The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Poem: Just another

Just another
tell myself every time.
Only a couple familiar Hebrew prayers
are somewhat faintly comforting.
Shivas are real disturbing
with their covered mirrors,
louds voices
over plates of food
and crashing dishes.

And on the other side
for my Italian relatives
& world beyond;
the many wakes.
But usually
they're these perfect strangers to me;
going only to show respect.

So I was surprised
to see how much this man I never met -
Looked like his brother
my Italian grandfather,
I never really knew.
Too young
for that funeral back in '75.

Just another.
Mom throws her pocket book down,
almost missing me.
And my Nonnie says, "Ouf! What's she got in there?"

Sitting quietly,
hope I won't have to say too much.
'Cause what can you really say?

Outside mostly men smoke Marlboros
from the hard boxes,
and drink coffee from Dunkin' Donuts.
Corrine then Lorraine (my cousins)
reassure me with their knowing looks
as we walk the steps out.

30 June 1997, Winthrop, Mass.

Copyright ©1997 Dena Barisano

Fiction: Breakthrus

Couldn't think of anything to name their band, so they were driving him crazy. Maybe they could've found the answer in some poem, or a passage from A Separate Peace—But no, nothing inspired them. The twins were always bothering him like that, way back in the dark closet part of his mind. Only really like themselves, they arrived shortly after his tenth birthday. His room moved downstairs into Dad's old den, and the cribs took over.

Came home from school to them standing up in their playpen. Clinging to white, net walls smiling at him. Later mesmerized, watching "Sesame Street." If he talked about dissecting frogs in bio lab, they started screaming. Thinking he meant Kermit or something.

Fifteen years later somehow became musicians, virtual sound artists, then founders of a nouveau punk band. Brought on by his old college roommate, teaching them some chords. Their music spread all over the house, like the dishwasher overflowing again.

Warm water up to his ankles, Mom yelling, and the two up in their fortress jamming away. One on drums, the other with guitar. Left him speechless now. Walking upstairs thinking they were really starting to sound pretty decent.

Ten years before, he was sneaking into see shows at this club called the Channel down by Fort Point. They keep pleading, but he still wouldn't take them along to see bands. Always left the two behind. Big disappointment for the twins, especially when it was a band they really liked.

His high school music efforts stretched into college, but eventually just faded away.

Those past connections often startle him like running into Adele at Osco Drug; there she was in a short, short mini skirt. Hands shoved way down in the front of a leather, motorcycle jacket, and legs bare down to the ankle boots. A black bag swung low around, hitting her butt.

Guess she'd never known he was alive. During one high school summer while stocking Osco's shelves, Adele drifted in with the football player boyfriend to buy condoms. With long, stiff-sprayed hair and too much makeup on, carrying a pinwheel. They bought the kind wrapped up like little, gold coins.

No longer a cheerleader stereotype Adele did this total 360, singing lead for one of Boston's most beloved power-pop bands. Spinning around she took off her sunglasses. Two pigtails, similar to what she wore back in Mrs. Flaherty's first grade class. Tampons, PC World, and assorted other items in her blue plastic basket. "We just got back. From touring I mean." Adele tipped her head, "You know we're on this label now. Finally getting some radio play too. Still really blows my mind!" Just noticing how her voice had changed from being so high and screechy. Then she said, "Tonight's kind of a homecoming for us." Doesn't say a word back to her. But she smiled again anyway, then in this swirly motion replaced the sunglasses, "You should like—Stop by."

Could tell the twins really wanted to go. On a break from band practice, parking themselves in front of the TV, and at his not answering them; they shrug in unison. Both look so alike, it really bothers him. Most annoying though, is they're having his same eyes, giving their relation all away. Haven't even had their first ratty pay checks yet, like his at Osco. Actually wondering if the perfectly-messy, brown hair mops, or striped tee shirts set them apart? Self-proclaimed jail birds of their generation, and he's thinking they're too young to know any better. One won't take off the leather string necklace his girlfriend gave him, and he hasn't even fucked her yet. Some girl who was on their flowered sofa smelling of bubble gum, and reading a copy of The History of Rock and Roll. She lapsed into giggles at the one twin running over; cradling cans of Dr. Pepper and a bag of chips. Quietly left the room, hearing only sucking sounds behind him.

Looking up now the twins ask him, yet again, "You got any ideas for our name?"

Turns away picking up his keys to leave. "How about 'The Young Ones'?" Dim memories back to when he was fifteen, up late doing homework on Sunday nights, watching the offbeat Brit comedy on MTV. Peripherally he sees them shrugging again.

On Saturdays he drives around to yard sales and flea markets looking for old furniture to tear apart. Materials for his own designs. The older and stronger, usually the better. Sometimes one or both of his siblings will come along. Practically in stereo they demand, "How was their set?"

Nights later the twins meet Adele at this "all ages" show. They wait for her to leave, to give her this little tape they've made themselves. Doesn't even know they're his brothers. Kisses the two thinking they're so cute and psyched. She offers to buy them sodas at a cyber cafe across the street, and the twins show her how to cruise the World Wide Web. And afterwards they wave to the newsstand guy, before catching the last commuter train home.

Downstairs in the cellar he's trying to focus, working on his furniture sculptures. Pieces he carves from the scavenges. Everyday his thoughts and actions creating them, draining every bit of energy. Didn't think it was enough of a rush until he felt the sweat trickles down his back.

Whooping shouts upstairs, and he stops hammering. In the kitchen they celebrate their first break with peanut butter and fluff sandwiches. Mom makes them promise not to play gigs on Sundays or school nights.

Now he gets stuck driving them back and forth to shows. This place's still a dive complete with the semi-surreal scene near the pool table; bothering him because he can't remember the old name. Adele wanders over. She kisses him real quick. Feels brave, already buzzed from drinking a pint of Bass ale at an Irish pub down the street. Her voice has this purposely low and sexy tone, "I love your goatee. It's so Gen X."

"But there's no such thing." Falters at her stare back. "I mean isn't it a whole marketing thing? You know getting us to buy expensive cars, new soft drinks or clear beer."

"Whoa—" His eyes follow her white arm pointing now. They really look like any other band hitting the stage. Lots of energy. Jumping up and down, pretty loud their sound drowning out the place. In front kids start to sway then dive. One after each other. Crowd becoming this moving sculpture of its own to each tune. The twins smile on stage, in their professional, performing mode. The two more in synch with each other, than the rest of the guys but it doesn't seem to matter. Large, green, marker-drawn X's on their hands; denoting them as minors and banning them from drinking. Ever alert and punchy, they work the audience kicking ass, having fun.

Afterwards the band pounces over, and Adele shouts out, "Alex! Eddie!"

"Hey thanks!" Talking so fast their words blend together, "For giving our tape to the manager." She hugs them quick and hi-fives the rest of the guys. They're pretty happy about the first pay check, "Yeah we got enough money now like for a pizza and some sodas."

"Cool." Adele smiles with sincerity, signaling a bunch of people across the room. Tonight she seems beyond friendly. Keeps talking to the kids about their set, and introducing them around, "Hey c'mere you've got to meet these guys!" Whenever he catches her eye, she gazes right back at him.

Kind of nervous but then remembers, "Guess I have to take them back."

The twins run to pack up their equipment. "They're really going someplace," she comments. "Yeah 'cause they're already so grounded." A fuzzy, pink-lace bra strap falls down. Adele doesn't seem to notice though. "Hey—Can I keep you company?"

"Sure." He looks down, "And I'll drive you back." Later en route to the suburbs he tries to get a word in, "Do you guys want to stop for a pizza?" No one answers him though. The twins keep Adele busy, firing off questions about her band's new CD.

At home they smile climbing out, and she calls after them leaning out of the minivan, "You guys're the coolest!"

Walking up the driveway the two wave back. "Thanks again! See ya 'round." He stumbles replacing the key in the ignition. Adele sits back against the seat now, hands adjusting her pigtails.

This apartment reminds him of a college girlfriend. Lots of scarves draped over lamps. Clothes and books everywhere. A large Nagel poster framed on the wall. Forgets to tell her it's one of his favorites.

Later he sees the clock, and hears her breathing. Really short, quick breaths in sleep.

Careful sliding out from under the sheets not to wake her. Back at his house, the twins glare in plaid pouring cranberry juice. Mom never dressed them alike, but she went through a phase when he was little. There were lots of blue, velvet suits with frilly shirts for special occasions.

They greet him with a chorus of, "Hey wha d'cha think?"

Somehow his head doesn't stop for a second. "What?" They cease talking together. Reaches for the bottle of aspirin, which's empty. He thought doing Adele would make it all better, but now everything's worse. Feeling older than ever seeing them so pumped. His hands start to shake.

Only one continues, "You know—Our set last night?"

Not answering; keeps searching the cabinets to find anything for this hangover. The other twin plays with his leather necklace a little, "We like want your opinion."

"Yeah," his mirror image agrees. "You know because you're like our brother and everything."

"I didn't think—" Finds some Tylenol in another drawer, but it never works for his headaches. Over his shoulder sighs back, "I didn't think anything." Pushes some tablets down, and one twin hands him a glass of juice. "Not yet."

Automatically the two shrug at each other. "Hey," their voices rise together. "That's it!" Starts to laugh swallowing the rest of the juice. Ruby droplet spray all over his tee shirt.

And the twins, they are still smiling.

Copyright ©1995 Dena Barisano

Fiction: Bittersweet

He drives his battered '82 Renault up the newly smoothed dirt and gravel road and over the crest of the hill. The Ausauble Club lodge appears before him suddenly, massively. A giant old lodge for the rich and their exploits here in the heart of the Adiron-dacks for over a century, its whitewashed planks and forest green shutters seem to go on forever; a full six stories high in a land where height is not only horrendously expensive but also horrendously useless-and nearly two city blocks long (and over one block deep), the AC lodge seems as proper here as an ocean liner in the middle of the Sahara. Over that hill, it fills his vision and blocks out all else, even the mountains around it, the biggest mountains in this state.

He parks in a place where no one but members can park. No valets chase him away, but he knows others will notice his jalopy and hunt down the owner. Won't take long to spot the owner of such a wreck in this place, either. No matter. He needs only a few minutes to see if employment will be found at this place; after that, he'll be gone and there will be no need to threaten him to move his "car" from the parking circle.

Inside—huge, awesome, super-sturdy construction (truly "built to last"), very rich and catering to the rich, etc.

He gets the job as a trail ranger and activities supervisor. Room and board are provided, one day off per week, plus $500 a week salary-but even though hours of duty are "posted," any day scheduled for work must be kept free for 24 hours. All duty is to the patron, and all whims are expected to be catered fully. If the request is sufficiently difficult, pass word to supervisor for advice on proceedings. "This is a playground for the rich, and the outside world laws and ways do not apply here."

Because it is early April, no patrons are here yet-the resort is opening up and preparing for the first visits. Trails must be cleared, all equipment and materials tested and repaired or replaced, activities planned, routines perfected, new employees indoctrinated and prepped to the level expected by AC patrons. He spends two weeks in intensive training with his manager. In that time, he meets all other workers but befriends no one, as he keeps to himself and rarely speaks more than is absolutely necessary. He is not unfriendly, but he is not extroverted and does not seek company if he can be alone instead. Rumors fly, yet here at the AC questions are not asked twice, so if no answer do not come no one will press for them. "Discreet is the Law."

He spends his free days on the trails, his free nights among the stars and the spirits of the life around him. Nearly a part of the land itself, his thoughts are his own and he does not share them even with Nature, his only obvious "friend."

Off the trail one day, just before the lodge is to open, a trio of workers around his own age gather to play golf and invite him to join them. Tired yet gracious, he accepts. They try to draw conversation from him but he gently shunts them inside, instead listening to them while they play. He plays the game with ease and form that rival the best they've ever seen, yet he does not seem to be even thinking about the game beyond where he is standing on the grass. At the tee, on the green, driving or putting, avoiding traps and roughs, he is an expert among them, they who are quite good amateurs and two of whom who are instructors here at AC. He is gracious and does not flaunt his skill and answers all direct questions and is not really rude in either words or tone; however, they wonder even more about him and his background...

AC opens. Opening week goes well and he fits in nicely, receiving excellent tips and praise from his clients. Asked to join in a game of baccarat, he plays at the level of the much-experienced clientele from the opening hand-and although he never quite manages to win, after he leaves the best player in the group comments that, "That boy is the best player I've ever seen. He let us win, but he was so slick about it I almost didn't catch it except for one tiny slip-up three hands ago." Word of this spreads to other employees.

On one day off he takes out a horse and ends up rescuing a young teenage boy who couldn't quite control his own horse. He goes back out after the rescue, refusing any special thanks for his work, and disappears into the hills. Returning late in the day, he takes the horse back near the main entrance to the AC lodge, and past the tennis courts he sees a quartet of women playing doubles tennis. They are playing with one younger and one older woman on each side-mother-daughter versus mother-daughter. The game is playful and obviously in fun, in good-natured competition. Giving them only a passing glance, he admires the curve of the younger bodies (although the older women are quite attractive as well) but knows his place too well to stop.

He is noticed, however, and is recognized as the savior from earlier that day. The younger women bound to the fence and call to him, asking him if he is indeed the one who saved that boy. He is, he admits. One young woman says the boy was her younger brother, and she is grateful that the man on the horse was there to help. Forced to be sociable, he is pleasant without saying more than he must. However, he is struck by her exceptional features—often the rich are beautiful because they can afford the best, including bloodlines, but this one is a gem. He finds he cannot turn himself away, even using the horse as an excuse, and her game is delayed while she engages him in small talk.

Brashly, she invites him to dine with her tonight. Although such socializing is not condoned by the AC management, it is not forbidden either, since the first rule is to cater to the patron. He accepts; fortunately he has time to return the horse and clean himself up, borrowing a suit from the AC wardrobe (kept for occasions such as this, or some other event where employees might need to be dressed well but outside of AC uniform). The dinner goes well, very well, and he finds himself out on the front porch of the lodge late that night, pointing out and naming stars for her. They end the night without any explicit romance, but both know that their relationship will henceforth be unusual. She recognizes the spark in him that rich young men lack, and he enjoys the company of one so naturally beautiful and vibrant-like the Nature he surrounds himself with so often, so easily, so casually, so...desperately.

The summer passes quickly, and she convinces her family to let her spend her time here, with only short trips home or to other countries for previous obligations. As August ends, and the leaves begin to turn in the High Peaks, she must return to college and leave the AC lodge. Perhaps she will return when she gets a few days' vacation time? Will he be here?

Maybe. His life is not so set as hers, he follows no structure she would understand, and he makes no promises. He has enjoyed this time with her, acting as a personal guide in all her adven-tures. Certainly the summer was made infinitely better by her friendship. He might even call this time the best of his life so far.

Pushing the edge, she bluntly asks him why he has never told her whether he loves her. She has told him how she fell for him in just a few days, yet he has never told her if he cares for her. They have been intimate countless times, without limit, yet she can never tell what he is really thinking about her.

He understands her, and while he should speak carefully there is no time for him to do anything but speak directly now. He is a hired hand for her, he is her summer plaything, and their worlds are so fundamentally different that it would do no good for him to love her. He would pine for her the rest of his life; "to love something so perfect would forever ruin my future, it would taint my experiences forevermore." To protect himself, he cannot love her. She will hurt a while, then find someone more like what she wants for her future, for the future she has been bred and raised to face, and she will forget him as a youthful fancy. No, no matter how much he has enjoyed her company he cannot love her; he can only appreciate his time with her and be grateful for that time.

Although she is crushed by this, and horrified by his callousness, in time she will recognize his wisdom. They will part on hard, painful words but she will not malign him to his supervisors. Instead, her family will give him golden references and note his skill at countless other activities and spheres of knowledge—none of which was mentioned in his job title.

When the lodge closes in late October, to re-open in early December as a winter resort, he takes his old Renault out of storage and takes one last look at the AC lodge that held so much for him. Surrounded by-and covered in-fallen leaves of a rainbow's colors, and backlit by the golden hazy sunlight of late fall, with a light mist slipping from the grass into the pine—rich air, the lodge has not changed one bit in appearance. He knows many things have happened there this year but it is all just another addition to the psychic history of this place. So many bittersweet memories there, though, of the girl he secretly loved-the past still haunts him in the winds and the skies, and so he steps into his battered old car. The Ausauble Club disappears into the hills behind the Renault as it backs down the road to the town of Saint Huberts and down old Route 9, heading for another place, far away, never to return.

Decades will pass before she returns, now a mother herself of two children, and when she looks upon the lodge she will remember him...the golf greens, the stables, the lodge porch, the mountain trails and the smell of dark rich dirt and roots and pine and a dozen types of fern she can still name...and the tennis court where she first met him. It all comes back—but as her children call her back from the haze of memories, she shrugs it away and works to make new memories of this place, replacing the old and taking the bitter taste from her mind.

Over it all, the lodge stands, unchanged, unchanging.

Copyright ©1997 Sean Pearson

List: More Puns

  • A three-legged dog walks into a saloon in the Old West. He sidles up to the bar and announces: "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw."
  • A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why?" they asked, as they moved off. "Because," he said, "I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."
  • A woman gives birth to identical twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named Amal. The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him Juan. Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his mom. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Amal. Her husband responds, "But they're identical twins; if you've seen Juan, you've seen Amal."
  • This guy goes into a restaurant for a Christmas breakfast while in his home town for the holidays. After looking over the menu he says, "I'll just have the eggs Benedict." His order comes a while later and it's served on a big, shiny hubcap. He asks the waiter, "What's with the hubcap?" The waiter sings, "O, there's no plate like chrome for the hollandaise!"
  • When she told me I was average, she was just being mean.
  • A doctor made it his regular habit to stop at a bar for a hazelnut daiquiri on his way home. The bartender knew of his habit, and would always have the drink waiting at precisely 5:03 p.m. One afternoon, as the end of the work day approached, the bartender was dismayed to find that he was out of hazelnut extract. Thinking quickly, he threw together a daiquiri made with hickory nut extract and set it on the bar. The doctor came in, took one sip of the drink, and exclaimed, "This isn't a hazelnut daiquiri!" "No, I'm sorry," replied the bartender, "it's a hickory daiquiri, doc."
  • A hungry lion was roaming through the jungle looking for something to eat. He came across two men. One was sitting under a tree and reading a book; the other was typing away on his typewriter. The lion quickly pounced on the man reading the book and devoured him. Even the king of the jungle knows that readers digest and writers cramp.

Submitted by reader C.K.

Joke: the Horse and the Chicken

A horse and a chicken grew up together on the farm, and they were the best of friends. They went everywhere together. One day the horse waded into the pond to get a drink, and he realized that his feet were stuck in the mud and that he was sinking. He yelled for the chicken and said, "I'm stuck in the mud and sinking, go get help, go get the farmer!"

The chicken ran to the house and, realizing the farmer wasn't home, grabbed the car keys, flapped to the garage, backed out the BMW, drove down by the barn, got a length of rope, sped back to the pond, tied the rope to the bumper of the car, threw the other end to the horse, and pulled the horse out of the water.

A couple of weeks later the chicken stepped into a mud puddle in the farm yard and realized that her feet were stuck and that she was sinking.

She hollered for the horse, "Go get the car!"

The horse said, "I don't need the car."

He stepped over the mud puddle, straddled it with one foot on each edge, and said, "grab my pecker and pull yourself out."

The moral of this story is: If you're hung like a horse, you don't need a BMW to pick up chicks.

Submitted by reader S.S.

Joke: the Pill

A lady goes to the doctor and complains that her husband has lost interest in sex. He gives her a pill but warns her it is still experimental. He says to slip it in her husbands mashed potatoes some night at dinner.

A week later she returns to the doctor. She says "The pill worked great. I put it in the potatoes like you said. It wasn't 5 minutes and he jumps up, rakes all the food and dishes on the floor, throws the table out of the way, grabs me, rips all my clothes off and ravages me right on the floor."

The doctor says, "I'm sorry. We didn't realize the pill was that strong. I'm sure that the manufacturer will be glad to pay for any damages."

The wife says, "That's okay. We aren't going back to Denny's anyway."

Submitted by reader C.K.

Joke: Redneck Jedi Knights

Your Jedi might be a redneck if...

  • he uses his lightsaber to cut the bottlecap off a beer
  • he says, "These are not the beers you're looking for"
  • that "Disturbance in the Force" was just last night's baked beans and spareribs
  • the inside of the house looks more like Dagobah than the outside
  • he calls his young apprentice, "Hoss"
  • he ever uses telekinesis to pull his jeans up
  • the Force isn't the only thing that runs in the family
  • he calls Hank Williams "master"
  • his landspeeder has a gun rack
  • he constantly mistakes R2 units for beer kegs
  • he got his light saber by sending in 750 "Camel cash" tickets
  • his sister chooses him over Han Solo
  • he calls Yoda his "Li'l green buddy."
  • he has ever said, "Anger... fear...agression...Yankees...the dark side are they."
  • his father's name is Garth Vader
  • his lightsaber has a beer can crusher in the base
  • there is more oil in his robes than in his astromech droid
  • he has ever used the Force in conjunction with fishing or bowling
  • he trims his beard and finds a Mynock
  • he has ever used a lightsaber to light the barbecue grill
  • he offends Jawas with his B.O.
  • he fights with a lightsaber in one hand and a spit cup in the other
  • he uses a Jedi mind trick to stop the beer truck
  • he uses his Jedi healing powers to clear up his VD
  • his Jedi robe is camouflage-colored
  • at least one wing of his X-Wing is primer colored
  • he can easily describe the taste of an Ewok
  • he can find no grammatical errors in the way Yoda talks
  • his father ever said to him, "Shoot, son, come on over t' the dark'll be a hoot."

Submitted by reader S.P.

Joke: the Widow

Sadie lost her husband almost four years ago and still has not gotten out of her depression, mourning as if it were only yesterday. Her daughter constantly is calling her and urging her to get back into the world.

Finally, Sadie says she'd go out, but didn't know anyone. Her daughter immediately replies, "Mama! I have someone for you to meet."

Well, it was an immediate hit. They took to one another and after dating for six weeks he asks her to join him for a weekend in the Catskills. And we know what that meant: one room and the normal follow-up to that.

Their first night there she undresses as he does. There she stood, nude except for a pair of black lacy panties. He is in his birthday suit. Looking at her, he asks, "Why the panties?"

She replies, "My breasts you can fondle, my body is yours to explore, but down there I am still in mourning."

He knows he's not getting lucky that night. The following night, the same scenario. She standing there with the black panties on and he in his birthday suit, except that he has an erection on which he has a black condom.

She looks at him and asks, "What's with this...a black condom?"

He replies, "I'm going to make a Shiva call."

Submitted by reader C.K.

Joke: Eulogy for a Dog

Morris in Brooklyn lived in a big home with his pet dog that he loved for 12 years. His best and only companion. The dog died, and a heartbroken Morris went to the Rabbi of his congregation and asked, "Rebbe, my dog is dead. Could you please offer a prayer for this faithful creature?"

The Rabbi replied, "No, we cannot hold services for an animal in our synagogue, but nearby there is a new temple that opened, no telling what they believe, maybe they can hold services for an animal."

Morris said, "So I'll go see them now. Do you think $10,000 is enough to donate for the service?"

The Rebbe replied, "So why didn't you tell me the dog was Orthodox?"

Submitted by reader M.B.

Quotes: The Wisdom of Mayor Barry

Actual public utterances of former Washington mayor Marion Barry:

"I promise you a police car on every sidewalk."

"If you take out the killings, Washington actually has a very, very low crime rate."

"First, it was not a strip bar, it was an erotic club. And second, what can I say? I'm a night owl."

"Bitch set me up."

"I am clearly more popular than Reagan. I am in my third term. Where's Reagan? Gone after two! Defeated by George Bush and Michael Dukakis, no less."

"The laws in this city are clearly racist. All laws are racist. The law of gravity is racist."

"People have criticized me because my security detail is larger than the President's. But you must ask yourself: are there more people who want to kill me than who want to kill the President? I can assure you there are."

"The brave men who died in Vietnam, more than 100% of which were black, were the ultimate sacrifice."

"What right does Congress have to go around making laws just because they deem it necessary?"

"People blame me because these water mains break, but I ask you, if the water mains didn't break, would it be my responsibility to fix them then? Would it!?!"

"I am a great mayor; I am an upstanding Christian man; I am an intelligent man; I am a deeply educated man; I am a humble man."

Submitted by reader C.K.