Sunday, January 10, 2021

"To Have and Have Knocks"

By Jerry Zezima

Knock, knock.


Who’s there?


Jerry.


Jerry who?


Jerry Christmas and happy New Year!


OK, so I just made up this lame attempt at humor, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be included in the next edition of “Knock, Knock! The Biggest, Best Joke Book Ever,” which my wife, Sue, and I gave to our granddaughter Chloe for holiday ho, ho, hos.


Since then, Chloe, who’s 7 and a half and loves to laugh, which not only is true but also rhymes, has been calling me with knock, knock jokes.


“Knock, knock,” Chloe said in her most recent call.


“Who’s there?” I answered.


“Weirdo,” said Chloe.


“Weirdo who?” I replied, convinced she was talking about me.


“Weirdo you think you’re going?”


“Ha ha!” we laughed in unison.


Chloe and her little sister, Lilly, who’s 4 and is a real pistol, with a sassy sense of humor and a mischievous grin, not only love to tell me jokes but routinely invite me to parties on FaceTime, which is the closest we get to seeing each other — without face masks and social distancing — in this age of viral quarantine.


“Poppie?” Lilly said on the screen while dressed like a fairy princess.


“Yes, honey?” I replied while attired in my pajamas.


“What’s Pinocchio’s name when he tells a joke?”


“What?”


“Pin-JOKE-io!”


All three of us laughed at the witticism, which Lilly obviously made up all by herself. I was so proud of her!


People often ask me if I spoil my grandchildren.


“No,” I tell them. “That’s my wife’s job. My job is to corrupt them.”


I must admit, with all due modesty, that I have succeeded splendidly.


That was evident at our latest virtual party.


“Knock, knock,” Chloe said.


“Who’s there?” I replied.


“Owl.”


“Owl who?”


“Owl be seeing you!”


More giggling.


“We’re having a picnic,” Lilly announced.


“What can I bring?” I asked.


“You can bring the telephone,” Lilly instructed.


Chloe, who like me was still in her pajamas, except hers were adorned with a castle while mine sported coffee stains, was eating a small bag of pita chips. So was Lilly. I had a bag of Bambas.


“Here, Lilly,” I said, pretending to feed her one of the peanut snacks through the screen.


“It’s in my head!” Lilly squealed.


Chloe and I chortled.


Lilly was on a roll, which didn’t surprise me because I had heard from my younger daughter, Lauren, who happens to be the girls’ mother, that when Lauren scolded Lilly for making a mess in the house, Lilly retorted: “You’re fired!”


“Lilly,” I said. “Did you fire Mommy?”


“Yes,” she responded, very seriously, without explanation.


I burst out laughing. Chloe laughed, too. Lilly kept a straight face for a few seconds. Then came that mischievous grin. She looked into the camera and said, “Poppie?”


“Yes, Lilly?”


“You’re a knucklehead!”


We all roared. At least I wasn’t fired.


While all this frivolity was going on, I was sipping coffee out of the mug the girls gave me for Christmas. It says: “Dad Jokes: Served fresh daily.”


But the jokes were on me.


“Knock, knock,” Chloe said.


“Who’s there?”


“Boo.”


“Boo who?”


“Don’t cry, it’s just a joke.”


I laughed.


“Knock, knock,” Chloe said again.


“Who’s there?”


“Olive.”


“Olive who?”


Chloe smiled and said, “Olive you.”


I smiled back and said, “Olive you, too.”


Olive both girls, who have inherited Poppie’s propensity for jokes, silliness and just plain fun.


Someday, when this pandemic is over, we’ll get together and have a real party. Then we’ll open the book and tell each other jokes.


Take it from a goofy grandfather who graduated, magna cum laughter, from the School of Funny Knocks.


Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima


Sunday, January 3, 2021

"Supermarket Driving Test"

By Jerry Zezima

When you are my age (old enough to know better), your driving skills have probably diminished so much that you can barely operate the simplest of vehicles.


I refer, of course, to shopping carts.


Since I am the designated cart driver when I go grocery shopping with my wife, Sue, I have devised a test to help you safely navigate your local supermarket.


I came up with the idea when Sue and I went shopping recently and encountered so many rude, reckless and maddeningly clueless cart operators that they all should have been pulled over, given a hefty ticket and had their driver’s licenses suspended.


Good luck!


QUESTION 1


If you are in the produce aisle and are cut off by another cart driver who then goes at a snail’s pace, what should you do?


(a) Hit him with a cantaloupe.

(b) Pull out your cellphone and call 911.

(c) Leave your cart in the middle of the aisle and go home.


ANSWER: None of the above. Just stand there and fume. Or, better yet, forget the fruits and veggies and go to the next aisle. Who needs broccoli anyway?


QUESTION 2


Speaking of cellphones, should you text and drive in the supermarket?


ANSWER: Not unless your spouse isn’t with you and you need to call home every three minutes to ask where everything on your shopping list is.


QUESTION 3


Who drives worse, men or women?


ANSWER: Both can be pretty bad, but at least women know where they are going. That is why they are more likely to speed, weave in and out of traffic and create chaos in the frozen food section, where they often stop to get ice cream.


Men, for the most part, have absolutely no idea where they are going, what they are doing or why they are even in the supermarket, although most of them know instinctively where the beer is.


QUESTION 4


If you are the designated cart driver and you can’t keep up with your spouse on the way to the deli counter, or you have just been involved in a fender bender with a little old lady who is looking for prune juice, what should you do?


(a) Stand in the aisle and block traffic.

(b) Pull over to the side and block other shoppers from getting items you are standing in front of.

(c) Go immediately to the beer section.


ANSWER: (c)


QUESTION 5


What safety features are standard equipment in shopping carts?


ANSWER: None. Carts don’t have power steering, which makes them difficult to operate since they all have four wheels that go in different directions. Also, they don’t have backup cameras, which makes it difficult to see the cart that is parked right behind you.


QUESTION 6


Why aren’t there traffic cops in supermarkets?


ANSWER: Good question.


QUESTION 7


Why aren’t cart drivers required to have insurance?


ANSWER: Another good question.


QUESTION 8


Is parallel parking even possible in a supermarket?


ANSWER: No.


QUESTION 9


What should you do if you are involved in an aisle rage incident?


ANSWER: See answer to Question 4.


QUESTION 10


When you are at the checkout counter, what should you do?


(a) Get in the express lane with more than the allotted 12 items.

(b) Realize you don’t have your debit card and struggle to find a pen so you can write a check.

(c) Take half an hour to bag your groceries.

(d) All of the above.


ANSWER: (d)


BONUS QUESTION


What should you do the next time you have to go to the supermarket?


ANSWER: Stay home and drink the beer you bought the last time you went shopping.

   

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima


Sunday, December 27, 2020

"Goodbye From the Good Humor Guy"

By Jerry Zezima

Hearst Connecticut Media Group

When I was in high school, Stamford Catholic, Class of 1971, where I was the class clown and my proudest achievement was setting the school record for most trips to the principal’s office, my goal in life was to be silly and irresponsible and actually get paid for it.


I wondered how I could do this when I started reading the great humor columnists Art Buchwald and Erma Bombeck in my hometown paper, the Stamford Advocate. I resolved to write a humor column, too. It would be like doing standup comedy, except I wouldn’t have to show up.


In 1976, a year out of college, with absolutely no journalistic experience, I bluffed my way into a job at the Stamford Advocate. I failed miserably in one thing after another — copyboy, police reporter, sportswriter, assistant metro editor, features editor — until there was nothing left to do but write a humor column.


My first one was published in 1985. For the past 35 years, I have been inflicting myself on the good readers of the Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time (and, more recently, the other papers in Hearst Connecticut Media Group).


Because all stupid things must come to an end, this is my last column for the Hearst Connecticut newspapers. It is not my decision, but I respect the editors who made it.


From the beginning, I have written about family foibles and the funny little things of everyday life. It beats writing about inconsequential stuff like politics and world affairs.


The star of my column — and my life — is my wife, Sue. If it weren’t for her, I would be either dead or in prison. She’s the backbone of the family, my soulmate, a woman who, for putting up with me for so long, deserves to be the first living person canonized by the Catholic Church. I deserve to be shot from a cannon.


Sue and the rest of the Zezima clan — daughters Katie and Lauren, sons-in-law Dave and Guillaume, and grandchildren Chloe, Lilly, Xavier, Zoe and Quinn — have given me a gold mine of material. So have pets, friends and even complete strangers.


I once went to the bank to apply for a loan so I could buy Sue the $10 million Millennium Bra from Victoria’s Secret for Christmas. I ended up getting her a flannel nightgown instead.


I flunked the same driving test that Katie, then 16, passed with flying colors.


I called the White House to see if I could have Lauren’s room declared a disaster area so I would qualify for federal funds to clean it up.


I played blackjack with Lizzie, the family dog — and lost.


I took Chloe to a bakery to make doughnuts, I dressed up like a fairy princess while babysitting Lilly, I took Xavier to the Smithsonian and was surprised I wasn’t put on exhibit myself, and I mastered the fine art of simultaneously feeding infant twins Zoe and Quinn on a nursing pillow called My Brest Friend.


I even managed to find humor in the quarantine when Sue and I celebrated our 42nd anniversary in the most romantic way possible: We took a trip to the dump.


This may be my last hurrah for Hearst, but I will keep writing my column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to papers nationwide and abroad. If you have ever wondered why the newspaper industry is in trouble, it would be because of me.


If you suffer from insomnia and would like to continue reading my columns, you can see them each week on my blog: jerryzezima.blogspot.com.


And if you want to keep in touch, here’s my email address: JerryZ111@optonline.net.


After all these years, I’m still silly and irresponsible. Just what you’d expect from the class clown in high school.


Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima


Sunday, December 20, 2020

"The Zezimas' 2020 Christmas Letter"

By Jerry Zezima

Hearst Connecticut Media/Tribune News Service


Since I am in the holiday spirit (and, having just consumed a mug of hot toddy, a glass of eggnog and a nip of cheer, the holiday spirits are in me), I have decided to follow in that great tradition of boring everyone silly by writing a Christmas letter.


That is why I am pleased as punch (which I also drank) to present the following chronicle of the Zezima family, which includes Jerry, the patriarch; Sue, the matriarch; Katie and Lauren, the daughtersiarch; Dave and Guillaume, the sons-in-lawiarch; and Chloe, Lilly, Xavier, Zoe and Quinn, the grandchildreniarch.


Dear friends:


Hindsight may be 20/20, but nobody had the foresight to want to have hindsight on 2020. Still, some good things did happen in the Zezima family.


The year got off to a great start when Sue and Jerry took a trip to visit Katie and Dave and their children, toddler Xavier and infant twins Zoe and Quinn. They celebrated New Year’s together and Jerry mastered the fine art of napping while the twins napped, too. He also had a blast by baking a cake with Xavier, giving bottles to Zoe and Quinn simultaneously, having a bottle himself and proving to be less mature than all three of the children.


Unfortunately, Sue and Jerry have not seen them since because the pandemic broke shortly thereafter. Thank goodness for FaceTime, which Sue and Jerry have also used to keep in touch with Lauren and Guillaume and their daughters, Chloe, 7, and Lilly, 4.


They had a couple of masked visits, first by going strawberry picking (Jerry wanted to use the berries to make daiquiris, which Sue said she needed after listening to his stupid jokes) and second by watching the girls for an afternoon. Chloe and Lilly gave Jerry a good workout in the backyard, where he ran, played catch, popped bubbles and gave the girls horsey rides, after which he went home and slept like a baby (see: napping, above).


Hurricane Isaias knocked out the power in Jerry and Sue’s house for six days and spoiled hundreds of dollars’ worth of food. Even worse, Jerry’s beer got warm.


Jerry and Sue celebrated their 42nd anniversary in the most romantic way possible: They went to the landfill. Later, they had a takeout dinner by candlelight and toasted each other with boxed wine. Love means never having to say you’re sorry for practicing social distancing.


During the quarantine, Jerry also gave himself a haircut and didn’t end up looking like Curly of the Three Stooges, though he still acts like the loony comedian. Jerry helped Sue make pizza and did not, miraculously, burn the house down. The lovebirds also passed the time by engaging in an activity that begins with the letter S. That’s right: Scrabble.


The fun and games have continued since Sue joined Jerry in retirement. Now she doesn’t have to get up at 5:30 every weekday morning to go to work. Instead, Jerry has to get up first to make the coffee.


In an online shopping mishap, Sue’s identity was stolen. The problem was resolved with a trip to the bank, where Sue got a new card and it was agreed that Jerry’s identity would never be stolen because nobody wants it.


Last but certainly least, Jerry wrote his fifth book, “Every Day Is Saturday: Sleeping Late, Playing With the Grandchildren, Surviving the Quarantine, and Other Joys of Retirement.” Like his first four books, it’s a crime against literature. And if you’re bored out of your skull during the lockdown and can’t get to sleep, you might even want to read it.


Here’s saying good riddance to 2020 and hoping that 2021 will be a good year for all.


Merry Christmas with love and laughter from the Zezimas.


Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima


Sunday, December 13, 2020

"For Whom the Bell Doesn't Toll"

By Jerry Zezima

Hearst Connecticut Media/Tribune News Service


My greatest fear as a homeowner, aside from undertaking a do-it-yourself plumbing project and being swept away in the resulting flood, is being arrested at gunpoint for breaking into my own house.


I recently found out that I could have ended up in the penitentiary after talking with an alarm company technician who nearly had the same thing happen to him.


“I once set off a panic alarm in a house where I was working,” said Tim Seibert, who was working at my house. “It was a silent holdup. I went outside and there were two cops with guns. I said, ‘Don’t shoot me, I’m only the alarm guy.’ I had to show them proof.”


“If that happened to me,” I said, “it would be because I locked myself out. And I wouldn’t have proof that it was my house.”


“You’d end up in jail,” said Tim, who had come over because the company ran a test on the alarm system and found that, unbeknownst to me and my wife, it hadn’t been working for a month and a half.


“If someone broke in — like you, for instance — the alarm would have gone off in the house, but it wouldn’t have registered in the control center, so we wouldn’t have known something was wrong,” Tim explained.


“So burglars could have made off with all our valuables?” I asked.


“That’s right,” Tim answered.


“The bad news is that we had no idea we weren’t protected,” I said. “The good news is that we don’t have too many valuables.”


It was news to me that, according to Tim, the phone company was to blame. After he inquired about our landline and I told him that we’d had trouble with it and that someone had come over and supposedly fixed it, Tim said, “I see this all the time. They unplug stuff and don’t even tell you they did that. It disconnects the alarm and you don’t know it.”


When Tim reconnected the alarm, it screeched at a decibel level that almost blew out the windows. He jumped. I nearly lost kidney function.


Tim pressed some buttons on the keypad and the screeching mercifully stopped.


“There,” he said with a sigh of relief. “You’re all set.”


When I told Tim that the phone was still acting up, he fixed that, too. But just to make sure, he called my cellphone from the landline. We stood five feet apart. The conversation went like this:


Me: “Hello?”


Tim: “Hi, Jerry.”


Me: “Tim?”


Tim: “Yes. Does the phone work?”


Me: “What?”


Tim: “Does the phone work?”


Me: “Who is this?”


Tim hung up and said, “It works.”


“You’re really handy,” I told him.


“I like to solve problems,” said Tim.


“I like to cause problems,” I noted.


“You could keep me employed,” Tim said. “It’s like the old saying — job security for guys who don’t know what they’re doing.”


Tim, who’s 53 and has been in the alarm business for 33 years, said his first job was as a bill collector.


“I hated it,” he said, adding that he used to repossess cars. “One guy came out yelling. Shortly after that, I quit. But I’ve had my share of crazy customers in this job, too. Like the guy who kept a gun under his bathroom rug.”


After determining that he’s made more than 50,000 service calls, Tim said, “I looked on my log and saw that I was here seven years ago. I knew your name rang a bell.”


“A bell?” I said. “Good one!”


Tim smiled and said, “Your house is safe. You don’t have to worry about being arrested.”


“Thanks,” I said. “Now I can tell my wife there’s no cause for alarm.”


Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima


Sunday, December 6, 2020

"A Grandfather's Guide to Physical Fitness"

By Jerry Zezima

Hearst Connecticut Media/Tribune News Service

As an out-of-shape geezer who drinks red wine to avoid heart trouble and believes that exercise and health food will kill you, I am proud, happy and practically comatose to report that I recently got the best workout I’ve had in months. And with not one but two personal trainers.


I refer, of course, to my granddaughters.


Because of coronavirus restrictions, I hadn’t seen Chloe, 7, and Lilly, 4, since the summer. And we had to wear masks and keep a safe social distance.


My wife, Sue, and I had to do the same this time, when we watched the girls for a couple of hours while their mommy and our younger daughter, Lauren, a talented photographer who has her own business, Lauren Demolaize Photography (laurendemolaizephotography.com), was out on a photo shoot.


The fun, frolic and potential cardiac issues included:


Running around the backyard in a spirited and nearly debilitating game of tag.


Playing catch with a rubber ball.


Playing catch with a plastic ball.


Kicking a soccer ball.


Chasing and popping bubbles as they floated through the air.


Writhing spasmodically in a failed effort to keep a hula hoop going for more than three seconds at a time.


Pushing Lilly on a swing, running around to stand in front of her and dashing back to push her again when she said she wasn’t going high enough.


Falling to the ground and pretending to be knocked unconscious by Chloe’s high-kick swinging.


Sprinting next to the girls as they zoomed down the slide, which they did, one after the other, about a dozen times.


Throwing each girl into the air and catching her while trying not to rupture a vital organ.


And, what we boomers call the sport of kinks, playing horsey, a game in which yours truly was the horse (instead of my usual role as the back end of one). I got down on my hands and knees while both girls jumped on my back and exhorted me to giddyup, which I did, slowly and pathetically, uphill and downhill, until I collapsed in a heap, after which the girls wanted me to give them another ride. As my entire skeletal structure started to crumble, I wondered: They shoot horses, don’t they?


Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, we had a blast. Unbounded exuberance and the narrow avoidance of hospitalization are what happens when grandparents and their grandchildren finally get together after weeks of being separated.


Since we all wore masks and were outside, Sue and I were able to get closer to the girls than we would if we were in the house, but we still had to be careful. The granddaughter tosses and the horsey rides were done while we faced away from each other.


Nonetheless, Chloe and Lilly could run an open-air health club. And I, a hip grandfather hoping not to be a broken-hip grandfather, or even a hip-replacement grandfather, could be their first, best and most ancient customer.


“You’re fun, Poppie!” Chloe said as I gasped for air after one of our strenuous exercises.


“Even though you’re old!” Lilly added helpfully.


After Lauren returned, Sue and I drove home, where we wolfed down dinner and watched a movie, during which I nodded off so often that I must have looked like a bobblehead doll.


“You got quite a workout today,” Sue said as she turned off the TV and we headed up to bed.


“At least you didn’t have to call 911,” I noted.


“It was like being at the gym,” Sue said.


“I hope it’s not another several months before I can join,” I replied. “And when I do, the girls can push me on a swing and give me a senior citizen discount.”


Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima


Sunday, November 29, 2020

"Hot Stuff in the Kitchen"

By Jerry Zezima

Hearst Connecticut Media/Tribune News Service


I’m the very model of the modern modest man. That is why I am somewhat reluctant but still kind of excited to announce that there is a sex scandal going on in my house.


And it involves, of all things, Tupperware.


This is hot news for two reasons:


(a) Now that Thanksgiving is over, and I am more stuffed than the turkey, it is time to use the plastic containers for leftovers, which is what I will be eating until Christmas, after which I will be eating leftovers until Valentine’s Day, after which I will explode like the Hindenburg. Oh, the calamity!


(b) Tupperware profits are even more prodigious these days than leftovers.


According to a recent story by The Associated Press, “Restaurant pain has turned into Tupperware’s gain with millions of people in a pandemic opening cookbooks again and looking for solutions to leftovers. They’ve found it again in Tupperware, suddenly an ‘it brand’ five decades after what seemed to be its glory days.”


I hate to say this, but Tupperware is also having glory nights in my house. This explains why it seems to be reproducing at an alarming rate in one of the kitchen cabinets, where topless containers must be having midnight orgies. Then they give birth to baby containers that must be burped.


I can’t open the cabinet door without being pelted by a torrent of Tupperware. It’s a good thing we don’t keep crockery up there. Or bowling balls.


An inventory revealed these startling figures: 53 containers but only 49 tops. There are an additional seven containers and three tops in the garage, where the excess Tupperware is kept because the cabinet is jammed with the stuff.


Then there is the refrigerator census. There are five containers with leftovers: pork chops, eggplant, meatloaf, scallion patties and pork lo mein.


Tupperware total: 65 containers and 57 tops.


Not all of it is technically Tupperware, but it’s plastic nonetheless, some from the Chinese restaurant down the street, some from a discount store, some from the supermarket and some, presumably, from a midnight invasion by inanimate objects that heard of the nasty shenanigans and wanted to get in on the action.


I often feel like Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate,” where a slimy guy sidles up to him and says, “Plastics. … There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it.”


I’ve thought about it, especially at night, when I can’t get to sleep because I’m wondering what the hell is going on the kitchen cabinet.


If the population explosion continues, we’ll be able to store enough leftovers to feed New Zealand.


My wife, Sue, the Empress of Tupperware, did use a container recently for what I thought was a noble purpose: She kept leftover wine in it. This became necessary because we are the kind of sophisticated people who buy wine in boxes. When I poured a wee too much but couldn’t put it back in the box (never a problem when you buy bottles or simply down the rest of the wine and have to go to bed), Sue poured it in a Tupperware container.


I had the leftover wine the next night. It had a piquant plastic aftertaste that tickled the palate!


I needed fortification when contemplating the mathematical dilemma of having an unequal amount of containers and tops. Or, after an exhaustive search, finding the right container for whatever meal you couldn’t finish but not the corresponding top.


This is another mean trick that Tupperware plays during the night: The containers and tops purposely separate in the cabinet so you have to go through them all before finding the mates. Sometimes it takes so long that the food spoils before it can be refrigerated.


Now we are faced with Thanksgiving leftovers. At least we have enough Tupperware.


Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima