The Man Cave

The Man Cave
Jack's Man Cave (Click on the photo to enter the Cave)

Friday, August 28, 2020

I Can't Live Up To The Size XXL Shirt I Just Bought

I Can't Live Up To The Size XXL Shirt I Just Bought

I gotta lose weight

Antoine Da cunha on Unsplash

Romantic Getaway, COVID-19 style

My wife Tracy and I are getting ready for a short weekend getaway trip for our 16th Anniversary. We’re also visiting friends who are having a BBQ for their son, who is going away to college.

Because it is 2020, we’ll be wearing facemasks on the airplane, and we’re flying into an area that was decimated by wildfires. “Romantic Getaway” COVID-19 style!

The hotel gave us a significant discount just to thank us for coming, so we didn't even have to use our AAA benefits.

. . .

A new shirt for the trip

I’ve worn pretty much the same Dri-FIT exercise clothes every day since about mid-March. So when Tracy said she was going shopping and would I like her to pick me a new shirt for the trip, I said, “sure.”

Even though I wear elastic-waisted workout shorts every day, I haven’t actually had a chance to exercise since the pandemic began.

“What size are you now?” Tracy asked, somewhat witheringly, and really overemphasizing the word ‘now.”

Actually, it was a pretty good question. There were whole swaths of shirts in my closet that I’ve subconsciously avoided trying on in the last few weeks. I know they won’t fit, or they’ll fit tight.

“I’m an XL. You know that!” I said, jocularly.

Tracy did not laugh. She looked me up and down. Then she rolled her eyes and walked away.

That got me to thinking.

. . .

It took me a while just to get used to being an XL

I’ve often marveled at the fact that I am an XL shirt size. I don’t feel like an XL. I look around, and there seem to be so many bigger and chubbier guys than me stumbling around. What size do they wear, if I’m an XL? 8XL?

But I’ve temporarily had a potbelly the last few years which threw the whole sizing thing off. Tracy reminds me that I have skinny legs and no butt. But the belly throws the sizing thing askew, and that’s why I go XL on the shirts.

I say temporarily, because any day now, I am going to go back on the Atkins diet. Yes, long before there was Keto, Paleo, and all these other rip-off diets, there was the Atkins Diet. It seems like nobody gives Dr. Atkins the credit he is due anymore, except Rob Lowe.

. . .

I need to get back on the Atkins diet

I did the Atkins diet hardcore for two years in a row, about 15 years ago, and I really trimmed down. I got thrown off track, however, when Boston Market went into bankruptcy and closed down most of their locations. Up until then, I was eating Boston Market’s chicken (taking the skin off, sometimes) and creamed spinach two or three times a day.

I’d also go to Costco and eat the hot dogs without the bun, or drive through Jack-in-the-Box and eat the Supreme Bacon Cheeseburger, also without the bun.

“Dude, you’re diet is horrible,” my jealous friends told me.

“All I’m doing is eating all the same stuff I ate before without the bun. And I’ve lost 12 pounds,” I’d say, popping another Altoid. Your breath can get pretty intense eating all that protein.

I was giving Rob Lowe a run for his money. It sucked when Dr. Atkins himself died of a massive coronary.

The problem with the Atkins diet is if you slip and have just one french fry, potato chip, or piece of garlic bread, it’s over. That french fry becomes the best tasting french fry you ever had in your life. You immediately slip into a carb binge. You wake up two days later in a parking garage, surrounded by carbs.

. . .

Tracy texts and calls me from the clothing store

Tracy texted me two photos from the store.

“This one’s a Large, and this one is an XL,” said the text with photos of two shirts.

Tracy liked the patterns on these Hawaiian-style shirts. One had hot dogs on it, and the other had bananas.

“The one shirt shows what you eat every day, and the other shows what you drive me — bananas,” Tracy said.

Hardy har har, I thought. Tracy was not “getting the vibe” of the type of shirts I like. Nonetheless, I told her to bring them home, and I would try them on.

. . .

The “Grand Theft Auto look” I invented and everyone stole

A few years back, I went on a Hawaiian shirt kick. When it comes to fashion, I get an idea in my head, and I really beat it into the ground. I decided I wanted to dress like the characters in the videogame Grand Theft Auto (“GTA”).


It was back when there were GTA advertisements on T.V. The commercials showed car thief criminal characters running wild through a Los Angeles landscape. The characters wore white sneakers, jeans, and sleazy Hawaiian shirts. I don’t know why this look appealed to me so much. These fashion whims just sort of come to me sometimes, and I go with them. Before this GTA phase, it was safari shirts with epaulets.

I wore jeans, Adidas Stan Smiths, and the sleaziest Hawaiian shirts I could find. That became my uniform for the past few years. We were on the Disney Cruise one year, and the entertainment director called me out on my outfit while Tracy and I were performing on “The Dating Game” in the pub in front of all the parents who were relaxing away from their children.

“Look at the outfit on this one! Nobody dresses like this anymore,” said the British lady host, pointing at me and trying to get a laugh. “Who are you supposed to be, Magnum P.I.?” The crowd roared laughing.

The next day on the pool deck, I was looking at my phone and Dolce and Gabbana, and all the other fashion designers had stolen my idea and were using my GTA look in their shows.

Don’t worry. I got that British entertainment director back good. That’s a different story.

These hot dog and banana prints Tracy was picking out, however, were too cutesy, and not sleazy enough. But I humored Tracy and said bring them home, and I’ll try them on.

. . .

The fashion show at home

I tried on the XL shirt with the bananas print, and the shoulders fit and the length was good. But it looked like there was a watermelon pushing out from the middle of the shirt. And the bottom did sort of hang a little bit like a maternity dress.

I walked out to the garage where Tracy was working out in the home gym.

“Oh God, that’s horrible,” said Tracy, before I could get a word out. “How did the XL fit?” she asked.

“This is the XL,” I said.

“Oh, Jesus. Turn sideways,” said Tracy

I saw myself in the big home gym mirror. It did not look so good.

“I guess it’s not that bad. You might be able to wear that,” said Tracy. “Just don’t turn sideways when we’re at the BBQ.”

Back in the man cave, I tried on the L sized shirt- just for fun. I got my arms through the shoulders, but I could barely get it buttoned. I gave up and let it hang loosely unbuttoned.

I turned to the mirror above the tufted leather couch. I looked like Robert Plant at the height of Led Zeppelin, when he wore those little girlie half shirts. I looked like Robert Plant if he had a big pot belly.

. . . 

Take these shirts back, please

Tracy took both the XL bananas shirt and the L hot dog shirt back to the store.

“Do you want me to see if they have any good XXL shirts?” Tracy asked.

This was the moment of truth. Was I going to take that next step on the evolutionary chain? The classical music from 2001 A Space Odyssey played in my head.

“Sure. Send me a photo if there’s an XXL you think I’d like,” I said. As soon as I said it, the music in my head switched to the Baby Elephant song.

Tracy got to the store, and the texts started coming. The first was a photo of a really cool bright pink shirt. It was sobering to see the XXL on the label inside the shirt.

I was in the middle of a Zoom meeting for work. My face on the screen looked so pink and blotchy, I was playing with all the Zoom settings to see if there was something wrong with my computer camera.

Everybody else in the meeting’s face seemed normal complexion, except mine. My face seemed really, really red. In fact, I was already researching Rosacea on the Mayo Clinic site on my second computer screen. That’s when Tracy’s text of the pink shirt came in. The shirt was kinda sleazy and right up my alley, but . . .

The Author (XXL)

“I like it. But I don’t think that hot pink it will complement my complexion,” I texted back.

Tracy sent me a photo of a second shirt. This one was white, with wispy black palm fronds on it. It seemed pretty simple and elegant.

The Author (XXL)

“Sure, bring that one home.”

. . .

Graduating up to the XXL shirt

Tracy put the shopping bag down on the kitchen counter and pulled out the XXL shirt.

“Oh my God. It’s like a bedspread!” I chortled.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself, ‘Chubs. Sometimes when I hold up your shirts in the laundry room, I feel like I’m folding duvet covers,” said Tracy.

I grabbed the shirt from her hand and took it back to the man cave. After some mental preparation, I put the XXL shirt on over the Dri-FIT I was wearing.

The XXL shirt fit like a glove. It was twice as comfortable as the XL. Oh my God. I’m an XXL.

I walked back to the kitchen and showed Tracy.

“It’ll probably shrink once you wash it I said,” twisting and posing side to side.

“I hope it doesn’t shrink too much,” said Tracy. “It fits perfectly right now.”

. . . 

Getting used to my new XXL life

I had to go to the grocery store later that day. As I masked-up and walked to get the shopping cart, I looked around to see if there were any other XXL guys around.

Just then, as I was crossing to the front of the store, a lifted truck came barreling towards me, running over two speed bumps without slowing the slightest bit. I jumped back and let the truck go past.

I saw the big angry guy driving the truck, with his arm hanging out the window, and it was obvious he wears XXL or larger. He had Oakley Blades on, a baseball hat backwards, and a Fu Manchu mustache. He had a really big and burly wife or girlfriend in the front seat, and you could tell she was just as grumpy as he was. She was drinking a Big Gulp and had a bandanna on. She probably wore XXL too.

The driver “mad-dogged” me, staring at me the whole time as he tore past me. Then he was gone.

Man, if I’m going to be wearing XXL, maybe I need to start acting like that guy, I thought.

. . .

Trying to “fit” in

When I got home from the store, I went online, and I started shopping for things to fit my new XXL life. I went on Amazon and started looking for some of the items that I thought I might need.

I browsed for a leather knife holder that would fit on my belt. Then I shopped for obnoxious wrap-around blade sunglasses, the kind that guys with Mullet haircuts wear. I checked out the cowboy boots too. Expensive.

Maybe I should have a toothpick in my mouth all the time, I thought.

Then it dawned on me.

I’m not really cut out for this XXL thing. I can’t pull this off, nobody is going to believe it. For chrissakes, my dad drove a Jaguar XJS, and had a man purse. I myself leased two Miatas, and still wished I had one.

I went back to the grocery store and headed straight to the meat aisle. I bought a bunch of protein- hot dogs, chicken, and steak. I picked up some creamed spinach and walked right past the bread aisle without even stopping. At the register, I grabbed a tin of Altoids.

Back home I looked at myself in the home gym mirror.

I gotta lose weight.

© Copyright 2020 Jack Clune 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Epic Saga of the Biscuit with the Loose Trucks


The Epic Saga of the Biscuit with the Loose Trucks

It’s a miracle more people weren’t hurt

The Author 

The skateboards looked so cool. Like surfing on the street!

One day I was scrolling through Facebook when an advertisement came up and magically transported me back to my youth. The ad was for some skateboards that looked like giant surfboards on wheels.

The ad showed skinny, blond-haired surfer kids using these skateboards to “land surf” all over the boardwalks, and parking lots at the beach. The kids were “hanging ten,” twirling around, and grabbing the rails of the boards and making deep carving turns like the way surfboards turn in the water.

There was even a video of a big chubby guy who kinda looked my same age (50), riding the tiniest version of the surfing skateboard, the model called “The Biscuit.”

If he can do it, I can do it, I thought.

 . . . 

I don’t get to the beach as much as I used to

These days, I only go “real” surfing during the summer, when the water gets warm. There was a time when I was going surfing every day after work. Three or four years ago, however, some sleaze shattered the back window of my car and stole my laptop bag with all my banking information in it while I was surfing.

As fun as it was working on the project of canceling all my credit cards, and re-doing all the paperwork for virtually every single aspect of my personal and business life, I found it hard to regain my surfing  mojo after that. I don’t know why.

 . . .

One of those skateboards would solve all my problems

I have to get one of those skateboards, I thought. Then I can just go outside my house in the cul de sac, and go “surfing.” I won’t have to park the car at the derelict beach ever again. I won’t have to wake up early in the morning and put on a cold wetsuit.

The videos showed some of the kids using these special poles to push themselves along on the longboard skateboards. The whole set up was meant to approximate paddleboarding on land.

I’ll get that pole too. After a few weeks of pushing myself along with that pole, I’ll have a six-pack of abs. Thank God I saw this ad for these skateboards today. This is going to be killing two birds with one stone. I won’t have to get sandy at the beach anymore, and I won’t have to go to the gym, because I’ll be so ripped from using that pole to push myself along in the cul de sac.

. . . 

The purchase

Hearts were popping out of my ears as I went straight to the website and bought the cheapest, smallest model of skateboard called “The Biscuit.” I ordered the purple one, called the “Deep Space” Biscuit.

I was kinda shocked to see that the “Sweeper” pole cost nearly $150.00.

What the hell? Why is this pole so expensive? Oh well, I’ll probably be canceling my monthly gym membership, and it’s cheaper than a Peloton.

I ordered the pole too.

. . . 

The arrival in the mail

When the day of the Biscuit arrival came, I ran out to greet the UPS truck like a kid at Christmas. I ripped open the box and delighted at the psychedelic purple skateboard. It was short and fat and ready to go.

Wait a sec. Why are the trucks so loose? Is that what makes the board turn so loosely, like a surfboard in the water?

The “trucks” are the T-shaped metal axels which are bolted to the bottom of the board and have the wheels on the end of them. These were super duper trucks, much more substantial than regular skateboard trucks. But for some reason, these trucks were bolted onto the board very loosely, such that I could jiggle the whole truck far too easily it seemed to me.

Can this be right? Is that how that girl in the bikini was able to make such sharp turns?

I jiggled the trucks and filmed it with my phone. I sent the video to a few of my friends with whom I used to skateboard 35 years ago. Pardon the bad language on the video.

I got a return text.

“Cool. Crazy looking board.”

“ . . .”

“Don’t kill yourself.”

. . .

The maiden ride and the “stick”

The next day, the “Sweeper” pole arrived in the mail. It was made of graphite, and thus, it flexed and provided some thrust when I planted it on the ground and pushed off.

It was time to make the maiden ride on the Biscuit. In no time, I was pushing myself around like a pro. I was so proud, I even had my wife Tracy film me.

As you will hear, unfortunately, Tracy ruined the audio on the video when she made a bunch of smart-ass comments. She insisted on calling my Sweeper pole, “the stick.” Please try to ignore her comments if you watch the video link here:

“Oh my God, you’re going to kill yourself on that thing someday,” Tracy said off-camera.

. . .

The incident at the park

The next day Son #2 had soccer practice at the park near the beach.

What a perfect place to really stretch out and ride the Biscuit and use the pole, I thought.

When we got to the park, I began riding the Biscuit, first without the pole, because there were people around, and I was a little embarrassed to use it.

The Biscuit was enough of an attention-grabber as it was I guess because people were staring and pointing at me a lot.

It was a hot day because I got really sweaty after only 4 or 5 minutes of riding. Then involuntary thoughts flooded my mind, some of which seemed contradictory. I could not shoo the thoughts away:

Time to quit. You haven’t killed yourself yet, so that’s great. How long are you going to keep riding? Until you fall down and hurt yourself?... But you haven’t used the pole yet. You gotta try the pole. It cost so much money. Just a couple of rides with the pole, to get a jump start on that six-pack of abs.

I got the pole and rode back over to the open space around the bathrooms. Round and round I went, pumping and unweighting, and using the pole to push off whenever the board threatened to stop. More involuntary thoughts entered my head.

That’s good enough for today. You should wait until the helmet arrives, it’s coming in the mail soon. Let’s quit while we’re ahead . . . Let’s just go one time down behind the bleachers for one long run beside the baseball third baseline. Then we’ll come back and put everything away.

So I rolled down an incline and headed behind the bleachers along the third baseline. I pushed down on the pole a couple of times and got lots of speed.

That’s when the two front wheels hit the crack in the pavement, and the board came to a complete stop, while my body kept going, flying in mid-air.

 . . .

The Wreck of the Biscuit with Loose Trucks

As my body transitioned from an upright surfer stance into a Pete Rose head-first slide into home plate, I put my arms out in front of me but neglected to drop the pole.

The pole now served as a sort of rolling pin. Like a giant rolling pin from the Spanish Inquisition, that they used to force confessions from people accused of being witches and heretics. As I landed upon the medieval rolling pin, it slowly and methodically cracked all of the ribs on my right side.

As the pole cracked my ribs, a sound emitted out of my body. It was not the cute little sound the Pillsbury Dough Boy makes when the finger pushes against his rib cage. Instead, it was the sound that the lady reporter made when she fell down, squishing grapes with her feet, on the first video ever to go viral on the internet. Please click on the link provided that is underlined, it’s really worth it to refresh your memory of that sound.

I sprawled out on the sidewalk twitching like a fly smashed with a fly swatter. A guy from the softball field ran over and asked through the chain-link fence.

“Dude, are you okay?! That was gnarly!” he asked, genuinely concerned.

I looked up at him, and for some odd reason, my first impulse was to say, “Thank you.” But there was no air in my diaphragm, lungs or mouth. There was no air in my bloodstream for that matter.

Any air that had been in my body when I slapped against the pavement was expelled from my body on a molecular level. This was more than just “having the wind knocked out.” This was something more serious like “the bends” that a deep-sea diver gets.

I stared into the guy’s eyes, and I made a wheezing sound like the cartoon dog Muttley when he laughs. Like a carny holding the lip of a balloon, letting the air out slowly. Both the guy’s eyes and mine got wide when we heard the sound I made.

I picked up my Biscuit and my pole and started walking to my car. I sobbed a little bit, like Ben Stiller in There’s Something About Mary.

As I walked, I could feel there was something wrong with my body. There was definitely something very, very wrong. It felt as though I might have exploded my kidney or something. It felt like my spleen, or some other organ was in the wrong place. I felt misshapen and cold.

I knew a kid in elementary school who exploded his kidney doing a jump on his BMX bike. He never grew after that. I was worried. Not that I am still growing or anything.

I went to the car, and put the driver’s seat back, turning it into a makeshift hospital bed, or dentist’s chair. I felt my chest, trying to assess whether I needed to drive to the hospital. I might have passed out. Son #2’s soccer practice came to an end, and he opened the back seat door.

“Dad, are you sleeping? What’s wrong, Dad?” Son #2 asked.

“I think I have internal bleeding son.”

God, is there any way I can avoid telling Tracy about this?

. . .

The pain, the excruciating pain

When we got home, I told Tracy about it.

“It’s not my fault. I’m telling you the trucks on that board are too loose! Ow. Ouch!” I buckled over in pain.


“I told you you’d get hurt. What kind of person takes up skateboarding at age 50? You really are a buffoon!” said Tracy, going back to cook the boys dinner.

“It wasn’t my fault!” I said, gripping my chest, because it hurt when I got excited.

I had to sit down. Sitting hurt too much, so I laid down on the couch in my man cave. The only position I could find that didn’t hurt was lying down, but not with my head propped too high. I had to lie like a corpse and stare straight up.

“There’s a delivery at the door!” Tracy yelled from the other room. We have a doorbell at our house that makes no noise, it only rings to Tracy’s cell phone. Nobody else can hear it. That’s a subject for another day.

I tried to sit up.

Oh my God. I can’t move. The pain in my chest felt like a butcher knife. I whelped in pain. This is the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life.

I had to slide sideways off the couch. Like I was limbo dancing at a Sandals resort. Then I had to grab onto something, like a chair or an end table, and sort of do a corkscrew motion to get myself fully upright. Electric jolts of pain shot through my chest, into my brain.

I staggered into the man cave bathroom and threw two Advil liquid cap gels into my mouth. Then I was ready to go greet the UPS man. By the time I got out to the front gate, he was gone.

The box was left on the front step. It was my helmet. The manufacturer of the helmet is called Nutcase.

The Author

. . . 

The letter in the mail

Somehow I went to work the next day, even though I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I got home and resumed lying like a corpse on the couch.

“Here, this is for you,” said Tracy, throwing an envelope on my desk in the man cave.

“What is it?” I asked, whimpering.

“I don’t know, but it’s from the skateboard company,” said Tracy.

I pretended like I did not really hear what she said. Of course, I wanted to jump up and get it and read it, but I did not want Tracy to see the process I had to go through to stand up. As soon as I was sure she was gone and occupied with something else, I got to work.

I limbo’d sideways off the couch and gripped the ottoman. The process of me sliding off the couch, and crawling towards the desk was similar to the scene in The Wolf of Wall Street when Leonardo DiCaprio gets into the Lamborghini.

I ripped open the letter. Inside the envelope, there was a plastic baggie filled with some sort of nuts or bolts. I opened the plastic baggie and unfolded the letter inside it.

The Author


We have had a few complaints that the truck mounts on our Biscuits were loose. If this happened with your Biscuit, we are sorry for this inconvenience. We think we’ve figured out the root cause and we’ve made corrections at the factory. For your board, we also have a fix. We have provided you with 8 split lock washers, one for each bolt that holds the trucks to the deck. If your board has loose truck mounts, please remove the lock nuts, install one split lock washer and then tighten down. You’ll need a Philips screwdriver and a #10 metric box wrench. Your board should be fine from there.

By way of explanation, when we built and assembled these boards, they were perfectly tight. We think that what happened was that, over time, the plywood glue cross-linked, and the natural wood moisture level dropped causing the plywood to shrink a little bit. When it’s hot, the bolts expand and “get longer.” We think that these tiny changes combined to cause the connection to loosen.

To be honest, we don’t have this happen all that often, but we hear about it on the Biscuit more than other boards. If you recently purchased a Biscuit and there was an extra set of silver bolts included, those bolt threads don’t match the locknuts. Please discard those silver bolts and use the split lock washers.

We’re very sorry for the inconvenience.

CHEERS — Donnie

. . .  

Agonizing vindication

My bottom lip trembled as I finished reading the letter. A tear fell from my eye onto the letter.

I knew it. I knew it wasn’t my fault that I crashed.

I was overcome with emotion. At first, I was happy. Happy that the accident was not my fault. Then I was mad. Mad that they almost killed me. Then I was astonished. How could they write such a dumb letter?

As a personal injury attorney myself, I know that this company must not have an attorney working for them. No attorney would have ever let the company mail this letter. This was a bald-faced admission that they had sent me a defective product and nearly killed me.

“Hey, Tracy! The trucks were loose. I told you the crash was not my fault!” I screamed.

“Hoo-ray,” said Tracy. Then I think I heard her say “You know it was still his fault right?”

“Yep,” I heard Son #1 say.

Then I heard some sarcastic slow hand-clapping too.


My email to the company

I climbed into my chair and opened the laptop. I wrote the skateboard company an email. I described the fall at length and told them I did not want to fix my “Biscuit,” I wanted a new one, free of charge. I was really proud of this paragraph:

I don’t want to sue or make any sort of claim against [Skateboard Company]

I am a personal injury attorney. That’s what I do for a living. I appreciate [Skateboard Company’s] laid back marketing and family-owned business culture. But I gotta tell ya, receiving an envelope in the mail with eight (8) washers in it made my jaw drop. I felt like I was living out an episode from the first couple seasons of Saturday Night Live, the ones where Dan Akyroyd played a crooked business owner that sold ridiculously dangerous defective products for kids.

One episode features him selling a “Bag o’ Glass” for kids to play with. I am not interested in suing or making an insurance claim against [Skateboard Company]. I can guarantee you if I was more seriously injured, I would do it, and I would win. That’s not what this is about.

. . .

The Skateboard Company’s response

The Skateboard Company responded quickly, saying they would give me a full refund, and send me a box to mail the “Biscuit” back to them and they would fix it.

I emailed them that it was okay, they did not need to fix my “Biscuit,” as I was permanently retiring it, and hanging it on the wall of my man cave.

Tracy’s brother, who is a contractor, and almost as handy as Tracy, fixed the “Biscuit” later. He sat in the man cave and used his drill to take the board apart, and then put the washers on in less than a minute. Then he held the “Biscuit” up and inspected it, with an amused look on his face.

“You actually tried to ride this thing, Jacky?” he said chuckling, as he put the “Biscuit” back up on the wall mount he had installed too.

The Author

“Next time you’re gonna ride it, can you give me a call, or film it? I don’t want to miss it!” he said.


. . . 

Later I broke down and bought the “Logger” model, and it’s a beauty

The Logger model arrived, and I promptly hung it right on the wall. I didn’t actually ride the thing until months later. Only months after my ribs finally stopped aching, I finally took it out for a spin.

The Author

It took no less than 8 weeks for my ribs to finally heal and stop aching after the fall off the Biscuit.

I sneezed exactly seven times during those 8 weeks.

Copyright © 2020 Jack Clune


Monday, August 17, 2020

Yesterday Was One of The Worst Writing Days Ever

Yesterday Was One of The Worst Writing Days Ever

So I bought a bunch of stuff to feel better

Photo by Dmitri Houtteman on UnSplash

Yesterday the temperature was in the 90's and unusually humid here in Southern California. As I sat at my desk in my man cave, punching the keys,  the sweat poured down from my head onto my neck and shoulders.  I was miserable.
. . .

I pretended like I came up with a good ending to my first draft manuscript of my memoir covering birth to the end of Junior High School 

I wrote a crappy half-assed paragraph, and when I got to the end of it, I said loudly in an Orson Welles sort of voice "The End."  Like I had just finished "Lolita" or "Finnegan's Wake."  

I know what I wrote is not going to be "The End." Not even close.  My utterance was just a pathetic plea to the cold indifferent universe.  I almost broke down crying.

The first 350,000 words came easy over the last four months.  But I've been struggling over the last week to write a good ending.  So in the interim, I've written a bunch of silly Medium articles about coat hangers, rescue dogs, and Uber rides.

The problem is I do not really have any clear memory of the period of time I am writing about now.  I think I blocked it all out of my mind.  

I used my go-to trick and went to Wikipedia and looked up "1983" but it still didn't help much.  Maybe I need to go get hypnotized to unearth memories from the end of Eight Grade to the beginning of High School. 

I said 

"Screw it, I better start editing this thing."

So I read a bunch of "How to Edit your Manuscript" articles on Medium

There are lots of helpful articles about editing on Medium.  But it still sounds like a lot of work, and I am confused how to most efficiently do it.  

It comforts me when I read things like "your first draft is just a data dump" or "don't even worry about your first draft, worry about your fourth!"

But any transitory comfort soon evaporated when the next thought came.


"Wait a sec, you mean I have to completely rewrite this entire 450,000 word pile of . . ?"  

I typed my manuscript in One Note. Mistake?

I typed all my Manuscript in chapters on One Note.  Now I need to cut and paste all those chapters into one giant Word Document.  

I want to have a big manuscript to be able to carry around, and throw on the table at Starbucks.  Or at the holidays, when the family asks me what I've been doing during the pandemic.

But I want to cut and paste the One Note material to a Word document in the most efficient and logical manner.

I knew what I needed to do.  I needed to buy things.

. . .

I bought a bunch of things to make me feel better, and feel like I was being productive

Some of the editing articles said to use Grammarly Premium, and Hemingway Editor.  So I ripped open my Velcro wallet and bought both those to make myself feel good.  

The afterglow of retail therapy did not last long.

Grammarly Premium pass-through

I've been using the free version of Grammarly since I started writing articles for Medium in June 2020.  So I am familiar with the Grammarly interface, and I find it fun, like a video game. 

I cut and pasted the first chapter of my Memoir onto the Grammarly webpage, and ran it through the Premium version.  I started with a score in the low 80's, and when I made most of the suggested changes I got up into the high 90's.  

I felt good.  Yeah, really good, I thought

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" - Loa Tzu

. . .

Hemingway Editor sweep

Then I cut and pasted my first chapter from Grammarly Premium, to the Hemingway Editor.  The Hemingway Editor highlighted every single word of my chapter, in various shades of highlighting. 

"Hard to read" - Pink

"Very hard to read"- Red

"Passive voice"-Yellow

"Are you sure you really want to do this?"-Light Blue

"You're better at math than this, right?"-Dark Blue

"We'll refund your money, if you act fast and quit now"-Green

Oh my God.  This is bad.  Really bad, I thought.

. . .

I got so upset again, that I was dumb enough to try to create a WordPress website myself

I needed to buy more stuff to feel better.  So I somehow wound up buying a "free" WordPress website.  

After 47 minutes of trying to put a photograph of myself on the home page, I finally felt the first tear fall.

I felt it on my thigh because I was wearing a Speedo.

 Copyright © 2020 Jack Clune

Friday, August 14, 2020

I Need To Be Rescued From My Rescue Dog

I Need To Be Rescued From My Rescue Dog

And my family thinks it's funny



My wife rescued a cute female boxer

My wife rescued a boxer about a year ago. She’s a cute black boxer, whose name was “Princess” when we got her, but we changed her name to “Perseus.” We call her “Perse” for short. Tracy thought our other male boxer Atticus needed company.

Perseus does not like men. She must have been abused by males. Perse is about six-years-old. When we first got her, she was a real scaredy-cat, wincing and running away at the slightest sounds or movements. Mostly my sounds and movements. Perse clung to my wife Tracy like one of those protective dragons on Game of Thrones. Tracy could do no wrong.

When Tracy picked Perse up, the woman who rescues boxers told her,

“She doesn’t like men, and she’s real protective of me.” The Boxer Lady added, “Princess still growls at my husband.”

Perse really doesn’t like certain men. Like me.

Tracy brought Perse home, and our two sons fawned over her because she has a really cute, human-like face, with human expressions. You can always tell what Perse is thinking.

My sons are males. But Perse never barked at them.

But every time Perse sees me in the morning, she begins growling and barking. When we first got her, Perse would stand by the side of the bed where I was sleeping, and growl at me, waking me up. Waking me up to a new day. With her growling.

That kinda set the tone for a lot of my days. As a personal injury lawyer, I am confronted with lots of fake growling and barking all day long, on the phone, and in-person in court and at depositions. But this real growling and barking actually kinda disturbed me. It got to me, and I felt like an unwelcome stranger in my own home. My sons loved it.

As time went on

As time went on, Perse wouldn’t wake me but waited to growl and bark at me when she got downstairs with my wife.

As soon as my feet hit the hardwood floor, the growling would begin downstairs. Then I would mope down the stairs, with Perse growling and barking at me like Cujo. That went on for nine months. Every single day.

My rat fink sons still laugh when Perse growls and barks at me. They think it’s funny. I hear them laughing in their bedrooms. Or if they’re already at the breakfast table, they laugh and point at me while the dog barks.

I don’t try hard enough

Tracy would explain.

“You just don’t try hard enough. You need to get down on your hands and knees. Get down to Perse’s level and show her you’re a good person.”

I’m in the kitchen, and I have my back turned at this point, just trying to get a cup of coffee. Perse is growling ferociously, and now our other boxer, Atticus, gets in on the action because . . . why let Perse have all the fun.

Now the two dogs are leaping in the air and growling and barking at me, like the Dobermans in Magnum PI.

And I’m a “bad person” too

“Dogs know!” Tracy shouts.

Oh God no. Not the “Dogs and babies know” speech. Please God, no. Not the speech!

“Dogs and babies know! They know when a person is bad. They can sense it. They’re always right!” says Tracy.

The boys are laughing hysterically now.

“Yeah, Dad, you’re bad,” says Son #1, laughing his ass off.

My sons are traitors or no goddamn help at all

I look at Son #1 with a complete sense of betrayal on my face. Now I am bent over, with both my hands out defensively, with coffee spilling over the rim of the cup, as I try to back out of the kitchen, towards my man cave.

“It’s not an angry bark. See, Perse’s wagging her tail!” explains Tracy. Just like Tracy has explained it the last 225 days in a row.

Perse is now crouched, and the hair on her back is standing on end.

“You don’t try hard enough. It’s your fault,” says Tracy. “Don’t be such a . . . such a buffoon!”

Now that’s an interesting concept. Because several times, towards the end of the day, I’ve sat with Perse on my lap, and I’ve petted her gently. But every morning is like Ground Hog’s Day.

“Dad, I think Perse has Alzheimer’s disease,” said Son #2 while we were sitting in the jacuzzi one day. “I don’t think she has all her marbles in her head.”

“I think you’re right, son,” I said.

Perse is a bad influence on Atticus

Back to the kitchen. I continue to back away, like Odysseus retreating away from two, er, Cerberus — es.

When I think the time is right, I turn and do my Olympic “fast walk” for the man cave door.

Atticus stays after me.

“Atticus, you old fool, quit acting like Perse!” I yell, trying to get a laugh from the sadists in the other room. “Perse, look what a bad influence you are!”

That’s when Atticus jumped up and bit my ass right through my Adidas dri-Fit running shorts, and made me throw my coffee up in the air against the ceiling.

The tips of his upper and bottom incisors touch one another, through the soft creamy flesh of my ass cheek.

"Jesus Christ! Ouch. Owwwwwww!”

Big laughs in the other room.

“Is he wagging his tail?!” I scream.

© Copyright 2020 Jack Clune 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Dark And Twisted Dry Cleaner Conspiracy To Steal My Hangers

The Dark And Twisted Dry Cleaner Conspiracy To Steal My Hangers

They're all working together


A Whole New Wardrobe For My Distinguished American Physique

Last year I went a little overboard and bought a bunch of new suits to wear to work. I cleared out some old suits that I had worn into the ground.

I stumbled on an American brand of suit that really fit me to a “T” so I decided to buy a bunch of them. I’m a chubby American guy, so the European suits don’t do it for me anymore.

I’m not on the Mediterranean Diet. I’m on the Chili’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Islands fine hamburgers circuit. This American suit maker understands my physique.

The suit I serendipitously found fit me so well that, over about two or three months, I bought ten of them. I’m a trial attorney, so I need enough suits to go for two weeks without wearing the same one twice. The jurors like some suit variety as the trials sometimes drag along during the boring parts.

You don’t wanna see Pat Sajak in the same suit two days in a row on ‘Wheel of Fortune.’
. . . 

The Hangers Make All The Difference In The Bedroom…Closet

My wife Tracy had a closet company come in and build her a nice huge closet, with a tiny little corner of it devoted to me. One of the nice things about buying the same suit ten times, in different colors, is that the fancy hangers they come on are all the same, and look really cool all lined up.

I’ll confess, I became a little obsessed with those hangers, and that they all be the same, and lined up nicely, a uniform distance apart. If my tiny little corner has to be tiny, at least let it be meticulously organized.
The Author
. . . 

No Fancy Tailors For Me, Strip Mall Dry Cleaners Only

I get my suits tailored at the dry cleaners. The two dry cleaners by my house have on-site tailors, or seamstresses, I should say, as both are women, the Asian Lady, and the Turkish Lady.

The one time, a few years ago, that I went to a “fancy tailor-man” downtown, he did a shockingly horrible job of simply sewing cuffs on a pair of suit pants. He charged too much. Then the threading started to fall apart within weeks of the job he did. No more “fancy tailors” downtown for me. The ladies at the strip mall were just fine.

. . .

The Dry Cleaner That Is Closer And Easier To Get To

The first suit I took to the dry cleaner which is closer and easier to get to at my house. I went into the store, and into the ridiculously ramshackle changing room to put on the suit to show the seamstress. I needed the pants and the sleeves of the jacket altered. The seamstress is the very nice Asian Lady.

When I enter the changing room at this dry cleaner, I feel like I am magically transported to a very far away, tropical location. This is a tropical location that is very humid and has lots of mosquitos. I feel like there could be elephants bathing outside and splashing water on their backs.

But I know none of those things is out there. I know that because the curtain is so poor a barrier between me and the Asian Lady, that I can see her eyes as I pull my pants on and pull up the zipper.

See, the curtain is on a rod, and the rod is much longer than the curtain. So on either side of the curtain, there is a two-inch gap where the Asian Lady and the other customers can watch me change in and out of my pants.

I step out of the changing booth, in my socks, with the pant legs flopping around. The seamstress bends down, folds up one of the cuffs of the pants. She pins the cuff, showing me the break of the pant, and makes some marks with a little piece of white chalk she holds in her fingertips. Then she adjusts and marks the suit jacket sleeves. By this point, I’m sweating like Elvis in Hawaii.

The other customer ladies, and the little children whose hands they are holding, all stare at me. They seemed to be amazed that I am doing all of this right there in front of them.

“Okay, you’re done,” says the Asian Lady.

“You want to pay now, or when you pick-up?” asks the other lady running the cash register.

“I’ll pay later when I pick-up. Who knows? I might get hit by a bus between now and then.” I say, chuckling.

Neither the Asian Lady nor the cashier laughs.

. . .

The Pick-Up

“Hi, I’m here to pick up my suit. Here’s the slip.” I say, handing it to the woman that I’ve never seen behind the counter before.

She goes to the big rack, pushes the button, and the thousands of articles of clothing ride around like a big roller coaster until my suit appears. She stops the ride and pulls my suit down.

“Okay, here it is,” she says hanging the suit on the metal rack near the cash register.

I hand her my credit card, and she puts it in the card machine. The machine spits out the receipt and I am signing it when I notice they have the suit on a janky “fake” suit hanger. This contraption is some piece of thin plastic over a wire hanger.

“Wait a second? Where’s the fancy hanger?” I ask.

“What do you mean?” the lady asks, handing over the receipt, and a pen for me to use to sign.

“Where is the thick black plastic hanger that the suit was on?” I say.

“Oh. I don’t know,” says the lady, stepping back a little defensively.

Now I see the Asian Lady seated at the sewing machine, kind of peeking over her shoulder meekly.

“I need the big plastic hanger that the suit came on,” I say, remaining calm.

“Well, I don’t know where that hanger is,” says the “new” lady kind of being a little surly. “Do you know where the hanger he’s talking about is?” she asks the seamstress lady.

The Asian Lady does not really respond.

“Let me see who handled your order,” says the surly lady. “Oh, Cassie handled it. Let me call Cassie.”

She calls Cassie, right there in front of me, on the store phone.

“Yeah, there’s this guy here who wants to know where the hanger is,” says the surly lady. “Uhm-hm. Yep. Yep. A suit hanger. Um-hm. Yep. Uhm-hm. That’s what I said.”

The surly lady looks up from the phone.

“We don’t keep those,” she says to me.

“What are you talking about?” I say to her.

“We throw those out,” she says.
The Author

Now the blood in my veins turns green. Like the Incredible Hulk, a bead of sweat forms and rolls down my forehead. I swipe it with the back of my hand. Muscles in my back and in my thighs start to expand through the layers of adipose fat and threaten to rip through my clothing.

“Wait a sec. You throw out the thick black plastic hangers, that have the embossed plate on them that say “Hickey Freeman?” The hangers that hang the suit perfectly? And that comes shipped with the suit from across the country in New York. The hanger that the fancy store uses to hang the suit?”

I’m riffing here.

“Let me just make sure I’ve got this right. Somebody takes the suit off of that fancy special hanger and throws that hanger into the trashcan. And then that person puts the suit on this fake flimsy piece-of-crap hanger?”

I keep going. I can’t help it.

“Now we have this hanger. This hanger that they use to hang the fake paper suits that they put bums in, down at the morgue when bums die destitute. The paper suits they put the bums in the caskets wearing. You’re giving me one of these crappy hangers that they hang the fake suits on. That’s what you’re giving me, this fake hanger piece of crap?”

I know there are such fake suits because they showed them to us during the field trip to the morgue in my high school class called “Death and Dying.”

“And you want me to believe that? Is that the story you want me to believe?” I ask.

The surly lady is staring at me with her mouth open, but still letting me know with her gaze that she wishes I would have a cardiac arrest and die on the floor immediately.

“And you want me to pretend that I don’t know that Cassie, or the owner of this place, did not steal my hanger? And that the hanger is not in the back of Cassie’s car. Or is not already in her closet, with one of her dresses on it. Or hanging one of her husband’s suits? Is that the story you’re telling me here, that I’ m supposed to believe?” I ask.

The surly woman is holding the phone, slightly off her ear now, so that Cassie can hear this insane tirade straight from the horse’s mouth. My mouth.

“Tell ya what. I’m going to give you guys 48 hours to get that hanger back to me. And if you don’t, I’ll take the nine other suits I was going to have tailored here, over to the Turkish Lady. Even though its farther away, and a little less convenient, and the Turkish Lady is not open on Sundays.”

I let them know what a big account they’re about to lose. I’m like a dry cleaning “whale.”

The surly lady thinks about it for a minute. Then she snaps back to her usual self.

“You can do . . . whatever . .. you . . . need . . . to . . . do,” she says in a perfectly sassy, sing-song voice.

I gotta admit. That was a pretty good response.
. . .

The Internet Research

“What are you doing?” my wife asked.

“I’m researching how much Hickey-Freeman hangers cost on eBay,” I tell her.

“Oh boy. Are you serious? Don’t you have any work to do? You know, our anniversary is coming up, have you bought me anything? Or researched any romantic getaways? Let me just answer that myself. That would be a ‘No’ right?” says Tracy. “Shocker,” she says.

“Do you know that they charge as much as $20.00 for one of those hangers? And these hangers on eBay are not even the nice ones. Like the one I had.”

“Why did you leave the fancy hanger at the dry cleaner? If it was so important to you” Tracy asks.

“Because not in my wildest dreams would it ever occur to me that they would steal my hanger. Or claim they threw it in the trash. That’s like taking your car to the dealer for an oil change, and when you go to pick it up, there’s a tire missing,” I say.

I’m pretty proud of that analogy I just made.

“You’re a buffoon,” says Tracy.

. . .

The Non-Apologetic Phone Call

A day later, my cell phone rang.

“Is this Mr. Clune?” said the female voice.


“This is the dry cleaner. We have the hanger,” she says.


“Yes, sir.”

“Great! I’ll be right over to get it!” I say excitedly.

“Tracy, I’m going to the dry cleaner! They have my hanger!” I yell upstairs to Tracy as I head to my car.

“Oh thank God! Hoo-ray,” I hear Tracy’s voice upstairs, dripping with sarcasm.

. . .

The Vindication

“Hi, I’m Mr. Clune here to get my hanger,” I say to the woman at the front desk.

It’s the same woman who handled the initial transition when I brought the suit in. It’s Cassie. She looks up and sees me, and I can see her expression change to mild disgust.

“Oh . . . here,” she says, as she reaches under the counter and produces my beloved hanger, and sticks it out at me.

I take the hanger in my hand. I can’t resist . . .

“Where was it?” I ask.

I can see the slight flinch in Cassie’s face. Like the facial tic that Inspector Clouseau’s boss used to get in the Pink Panther movies. I know what she is thinking.

She’s thinking “Can’t this fat bastard just take the thing? Or does he have to rub it in too?”

“Oh, they took it to the other location by accident,” she says.

What does that even mean? I think to myself.

. . .

I Had To Go To The Turkish Lady Anyway

I took another suit back to the same dry cleaner. I bought the suit online, and the dumb suit came with none of the buttons sewn on it. The four buttons that go on the sleeves were not sewn on, so I brought them to the nice Asian Lady.

I kind of knew we were in trouble when she looked at the sleeves with the same shock as I did back home when I saw that we had to sew the buttons on. When I came back to pick up the jacket, she had sewn the buttons on right through the inner lining of the sleeve.

It looked like I had sewn the buttons on.

“You’re not going to charge me for this are you?” I asked as I held the sleeve up to her face.

“No,” she said without a fight.

. . . 

The Turkish Lady

I walked into the new dry cleaner where the Turkish Lady does the tailoring. I showed her the sleeve.

“Tsk-tsk!” said the Turkish Lady, as her eyes bulged. “She didn’t charge you for that did she?” she asked.

“No,” I said.

“Good. You have to undo the lining, then sew it back up,” she said.

“I knew you would know what to do,” I said.

“Pick up in three days, on Thursday.”

“Okay,” I said.

I left the dry cleaner and went next door to the grocery store to pick up one or two items. I even threw in some flowers for Tracy.

I did not have to wait in line long, because I only had a few items and I cut ahead of someone who had a big cart full of groceries.

. . .

When I Got Home

I came into the kitchen, and Tracy looked up from her laptop.

“Oh, flowers, that’s so nice honey …” she said.

“Shit! Goddammit! Shit! No!” I screamed into Tracy’s face.

I just remembered that I left the hanger with the Turkish Lady.

The Author
. . .

Three Days Later

All three days I stared at the ceiling at night.

There’s no way they’ll try to steal my hanger. That’s impossible. That would be like Die Hard. Where he keeps getting trapped in tall buildings with terrorists. That could never happen twice.

On the third day, I went to see the Turkish Lady. When I walked in, I saw that the Turkish Lady was not there, but her nice friendly daughter was working the front desk. I handed her the ticket, and she made the roller coaster spin around until my jacket appeared.

The hanger was gone.

© Copyright 2020 Jack Clune

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