Sunday, April 28, 2024

"You're So Vein"

By Jerry Zezima

Romance is in my blood. And I recently proved it by taking my wife for bloodwork.

On our anniversary.

It was the most romantic thing I have done for Sue since I took her to a landfill on our anniversary four years ago. I’m surprised she didn’t leave me there.

It’s a good thing she didn’t because I wanted this latest expression of love to be in vein, not in vain, which is why I was inspired to be a blood donor.

I used to give blood regularly. In fact, I donated so often that I was a member of the Gallon Club, signifying that I had given a gallon of blood, though not all at once, which would have made me even dizzier than usual.

I stopped donating a dozen years ago, when I was two years away from turning 60, because I didn’t think anyone would want old blood, even though it was fortified with red wine, which has been medically proven to be good for the heart.

But I decided to go with the flow again when I saw my physician, Dr. Sanjay Sangwan, who had ordered bloodwork for me.

“Your results are perfect,” he said.

“I took my wife for bloodwork on our anniversary,” I told him.

“On our anniversary,” Dr. Sangwan said, “my wife said she wanted to go to a restaurant where you can watch them prepare your meal in front of you. So I took her to Subway.”

“I’m thinking about being a blood donor, but I just turned 70,” I said. “Would it be safe?”

“Yes,” the doctor replied. “Your blood is good and you’re healthy, so you can give once or twice a year. Just don’t get into a competition with someone.”

“I guess the reward would be blood money,” I said.

After my appointment, I went to Long Island Blood Services, a division of the New York Blood Center, to sign up.

“The paperwork will take longer than the bloodwork,” said Marianne Jahoda, the very nice receptionist, who looked me up in the system and saw that I hadn’t donated blood in a long time.

“That means you have plenty to give now,” she said before directing me to the office of phlebotomist Heather Pflug, who took my temperature and blood pressure and asked if I take aspirin.

“Baby aspirin,” I replied, “because I’m a big baby.”

“The biggest babies are the burly guys with tattoos,” said Heather, adding that she was going to prick my finger to get a drop of blood.

“Will it hurt?” I asked.

“I won’t feel a thing,” Heather said with a smile.

Then it was time, after all these years, to make a donation.

Cindy Cadicamo, a phlebotomist with a gentle manner that put me at ease, set me up on a blood donor chair. She asked me to roll up my sleeve, found a suitable vein in my left arm, rubbed it with a disinfectant and said, “Look anywhere but at your left arm.”

So I looked at my right arm.

“You’ll feel a pinch, followed by a brief burn,” Cindy said just before inserting a needle that would carry my blood into a bag.

“How much does it hold?” I asked.

“A pint,” she answered.

“I could go for a pint,” I said.

“Come back after 5 o’clock,” Cindy joked. “It’s happy hour.”

When I told her that I had taken Sue for bloodwork on our anniversary, she exclaimed, “What a guy!”

I asked if I was the oldest donor she had seen in her 20 years as a phlebotomist.

“No,” Cindy said. “We had an 83-year-old woman come in to give blood for the first time. And she came back to donate again.”

“What a gal!” I exclaimed.

By then, the bag was full. Cindy took out the needle, sat me up and asked if I felt lightheaded.

“I was born lightheaded,” I said. “But I’m fine.”

Cindy walked me to a table that had chips, cookies and other snacks.

“Would you like apple juice or cranberry juice?” asked volunteer Marie Rotolo.

“No beer?” I said.

“Sorry,” Marie replied. “We’re all out.”

“I feel bad for the guy who gets my blood,” I told her. “He’ll probably grow a mustache and start telling stupid jokes.”

“It could be a woman,” Marie said.

“Even worse,” I noted.

On the way out, I was thanked by the wonderful staff for helping to save lives.

“I hope we’ll see you again,” Cindy said. “And next time, bring your wife.”

Copyright 2024 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, April 21, 2024

"Another Fine Mess"

By Jerry Zezima

If the remains of Jimmy Hoffa are ever found, ending a nearly half-century search for the notorious union boss, I know just where they will be:

My office.

That’s because I am in the middle of one of the biggest cleanups of all time, one that not only rivals the most ambitious urban renewal projects ever undertaken, but could be the basis for an episode of “Unsolved Mysteries.”

I am not a scientist, which is a blessing to humanity because I almost blew up the chemistry lab in high school, but I do know about the law of physics, which states that any space — except the one between my ears — will be filled.

That perfectly describes my office, where I routinely contribute to the decline of the newspaper industry by writing drivel like this.

I am cleaning up on orders from my wife, Sue, who is neater and more organized than I am. If we ever won the lottery, we would never collect the money because either Sue would inadvertently throw out the ticket or I would put it in my office for safekeeping and never find it.

In fact, it’s even worse than the bedroom once used by our younger daughter. One summer, when she was home from college, Sue described the room as a “disaster area.”

Because I think differently than most people, fortunately for most people, I decided to see if I could have the bedroom officially declared a disaster area so we would be eligible for state or federal funds to clean it up.

I called the New York Disaster Preparedness Commission, described the hellhole and was told that it was too big a job for the state and that I would have to go federal.

So — this is absolutely true — I called the White House to see if President George W. Bush, who was in office at the time and has two daughters about the same ages as my two daughters, had ever declared his kids’ rooms disaster areas.

I reached first lady Laura Bush’s press secretary, who said, and I quote, “That would be classified information.”

My daughter responded by putting a lock on her bedroom door.

That’s what I would do with my office door except I am neither as smart nor as handy as she is.

So I have begun a massive cleanup that includes getting rid of countless books (not any of the seven I have written, though Lord knows some people think they should be in a landfill) and reams of paper (I must have more paper, including almost 40 years’ worth of newspaper columns, than the National Archives).

I have so far donated more than 100 books to my local library, including textbooks from high school and college that I never read. It’s a wonder I graduated.

During the most recent of our never-ending home improvement projects, we had a Dumpster in the driveway. I took advantage of it by unloading tons of stuff that at one time seemed important but which clearly was dispensable.

Slowly but surely, there is light at the end of the tunnel. (I’m afraid that a locomotive is in there, too.)

But the cleanup isn’t over. I am taking a break because I am at the point of exhaustion. Yes, I know that a cluttered office is the sign of a sick, disorganized mind. On the other hand, a pristine office is the sign of a sick, compulsive mind. Either way, I can’t win.

Still, I am hoping to find Jimmy Hoffa. It would be like winning the lottery.

Copyright 2024 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, April 14, 2024

"Rub-a-Dub-Dub, No Men in the Tub"

By Jerry Zezima

I haven’t taken a bath since the Johnson administration (Lyndon, not Andrew) and it looks like the drought will continue because boys aren’t allowed in our newly renovated bathroom.

That is the edict handed down by our three granddaughters, ages 11, 7 and 4. Even before the renovation began, they taped a sign to the door reading:


No boys allowed!

Yes, I know the word “girls” should be plural, not possessive, but you must understand that these girls are: (a) young and (b) very possessive of the bathroom they use when they visit our house.

They have an ally in their grandmother, my wife, Sue, a girl who doubled down on the order when she told me, the only boy on the premises, that the bathroom was hers.

Sue doesn’t mind sharing it with our granddaughters, who love to splash in the tub, but the rest of the time she wants the place to herself.

I don’t blame her. For the first 11 years of our marriage, we lived in an apartment with only one bathroom. Sue and our two then-young daughters, now the mothers of our granddaughters, complained that I took too much time doing important manly things like trimming my nose hairs and cutting myself to ribbons while shaving.

When we moved into a condo, the situation was somewhat better, but we were still in each other’s way when it came to personal hygiene and answering the call of nature.

For the past quarter of a century, Sue and I have lived in a house with two and a half bathrooms. We have shared the main bathroom, which has a shower but no bathtub. The other full bathroom, which is larger than ours, has a shower and tub and was recently renovated. It was seldom used — except when our granddaughters came over to put on makeup, frost cupcakes, play outside and wash everything off in the bath.

This got me thinking: It would be nice, after all these years, to take a bath, too. I typically take showers that use enough water to drown a walrus. But now that we have a brand-new tub, I have been tempted to pamper myself by soaking in a warm, relaxing bubble bath.

I remember the old TV commercial for Calgon bath and beauty products. A woman was in the tub, strategically covered by bubbles, smiling contentedly and exclaiming, “Calgon, take me away!”

I can envision myself in a new commercial, up to my neck in soothing water and strategically covered by bubbles, which would be appropriate since I am a bubblehead. I would also be playing with my granddaughters’ bath toys, which include a couple of rubber duckies.

“Quack, quack!” I would exclaim, to which I would add: “Calgon, take me away!”

If that ever happened, Sue would call the authorities to have me taken away. Then she would have both full bathrooms to herself.

But after so many years, it’s natural for spouses to want their own space. Even the most loving couples, as we are, need a little privacy.

That is why I am staking a claim to the main bathroom, which was renovated last year. I won’t go so far as to tape a sign to the door reading:


No girls allowed!

But I do think I deserve a sanctuary where I can trim my nose hairs, take marathon showers and bleed profusely while shaving.

The problem is that Sue hasn’t fully moved into her own bathroom yet, so we are still sharing the main bathroom.

That’s all right with me because I am not a selfish guy. So I don’t mind it when I am brushing my teeth and Sue wants to do the same. I simply smile, which causes toothpaste to drip out of my mouth, and move over.

But I am sometimes tempted, when nobody is around, to stand in the shower and exclaim, “Calgon, take me away!”

Copyright 2024 by Jerry Zezima