I’ve been thinking…

If you don’t know by now the purpose of my blog is to make you smile, chuckle, or laugh. That’s why I call it, “Laugh With Joe.” Some days however, I find my thoughts tending towards what is happening in this country since the 2016 election, and so troubled am I  that I feel a need to express myself in a different way. So from time to time rather than publish a humorous story I will express myself graphically with an image that is meant to encourage questioning and inspire deeper consideration.

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If you wear cowboy clothes, are you ranch dressing?

For most people the reason for clothes is to make them look more attractive, cover their nudity, and give them a fun reason to go shopping. Have you ever thought, however, of the different ways clothes can have a significant effect on you other than my previous reflection?

I think the best way to explain what I’m trying to say is to describe an incident that happened a while ago. I was in a diner having lunch when a rather heavyset woman came in with a small child and attempted to place the child in a highchair next to her table. In order to do so she had to bend over and put him in the chair while he was waving his arms and legs frantically, which made it very difficult. She was wearing a very thin sun dress which got caught between her ample butt cheeks as she leaned forward fussing and struggling with the child. Ordinarily, I would have continued to eat and read my paper, but for some reason I couldn’t turn away from their distracting encounter.

I remember thinking, “Damn, that must feel so uncomfortable,” as I tried to ignore the dress, her butt, and their struggle, with little success.

I realized at some point that I was not only feeling uncomfortable for her but was beginning to feel as if the fabric of her flowered sundress was stuck up my butt as well – a vicarious reaction for sure, but still the sensation, although obviously psychological, was beginning to make me very uncomfortable. So much so that I reached out towards her to pull the dress from her buttocks myself, but in hindsight, (pardon the pun,) thought better of it and stopped myself before she could see what I was about to do. After a few minutes of determined resistance, and the sense of her dress up my butt getting even stronger, I thought of a much better solution.

“Excuse me, ma’am, I’d be pleased to help you with your child, if you’d like…”

And before she could answer yes or no I plucked the gyrating child from her arms, jammed him into the highchair and was greatly relieved when out of the corner of my eye I saw her pluck the dress from her butt. Delighted with my decision to do what I did, I waited with a broad smile on my face for a relieved thank-you from her but was taken aback when she stared me down and growled:

“As much as I’d like to thank you for your help, I’d appreciate it if you would be a little more aware of the effect you have on others and try not to venture out in public with your fly as wide open as it is, sir! Goodbye – there’s no way I’ll sit my child next to someone so oblivious to how he affects others around him!”

 Then, as she attempted to yank her child from the highchair, he started twisting again, preventing her from getting him loose and, with a huge sigh of  exasperation, she just carried him out with the highchair bouncing along behind her.

When I looked down at my crotch I was dismayed – no, let me rephrase that – I was freaking shocked to see that, not only was my fly wide open, but the only portion of my “CLUB MED” underwear that was showing through the opening was the name “CLUB,” in big red letters.

That was only the second time I’d had what I guess you might call an open-fly incident. The first time was shortly after I’d gotten a request from CBS Records to get the group back together and record a new album. As a way to promote the release, they booked us at a club in New York called “The Bottom Line.” We’d played numerous NY clubs before that but none as renowned as The Bottom Line. Just about every famous band, singer, and comedian had performed there, so this was really big. I had rehearsed the show in my mind over and over that day, and while waiting in the wings a few minutes before being introduced I was as nervous as hell, hoping nothing would go wrong.

Our opening number was a song I had written especially for the show titled, “I Can’t Wait to Show What I’m Saving Just for You.” When I heard the drum roll and surging rhythm of the music I led the guys out on stage with my heart pumping, my senses soaring, and my voice belting out the first few lines of the song. As the audience responded with voluminous applause I saw a number of people in the first few rows pointing at me with delight.

“Oh, my god, they remember me!” I marveled as I danced across the stage to the rhythm of the song. Then I noticed that their fingers were pointing lower than I’d realized at first, and when I glanced down I was stunned to see that my fly was wide open.

One of the gags I used on stage occasionally was to tuck a folded fake bouquet of flowers inside my jacket and pull it out when we sang “A Flower Grows” from the song, “I Believe,” and in that instant of complete humiliation I had what I thought was the best idea that ever came to me while on stage.

(Let me deviate from the story for just a moment to interject a thought. At times I like to offer a little wisdom in my blogs, and I can’t think of a better time than now. So with little regard to whether you find this beneficial or not I’ll offer it anyway.

“Instead of judging yourself for making a mistake, figure out a way to make it seem intentional, and you’ll appear to be brilliant rather than foolish.”)

 And that’s what I did that night. I turned my back to the audience, snuck the bouquet into my pants, and then turned with the flowers sticking out from my fly when we belted out the last resounding chorus of the song. As the audience applauded mightily and laughed hysterically, trying to add some humor to an embarrassing situation, I said into the mic:”

“I was as surprised as you when with a glance…
I saw these flowers in my pants.
But rather than try to hide them away…
I decided to show them in full display.”

Now you may think the decision was poor,
and made you have to unfortunately endure,
something that made you want to curse.
But think bout it – it could have been worse”

Although in retrospect, something that felt so brilliant to me at the time seems not quite as clever now. I know I’m not the first person who’d like to forget having had a bad encounter regarding clothes. Take Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson’s Superbowl incident, now infamously known as “NippleGate.” What about Lady Gaga at the MTV Music Video awards wearing a dress made of raw beef, which was referred to as the Meat Dress? And of course the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions – while in reality, they make no clothes at all, and when the emperor stands before the people nude, in what he believes are new clothes, no one says a word until a small child points to him and cries out:

“He isn’t wearing anything at all!”

I think these examples clearly illustrate the point I was trying to make at the top of the blog. Clothes can say more about you in addition to making you look more attractive, covering your nudity, or giving you a fun reason to go shopping. There’s a quote by Mark Twain that I believe best illuminates my point. He said:

“Naked people have little or no influence on society!”

 I think at that moment it became quite obvious that he’d never been to a strip club!

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I’ve been thinking…

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I think the worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades.

I’ve heard the expression, “Funnier than a heart attack,” numerous times in the past but have no idea what it means or where it came from. Nevertheless, it was never as relevant to me as it is now. It was just another typical Sunday morning when Roberta woke me up with a gentle nudge and said she wasn’t feeling well and was going to drive herself to the nearest Urgent Care Center. I assumed she was having flu-like symptoms or feeling a cold coming on so I told her to wake me up when she got back. Not too long after she called and said something that hit me like a ton of bricks.

“They’re sending an ambulance for me. They want me to get to the hospital as soon as possible… also, I parked somewhere near the Urgent Care building but I have no idea where.”   

 I remember seeing a cartoon once about little characters who placed their pants and shirts upright by their beds so they could jump out of bed straight into their clothes, and I thought how great that would be as I struggled as fast as I could to get dressed. Unfortunately, I was so nervous and trying so hard to rush that I couldn’t get anything right. I jammed my feet into the sleeves of my shirt, my arms into my pant legs, and then tore the crap out of them ripping them off when I realized that the shirt was stuck around my knees, preventing me from taking a step, and I couldn’t see through the pants because they were covering my head.

“Slow down, Joe,” I commanded myself as I grabbed different clothes, dressed, and bolted from the house like an Olympic runner competing in the 50 yard dash. Actually that’s a great exaggeration. I move so slowly these days that it was more like an Olympic runner competing in the 50-yard dash in slow motion.

It’s over a half mile to Urgent Care, and after leaping over bushes, huffing and puffing, grunting and sweating, and racing in and around fences and homes I finally turned a corner to see an ambulance parked in front of Urgent Care.

“THANK GOD!!!” I shouted. I don’t usually talk to myself, but after finally getting there my relief was enormous – – until something seemed terribly wrong. The ambulance was bouncing up and down, which forced another comment from me to myself:


That’s when I became Usain Bolt and reached the ambulance in seconds. It was still bouncing, but I heard boisterous laughter coming from inside. With apprehension starting to permeate my thoughts I banged on the door, and when it opened I found Roberta lying on a stretcher attached to numerous wires, laughing heartily, with three EMTs seated around her, bouncing up and down as they laughed hysterically along with her – – which stopped suddenly when they all looked at me and she cried out with concern:


I couldn’t follow the ambulance to the hospital because it took me more than a half hour to find our car. I finally located it parked in a no-parking zone, facing the wrong way on a one-way street, with the engine running, and a squirrel sitting on the dashboard enjoying the contents of a bag of peanuts we’d left in the car. Considering the circumstances I guess it could have been worse. At least it wasn’t parked in the lake adjacent to where I found it.

When I reached the hospital and was told to wait until she had gone through a series of tests I was practically traumatized by the sight of some of the people who were waiting to be treated. Little did I know that I would be one of those people just a week later.

After about an hour I was given a room number and told I could go see her. When I stepped off the elevator I had no problem finding the room; I just headed in the direction of the laughter. Similar to the situation in the ambulance, I found her lying in bed with wires attached, laughing along with two nurses who were in the process of propping pillows under her head and tucking her in. One of the things I love most about Roberta is that laughter follows her wherever she is, no matter the circumstances.

It was a semiprivate room with a curtain separating two beds. After a while hearing only our own chatter I began to wonder if there was anyone else in the room, and my question was answered, on cue, when I heard the sound of an oboe emanating from behind the curtain. “That’s really bizarre,” I thought, until I realized the oboe was actually the sound of someone snoring – – and to make things even stranger the person was snoring to the tune of “Old Man River.”

“Oh well,” I whispered to Roberta, “at least there’s a source of music in the room.”

Four days after Roberta was treated with excellent care and dedication I brought her home from the hospital. While settling her in I received a call from my doctor telling me that my yearly physical had revealed an abnormal heart rhythm. That night, an ambulance took me to the same hospital they’d brought Roberta to the week before, except for some reason the EMTs didn’t find my comment, “This is funnier than a heart attack,” terribly funny.

The emergency room of the hospital was filled with numerous beds separated by curtains, which was fine for visual privacy but not very good for audible discretion. I found that out while lying in my bed, when I heard someone in the next curtained-off partition ask:

“Oh my gosh, sir… HOW DID THAT GET IN THERE?”

 Desperately wanting to cut off the answer to the question I balled up a couple of tissues and stuffed one in each ear, which I realized was a bad idea when a Doctor entered my area, took my temperature, checked my pulse, and said:

“Okay now, let’s see if we can figure out what’s wrong with your ears…”

A little while later an attendant came to take me to another area of the hospital for some tests, wheeled me down the hall with Roberta following by my side, and I guess to lighten the mood she started singing “Heart of my Heart” in the most beautiful voice I’d ever heard from her, which shocked me to no end because she’d never been able to carry a tune before. To my surprise the attendant began to sing along, harmonizing in a sweet tenor voice, which made me think, “What the hell,” and I joined in also – – and that’s when a remarkable thing happened. Each nurse, attendant, and doctor we passed along the way began to follow us and sing along, and by the time we reached the Radiology Department we had the equivalent of a Medical Tabernacle Choir filling the halls.

After being prodded and poked in parts of my body I didn’t even know existed, given too many different tests to remember, singing songs such as “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely HEARTS Club Band,” “HEART of Gold,” “Total Eclipse of the HEART,” “Your Cheatin’ HEART,” and what I thought of as the most appropriate, “Un-break my HEART,” I was told I was okay and finally allowed to go home at 4:30 in the morning. Roberta and I are both doing well now, but one thing has become abundantly clear. While we love doing things together this would certainly not have been what either one of us would have chosen.

For those of you who question the veracity of what you just read I have to be completely honest and admit that it’s not 100% true – – Roberta’s singing was, in fact, completely out-of-tune!

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Here is a beehive; where are the bees? Hiding away where nobody sees. They’re coming out; everyone hide. Before they begin to jump and jive.

I like to eat breakfast out once or twice a week because it allows me to observe the world around me and broaden my horizons, which in turn gives me numerous interesting things to write about in my blogs. However, nothing that I’ve ever seen or done before prepared me for what I encountered at my local bagel shop this one particular morning. It started innocently enough while I was waiting on line for my turn to order my usual, a bagel with nothing on it and a hot cup of coffee.

At the front of the line were three teenage girls, not speaking at all but texting each other back and forth and giggling incessantly, which made me wonder if they ever conversed without their phones. I pictured them, sans phones, looking forlornly at each other, tapping their fingers frantically on each other’s arms, sending silent messages to each other, and I thought, “Oh my God, we’ve come full circle – the cave men used to send messages by pounding their clubs.”

Behind the girls were a mom and child. She had one hand on the top of her child’s head and the other holding the seat of his pants, trying to keep him from grabbing candy bars from a nearby counter. His legs were churning in place so fast and she held on so tight that both of them kept going round and round in a circle. While watching this bizarre sight it made me wish that her name was Rosie. Alright, I know you’re probably wondering why. It’s simple; if her name were in fact Rosie, I could tell you that I’d actually witnessed a human version of “Ring-a-round-the-Rosie.”

Directly behind the whirling mom and child was an elderly couple, both leaning on the same single cane. His hand was covering hers in a loving embrace as they both stepped slowly and leaned and walked on the cane in sync, enabling them to move forward together with a minimum amount of difficulty. Watching them warmed my heart and I thought, “Some people find such sweet ways of sharing togetherness, even while overcoming disabilities.”

While I stood keenly observing what was taking place around me I noticed a large bumblebee flying back and forth over the heads of the people on line. As I wondered if it were looking for a way out of the shop or a suitable place to land, my question was answered when it settled on the leg of the guy standing directly in front of me. He was about my height, 5 to 10 years younger than me, and looked as if he spent every day in the gym. His neck was as thick as his thighs – as were his arms – and the muscles in his back rippled like the ocean at high tide every time he moved. He was wearing a tank top and athletic shorts that looked to be a couple of sizes too small for him, which made me think he enjoyed showing off his butt.

My first instinct was to shoo the bee away with the newspaper in my hand, but I hesitated when the bee meandered up his leg and crawled down into his back pocket. I wanted to tap him on the back and ask:

“Do you know what kind of bees make milk… a Boo-Bee.”
Or,“What kind of bee can’t make up its mind… a May-Be.”
Or,“What kind of Bee is really scary… a Zomm-Bee.”

 I thought it would be a good idea to start off with a joke and make him laugh while warning him of impending doom, but on second thought I believed it was better to be honest and tell him there was a bee in his back pocket. Unfortunately, when I considered my previous thought about his tight shorts, I imagined his response would be to smile deviously and ask why I was looking so admirably at his ass, and as I pondered that the bee flew out his pocket and landed on the back of his head.

At that point I decided that the bee was his problem, not mine, and elected to ignore the whole thing until I realized the situation could be dangerous:

Bees hang out together; what if the rest of the hive comes looking for him?
–Bee stings can cause swelling and itching of the skin that can be quite painful.
–Some people are so allergic that they have been known to die from a bee sting.

 That was enough to get me to do something about it posthaste, so I went through all my options, weighed one against the other, eliminated those that weren’t very smart, chose the soundest option available, took a deep breath, and SMACKED THE BACK OF HIS HEAD AS HARD AS I COULD WITH MY NEWSPAPER…

…In my imagination, not in reality. What, do you think I’m nuts? This guy would have snapped me in half like a twig. So what I did do was tap him on the shoulder, and when he turned his head the bee flew off, buzzed over the people in line, and landed on the cell phone of one of the three girls who were texting each other. This caused an instant reaction. They all threw their phones in the air, screamed loudly, ran out of the bagel shop with their arms around each other, and when they got outside they stopped abruptly, looked intently at each other, and actually started talking.

At the same time the elderly couple turned to see what all the fuss was about, and when the old man and woman saw the bee they lifted their cane together and whacked it out of the air, across the room, where it flew into the hole of the bagel a woman was eating and landed with a thlub into the cream cheese just as she took a huge bite and swallowed.

I stood there mesmerized, having a hard time believing what I’d just seen… and then a realization emerged that I thought would be in the best interests of anyone reading this blog:

“It is better by far to have a bee in your bonnet,
than one in your bagel with nothing on it!”

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When things don’t go right – try going left!

One of the things I love most about my wife, Roberta, is that whatever she’s tasked to do she does in the most efficient way possible, with the least amount of fuss, in a minimum amount of time. It is so reassuring to have this kind of trust in her that it defies any logic whatsoever that I’m able to enjoy so thoroughly the one thing she is completely inept at. It’s something I like to call the Triple D’s. “Defective Direction Deficiency.”

 It can happen anywhere or anytime. For some reason she always ends up walking in the opposite direction she needs to go. Whenever I forget where I left the car I simply let her go first and then walk the other way to where the car always is.

When we leave a building or establishment of any kind she usually has a difficult time finding her way out. Now you may think it’s cruel of me to enjoy something that can be so perplexing to her, but the truth is that these moments, when they ensue, endear her to me even more than all the things she does so efficiently.

One time after leaving a bank when I realized she wasn’t with me and went back in and find her roaming around a room filled with safety deposit boxes. When I asked how she ended up there she said the sign above the door read, “For Your Safety and Mine” and assumed it was a safer way to leave.

The very first time something like that occurred was a day I’ll never forget. We had just finished dinner with friends and were waiting outside for Roberta while she went to the ladies’ room. After ten minutes passed and she hadn’t come out I went inside to look for her. When I couldn’t find her anywhere, as a last resort, although I didn’t feel comfortable doing so, I knocked on the door to the ladies’ room.

When the door opened I was struck – LITERALLY STRUCK – by a woman who had her skirt around her thighs and a newspaper in her hand, which she used to clout me across the face while she screamed:

“WHO THE HELL ARE YOU? I WAS EXPECTING MY BOYFRIEND!” and then slammed the door in my face.

Standing there with my head throbbing I assumed that I had interrupted an erotic rendezvous that they’d planned in advance of my unintentional disruption. Not knowing quite what to do next, I walked to the bar, described Roberta to the bartender, and asked if he had seen her. When he started chuckling instead of answering my question, I asked what he found so funny and he answered:

“I’m sorry; occasionally we get someone in here wearing a MAGA hat, but you’re the first person I’ve ever seen with a picture of Trump across his face.”

The print from the newspaper had left an impression of Trump on my face, which created a very difficult decision for me. What was more important, finding Roberta or ridding my face of Trump? I love my wife, but at that moment what I needed most was to cleanse any part of Trump’s face from mine so I rushed to the men’s room, threw open the door, and stopped in my tracks directly in front of a guy with a shocked look on his face and his pants around his thighs – who screamed:


 After the initial jolt of being shocked in both the ladies’ and men’s rooms in a matter of minutes I couldn’t help myself and roared:


 I left the men’s room feeling both cleansed and dirty at the same time. My face was free of Trump, but the thought of the guy with his pants around his thighs and his girlfriend with her skirt around her thighs was a picture that remained. Thighs, thighs, and more thighs was something I couldn’t get out of my mind. As I continued searching the restaurant for Roberta, trying to forget the half-naked guy and gal I’d just seen I thought, “It’s nothing that a couple of years of therapy can’t cure.”

Eventually, I heard Roberta’s laughter coming from the kitchen and knew where she was. I entered to see her talking to a couple of chefs who were sharing recipes with her. When she saw me she gave me that beautiful smile, put her arms around me, and said excitedly:

“I’m sorry for getting lost, hon, but I’ll make it up to you tonight. I’m going to cook something really special. They just gave me the most wonderful recipe for thighs!”

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People tell me to follow my dreams, so I try to sleep as much as I can.

The word “dream” can be interpreted in a number of different ways:
–The dreams we have when we’re sleeping.
–Daydreams, which are a way not to pay attention to something we’re not particularly interested in.
–The most important dream, the one we keep close to our heart, of something we want to accomplish in our life.

What we dream at night when we’re sleeping is suggested by some researchers as having no purpose whatsoever, while others believe that dreams are essential to our well-being. I disagree completely that they have no meaning. I recently came across a list of over 100 dream interpretations and was convinced even more so when I found a few that I actually had myself. So I thought, why not share them with you:

Teeth falling out
Something feels challenging, causing you to lose confidence in yourself.
This makes sense to me. If I were trying to speak through my gums, without teeth, it would most likely sound something like, “mnfhtvssdepkm.”I doubt anyone would be able to understand what the hell I was saying, which would definitely cause me to lose confidence.

Not able to find a toilet.
Interpretation –
You are struggling to let go of something in your life.
I didn’t realize what I was struggling to let go of until I woke up from this dream at 4 AM and found myself peeing in the closet.

Losing your shoe.
This symbolizes an inability to stand up for what you believe is right.
I didn’t think much of this until the next morning and discovered the right shoe missing from every pair of shoes I owned. I considered the fact that being a liberal had something to do with it. That was confirmed the day after Mueller testified before Congress and all my right shoes magically appeared where they had been, right next to my left shoes.

Wearing the wrong clothes.
InterpretationWearing the wrong clothes in a dreammeans that you are anxious about how you appear to other people.
I don’t ever remember feeling anxious about my appearance, but when I woke up from this particular dream I was sleepwalking in my neighborhood, wearing makeup, lipstick, one of my wife’s dresses, being followed by an old guy hitting on me, and actually felt flattered. That was when I ran like hell thinking, “This is definitely one issue I need to work on in therapy.”

They’re common to most everyone. A study shows that people spend 47% of their waking hours daydreaming. Another shows that 68% of people who own smartphones daydream less than others. This is significant because when we daydream, our brain activity allows us to process thoughts subconsciously that are gathered through the day, and this is very helpful.Also the more time we take letting our mind wander, the less stress and anxiety we feel.

I spent most of my school days daydreaming. I’m not particularly proud of it, but I truly believe that my time spent daydreaming showed me how to tap into the left side of my brain, cultivate my creativity, and allow my imagination to create scenarios that were far more wonderful and grandiose than reality. I’m absolutely positive that Miss Spencer, my math teacher, didn’t look half as beautiful naked as I imagined her when she stood in front of the class writing numbers on the blackboard. I didn’t get a very good grade in her class because I couldn’t help answering every math problem she gave with a large figure 8. Of course I’m also sure our principle, Ms. Cosmo, didn’t have a tattoo of Cruella De Vil on her ass either.

When Martin Luther King said, “I HAVE A DREAM,”he was talking about something he believed deeply in, and how to change the world in a most important way. There is no doubt his intentions were exceptional, and through his work we are finally beginning to realize his dream – not soon enough or nearly enough – but certainly heading in the right direction. The fact that our dreams may not be as groundbreaking or imperative as his doesn’t make them any less significant to us if they don’t come to fruition.

Seeing people strive for and realize their dream is something that continues to touch me emotionally in a very deep way. Whenever I see a young person getting a standing ovation on a TV show like The Voiceor America’s Got Talent, my heart warms, tears tend to cloud my eyes, and for a short period of time all seems right with the world. I know there’s a personal reason I react with such emotion. I had dreams of my own as a kid that I believed were so important, my life would be meaningless were they not fulfilled.

I wanted to play professional baseball until my tryout with the Dodgers at the age of 17 put an end to that. I planned to be the next Elvis, but that never materialized either. Considering the fact that the King took his last breath while sitting on the john, my lack of achievement to that end was probably for the best. Nevertheless, I do believe that the tears that glisten on my cheeks when I see a young person’s dreams come true is an emotional reaction to the fact that I never quite reached the dreams I spent my life chasing and have been lamenting about that for quite a few years.

Then last Father’s Day something amazing happened that changed my sadness into a special kind of awareness. I was sitting at my dining room table with our children, their spouses, our grandchildren, and my wife, Roberta. Everyone was engaged, talking, joking, laughing, and giving each other occasional hugs when Roberta looked my way and gave me a most beautiful smile. It was a smile that said something that I didn’t quite understand at first; then the meaning blossomed before my eyes like a flower reaching for an early morning sun rise. That was a moment that became so important that tears wet my cheeks once again. That was the moment I realized I had actually achieved the most wonderful dream of all.

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