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:

And if you want to keep in touch, here’s my email address:

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 (, 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

Sunday, November 22, 2020

"Clothes Encounters of the Worst Kind"

By Jerry Zezima

Hearst Connecticut Media/Tribune News Service

If it’s true that clothes make the man, which in my case is far more likely than the man making clothes, because I can’t sew and would have to go around in my birthday suit, risking either pneumonia or arrest, then I definitely have a fashion plate in my head.

Still, I have to wear something, even if, as a retiree, I don’t have to dress for success anymore. Not that I had much success when I was working, but at least now I can lounge around the house in sweatshirts and sweatpants (in fall and winter) or T-shirts and shorts (in spring and summer).

To steal a lyric from the Byrds, because I’m for the Byrds, there is a season (turn, turn, turn). No, I don’t know what the hell it means, either, but I do know that, according to my wife, Sue, who is very stylish, I should change my seasonal wardrobe twice a year, putting my summer clothes away and taking out my winter clothes when the weather gets cold and putting my winter clothes away and taking out my summer clothes when the weather gets hot.

And, of course, vice versa.

I never used to do this because I worked in an office where the temperature fluctuated wildly, leading to the terrible realization that there is no such thing as climate control. It got so bad that I once tried to have the National Weather Service declare my desk the coldest spot in the United States.

And this was in the summer. So why put away my winter clothes?

Another reason I have never made the seasonal switch is that my entire wardrobe is made of approximately eight yards of material.

This explains why it is contained to one small closet and three bureau drawers. On the other hand, which requires a glove, Sue has a wardrobe large enough to clothe Luxembourg.

I don’t mind because: (a) she looks beautiful in anything she wears, even sweatshirts and sweatpants, since she’s now retired, too, and (b) she buys my clothes, thus saving me the horror of having to get dressed up to go shopping.

This year, however, it has been suggested that because I am no longer working (not that I ever did any real work in the first place), I should put away my summer clothes.

I said to Sue, the person who suggested this bold move, “With global warming, why bother?”

But even I have to concede that it’s worth the trouble, if only to get a large plastic bin full of clothes out of my already cluttered office and into the attic, a large space as empty as my skull.

Sue pulled out another bin of clothes from the closet in my office.

“Whose are those?” I asked innocently.

“Yours!” she responded sharply. “You didn’t even know they were here.”

And there is a pile of unboxed and unfolded clothes on the shelf in my bedroom closet, stuff I have ignored for God knows how long, including ties, which I have seldom worn because they cut off the air supply to my brain (see: empty skull, above); swim trunks, which I should keep in the trunk of my car for when I go swimming; and a pair of paper pants I had to wear several years ago when I got an X-ray for a kidney stone.

So I am now in the process of finally making the seasonal wardrobe switch. I might even find that some of my duds are so old and unstylish, like the guy who owns them, that they can be given away, thrown out or, if I break out the fire pit, burned.

Still, sadly, no matter what the season, clothes make this man look like a dweeb.

Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, November 15, 2020

"They Don't Have Me Covered"

By Jerry Zezima

Hearst Connecticut Media Group

When it comes to being stuck, there are two kinds of tape: red and Scotch. The first is what you are wrapped up in when applying for Medicare Part B. The second is what you drink when you can’t unravel yourself from the first.

I needed copious amounts of the latter — for medicinal purposes, of course — after my maddeningly unsuccessful efforts to get a Part B card had me seeing red.

And Part B doesn’t cover vision, which is a whole other problem.

According to Social Security, through which I had to apply, causing me insecurity, Medicare Part B covers physician services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and certain other medical and health services not covered by Medicare Part A.

Naturally, there is a hefty cover charge even though you still need supplemental insurance for things not covered by Part B (see: Scotch, above).

I applied in September after the retirement of my wife, Sue, whose insurance at work covered me until she didn’t work anymore and left me uncovered, something you don’t want to happen if the weather is chilly or there are cops around.

Sue got her Part B card right away. My card, which I figured was the 7 of clubs, never came.

So I called Social Security and spoke with a friendly guy named Todd.

“Part B or not Part B — that is the question,” I said when, after being on hold for a period longer than the Super Bowl halftime show, I was finally connected to Todd.

“I hate to say this,” he said, and proceeded to say it anyway, “but it’s the government.”

“My tax dollars at work,” I said. “Or maybe my tax dollars don’t work and are retired, like me.”

“It sounds stupid,” Todd acknowledged, “but that’s red tape for you.”

“Don’t you have any green or blue tape?” I wondered.

“No, it’s always red,” said Todd, adding: “You were about to get a denial letter.”

“Then I would have been in denial,” I responded, resisting the old joke about denial being a river in Africa.

“It’s a good thing you called,” Todd said.

“When was I supposed to find this out?” I asked.

“When you called,” replied Todd, noting that I would need another 564 form, which would require a 561 form and two 40B forms, all of which would form in the empty atmosphere of my skull to give me a gargantuan headache.

“This is a pain in the neck,” I said, though I actually referred to a lower anatomical region. “Would it be covered?”

“I don’t know if chiropractors are on the list,” replied Todd, who said he’d be happy to help me get the whole mess straightened out.

“I already have Medicare Part A,” I said.

“I handle A and B,” said Todd, “but there’s also C, which is supplemental, and D, for drugs.”

“Can I use the drugs to get rid of my headache?” I asked.

“Yes,” Todd answered, adding that there also are Parts E, F and G.

“Do I have to buy a vowel like on ‘Wheel of Fortune’?” I wanted to know.

“You might,” said Todd, who’s 37 and nowhere near retirement. “If I didn’t work here,” he admitted, saying he had trained for months, “I’d be totally lost, too.”

Todd also admitted that his 9-year-old son is more tech-savvy than he is.

“He has his own iPad,” Todd said.

“I don’t have an iPad or an iPod,” I said, “but I do have iTeeth. Would they be covered under the dental plan?”

“I hope so,” said Todd, who got me processed and promised that my Part B card would soon be delivered.

“Until then, I’ll go with Part S,” I said. “It stands for Scotch.”

Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, November 8, 2020

"Wackos Create an Identity Crisis"

By Jerry Zezima

Hearst Connecticut Media Group

To be or not to be — that’s not even a question for all the people in the world who don’t want to be me. That’s why my identity has never been stolen.

I can’t say the same for my wife, Sue, who recently noticed suspicious activity on one of her credit cards, received a mysterious box containing junk she’d never ordered, and had to go to the bank to straighten the whole mess out.

I accompanied her to see what it was like to be wanted by somebody other than the police.

The drama, sponsored by a company named for a river in South America (sorry, you’re wrong, it’s not the Orinoco), began when Sue saw a charge for $54.28.

“Did you buy something?” she asked me.

I professed my innocence and said, “I wouldn’t know how.”

A few days later, a prompt parcel person plopped a package on our doorstep, made a beeline back to his truck and sped away.

Sue took the box inside and saw that her name had been misspelled.

“How could anyone misspell ‘Sue’?” I wondered.

“No,” she said with a sigh. “I mean the last name.”

It was spelled “Zezmimia.”

“Sounds like either a small country or some kind of unpleasant ointment,” I said. “Either way, I couldn’t spell the name until I was in high school.”

Sue tore open the box and discovered the contents: a fake spider’s web, five wishing lights and an insulated lunch bag.

“If someone’s going to send stuff,” Sue huffed, “they could have ordered something good.”

That prompted a call to the aforementioned company and a conversation with a very nice customer service specialist named Chanel.

“This is what they do,” she said, referring to the fraudsters who attempt to steal the identities of law-abiding citizens and, it should be noted, online shoppers like Sue. “They’ll send a package to your house using your credit card information and then take the package back before you have a chance to bring it in.”

“You were too fast for them,” I told Sue.

“Speaking of fast,” said Chanel, who cleared the charge at her company, “you should go to the bank and get a new card.”

Before you could say “Chapter 11,” Sue and I were sitting with a helpful financial solutions adviser named Daniel.

“I’m going to freeze the card,” he said after taking it from Sue.

“It’s safer than incinerating it,” I said. “You might burn the bank down.”

Daniel politely ignored the remark and said, “It’s disconcerting, to say the least.”

“If not less,” I added.

Daniel called the fraud department and spoke with a claims specialist named Max, who then spoke with Sue.

“He canceled the card,” she said after hanging up.

“I guess it was Maxed out,” I commented.

“I hate when this happens,” Daniel said, presumably referring to identity theft, though he could have been talking about my stupid jokes.

“Nobody wants my identity,” I told him.

“I can relate,” Daniel said. “I have yet to find a person who wants mine. I’m working on it.”

He looked at the computer screen and noted that Sue and I have joint banking.

“It’s so we can afford to stay in our joint,” I explained. “But after this, if I tried to get into Sue’s account, would I be arrested?”

“Yes,” said Daniel. “The cops would take both of us out in handcuffs.”

After telling Sue that she’d soon be getting a new card, Daniel warned us about credit thievery.

“It’s happened to me,” he said. “There are a bunch of wacko ding dongs out there.”

“That means I’m safe,” I said.

“How so?” Daniel asked.

“I’m a wacko ding dong,” I answered. “That’s why nobody wants my identity.”

Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, November 1, 2020

"Sole Searching at the Shoe Store"

By Jerry Zezima

Hearst Connecticut Media Group

As a man who likes to put one foot in front of the other, which works pretty well until I walk headlong into a wall, I have always valued comfort over style when it comes to what I wear on my tremendously ticklish tootsies.

That’s why it was a big (size 11) deal when I went shopping for slippers.

Slippers are the preferred footwear for retirees like myself who don’t have to don dress shoes for work or sneakers for playing sports at which I was always terrible and that would induce cardiac arrest if I played them now. These items cost an arm and a leg, which isn’t too practical since I’d need the former to pay for them and the latter to wear them.

But slippers are cheap and cozy for lying around the house or padding to the refrigerator for beer. They can even be worn to throw out the garbage or pick up take-out pizza.

“You need a new pair,” said my wife, Sue, pointing out that my slippers not only had gaping holes in the toes but smelled bad enough to asphyxiate a camel.

So we drove to a store that specializes in biped impedimenta.

“I’m looking for slippers,” I told a sales associate named Doris.

“They’re right next to you,” she said pleasantly, indicating a shelf full of them.

I pulled out a box of slippers in my size and asked if I could try them on.

“Of course,” Doris said.

“On my bare feet?” I wondered.

“We have little stockings you can wear,” said Doris.

“Maybe they’ll bring out my feminine side,” I said.

“We also have high heels,” Doris informed me.

“They’d be dangerous after a couple of beers,” I noted.

I sat on a bench, took off my socks and yanked on the little stockings, but I couldn’t cram my right foot into the corresponding slipper.

“The size must be wrong,” I grumbled.

Sue sighed and said, “Take the paper ball out of the front.”

“Sorry,” I said sheepishly. “I don’t go shopping too often.”

“Now you know why I go by myself,” said Sue, who noticed that the slippers, which fit fine, were different colors.

“One’s light and one’s dark,” Doris agreed. “Try another pair and see if they match.”

I grabbed a box containing only one slipper.

“It’s for my left foot,” I said. “I have two left feet, which is why I’m not on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ ”

Doris handed me another box, which contained two slippers, and said, “Try these.”

I slipped them on and said, “They fit like gloves.”

“Please,” Sue begged, anticipating my next comment, “don’t say anything else.”

Instead, I extolled the virtue of slippers for the geezer set and said I sometimes run errands in them.

“Why not?” Doris said. “Nobody looks at your feet anyway.”

“Even my wife doesn’t like to look at my feet,” I said.

Sue politely did not disagree.

When I told Doris I’m retired, she said, “I retired from my job in social services eight years ago. This,” she added, referring to her part-time gig at the store, “is my casino money.”

Doris said she’s 69 and has “three children, five grandchildren and, I think, four great-grandchildren.”

“Is your husband retired?” I asked.

“No, I got myself a young dude,” said Doris, who is 20 years older.

“When he gets to be my age,” I said, noting that I’m 66, “he’ll come to appreciate slippers.”

I chose the last pair I tried on and thanked Doris for her help.

“Now I can throw out my smelly old ones,” I told her. “And when I get take-out pizza, I’ll go in style.”

Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima