dear Ms. Worldly Traveler:

It has been my dream ever since I was a little girl to become an airline stewardess.  After graduating from high school (in the top 40% of my class, I might add), I applied to the “stew schools” of all the major airlines, and was rejected by all of them.  In most cases no reason was given, but the letter from Trans-Indiana Air let slip that they felt I was not attractive enough for the high-flying executives who use them for “short-hop” flights during sorghum harvest season.

Well, I “licked my wounds” and “sucked it up” and became a secretary in a personal injury law firm, which I recently took a vacation from to go see my sister Eunice in Paducah.  Ms. Worldly Traveler, there is absolutely no way I am less attractive than this one woman “Christine” who seemed to be the head cheerleader of the stewardesses on the TIA flight.  She looked like Celine Dion might if you drove her through a car wash in a convertible with the top down, then hit her with an ugly stick.

I am considering a discrimination lawsuit against the airline and wonder if you would be willing to be an expert witness.

Cheryl Lynn Norumbega, Evansville, Ill.

“This stuff will sell like hotcakes at my garage sale!”

Dear Cheryl Lynn–and my what a pretty name!

Unfortunately, I am forbidden by the terms of my syndication contract from accepting monetary payments from readers of my column, since this might impair the objectivity of the advice I give.  Why don’t you ask one of the guys or gals in your office to represent you “pro bono,” which is a Latin term that means “cheap.”

“Let’s see if we can get this baby up to 60!”

Hey there, Worldly Traveler lady–

Long-time reader, first-time writer.

I want your opinion on something.  I was running late to a plane the other day and the terminal was a mob scene, so I grabbed one of those little golf-carts they have for handicapped and the elderly.  Since I am 60 years old, I qualify as a “senior citizen” at the Framingham Multiplex 14, so I figured it was okay.  Also I sprained my ankle in high school basketball and it’s been giving me a lot of trouble lately.

Well, I’d no sooner fired that baby up than a guy starts yelling “hijacker” and the TSA is all over me like a frogman’s wet suit.  They read me the rights of some Mexican guy, which I found offensive.  I told them to save their “Miranda” warning for an illegal alien, and I don’t mean the kind from outer space.

Anyway, I’m looking at a 5-10 year min/max sentence for interfering with the lawful operations of an airport shuttle cart and am wondering: do you think I should accept the plea bargain the U.S. Attorney is offering me?  It’s 200 hours of community service removing chewing gum from the underside of airplane armrests.

Thanks in advance,

Lloyd Meehan, Shrewsbury, Mass.

Dear Lloyd–

Boy did you pick a bad time to “go ape(poop)”!  Airport shuttle hijackings are a growing problem, and unfortunately it is not limited to Middle Eastern men who can be racially profiled with relative ease.

I would take the deal you’ve been offered, learn your lesson and put this little incident behind you.  Next time follow the TSA’s guideline: Strive to arrive at the airport at least three hours before the pilot tells the stewardess he slept with the night before that of course he’ll stay in touch.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

Your Workplace Romance Advisor

The perils of romance in the workplace are so widely known they are summed up by figures of speech familiar to us all: Don’t dip your pen in the company ink, don’t get your meat where you get your bread, don’t put your hand on Lurleen Wingo’s honking big . . . wait, that’s not a metaphor.

Your Workplace Romance Advisor is here to help you navigate through the shoals and eddies of office romance, and make a safe landing on the dock of career success!


Dear Workplace Romance Advisor:

A few months back I discovered that my husband “Bill” (real name: “William”) was involved in an intense intra-office flirting relationship with a woman named “Marci” (her real name, and yes she dots the “i” with a little smiley-face).  This included numerous emails, cell phone calls and text messages.  I confronted “Bill” about it and he says you’re making too big a deal out of this, she’s a direct-report to me, we are just trying to increase shareholder value, yadda yadda yadda.  I said okay, but your “efforts” had better be reflected in your bonus check because I wanna re-do the kitchen.

Well, come December, “Bill” gets a check for $300 and a scenic calendar, whoop-de-do, so now I want to complain about Marci to the company president.  What do you think?

Eunice Wolff, Sepulveda, CA

Dear Eunice:

I think you are “barking up the wrong pant leg.”  The problem should be resolved by sending a memo to the Human Resources Department; make two copies for yourself, one for your alphabetical file and one for your “chron” (chronological) file.  Most presidents of big companies are too busy hitting on secretaries to handle complaints such as yours in an expeditious manner.

Dear Workplace Romance Advisor:

My wife works at RayCo Rod and Reel, over on South 65.  She used to date Lloyd Dollinger in high school–he was one-third tri-captain of the football team senior year–and now she has to work with him.  She says there is nothing going on between them, but Jim Ray Esdaile, a friend of mine, said he saw them talking in the light bulb aisle of the True Value Hardware Store while I was away last weekend at an all-night bass fishing tournament.

Workplace Romance Advisor person, I got a hold of the Employee Manual for RayCo and it says they have a strict policy against fraternization, with an anonymous “hot line” to report violations.  Do you think I should “drop a dime” on Mr. Football Hero, or wait until I catch them in the act?

Vernon Muller, Chillicothe, MO



Dear Vernon:

I think your problem is semantic, not romantic.  “Fraternization” refers to relations between males, just as “sororitization” refers to friendships between females.  Unless and until your wife has a sex change operation and becomes involved with Lloyd, you have no grounds for complaint.

Nipple-gripping:  A great team-building exercise!


Dear Workplace Romance Advisor:

My husband Earl has a boss who is really into “team-building,” and is always coming up with “extreme” activities such as whitewater rafting, rock climbing and karaoke to “foster group cohesion.”  Or so Earl says–I think he makes some of this stuff up just so he can spend time with Judith Ann Horning, who is the reigning Miss Divorced Rockingham County until next August, when a new one is chosen on the first day of the county fair.

I keep asking Earl how come I am not invited to any of these activities, and he says they are “employees only.”  Fine, I says, then I’m going out next time you have one, but when I pulled into the parking lot at the Highway 63 Bowl-a-Way the night of the company scavenger hunt, who did I see making out in the back seat of Earl’s car but Judith Ann Horning!  With Earl, I should add, just so you are clear about it.

Workplace Romance Advisor, I do not think it is fair that spouses are excluded from so many of this company’s special events.  Is there any kind of law that protects innocent victims such as myself?

Amy Conroy, Plaistow, New Hampshire


Dear Amy:

I wish I could say that relief is on the way, but big business interests have kept the Spouses of Employees Right-to-Know Act bottled up in our do-nothing Congress for the past eight years, thanks to high-powered Washington lobbyists who are thwarting the will of people such as yourself.  Until it passes you might try planting a concealed “global positioning” device in Earl’s car.  That way, he may be out of your sight, but if you need to find him and Judith Ann, you’ll know just where to look.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

Ask Mr. Taxidermist

Looking for a fun hobby that is also “profitable”?  If you love nature and toxic chemical fumes, taxidermy–the art and science of stuffing (dead) animals–may be just the thing!  Here are queries Mr. Taxidermist pulled at random from his mailbag this week.

In happier times.

Dear Mr. Taxidermist–

This won’t seem like a question that’s “up your alley” “right off the bat,” but here goes.  I have not had much success in love, as my last serious relationship ended when Don Denkinger blew that call at first base during game six of the 1985 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals.  I apparently did not get upset enough for my boyfriend, Luke Swingarth, who was totally beside himself, and wanted me to share in his grief.  This I could not do, as I don’t like sports except for water skiing and bowling.

Anyway, I recently met a nice man at work, and I could tell there was “something special” between us right away.  He is a real gentleman, holding the refrigerator door open for me in the employee lounge at Applied Widgetronix.  To get my lunch, I mean, not to go into the refrigerator.

Some have never recovered.

I have heard that the Chinese symbol for “opportunity” is the same one as for “problem,” and that is sort of my dilemma.  “Ron” is available because he’s a widower so that’s my opportunity, but his problem is that he still isn’t over his late wife Earleen.  He had her stuffed and mounted in a pose that is sort of like the resting mountain lion trophies you sometimes see in sporting good store windows, but instead she is reclining on the divan out on his screened-in porch.

Mr. Taxidermist, I have asked several of my girlfriends for their opinion, and they all agree “Ron’s” commemorative display is strange bordering on creepy.  How can I gently persuade him it is time to drop off “Earleen” in the “take-it-or-leave-it” section of our town dump so she can find a new home and I can move in.

Delores Finster, Between, Missouri

Sort of like this.

Dear Ms. Finster–

I don’t know what you hoped to accomplish writing a letter to a licensed taxidermist calling his profession “strange” and “creepy.”  Taxidermy is a wholesome indoor sport with some outdoor overtones that is undergoing a long-overdue revival, as young women muscle in on it the way they have with business, the professions, and sexual promiscuity.  Maybe if you got your nose out of the air and came “down-to-earth” with the rest of us ordinary Jacks and Jills you might find taxidermy a relaxing if smelly hobby you could share with Ron.

Well, you tried.

Dear Mr. Taxidermist–

My wife and I recently hosted our bridge club, which is pretty high-toned affair as there are an insurance agent, a Chevy-GMC dealer and a mortician who are members along with us.  Jim Vlesbick, who is a member of the “Million Dollar Sales” club for Modern Moosehead Property & Casualty, came into our den and started in criticizing my collection of mounted trophy animals, saying “I see your house is decorated in Early Cruelty to Animals.”

Mr. Taxidermist, I was under the impression that taxidermy was painless to animals, as they are dead when state-of-the-art preservation techniques are applied to them.  Is there an informational brochure you could send me that I could refer to so as to rebut anti-taxidermy sentiment?

Ray Onacheck, Ypsilanti, Michigan

“Oh, so you’re one of those Bigfoot ‘truthers’–huh?”

Dear Ray–

Thanks for asking!  The American Taxidermy Association has a wide variety of “propaganda” you can give to your skeptical friends, including “The Truth About Taxidermists,” “Preserving Your Furry Friends,” and for kids “Stuffed!” by Ricky the Dead Raccoon.

Legal says I have to add this disclaimer:  With the exception of lemmings, which are suicidal, most animals are unwilling participants in the hobby of taxidermy.

Dear Mr. Taxidermist:

I have a bone to pick with you.  I bought your Home Taxidermy Starter Kit and tried it out on a dead squirrel I found Saturday on Highway 70, just south of Aullville.  “Rocky” turned out okay for my first try, just a little lumpy around the middle, but I had hallucinations for the better part of the weekend, and cried out that I could see the face of God during my Sunday school class at our Lutheran Church, where ecstatic expression of religious fervor is strictly prohibited.

I was reported by Clara Smithy, mother of one of my students, and as they say butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.  Now I am on three months’ probation and my name is mud throughout the entire Missouri Synod.  I think you should have a warning about possible “psychedelic” experiences on the package, and am reporting you to the Federal Food and Drug Administration.

Noreen Welo, Higginsville MO

Dear Noreen–

Sorry, but the good old First Amendment gets us out of this one.  I didn’t tell you to go to church to exercise “freedom of religion” after using my proprietary mixture of secret ingredients to dry out “Rocky’s” skin.  These include alum, which you have probably used if you’ve ever soaked cucumbers to make pickles.

Still, in an effort to keep the plaintiffs’ lawyers off my back, I will offer you a merchandise credit on your purchase of “Home Taxidermy Pro,” a $14.95 value, which is recommended if you are to move on to larger animals such as weasels.

Just remember not to eat the leftover innards unless you marinade them in formaldehyde and cook on low for three days in your Crock-Pot.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

Sense About Scents!

Scientists tell us that scent is the strongest link to memory: who can forget French writer Marcel Proust and his little madeleines?  Of course you can’t forget it if you never read Proust, which you probably haven’t, in which case just think for a moment how your brother-in-law Gene smelled after a weekend crappie fishing at Lake Taneycomo.

“Olfactory rights” are a new battleground in public places, as people will grasp at anything these days to go out on disability.  Who’s going to referee all the fights over what smells are excessive and offensive?  Ms. Sense About Scents!

“I can smell that bitch halfway across the room!”


Dear Ms. Sense About Scents:

I work in a cubicle at Braverman Insurance next to a woman who I will refer to as “Cherie” in case she’s reading this.  She’s one of those “gals” who make up for shortcomings in the beauty department by using too much perfume to throw guys “off the scent” if you catch my drift.

Anyway, her perfume—I believe it is “Evening in Vegas”—is very powerful and makes me sneeze, which is slowing down my productivity processing claims.  What is the best way to handle this?  We don’t have an employee hot line for perfume disputes so I am asking you.

Marjorie Swifter, Normal, Illinois


“You smell like a freaking hippie craft shop!”


Dear Marjorie:

Many scent advice columns will encourage you to diplomatically broach the subject of excessive perfume with a politely-worded suggestion to your co-worker, but not me.  Neville Chamberlain tried appeasement with the Nazis and what did we get?  World War II if I remember my history correctly.

I would “drop a dime” on “Cherie” by sending an anonymous letter to her supervisor suggesting that he or she look into possible embezzlement by payments to fictitious vendors.  Everybody’s guilty of something, and once you have let slip the hounds of suspicion there’s no telling what they’ll find!

“How could I resist?  He showers with Brut Soap-on-a-Rope!”


Dear Ms. Sense About Scents:

Yesterday I came home early from work at Southwestern Freight Forwarding and the house seemed awfully quiet.  Usually Todd, my sixteen year-old son, can be heard playing video games or watching TV or doing anything to avoid starting his homework.  I went up to his room and—I don’t know what possessed me—I entered his room without knocking.

Well to my surprise I found him in bed with a beehive hairdo sticking out from under the covers.  “What are you doing?” I asked.  “Nuthin’,” he said—as usual–but my suspicions were aroused so I pulled back the comforter and there was LaVondra Dietrich, his algebra teacher, which in and of itself is a sad commentary on the state of education in America as this is a woman who was a cocktail waitress before she got her M.A.T. degree.

I tried to remain calm but I was heartbroken!  I have heard of teachers seducing their students but I never imagined it would happen under my own roof.

“Please, Mrs. Ursell,” LaVondra said.  “It’s not Todd’s fault—he was wearing that sexy Old Spice Body Wash that drives women crazy, I couldn’t help myself.”

I was considering whether to turn her in to the police for corrupting the morals of a minor when she said “If you don’t go to the authorities, I will give Todd an A- in my class, provided he gets at least a C+ on the final.”

Ms. Sense About Scents, I am torn.  I want to do the right thing by society, but Todd really needs to bring his GPA up if he is going to make it off the waiting list at Grain Valley Community College.

Sue Ellen Ursell, Osawatomie, Kansas

Todd couldn’t resist.


Dear Sue Ellen:

Sad to say, but there is now an “Old Spice exception”—sort of like the Miranda warning—to teacher-student sex prohibitions.  It doesn’t sound like LaVondra is the brightest crayon in the box, however, so I would take her up on her offer and run for luck.

Dear Ms. Sense About Scents:

I am trying to save up for a bass boat and so have been cutting back on luxuries such as deodorant.  My friend Darrell says you can use those little “scratch’n sniff” strips that come in magazines if you rub them real hard in your armpit.  Darrell works for the county spraying pesticide so I tend to trust him when it comes to chemistry.

Anyway, I gave it a try last night and this girl Marlene who I took out to the Sonic on South 65 was acting kind of cool towards me, and I don’t mean “hip.”  After a while I asked her if everything was okay and she looks at me and says “Are you bi-sexual, because I don’t swing both ways.”

I asked her what she was talking about, I’m a man’s man, and she said “Well you are wearing the signature scent of Rheba Holcomb, who is the fastest-rising star on the middle-of-the-road country charts.”  I had no idea it was a girl’s perfume.  I tore the thing out of People magazine at the dentist and didn’t think twice about it.

Well, after that the evening went from bad to worse.  I drove her home and when she got out of my car I said “I’ll see you” and she said “Not if I see you first.”

Ms. SAS, I’m afraid word will get around that I’m a “nancy-boy” which will not help my career or my social life.  I have applied to join the Loyal Order of the Moosehead and they are against “alternative” lifestyles, it’s in their by-laws.

Floyd Delmore, Killion City, Indiana


Umm–lemony fresh!


Dear Floyd:

As the Bible says, you reap what you sow.  Scratch ‘n sniff strips are clearly marked “NOT for use as a personal hygiene product” due to several unfortunate incidents in which they became entangled in the armpit hair of grown men, requiring outpatient surgery.  Next time your friend “Darrell” makes a deodorant recommendation you should tell him to stick to mosquito spray, a chemical that seems to have affected his brain.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”