Brain Power

One day I met my cousin, Jim, for a drink at our favorite watering hole. I always like to have a few drinks with him because we have the most interesting conversations.

“Hey Jim, I was just thinking the other day about our brains.”

“What about them, Dave?”

“Well, it’s an amazing organ. Three pounds of power sitting inside your skull, it controls everything we do and think.”

“That is amazing, Dave.”

We both took a couple of gulps of our beer and contemplated.

“Think about all those great brains, Einstein, Edison and Shakespeare. The human brain created the computer,skyscrapers, cars and all manner of things.”

“Two more beers here, bartender,” said cousin Jim.

“Yes Jim, this three pound mass of gray matter in our heads is very important.”

“You know, Dave, I never really thought about it, except when I have a headache!”

“And that’s a shame, cousin Jim.”

“Well, Dave, I think about other parts of the body like my biceps, buttocks and reproductive organs.”

I shook my head.

“Well, the other day I thought a lot about the amazing workings of the brain.”

“Oh yeh, what happened?”

“I was in my car waiting for the light to turn from red to green. There was a lot of traffic around. As I was waiting, a car creeped into the intersection and stopped directly in my path!”

“Gee, cousin Dave, that was an inconsiderate move.”

“I’ll say! It was a stupid  move! Well, anyway, the light changed, I couldn’t go forward and the people behind me couldn’t move either. We all just sat there because this jerk barred our way.That’s when I started thinking about the brain. There sat this creature with three pounds of brain and all those millions of cells, incapable of a simple thought: “I’m not going anywhere, so why block the intersection?”

I took a swig of my beer and continued.

“Now, this jerk’s brain had a problem, lack of information. The computer wizards call it “INPUT”. I decided to give the dummy some input.”

“What did you do?”

“I got out of my car and yelled at him: “You dummy, what did you block the way for?”

“That told him, cousin Dave.”

“All the people behind me honked their horns and gave me the thumbs-up sign. This was an indication that their brains were in good working order.”

“Want another beer, Dave?

“Yes, please. Where was I? Oh yes, eventually the jerk moved on and as he went he stuck out his tongue at me. My input was rejected, he’d block another intersection some day.”

“You can take rejection, Dave.”

“Well, cousin, I’m still enthralled by the human brain. And someday, I hope, science will come up with the answer, of why brains are wasted on so many DAMN FOOLS!”

The Argument


It was a beautiful day in Chicago according to the radio weatherman. Grant Park by the lakefront was in bloom. Buckingham Fountain was shooting water up 150 feet into the sky. Then it all cascaded down onto the seahorse statues at the base of the fountain.

Behind the fountain the skyscrapers reached for the sky. In the harbor the sailboats bobbed up and down on the sun speckled water.

A man and woman were sitting on a bench looking at the fountain water go up and then splash down. The man was blond and heavy set in his mid-thirties. He was wearing a black tee shirt and black trousers which contrasted with his pale skin. His face had a sour expression.

The woman also had blond hair and dark clothes. She was older, maybe late forties. She had tears running down her cheeks. Her mascara was running also.

The man and woman were brother and sister.

“Dad’s getting worse, Sue, what are we going to do about it?” John said, noticeably upset.

“Well, you’re not going to push him off on me, John. You get me so mad that I start crying.”

John was oblivious to Sue’s tears.

“I just suggested that you take Dad in for six months while I get married and go on my honeymoon. When Alice and I get settled, then we can make some permanent plans for the old man.”

“Six months! Come on, John, I’ve got a life too! I can’t be saddled with a senile old man. What will Tom think? It might just destroy our fragile relationship. It’s probably my last chance at happiness!”

Six months later:

“Well, John, now that you’ve had your way and got rid of Dad while you got settled with Alice, now what? What are we going to do with this eighty year old man that doesn’t even seem like our father? I’m lucky Tom is still interested in me.”

“Well, I can’t take him, period. Alice is now pregnant. We just couldn’t cope. We will have to put him in a home,” said John, not even looking at Sue.

Sue nodded reluctantly.

A year later, after their father’s funeral: John and Sue were siting on the bench by Buckingham Fountain.

“Well, I hope you’re satisfied, John. Dad died in that home of a broken heart,” said Sue, accusingly.

“You didn’t want to take him either, Sue. Don’t throw all the guilt on me.”

“Maybe we could have made his life happier at the last, but that’s water under the bridge now,” said Sue.

“We will just have to live with our guilt feelings, Sue.”

Sue got up and walked away from her brother.

It started to rain.


I live alone so I decided to get a pet for company. I was undecided on what to get, until I visited my cousin, who was in a new relationship.

He opened a bottle of wine and we sat listening to mood music while his new lady went into the kitchen to prepare a pasta dish.

Apparently, they met at the gym, on adjoining running machines. My cousin was obviously happy and I congratulated him on his good fortune. Then it walked slowly into the room. It arched its back and hissed at me.

“You have a cat?” I said.

“Yes, isn’t it cute?”

“But you have never been a cat person.”

“It’s hers, now it’s ours.”

“You are allergic to cats.”

“The allergist said this cat has very short hair, so it’s okay.”

“You hate cats, remember?”

“No, you’re mistaken. I like cats,” he said, looking toward the kitchen.

He then picked up the animal and rubbed it under its chin. It then scratched his arm.

“Playful little thing,” he said, wiping the blood away with his hanky.

Just then his lady came in with the appetizers.

“Oh, you’ve been playing with Millie.”

“Millie attacked him!”

“Oh, she’s just playing.”

“Oh yeah, if Millie was bigger I think she’d rip his throat out.”

His lady looked daggers at me. I think she then arched her back.

“I take it you don’t like cats.”

“You’re right there, lady. Ninety per cent of men dislike cats.”

“I know lots of men who like cats.”

“They lied.”

“Why would they lie?”

“They are wimps who want to please women. They know most women like cats.”

The cat lady looked at my cousin.

“You like cats don’t you, darling?”

“Yes honey, I love them,” he said, stroking the feline’s head and withdrawing his hand fast before it got his fingers.

“No, he likes dogs. You never read stories about cats recuing people or being watchful and driving off bandits or wolves.”

My cousin’s lady looked at him and said:

“Do you really prefer dogs?”

“Of course not,” my cousin whimpered.

“I hate dogs, they’re barking all the time.”

Well I decided to skip the pasta. I grabbed my coat and hat and left.

The last thing I saw was my cousin trying to tickle the cat behind the ears. It was squirming violently. I think it was trying to scratch his eyes out. My cousin was trying hard to like that cat.

I think cats might be an acquired “like”.

So, what do you think I should get? A cat? A dog? A turtle? Goldfish?…

Well, I finally decided to get a cat, for the challenge!

Goodbye Diet and Exercise, Hello Hormones and Genes

I was having lunch in the park, with my workmate, John. My lunch consisted of polish sausage sandwiches with mustard and onions, a Twinkie and a milkshake.

John was eating broiled skinless chicken, a grapefruit, washed down with Perrier water.

He poked me in the stomach and said:

“Sid, you should come with me to the gym and work off some of that.”

I scrutinized John, he was emaciated.

“A few years ago I renounced the diet and fitness craze, John.”

“You’re out of step with the times, Sid.”

“Sorry John, I don’t want to do push-ups, sit-ups or pull a rowing machine, jog or anything more strenuous than rolling out of bed.”

John looked at me like I was an alien.

“I get a great reward from being fit and watching my diet.”

I laughed.

“What’s that, John, after a shower you admire your flat stomach for a minute in the mirror?”

“Yes, I like the way I look, but the main thing is I probably will live longer.”

“So, you will live longer. Then you will probably go to a nursing home and die,

slowly neglected in a corner or you will end up in a low-rent neighborhood and try to make ends meet on Social Security.”

“But Sid, you could have so much fun playing handball and aging gracefully.”

“John, let me enlighten you on the new scientific discoveries.”

“What are those?” said John, quizzically.

“That exercising and diet doesn’t work in many cases of controlling fat. Hormones and genes are just as important if not more so.”

“I don’t believe it.”

“Yes, it’s true. Hormones are the substances that tell our bodies what to do. And the appetite gene is what we inherit from our parents.”

“How does it work?”

“Well, some people no matter how hard they try, can’t lose weight because of a defect in their hunger and fullness hormones. Even though you are full, you still feel hungry and want to eat.”

“What about the genes?”

“It concerns the appetite gene, whether it is turned on or off. If you’ve had a lot of stress in your life, your appetite gene could turn off and you’d get thin or it could turn on and you’d get fat.”

John just stared at me.

“So, in conclusion, killing yourself with exercise and diet is irrelevant. It’s your hormones and genes that are important. Your fatness or thinness is not under your will at all.”

“You mean I could start eating sausage and drinking beer again?”

“That’s right, John, it makes no difference!”

John had a look of surprise on his face.

“Go to the beer garden behind the tavern and look at all those happy folks popping sausages and drinking steins of beer. Then they thump their stomachs and smile. It’s complete heaven.”

John was smiling, thinking of all the wonderful food he could have again.

“Look, John, at those runners in the park, how emaciated they look, and then they drop to the grass, tongues hanging out, wheezing and throwing up.”

John gawked at the runners.

“If that’s the way to health and happiness, pass me the salami and beer!”

Alcoholic Philosophy

My friend Leon and I were discussing the pros and cons of our drinking habit. The funny thing was we were in our favorite tavern enjoying our “boilermakers”, which is a glass of beer plus a shot of whiskey. It was a good place for this discussion.

“What do you get out of drinking, Leon”?

“Well, I get a lot of joy out of it, Tom.”

“Sometimes, Leon, it makes me miserable!”

“I can’t believe that, Tom, look at our friendship, which is cemented by our sociable drinking together.”

“Maybe, but I have made a few enemies when I got drunk.”

“Tom, you know something, I get exhilarated when I drink.”

“But there’s a flip side, isn’t there, Leon? After the flying high, sometimes you get very depressed.”

“All I know, Tom, is after a hard day’s work, I like to get some of my favorite bottled anesthetic. It helps relieve the pain of reality.”

We lifted our shot glasses and toasted:


We laughed together, feeling delightfully dizzy.

“FOR MEDICINAL PURPOSES,” we cheered simultaneously.

“Bartender, two more whiskeys,” shouted Leon.

“You know, Leon, my parents told me never to drink, that it was the devil in a bottle.”

“Tom, it probably would have been a better idea to break you in gently to liquor. Maybe a little wine diluted with water, when you were about ten years old. You would have learned early how to handle alcohol.”

“Hmm, I’m not so sure of that, Leon.”

We downed our shots in one go.

“Oh Tom, I feel so calm after a few drinks.”

“That’s funny, Leon, I feel sort of shaky.”

“Not me, I feel absolutely heavenly, Tom.”

“I feel like hell, Leon.”

All of a sudden, Leon fell off of his stool and ended up on the floor, face down with his arms spread-eagled.

“What’s wrong with Leon?” said the bartender.

“Nothing, he’s just holding onto the floor, so he doesn’t fall!”

Naked As A Jaybird

I was sitting with my buddy, Joe, in our favorite watering hole, sipping our beers and looking at our reflections in the huge mirror behind the bar.

“My wife does her housework naked!” said Joe, solemnly.

I almost choked on my swig of beer.

“How do you know, did you catch her?”

“Yes, I did. She usually tells me to get lost while she cleans the house because I get in her way. Well, I came back early one day and caught  her pushing the vacuum with just her wrist watch on”

“Why does she do it?”

Joe was smiling into the bar mirror.

“She says it gives her the feeling of total freedom.”

“I hope she draws all the curtains.”

“Oh yes, she likes her privacy.”

“I thought she was getting the first symptoms of dementia, but she says she’s perfectly sane. She says a lot of women do it.”

“I imagine there are some hazards to be aware of when you’re playing Lady Godiva,” I mumbled.

“Oh yes, she burned her tummy while ironing once.”

“Wow! That smarts,” I laughed into the mirror.

“She says she gets the house cleaned in record time, because she can bend and stretch freely.”

“That’s wonderful!”

I ordered two more beers.

“Some people would think there was something immoral about cleaning the house naked.”

Joe shook his head.

“She says she enjoys it and why shouldn’t she have some fun while doing the drudgery jobs.”

“Has she told you about any embarrassing incidents while she was working in her birthday suit?”

Joe laughed.

“Tell me, I need a laugh, I’m going home soon.”

“Well, one incident she told me about almost cured her of this nakedness.”

Joe hesitated.

“Bartender, give Joe another beer.” I had to hear this story.

“Well, she was doing the washing in the basement and she just had her hair done. Some of our pipes leak a bit and she spotted our son’s football helmet, which she put on to protect her hair. So, there she stood, stark naked wearing a football helmet.”

We both laughed at that mental image.

“My wife then heard the basement door open. She turned around and there was the gas meter reader staring at her with his mouth open. As he turned to leave, he said: “I hope your team wins, lady.”

Up Or Down

After living alone for many years, I recently got married. I knew adjustments would have to be made. But there was one item I didn’t think of. That item was the toilet seat.

“John, can you please put the seat down before you leave the bathroom,” my wife said, good-naturedly.

“Darling, old habits are hard to break,” I said, smiling.

“Okay John, I’m going to tape a note to the wall to remind you.”

Needless to say the notes didn’t work, they kept falling off. Joking about it didn’t help, it only led to insults and yelling at each other.

There was trouble in “River City”.

“John, the normal state of the toilet seat is DOWN.”

“Darling, you’re so picky.”

“ Does it exhaust you so much to put the seat down?”

Now I was getting angry.

“Darling, if a woman doesn’t have the sense to observe where she is about to sit, she probably deserves everything that’s coming to her.”

“John, it is a case of simple courtesy to put the seat down.”

My wife was now demanding me to put it down. I was getting rebellious.

“Darling, when I enter the bathroom, I have enough sense and decency to lift the seat.”

“Well then, why can’t you put it down before you leave?”

“You’re getting so prickly. I suppose the next problem you will think of is whether the toilet tissue should go over the roll or straight down, next to the wall.”

“Don’t be silly, John, the toilet seat issue is much more important.”

“Darling, this is the final thing I’m going to say about this issue, does it require of you more energy to flop it down than it does for me to flip it up?”

“What are you getting at?”

“The simple answer to my question is, NO! In fact it requires less energy for you, because I am fighting GRAVITY!”

The Victim

One day, while I was out for a walk in my favorite park, I stumbled on a path I never took before. I decided to explore it. I think I walked through low hanging trees for at least a hundred yards.

I came across a bench that looked like it hadn’t been used for years. I sat down and started musing on all manner of things. The stillness of the place was deafening. I thought what a wonderful place to collect one’s thoughts and come to some decisions.

When, out of the trees, came a man dressed in a long trench coat with the collar turned up. He was walking sort of hunched over, a picture of complete dejection. His expression was one of hopelessness. He slumped down next to me on the bench. A few minutes of silence passed between us.

“Nice day,” I thought I’d open the conversation.

“I hadn’t noticed,” my bench mate mumbled.

“I find it very relaxing here.”

The trench coat just stared at me in disbelief.

“My name is Dave, what’s yours?”

“Nick,” he said, barely audible.

“Well, Nick, why the long face?”

“I’ve lost interest in life, I’ve lost control. People are always taking advantage of me. I’ve lost my confidence and I feel depressed. I feel nothing will get better.”

“Give me some examples of why you feel this way.”

I thought I might be able to help this chap.

“Well, this might sound silly, but I was at a party and I had to use the toilet. Now, everyone was within earshot of the bathroom. So I held off, because I didn’t want to be embarrassed by any toilet sounds. Needless to say, I left the party early.”

“Now, what you should have done was to use the toilet and not worry about what other people think.”

Nick nodded his head, feebly.

“I keep being told to apologize for things I don’t feel sorry about. But I go ahead and ask for forgiveness. I allow myself to feel low and manipulated.”

“You keep being the victim all the time. You let people pull your strings. You should just state what you believe and stop being upset because someone refuses to understand your point of view.”

Nick looked perplexed. Then he started crying.

“My wife died six months ago and I can’t get over it.I’ve become a wreck. I’ve become immobilized and I can’t get on with living. I constantly say, “Why has this happened? It shouldn’t have happened.”

“Nick, I lost my wife too. I mourned for awhile and expressed my sadness at losing my partner and then I turned my thoughts to my need to be alive and enjoy living. I refused to be endlessly depressed.”

Nick’s face seemed to brighten and he said:

“Well, I think I better be going, thanks for the chat.”

He got up and walked down the path and he disappeared in the heavy vegetation.

I went home and switched on the TV. The news was on. It seemed a man wearing a trench coat was threatening to jump from a sixth floor office window. And before the negotiator got there, he came back inside on his own volition. Then the man’s picture flashed on the screen. It was Nick!

Do You Understand Art?

I confess most contemporary art is beyond me. Recently, I came across a contemporary art story that boggled my mind.

An art teacher at a college had assigned her students to make sculptures from chicken bones!

Is that unusual? Not really, if you stop to think about it. Artists have all kinds of strange things as models, pop cans, wrecked cars, even unmade beds. Now, if nobody can tell what the art represents, it becomes an artistic triumph.

This particular teacher added something unusual to the assignment. She gave a live chicken to each student and told them to take it home as a pet for a couple of days.

Then they were to take it to the slaughterhouse and watch it being killed and processed. And then, have it for dinner! So, after picking the bones clean, they were to use them for their work of art.

What was the reason for this exercise? Well, the teacher said it would bring artist and object together. The chickens would be part of their bodies and it would then expand their imagination.

Some animal lovers were up in arms. But most of the students approved of the experiment.

One student upon watching a chicken’s head get chopped off, said: “It’s something the ordinary person doesn’t usually see, it’s interesting.”

A female student remarked: “It was nice to have a relationship with something you eat.”

So, those large tuitions that are charged are probably worthwhile because of the unusual educational opportunities that are available.

If a student phones his parents and says:

“Guess what happened in art class today?”

“What did you do? Paint a nude?”

“No, I took a pet chicken to have it beheaded.”

I’m sure the parents would think college was all worthwhile.

But now, I want to shed my ignorance of contemporary art.

So, the next time my wife and I get a bucket of chicken, and look at the pile of bones. I’ll feel some artistic unification with the chickens.

And when I burp and my wife says’ “That’s disgusting.”

I will say: “That isn’t disgusting, that’s ART!”