Tag Archives: friends

Get your hand basket out

friends-tv-showWow, I don’t know about you, but it really seems like that old saw “the world is going to hell in a hand basket” is really happening. Maybe not for me (I’m knocking on the proverbial wood right now) and hopefully not for you — but lately I’ve been inundated with super sad news about my friends — and their friends or family members.

I find some of the sad news on Facebook. In my newsfeed, where I like to dilly-dally and scroll through funny videos of cats terrorizing dogs, or babies and puppies sleeping together, I’ve been stabbed in the gut with updates that are definitely not warm and fuzzy. And again, I don’t know about you, but every time it happens — and like I said, it just seems like it’s happening more and more — a small part of me that I am definitely not proud of, makes my finger waver over the thumbs-up “like” button. Sometimes that small, almost tiny part of me (thank God it’s nearly infinitesimal) rolls on by to the next, hopefully, much more upbeat update. Maybe another funny cat video.

But I really do like my friends — even all of my Facebook friends, some with whom I am really not that well acquainted.

And I do really want to help if I can — with a kind word, a sympathetic sentence or two. It’s a kind of a new way to reach out, and I’m not sure we are all yet comfortable about it. God knows, we have a hard enough time reaching out in person. I think it’s harder yet to do so with the buffer of a computer screen or phone scroll. Nobody knows you’re really there, right?

But like I said, I do, I want to help — and, when I can muster it up, sometimes a “comment” is all I’m good for. And many times, so many times, I wish I was better at saying something special or meaningful or coming up with some magic words that will ease my friend’s pain or suffering. Or maybe help her find a smile. maybe make him laugh.

Because, me too, I hate cancer, house fires, car, motorcycle and bicycle accidents. I despise crippling diseases, autism and Alzheimer’s. If I was a billionaire, I would give all my money to all my friends, hoping that in some way, I could buy them what they need or at least make it so their pain might be lessened with 500 pounds of ice cream, or their burden eased by an exclusive, intimate Louis C.K. in-home concert.

But all I got is words. And here they are. Today, although I am heartsick about one of my friend’s sister’s recent cancer diagnosis, and another of my friends whose husband was in a tragic motorcycle accident, and another one who is dealing with the mind-numbing trauma of visiting her mother who doesn’t remember her name or her face — I am going to single out two of my friends who are dealing with hardship. I am going to tell you about them, I’m going to tell you their stories, and maybe you will tell your friends about them and maybe they will tell their friends — and maybe we can just all pitch in to make a difference.

And if we can do that, we can be as good as billionaires toting suitcases of cash. We could bring as much joy as ice cream and maybe even bring as much happiness as a night with Louis C.K.

My friend Christine: Christine (who many call Queen or Queen of the Universe) lost her home and all her worldly possessions — yes, even her iphone — in a fire just before Christmas. She ran out of the blazing inferno with only the clothes on her back — and those were hacked off in the emergency room. Oh yeah, and she miraculously came through this ordeal relatively unscathed, except for eyebrows, eyelashes, singed hair — and a really nasty third-degree burn on the back of her leg. She just completed her third skin graft at the burn center in Salt Lake City.  There is a fund set up for her that you can donate to:


And my friend Will is putting together an event fundraiser that will be held at the Visual Arts Collective Feb. 21. Music, art, silent auction and more with all proceeds after bar tab going to Christine.

Here’s my second friend’s plight and plea: Meet Alex’s sister, Monica

When my brother Dan passed away a few years ago, one family who came to his memorial was not one familiar to me — but one with whom Dan had become close to. They worked at Dan’s favorite restaurant, Baja Fresh. He went there at least a couple of times every week and they knew to start his order — he always ordered the same thing — when he pulled into his parking space.

Alex — her name is actually Alexandra — had dropped out of high school and Dan constantly chided her about it, telling her to get her G.E.D. — “I’ll pay for it,” he would say. Alex did get her G.E.D. just a month ago. And, sort of filling in for her Dad and his promise, Dan’s daughter Dana stepped in and paid for it. I was the lucky person who got to deliver the check: 1619589_10202452354262866_1224159130_n

Well, while I was there, Alex told me about Monica, her 25-year-old sister. Monica has kidney failure and needs a kidney transplant, and hey, she also just had a stroke and found out she has a bad heart. Her mother, who, yes, is still working at Baja Fresh on Broadway in Boise, is frantically trying to figure out ways to make money to help her daughter. They need to raise $5,000 for the surgery and so far are up to a little more than $1,500. You can donate here:


This is the only way I can think of to help my friends. (Not a billionaire, remember?) And I vow to help as many as I can. I vow not to skip over their Facebook posts for funny cat videos — I will still watch the cat videos of course, but only after I say a few heartfelt words to my friends.

I turn now to the Beatles :

Please let me know if you have friends who need a little help from their friends.

Peace and love


Mind your own bees-wax

There used to be this commercial about Off bug repellent and it had this mosquito cage a guy could put his arm inside. You could see about a million mosquitoes swarm and bite the guy’s hand. Then, he sprays his arm with Off and sticks it back in. The mosquitoes just fly around, but as the tag line said: THEY DON’T BITE — THEY DON’T EVEN LITE.
When we were kids, my brother Bill (five years older than me) and I used to watch that commercial but we knew we didn’t need Off to protect us — we thought if we held our breath while a mosquito tried to bite, our skin would close up all its pores and we would be bug proof — the mosquito wouldn’t be able to get past our closed-up pores. It was like having armor. My dad told this to us and of course, we believed him. And when Bill would get a mosquito bite anyway, even after he’d been positive, absolutely sure he’d held his breath, my dad would say he must’ve taken a breath at some point. Too bad. All you have to do is just hold your breath.
After a while, Bill and I got tired of trying to hold our breath all the time — after all, we lived in Missouri and Kansas and there were lots and lots of mosquitoes in the summertime. It wasn’t that we didn’t believe dad — he seemed really serious and sincere when he told us and kept telling us and kept cheering us on to keep trying — we just got used to the fact we obviously weren’t great breath-holders and kind of got defeated about the possibility of winning in this cunning mosquito game.
Then one day, my dad extended the story to include bees. And when you think about it, that does make a sort of sense — if your pores are closed tight, forming an impenetrable barrier, like a force-field around your entire body — well, then, any insect with a stinger just was out of luck. Case closed. Bill and I nodded but we both knew how bad we already were with the mosquitoes and that just meant more Calamine lotion. But bees… if we took a breath at the wrong time with a bee to contend with, well, that just sounded like crazy talk. We both shrugged our shoulders and just steered clear of bees and that seemed to settle things.
That is, until my friend Tina Venn, who really loved my dad and believed him to the core — and who was the best at everything she ever tried in her life — took his bee theory to the test one day.
Tina, who was probably about 9, her little sister, Tammy, 8, her older sister Terri and me — we were both about 10 or 11, were playing out in the woods on a hot sunny summer day. We weren’t riding that day, although we often did ride the Shetland ponies (my favorite was Pally O’Paint); we were playing games and exploring. We had all ducked underneath a small bridge to cool off and that’s when we heard it — a big noise, kind of a rumbling hum. We ran out from underneath the bridge — smack dab into a swarm of bees! All of us went running as fast as greased lightning and screaming of course — all except Tina.
I remember looking over my shoulder and there she was, as stiff as a statue. She had stopped in mid-run and stood there as if she had been tagged in a game of freeze-tag. I knew she was holding her breath.
We all ran back to the house and waited, wheezing and catching our breath — and wondering if Tina would show those bees who was boss. A few minutes later, though, Tina came up the drive and she was crying.
But they weren’t hurt tears — they were tears of fury.
“Ken!” she called out to my dad, who had come out on the front porch and was listening to our tale as we each took turns telling it. “Ken — you lied to me! I held my breath and stood still and those bees stung me anyway!”
“But Tina,” my dad said, “they were waiting — and they must have stung you when you took a breath. You’ll just have to practice and try again next time.”
I don’t think Tina did ever try that again — and neither did any of us. Bill once told me that he bet my dad never tried it either.
When I grew up and one day asked my dad about the mosquito/bee story, and challenged him about it being true, he just smiled and said, “You do have to hold your breath a long time — or it won’t work.”

Taking a break…

The funniest thing about the Absolute commercials is the hairdos.