There's a cool breeze on the veranda where the blue jays annoy us with their chatter. It seems as if they chatter the loudest when we're trying to relax, such as after a meal or after making love. She tells me to ignore them, as I would a white noise or a complaint from my mother, but once a sound gets under your skin you cannot pretend it isn't there.

It's like the McDonald's commercial that comes on the radio each morning just before the weather. Some teeny-bopper valley grrrrlll is saying, "Am I crazy, or is there a McDonalds on your way to work?" What the hell does this kid's questionable sanity have to do with my route to work each day? She's tuned the advertisement out, but I feel compelled to ask her this as I'm trying to explain how much this commercial annoys me. She just rolls her eyes, the way she will, and I realize that this generic complaining is making me the annoying noise in her life.


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Our housekeeper is not a bad looking girl. She's in her late 40s now, and she's been coming over and changing our sheets and dusting and vacuuming since she was at the same point in her 30s. You couldn't find a better housekeeper, and we're one of the few folks for whom she still does this "job on the side." It was her full-time job when she started with us, but now she's a loan officer at a bank and this is just moonlighting. She's never been married and I can tell she'd really like to change that before she dies. However, it's unlikely this will happen. I've thought about sitting her down and telling her why, in as nice a way as I could, in the hope that it would make her see the light about herself and drastically alter her behavior. Here's the problem, and you probably know folks like this, too.

In the dance we humans call conversation, it would not matter what I said to her, regardless of the enormity of the statement. It could be a small thing, like, "I had to pull a tick off of my dog last night." Will she say, "Is the dog OK?" or "Have you tried putting that stuff on her neck for fleas and ticks?" or "Did you make sure you got the head out, too?" Nope. It will be nothing about me or my dog. It will be about her. She will invariably say something like, "My dog had a tick on him last year. I started to take him to the vet, but then I decided to do it myself. First I got a bottle of rubbing alcohol...." and half an hour later I will have heard the entire story, including any visits or phone calls which occurred during the timetable of the story, and she will still be talking. I will have to physically walk away to get her to shut up. And then I'll still be hearing about it through the two or three closed doors I've made sure are between us.

I've started testing her to see how dramatic my one-liner can be, just to see if she'll gasp and say anything along the lines of, "Oh my God. Are you OK?" I've told her my daughter almost killed herself in a car wreck over the weekend, which was true. It turns out she has a cousin who recently had a wreck that, in some weird parallel universe, might have been somewhat similar. I've told her that my company was sold and I'm basically unemployed as of the first of the year, which is true. It turns out a friend of hers works for KMart and is having a hard time dealing with the merger with Sears. Both of these stories, the cousin in a car wreck and the friend at K-Mart, lasted for longer than I could reasonably devote to listening to them. Both times I wound up walking away and closing doors between us. Both times I could still hear her talking. I swear, I think I could tell her that my wife was lying dead on the bathroom floor because I just couldn't take it any more and I'd beaten her to death with a shower rod, and my housekeeper would know someone who did something with a shower rod at some point that I needed to hear about, and that would be the end of my confession. She would still be talking about it while the police dragged me out the patrol car, and I'd still hear her voice over the siren as we drove away.


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I had an older fellow who was a very good boss once. He was not the most effective manager I've ever been around but he was a hell of a human being. He did say one thing at a meeting that I'll never forget. He was trying to emphasize the importance of maintaining personal relationships with clients and he did something I'd never heard him do before in a speech when he said, "When I was on the street doing what you folks are doing. . . Ooops. I used the 'I' word. Sorry. I really try hard not to do that."


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I had to complain to the station manager at my local news/talk radio station the other day. They had started playing "The Donald Trump Minute" on their morning news show. Now, this is the deep south and you don't really expect Morning Edition when you turn on the AM tuner, but I never thought I'd have to be listening to this bankrupt combover nunshitting whorehopper while I tried to enjoy my first cup'o'joe each morning.

I've lived in a world of blowhards and used car salesmen for longer than I'd like to admit, but no one (NOT ONE OF THEM) has annoyed me in half an hour's discourse any more than The Don does in this one minute each morning. Everything is about him. If he's talking about barbers, he has to say, "And you KNOW how I feel about hair." If it's about interest rates, he has to say, "And you KNOW how I feel about money." If it's about supermodels, . . . The fact is, I don't know how Mr. Trump feels about hair, cash or pussy, and I could not be bothered to give one second of my pedestrian life to worrying about it.

The station manager and his female cohort lost no time in telling me that The Apprentice is one of the hottest shows on TV and I might be the only one in my area not watching it. I received that news in the same fashion that one might receive a phone call alerting them to the fact that they would be awarded the Nobel Prize for Good Taste the following weekend, and could they send a limo?

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