Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween 2007

In this my 61st year on the planet, I notice how things have changed since I was a kid. I was raised on the West side of Chicago and we were apartment dwellers. We lived on the second floor of a three story walk up, totalling 4 floors including the garden apartment. Now you didn't want to occupy the garden apartment, that was set aside for the less fortunate, but as a kid I never understood why. My mother would walk with a friend as she pushed my brother in his stroller and point out the Jones, and then she'd whisper, "they live in our building, shh... in the garden apartment"! I just figured they had rats down there. Next door to the garden apartment was the basement that housed the coal bin. We were not allowed in the basement as the coal bin was much too dangerous to even go near. It had rats in it too!

So on Halloween, we'd all dress up in our costumes and go trick or treating in the buildings. We didn't have to wear coats because we never had to go outside. We'd go door to door in our building and collect all kinds of candy and treats. As we got older, we'd venture out to other buildings, where we'd remove our coats and throw them on a pile of coats that belonged to other kids that were already there, once again never suffering the outside elements.

It was a different time. We were safe. No one ever considered harming us. There was no such thing as stranger danger and everyone just was pleased as punch to enjoy the kid's costumes and give us either a candy bar or an apple or even money. Our parents didn't have to inspect our candy, it was always safe. Society seemed to have a different mentality.

Today you answer your door and there are the little darlings and about 10 steps behind them are the parents holding automatic weapons and assault rifles, prepared to blow you away at the first sign of aggression. When the kids get home, first the candy in put through an x-ray process, then a metal detector and finally the dog is given the first taste. After that the child is told to pick out his favorite 3 candy bars and the rest is eaten by the parents to avoid sugar overdoses in the kids. It's just not the same! I liked the old way better!

Hunting the Ferocious Gecko

This male dog of mine, is one of the few creatures on this man's Earth, that has won my heart. I would literally do anything for him, while Zoie remains a dog. Lately, he has slowed down a little bit and I've noticed that he hasn't been able to catch a lizard in months. He still gets all excited when I announce Lizard Hunt, every night about 10:30. He runs to the door reminding me of a racehorse waiting to come out of the chute. I tell him I want a nice clean hunt and turn on the light and open the door. Bogie trips, usually farts and goes around the corner at lightning speed, only to find that Zoie has been there for awhile and is already filing her nails and checking her watch. Did I mention that Bogie can't see so well? He looks at me and waits for prompts to find the elusive Geckos. If I see one, I point to it and chase it down the side of the house, where Bogie is waiting with an open mouth. In the old days, it really wasn't much of a chase. Bogie would catch it, throw it around the patio and when he was satisfied that it was dead, he'd go on. Most times I'd make sure the Gecko escaped, but occasionally Bogie would corner one and kill it. Bogie needed to bag one for his own self esteem, (yeah, he's got self esteem). Last night I was hoping he'd get one. Usually, I point out a few as Bogie watches them scurry to safety without even reacting. Last night, because there is a God, we went out there and here was this lonely, scrawny, just lost a fight with his mother, Gecko named Hector. Don't ask how I knew his name, okay? Some things you just know. I did the usual prompting and immediately notice that Hector had a gimp leg! This may be our boy!

I alerted Bogie to Hector's presence and even told Bogie that Hector has been going around the "hood", talking trash about Bogie. I was trying to get Bogie "fired up" a little. With a mighty roar, Bogie attacked..........but missed and Hector was limping his way to safety. I yelled, Bogie, over here, and he came running and attacked again. One of the defense mechanisms that the elusive Gecko has is separating itself from it's tail, and usually the predator chases the tail that is wiggling and jerking. Naturally, Bogie is really going to town with the tail. As Hector limped away, I signaled Bogie with a, pssst! Bogie ignored me and was going to be the victor of the tail attack. I casually put my foot over Hector and called Bogie, once again. "Look what I've got", caused Bogie to come running. This time Bogie attacked and killed his prey. Hector was dead! I went over and congratulated Bogie for the clean kill. You should have seen him. If he could beat on his chest, he would have! He pranced around picking up Hector's once alive body and throwing it at the ground, tail wagging like crazy. I could have sworn that Bogie asked for a beer and a cigarette... I know, I'm a Gecko murderer, so what? I justify it with selective culling!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Julie CAN'T Cook!

In a combined effort by both the Glendale Fire Department and Southwest Gas, Julie had her cooking privileges suspended until further notice. This is a serious problem, as it turns out. The events of last night were both shocking and restrictive. Here is what unfolded...

Dressed like a cat burglar, I carried my recent purchase of roses to my sweet Julie's abode. I'm not exactly sure why I can't just do things like other people, I just can't. After planning my evening down to bringing a flashlight along with me, to use in searching her backyard for contraband, I delivered my flowered offering to sweet Julie at her Glendale location.

I pulled up like the frustrated cat burglar that I was and tiptoed past her front door to the side street near the golf course and then took a right on foot, to the back exposure of her rear yard. Pawpaw was on duty and doing his job by barking and alerting everyone to my presence, but I was mistaken for another coyote that had just lost his way. After heaving the flowers over the rear wall of Julie's home, I quickly ran around front to ring the front door bell, something that I never do. Hey, I've got keys! Julie yelled, "come in" from her position on the sofa, where she was busily reading from her laptop. Her security system had been triggered and I actually thought it was my activating her motion detectors by tossing the flowers over the fence. I was wrong, Julie was researching how to turn off the carbon monoxide First Alert warning device that was screaming it's plastic head off, with a constant although intermittent beeping. In the oven was her passion, chicken Madeira!

Julie explained that her carbon monoxide device was somehow triggered by something and I could tell she was truly concerned about it. We together tackled the job of getting to the bottom of the problem, volleying for who would lead the project. After I studied with no result the annoying device, Julie pulled it off the wall and walked it to the kitchen. I suggested she call the authorities, but who would they be? This was clearly not a problem for 911, Julie called the non-emergency number for the Glendale Fire Department. The firefighter on duty suggested we change the battery, in spite of the fact that it was not indicated. We did that and the triple beep changed to an annoying occasional chirp every 60 seconds, better but not the solution. Frustration set in as Julie threatened to call Phil, her ex-husband as he would surely have the solution. As I felt my masculinity drift away, I let her know in no uncertain way that Phil was NOT the answer. I took over and called the fire department and gave the updated information to the firefighter that answered. He told me that a constant beep every 60 seconds in an indicator that the sensor in the device was defective and not to concern ourselves about it. I asked if they had a devices that could read the amount on carbon monoxide in the air and he told me no, that's the job of Southwest Gas. He then offered to transfer me. In other words, "it's not my job"!

Answering the phone at Southwest Gas was a pleasant young woman that I got along with well. She asked me for the address and the last name on the account. Foolishly I replied with the answer and Julie's last name, Harland. The young lady told me that the name on the account that they have is Morgan. I told her that he's gone and that I'm here with his wife. Julie punched me in the shoulder and I immediately reported the punch to Southwest Gas. She told me that she would have one of their technicians come out to give us a reading on the situation. I pulled out the battery and ate my chicken Madeira. Julie sat outside nursing her asthma attack and peace was restored as soon as that stupid device shut the hell up.

About 2 hours went by and after Julie examined the idea of she and her dog going to a hotel for the night, I suggested we just risk the night and spend it right here, waiting for the technician to arrive.

Enter Southwest Gas, a young man that was a recent victim of a shaved head. I always wonder if they had ring worm when I see that, but it's just a sign of my age. The technician went back to his truck and got his device that read the amount of carbon monoxide in the air. After going to the spot that once held the annoying plastic piece of crap, he announced he was truly getting a reading, leaving the firefighter with egg on his under reacting face. As he walked closer to the kitchen and the oven the readings rang out an alarm! We lit the oven and the reading skyrocketed into the danger zone. There was in fact a reason for First Alert to be alerting us!

As the technician got closer to the oven, Julie's face was whitening and when he asked if he could go inside the oven she turned a weird shade of pale. I didn't know what to expect! When the oven was opened it exposed a combination of foods in there while Julie listed off the reasons for it's existence. The caterers did it, the self-cleaning device is broken, the dog ate her homework and so on. Southwest Gas, in his infinite wisdom, explained how uncooked food works and how it creates carbon monoxide in the home. I liken it to barbecuing in the house without proper ventilation. I suggested he write her up and give her a stiff fine. Julie once again punched me in the shoulder! That's when the technician took out his ticket book, to my surprise and started writing her up. He was required to disconnect her stove from the gas line and give her a stiff reprimand, which he did. With her head down, Julie took the verbal beating. I knew the true punishment would be that she can't cook, her passion. The technician pointed out that they invented the microwave for people like her and took his leave. Jules, a beaten woman spent the rest of her evening with her head down in shame, with the ever present oven pulled out from the wall, as a reminder of what could have happened. Carbon monoxide poisoning is nothing to fool around with. I was just happy that the oven didn't contain the body parts of her ex-husband!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Breaking Out of the Dog House

Somehow, in a way that I won't elaborate on right now, I got myself into the dog house. I know it's hard to believe, but I did it. This particular friend that was the lady that declared me "into the dog house" is fond of flowers, go figure. I decided that as a gesture of good will, I would buy flowers for said friend.
I went to my special flower selling store, Fry's and purchased a dozen of their finest long stem roses, that my friend usually cuts the stems off of anyway. I chose a nice dozen and brought them to the cashier. Here is where things get complicated. My cashier, a gentleman in his mid to late fifties with gray hair and sideburns and that late fifty look of fatty tissue on his face, turned out to be a woman. I almost swallowed my gum when he/she asked me for my VIP card using a woman's voice. Being the type that takes things like this in stride, I casually answered yes, here it is. The cashier replied, "groovy". I now was even more shocked, as I hadn't heard that expression since 1980 and told her/him. He/she said he/she uses that word everyday and I told her/him how refreshing it was (it wasn't). I think we bonded, wink!
That brings us up to the current time of about 10 PM, when I received an email from my friend saying she was sorry about today and that she was watching, "Tell Me You Love Me" on HBO. Since that show was JUST over, I felt it was safe to call without awakening her. When I did she answered in a groggy sleepy voice, good morning! She really thought it was morning, as I usually give her a wake up call. I started apologizing again, stepping back into the forever present, dog house. I tried to explain that it was only 10 PM and it was the night before and I woke her up. I asked her if she would rather go back to sleep as opposed to talking to me and she said, goodnight. I hope there's a blanket in that dog house, it's supposed to cold tonight!
Having told that story, it reminds me of something that occurred in late 1966. I was about 20 years old and had just purchased a 1967 Chevelle Malibu convertible with the 396 motor. Man, that thing was fast. My friend Al Mitofsky had just bought a 1966 Olds 442 and we decided to drive our 2 cars to Florida, drag racing all of the way. After driving for about 18 hours, I was dead tired and talked Al into stopping to get a few winks. We rented a motel room somewhere along the Interstate. I crawled into my bed like I had just found an old friend and fell immediately asleep. We had set the alarm for about 5 hours of sleep as Al was very anxious to get back on the road.
When the alarm went off, I crawled out of bed and staggered to the shower, feeling hardly rested, but I knew I'd be fine after getting a cup of coffee. Al insisted on starting out early and stopping on the road somewhere to even get coffee. Since he had agreed to stop and spend the night, I agreed to waiting for the coffee, in spite of the fact that it was only 5 AM and still dark. When we entered some old coffee shop on the Interstate and sat down and ordered the coffees, I looked up at the clock and it read 1 AM, only one hour since we checked into the Motel. with my mouth agape, I looked at Al who was already out the door and into his car, laughing his head off! You know I never trusted Al again!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

15th Anniversary

On October 9, 1992, Brad and I and a lady named Patti, along with 2 of her kids, moved into this location in North Scottsdale. It was my dream house. It was right at twice the size of my last house with a sprawling 3500 sq. feet. Patti, who was my then girlfriend didn't make the cut and was thoughtful enough to move out on Christmas Eve that same year, but that would be another entire story. The house was brand new and still had the builder's people coming around on a regular basis to finish up little items that still needed completing. One day a crew showed up as I was leaving and I didn't even ask why they were here. When I returned home I'd seen they painted the entire house in error. I was lot 20 in Paradise Park and they were supposed to paint the house at lot 20 at Diamond Point, oh well! Workers would ring the bell and walk in to replace all of the shower heads, one time they came in, asked to use the bathroom and left with the toilet. I had this big sprawling house with no window coverings or pool or tile on the floors. I needed to buy everything including enough furniture to make it look lived in.

Brad was a big help to me then. He had the knack that it took to choose these things.
Actually, I was a big help to him by supplying the checkbook. We'd go to a furniture store and Brad would pick out some stuff and I'd just pay for it and negotiate the price a little. I remember establishing a fake name of Chaparral Homes to avoid the sales tax, it worked! There was a place called J & K Furniture that we'd visit frequently. They carried used things and a lot of new things at great prices. I'd go there every week. The first item was our dining room set. It was used when we bought it and that was a good thing, because WE sure as hell didn't use it. After a full 15 years, I think we may have used it twice.

Eventually we picked out window coverings, carpeting, a pool and landscaping, as well as lots and lots of furniture. People tended to come and go often. Brad moved out to live at ASU right around the time I got married. Teresa, my step-daughter moved out with some guy and it was just my new wife and I for several years, then one day she was gone too. There was a lady named Janie that lived here for about a year, another long story that won't be told now.

The Crowned Prince

What level of maturity does one have achieve before he can arbitrarily search out and secure a dentist? As a child I recall hiding on Saturday mornings when I was supposed to be going to the dentist. I'd literally miss half of my appointments that way and the fact that my father overslept on Saturdays! Now I find myself in need of replacing my former dentist, Frank. Frank was an asshole. His dental work was okay, his personality sucked though. When my wife left me, Frank took great pleasure in joking about it. I was certain that I had made several payments on Franks big boat that he mentioned to me often. The feather that broke the camel's back was, when I needed to get a tooth worked on immediately after breaking a tooth that was cutting my cheek every time I bit down and Frank charged me an extra $200 to come in on a Friday, a day that he liked to take off. When I mentioned it to him years later, he told me that I was the idiot that accepted it and paid it! That was the last time I saw Frank. Oh, here's another thing Frank did to piss me off. He'd ask me if I'd prefer to see the dental hygienist or him for my teeth cleaning? I explained that either were okay. He said if he sees me, then I have to pay for an exam too. I chose the dental hygienist, a cute 22 year old girl. When she was finished, Frank came in and asked if everything was okay and then when I checked out, there was a charge for an exam as he had looked into my mouth.

So here I am 2 weeks in to a broken crown, one that paid for Frank's boat, I'm sure. I can't seem to get myself to look for a dentist. Julie tells me that she found one in Wickenburg where her daughter goes, but that's an awfully long drive to get my teeth worked on. Anyone have a suggestion? Did you know when you brake a crown, all that's left is a stump where food hides out? It's a full time job just keeping it clean!

I spoke with Jules this morning and she tells me the factory called and they need plastics for Monday. This is her way of telling me that she's working Sunday, her day off. Since she's been taking Sundays off, she's only really had 2 days where we she was really off. The rest she either worked through or were cancelled because of poor weather.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Oh, Those Little Italian Barbers

It's been about 6 weeks since my last haircut and certain people have mentioned that I'm starting to look a little shaggy, so I figured I've got time today, why not get a haircut? I was almost exuberant going to my new barber shop. The fact that I didn't have to call and make an appointment and drive all of the way to Ernie pleased me. I drove the 3/4 mile to my new barber shop and was actually looking forward to seeing my little Italian barbers. I don't think the guy that cut my hair last time was over 5' 4". I entered and was immediately seated and I think my little barber remembered me too. He asked me what I was there for and I WAS going to reply a Suzie Parker Page Boy, but decided to play it straight for once. Before I could even answer, he asked if I wanted to just clean it up. That sounded good to me. Yes, I'll take a clean up, I replied. Do I want any off the top, he asked? I became suspect of this question, why, weren't other men taking anything off the top? I wanted stuff off the top too and hoped he wouldn't charge me extra..

This is around the time that it started happening. He put an electric clipper in my ear and I could barely hear him, but I thought he asked me if I had any family in CA? I screamed, no. He said they are having an awful time there with the fires, I screamed, yes! He asked me if I knew it was all from arsonists, I screamed, yes! Then he went ahead and told me his theory on the arsonists being hired by Al Quida and this is all a plot of Osama Bin Ladens and this is a direct result of the breakdown of the American family and that Hollywood is the reason for all of the unrest in this country. He was better off never leaving Sicilli and President Bush should be impeached! (I threw the thing about Bush in myself).

By the time I left, I was drained from trying to hear him over the electric tools he used and staying on his better side. I learned long ago, "NEVER DISAGREE WITH A BARBER THAT IS CUTTING YOUR HAIR AND CERTAINLY DON'T PISS HIM OFF"... That should be written in stone somewhere!

I guess next month I'll be calling Ernie, making an appointment and begging his forgiveness....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Dating Guy

Who ever dreamed that at the age of 61 I'd be single and looking for a life mate. Certainly not me, yet here I am lost in a world of doubts and uncertainty. When my previous wife came home one day and informed me of her plans to move and I wasn't invited to go along, I stood there like a fool with my mouth agape and my heart ripped open. I recall waving to the moving van as it pulled away, as if she were going on a trip and would be returning soon, but that never happened. My first reaction was depression, but that soon gave way to online dating and the excitement of meeting new and different people.

My first experience was with a woman named Beverly. She was a lovely, youthful lady that was pictured at a mere 40 years old. I wrote to her and called to her and went to her, all within a few days. If only the girl in the photo had been available, I would have been happy. Instead it was her mother a woman of about 55 or older. It seems that Beverly used an older picture of her once youthful self to do a selling job on her perspective suitors. She answered the door wearing nothing but a towel and acted coyly, as if I were being treated to a seldom seen show. What she didn't realize was, to me it was a horror show!

We went out for a drink and Beverly announced to the world that we had met on a dating service as I slowly sunk into my seat trying to hide. When the clock hit 9, I announced that I'd had a wonderful time and headed for the door to leave with Beverly trailing behind saying that she hadn't finished her drink.. My pace was "keep up or get left behind", she kept up. I left Beverly's apartment shaking my weary head, trying to figure out a plan to prevent that from ever happening again. The good news is, it only happened 50 or 60 more times, the bad news is, there was no end in sight.

I could literally write a book about all of my failed dates. Don't misunderstand, there were some women that liked fine, they just seemed to hate me! Ages ranged from 35 to 65 and that didn't seem to make any difference. The one thing that most had in common were the lies. They lied about everything from their ages to their marital status, from the number of times they'd been married, to the work that they did for a living.

Enter Julie. Julie was entertaining, youthful, enterprising, fresh and delightful. She could hold a conversation, told the truth and kept me interested in her the entire time that I was with her. Julie was the perfect height, the ideal weight and was as polite as a schoolgirl asking for a bathroom pass. I was hooked the moment that we met. I knew she was the one for me, whatever that means?

We met at a restaurant that she had been wanting to go to for some time, but it was so busy that we had to leave and go to another place that was able to seat us in a reasonable amount of time. I recall driving her across town and stealing chances to look at her under the street lights as we'd pass. Whenever I was looking at her, she was looking back at me. We enjoyed our first date and have pretty much been together ever since. Last night I asked her to not marry me and she said yes, she wouldn't! I think we'll be happy together.. The one thing that I've learned after all of these years, is that marriage may NOT be the answer. Julie agrees!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dinner with Friends

Saturday night we were delightfully surprised by the Van Dusens. We arrived at their Glendale home at about 7:30 and were immediately welcomed in by Darryl. I'd not seen their home and was pleasantly surprised to see it was spacious and well decorated. Three lovely children welcomed Julie and I as we were ushered inside. The house was immaculate and showed a loving touch. We could smell the aromas cooking as we entered and were quickly offered stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer. Wine flowed freely, probably too freely as it turned out.

After a nice dinner we were escorted to the recreation room/living room for a friendly game of billiards where Julie and I kicked their asses in pool, but eventually just let them win as they were starting to complain too audibly. This is where the plot thickens......

After climbing into my car, Julie said to me that she was feeling a little woozy from the bottomless glass of wine that Darryl kept refilling. Then she started speaking in tongue and I just drove to my house in a kidnapping sort of motion. Several times she looked up and asked where she was and I naturally replied, "on the way home". (my home) Her pup was taken care of and I knew if we were going to spend any time alone, I needed to at least let my dogs out for the evening. As soon as we got to my house, Julie greeted the dogs and climbed the stairs to go to sleep with no further adeau. By the time I got upstairs, she was in bed and sleeping soundly, only to arise to ask for the 15th time, is Paws okay? I knew he was in for the night and let her sleep. We awoke at about 5 AM to Julie mentioning something about a dagger in her right eye, or a hangover or something. I got her some aspirin and we went back to sleep for about 2 more hours, when she jumped up and exclaimed, "I've GOT to get home"!!! She begged me for a car and even threatened to take a green cab home, but I calmed her down explaining that all was okay and I'd drive her after a cup of coffee. That's when she invited Zoie into the bed and everything went up for grabs. Zoie loves to cuddle. As the pot of coffee brewed, Julie asked 25 more times for me to drive her home. I poured a cup of coffee, brushed my teeth and dragged my bedhead to the Glendale location where evidently the wind had blown a lot worse than in Scottsdale. When we arrived there, there was debris in her driveway and her umbrella had uprooted itself and was ripped shreds in her pool. When we entered Paws was still asleep, but wasted no time in telling us how disappointed he was with us while pointing to his watch and tapping his foot. We were officially scolded.

That's when Jules announced that she was going back to bed and I joined her for 2 more hours. When we got up, she made me a hearty breakfast and begged me to leave. (The girl loves me)! I was ready for a nap by now and went home and slept for 2 more hours on the couch. I awakened and dozed away the rest of the day and watched TV all night, while speaking with Julie often as she nursed what she called a migraine, but I call a hangover. After a good night call, Julie is safely in her bed and looking forward to a day without a headache. God bless the Van Dusens!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Beginning of Something, but What?

For some time now, someone in my life has been telling me that I should have a blog. SO BE IT!

From this point on, instead of sending out emails to a select group of people, I'll just post to my blog and if the recipient wants to come here and read this stuff, well fine.

The thing that is most on my mind tonight is the dream that I had reoccur last night for several hours. I dreamed that I had sold the Volvo that I bought yesterday to a charming young family and today that dream came true.

At about 5 PM, my cell phone played a song indicating a call was coming in. I still can't get used to phones playing music instead of ringing, but I digress. It was a gentleman with an accent of sorts, calling about my advertised Volvo. Now I had just placed that ad yesterday and I had no idea it was already online. He certainly got my attention when he said he was calling about that car. He seemed anxious, as only a true buyer is, and asked if he could come right over to see it, as soon as his wife got off work. He was coming from Tempe and we joked about him bringing snacks for the long rush hour ride.

Shortly after 6, my cell phone indicated that I had a voicemail and it was his wife calling to say they were close. As I deleted the message they pulled up in front of the house alerting the dogs to their presence. I opened the garage and greeted them. A couple in their mid thirties and 2 small children (just like the people in my dream). As they approached I tried to decipher the accent that the gentleman had, but I had no luck. I introduced myself to the couple and asked them of their need for an automobile. Because there were 2 children, the parents went on 2 separate test drives, me going along on both of them. Two complete strangers came over and took me for 2 separate rides. I was kind of enjoying it. As we completed the second test drive, it was time to get serious and discuss the possibility of them taking the Volvo home with them as their new family member. I thought of taking the Volvo aside and asking it if it approved of the people, but I thought that might be stretching it a bit. I had already decided that the people were plenty worthy, now it was just a matter of funds. That's when the man told me that he wanted to make me an offer. I told him fine, as long as it's a GOOD offer. He assured me it was, but it wasn't! He offered me $4300 for a car that was clearly flawless and I was asking $5000 for. I used the Larry David look on him. I stared at real closely as if I were trying to look into his brain. It worked. He asked me what I was looking at. I told him I was looking into his soul to see if there was any more money in there. Then I told him that I got my answer and the answer was $4700! I told him that $4700 is the price I now have to have for the wagon and he can either accept that or look elsewhere. He told me that he needed to ask his wife. I had a feeling she was the brains of the outfit to begin with. After a 5 minutes discussion he came back to me saying they were going to get it. I congratulated them as he sent his wife off to the ATM for a few more dollars.. That's when I went over to the Volvo to tell her that the nice people wanted to adopt her. She was thrilled, she was going to a family with kids. I knew she'd be happy. This was a WIN, WIN, WIN situation. The Volvo went to a good home with children, the people got a great car and family member and I got a little extra money. My favorite kind of a story, everyones happy!