Tag Archives: satire


I was dreaming of bees; thousands upon thousands of bees—buzzing, swarming, droning—descending from the sky like an angry summer’s storm. I wasn’t afraid, merely curious as to why they had all banded together to drop like a blanket upon my house. As the buzzing, swarming droning horde fell through the open skylight, I felt a hand gently pulling on my sleeve.

I opened my eyes and saw a peacock feather cutting a wide arc in the air. Once released of the feather’s hypnotic affect, I followed the long solitary plume to its source, a round green cloth hat banded with a brilliant green ribbon.

“Oh, excuse me,” a voice beneath the hat said as she lifted the cuff of my pajama sleeve. “I only wanted to see the price. They said to check the sleeve for a price.”

“Price?” I repeated groggily. “What do you mean—price?” A moment later, the bees were gone and I was awake to a limited understanding of where I was. “What are you doing?” I asked with growing surprise. I was now sitting up in bed, pulling back on my arm.

My interrupter was a kindly looking woman in her early or middle fifties, the kind you find manning the pie booth at the church bazaar. Her grip, however, was of iron, and it would not relent.

“What are you doing?” I asked again, pulling even harder now. “Let go!” I insisted, “and get out of my bedroom!”

Without a word, she released my sleeve. Her face turned reproachful as she leaned away from me.

“It’s not right to leave things unmarked,” she tutored with repressed righteousness. Turning her head, she relaxed her features into an accountant’s fixed stare.

“I’ll give you $25.”

“For my pajamas?” I asked.

“For the bed,” she answered.

“Who’s selling the bed?” I inquired, looking towards the door through which I could now hear voices approaching. Perhaps the voices of her keepers, I imagined.

“$30 and you deliver!”

“Deliver what?” I asked, trying to sound vaguely interested. I was biding for time, of course; the voices still traveling steadily in our direction. “Are we still talking about the bed?” I asked. “Or are we back to the pajamas?”

Just then I saw my bedroom doorknob turning.

“Your friends, I believe,” I said. Friends? Keepers? What was the difference?

“You’re right,” she answered with a forceful shake of her head. “Quick, give me a price on the bed!”

“Muriel?” called the first of the three women to enter my bedroom. Then, as if to answer her own question, she added: “New discoveries—good? Everything downstairs seems so tacky.”

“Tacky?” one of her companions questioned, breathing the word out with a mixture of incredulity and laughter. “The nerve of the prices. $15 for a broken blender. $10 for a chipped porcelain gravy boat

“Porcelain?” the third woman joined in, “I’d say ceramics of the poorest kind. Night school arts and crafts…”

Just then, three other strangers walked into the room. A woman wearing a khaki pith helmet was carrying the lamp from my den under her arm.

“Can you tell me what is happening here?” I asked Muriel. “Why are you here in my room—and these others?”

“Yard Sale,” she answered, looking at me as if I were trying to put something over on her.

“Yard sale?” I cried, disbelieving. “In my house? Without me knowing about it…Hey!” I shouted at the boy who had picked up my wife’s framed photo of her two best friends from college. “What are you doing? Put that down?”

“Isn’t it for sale?” he asked innocently.

I started to answer “No,” when a little voice reminded me how I felt about that picture and the two women it had kept immortalized in my bedroom for the last seven years.

“Of course it’s for sale,” I answered. I got out of bed and stepped around Muriel, who was reading the DO NOT REMOVE THIS LABEL stuck to the side of the pillow. “Excuse me,” I told her. “I just have to speak with this fellow…”

“Drawstrings?” Muriel noted with an appreciative nod, the new discovery clearly serving to heighten her interest in purchasing my pajamas.

It was then that I noticed I was standing on bare wood, and not the circular rug that was usually next to our bed.

There was no time to worry about the rug, or the other items whose disappearance I was only now discovering.

“Ten dollars for the picture,” I told the boy as I approached, pulling my pants on over my pajamas.

“Careful with those pajamas,” a voice behind me cautioned.

“Ten dollars!” the boy said, half in shock. “I’ve only got fifty cents to buy my mother a birthday present.”

“Fifty cents it is!”

“You can keep the picture,” the boy said. “I only want the frame.”

“You either take the picture or the deal’s off,” I warned him. “It’s fifty cents with the picture, or ten dollars without.”

I no sooner had the boy’s two quarters in my hand, than I rescued my hairbrush from a middle-aged man with hardly any hair on his head, then went off to find my wife, shouting “MILLICENT!”

Now I knew this was all a dream, of course. One doesn’t normally wake up to find the contents of his house up for sale without knowing about it in advance. Millicent and I might not communicate about little things, like passing on phone messages, but when it comes to big stuff like surprise yard sales, we usually confided in each other.

No, it was a dream all right. In fact, being a writer, I felt slightly embarrassed that I’d have to bring such an interesting situation to a conclusion with one of the oldest cliches in the business—the worn and threadbare hero-wakes-up-from-his-dream finale. Still, as I went from room to room shouting “MILLICENT!” without any success, I found literally dozens of strangers crawling over my possessions like ants on spilled ice cream.

Embarrassed or not, I was glad there would be a simple explanation, a simple solution. I only hoped it would come before Muriel ripped my pajamas off my back.

Of course, the whole affair seemed so real and inescapable that I couldn’t help but get angry when I saw the possessions I valued treated like second hand junk.

“Is that really necessary?” I angrily asked of a heavy-set man who was testing the strength of my father’s prized cherrywood desk by banging on it with his fists. “It’s an antique, you know.”

“For $50 it had better be,” was all the answer I was going to get from him.

Fifty dollars! Yes, this was a dream all right.

I weaved my way through the crowd, searching for any sign of my wife or the kids. The house must have had somewhere between 40 and 75 people inside, each one pushing or pulling or testing or smelling or feeling or lifting or trying on or carrying or kicking some item that I or some other member of my family once thought worthy of owning. Even to me, most of it now looked like trash.

Finally, I made my way into the kitchen, still shouting “MILLICENT!” I walked by our toaster-oven ($5, needs new plug), our kitchen table ($18, chairs incl.) and out through our rear mud room. Just before opening the screen door, I spied a sign over some of Katie and Kristin’s toys, which indicated that these items were not for sale. A moment later, I went out into the back yard carrying Katie’s Big Wheels plastic tricycle in one hand, Kristin’s paint set in the others. I sold the Big Wheels before I had a chance to set it down on the grass. The paint set I had to promote a little before I finally enticed a six year-old to take it for a dime.

The backyard was even more crowded than the inside of the house. There seemed to be hundreds of people—not one of whom seemed familiar—poking, sniffing and hefting the trash and treasures it had taken us years to accumulate. I was surprised to notice that much of it was actually junk, stuff we could easily live a good life without having it in our possession. Some of it was junk we had purchased at other yard sales. But then I came across my golf club bag, and the smile on my dream face fell to the drawstrings that were sticking up from my trousers.

I looked at the empty golf bag and the sign taped to it; 25 cents each! And I marveled at how Millicent was able to sneak inside my dream to pay me back for all those weekend mornings when I drove that bag and its former contents over the rolling hills of our local country club.

“MILLICENT!”I shouted, climbing onto our backyard picnic table ($45 w/benches).

Incredible as it seemed, neither she nor my two children nor, in fact, anyone in the world that I personally knew was at that devilish yard sale. It was just me and two hundred strangers, and I got so upset to think that I was alone in this Cecil B. DeMille epic that I again forgot it was all a dream.

“Leave that alone!” I shouted angrily at a nice enough looking fellow who just happened to be checking out my lawn mower ($20 w/gas). “It’s not for sale.”

I turned to a woman who was coming out of my house with three of my suits over her arm, and I began to growl at her.

When I felt hands start to grab hold of me, holding me back, my growling increased to a pitch that made them force me to the ground. At which point I growled even more ferociously and broke free of their grasp and stepped away from them just long enough to reach for my lucky fishing hat, which some nasty little kid had bought for thirty-five cents.

“It’s priceless!” I told him as he grabbed it back. “Give me another two bits at least.”

Angry voices began to rise up around me.

“Hey” one said.

“A price is a price,” added another.

“Who let him in?” someone else asked peevishly.

“How much for the slippers?” a woman asked. I couldn’t see her, but she sounded like Muriel.

The voices all lifted up from the bodies that surrounded me, and became a creature unto itself, a living herd of voices. A moment later, they transformed into droning voices, then droning bees; and a smile returned to my face as I realized this was still a dream and, better yet, the bees were coming back.

“It must be ending,” I told myself. “The dream must be ending. I…”

Darkness fell and it seemed to bring a limitless expanse of nothingness. I felt as if I were falling through space—perhaps through time as well, for I lost any sense of how long a fall could last. Finally, it seemed as if I had stopped falling, and there was a gentle tugging on my arm.

I opened my eyes and saw a peacock feather cutting a wide arc in the air.

“Excuse me,” a familiar voice said. “Were you able to find out the price?”


Sit back and put your feet up. It’s time for American Madness!

Hey, feeling a little bored tonight? Or maybe you’re not in the mood to hear how your spouse spent his or her day. Well, we know what you can do. Just turn on the TV, sit back on the Lazy Boy, tell the kids to stop fighting and turn your attention to the man on the screen.


Sure, this is what you need: applause and laughter filling the room, contestants squealing in delight. And you only have to wait there quietly as Steven Harvey gets the show rolling.

“Contestant Number One,” Steve says, addressing an attractive young housewife from Akron, Ohio. “Your first question is worth $5,000. Answer correctly and you’ll win your choice of two fabulous prizes: a three week trip to Hawaii for you and your family, staying at the Honolulu Five Seasons luxury resort or, second choice, a year’s worth of food and medical supplies for a drought-stricken Nigerian Bantu village.

Somehow all this talk about prizes makes you think about your Christmas gift list, so you hardly notice the photos that flash across the screen, first the group shot of the African villagers, about 50 in all, then a photo of the Five Seasons Hilton, as seen through a grove of palm trees.

Before you can shake free from your reverie, Contestant Number One correctly answers her question and chooses the Hawaiian dream trip, joking to Steve that she’d always wanted to wear a grass skirt.

That girl has a good sense of humor, you tell yourself. Not like some other people you could name. That starts you thinking about your boss, and if you were looking at yourself you’d notice wrinkles appearing on your forehead and the muscles around your mouth tensing up. Steve’s carnival barker voice returns your roving mind to the images on the screen.

“Contestant Number Two,” he calls. “Your first question is also worth five thousand dollars. Guess correctly and you get to choose between a genuine Tiger Woods golf cart, or securing the release of Juan Diego, a political prisoner in Venezuela who’s been imprisoned for three years.”

Contestant Number Two, a robotics repair technician from Derry, New Hampshire, reminds you of your older brother, Sam. There’s something in the way he leans his head sideways that reminds you of Sam, and you find yourself getting excited as the prize pictures flash across the screen. You even murmur a cheer when he correctly answers his question. But then, when he hesitates in choosing his prize, you experience a surprising level of irritation that relates more to your feelings about Sam than Contestant Number Two.

“Can I see the golf cart again?” Contestant Number Two requests.

Instantly, the Tiger Woods golf cart, with Tiger at the wheel, fills the screen.

“And the political prisoner…?”

As Juan Diego’s image appears, shown hidden in the depths of a tiny cell lit by a 60 watt bulb, you rise from your chair. You have it in mind to head for the  kitchen, but you pause at the threshold to hear Contestant Number Two choose his prize.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I thought it was someone I knew from school, but it wasn’t. I’ll take the golf cart.”

You’re already in the kitchen by the time Steve Harvey sums up the score and leads into the commericals, saying, “We’ll be right back to see which of our contestants gets to choose between a fabulous antique Persian rug worth $10,000 OR,” he suddenly shouts, “a year’s temporary housing for twenty of America’s most desperate homeless families. But first, these important announcements.

Staring into the refrigerator, you realize you’re still bored. Or maybe you’re just hungry. In either case, you make yourself a banana and peanut butter sandwich, fetch a glass of milk and take them back to the living room. 

You return just in time to see Contestant Number One shouting and jumping up in her excitement at winning the beautiful antique Persian rug.

“I, Betty Crocker.”

​I was born at the age of 42.

Betty’s Favorite “Look”

​Some of you might regard that as a handicap, but at the time I assumed everyone was born fully grown in a corporate test kitchen. In fact, I still think of it as an advantage; like being born with a silver spoon in my hand.

​My parents were industrious and successful advertising icons themselves. Mom was the housewife on the Crispy Cornpads cereal boxes, Dad the cartoon character in the Gillette Safety Razor commercials who always stroked his chin and declared, “Feels smoother, too!” 

​My parents were proud of me from the start and encouraged me to think of myself as more than a mere advertising symbol. Knowing from their own experience how difficult life could be for someone who never had a childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, they arranged for me to play with other celebrities like myself. Thus, I led a very active social life, and still fondly recall those days when the Gerber Baby, the Morton Salt Girl (what a klutz!), the Ivory Snow Mother and myself would stay up till all hours of the night exchanging recipes and baby care advice.

​It’s easy to judge one’s parents by today’s standards, but in truth it was a far different world back then. So, it’s not surprising that my parents wouldn’t allow me to play with Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, or that my father threatened to lock me up in the kitchen if I so much as glanced in the Marlboro Man’s direction.

​Ah, the Marlboro Man! There was a fellow who could turn the head of any woman who spent most of her days on cake mix boxes. But like most things in life, the dream was far more interesting than the reality. Later on, when I had the chance to date Mr. Marlboro, I found him to be dull, insipid and totally lost without his horse. Not only that, there was an aura of stale smoke always hovering around him and fouling his breath. It was all you could do to let your nostrils open for even the smallest intake of smelly, cigarette-reeking air.

​I laugh now to think of my father’s Victorian attitudes, but having worked in men’s magazines his entire career, he had seen too many unsuspecting females whose advertising careers were ruined by associating with the wrong type of commercial characters. So, except for a brief relationship with that boy who kept getting sand kicked in his face in Charles Atlas ads, I was never allowed to go out on dates until the start of the Second World War.

​The war years, with their food shortages and rationing, were lonely years for me, and I recall staring down long empty supermarket aisles waiting for a chance to wave at the Gorton’s Fisherman or Tony the Tiger as they went by. By then, I had developed a line of hot breakfast cereals that put me on the shelf next to the one real love of my life.

​Modesty forbids me to reveal the intimate details of my relationship with the Quaker Oats Quaker — or ‘Quaky’ as we used to call him — but you’ll most likely remember from the fan magazines that we were seen at all the “in” places, dancing till dawn, burying ourselves in confetti, drinking champagne from Buster Brown slippers.

​Sad to say, it was an affair fated for an unhappy ending. Inevitably, gossip about our relationship reached into the corporate headquarters of both our companies, and rulings came down from both mountaintops forbidding fraternization between competing brands. Quaky went into brief seclusion while I was given the first of my “new looks” by my personal illustrator, a total revamp that not only changed my look but my entire personality as well.

​To be honest, with my new personality I suddenly discovered new appetites rising up within me, so that stuffy old icons like Quaky began to have about as much appeal as cold oatmeal. Shocking to say, I began seriously looking around for the kind of relationships my father had always worried about.

​And so, girls, I began to experiment with more exotic spices.

NEXT: “No Kitchen Could Hold Me,” Betty’s honest look back at her “lost years” and her torrid, love-hate relationship with the Pillsbury Doughboy.


Clarence The Clown Cries Foul!

Much has been said about the vigor and unseemly haste with which seven members of the Cambridge City Council voted last Monday evening, May 18th, to approve the Normandy/Twining (N/T) proposal to build an unprecedented 195’ tower in Central Square.

2014-2015-City-Council-web-500When told this final version of the agreement, officially an ‘amendment by substitution,’ with its last minute language changes, had not yet been read or even proofread to ensure completeness and adherence to previously agreed terms, the councilors waved away any concern.

“Hey!” one of them cried out, “if it’s good enough for Mark, Al and Tony…” referring to developers Mark Roopenian, Alex Twining and their attorney, former City Councilor Anthony Galluccio. “…then it’s good enough for the Cambridge City Council!”

“Right on!” another agreed. “Where do we sign?”

Shouting down objections from Council members Carlone and Mazen, who pleaded for a week’s delay in order to read and thoughtfully respond to this latest draft agreement, the seven councilors quickly voted “Aye!” and Mayor David Maher abruptly declared “So moved!” sharply gaveling in the council’s approval.

Barely had the echo of the gavel’s harsh retort subsided before certain oddities written into the agreement began to emerge for inspection.

First among the agreement’s controversial clauses was language that transferred to city ownership a still-undetermined percentage of N/T’s newly zoned surface parking lot after 5 years, as agreed, but shockingly in exchange for two city-owned parking lots and one city park “to later be determined.”

clownUpon later investigation it was learned the language transferring ownership of the parking lots and city park to N/T was accidentally retrieved from a DPW proposal of possible summer venues for Clarence the Clown and His Talking Jackass, a popular outdoor children’s entertainment.

When asked why the size of N/T’s gift deed transfer was still left uncertain in the agreement, Attorney Galluccio explained, “Obviously it depends on how many Cadillacs, Hummers and pickup trucks we have in the lot; something we won’t know until the first weeks of occupancy.”

Also somewhat controversial, the new agreement indemnifies all city councilors from actions or lawsuits, “including ethics investigations” resulting from their approval of the N/T petition. This apparently in response to the recent disclosure that six out of the seven councilors voting for approval—Councilors Cheung, Maher, Toomey, Simmons, McGovern and Benzan—had received campaign donations totaling almost $12,000 from N/T and related associates in a series of payments doled out over two years.

When learning he received a scant $950 from N/T in comparison to Councilor Cheung’s $3,000, Vice Mayor Benzan showed his customary modesty and self-effacement, declaring,” Hey, I’m the new guy on the block. Give me time; I’ll catch up to the veterans.”

Also, under the terms of the final approved agreement the city vowed to continue to ignore the impacts of gentrification. Specifically, the Community Development Department was enjoined against “any research that would quantify displacement of current residents. Or any study that might undermine the often-stated claim that luxury high-rise developments will house more poor people than they displace.”

Commenting on that restriction, Iram Farooq, Cambridge’s Acting Assistant City Manager for Community Development, smiled at the interviewer and said, “Not a problem. We do that everyday.”

In response to complaints about mistakes in the final draft agreement, Attorney Galluccio promised to deliver a corrected version for the council to vote on and review…”sometime during their next scheduled council meeting.”


DISCLAIMER: THE ABOVE ESSAY IS SATIRE, though there may be far too many chunks of reality and truth buried within the sarcasm and farce. A reader questioned my post as though some of the items mentioned might actually reflect (FOR REAL!) what was ultimately included in the revised Amendment by Substitution, which was submitted at the last minute, during public comments, to the city council. I have no idea what wonderful offerings or missing agreements will ultimately be discovered in that document which seven city councilors so quickly approved. Aside from the figures given for Normandy/Twining campaign donations to city councilors, nothing I said in my essay is meant to be believed or taken as fact. Again, this is meant to be SATIRE.
















A Cheer-Up Note From Rosie

Dear Sister:

I just had to write when I heard the news about you and Frank. Figured you might need some cheering up.

What can I say, Sis? You and Frank separating; who would have thought it! You just never know.

Like with my Sal. He was such a sweet guy before he lost his line manager’s job at McDonald’s. The loss didn’t hurt his disposition—not much! Remember what a pain he was last Thanksgiving when he kept complaining the gravy wasn’t thick enough and the cranberries were staining his teeth?

Well that was a hard time to get through. There were days I felt like telling Sal to take his crybaby face out of the house. He was depressing the kids, for heaven’s sake!

But then, thankfully, Sal got himself a government job and everything changed. At long last, we were standing again on solid ground. Pray the Lord, Sister, you never find yourself relying on unemployment checks for the food on your table.

Sal's new bosses at the office.

Sal’s new bosses at the office.

From the very first I noticed Sal’s lighter side start to return, and it became a lot easier to be around him, even in the mornings which is his toughest time. Of course having a fulltime job, Sal wasn’t around so much and that helped too.

Sister, the new job with its regular hours and government benefits was a godsend. Our only complaint was the money. Sal’s new job is a Grade 10 which is entry level and definitely underpaid. The position is listed as “Intelligence Extractor” but everybody knows that means Sal works for the government as a torturer. Actually Sal is ranked lower than a fully qualified torturer. More like a torturer-in-training.

Can you imagine Sal a torturer? Honestly, it makes me laugh. Sal can’t complain to a waitress about cold oatmeal, how’s he going to join the Spanish Inquisition? I asked him if he had to wear a black mask and he laughed.

But Sal didn’t laugh any about his Grade 10!! It ticked him off, as well it should. He thought his years at McDonald’s entitled him to a higher grade, I’m not sure why. Otherwise, the job is pretty good. I mean the benefits are great and Sal likes the people at the office. Says they’re pretty laid back when they’re not performing their torture specialties. (It’s weird but Sal can’t tell me if he’s working for the CIA, NSA or FBI. “Big secret,” he says, adding he’d have to kill me if I find out. Then he laughs like he’s making a joke, hah, hah!)

Like I said, Sal seems happier and much like his old self. Of course, every once in a while I notice him staring at strangers on the street and I can tell he’s sizing them up like they were future ‘clients’.

Sal says he can’t help it. He says he can’t look at anyone these days except as a potential client. That includes me and the kids, which is very stressful, but Sal says they told him the problem will go away. Once he finishes his training.

And talk about stress, Sal’s training program has been nothing but stressful! There’s a shortage of torture-eligible prisoners to practice on, so trainees like Sal are forced to double up. Sweet Jesus, don’t let the war end before Sal completes his training! (just joking)

The one thing I can’t decide is what to tell the kids. Tommy, Tuppence and Bradbury are only 4,8 and 10, you know. I told them their daddy works in the front lines of the War on Terror. What else could I say? How could I be honest about their daddy’s employment when they’re not old enough to understand that torture in defense of freedom is a noble profession?

Anyway, Sister, I just wanted to write and tell you how sorry I was to hear about you and Frank, and to cheer you up a bit. I have to run now. We’re going to a church supper tonight once Sal gets home from work.

We’re bringing the beans.

Hugs and kisses,