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A Thought for Today

Optimism is the forehead of beauty.


The last couple of Fridays have been particularly difficult for me. All the funny stuff that comes into this site is directed towards Rod and the first time I get sight of the material is usually when he forwards the completed Flight Plan for posting.

Consequently I'm left with this huge void as far as funny Friday stories are concerned. Even my usual supplier of stories, Cid, isn't talking to me right now due to a fast approaching deadline for a new book. So, in order to rectify a desperate situation and give you something to chuckle over, I've delved into the archives and come up with two absolute gems.

Both are beautifully written and as a father of twin daughters, I endorse every word and sentiment expressed in the first story. The second will undoubtedly strike a chord with anyone who's traveled, particularly by air.

Both are very funny and I hope you enjoy reading them again as much as I have.

                                - Ken, Johannesburg, November 17

"Ten Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter"

Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk you'd better be delivering a package, because you're sure as hell not picking anything up.

Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter's body, I will remove them.

Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don't take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object.

However, In order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.

Rule Four: I'm sure you've been told that in today's world, sex without utilizing a "barrier method" of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate: when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.

Rule Five: In order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is "early."

Rule Six: I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.

Rule Seven: As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process that can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don't you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?

Rule Eight: The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there are no parents, policemen, or nuns within eyesight. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka zipped up to her throat. Movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies that feature chainsaws are okay. Hockey games are okay. Old folk's homes are better.

Rule Nine: Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a pot-bellied, balding, middle-aged, dim-witted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.

Rule Ten: Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy outside of Hanoi. As soon as you pull into the driveway after a date, you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car - there is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine.

                                 - Author unknown

by Fran Lebowitz

These hints are the result of exhaustive and painstaking research conducted during a recently completed fourteen-city promotional book tour. This does not mean that if your own travel plans do not include a fourteen-city promotional book tour you should disregard this information. Simply adjust the hints to fit your personal needs, allow for a certain amount of pilot error and you will benefit enormously.

1. It is imperative when flying coach that you restrain any tendency toward the vividly imaginative. For although it may momentarily appear to be the case, it is not at all likely that the cabin is entirely inhabited by crying babies smoking inexpensive domestic cigars.

2. When flying first class, you may frequently need to be reminded of this fact, for it all too often seems that the only discernible difference is that the babies have connections in Cuba. You will, however, be finally reassured when the stewardess drops your drink and the glass breaks.

3. Airplanes are invariably scheduled to depart at such times as 7:54, 9:21 or 11:37. This extreme specificity has the effect on the novice of instilling in him the twin beliefs that he will be arriving at 10:08, 1:43 or 4:22, and that he should get to the airport on time. These beliefs are not only erroneous but actually unhealthy, and could easily be dispelled by an attempt on the part of the airlines toward greater realism. Understandably, they may be reluctant to make such a radical change all at once. In an effort to make the transition easier I offer the following graduated alternatives to 'Flight 477 to Minneapolis will depart at 8:03 P.M.' 

a. Flight 477 to Minneapolis will depart oh, let's say, eightish.
b. Flight 477 to Minneapolis will depart around eight, eight-thirty.
c. Flight 477 to Minneapolis will depart while it's still dark.
d. Flight 477 to Minneapolis will depart before the paperback is out.

4. Stewardesses are not crazy about girls.

5. Neither are stewards.

6. You can change planes in Omaha, Nebraska.

7. You are advised to do so.

8. Whether or not you yourself indulge in the habit, always sit in the smoking section of an airplane. The coughing will break up the trip.

9. Whenever possible, fly with someone who is color-blind. Explaining to him the impact of rust, orange and yellow stripes against a background of aquamarine florals will fill the time you have left over from coughing.

10. It's not that it's three hours earlier in California; it's that the days are three hours longer.

11. Room service menus that don't charge extra for cheese on hamburgers are trying to tell you something.

12. Fleeting romantic alliances in strange cities are acceptable, especially if you've already seen the movie. Just make sure that your companion has gotten the name of your publisher wrong.

13. Local television talk-show hosts are not interested in the information that the Today show uses more than one camera.

14. Twenty-four hour room service generally refers to the length of time that it takes for a club sandwich to arrive. This is indeed disheartening, particularly when you've ordered scrambled 

15. Never relinquish clothing to a hotel valet without first specifically telling him that you want it back.

16. Leaving a wake-up call for four P.M. is certain to result in a loss of respect from the front desk and over familiarity on the part of bellboys and room-service waiters.

17. If you're going to America, bring your own food.

18. If while staying at a stupendously expensive hotel in Southern California you observe that one of your fellow guests has left his sneakers in front of his door, try to behave yourself.

19. Under no circumstances order from room service an item entitled 'The Cheese Festival' unless you are prepared to have your dreams of colorfully costumed girls of all nations rolling enormous wheels of gruyere and Jarlsberg replaced by three Kraft slices and a lot of toothpicks dressed in red cellophane hats.

20. Calling a taxi in Texas is like calling a rabbi in Iraq.

21. Local television talk shows do not, in general, supply make-up artists. The exception to this is Los Angeles, an unusually generous city in this regard, since they also provide this service for radio appearances.

22. Do not approach with anything even resembling assurance a restaurant that moves.

23. When a newspaper photographer suggests artistically interesting props, risk being impolite.

24. Absolutely, positively, and no matter what, wait until you get back to New York to have your hair cut.

25. Carry cash.

26. Stay inside.

27. Call collect.

28. Forget to write.

- Copyright 1986 Octopus Books Limited

notable birthdays Mischa Auer o Troy Beckwith o Bret Blewitt o Brandon Call o Kate Ceberano o Peter Cook o Danny DeVito o Daisy Fuentes o Isaac Hanson o Rock Hudson o Lauren Hutton o Hershey Kaye o Jack Lescoulie o Gordon Lightfoot o Sir Charles MacKerras o Dean Paul Martin o Bob Mathias o Lorne Michaels o Myra Montezuma o Isamu Noguchi o Bebe Rebozo o RuPaul o Martin Scorsese o Tom Seaver o Lee Strasberg o Laura Wilkinson
Rod's random thoughts To write it out is to let it go.

Be grateful for your dreams. The grave holds only sleep.

Never fear life or death, only mere existence.


I started up the hill
and there they were.
One of them was hardly twenty,
         the other maybe more.

They were still.

Dead I knew.

I slowed but didn’t stop.

A cop was waving traffic past.
No ambulance had yet arrived
but two police cars kept a guard
on the coroner’s new dibs.

One bike was halfway up a wall
          the front wheel still spinning.
The other, folded over like a half-left sandwich,
grew like sculpture in the middle of the road
and blossomed with the red of one of them.
I didn’t know which one.

Looking back
from further up the hill
I saw one cop strike up some flares.
Still no sirens in the distance.

Traffic now crawled up behind me
slowly till we hit Mulholland
and the other side.

Down below was Christmas
as it always is.
Perhaps a used-car lot
        was opening
or another shop
with shiny motorcycles.

The evening paper
in the driveway once again.
I picked it up
before I parked the car.

I sat down with a cup of coffee
and wrote a poem on what it’s like
to miss a falling star.

Perhaps I should have made a wish
on one of many searchlights,
biting at the clouds.
More dependable than stars
         in California.

                                - from "In Someone’s Shadow", 1969

1969, 1970, 1986, 2000 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
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