Don't talk to strangers

But it's OK to live with them...

According to Ben Franklin, guests and fish begin to smell after three days and he may have had a point.

George Clooney could stop by for a visit on Monday and despite the fact that he’s charming as a serial killer in a singles bar, sometime Thursday afternoon you might be asking George if his friends in Como Lake, Italy are missing him and if so maybe he ought to get his ass up off your couch and go see them.

Despite my best attempts at deluding myself, I’m pretty sure I’m not as charming as George Clooney.

If you read my previous post – and if you haven’t I’ll wait here while you do – my plan is to visit California for the month of August and write a short book with the help of the people who want to get involved and read along.

So where to stay for an entire month? I just did the math and since I’m actually leaving on August 3rd, I’ll be in California for 29 days. According to Ben Franklin’s formula at three days per visit, I’d need approximately 9.6 friends with an empty couch to avoid stinking like a sturgeon and I’m about 8.2 friends short.

On to plan B.

You can go home again, but you probably shouldn’t

“Moderation in all things” is another quote that applies here and I wish Ben Franklin said it because it would add symmetry to my story, but apparently it dates back to a Greek poet named Hesiod.

Or maybe it was the Roman comic dramatist Plautus and I only include that fact because until 30 seconds ago I didn’t know such a thing existed and wanted you to imagine – just like I did – a stand-up comedian plying his trade in 152 BC:

“Hey, I’ll be here all week and make sure to tip your slave girl.”


Moderation in all things certainly applies to my family and probably yours. I love talking to my mom, but at some point she’ll get around to trying to save my soul, just like an insurance salesman who’s done with the small talk and is ready to discuss the benefits of a whole life policy.

On more than one occasion I’ve pointed out that I don’t ask my mom to go drinking with me so maybe she could lay off asking me to go to church and/or Heaven with her.

If I knew the Heaven part of the deal was iron-clad she might have a shot, but her version of Paradise sounds boring as shit to me and I’m guessing any heavenly request to have Wendy O. Williams perform wearing nothing but shaving cream and a chainsaw would meet with stern disapproval from a host of archangels and earn me a quick demotion to a place where I might have a better chance of a front-row seat.

See you soon, Wendy!

Also, I can only stand to hear half-digested Rush Limbaugh talking points on Donald Trump for about a minute and a half before I remember I have an errand to do and need to get the fuck out of the room.

Once again: I don’t and didn’t go on diatribes about Obama so I’m not up for hearing one on Trump.

I’ve been drawing political cartoons since 1976 and not once have I ever heard an argument end with someone admitting he or she is full of crap and doesn’t know what he or she is talking about and maybe they just oughta shut the fuck up. Everybody walks away with the same opinions they started with, but now they’re mad.

Plus, I’m pretty sure dentists don’t want to discuss root canals in their free time and it’s the same deal with political cartoonists.

That’s why I always get a room elsewhere when I visit my family.

I’m guessing that whole Lizzie Borden mess could have been avoided if she had just taken the simple precaution of booking a room in a nearby hotel.

A 100 percent true hotel story

On one visit home I was staying in a cheap hotel in Rancho Cordova and got a call from the front desk telling me not to leave my room and it might be a good idea to lie down on the floor; they’d give me a call back when the coast was clear.

It wasn’t the kinkiest request I’ve ever received in a hotel room, so I complied.

It wasn’t long before I heard, “Freeze, (whatever-the-guy’s-name-was)” and a series of pops which is what guns actually sound like when they’re fired in real life.

I got a call that it was OK to get up and went to look out my third-(or maybe it was second) floor window. There in the parking lot, lying in a position that looked really uncomfortable – his leg bent back beneath him – was a dead guy surrounded by cops.

It appeared that what’s-his-name chose not to freeze…at least voluntarily.

Turned out the dead guy was an escaped convict or library patron guy with some really overdue books that the cops had tried to arrest the night before in the hotel across the street from the hotel I was staying in.

He escaped arrest by jumping out his room’s window (a move only a criminal mastermind could have come up with and there’s no way the cops could have anticipated that stroke of genius) and running across the street and checking into my hotel.

I’m guessing that was one antsy motherfucker while waiting for his room keys. I get antsy when waiting for mine and I rarely have a posse on my heels.

And as luck would have it, the John Dillinger of Rancho Cordova checked into the room directly beneath mine. I don’t know if they brought in bloodhounds or checked satellite footage, but the cops figured out where he was and prepared to arrest him a second time.

But the police had learned their lesson and when they knocked on his door, this time they had also stationed a shitload of cops outside his room’s window. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice and you’ll wind up with 47 holes in your ass.

So what have we learned so far?

Staying at home and staying in hotels both have drawbacks, but if I have to choose I’d rather room with Charlie Manson on the run than most of my relatives.

The blessing of anonymity

Here’s another story from my past and will help make sense of the photo at the top of the page:

My best friend Phil was graduating from med school and I thought, great, I now have a really personal physician that I can call up late at night and bug whenever I feel a weird tingling or out of place bump.

Au contraire.

When I went to get a physical from my best friend, Phil walked into the examining room with a grin on his face and a speculum in his hand and gleefully asked me to bend over.

That – and a great many other things that should make up a routine physical – did not happen.

I did not turn my head to the left and cough or fill him in on my sexual history or let him press on my abdomen so hard it felt like my spleen was being ruptured. (I don’t know if that really tells doctors anything, I think they just like doing it as a joke.)

It turns out there are a great many things of a medical nature you really don’t want to share with a friend; if someone is going to check my prostate I’d prefer it to be a complete stranger and if current events are any indication, I’m guessing Robert Kraft agrees.

(Here’s a random thought: when we were kids watching the TV series Gunsmoke, everybody figured Marshal Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty had a thing going on, but nobody gave two thoughts to Doc. But when you think about it, Doc was way more likely to say: “Hey, Marshal, after the gunfight, drop by my office and I’ll stick a finger up your ass.” Now try to get that image out of your head.)

Where were we?


There are people I love that I couldn’t live with for a month (and when she reads this part, Phil’s wife Judy will think “Amen”) so I’ll somewhat less than briefly stay with Phil and Judy until I find an extended-stay Airbnb place that isn’t run by a lady with 52 cats.  

As children we were told not to talk to strangers, but now we happily jump in their cars or move into their back bedroom.

But in my mind it’s a fair trade: I’m taking the chance that my temporary landlord doesn’t have bodies buried in the basement and in return I get some refuge from family bullshit and anonymity if  I forget to put the toilet seat up or down at the appropriate moments.

When in private we all do things we wouldn’t want to share with the world and I’ll pay some cat lady to keep my secrets. Seems like a good deal all the way around.

And if you don’t believe me, just ask Ben Franklin.