* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we have often been accused of having no manners at all. If only we had followed David Jaggard's advice and asked Miss Manners for advice. When you're done reading this excellent new piece, click on the Amazon link below, which leads to the Kindle version of his humor collection Quorum of One: Satire 1998-2011. Many of the pieces originally appeared right here. We also invite you to check out David Jaggard on Paris Update. The link is in our blogroll on the right-hand side of this page.

Questions Miss Manners Is Never Going To Answer


Dear Miss Manners,

My wife and I pee in front of each other. We’re both used to it, so that’s not the problem. The reason I’m writing you is this: while seated on the toilet, she often picks her nose.

I say it’s rude to engage in such a disgusting, although common, activity when anyone else can see you, no matter what the circumstances. She says that since she’s already attending to one private bodily function it’s perfectly acceptable to engage in another.

I also think that she’s exploiting an unfair advantage. I can’t reciprocate to balance things out because it pretty much takes both hands to urinate standing up.

So please settle a bet: who’s right? Should she or should she not be permitted to pick her nose? There’s a meal in this for me.

Dear Miss Manners,

I’m in the Mafia. As you probably know, protocol requires those of us who have been formally inducted to introduce non-members to other inductees as “a friend of mine” and to introduce members as “a friend of ours.”

My etiquette question concerns those occasions when I cross paths with a “made” gentleman whom I have not previously met. This happens a lot at funerals. What is the proper way to introduce myself? I have tried saying, “You don’t know me, but I’m a friend of yours,” or just “Hello, we’re friends,” but they usually think I’m talking about Facebook. This makes it awkward to steer the conversation away from, say, lolcats to the topic that I actually have in mind, such as moving a truckload of, ah, salvaged goods.

Please advise. Sometimes it’s urgent, like with frozen shrimp.

Dear Miss Manners,

I never have sex with a guy until the third date. This is the way I was raised.

But there’s one thing that Mom and Dad never told me: how many times must I have “run-of-the-mill” sex before moving on to oral activity? Also, is it proper to measure this milestone in nights spent together or in individual sex acts? And if the latter, should I be counting the sex acts themselves or total orgasms? Mine, his or both? It’s not always an even number, if you know what I mean.

As you can see, this is quite a sticky mess. I hope you can clear it up. I’m sure many of your readers often find themselves in the same position as me.

Dear Miss Manners,

Don’t ask how, but I recently happened across some very explicit photos of my former fiancée on a pornographic website called “Coeds Galore.” I feel that it’s my duty to inform her about this but I’m not sure how to go about it, especially since she has repeatedly said (in fact screamed) that she never wants to hear from me again.

If I tell her directly, not only will it violate the terms of the restraining order, but she will probably think I’m the one who submitted the photos, which might not actually be true. So I need you to tell me the proper way to contact her anonymously and share this important information that she has the right to know.

And there¹s something else that bothers me even more: she is not a coed. She never even graduated from high school. As a matter of form, shouldn’t she now be required to enroll in night school or something?

Dear Miss Manners,

Why do so many people seem to be just naturally rude? This baffles me. It literally took me years of near-constant reminding to get my children, husband, siblings, cousins, in-laws, co-workers, neighbors and former classmates to remember to buy me gifts for Mother’s Day, and later, as soon as my son’s girlfriend missed her period, Grandparents Day.

Well that was bad enough, but I doubt that you have ever heard anything as horrendous as what I had to suffer through last week: my cleaning lady didn’t get me a gift for Secretary’s Day! And I assure you it wasn’t out of ignorance: I had “casually mentioned” to her a whole month prior (out of politeness, to give her ample time to find just the right thing) that I once had a summer job as a secretary when I was in college.

Of course I fired her. Isn’t it astonishing how some people only ever think of themselves?


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we make a clear distinction between ice cream worth dying for and ice cream worth killing for. So does our good friend Luke Strickler.

Buy Black Mamba Delights From Magnum Ice Cream


Think you’ve experienced the decadent, rich taste of chocolate before? Think again, shitheads, because you haven’t let the new Black Mamba Delights from Magnum Ice Cream fuck a bucket of wonderful into your face yet. You didn’t seriously think we were going to stop with our signature “Iron Panther Fudge Supreme,” did you, dickhead? No, if we wanted to softball you, we would’ve started practicing our shortstop game a long-ass time ago. That was all just the dark, creamy ramp leading up to the high-octane Evel Knievel stunt of flavor in your tongue box that is the Black Mamba Delight. This is chocolate, bitches, and here you either go big or go to hell, and right now we’re as cold as your ex’s heart in a liquid nitrogen-filled fridge floating through the goddamn Boomerang Nebula.

Made from ingredients so fucking good Snapple had to change its slogan to “Made from some pretty good stuff on Earth, but nothing like the dick-chilling orgasm on a stick that is the Black Mamba Delight.” First, we start with coca leaves so rich Warren Buffet would bend over to spit shine their shoes if they even had feet, and not the thick mahogany stick needed to hold up the Mona Lisa of desserts, guaranteed to make any mouth shit its pants. The rest is a mystery so great that when the Hardy Boys saw it they got Crohn’s disease. What we do is we take the ingredients to the top of Mount Kangchenjunga and leave them there with a newborn baby for six days. When we return, a fresh batch of Black Mamba Delights is being held by a stark naked George Clooney. Sure, the new George Clooneys have to kill the others Highlander-style, but it’s worth it for chocolaty treats so mouthwatering that you patsies will die of dehydration just staring at it.

The only reason we’re telling you all this is because Black Mamba Delights are so mind-shatteringly delicious they give you Jim Carrey’s 24-hour truth curse from Liar Liar with every bite. Don’t believe us? Go fuck yourself, but do it with a Black Mamba Delight so that every time you sit down it’ll feel like a cloud giving you a rimmer. Still not convinced that this delicious auburn treat could change your life? Come down to 847 Cross Street, Santa Clara, CA, and I will fight you myself, asshole. Bring whatever weapon you want — I’ll use only a Black Mamba Delight so that when I watch the life leave your blasphemous little eyes, I’ll know that the last thing you’ll have tasted was the motherfucking Stone Cold Steve Austin of zest giving your taste buds an atomic wedgie so hard they spit Hanes boxer briefs. Just try me.

What, now you think you can handle the Black Mamba Delight? You think you’re able to take the most viscerally pleasurable dessert since Nikki Sixx filled a birthday cake with heroin? Save it for your diary, chocolate Icarus, because the Black Mamba Delight isn’t for the weak of heart, the young, the old, or anyone under 6’2″. This icy idol of widow-making chocolate caramel is so medically questionable, the only question on the MCAT’s this year is a box of these creamy killers and a question mark. If you think you’re getting out of this post-dinner tongue enlightening easy, you must have already eaten a box of Black Mamba Delights, because you’ve lost your goddamn mind.

So go on, buy a box. See if you’ve got what it takes to tame the Mao Zedong of the freezer section. See if your mouth can withstand this chilled typhoon of cocoa without looking like a Hershey bar Chernobyl. Buy Black Mamba Delights in stores today, or live in the desolate shadow of your own cowardice until the day the Black Mamba Delight finally drives you to your fucking grave.



* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we think globally, act locally, and make our artisanal soaps wherever the hell we happen to find ourselves. Even in outer space with Anders Yates.

The Challenges Of Creating Artisanal Soaps On Board The International Space Station


For the last eight months, Commander Ian Finch has been living and working as a NASA astronaut on board the International Space Station. Astral Magazine caught up with him via satellite to find out about life on board the research vessel.

Astral Magazine: Everybody knows that life on board the International Space Station is full of research and maintenance and exercises, but what our readers have been wondering is: what are the biggest challenges to creating your own artisanal soaps while in space?

Commander Ian Finch: Really it comes down to keeping up with demand. When you’re up here it’s not as if you can just go to Lush and pick up whatever aroma you’re looking for, so there really is a constant need for this. We’d love it if this were something NASA could send us during their regular supply runs, but it’s just too personalized and case-based of a process. By the time a fresh delivery arrives, your mood, your personal body chemistry, all your aromatic needs will have subtly changed, so it’s up to me to make artisanal soaps for the whole station, and it’s a lot of work, both physical and emotional. It’s the same with the dreamcatchers.

AM: The dreamcatchers?

CIF: They obviously don’t function on the same gravitational principles as the ones you hang over your bed down on earth, but the spiritual dream-catching aspects are virtually identical. The point is, I’ve had to make those from scratch for each of my fellow crew-members. While I don’t really have any indigenous heritage to fall back on here, I did have a summer job in a tourist gift shop in Yellowstone once, so I think I know what I’m talking about. Everybody on board the station has reported better sleep since we set up the catchers. Renatta, our Science Officer, was even able to communicate with her cats in one dream, which is of course tremendously important in order to ensure a strong continued relationship with them upon returning to Earth.

AM: How is the feng shui on the ISS?

CIF: Well, when I arrived it was terrible, but the Russian commander I was taking over from was a Capricorn, so no surprise there. For starters I had to add vibrant colors to the airlock to welcome good energy in, but you can’t exactly repaint up there, so we had to cut up all of our emergency fire blankets to create this great orange design. And we had to do all that without NASA’s help.

AM: Is NASA out of touch with the needs of its astronauts?

CIF: Not exactly, but at the same time it’s impossible to truly understand what you really NEED in space without actually being there. For instance, I could TELL people on the ground about the guided trance state we experienced last night where Alexei brought us all to a closer place of understanding with both our current and past lives, but you wouldn’t necessarily UNDERSTAND how hard it is to achieve that without candles due to restrictions on open flame. The mood flows from the lighting and into the chakras, and fluorescents are just so harsh.

AM: My skin can barely cope with an hour of fluorescent lighting. I couldn’t imagine the amount of time you’re forced to live with it.

CIF: It’s just one of the ways being in space forces you to toughen up.

AM: Of course. That being said, do you feel as if your research tasks suffer as a result of some of your needs not being met on board the space station?

CIF: We’re all very highly trained professionals up here, so we’re quite capable of opening our third eye without the aid of incense, for example. It’s all just a matter of making the proper adjustments. With regards to our research activities, I will say that there are times when my confidence in my work does waver given the fact that I’m so far away from Gaia’s energies up here. Of course, when I ask her for strength during a particularly precise recalibration of our Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, she has yet to fail me.

AM: Gaia is the mother of all things.

CIF: May her love be eternal.

AM: All of us down here wish you a peaceful journey.

CIF: Peaceful journey to all the people of Turtle Island and beyond.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we not only believe in fairy tales, we believe your wedding can be like one. But only through the magical power of Emily Powers.

Your Perfect Fairytale Wedding


You’re engaged? Congratulations! We know that every bride dreams of that “fairytale” wedding, but many ignore or even forget some of the most crucial details. Here’s a handy checklist to make sure that your whole celebration stays on theme.

We all know it’s best if you marry someone you’ve never actually spoken to. Personally, we’re a fan of stalking your beloved from afar, whether that’s watching her pick berries from behind a tree, or looking in her windows while she brushes her hair. But however you met, make sure you don’t discuss ANY personal information before the wedding. Definitely don’t mention your last name, career, or any secret magical powers — how gauche!

Before you say yes to any proposal, make sure you give your betrothed at least three impossible tasks to complete. If you have lower standards, you could just make him solve one impossible riddle or stay overnight in a stable with a bear, but three impossible tasks is probably best — you want to make sure he knows you’re a prize!

Use a set of beautiful enchanted rings for the ceremony; the wearer can transport himself anyplace in the world. As part of your vows, make him swear he will never use the ring to leave you alone. Ever. Under any circumstances. Say it with me: you’re not being clingy, you’re being practical!

Sometimes, pirates sink all of your father’s richly laden ships and you are immediately thrust into poverty. Don’t panic — these things happen! If you can’t afford your dream dress, sit in a tree until a group of hunters walks by. They’ll take you to their king who will give you a rich silk garment festooned with gold — if you’re lucky maybe it will be a Pnina Tornai!

If your guests insist on eating and drinking too much at your outdoor reception (even though you told them that you didn’t pay for an open bar), just leave them out in the woods to die. Don’t let your husband leave any breadcrumbs leading back to civilization. They’ll get over it. Probably.

For a fun reception game, dump a thousand pearls into the bottom of a river and offer a fabulous reward to anyone who can collect them all by the end of the night. If no one succeeds, turn everyone to stone.

If you’re afraid that your guests aren’t going to dance at the reception, give them all red-hot metal shoes to wear. They’ll tear up the dance floor, all right!

What’s an outdoor wedding without wildlife? Sew a couple of fancy white shirts and wrestle them onto any children in attendance, turning them into swans (and perfect pond decorations).

Instead of buying your maid of honor a bottle of wine or an expensive necklace as a thank-you present, promise to give her the first animal that rubs against your leg on your 12th wedding anniversary. She’ll love that you planned so far ahead!

Band or DJ? Neither! Hire a man with a magic flute that can charm animals. Make sure you pay him though, or your ring bearer might disappear.

If you’ve murdered anyone recently, make sure your pets don’t know about it. They’ll tell all your guests at the ceremony and cause pointless drama!

Give your bridesmaids burlap sacks to wear and smudge their faces with ashes. If any one of them STILL looks prettier than you (we all have that friend with an alabaster brow and raven tresses), ask your yard guy to cut out her tongue. It’s your special day, and no one is allowed to look more beautiful than you!


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we absolutely support a person's right to self-terminate. As long as they get it right. Read Shannon Brown's cautionary tale and tremble!

I Tried To Kill Myself Ten Months Ago And I’m Still Stuck Under The Bridge Please Someone Cut Me Down


No companion, no job, not enough credits to graduate community college. At 33 I was lost, sad, and desperate. I felt utterly alone; so one night, I went to an overpass to end it all. I tried to hang myself, but somehow my noose got all jammed up, causing a very safe and stable suspension rig from which my chubby, sad body hung — semi-comfortably.

Now known as Suicide Gary, I’ve been literally “hanging” out under this highway for the past ten months. It’s been pretty embarrassing for people to see me in my funeral clothes with my suicide note (which happened to contain a beautiful haiku) pinned to me. Originally, people just thought I was an old Halloween decoration, so they either didn’t bother with me or they thought I was one of those motion sensor decorations that moves and makes noise when you walk by. I guess it didn’t help that I would start talking and moving once they got closer to me, but having a poorly formed noose loosely supporting your weight under an overpass makes for a sore throat. In trying to save my voice and energy, I chased away people who could have helped me. Well, except for these two girls and some old guy who were trying to do it under this very overpass. They didn’t care one bit about my presence. They were very, very high and I totally saw them do it. That was neat.

Nine months ago, a few folks took up this action committee, but it was mostly about how they were affected by what I did. Four months ago, some kids stole my shoes and egged my back, which really hasn’t helped my efforts to have someone help me get down. Last week some dude threw some pizza to me. That was cool of him.

Anyhoo, I’ve become accustomed to this life, but wish I were able to access the stipend from that action committee for being a suicide prevention landmark for all of the kids in the surrounding school districts. As of today, ‘ol Suicide Gary has seen about 43 young, impressionable kids, and I’ve shown them there are better ways to deal with their problems. Since my botched attempt, suicide rates in our town have dropped nearly 26%. If I were able to get to my money, I’d surely hire someone to come get me down, but then Briana, from the committee, said something about using it for shirts and candles.

I also have this suspicion that the committee is only keeping me around for their own personal gain. Leah, Briana’s friend from the committee, put a sheet over me and projected a Windows desktop background onto the sheet to hide me from the police once. Jean, Leah’s friend, told the guys they had the wrong botched suicide scene and they believed her and left. I’m still here and they’re still getting a ton of attention for being older ladies who are upset about something, but they’re kind of my only friends right now. Unless you count those two girls and one guy, and that other one guy with the pizza, like I do.

I’ve dropped like 40 pounds, so I have that going for me, but the only time I really eat is when a slow, fat bird comes just within my reach. Sometimes, if it’s raining, I’m lucky enough to get some runoff from the highway, which has actually really improved the quality of my hair. Usually, the town bullies come by to throw garbage at me, but what those waspy jerks don’t know is that their half eaten hoagies, semi-spoiled milk, and empty Chipotle wrappers are keeping me going. They like to call me “Rat” since I eat their garbage and live outside, but those kids don’t know that this rat is the Rat King, and this Rat King is going to show them how cool he is when he gets down. Also, they call me Rat because once they caught me eating a rat, but I really think they blew that out of proportion.

Am I happy? Sure, I guess you could say that. I’ve found a purpose for my life; to shed light on mental illness and give hope to those who feel lost, and to give strangers a thing to feel strongly about while standing under my dangling body. Parts of me look the best they ever have and I’m feeling much better after all of these weeks given over to reflection and deep thought, though most of my thoughts initially were about figuring out how to get someone to come help me get down.

Though I’m thankful for this experience and the insight I have now, all I truly wish for is that someone would get me down from here. On my birthday, last Christmas, every time I see a shooting star, and whenever I think it’s 11:11, I beg to be let down, but I can’t fight this feeling that I’d also be letting down Briana, and all those people in the committee. I guess you could say that if I got myself down from this hanging, I would be leaving my new friends hanging.

And that just isn’t what a friend does.

So I’ll do what every other adult does and I’ll hang on. I’ll hang on for the committee. I’ll hang on for those kids contemplating suicide. I’ll hang on for that sweet dude who tossed me a slice. I’ll hang on for me. Mostly because I stand to make more money by hanging around here, thanks to the committee, than I ever could at an entry-level job. Mostly, I’ll hang on for money and pizza.

Oh — oh jeez. Hey! Knock it off, you little jerks! Quit it! Well, I guess the joke’s on you! I actually LIKE being hit with bottles and old shoes! That’s right, Rat King likes your abuse and terrible behavior! Come on guys, that one nailed me right in the temple. I swear, once I get down from here…that’s weird, I haven’t felt dizzy since the first three days I started hanging.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are usually willing to take a commonplace saying and follow it to its logical but insane conclusion. This week our guide is John Merriman, who is apparently in the employ of the U.S. Apple Association.

Diary Of A Person Keeping The Doctor Away With Apples



Dr. Bernstein stopped by the house around noon today, which was kind of odd since he normally only sees patients at his office. I also don’t remember saying he could just randomly show up at my house unannounced. Anyway, I told him I was going to eat an apple for dessert — I’ve been on a health kick lately — at which point he smiled, apologized, and left.



Dr. Bernstein came back, this time as I was getting ready for work. When I opened the door, his eyes were bloodshot, his face pale, and he appeared to be sweating. He was having trouble forming complete sentences. I ran to the kitchen, grabbed a Red Delicious, and took a bite right in front of him. He kept staring at me, so I kept eating. When I nearly got down to the core, he abruptly walked away, but not without stealing several wild-eyes glances back at me.



Slept for about two hours last night because I kept having nightmares involving Dr. Bernstein strangling me with a stethoscope. Called in sick and spent the whole day driving to every grocery store and farmer’s market in town just buying bushels of apples. Honeycrisp, Gala, Fuji — you name it, I bought it. When I came back, I spotted a shirtless Bernstein lurking around my front yard, so I threw a Granny Smith at him. He didn’t put up much of a fight and ran away screaming.



This morning, as a precautionary measure, I started eating an apple every five minutes. No sign of the doctor today so far, but I know he’s watching me, waiting for me to slip up somehow. If he shows up again I may have to start eating the cores, seeds and all. I have no idea if that’ll even work. All I know is, I once had a life, and now that life has been replaced by whatever you call being too scared to leave your own house while contemplating eating apple cores. I might be going completely, utterly insane.



So apparently all that apple-a-day stuff is a complete load of bull. Now fully nude and foaming at the mouth, Bernstein woke me up at three in the morning trying to break in through the back door. Instead of eating more godforsaken apples, I finally did what a normal person would’ve done days ago and called the police. They arrested him on the spot. Now I have a ridiculous amount of apples in the house for no reason at all. Also, I keep hearing voices coming from their direction, but that’s silly because everyone knows apples can’t talk. I’ve been repeating that to myself while I rock back and forth in a fetal position on the floor, and so far that seems to be working.



Guess who paid me a visit today by trying to climb down the chimney? Hint: it wasn’t Santa, and bail was involved. Well, this time I was ready. I went outside, taunted him into coming out of the chimney and off the roof, and when he was close enough, I knocked him unconscious by throwing an entire case of Mountain Dew at his head. No apples involved at all! Now he’s tied to a chair in my basement. Oh, and I was wrong about the apples — apparently they can channel their thoughts directly into my brain! I hear their voices constantly now, and I have to find a way to get rid of them all. So many voices. So many crisp and juicy voices.



Just came up with a new expression today: “A doctor a day keeps the apples away.” Can’t wait to see if it works!


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we may not know how to define pornography, but we sure know it when we see it. So does Abby Byrd in her first piece for us.

Passive-Aggressive Erotica


He dug and dug, clearing the way for a new gate. With each thrust of the shovel into the soft dirt, he cursed her. How dare she launch that tirade against him? Just who did she think she was? That gate I’ve been asking you to fix for weeks has completely broken, she’d said, and the dogs got into the garden! He continued thrusting and began to sweat, remembering the irresistible way she’d admonished and belittled him. God, her voice was piercing. He could feel it all the way down in his gonads. And her tone dripped with condescension; he could imagine catching it on his tongue as he knelt down to supplicate himself before her ample bosom and psychopathic mood swings. He focused on the memory of her spiteful little mouth: If those asshole dogs dig up my garden, I am going to lose my shit! She needed to be taught a lesson, he thought. A dirty, sweaty lesson.

She returned a few hours later, in a swimsuit and still damp from the children’s pool party she took the child to alone, which was totally fine. Even though the child yelled something that sounded remarkably like “Bullshit!” while careening down the slip ‘n’ slide and then ran into a thicket of poison ivy. It was totally fine. When she saw the repaired gate, she threw her arms around him. She could feel his muscles through his t-shirt. She caressed them and began to moan softly, moans that said, “Thank you for finally fixing the damn gate, you irresponsible cockmonkey.” She ran her hand down the front of his body and gently cupped the bulge that apparently rendered him incapable of cleaning the inside of a toilet. As he began to nibble her neck, she felt a stirring in her bitch parts. Suddenly, she wanted nothing else than to be repeatedly and rhythmically penetrated by someone who insisted on loading the dishwasher in the most illogical way imaginable.

She wrapped her pale, veiny legs around him and he carried her to the kitchen, pressing against her doughy midsection. Hopefully he could keep her attention before it strayed to the freezer and she devoured another pint of ice cream that she claimed she’d bought “for him” — but it was never for him, was it? He sat her fat ass on the nearest surface, the kitchen counter, and knocked over the sugar jar — because after getting his last cup of coffee he’d left it sitting right in the middle of the counter instead of pushing it six inches back, out of the way. Of course.

She seemed uncomfortable. Perhaps he was supposed to know what she wanted, like when she suddenly spoke aloud in the middle of a thought with absolutely no context whatsoever and then expected him to know what the hell she was talking about. He paused to look into her eyes. They were two endless pools of mystery from which he longed to drink as he plunged his manly tumescence into her sadly ordinary but adequately elastic vagina. He wondered if he should carry her to the bedroom and deposit her on the bed that he was sure was still unmade, despite repeated requests for her to take two seconds and just pull up the fucking bedspread.

Alas, there was no time. The child was yelling from the hall bathroom that he needed a butt wipe.

She guessed she’d be the butt wiper. Again.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the only thing we are practical about is practical jokes. Hearken to the expert advice of our good friend Michael Fowler. Again, we urge you to click on the links to his books, "A Happy Death" and "The Created Couple," in our blogroll.

The Golden Age Of Practical Jokes


Me and some guys working highway construction were having our lunch in a field one time. Bob hawked a loogie into his thermos, like he always did, so no one would drink out of it when he wasn’t looking. What he didn’t realize was that, while he unwrapped his sandwich, I put a blackbird in his car. When he drove off at the end of the day he had to fight this crazed bird that kept flapping against the inside of his windshield and pecking at his eyes. This was back in the day when people weren’t sensitive about every single one of their rights and didn’t haul you into court over any little infraction of the law. I call it the golden age of practical jokes. Bob would call it that too except this past year he lost his power of speech in a terrible medical tragedy.

The morning after the bird joke Bob told us guys that somehow this insane blackbird had got into his Fairlane, causing him to drive into a ravine. Now he had a motorcycle. I never confessed I was the one who put the bird in his car, but maybe he figured it out from my laughing so hard. Anyway a few days later I looked down to light a cigarette and just then someone slipped a young coyote down my shirt. This was back in the day when a lot of us guys smoked. I owned a blue butane lighter that I was fond of and hated the day I lost it. I had a strong suspicion Bob handled the coyote, to get even, but if so he never let on, and I didn’t really see him do it. My wife, after she heard about a coyote, wouldn’t even put that shirt in the laundry. She just threw it out.

Another time on a bridge project I was leaning off the top of the bridge and dangling a plumb bob, when someone in a small boat on the river reached out and cut off the bob. I never did see who did it, but I could put two and two together. It was Bob. It made me laugh harder than the time Bob and I were relaxing in a storm drain and he pushed me into a rushing torrent. My shoes didn’t get all the way dry until the next day. I got even by putting a hornet’s nest in Bob’s motorcycle helmet. This was back in the day you didn’t have to wear a helmet, but I was glad Bob wore one. I watched him put on his helmet at the end of the day and roar off, only to swerve to the side of the road, pull off his helmet, and start slapping himself all over the face and neck. The next day his face was red and swollen, but he hadn’t gone to the doctor even though he was allergic to insect venom and fell into a coma that lasted through the night. Back in those days you didn’t go to the doctor for every little ache and pain. Bob once set his own broken leg using a shovel for a splint, and passed a kidney stone while operating a jackhammer. I once sweated out Lyme disease while operating a Bobcat. It was a manlier age.

Bob must have figured out that I had something to do with the hornets in his helmet, because a few days later I drove off after work and discovered two raccoons in my car, one injured and bleeding and the other rabid. There was quite a tussle in the front seat of my Monte Carlo, but I finally got shut of those animals without too much damage to me or the car. My jacket was shredded and I had some deep scratches on my arms, but nothing serious enough to complain about, let alone see a doctor over. And I didn’t want to lose face in front of the guys, especially Bob, by acting delicate. We were tough back then. Anyway I scored again when I spread half a pound of deer feces on the door handle of our portable toilet right before Bob had to go real bad. Watching him react was great. He got me back by heating up the doorknob of our work trailer with a blowtorch when I wasn’t looking, then asking me to get the door for him. That really blistered me, but it was great too.

One time I tricked Bob into feeding a doughnut to a wild horse. The horse bit him on the chest and wouldn’t let go until Bob punched it in the nose half a dozen times. The skin wasn’t broken, but Bob got a bruise as wide as his ribcage. But he didn’t go to the doctor, since he wasn’t delicate. We joked that it would have been worse if he’d been a woman, and he just laughed at that comment. Women are more delicate and exposed to danger in the chest area than men, you have to admit.

I confess Bob did a good number on me soon after the horse joke. I was eating my lunch in a meadow, enjoying my sandwich and the view while sitting against the biggest cow carcass I’d ever seen. Well, Bob came rushing up and kicked that carcass a good one with his work boot, and didn’t a dozen angry possums come running out of that hollow belly, just fussing and hissing at me for ruining their peaceful meal. The expression on my face must have been something when I saw those angry devils surrounding me, because Bob spit the bite of egg salad sandwich in his mouth about fifty feet. After seeing how far that egg salad traveled, we both let out a hoot.

After work me and Bob used to sit out on the grass by an elementary school and shoot pennies out of each other’s fingers with our .22 rifles. This was back in the day when gun laws weren’t as strict as they are now. We got good enough that we could hit the penny, held steady between thumb and forefinger, at fifty yards. One time Bob decided to have some fun. He shot off the tip of my right forefinger, missing the penny completely. Of course I didn’t go to the doctor. Back in those days a missing finger or toe wasn’t even considered disfigurement. It certainly was nothing to get upset about. Bob said I required less nourishment now, being not so substantial, and from then on helped himself to my lunch Twinkie. That was pretty funny, and made a certain sense. To even the score I shot him in the buttocks with my rifle. He carried the slug on his right hip to remind us of the laughs we had until the day a stroke silenced him. If you think he went to the doctor over a thing like that, you’re wrong. I mean the bullet, not the stroke. He’s in a nursing home because of the stroke, and I don’t see him coming out.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where getting a few well-placed literary laughs is easier than taking candy from a -- wait a minute. According to Bruce Harris, that metaphor may not always work.

When Taking Candy From A Baby Isn’t So Easy: A Baker’s Dozen Of Reasons, And One That Doesn’t Count


  1. Setting must be considered first, prior to determining the ease at which one is able to put grubby fingers on an infant’s sweets. Let’s say the baby is atop a large Ferris wheel with an unopened Baby Ruth bar. You love Baby Ruth bars, but you suffer from acrophobia. See where this is going? Or, you could be in a library and the baby starts screaming. Never one to bring attention to yourself, you are understandably reluctant to approach. The baby could be a member of a leper colony. Or of a nudist colony. Still, you might find yourself one or more rows away from the candy-holding baby on an airplane while the captain has illuminated the “fasten seatbelt” sign. Perhaps the baby was born premature and is in an incubator. Doctors and hospital staff frown upon unwanted intrusions. Then again, the baby’s whereabouts might be unknown. The little tyke might have fistfuls of candy, all varieties, but if you don’t know where he/she is, what good is it? Enough on setting.
  2. Okay, maybe the baby is sitting out in the open with a wrapped 3 Musketeers bar waiting to be had. But, you’re blind and you don’t see it. Or, you see the infant and sweet confection plain enough, but due to a nasty fall from a Ferris wheel, both your hands are in casts.
  3. What about the condition of the baby? Let’s say the diaper hasn’t been changed in weeks. I didn’t want to go here, but when you get right down to it, a dozen valid reasons aren’t easy to come by.
  4. Forget items 1 to 3 above. Let’s say none apply. It’s summer. There is no air conditioning. The baby is sweating and clutching pieces of unwrapped chocolate in his/her palm. When chocolate gets warm, it softens. Scientifically speaking, 85 degrees Fahrenheit is the magic number. At 93°F the stuff melts and liquefies. You might want to turn and walk away from the baby at this point.
  5. The crib is on fire. Unless you have a fire extinguisher and the candy hasn’t burnt to a crisp, this is going to be an all-around difficult situation.
  6. The baby has already eaten the candy. You can resort to stomach pumping and/or induce regurgitation, but neither of these solutions comes under the “easy” heading.
  7. M&M’s are arranged to form the words “TOUCH ONE OF THESE AND DIE.” Looks can be deceiving. Even the most innocent face can hide a violent streak.
  8. The baby’s mother (or father) is transporting their bundle of joy in a baby wrap carrier tightly against her (or his) chest. I guess this could fall under the “setting” rubric, but it’s arguable.
  9. Sitting next to the baby and her Butterfinger bar is the family pet. It’s a pit bull and hasn’t eaten in a couple of days and is staring at you with a not-so-friendly look in its eyes.
  10. The baby is sitting next to you on a bus. He’s already eaten the red, green, orange and yellow sugared Jelly Delights. Only the black Chuckle remains and is within reach.*
  11. You’re one of the unfortunate few with a conscience. The Eighth Commandment has meaning to you, unless you follow one of the traditions that recognize “Thou shalt not steal” as the Seventh Commandment. Nevertheless, there is consistency for the religious among us. “Thou shalt not covet” is the Tenth Commandment across the board. Makes things tough, no?
  12. The baby is the current Prince and future King of England. Ask yourself: how are you going to penetrate that security blanket?
  13. The little tot has measles, chicken pox or some other communicable disease. On a related front, the infant’s body might be covered with a nasty rash from poison [fill in the blank] ivy, oak or sumac. No thanks.
  14. Considering that the average piece of candy contains virtually zero nutritional value and about 200+ calories, 4 grams of saturated fat, 30 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of sugar, maybe the prudent thing is to “just say no.” On the other hand, if the diminutive gal or guy has s’mores, ignore everything and go for it.

*Note — In this case it’s easy taking candy from the baby, but who really wants the licorice-flavored Chuckle?



* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where you will almost always receive exactly the same treatment whether you are handicapped or non-handicapped. And when we say "almost always," we mean you should let Jack Bedrosian explain it to you.

An Open Letter To Non-Handicapped Patron Of Handicapped Bathroom Stall


Dear Non-Handicapped Patron,

It is at this juncture in our unique relationship that I feel I must bring to light an issue that has been bothering me for some time now.

You are not handicapped.

As I am sure you are well aware, I am generally reserved for those with some sort of disability that may disqualify them from my peers’ services. Surely, this cannot be news to you.

Why then, as a perfectly able-bodied person, do you insist on using me when there are three other perfectly good bathroom stalls that could accommodate you? I see many other humans use them throughout the day and I assure you they do just fine.

There are a few reasons in particular that I feel this may be the case, and I would like to address them with you now.

  1. Proximity. I understand that I am the closest stall to the door, but again, that is to serve the physically less fortunate. It is in no way a subliminal strategy on my part to subconsciously ingrain myself into your daily post-lunch routine. I would appreciate you using the very functional, non-handicapped legs the good lord gave you.
  2. Image / Convenience. It is clear to me that you are appropriating the handicapped experience. Why? No seriously, of all the things you could appropriate, why this one? Is it strictly so that you can use whatever bathroom you please?! Either way, rest assured that this will not increase your status or popularity. Quite the opposite, actually.
  3. Privilege. I’ve noticed that often when you use my services you do so standing. STANDING. Need I remind you that many of the handicapped patrons I deal with wish they could stand, and would give an arm and a leg (pun not intended) in order to have the pleasure of using an actual urinal. Check your urinary privilege. Also it simply must be said that you are much too nonchalant penis-wise. As in, your clean-up job is horseshit.
  4. Space. I understand that I am generally larger square feet-wise than my colleagues. However, I would implore you to really think deep down as to why you need more space when using the bathroom. Is this your ego talking? I can assure you that no genitalia are SO big as to require a larger bathroom stall — and I’ve seen quite a few. Do you use this time to practice knitting or drawing and the elbow room is insufficient? Perhaps you are just doing it wrong.

It is my request that from this point forward I be treated with the same respect as a close friend of mine with whom I believe you are quite familiar, Handicapped Parking Spot. Something tells me you don’t ever use Handicapped Parking Spot. The reasons for which are unimportant. Okay, yes, admittedly there are certain legal provisions asserted against your parking dominion, but I will have you know that at the present I am wading through a sizeable amount of paperwork that will make the pushing through of comparable jurisdictional revisions a mere inevitability. I have been assured by a very impressive-sounding young intern that legislation is indeed pending.

Needless to say, I hope it doesn’t come to that.


Handicapped Bathroom Stall