Like

Anyone know what the world record is for the number of times sneezing in a row? I think I broke it. The record, not my nose. I have a head cold.

Speaking of counting things, let’s talk about “like.” I don’t mean the Facebook Like and I don’t mean your general, every day like, as in “I like ice cream” or “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing.” This is the other one.

I was sitting in the Barnes & Noble cafe, minding my own business, drinking a grande hot chai with a shot of vanilla when I happened to overhear the young woman at the table next to me talking on the phone. She was talking to a friend about what her dad expects from her. Apparently she was upset because her father expects her, at the age she is, to have certain things in life and be doing certain things in life. There was a lot of talk about feelings, the kind of explanation you might get from a girl in high school who draws hearts on the front of her textbook or a young woman in her sophomore year at a college with a lot of safe spaces. At one point she mentioned she was 25 years old.

I decided to count how many times she said “like” in five minutes. I glanced at my Timex and silently said “go” to myself and counted. Total tally? 44 times. 44 times in 5 minutes! How many times is that a minute? You do the math. (No, seriously, you do the math, I’m terrible at it.)

What would happen if a bunch of “likes” were actually written in one paragraph?

I was, like, sitting in the Barnes & Noble cafe, minding my own business, drinking, like, a grande hot chai with a shot of vanilla when I happened to overhear the young woman at the table next to me talking on the phone. She was, like, talking to a friend about what her dad expects from her. Apparently she was, like, upset because her father expects her, at the age she is, to have, like, certain things in life and be doing certain things in life. There was, like, a lot of talk about feelings, the kind of explanation you might get from a girl in high school who draws hearts on the front of her textbook or, like, a young woman in her sophomore year at a college with a lot of safe spaces. At one point she mentioned she was, like, 25 years old.

Those “likes” don’t make any sense when you write them out, so why would you actually say them out loud? Where did this come from, and how did it become so ubiquitous?

If I were to give one piece of advice to teens and college age people – and also to 25 year-olds who have jobs, apparently – it wouldn’t be to save money or to be nicer to small children and dogs and it wouldn’t be to remember to floss, though all of those things are important. It would be to cut out the “likes” completely. You’d be amazed how much smarter you’ll sound.

Oh, and don’t say “um” either. But that’s a whole other rant.

Laura Petrie, pork chops, and the way things happen sometimes

Walked to the store earlier today to get some milk. The weather was rainy and windy and cold and raw, the kind of weather people are supposed to hate and moan about. I love it.

Something happened this week that happens more often in my life than not, and I sometimes wonder why. I’ve been reading a classic collection of essays by Jean Kerr titled Please Don’t Eat The Daisies (something I’m going to write about in my Saturday Evening Post column on Friday). I saw the movie years ago but I’ve never read the book, which came out in the late ’50’s. In fact, I never even knew that the book was a series of essays, I thought it was a non-fiction memoir that was turned into a movie and later a TV series. Which I guess it is in a way. It’s a terrific book. The essays focus on her four sons and her husband and her life as a playwright, and if you like Peg Bracken and Erma Bombeck or just well-written observations about life in general you’ll like Kerr.

I read a couple of chapters and decided to put the book down and put on an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show. I chose “My Husband is the Best One,” the 1964 episode where Laura screws up an interview that Rob has with a reporter from Newstime about what it’s like to work with Alan Brady, talking about Rob so much that the piece ends up being about Rob and not Alan. A few days later when the article comes out and everyone at the office is mad at Rob, Laura mentions that even though they don’t like him down at the office, everyone in New Rochelle loves him. In fact, the people at the supermarket were so impressed with the article that they gave Laura the pork chops they usually save for another regular customer.

The other customer? JEAN KERR.

I had to rewind the DVD – if “rewind” is what you do to a DVD – to make sure I heard it right. Yup, the Petries live near someone named Jean Kerr. Now, I’m thinking, is this the Jean Kerr, or someone with a similar name that has no connection to the Jean Kerr, or is it something in-between, the writers obviously knowing who Jean Kerr is and giving this fictional character the same name as an inside joke?

Not to get all Columbo about this, and there’s a good chance you’ve already clicked to another site to look at cats or something, but I think I figured it out. I did some checking and the real Jean Kerr lived in Larchmont, NY, which is right near New Rochelle, where the Petries lived (and where series creator Carl Reiner lived in real life), so the Petries and Kerrs shopped at the same supermarket. This was a reference to the actual Jean Kerr and that’s why the audience laughs at Laura’s line: the supermarket usually saves the pork chops for the famous Jean Kerr but on this day gave them to Laura because of the article about Rob. I bet there was an article about Kerr in that issue of Newstime Laura was reading.

It’s interesting because I wonder if you could even get away with that today. Would modern TV audiences believe that a “normal,” every day person like Laura Petrie would shop at the same supermarket as a well-known writer of plays and essays? Sure, Jean Kerr wasn’t Brad Pitt/Julia Roberts famous, but I wonder if it would ring true now or if people would consider it too unreal, simple name-dropping, a joke pulled out of thin air. It’s completely believable in the Dick Van Dyke Show world though. Considering where the Kerrs lived and what Jean Kerr wrote about, family life and raising kids and other everyday matters, and the fact that Rob writes for a top ten TV show yet still lives in the suburbs, of course Laura Petrie shops where Jean Kerr shops.

Wait, I’m not done yet. Later that night I was watching a repeat of To Tell The Truth on Buzzr, an episode from 1962 with guest Barry Nelson on the panel. Host Bud Collyer mentioned that Nelson was currently appearing on stage in a very popular play titled Mary, Mary. Guess who wrote that play?

Come on, guess.

 

Snow Day

Here’s the secret to shoveling snow: shovel more.

Eleven inches fell all day and night yesterday, and if I had waited until the storm was over to shovel it would have been a horrifying chore. But I went out every few hours or so and did the stairs and sidewalk so it didn’t get a chance to build up. A few rounds of shoveling yesterday and one early this morning to get rid of the 2 or 3 inches that fell overnight, a generous amount rock salt thrown down and it was done.

Last night as I was shoveling the sidewalk at the base of the stairs, I heard someone say “WHOA!” It was a guy – probably in his late teens or early 20’s – coming down the hill. My head was down and my hood was up so I don’t know why he exclaimed that, maybe he lost his footing, but as I looked at him he looked at me and said “THIS F***ING PLACE SUCKS!” Not exactly a moment that would inspire a Saturday Evening Post cover but I did laugh to myself.

Oh, speaking of: new column up.

Fly Gary, Fly

It’s always a little sad in early January, isn’t it? There’s a weird vibe. Not everything is back to normal, but it’s not Christmas either, and it takes a few days or more to get used to a routine that doesn’t involve red and green. The holidays are over and done with, and it’s always a bit of a letdown.

But a new year can also be invigorating. There’s so much “new” to look forward to, so much to do, so much promise. New beginnings! And one big reason to be glad 2017 is here is that I’ll no longer have to watch that #%&*! fios commercial where Gary breaks the world sled jump record and impresses his family and friends (and that’s the minute-long director’s cut, where we learn who holds the old record).

I’ve seen that commercial so many times this winter that I really do want to see Gary dislocate his shoulder. Hopefully someone will call Child Services on his mom for letting him jump.