Sunday, May 26, 2019

"A Tale of Two Fridges"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
One man’s junk, as the saying goes, is not his wife’s treasure. That’s why she will tell him to haul it to the dump so there will be room for not one but two new refrigerators, which will keep his beer cold so he’ll have the strength to get rid of all that junk.

That was the messy situation in which I found myself after our 19-year-old kitchen refrigerator conked out. The auxiliary fridge, which was in the garage and was 21, making it legally old enough to consume my beer, was on life support. It was only a matter of time before it pulled the plug on itself.

So my wife, Sue, and I had to purchase a pair of fridges and clear space for their delivery. This meant getting rid of the junk that had accumulated in the garage since we moved into our house in 1998.

It included boxes of old newspapers and other stuff belonging to me, boxes of old ornaments and other stuff belonging to Sue, and boxes of old clothes and other stuff belonging to our adult daughters, Katie and Lauren, who moved out of the house during the administration of George W. Bush.

I loaded my SUV (shambles utility vehicle) and made three trips to the dump, where I met Chris, who manned the attendant booth.

“You have a lot of junk,” he said.

“I also have gas,” I told him through the open driver’s-side window.

“You should take something for it,” Chris said as he stepped back. “This place smells bad enough.”

“No, I mean I have cans of old gasoline,” I replied. “Where do they go?”

Chris pointed to a section behind the booth, then told me where to put my other stuff, such as paper, glass, paint, recyclables, clothing, metal, wood and household garbage.

“I’m getting rid of all this junk to make room for two new refrigerators,” I said. “My beer got warm, so I had to take drastic action.”

Chris sympathized because he owned a bar for 15 years and knows the importance of cold beer.

“My customers loved it,” said Chris, adding that he used to feed them Spam fries, which were made with the maligned luncheon meat. “My customers didn’t love them.”

Chris told me that Spam is popular in Hawaii because GIs brought cans of it there during World War II.

“My wife and I honeymooned in Hawaii,” I said.

“Did you have Spam?” he asked.

“No,” I replied. “But I did have poi, which I washed down with Hawaiian beer.”

In a box of random junk, I found a Spam can that had been turned into a piggy bank. It contained 39 cents.

“Now my wife and I can afford to go back,” I told Chris.

But first I had to return home and await delivery of the refrigerators.

Jose and Mario took out the old kitchen fridge and replaced it with the new one. They did the same with the old and new ones in the garage, which had been cleared for passage.

“Do these refrigerators come with beer?” I asked.

“No, but it would be a good idea,” said Jose. “Sales would increase if refrigerators came with beer.”

“I’d offer you some,” I said, “but it’s warm.”

After Jose and Mario left, Sue stocked our two new fridges with food and I put in the beer, which was soon cold again.

I opened one and made a toast: “To running refrigerators and a clean garage. And a second honeymoon in Hawaii.”

“First,” Sue said, “we have to pay for the appliances.”

“I have 39 cents,” I told her.

“Good,” said Sue. “Buy yourself a can of Spam. It’ll go great with your beer.”

Copyright 2019 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, May 12, 2019

"My Four Decades of Lip Shtick"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
As a man who has sported a mustache for the past 40 years, following in the grand tradition of such hirsute heroes as Mark Twain, Groucho Marx and my late grandmother, it gives me great pleasure and a persistent itching sensation to announce that I was recently named Mustached American of the Day.

This honor was bestowed upon me by the American Mustache Institute, an esteemed organization that not only is dedicated to fighting discrimination against people with facial hair, but does not, technically, exist anymore.

“Congratulations on the 40th anniversary of your mustache!” AMI president Adam Causgrove said when I called to thank him for lowering the otherwise high standards of the institute, which ceased formal operations late last year but “will live forever in our hearts and on the internet.”

AMI, which Causgrove said is headquartered “in my bedroom” in Pittsburgh, will next year resurrect the International Mustache Hall of Fame, whose members include Theodore Roosevelt, Salvador Dali and Burt Reynolds.

“You could be eligible,” he told me, adding: “You don’t have to be dead to get in.”

But AMI no longer bestows the Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Award, which Causgrove won in 2012 and I came close to winning in 2010.

“That was an impressive showing,” said Causgrove, referring to my second-place finish, in which I received 80,000 votes, presumably from people who now suffer from RSI (Repetitive ’Stache Injury).

I lost by a whisker to a Florida firefighter named Brian Sheets but beat out such alleged celebrities as then-major league pitcher Carl Pavano, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten and entertainer Brandon Wardell, who was endorsed by model and actress Brooke Shields.

I was endorsed by my even more beautiful wife, Sue, who is the reason I have a mustache.

In 1979, a year after we were married, I had surgery for a deviated septum and afterward was swathed in bandages that covered my tender nose and naked upper lip. I bore a frightening resemblance to Boris Karloff in “The Mummy,” mainly because I was not yet “The Daddy.”

When the bandages came off, I had a chevron mustache, which does not, unfortunately, get me a discount at Chevron gas stations.

“I like it!” Sue exclaimed, politely not mentioning the rest of my face.

So I kept the lip rug, which I have been told by people with astigmatism makes me look like Tom Selleck, minus the talent, charisma and money.

“What a heartwarming story!” said Causgrove, 35, who works in corporate relations at Carnegie Mellon University and who for the past eight years has sported his award-winning handlebar mustache, which has the endorsement of his wife, Chelsea, whom he lovingly calls “the first lady of mustachery.”

In recognition of my four decades of mustachery, Causgrove issued a proclamation that read, in part:

“Jerry Zezima Ruby Anniversary of Acclaimed Mouthbrow

“WHEREAS, In the year 1979, a young Jerry Zezima embarked on a brave and noble journey into the sexually dynamic Mustached American lifestyle.

“WHEREAS, By embracing his facial foliage … Jerry has risen to the peaks of his profession in the Stamford, Connecticut-based humor columnist community …

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, Chief Executive of the American Mustache Institute, Dr. Adam Paul Causgrove, declare that through a rigorous review process, steeped in the science of nuclear mustacheology and augmented with fine American bourbon … the Honorable Mr. Jerry Zezima … is to be saluted, ogled, venerated and praised — in that particular order.”

“Thank you from the bottom of my mustache,” I told Causgrove. “For once in my life, I’m speechless.”

“I’m sure your wife would endorse that, too,” he said. “And she would agree that it’s not just lip service.”

Copyright 2019 by Jerry Zezima