La Decoración

pay phoneOut to dinner with friends at a venerable Mexican Ft Lauderdale institution. Need el baño. Push open the door and confront this mysterious device.

Unless you’re blessed with a schlong the length of a gas pump hose, it’s mounted too high up on the wall to be a urinal. I wave my hands in front of it to activate it —  maybe a paper towel will appear? – but aside from cracking my wrist, nothing happens. And it appears to have a lock – what’s simultaneously so worthless that’s it’s mounted next to a public toilet, yet valuable enough that it has to be locked?

Its coloring suggests a mailbox (short on the red, though), but clearly that slot is too small for a letter or even a postcard. Not that those exist outside of historical novels. And it’s not a parking meter – if they wanted to affix one of those to discourage loitering, they’d put it back in the stall with the sit-down toilet, wouldn’t they?

Without my reading glasses, I can’t make out the print below the word STOP on its northwest front, but that is enough warning to keep me from monkeying around with it. After all, it looks vaguely electrical. But I cautiously lift the removable black plastic part off its cradle – it’s attached by that primitive looking metal cable which resembles bad fencing – and see it bears  patterns of perforations on both extreme ends. Maybe it squirts water? A latrine cleaning device?

I gotta figure it’s some high-tech device that only pre-teen nerds and geeks understand, but why it’s in the bathroom with the urinal mints and condom dispenser is beyond me. I drain the dragon, wash my paws, and return to the beer pitcher.

Posted in Shaken and Stirred | 5 Comments

Scrip Joint

After postponing the inevitable, Guido sees her dermatologist about this vicious outbreak of itching eruptions she can’t vanquish. Doctor scrapes a few samples and writes two prescriptions, one for her scalp, other for the rest of her freckled epidermis.

In something of a hurry, we try to deliver the paperwork via the Publix Pharmacy’s Drive-In window, but when nobody answers the summons, Guido runs it inside. She hands both ‘scrips to a counter creature who frowns. “Not sure what this is,” she says, consulting her computer screen. “Oh. Okay. Might be at least an hour.”

They always say this, even if the entire process consists of reaching under the counter and grabbing the correct color-coded container. But we’re not waiting anyway, so they promise to call when they’re ready for pick-up.

Six hours later, still no call, so Guido calls them. Pharmacist says he needs clarification about the medication’s application – that all rhymes —  and is waiting for the dermatologist to call back. This strikes me as peculiar: our dermatologist runs a very tight ship and effective practice, but why should this concern Pharmacist anyway? Just deliver the product.

An entire day goes by and no word yet. Guido’s at work, so I take over. I call the dermatologist’s office and explain the problem to a medical aide. The aide checks the data, doesn’t see a problem, and calls Pharmacist. Then she calls me back to say that whatever the problem might have been (she isn’t certain), the Pharmacist is on it and will call as soon as the medication is ready.

When Pharmo calls, he says he took care of the one problem, alright, but now there’s another: he needs a PA (Prior Authorization) from the dermatologist because it’s an expensive scrip, our insurance won’t cover it, and the doctor didn’t okay a generic or cheaper alternative. I wait politely until he’s finished before I totally lose my shit on him.

First I ask him why the entire fuck he didn’t take care of this problem when he took care of the other problem (whatever it was), or even before. Next I tell him I don’t give a bloody fart how much it costs: we’re talking about health care and a medical condition here, not the price of vegetables, and if I need to I’ll come in an hand him a credit card because in a sane world, the insurance company doesn’t get to override the doctor’s recommended course of treatment. And neither does the goddam Publix Pharm-man who needs to stay in his lane moving pills from big bottles to little bottles without spilling too many on his little white apron.

“It’s $230,” he says.

I reiterate my contention that medical concerns outweigh all else, and if asshats in the health industry like himself can’t grasp this essential Hippocratic component they ought to be sweeping the pharmacy’s floor, not attending to its clientele. He actually says this isn’t about health care, but insurance. When I ask him why my insurance company (Medicare) doesn’t cover it, he suggests it isn’t a very good company.

I explain in easy-to-understand four-letter words at high volume that he’s personally and professionally obstructing the administration of medication to remedy a patient’s medical condition, and that by bumbling around like this he was endangering that patient’s health. He tells me “I’m only trying to help, Sir,” and tops it off by mentioning that in fact, they don’t even have the medication on hand anyway.

And then I wake up in a cold sweat.

No, I don’t. He really said that, and this is actually happening.

I call back the dermatologist’s office, speak to another aide, who can’t quite believe what I relay to her. She asks me for the address and phone number of Pharmo, which I provide, adding that I don’t know his name but if you ask for the guy with the size 28 shoes and big red nose, they’ll know who you mean. Bear in mind it’s almost 5:00 now, so this unrolling horror story is threatening cocktail hour.

A few minutes later the aide calls me, says she spoke to “the clown” (her words), and yes, there really is a problem here, Houston, but she’s going to get the scrip changed to something they already have, so he’ll fill it immediately and call when it’s ready.

Ten minutes later Pharmo calls, so Guido, home from work, goes over to claim it. (Pharmo himself evidently repairs to the latrine to hide when she arrives: he’s not in sight.) She returns with one tube of ointment ($7.00) and the original scrip. So where’s the other med she was prescribed?

This time Guido calls the dermatologist office and provides the update. Now the aide is completely flummoxed. She says she went over both scrips with Pharmo, changed the one that was causing difficulties, and never had to modify the other. “What is going on over there?” she wonders aloud, “Can you take it somewhere else? Is there a Costco nearby?”

At this point we’re better advised taking it to an auto supply outlet. Or maybe there’s a kid in the schoolyard who has a drug connection.

There’s an entire rats’ nest of issues here, the most serious the one about the way patient care is juggled by blind limbless acrobats whose exclusive province is their own 3-ring circus and peanut sales. They are unconcerned for the patient, let alone the Big Picture. They worship Paperwork and Procedures, and if some poor shmenk limps in bleeding from the gills and shitting internal organs, they still need to get a PA or claim they need to call the insurance company first.

Even within these limits, there’s a distinction between competent and incompetent. Many professionals in the field are as upset with the status quo as their clients and patients, and work diligently to expedite care. Evidently, Pharmo isn’t one of them. So he loses our business, slight as it may be, and quite likely any references from our dermatologist’s office.

No skin off my nose. Heh heh. Skin. Dermatologist. Heh heh.

Posted in Shaken and Stirred | 5 Comments

Injuns of Change

Literally nobody inside the Liquor and Rubber Ball Sports Emporium and Artesian Boil Popping While-U-Wait wants to see President Shithole’s State of the Union crap, so Don Tequila, tending bar tonight, sets the flat screens to assorted other brane-sucking content while we loyal imbibers huddle close, tell lies, and bray laughter into one another’s faces.

I join Duck Diamonds at the bar. Although Duck gambles on sports for a living, his conversation at the moment isn’t the impending Superbowl, but the Cleveland Indians. Turns out his hatchet-faced drinking companion is a diehard Indians fan from Shaker Heights, and is beside herself over the announcement that the team will abandon Chief Wahoo, its mascot, after the 2018 season.

“Been a fan since Rocky Colavito signed a baseball for me in 1959,” she says proudly. “And he wore Chief Wahoo his whole career. We all had hats, shirts, coozies, bumper stickers, and everyone loved it. What’s the problem? This is political correctness gone nuts.”

Don counts among his charms and talents his ability to goad unsuspecting victims to violence and self destruction. “I hearya, love,” he says, in his reasonable work-with-me-here voice. “But how many actual Native Americans do you know that share your fond memories?”

“The same number I’ve met at ball games,” she retorts. “Zero.  So they got no say. No skin in the game.”

Now there’s an unfortunate metaphor.

“I bet you didn’t know the team was actually named after an Indian.  Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian from Maine, was this amazing outfielder for the National League Cleveland Spiders at the end of the 19th Century. The called him the ‘Deerfoot of the Diamond.’  The mascot isn’t an insult. It’s a goddam tribute.”

“Times change,” says Duck. “You’re not dancing for dollars on tables in dyke bars anymore, and Indians don’t like being depicted as packs of simple-minded grinning savages.”

“Oh, ferchrissake.”  She’s practically spitting (and I can’t, just can’t imagine what she looked like dancing near-naked. I just hope the table legs were solid. Eerily, she reminds me of wrestler Dolph Ziggler, also from Cleveland. Must be the Cuyahoga water. Scary.) “Chief Wahoo is a savage? You have some serious snowflake issues, Duck. Lighten up, willya?”

“It’s part of growing up, old salt,” needles Duck. “And it’s not just the Indians. The Washington Redskins are under pressure – that name is just plain racist. The Braves. A whole bunch of college teams dumped the name Redmen.”

“Where’s this headed? I can see the Audubon Society demanding they change the names of the Seahawks, Blue Jays, Eagles, right? Stereotyping birds of prey! Our poor feathered friends! The Mighty Ducks!” She’s bellowing now, much to the delight of the entire bar. “’A duck could be somebody’s mother,’ like the old song says!  Is White Sox reverse racism?”

“You go, girl!” somebody calls.

“It’s just the mascot,” Duck tells her. “They’re keeping the name. And the team will suck as bad as they have their whole lousy history no matter what they’re called or who their mascot is.” He glances up at a teevee over our heads. “Ten o’clock and the President is still yapping.”

That’s not the President, Duck. That’s a Mister Ed rerun.

“Yeah, I know – isn’t he the original Stable Genius?”

That costs him a round.

Posted in Playing With Balls | 7 Comments

Letters of Nut

Gather ’round, Grandkids. And put down those Tide pods — they’re for dessert.

Back before blogs, I regularly sent lots of cranky letters to people, some of whom actually answered. In rooting through old files the other say, I discovered I still have a bunch, including a thick file folder filled with exchanges between me and various clodpates at the Miami Hurled, like their runty publisher. Save that for another day.

When we first moved to Florida, I was struck by the astonishing incompetence of, well, everybody. Restaurant help, counter clerks, paraprofessionals, trash collectors —  it was everywhere. It was like everybody was faking it. But what floored me flat was the sheer illiteracy of so-called professionals in advertising and journalism, people who were supposed to able to craft simple sentences, but clearly had difficulties. So when I got this flyer in the mail, I had to respond:

“Florda.” Pretty classy, innit. Trust this outfit to provide you with sensitive data on charitable donations and philanthropic institutions? Like what this says about your chosen profession? Ass afire, I dashed off this indignant letter:

I never got a response. Wonder why. Truth to tell, I was kinda hoping for a job offer.

Aah, well. The 80s. Blogging turned out to be more fun anyway, and nowadays all sorts of twisted correspondents are happy to respond. As we’ll see over the next few days.

Posted in Gen. Snark, Maj. Snafu, Corp. Punishment, Shaken and Stirred | 9 Comments

Ears to the Beans

Guido is big on the new year tradition of making a pot of beans. This year she used black-eyed peas, simmered with carrots, celery, onions, and a ham hock. She also made a 17-bean soup, which she served with collards and mustard greens flavored with pancetta. We polished off the batch this evening. It’s been kind of windy around the house.

But why black-eyes?

“I always liked black eyes,” she tells me. “Used to eat them a lot, growing up.”

You ate black guys growing up? (Note: my tinnitus has gotten a lot worse over the last year. Takes some getting used to.)

“All the time. Even when we were kids.”

You ate black guys when you were a kid?

“Sure. My mom gave ’em to me and my brother. We loved ’em.”

You and your brother ate the black guys your mom gave you?

“Yeah. Although I do them a lot different, now.”

You do your black guys a lot different from your mom?

“I like them a lot hotter and spicier than I used to. Back then, they were kind of bland.”

Now you like your black guys hot and spicy, I get it.

“Why are you asking me this? You liked ’em, too, didn’t you?

Happy New Year.

Posted in Shaken and Stirred | 7 Comments

Cold Blues

Even in South Florida, this was no weekend to enjoy a cold beer, although Lard knows I tried. It’s especially challenging, because Guido and I agreed to clean out a bit, and vowed not to drink any hard liquor the entire month. Without tequila or Jack Daniels to keep Jack Frost at bay, what’s a man to do? And don’t even think about pointing a cup of hot milk at me. Udderly inappropriate.

So here I am at Total Wine, exercising my Frequent Imbiber mileage, and I stumble (literally) across a twofer deal in the beer aisle. Mix and Match — any two six-packs of Blue Point products for $10. That’s about half the going rate ($9.95).

BP label

I’m a big fan of Blue Point Toasted Lager, which is good in a bottle (and remarkable on tap), so I grab it. I see they’re offering Summer Ale, too, which is okay, although not as good at the Lager in my book, but mix and match it is so I grab a six of those, too.

(Twelve cold Blues. As in, twelve bar blues? I’ll work on that.)

The Summer Ale turns out not as I remember it. This may be because it’s brewed for summer climates, and whatever else you want to call this first week of January, “summer” won’t fly. (Sidebar: If I had a dollar for every nimrod I’ve met over the last 30 years who tells me they could never live in Florida because they’d “miss the change in seasons,” I could move to Hawaii, and sure as hell would. Is it ever 45 degrees in August here? This ain’t Duluth.)

But then I spot this on the label, and see that maybe there’s another reason: this stuff has outlived its shelf life. That might explain the sale, too.

Needless to say, I drank it all anyway. Who am I to turn up my nose at the elderly?

The other day when I am back at Total Wine (yes, I’m a regular: they even run out and offer to park my car when they see me coming) I spurn the Summer Ale in favor of two six-packs of Toasted Lager, figuring I would tell them that ‘mix and match” means “one on the left and one on the right.” But they don’t even ask, just ring up the discount.

So, as they say in the massage business, Happy Ending! To which I’ll add a shot of the third graphic on the bottle’s neck, which suggests perhaps Blue Point has encountered some of the same clueless weather clodpates that I have. Or other varieties.

Posted in News From the Nation's Dicktip | 6 Comments

Bank Shot

This plaque presides over the toilet in a bank’s rest room.

It takes me many minutes – which I am doomed to spend anyway, thanks to a lethargic prostate gland slowed even further by the frigid room and my own cold hands on Big Poppy – but I figure out this isn’t a depiction of a magician levitating a variety of objects out of the head of a dog whose scalp has been neatly flipped open.

No, it’s a non-verbal prohibition about what sorts of things shouldn’t be dropped into the bank’s toilet. But what are those things?

I can identify about half these icons, including “soap” because it says so (but why the hell would anybody drop an entire bar of soap into the toilet of a bank’s rest room? Why would anybody bring a bar of soap into a bank’s rest room?). What’s the thing on the extreme left? What’s on the bottom left – it looks like a squashed WW2 aviation cap with ear-flaps. Is that the largest razor blade in the world under the soap? If it is, do you want to give orders to whatever giant bearded creature uses it?

The scary part is, whatever all these things are, they made it to the sign for a reason — it’s happened somewhere. The same reason shippers write DO NOT EAT THIS on packing material. There are human beings out there who without these cautions would do the unthinkable, so parties with something to lose have to dumb themselves down to protect themselves.

You can bank on it. (Sorry.)




Posted in Shaken and Stirred | 6 Comments