Category Archives: Opinion

Where one woman sets the bar for a man who comes courting

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — NOV 6, 2013 —

I was talking to a friend the other day and somehow our conversation turned to the subject of how most men usually make a very poor impression on first dates, and our chat went a little something like this:

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Features Editor

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Features Editor

“Ever since I got divorced, my match-making big sister has been trying to get me to go out on dates,” explained my friend. “For years now, I’ve been able to get out of it, but she just never stops trying. I know she means well and wants to be helpful, but I have told her over and over again that my dogs and I are perfectly happy to have our home all to ourselves now and that I have no urge to have a man underfoot 24/7 again. Anyway, a few weeks ago, I couldn’t stand her pleading any longer and I very reluctantly agreed to let her set up a date for me with one of the guys she thinks will make me happy as a clam. So she gives him my phone number and he calls up and asks if I would like to go to dinner with him. Now no way do I want to go on a dinner date, since that would be at night and who knows what is expected of women nowadays after the sun goes down. So I tell him I can only meet him for lunch since I don’t have anyone who can watch my dogs at night. I know that was a pretty lame excuse, but he seemed to buy it and I told him I would leave all the lunch date details up to him. So guess what he goes and does?”
“What?”
“He picks out the fanciest place in town to have lunch, which means I have to dig through my entire closet to come up with something appropriate to wear, which turned out to include my new boots, and that turned into a whole other can of worms that I will explain later. So, feeling like I wanted to throw up, I show up at the fancy restaurant determined to have a nice lunch and there he is, smiling from ear-to-ear and actually not looking as bad as I thought he would. I mean, my sister’s taste in men is what you might generously call eclectic, and for some reason, most of them are bald. But this guy at least had some hair and it was even properly combed.”
“So, it sounds like your lunch date was off to a good start,” I said.
“It was, but things started to go downhill in a real big hurry!”
“How come?”
“Well, to begin with, he was short, about 5’7” tops, and there I was in high-heeled boots, making me as tall as him. As shallow as it sounds, I just don’t like short men. Never have, never will. Plus that Napoleon complex thing really is true by the way! So my goal was to get seated as quickly as possible so I could stop thinking about how short he was. And I did like that he pulled out my chair for me. But it was only a matter of seconds before the real problem started.”
“What was the real problem?” I asked with interest.
“He started talking!”
“Did he have a weird voice or something?”
“No, his voice was pretty normal, although nothing to write home about. But all he wanted to talk about was himself! And once he got started, boy, he simply couldn’t stop!”
“Maybe he was just nervous?”
“No, he didn’t seem nervous at all. He was just full of himself, and I’m talking right up to the brim, too! He’s a lawyer, and he’s apparently under the illusion that it’s the greatest profession in the world. And there I was, having always ranked lawyers right up there with car salesmen and carnival barkers. And the more he talked, the more I wanted to scream, `Okay, please, enough already’! Plus since he wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise, I had way too much time to start noticing all the other things I didn’t like about him.”
“Like what?”
“Well, to begin with, he was wearing a pinky ring.”
“A pinky ring?”
“I have always tried to avoid guys who wear pinky rings, and this one was huge. I mean, I love amethyst stones, but not when they’re big enough to play catch with and on a guy’s pinky finger. Plus he had obviously just had a manicure.”
“Really?”
“I’m sorry, but a man whose fingernails look better than mine has always been a huge red flag for me, not to mention that god-awful pinky ring!”
“Wow,” I said, “I didn’t realize women are so observant on first dates.”
“Are you kidding? We notice everything! And to tell you the truth, it’s really not all that hard to impress us. There are just a few basic things that we don’t want to see.”
“Like what?”
“Well, for instance, a belly that needs the word `beer’ in front of it, or eyebrows that look like mustaches, or any visible signs of fungi. We also don’t want to see hair in strange places! I mean, we women have all learned that we have to accept how hairy most men are, and some of us even come to like it, but we want guys to be hairy in all the places that we have more or less learned to live with – no surprises. In other words, we don’t want to see hair coming out of a guy’s nose, or his ears, or especially a mole on his face.”
“So did your lunch date have hair in any of the wrong places?”
“No, but he did do something I have a very big problem with – he made noise when he chewed his food. I mean, he tried to chew with his mouth shut, which is always a good thing, but he still made lots of gross shushing sounds. Plus since he couldn’t stop talking about himself, the food he was chewing kept coming into view. Now who wants to watch – and hear – your date chewing his food?”
“So, how did the date end?” I asked with interest.
“Oh, in the worst possible way!”
“What do you mean?”
“It ended up with him going on and on about how he had a really fantastic time, which I’m sure he did since he got to talk non-stop about himself for over an hour. But now he wants to take me out again and I’m running out of excuses. I really want to strangle my sister and she knows it. Plus now he wants us to have a night-time date, and you know what that means, don’t you?”
“No, what?”
“It means that he wants to get those perfectly manicured and creepy little hands of his on me, and believe me, the only paws I want on me nowadays belong to my dogs!”

Note: After showing the draft of this column to a few more friends, it dawned on me that West Sacramento is full of people who have been on some very funny dates, and that it would make a great subject for a follow-up column. So if you are one of them, I can be reached at daryl@news-ledger.com and I promise to keep your name – although not your funny date story – a secret!

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Better than a bank: where to stash cash

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — OCT 9, 2013 —

  Editor’s note: Daryl is off this week. Below is one of his favorite columns from the past.

On days when I have nothing constructive to do at work, I sometimes go on the Internet just to browse around with the hope that I might stumble across a good idea for a future column. For instance, the other day I ran across a story entitled “Scientific study finds that drinking three cups of coffee a day can shrink a woman’s breasts,” which of course sounded like a pretty darn good column idea to me.

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Features Editor

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Features Editor

“Keep looking,” said the owner/editor of the News-Ledger, Steve Marschke, when I told him about the new column idea I had just run across on the Internet.

“Why?”

“Well, other than all the obvious reasons, it also breaks the first rule of column writing.”

“Which is?”

“That you should always try to write about a subject that most of our readers can identify with, something common to most everyone’s experience, and since not every woman in West Sacramento is interested in having smaller breasts, it’s my opinion that you’ve got yourself a pretty lousy column idea there.”

“But most every woman in West Sacramento drinks coffee,” I quickly reminded Steve, looking for an angle to salvage my new column idea.

“Keep looking!”

So, having struck out in the health news area, I turned my attention to what the Internet had to say about personal finance, figuring that everyone would be especially interested in that subject with all the thievery that has been going on back on Wall Street lately, and I quickly came across something which I was absolutely sure would make for a great column.

“Hey, Steve,” I yelled out through the open door which separates our two offices, “how about this for a good column idea – the crazy places where people like to hide their money?”

“Hey, now that’s not bad,” answered Steve. “With people everywhere currently worried about their own banks going out of business, I bet more people than ever are just keeping their hard-earned money at home and hiding it under a mattress or something.”

“That’s exactly what this article says, and you wouldn’t believe some of the places people use for hiding their money.”

“Like what?”

“Well, this one lady hides her extra money in a tampon box, figuring that would be the last place her husband would ever look for his beer money. And here’s another really good one – some guy puts dozens of hundred-dollar bills in a plastic bag and then hides it under the gravel of his big fish aquarium, which is home to a half-dozen or so piranha fish, figuring that a thief wouldn’t want anything to do with all those sharp piranha teeth.”

“That’s pretty funny.”

“Wanna hear some more?”

“Sure.”

“Okay, here goes. Inside a curtain rod; inside a roll of toilet paper hidden in the back of a bathroom cabinet; at the bottom of a dirty clothes hamper; in envelopes taped to the back of furniture; in artificial plants; in an old vacuum cleaner that is never used; at the bottom of a basket labeled `dog poo plastic bags’; under a nailed down carpet in the bedroom; in a hollowed-out Bible; inside an old pair of smelly sneakers; in the pockets of old coats hanging in a closet; inside a child’s teddy bear that can be easily opened and sewed back together again; in a mason jar buried in the backyard; under the cat-litter box; and here’s a cute one – inside a piggy bank that this lady puts in her freezer because she thinks that’s the perfect place to keep her cold, hard cash.”

“Very funny!”

“And this one guy says he just puts all of his money under the mattress because his lazy wife is always in bed and he’s pretty sure a thief wouldn’t want anything to do with her. But do you wanna hear my favorite?”

“Sure.”

“This one lady hides her money in one of the hundreds of purses she has in her big walk-in closet figuring that most criminals like to get in and out of a place they’re robbing pretty fast and that it would probably take a thief most of a day to go through all of her purses.”

Anyway, after I had finished telling Steve a dozen or so more interesting places where people like to hide their spare money, I asked him where he likes to hide his.

“Well,” said Steve, “I have on occasion left some extra money lying around in my underwear drawer. How about you?”

“I don’t have any extra money, Steve. I work for the News-Ledger!”

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Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Still crazy for Cootabloodymundra

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Features Editor

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Features Editor

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — SEP 25, 2013 —

As much as I love the written word, it’s the spoken word that has always fascinated me. I think it began with a college fraternity brother of mine who had been raised in the American South and had the slowest of slow drawls that I had ever heard. When I asked him why he spoke that way he smiled and said, “Well, if you’ve ever been down South in the summer time during all that heat and humidity, you would know how much effort it takes to just put a simple sentence together, so most of us Southerners learned early on that it’s a whole lot easier to just take our time and speak very, very slowly.”

I have often wondered if we really know what we sound like to those around us? I once heard my voice on a telephone answering machine and couldn’t believe it was me. Interestingly enough, a recent study found that most of us actually prefer the sound of our own voice to the voices of others. But my favorite accent has always belonged to the Australians. I almost immediately fell in love with the way Aussies speak way back in 1969 when the U.S. Army let me take a whole week off from the Vietnam War and go to Sydney, Australia for my R&R. And what a lovely big modern city it was, right on the sea with pretty brick homes everywhere and very friendly people speaking English in what seemed to me the most wonderful way possible.

“I’m not exactly sure why it is,” said an Australian friend of mine, “but I think it’s true that most Americans generally quite like an Australian accent. But when I lived in Virginia for a few years I remember opening my mouth to speak and it was like biting into cake hot out of the oven and it falling into a thousand crumbs. It seemed messy and inelegant compared to the way you Americans speak English. To my ear, my voice sounded jarring, like shattering glass among the pebbly-smooth American accents. And those poor nice Virginians sure spent a lot of time saying `Pardon?’ when I spoke to them.”

As our conversation continued about some of the different ways Americans and Australians go about speaking English, I also learned that Aussies like to have fun with their language.

“We like to fiddle with our words,” explained my friend from Down Under. “You know, kind of Australianize them and make them our own, although sometimes I think we just like to juvenilize them and make them sound cute. And so we have mozzies instead of mosquitoes, and cozzies instead of swimming costumes, and brekky instead of breakfast, and bickies instead of cookies, just to name a few. And our language is also full of understatements and overstatements, twists and subtleties. For instance, if your best mate called you a `total bastard’, it’s actually a compliment, but if he called you `a bit of a bastard’, you should begin to run.”

“Really?” I asked, smiling.

“Plus the Australian sense of humor is also embedded in the colorful way we use our language,” continued my friend, “going all the way back to our convict heritage. And we have also been blessed with lots of beautiful Aboriginal words, although you have to live in Australia forever to properly pronounce some of our Aboriginal places like Woolgoolga, Woolloomooloo, Yackandandah, Upotipotpon, Manangaroo, Moolooloo, Wollongong, Koolyanobbing, and my personal favorite, Mamungkukumpurangkuntjunya, which, by the way, means `where the devil urinates’. And only in Australia would you find places with names like Boyland, Come By Chance, Banana and Orange, Doo Town, Foul Bay, Humpty Doo, Tom Ugly, Useless Loop, Rooty Hill, Nowhere Else, and Mt. Buggery.”

“What I remember best about Australia,” I said, “is that it only took about a 30-minute drive out of Sydney to be in a whole different place, with vast vistas and some of the most other-worldly scenery I had ever seen.”

“One of my favorite places in Australia – both enjoyable to the tongue and the eye – is Cootabloodymundra, which I think you would call a `one-horse town’. And we have lots of Woop Woop towns, which is actually pronounced different than it sounds, something like a bird call. All Woop Woop places are wonderfully remote and isolated and backwards, like I guess being `out in the sticks’ is in America. Actually, in Australia we can drive for many hours and hundreds of miles in a vast, paprika red and juiceless blood orange dustbowl under a massive blue dome of sky, and it all qualifies as Woop Woop. Anyway, I have always loved the way us Aussies have gone out of our way to have fun with our language and it continues to this day. I mean, where else in the world can you be happily driving along and come upon Curly Dick Road?”

 

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Copyright News-Ledger 2013

 

‘Cats 101’: a dog person brushes up

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — AUG 28, 2013 —

Over the years I have written numerous columns about dogs. I have talked at great length about my own beloved Cocker Spaniel, Mikey, including a column about the terrible day I had to finally put him to sleep. I also wrote a little series of columns about my daughter’s crazy adopted dog, Little Suze, who needed to be put on doggie Prozac because of her separation anxiety and fear of abandonment issues. I even got a good friend mad at me because I wrote about how it’s dachshunds (she loves them) that you need to be worried about biting you, not pit bulls, because weiner dogs bite more people each year than any other breed of dog. In fact, I even got in trouble for calling them weiner dogs, which apparently is something a real dachshund-lover would never do.

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Features Editor

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Features Editor

Anyway, I have really enjoyed writing dog columns over the years, and since there are so many dog owners in West Sacramento who can relate to the trials, tribulations and joys of having a dog, I have often received quite a bit of positive feedback from writing them. However, after last week’s column, which was about what to do with the family dog when vacation time rolls around, I received a phone call that started off with a rather alarming question.

“So,” asked the caller, “what’s your problem with cats?”

“But I don’t have a problem with cats,” I quickly assured her.

“Then how come you only write about dogs?”

“Well,” I said, scrambling for an answer, “I guess it’s because I’ve never owned a cat and don’t know much about them.”

“Then you do have a problem with cats!”

“No, not really, it’s just that I was raised in a house with dogs and have always liked having one around. And then when I got married, it turned out that my daughter was very allergic to cats, so that was the one pet my kids were never allowed to  have.”

“So, you’re blaming your hatred of cats on your daughter’s allergies, hey?”

As our conversation continued, it dawned on me that cat lovers take their relationships with cats very seriously and that in journalistic fairness, I did need to learn more about cats and maybe even write a column about them. The only cat I had ever been around was a big fat black and white one named Timmy, who belonged to my brother and often made us laugh by the way he would sleep on top of my brother’s warm television set in the winter time and then sooner or later fall off of it, landing with a big thud on the carpet. My brother was very proud of the fact that Timmy was apparently the only cat in existence who didn’t know how to land on his feet when he fell off of something.

So, in preparation for writing this column, I decided to call a very nice lady and longtime subscriber of the News-Ledger that I was sure knew everything there is to know about cats (she has a whole house full of them) and our conversation went a little something like this:

“Why do you suddenly want to know all about my cats?” she asked me.

“Because I got called out the other day for only writing about dogs in my newspaper column.”

“Oh, I’ve noticed that, too. But maybe you’re just a dog person. You know, it’s really true that there are dog people and then there are cat people, and they’re very different.”

“Why do you think that is?”

“I’m not really sure,” she said, “but I think it has something to do with the fact that cats are a lot more complicated than dogs, and a cat owner has to expend a lot more mental and emotional energy to successfully cohabitate with them.”

“How so?” I asked with interest.

“Well, first of all, you have to take the time to understand all their peculiar behaviors. For instance, you have to learn what all their different vocalizations mean. Cats meow and purr and trill and hiss and make all kinds of other strange sounds that all have a meaning, and if you don’t know what a cat is trying to tell you, you can end up making them miserable, not to mention getting yourself scratched or bitten. They are also nocturnal and territorial by nature, sleep a whole lot during the day, need to scratch and knead, scent mark everything in sight, and God forbid you don’t keep their litter box clean.”

“You know,” I said, “I’m afraid all I really know about cats is that I read somewhere that they kill over 65 million birds all over the world every year, not to mention all the countless vermin they pounce on and kill nightly.”

“It’s true that cats are little killing machines,” said my friend, “and many of their unique behaviors come from the fact that we only think we can totally domesticate them. All I know is that I have always loved cats and I can’t imagine life without having them around.”

“So, of all your cats, which one is your favorite?” I asked.

“Oh, that would be a big old loveable tomcat I’ve had for ages.”

“What makes him so special?”

“Oh, I don’t know, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that he’s just like my husband.”

“Really? How so?”

“Well, among other things, he expects to be fed on time, he walks away from me when I’m talking to him, and, if I were to ever let him stay out at night, he would get himself into all kinds of trouble.”

 

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  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2013