Failing Parents

The pile of report cards sat on the table and I began to leaf through them.  “Marisa York…looks like she’ll pass with mostly Bs.  Stacy Dreyfuss (I cringe)…one F and the rest are low Cs.  I guess she’ll pass.”

Then I come upon Lamar Williamson’s report card.  “Eeeeow.”  I knew it was going to be bad but I was unprepared for the true damage.  “Let’s see, four Fs and one D.  But it looks like he passed art during the second six weeks.  The final exam must be finger painting.”

Lamar isn’t really that dumb.  The hamster does turn the exercise wheel just not very fast.  I gave his math grades a much closer examination.  “Sixty for the first six weeks.  Sixty-two was earned for the second six weeks.  Another sixty shows up before Christmas. And so it goes.”

I look up and speak directly to the teacher across the table from me.  She’s examining report cards for failing students as well.  “Mrs. Motter, do you have any idea how Lamar has done this year?”

She rolls her eyes.  “Well, that kind of question really wouldn’t tax my psychic powers.  Why don’t you try something a bit harder?”

“He hasn’t come even close to passing at any point this year.”  I waved the paper in front of her.  “I’m not shocked either but every now and then I did catch him dulling his pencil on paper.  Why haven’t we heard from his parents?”

“Don’t you know?  Now-a-days it’s our responsibility.”

“Quit toying with me for a minute.  The parents see the report card and notice that by winter break their son has earned three solid Fs.  Don’t you do something about it?  Why not schedule a conference to talk to the teachers about it?”

Mr. Young, who was sitting down the table from me, spoke up.  “A lot of the time they don’t see them.  I’ve had parents come up on the last day of school and claim that they had no idea their kid was failing!  When we ask them if they’d seen their kid’s report cards, they say they had no idea when they came out!  I’m not kidding here!”

My eyes narrowed.  “What?  That’s the absolute dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  It’s April folks!  We’ve been in school for ten months!  We’ve issued a report card!  Hey, sometime during supper ask!  Aren’t these folks even the least bit curious?!  If you love your child at all, wouldn’t you at least try to do something?”

Mrs. Motter spoke up again.  “Lamar has two older brothers who are in jail.  I think the parents are only here to breed inmates for us.”

That surprised me.  “Well, if these parents aren’t interested in raising the kids, why have them?”

“Tax break.”

“It’s too easy to have one.”

I shuffled Lamar’s report card to the failure pile.  “Then there are only two things left to say.  One, no one has the authority to tell adults they cannot have a child.  Two, many people should definitely refrain anyway.”

Armed with Dodo Eggs

“Wow, would you look at this.  I haven’t seen showmanship this contrived or manufactured since my last Village People concert.  I can’t believe people buy into this stuff!”  My comment was designed to get Mrs. Murphy’s attention. 

I was looking at a torn out magazine ad that had fallen out of one of the school lockers.  It was a picture of some hip-hop performers (musicians or artists are words that don’t apply here).  The picture had a black back ground with big gold lettering set in front of a bouquet of one hundred dollar bills.  Behind the rappers was a purple El-Camino.  They all wore long T-shirts, more gold than the Federal Reserve, and scowls. 

I’d seen similar looks from other Ka-Bump–Thump (rap) creators.  (And I mistakenly believed entertainers were supposed to be creative.)  The rapper’s manufactured look reminded me a little of how all hair bands of the 1980’s and early 90’s used the same look… long hair, tight jeans, and “I weight 140 lbs. but I’m still shooting intimidating looks”. 

“Do you see what these guys are doing?” I asked Mrs. Murphy. “Take a hard look at how they have their arms folded.  Do you see it?”

She gave the tattered magazine page a hard look. “This must have fallen out of someone’s locker.”

I tried again. “No, I mean do you see what those clowns are doing to their arms?”

She squinted at the middle performer. “You mean the tattoo? I think it says, Lil’Big’n or is that Lil’ Bling?  I can’t tell.  You know, personally I like country music.”

I pointed to the ad.  “What I’m trying to show you is that these guys have their arms crossed and their pushing their biceps wide with the back of their fists.  Do you see it?”

“No, I thought they had just big muscles.”

I was aghast.  “That’s an old trick we used to use in the high school weight room!  Pushing the backside of your arms flattens them and makes them look larger! This works on you?  Tell me, can you spot a toupee?  What is your opinion of mid-winter tans?”

“Mr. Teply,” she was loosing interest.  “I have a lot of papers to grade.”

“Before you go, let me fill you in regarding men and crossing their arms. One, if a guy is at the pool and he’s crossing his arms he’s self-conscious about his man-boobs or this extra flab. Two, if a guy has his arms crossed and is walking; he is posing like a peacock with feathers in full show. No one walks with his arms crossed. And three, if you’re a rap guy it means, ‘I couldn’t letter with my high school band but your still buy’n my album, sucka.”


“Talk’n big like a debate team / Cus  sucka, I got’a rebuttal
Rapper’s dress code have’n one rule / Don’t be wear’n nut’n subtle!”

Dodo Egg or Chicken Poop

Here’s the game… I am offering you two very short stories.  One is completely fabricated (like a Barbie doll) and the other is only embellished (think Hollywood starlet).  Read both then decide which has a shred of truth.   

Spare the Truth; Scare a Child

A well-run ranch needs many strong calloused hands to function properly.  But when these can’t be found, the rancher-in-need must resort to silk-palmed, won’t-touch-a-bug pansies like me. 

At the rural high school I attended, extra jobs on ranches were occasionally available and I tried to take them.  It was a good way to make some extra money and smell like manure.

The season had come to work this year’s lambs.  Their tails needed to be docked and they needed castration.  My job was simple.  Chase down the lucky animals and hold them while the necessary removals were completed. Tails were simply snipped but the testes were bound by a thick rubber band wound tight enough to cut off circulation.

I remember one of the rancher’s sons brought his seven-year-old boy with him. The eager, inquisitive child climbed the gates and watched while all of us worked.  His hands holding the top part of the gate while the toes of his boots stuck through the bottom crossbars.  The boy’s blue eyes widened then squinted with imagined pain following each successive operation.

About a half hour into the work, the boy yelled for his dad’s attention.  “Dad what are you doing to the sheep’s privates?”

His father’s eyebrow raised a bit while he conjured a G rated response. “Well, we’re removing their tonsils. The rubber band cuts of blood, the tonsils die, and they just fall off.”

A minute later the boy ran off toward the farmhouse and the father returned to work.  I gave the man a smile enjoying his efforts to protect his son’s innocence and the cowardly way he went about it.

It wasn’t until the next year that I heard the rest of the story.  The boy developed tonsillitis only a few weeks afterward and when the doctor told him his tonsils would need to be removed the child flew into a panic.

Finding a Lucky Shot

It was a perfect day with a light blue sky and sunshine warming my skin.  The breeze carried the welcome smell of freshly cut grass.  Small children ran around the large backyard finding bits of pastel amidst the blades of green.  I was enjoying watching the Easter egg hunt as the children were.

The only wrinkle was a colorblind boy who kept grabbing droppings left by the neighbor’s huge Labrador, pulling his hand away in horror, and then crying for his mother.

“Maybe being colorblind isn’t the only issue.”

I was reclining in a plastic lawn chair with a wicker basket wedged between my legs.  Another egg was pulled from my son’s basket. It popped open with just a small squeeze along the seam. “Oh, good a chocolate bar. That’s better than some of the other junk I’ve been forced to eat today.”

I closed the emptied egg and placed it on one side of the basket along with the other “inspected” eggs.

My wife gave me a narrow look.  “Would you stop eating your son’s candy?”

“I’m teaching him to share. You keep saying that’s important.”

The next egg wasn’t as good. It was five jelly beans; three of them were licorice flavored. Those black poison pills masqueraded as candy but I knew better. I began pitching them aside.

“That’s it.” She took the basket and marched after our little boy.

The grandfather sitting nearby chucked a bit. “Son, are you going to let your woman get by with that?”

“Uh, yea.”

His smile didn’t budge.  “I’ll give you one of these small chocolate bars if you throw that last jellybean at your wife.”

“Really?  You know, normally I do stuff like that for free.”

“Well, you’d better hurry or she’ll get away.”

I shrugged and tossed the small black oval.  I wasn’t aiming at anything in particular; it was just a haphazard toss. However, my wife’s striped shirt had slightly pulled away from her jeans, which offered a bit of skin only a half of an inch wide. The bean arched perfectly and landed along the small of her back then disappeared down her pants. She stopped instantly and stiffened.

I turned slowly toward the old man with a smug look hanging on my face.  “So, is that worth a Krackle?”

Black Jelly Beans look like Rabbit Turds and White Jelly Beans look like Penicillin.  Coincidence or Sick Joke?
Black Jelly Beans look like Rabbit Turds and White Jelly Beans look like Penicillin. Coincidence or Sick Joke?

Lackluster Teenager?

Has your sixteen-year old son or daughter been upstairs sleeping for over thirty-six hours with no sign of life?

Does the foul stench coming from the spare bedroom indicate death or unwashed hormones?

Is your teenager stiff and unresponsive when you ask them questions such as, “When are you going to clean your room?” or “So how are your classes going?”

Like millions of American parents, you’re concerned about your adolescent child’s vital signs.  You want the peace of mind that comes with knowing our young people have brain waves and a heart beat.  Are their barely perceptible movements caused my small earthquakes or bodily functions?  Now there is an easier way to decide whether to call your Armed Services Recruiter or your neighborhood mortician!  

The trusted makers of the Hamster Fertility Test,, now offers you our next ground breaking product…the Teenage Fatality Test.  With this ingenious device, you can tell in mere seconds whether you have a living, breathing homo sapien (as defined by California state law) or a serious mold problem. 

Here’s how it works…(Please note:  For all such tests we encourage users to wear latex gloves and a respirator.)  Remove the Sharpened Stick device from its sealed, sterile plastic protector.  This product is proudly made in the USA and is certified 100% organic.  

Each adolescent has a head, which is a rounded protrusion that extends from one end.  It is usually covered with a large, thick patch tangled hair; this is true for both males and females.  The other end can be located by identifying the two stench inducers commonly known as feet.  Place the narrow end of the Sharpened Stick device against the fleshy, rounded area where the appendages with feet come together.  An equally unappealing cotton coating may cover the area.

 Securely place both hands on the shaft of the Sharpened Stick   Yell, “Pizza’s Here!” then shove the stick into the flesh portion.  Safety first!  Make sure to use your legs instead of your back.  If your teenager is alive, there should be some movement initiated by the living teenager. 

 If performed correctly, the patented Teenage Fatality Test provides conclusive results within seconds., Products for Today’s Lifestyles!

Laying Dodo Eggs

The power button is depressed and I wait for the electricity to warm the CPU’s achy components.

Yesterday, my 486 microprocessor and I celebrated the machine’s 412th birthday (in computer years). The party was going well until my Casio calculator-watch began making fun of the computer’s short processor. Some hurtful digits were displayed and the party was quickly powered down.

The screen blinks then lights. “Ok, here we go. Another dodo egg coming up.”

My bout with higher education was largely composed of two things: portfolios (collections of activities, lesson plans, and big ideas) and term papers (high-minded affairs with a lean toward research). By a wide margin, the term paper was my favorite simply because it could be COMPLETELY fabricated from right there in my dorm room. I wrote a dozen papers on educational topics such as “Parents Who Sniff Salt, the Abuses of Condiments, and Its Effects on Low Income Students”   (B-), “Fireproofing Your Ceiling / Great Lesson Introductions Using Real Fireworks!” (D), and “It’s OK to be Stupid as Long as You Turn Your Work In.” (A+)

The interesting thing about all these research papers was that the entire bibliography and source material was ENTIRELY MADE UP. For nearly every paper I wrote, I quoted myself. There were no hours wasted at the library checking out long-winded books on educational nonsense. I made up all the experts such as: Dr. Reggie Habbot of Monmouth University, Professor Francis Winston from the Institute of Yorktown, and how could I neglect to quote Robert Swinly of the Seamore Institution. The funny thing was…all these experts agreed with me!

Look, don’t give me any flack! The library was always closed during the late night hours before a due date and I didn’t have access to the Internet. What else was I supposed to do? The late night and wee morning hours are EXACTLY when a college library should be open. Who’s at the library at ten o’clock on a Saturday morning? (No one) Who would be at the library at ten o’clock on a Sunday night? (Everyone)

The results? My papers had the intellectual weight of clouds but read sweet like cotton candy. I was never questioned and because my source was original, I was never caught in the net of plagiarism.

I ended up calling these expertly written sources and the papers they were plugged into, Dodo Eggs. It just seemed like the right thing to call these imaginary bits of wisdom. Now I call almost everything I write a Dodo Egg.

Here are a few examples…


Negotiating Reality

The United Nations hasn’t been good for much but one of their crowing achievements has been the passing of UN Resolution # 8EX (Don’t spend too much time trying to figure out what 8EX is…it’s supposed to be a sideways skull and crossbones).  This document officially bans the use of the skull and crossbones emblem on the shipping lanes of the high seas.  This powerful action, coupled with the notorious drop in wooden ship production, should have completely eradicated piracy and relegated the profession to the fanciful pages of fiction.

Avast ye, it hasn’t been so!  For many, news of current pirates off the uncivilized Somali coast has become a bit of a surprise.  On April 8th, 2009, armed pirates off the Horn of Africa in the Indian Ocean took the freight ship Maersk Alabama.  The pirates held the ship for only brief period before the crew retook control.  The captain, a man named Richard Phillips, was taken hostage. 

You’ve heard the story…The pirates took the captain along with supplies of food and water and boarded one of the twenty-four foot lifeboats.  They would attempt to make it back to shore but their engine failed.  With their ship dead in the water and much too far from shore to swim, the pirates were quickly surrounded by other vessels including the naval destroyer USS Banebridge.  Instead of releasing the hostage and surrendering, the pirates began demanding a ransom (2 million!  Shoot, I’m not worth that much.) and their freedom or they would kill the captain. 

Apparently, government negotiators were working to free the captain.  Really?  What types of negotiations needed to take place?  Put the professionals away for a moment.  From the deck of the Banebridge, broadcast this message to the four pirates.
“Attention!  You are given two options.  If you choose to kill your hostage, we will sail within close range and every serviceman on this ship will begin shooting at you…UNTIL WE ARE SURE YOUR BLOATED BODIES HAVE TOO MANY HOLES TO FLOAT!  If you release the Mr. Phillips to us, you will be allowed to live.  You will be convicted and placed in jail but you will live.  But we must remind you…THERE IS NO WAY IN #$%@^ YOU WILL BE ALLOWED TO WALK AWAY FROM THIS WITH FREEDOM OR MONEY!”

(Attn Professional Negotiators:  This is a suggested serving.  The font has been enlarged to show texture.  You may edit to taste.)

The funny thing is…most hostage takers want money and even they know, “you can’t take it with you.” 

Am I making this too simple?  Even if the navy or shipping company did agree to a ransom, wouldn’t they need to haul the pirates back too shore?  Wait, here’s Plan B…Tell them anything you want then as soon as they are on deck and the captain is removed…shoot them.

What an idea!  On Sunday, April 12th, Navy SEALS did just that by shooting three of the four pirates dead in quick succession.  Just when my confidence in the direction of our country takes a new low, something happens to lift my spirits.

Ask Doctor Pokorny


Swell LampHere is a picture of a lamp I purchased recently off an Internet auction site. I don’t mind mentioning that the bidding became pretty intense near the end and ended at a scorching $14.25. (Once the other bidder found out he was bidding in US dollars instead of pesos he dropped out.)

The next thing I want to say is that you can’t have it. I’m serious. Please don’t respond by low-balling the appraisal in an effort to convince me to sell. It won’t happen and you’ll just have to spend the rest of your miserable life with my lamp’s picture under your pillow or whatever places you put your kinky things.

The lamp is in fairly good condition. It has a variable setting! The first twist of the knob turns the light on, the second makes it flicker, and the third makes the bulb flash then pop. I’ve checked with all the department stores around here and apparently you can’t buy lamps with these options any more.

The shade isn’t original. The one before burnt after I used the third option.





This is a personal advice column! What in the $#^@$ makes you think I do appraisals?! Aw, heck why not, no one else has written this week.

You lamp is a rare product of the short-lived Ugliass Lamp Company circa 1971. Once word got out that they worked best of the bathtub electrocution method of suicide, they flew off the shelves in some of America’s most depressed communities. Unfortunately, this ruined the lamps and Ugliass found it difficult to grow its customer base. The company filled it’s own tub late in 1972.

I estimate the lamp’s value at a nice round 5.32 give or take a few pesos.

If you don’t trust my opinion, your best option is to contact Sotheby’s Auctions in New York and find out how close to their property you can set of a rummage sale. Whatever you do, just make sure you take the first offer there’s a pretty good chance the paint they used in those things has polycentric topiaries that can be absorbed through the skin and cause sterility.



Foul Faternity

Have you ever wondered why men grow hair on their chest, back, hindquarters, legs, feet, arms, knuckles, face, but some can’t grow it where they want it (heads)? What kind of stupid genetic mishap allows for his to occur?

Science may blab about testosterone and genetics but you never hear about the real reason. Just behind the pituitary gland and a few feet from the gall bladder is a small organ called the Rediculi Behavula. You won’t find it in an anatomy book because the male establishment doesn’t want you to know it’s there. (But since I’ve always been a ladies man…)

The Rediculi Bahavula is what produces such bad habits in males. Women have been wondering where men’s thoughtlessness has been coming from for years and men have been looking for an excuse. Now both have what they’re looking for!!

For men, this unique organ neutralizes and eliminates any information that does not fall into the “Information Necessary for Survival” category. For the archetypical male this includes knowledge such as: what’s for supper, avoiding chores, fantasy sports, money, and sucking in the gut at the pool. As far as men are concerned, a female already knows when her birthday is so him keeping it in mind would be a repetitive waste of brainpower.

The one dangerous byproduct of the Rediculi Bahavula’s work is the throttling of hair follicles. Hair growth hormones, having been flushed from the brain area, rush to other parts of the body (see list above). Mature men with full heads of hair have underdeveloped Rediculi Bahavula allowing them to better remember important dates and feminine feelings.

For women, this helps explain their spouse’s astounding lack of thoughtfulness or romance. Because an operation to physically remove the Rediculi Bahavula is impractical, we suggest these helpful techniques. Write admiring letters to yourself from a fictional male admirer and post them on the refrigerator. Your male may not find this threatening but even the thickest amoungst them should get the point. If nothing else, it’s worth a laugh. Also, we suggest getting into bikini body shape.

Tough Choices

I’m sitting in the lifeguard office with my laptop and a dodo egg draft sitting in front of me. It’s not going very well so I look up. Mark Chestnut is sitting across from me with his nose in a philosophy book. His long brown hair is almost obscuring his line of sight.

He catches me staring and looks up. “What’s up Matt?”

I shrug and try to be funny. “I’m just wondering where I can go to check out a copy of all of Nostradamus’s prophesies. If you think about it, the guy was amazing. He predicted Brittany Spears’ melt down plus the 9-11 attacks. So where do I go to read these prophesies? Does the library have a copy? Barnes and Noble? They’ve got to be somewhere and I’d like to read ahead a little bit.”

Mark smiled but didn’t chuckle. I guess it wasn’t that funny. “Matt, let me ask you a question. Do humans have a right to have children? You know as well as I do that parenting is hard work and requires sacrifice. Should we let dysfunctional adults become dysfunctional parents who then produce dysfunctional kids who, well, you get the idea.”

I leaned back. “The answer to your question is forty-two. Now let me ask you a question. How much would someone have to pay you to put an “I’ve run over nearly a hundred honor students” bumper sticker on your car?

Mark rubbed his head for a second. “Well, that really isn’t the answer to my question. Try this…you have two choices and only one group can live. On one side you have the last ten members of an endangered bird species and on the other ten men and women who are all above seventy years of age. Who lives and who dies?”

“Hmmm, give Superman a call.” I replied. “Here’s another for you. How much of your money do you waste at the vet to save a family pet?

Mark reached up and rubbed his chin. I was breaking him. “Um, alright. How many years can there be between spouses before an objection should be raised? Does love transcend age?”

My reply cut him to the quick. “You can only transcend with a license and love should know that. Now try this. If someone hasn’t requested it, is it ever a good idea to give an animal as a pet?”

Mark sighed and went back to his book and I went back to writing dodo eggs.

Cole Letter

Dear Pokorney,

My name is Cole B-.  I’m a business owner (I own two self-serve car washes and two automatic ones.  Impressed?  Circle YES \ NO) and many people consider me relatively good looking.  I drive a nice car, which I keep very clean.  All these things should help me find the right woman but it’s really been difficult. 

So far, I’ve been married four times and broken off several engagements.  I’m only thirty-four.  It’s gotten to the point where my mother, the only superior woman, is looking into cloning herself for me.  Is that creepy? 

You might think that I’m the common denominator but I couldn’t disagree more.  I’m fine (see first paragraph) the problem is finding the right fit with some of the crazy women in this world!  I date them, screen them, background check, and even give them a psychiatric exam.  (They think it’s pre-marital counseling but the doc is on my dime.)  I just need ONE decent woman and I’m set.

Look at this list.  Is this too much to ask?

1. She’s got to be 19 (or look 19) years old and hot.

2. She needs to see me as a real catch and she needs to feel lucky to have me.

3. She has no behavior that I deem, “Maddening.”

4. In-laws must own an automotive body shop.  (My automatic carwashes haven’t been fine tuned yet.)

I’m willing to go three out of four.  Where do I go to find the right woman?

Dear Cole B-,

The dog pound.  Have you thought about getting a pet?  If you go down to the nearest animal shelter, you should be able to find a female that meets your exacting standards.  And if that doesn’t work then check into these guys who sell pedigreed animals to suckers.  I know five years is a lot for an animal but if age becomes an issue remember, “Putting an animal down is cheaper than alimony.”

Four times, huh?  You know what they say about, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again?”  Well, maybe you should quit. 

Marriage isn’t for EVEYONE and it’s much better to be alone than in a difficult relationship.  Wouldn’t you rather come home to a quiet home with a nice sound system than a contentious spouse whose volume and tune is way out of whack. 

Oh yea, and move away from you mom.

Sincerely, Dr. Pokorney