Monday, September 30, 2013

An offer you can't refuse

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dryden:

The moment our realtor unlocked the door and we stepped into the foyer of your gracious house, our family -- my husband Justin, myself and our three children, Madison, McKinley and Carter -- knew we were "home."

We have already decided where we will place the holiday tree. Each child has picked out his or her bedroom. And we've decided how to arrange the furniture on the deck. There are, of course, a few things we will have to do to make it “ours.”

We’ll be adding a pool, naturally. We both work and the nanny doesn’t drive so she wouldn’t be able to take the children to the Y to swim. And because we do a great deal of entertaining, we plan to add a Belgian block-lined circular driveway so guests can park directly in front of the house rather than on the street. We’ll also need to have a third garage bay built to accommodate Justin’s BMW M6. He won’t let me park my “mommy-mobile,” the Range Rover, within 20 feet of it. (Men and their toys!)

Your house has only three bathrooms. We have taught Maddy, ‘Kinley and Peanut it is important to have space they can call their own, so we will have to add at least two more; it wouldn’t be fair to ask the children to share a bathroom with each other much less their nanny.

The realtor’s brochure indicates new appliances were installed when the kitchen was renovated two years ago, but we have always considered a Viking range a necessity so the current cooktop will have to go. We love the Sub Zero and the two dishwashers, however, and plan to keep them if we can have them refaced to match the Poggenpohl cabinets we will be ordering. (In the meantime, could you ask Walmart or wherever you bought them to send someone to repair the grout line on the countertop where the two slabs of granite come together? That granite will have to go too, but I suppose we can live with it for a while.)

But before we even begin to address the projects listed above, step one will be to have the master bath ripped out and redone from top to bottom. How you’ve lived all these years without a steam shower, sauna and bidet is, frankly, beyond me. Our agent said your agent told her you are originally from the Middle West. We have heard people out there live differently from people in Connecticut, so perhaps that explains why you were able to endure such a primitive facility.

And now, the bad news: We wish we could meet your asking price but we simply can’t. The way we figure it, we will need to spend at least $900,000 on top of what we pay for the property to make the house habitable. Though I’m sure it served your purposes when you were raising your children back in the fifties or whenever, surely you must realize how hopelessly out-of-date it is for an active family of the twenty-first century.

For that reason we hope you won’t be offended by our opening offer which unfortunately has very little room for negotiation. Our agent and your agent, I am confident, will be able to work out a plan that is a win-win for both our families.


Ashley Addison

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dachshunds for Nixon/Agnew

I’m an ad man. My job is to draw your attention to a product or service using the right combination of words and pictures that make you want to buy, and buy now.

So I know you’ll forgive me for the headline (above) and the visual (below), the purpose of which is to entice you into reading about one final lot of valuable one-of-a-kind items that will be offered at the Sale of the Century, the "Estate Sale" during which most of the contents of our Connecticut house will be sold before we move to Florida next week. It starts at 10 a.m. sharp Friday and continues through 5 p.m. Sunday.

I’m not being totally deceptive here because the first item up for your consideration is ….

A genuine Nixon/Agnew sign: My wife, when we met thirty odd (and trust me, they have been odd) years ago on a blind date in Jefferson City, Mo., was in charge of PR for the Missouri Republican Party. She was (to the best of my knowledge) the first Republican I had ever met. I thought she was exotic.

She took this sign with her when she left the job shortly after Nixon’s resignation and ever since it has lined the drawer of a chest we’re also selling. This important piece of American history can be yours for just $10, and I’ll throw in a paperback book of propaganda written by some GOP operative entitled (hilariously, considering the fate that befell him) “The Convictions of Spiro T. Agnew." 

(The dachshund in the picture is our beloved Bonnie. If you offered me a million dollars for a single hair from her frosty head I wouldn’t take it.)

Bow-Lingual: These devices that supposedly “translate” your dog’s barks and tell you what he is trying to say were the rage seven or eight years ago. I received this particular one for Christmas and we were enjoying it enormously until it revealed that Billy Ray, our other dachshund, was saying, “I’m embarrassed to live with gullible idiots like you.” It went back in the box and has stayed there ever since. $5.

Li'l Abner Tray: One of our children, years ago, appeared in a Wilton Children’s Theater production of Li'l Abner. This being a community in which children receive trophies for getting out of bed in the morning, child actors selected for the cast of Wilton Children’s Theater are feted like Robert DeNiro and Meryl Streep at the Academy Awards. Following their performances they receive flowers, trophies and gifts that included, apparently, this. The ladies running our Estate Sale have marked it at $10 but I’ll take $5. Or $2.50. OK, I’ll take $1 but don’t embarrass yourself by offering anything less.

“MCMLXXXIX, A Year to Remember” Highball Glasses:  In case you’ve forgotten your Roman numerals, it stands for “1989.” We don’t remember why we have them, what happened that year or who gave them to us. But if 1989 was a great year for you, cheers – you can acquire this set of six for a mere $19.89. (They may be good crystal but we can't remember.)

Rare gemstones: March 4, 1980 is a day that will live in infamy in the Dryden house – the day our first dachshund, Quincy, underwent surgery to remove kidney stones. Since they cost as much to remove as diamonds cost to extract from mines, the vet thoughtfully placed them in a jewel box. You can purchase the .75 carat stone for $100, the half-carat stone for $50, or both for $125, and take them to a jeweler who will make you a lovely ring, pendant or brooch. C’mon folks, these were spawned by a Dryden dachshund. Once I write my book about living with dachshunds, which will make "Marley & Me" look like a minor blip on The New York Times Best Seller list, they’ll be worth a mint.

See you bright and early Friday. Visa, MasterCard and cash accepted.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Sale of the Century -- Part II

Last week I wrote about the “Estate Sale” we will be holding at our Connecticut house in preparation for our move to Florida next week.

Well, the sale starts this coming Friday at 8 a.m. and runs through Sunday at 5 p.m. Here are some of the many gems that can be yours for a mere fraction of their original price. (Call ahead for early admission.)

Lightspeed Cross-Country Pilot ANR Headset:  The year I turned 50, I decided to take flying lessons, conveniently ignoring that I am A:) afraid of heights and B:) hard of hearing so I wouldn’t understand anything the control tower told me to do. I paid $300 for this nifty headset that was used five times until the day I nearly broadsided a fully-loaded Continental 737 that was landing on a runway with the same number as the runway I could have sworn the controller told me to land on at Tucson International Airport. My instructor kissed the ground when we landed and made me promise to never take the yoke again. Yours for a mere $100.  (Batteries not included.)

Lot of three (3) “Let It Snow, Let it Snow" Dryden, NY sweatshirts: Years ago, en route to a business meeting in Ithaca, I drove through a small town in upstate New York whose name caught my eye. I stopped at a local store and bought three of these sweatshirts intending to give them to my wife and sons for Christmas but obviously didn’t because I found them this past weekend in the attic, in their original plastic bags. All three (sizes L, M and S) can be yours for just $10.

Captain & Tennille “Song of Joy” album:  Includes the immortal hits “Muskrat Love” (And they whirled and they twirled and they tangoed, Singing and jinging the jango, Floatin’ like the heavens above, It looks like Muskrat Love) and “You’d Better Shop Around.” If you have a record player that still works (readers under 40, ask your parents), you’ll regret it if you don’t buy this classic. $1.

Nixon Library coffee mug: In the early '90s I took my sons with me on a business trip to southern California. Whereas most fathers, on a free day, would have taken their kids to Disneyland, I took them to the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda not because I’m a Tricky Dick fan but because I was the only one old enough to drive and happen to love presidential libraries. Bought this as a souvenir. I suppose I could have taken them to Disneyland but … I didn’t tell them that was an option. $2.

Dried flower arrangements out the ying-yang: I didn’t buy these any more than I bought the Captain & Tennille album, and am not pointing fingers at any blonde who did, but our realtor insisted we hide them in the basement when the house was on the market. The women who are running our estate sale have skillfully arranged them on a folding table in the dining room, which now resembles a funeral home without the sickening floral smell or a corpse. Any one (including vases) can be yours for $10. Or, snap up all ten for $75. 

Royal Visit to South Africa commemorative cup: King George and Queen Elizabeth visited South Africa in 1947. I purchased this cup commemorating their visit in a Cape Town flea market in 1998 which seemed like a good idea at the time. $5.

Conn saxophone: My parents purchased this in 1963 so I could be excused from seventh grade class twice a week for band practice. All the brass plating has worn away and the keypads need replacing. I can no longer play it since a bike accident that required 98 stitches across my upper lip 20 years ago rendered it completely numb. Yours for $20, but it’ll probably cost you $300 to rehabilitate it. 

Skil Circular Saw: I have always fancied myself a handy man. I’m not. Truth be told, I would more likely be able to successfully remove a brain tumor than saw through a 2 x 4. The one time I used this (sometime in the late '80s if memory serves me) I sliced through the cord and, amazingly, survived. I bought a new cord and, at the request of my wife who begged me to never, ever try to fix anything again, it has reposed on a basement shelf ever since. Like new -- used for five minutes tops. $10.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Top 10 College Football Scores, Week 3

The NCAA college football season is about to begin in earnest.

Granted, it actually started three weeks ago, but this year, as always, the powerhouse teams have been playing teams hand-picked to guarantee them a strong start.

Here are the scores from the games in which yesterday’s ESPN top 10 ranked teams competed.

#1 Alabama 72
Akron School of Cosmetology 3

#2 Oregon 86
New Hampshire College of Mortuary Science 0

#3 Clemson 41
Christian Scientist Nursing School 9

#4 Ohio State 10
McDonald's Klown Kollege 7 (OT)

#5 Stanford 92
Julliard 3

#6 LSU 48
Arkansas Cashier Academy 6

#7 Texas A&M 72
Fashion Institute of Technology 0

#8 Florida State 66
Delta Flight Attendant Academy 12

#9 Louisville 83
University of Southwestern Delaware (Seaford) 22

#10 Georgia 42
French Culinary Institute 3

Saturday, September 14, 2013

How can you be two places at once when you're not any place at all?

For my Facebook friends who received notification earlier this evening that I was all over Manhattan, checking in from the Red Cat, Lasagna Chelsea Restaurant, Stout NYC, Chelsea Piers, the McKittrick Hotel, The Frying Pan, Uncle Jack's Steakhouse, Madison Square Garden and the Gotham Comedy Club, there’s a simple explanation. Sort of. 

I wasn’t any of those places.

Truth be told, I was on an Amtrak train returning from D.C. I left Connecticut at 6 am this morning, driving a U-Haul truck full of furniture we’re giving our oldest son and his wife, and our youngest son, all of whom live there – furniture we won’t be using in our new life in Florida.

I arrived at son Stuart’s apartment at 12:15, we offloaded all his furniture, then he and I drove to a storage facility across town to offload stuff for son Ben and Heidi. I returned the truck at 3:45 and caught a 4:25 train back to Stamford, Connecticut via Baltimore, Wilmington, Philly, Trenton, Newark and New York’s Penn Station, where the stop lasts for 10 minutes.

Bored while parked at Penn Station, I got out my iPhone, checked Facebook, and thought it might be cool to use the check-in function, showing I was in New York on this beautiful Saturday night. Which I was, technically, even though I was stuck in a train tunnel 100 or so feet below ground. I had forgotten that Penn Station is located directly below dozens of New York venues which give "check in" functionality to my iPhone, and Facebook said I could check in from any of them. So I did -- one after the other. Then my phone ran out of battery, and I went back to the book I had been reading for the rest of the ride up to Connecticut and forgot about it.

When Judy met me at the Stamford station an hour later she was semi-hysterical. “Someone’s stolen your phone and they’re checking in from all over New York! You’ve gotta call Verizon! You’ve lost your contacts!. They have access to our financial information! It’s awful! I was afraid you’d been mugged! I tried to call but ... no answer! Oh my God, are you OK?"

I assured her I hadn’t and I am. I was simply a 61 year-old bored boy playing with his toy.

Wish I had been all those fun places, but I wasn’t. I regret the incident.

And now I’m going to take a shower and go to bed. 

We long-distance truckers work up quite a sweat you know. 

Good night.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The sale of the century

I am sure you’re sick and tired of reading about our upcoming move from Connecticut, where we’re closing down the house in which we’ve lived since 1991, to Florida. But bear with me here.

We’ve hired two women to run an “estate sale” next weekend in which most of our Connecticut possessions will be sold. 

Here are some gems a few lucky early-bird bargain-hunters will find. (Shoot me an email and I’ll see if I can arrange to sneak you in so you can beat the crowds.)

Dachshund lamp: This 12" (excluding shade) porcelain hot dog, unlike the real wiener dogs we have had over the years, doesn’t lick maniacally, never spite-pees on your good rugs to punish you for going to the mailbox and not taking him, and is blessedly silent when the garbage truck arrives or the doorbell rings, plus he casts a lovely light. Authentic right down to his cute little weenie. Just $12.99.

Hanukah cookie cutters:  Four classic shapes – chai, dreidel, menorah and a star of David -- still in the original packaging. The sticker on the back says they were purchased for $5 but knowing that if you’re interested in these, you never, ever, pay retail, they can be yours for the bargain-basement price of just $2. (OK, $1.50 but don’t tell anyone.)

Boy’s white suit, size 5: This is your opportunity to acquire the white linen suit your favorite blogger wore as a five-year-old ring bearer at his brother’s wedding in August, 1957. There are grass stains on the jacket because I got into a fistfight with the flower girl and we rolled all over the yard until she finally beat the shit out of me, which accounts for the brown stain on the trousers. I’m sure you can Shout them out. $5.

Come Walk with Me: Speaking of nuptials, my wife’s grandmother, a lovely, gracious lady, presented us on our wedding day with this oil painting she commissioned from an artist who entitled it, “Come Walk with Me.” It has moved with us from St. Louis to Chicago to New York to Connecticut and the only place it was ever displayed was in the basement stairwell. Unlike us, it’s not going to spend its dotage in Florida. Yours for just $9.99.

"Front Row at the White House" by Helen Thomas:  I was a voracious reader of books by journalists until I finally concluded they’re all biased scumbags at which point I switched to true crime books. Our "Sale of the Century" will include autobiographies by such noted reporters as Walter Cronkite, Lesley Stahl, Tom Brokaw, Martin Fletcher, Bob Woodruff, Andrea Mitchell, Mike Wallace, Babwa Walters, Geraldo Rivera and, last but not least, Helen Thomas, who covered the White House for more than 200 years and recounts the difficulties she faced growing up as a child with a nose the size of Saskatchewan. Yours for $1.

Dachshund pencil holder: Hard-carved and purchased for the equivalent of $1 on Chiloe, an island off the Patagonian coast of Chile. A smart accessory for any executive desk. Holds four pens or pencils. $2.

Moroccan Cookbook: In the early '80s I was hired by Royal Air Maroc to write a tourist guide to Morocco. It didn’t matter to my client that I had never been there. The folks at the airline gave me books to familiarize myself with their home country. For the "cuisine" section they gave me a cookbook that includes the following dish that'll make you the talk of the town when you serve it at your next dinner party.

Steamed Sheep’s Head

Allow one sheep’s head for two people. Buy the sheep’s head divided in two and ask the butcher to chop off the horns. Take out the brains, and shake the heads hard to make sure any maggots that might be tucked away inside the ears and mouth fall out. Brush with a stiff brush and steam for three hours. Take them off the heat and remove any wool. Put back to steam for half an hour and serve piping hot with Kerouiya Harira.

This and many other mouth-watering recipes can be yours for a mere $1.

Windshield ice scraper: Won't be needing it. Ten cents.

Mention you read and you’ll save an extra 10 percent off any of the above prices.

See you there!