Category Archives: Personal Essay

Have You Heard of Personal Space?

Cat sitting in red plastic spaghetti strainer on kitchen counter
Polly the cat sits in a spaghetti strainer.

I don’t know what it is, but lately I feel like a human magnet.

That’s not the same as a chick magnet. I define human magnet as in everywhere I go, other human beings seem to have the need to get in my personal space… Uninvited and unwanted, of course. In light of the whole COVID mess, I have become hypersensitive to people getting too close to me when I am out in public. I really don’t like it.

Since I am a house husband, I do most of the grocery shopping. Other than our crappy Walmart, the town I live in has only one regular grocery store… And it sucks. It’s too small, it never has anything in stock, and it takes forever to get through the checkout lines because they can’t retain new employees for more than 4 hours it seems. But enough of that, the point is that the town is growing and growing and so the grocery store is getting more and more crowded. So, pretty much no matter when I go, the aisles are usually crawling with undesirables of all types.

The problem I have been facing lately is that whatever product I’m looking for, there’s always a cluster of other people right there and in the way. The section can be completely empty otherwise, but sure enough, when I go to get the one thing I need, someone’s right there, bent over and filling half the aisle with their huge ass. Ugh.

It happened to me twice today alone. The first time was in the Latin American food aisle. All I needed was one damn can of enchilada sauce. There was one other person in the whole area, and what was she doing? Standing right in front of where the enchilada sauce was and filling, and I mean filling, her cart with boxes upon boxes of taco shells. And she was going at it like a fiend. One would think she was on Guy’s Grocery Games and the countdown was on to win $20,000. Who the hell eats that many tacos? Wherever and whatever is going down with that kind of party, count me out. I like tacos, I just don’t want to be around when that digestive nuclear bomb goes off.

Anyways, I grumbled, looped around and came back later to get my one can of enchilada sauce. The taco shell section was obliterated.

The next event occurred in the salad dressing aisle where they keep all the mayo and Miracle Whip. Whip. That’s fun to say. But once again, the aisle was barren except for this couple kneeling down in front of the mayo… And I just got an image of Louis Gossett Jr. calling Richard Gere “Mayonnaise” in the movie An Officer and a Gentleman… Yeah, I watched it. So what? Check the clip out below.

But like I was saying, this couple was kneeling down in front of the mayo and looking and talking and talking and looking at all the different jars they had there. I’m like, “It’s god damn mayonnaise. Pick one and move on!” I didn’t say that out loud, I just thought it to myself. So, once again, I had to reroute, loop around, and come back. These people are chewing up my valuable time! Valuable time like writing about mayonnaise, I guess.

But the main point of this article is the fact that people have little to no sense of personal space. I don’t know if I smell good or what, but the last few times I’ve been at the store, people have creeped up on me so close that I can actually feel them breathing down my neck. I’ve had people rudely reach out in front of me, from the side and the back, and snag something off the shelf. I’ve had people nearly step on my shoes. I’ve had people nearly dry hump me from behind. What the hell!? I just want to step aside and say, “Could you back off please!” But of course, I never do. Not in this day and age. You never know what kind of lunatic you’re up against.

I want to wrap up my bitchfest by talking about the biggest violator of personal space in my entire life… Polly the cat. That’s right, our pet cat takes the cake, and the cat chow, when it comes to invading personal space. I don’t know what her problem is, and we are always asking that very question, but we have never had a cat that gets so right up into your face as this one does.

Polly isn’t one of those nice kitties that jumps up on your lap, curls a couple of times, and then plops down for a nap. Nope. Not this one. Polly is the type of cat that literally tries to crawl up your body and rest on your shoulder. And that’s how she got her name… Because when she was a kitten, she’d love to climb up and sit on your shoulder, like a parrot. Get it? But now that she’s full grown, and I mean really full grown, (she’s a fat cat, a chonker my wife says) she can’t sit up on your shoulder but really just rests her head on it, her two front paws wrapped around your neck like she’s giving you a hug. Cute, yeah, but then she licks. Yep, she’s a licker. Any kind of exposed skin is doomed to be assaulted by that sandpaper tongue. I don’t like it. My wife doesn’t like it. It’s gross. That’s the point at which we softly push her aside. And the whole gross licking thing is part of the reason we don’t have dogs. It’s so off putting and just not for us. We’re not prudes, just cat people. No offense dog lovers. She’s also into headbutting and nose to nose staring contests. It’s creepy.

If you haven’t guessed by now, the picture at the top of this post is Polly sitting in a spaghetti strainer while I was cooking dinner the other night. I never had a cat that had to be near me or next to me or on me so much. She literally follows me around the house. We don’t let her in our bedroom at night because she would literally sit on one of our faces. (I could say something dirty here, but I won’t). I don’t know about you, but I can’t sleep like that. So, out she goes to the living room. Nighty night.

Maybe I’m overreacting about all this closeness, but you have to admit, a lot of people are gross, and I don’t want to get sick. Besides that, it’s just downright rude. Sure, some might say “excuse me” but the majority say nothing at all and actually act like I’m in their way. Hmm. I was here first, dipshit. I have rights. I guess I just need to plot out my course more carefully and do the best I can to avoid the glommers who love to glom on me. My wife says I just need to accept and appreciate the love, not from the people in the grocery store, but the cat. Accepting love. That’s always been kind of tricky for me, but I’m trying.

The Coffeehouse Crapshoot

It was an autumnal Sunday full of color, her favorite being the peachy orange as it stood out as the brightest and boldest among the others. I glanced over at the woman in the passenger seat and my heart jumped and my stomach made a longing roll within itself. I knew I was in love and would be forever with this one. I was living in sort of a dreamland at that moment.

We had just come from sculpting our bodies and filling the auto with petrol. We were in the mood for a good coffee and some brunch. And since Halloween was edging closer by the day, we decided to go to one of our favorite haunts, that place downtown where the mists of our ghostly memories cling to the air like cream on pumpkin pie. The Coffeehouse.

The Coffeehouse sat on a popular corner in the downtown sector of our town and was one of the few places open on Sunday seeing that many of the townsfolk flocked to the booming bell towers to chant and sing to great stained-glass Bog in the sky, their voices like bleached licorice streams frothing and flowing forth from their hypocritical holy gullets and spilling out into the world like sirens in the sky.

Parking came easy, which it never did during the week, and we walked hand in hand down the crisp concrete, staggering behind some old lady in a red coat puffing away on a white cigarette. We caught a whiff of the cloud she spoke of, and memories of wild younger days danced in my head as my lady friend battened down the sweet hatches of her body – for she has battles between the air and her own lungs.

We entered the establishment and there was a small crowd inside quietly murmuring among themselves and we made our way to the front counter and to where they had the large rectangular menu board set off to one side. Our eyes strolled along the boardwalk of selections and my lady friend went straight for the London Fog, some kind of tea mash up that I don’t really clearly understand, but it gives her great joy as it slips across her lips and down into her glorious guts.

I usually would opt for a Cuban coffee, but on this autumnal Sunday inside The Coffeehouse, I wanted to try something different and went for the elderberry tea because I wanted a jolt of something that would rev up my immune system or whatever the hell it does. I also wanted the waffle with whipped cream and sliced banana. My lady went with the waffle as well, but with fresh berries and whipped cream. I was feeling a bit randy after all that talk of whipped cream, and I pulled her close to me and whispered something about uncontrollable hot love and madness.

The clerkie at the counter was a confused, nervous type – probably a newbie that wouldn’t last – and she kept asking the barista beside her questions about this and questions about that, and then as she was clumsily punching our order into the machine there, she would look up at us with a pained expression and tell us, “We’re out of that, we’re out of that, too. We don’t have that. I’m sorry we don’t have any of that either.” They had a piece of paper there with a list of things they were out of that the girl kept referring to. It was a long list. My lady friend wanted to look at it, but they kept it guarded like some great royal secret.

They didn’t have either of the teas needed for our chosen beverages. They didn’t have what they needed for our backups, as well. I wondered if they even had water. With frustrations growing, my lady and I settled on Plan C – drinks we didn’t really want because it was all that remained. The sadness in her eyes made me want to smash a spooky pumpkin right then and there, but then again, I would have probably been busted up myself by the bobbies for causing a radical disturbance on the Day of the Lord.

Grief-stricken by the news of the Coffeehouse’s diminished supply, we took our number to a small table for two and sat down. A short while later, the same girl who had taken our order at the counter strolled over, a haunted house type of fear smeared across her face, and she informed us, “I’m sorry, we’re out of waffles… But we have pancakes.”

My lady friend, who is often much bolder than I, quickly snapped back with, “This is ridiculous. How can you have pancakes, but not waffles? Can we just get a refund.”

My nerves were tingling throughout my body as we made our way back up to the counter to engage in whatever process would be necessary to get our refund. I wasn’t looking forward to it because I figured it would be some horribly complicated thing that they couldn’t figure out and it would take half the day. But then, the humbled and meek clerkie girl came through the crowd with a palmful of cash and some coin. She handed it to me and apologized again. After that, we walked out.

I took my lady by the hand, and we strolled along the walk, my insides grumbling with anger. My lady friend, however, is quick to resolve disappointment in life by looking at the brighter side of… Everything. She has a gift for staying positive in an increasingly negative world. I was ready to smash things, and she was more than willing to just move on to a greater destination and not let our let down weigh us down. She’s angelic like that, and I often believe that is the reason the universe gifted her to me. She’s always what I need when I need it. She always has been – from the very beginning of us to the very breath I take now. I only hope I can return that gift tenfold.

We crossed over the street to the other side and found a little patio bar type kind of place we had never been to and were happy to see they were still serving brunch. We sat outside and we had the sugar waffles with syrup, fruit, and bacon. We were tucked up against each other on a bench at a metal table as we ate and drank. The weather was perfect. The sky was a pure, unmuddied blue. The air was kindly littered with gold and green and orange. And in the end, things turned out better than I expected. We were in a passing moment of life, and we were in it together, and that’s perfect imperfection.

A Tussle with a Tassel

I had a dream in the opening creaks of dawn today that I was getting ready to graduate from high school again. In my dream, the colors of my cap and gown were white trimmed in gold. In my real-life graduation, the colors were green and gold… I think. I don’t really remember because it was eons ago. I had attended a Catholic high school my last three years because I had been a bad kid in regular school and kind of got kicked out. I guess it wasn’t because I was bad really, I was just maladjusted. I didn’t fit in. But truth be told, Catholic high school was rougher than regular high school. That’s just what I needed.

The point is, because it was a Catholic high school and a relatively small class of less than 100 people, we had our graduation ceremony at a godly chapel on the campus of one of the local colleges. It was some sort of long-standing tradition. I suppose I didn’t really care about that. I hated high school and was just so ready to get it over and done with.

Moving on, I guess it was only fitting that my final act as a high school student turned out to be an exercise in my own misplacement in the world. After I accepted my diploma and began to stroll across the chancel, I reached up and struggled to find the tassel that I was supposed to move from right to left. It never occurred to me that performing such a seemingly simple act would have turned out to be my penultimate high school kick in the crotch. I was mostly concerned with the damn cap completely falling off my head and then everyone would see my messed-up hair.

Like I said, I had reached up and I was feeling for it, but I just couldn’t find the damn thing. I could sense the breathlessness in the gathered crowd. I was immediately struck with panic and what I really wanted to do was just run, run, run and never return to society ever again. But that would have been impossible. Everyone was watching, everyone was waiting. And then, as I took nearly my last step at the come down point off of the chancel, I found that damn tassel and flipped it to the left. It had slipped to the very back of the cap somehow. I was relieved. The crowd was relieved. The saints and demons etched into the colorful stained glass of the chapel were relieved. The whole damn universe was relieved.

That was my graduation. While everyone else was happy, excited, and celebrating the coming joys of their surely bright futures as they gathered on the perfectly manicured lawn outside after it was all done, I had had a tussle with a tassel. That is my memory. That is the little burn scar from my 18th year of life that for some reason really sticks out to me. It shouldn’t though, because over the years I have collected many more missteps and scars – much thicker and deeper ones. Such is life, I suppose.

I would think that for many people, high school was the highlight of their lives. For many people, I believe, high school memories are pleasant ones filled with friends, good times, laughter, dances, football games, parties, trips, dating, etc… Not for me. I was never involved in anything because I just knew I would have made a fool of myself, and those bastards would have jumped on that opportunity and torn me to shreds. And you may think I’m a psycho, but I actually burned my high school yearbook in our downstairs fireplace at the brutal Colorado house in the foothills where I lived. I just kneeled before that hearth of red brick like a monk and watched it flame up, curl, and finally turn black and tumble to ash. I don’t know why I even had a yearbook. My parents must have gotten it for me because it surely wasn’t something I would have chosen to have on my own.

Anyways, enough of that. I think this post was supposed to be about a dream… Yes. The dream.

In the dream this morning, I was getting ready for my graduation, and I was terribly anxious because I just knew, knew, my cap was going to fall off and I’d be made fun of… Again. So, in this dream, I was madly scurrying about in some cabinets searching for hairpins. I needed hairpins because I wanted to have them with me in case I needed to pin my cap to my head to keep it from falling off – which is really stupid because I never had hair thick enough to pull something like that off.

I was searching and scrounging and scavenging for hairpins, and in the process, I was making a huge mess of everything because I was just tossing stuff everywhere, like in a cartoon. My mother was in the dream, and I recall she looked really worried about me as I was just flipping things about in search of hairpins. It was as if she already knew I was going to have a very rough life and there was nothing she could do about it. She knew she had bred a cuckoo. That’s the look she had. The dream ended when I finished shoving everything else back into the cabinet and it was such a disheveled mess in there and that bothered me and I hated leaving it like that, but I did. I just closed the cabinet and then I woke up.

Fast forward umpteen years and at this moment my beautiful wife is gathering the laundry and clanking dishes. I’m madly typing away at my desk. I just finished my coffee and Greek yogurt sprinkled with granola and soon I will down my daily dose of prescription medication and head off to the gym. I didn’t need high school for this. What a painful waste. I just needed a chance to be what I wanted to be. I never fit into that small rectangular box that I sternly looked out from in that burning yearbook. I never will properly fit – not like they want me to.

Wow. That’s exciting.

If you read my previous post What the Hell Are You Thinking? you will know that I was trying to get rid of an old TV. Well, I’m happy to report – I did it! Wow. That’s exciting.

I decided to go to our local Goodwill to see if they would take it. The store has a donation center attached to it. I was worried the attendant might come over and start yelling at me about dropping off a television. But when I pulled up, there really was no attendant. Well, there was, but he was hiding inside the closed doors like a little forest gnome. He took one quick glance at me and turned away.

I quickly got out of the car and opened the trunk. Outside the donation center they have bins lined up against a wall that people can put their stuff in. I noticed a couple of computer monitors sitting among the rubble and thought, “A TV is sort of like a computer monitor,” and so I lifted the TV out of the trunk and set it down in one of the bins. Then I took off as if I had just robbed a bank.

I looked back to see if anyone was chasing me, but there was no one. Of course, there was no one, but I still breathed a sigh of relief. It used to be back in the days that a clerk would come out, look over your prospective donations and even help you get them out of the car. I guess that service has fallen to the wayside. They used to also give you a receipt for your donations for tax purposes. Now, they have a silver pole standing up outside with a little basket or something attached to it with blank receipts you fill out yourself. Oh well. In this particular case, no service was good service.

When I pulled back out onto the main street, I suddenly struggled in my mind with what else had I planned to do. I tried to remember, and then did remember that I was going to visit a couple of scrap metal and recycling places to see if they would take the TV. But now I didn’t have to! My mind had been so preoccupied with failure and the need for a backup plan that I had forgotten that I needed to go to Walgreens. Wow. That’s exciting.

Our town has one Walgreens, one CVS, one standard grocery store (which sucks). We have no Starbucks, but for some reason we have a plethora of automatic car washes, two O’Reilly Auto Parts stores, and about 57 Dollar Generals, all of which look as if a tornado had just torn through it because they somehow have only one clerk employed per store, and they are always on the cash register dealing with dipshits.

Anyways, I went to Walgreens to pick up a new prescription. I had printed out one of those online coupons that the drug companies offer to people because the cost of most new drugs is astronomical. I got to my turn in line and the woman there took the coupon and was looking stuff up and then told me to sit down and wait because they had to look into how to bill my order correctly. I just love how so many of our health care procedures, choices and decisions are controlled by insurance companies in America. It’s sad, really, but then again – Profit over People. That’s the name of the game.

I waited around for about 10 minutes. I had a scratchy throat and was coughing somewhat uncontrollably and went to go buy a drink when they called out my name. I turned around and went back and got my prescription. I went and grabbed a shopping trolley and picked up some things we needed back at the house – bathroom tissue, paper towels, a jug of purified drinking water and a pack of Jujyfruits candy. They stick in your teeth, but they are good.

After I paid utilizing my Walgreens rewards discount, I left the store. Luckily, the coughing had subsided some and I tore into the box of Jujyfruits and ate some. When I got to my car, I checked my prescription package. I was shocked, but then I wasn’t, to see that the original price of the prescription was $1,167.99… That’s for a one-month supply. I just shook my head and said a bad word. If that ain’t crooked, I don’t know what is. Because of the manufacturer’s coupon, aka discount card, I got my 30-day supply for $25.

After all that, I drove home.

Wow. That’s exciting.

What the hell are you thinking!?

I need to get rid of an old TV.

While scouring the internet to try and find a place to recycle an old TV, I’m discovering there are not a lot of options – at least where I live. What do you do when something once shiny and brand new is nothing but something old and used? But that’s how it is with everything in this world. Cars, clothes, houses, appliances, toys, carpet, buildings … people. Used up and tossed out to make room for the new breed.

The computer I am using to type this on is an HP all-in-one desktop that’s about 10 years old. I have been mulling over in my head the purchase of a new one. But why? This one still works. But the lure of something shiny and new is there. The world makes it so, I guess. We are trained well.

And then there’s the world itself, now cycling through to another season. My favorite of them all – autumn. We’ve been sleeping with the windows open the last few nights – haven’t been able to do that in months. Our summer in the mid-state wasn’t as brutal as past summers have been, but it was brutal enough. July was the worst. On many days we topped out with a heat index of well over 100. I hate summer. It’s too hot. I don’t like the choking and sweltering blaze of the day suffocating my soul.

But now that it’s autumn, I can breathe again. The air has that crispness, like chilled apple cider in a blustery orchard. When I was a kid, they called it Indian Summer. I don’t know if that’s a politically correct term anymore because I don’t ever hear anyone say that. But it makes sense. And the Native Americans’ take on summer is better than regular summer.

I’ve never been a beach person. I’ve never enjoyed running around in the sand like David Hasselhoff. I like to look at the ocean, but I don’t want to hang out at the beach all day. I’m not a swimmer. I’m more of a close to drowning type person. Summer just isn’t me. My wife feels the same way about the seasons. Maybe that’s why we gel so well.

The days have been beautiful here. The nights have been cool, and the sky has been full of stars. I often step out onto our front porch just to look at them. Even though I can hear the distant hum of the interstate that runs near us unseen, there’s not a lot of light pollution where we are and so the stars and planets and other spinning objects are very bright and clear. I like to search for UFOs. On some days I wish one would come down and just take me away from this messed up world.

Speaking of UFOs – I used to live in New Mexico in the desert. Talk about clear skies and astronomic visuals. There were times sitting out there that I could count meteorite after meteorite streaking by overhead. One night I saw 11. I miss it there, but then I don’t. It was a different time and a different place, and I was a different me. I’m better now, I hope. I’m definitely more settled. Where the desert night used to give me a peace, now it’s my wife and our beautiful simple life together that does that. Ten years ago, I never thought I’d be where I am now. Our personal seasons change. They stretch, twirl, bend, settle.

It’s October tomorrow. That’s a good month. Hopefully, I’ll be rid of this television set and life can go on.

Willy Wanker and the Keto Bread Factory

As Wilford Brimley would say, I have DIE A BEE TUSS. And when you have DIE A BEE TUSS, you can’t eat anything that tastes good. No sweets, no pasta, no rice, no bread, no potatoes, no soda, no ice cream, no candy, no pizza, no hamburgers, no CEREAL!… And the list seems to go on and on toward the end of the universe.

When you have DIE A BEE TUSS, the best kind of diet is low-carb, high protein – just like Dr. Now tells his overweight patients on 600-Pound Life. “Hello. How you all doing? Where you coming from today?”

Eating right has been a struggle for me throughout my nearly 15-year battle with this disease. Is it really a disease, or just poor lifestyle choices? Either way, it sucks not being able to eat whatever you want without suffering deadly consequences.

I love sweets. I love desserts. I love all the things I’m not supposed to have. When I flip through a cookbook for diabetics, I’m just grossed out. Ugh! And it’s especially tough going into a grocery store to buy food. It seems nearly EVERYTHING is bad for you and the stuff that is good for you costs three times as much.

Well, today, I went into our crappy local grocery store with a focus on looking for diabetic-friendly foods. I read a lot of labels, and I think I made some good choices. But sometimes those good choices are not good at all.

If you look at the picture that accompanies this post, you will see a piece of bread with a giant hole in it. That’s from a loaf of keto-friendly bread that cost almost 6 damn dollars. When I first opened the package, I was like: “What the fuck?” It wasn’t just one or two pieces that had this ginormous hole in them, but literally half the entire loaf and then some.

I sent the picture to my wife who was at work, and I told her that this must be the way they reduce the carbs. Is it? Surely not. Did the guy who baked this particular batch have a bread fetish and stick something weird in that loaf that I don’t want to know about? Gross.

But I was so damn hungry, I made myself a summer sausage sandwich. Sausage is fine. No carbs.

Just so you know, keto-friendly bread pretty much sucks… and it’s expensive. This particular bread I ate had ZERO flavor. It was sort of dry, too, and it kind of smelled like wood paneling from the 1970s. Oh, and the giant hole. That, too. So, what will I do with it? I suppose since I paid so much for it, I’ll just suck it up and try to get through the loaf with the help of family members and a jar of peanut butter… Or maybe I can turn the pieces into some sort of sexually frustrated finger puppets. Yeah. Sexually frustrated finger puppets with DIE A BEE TUSS and they complain about keto-friendly bread all day in their weird little village where the government frowns upon any sort of joy.

Thanks for reading about my problems with DIE A BEE TUSS.

A Cemetery Scrawl, Like Litter in the Wind

Zombie in sweatpants jogging in the ghetto
arms stuck out lean and mean
cold soles slapping the greasy street
and my little girl thought she had just escaped
from the cylinder, the bilingual,
the catastrophic farm of listless stones
the graveyard
a cold and misty day
cold and teary and smelling of sludge
who was to judge
the importance of the non-potable headache
swimming in my tender sockets
man, I am a rambling’
like some loose-geared jalopy on the old road,
but I found a letter to the dead
full of things left untold

I and my two cases of flesh and blood
we stormed the dam
doodled in the cool, green waters of some lake that is really a pond,
but in an area where water is practically non-existent
even a pinprick of piss is considered a lake,
but we clambered the slick geometrical stone
the water skimming off the surface
flushed through the portals
and we shook on our balances
feeling the fluttery wings in our bellies
as we did ballet on the precipice of the sun in our eyes
clutching hands
skipping stones
hopping logs
and life was a memory of ice cream
dripping down sticky baby faces
and now they were being brave and curious
and interested in the lives of the dead

We climbed a hill
shagged it rotten
like cotton candy
between the legs of an angel
and at the top of the hill
we found a flat, gravely place
I wanted to name the place Ashley
because it looked burnt and turned over
and all that remained was the ashes of destruction
and great piles of tumbled trees
and mountains of unraveled gravel
and off behind us was a fence
a chain-link fence topped with rusting barbed wire
and beyond the fence
acres of dead —
it was a cemetery
and the fence encircling it
was cluttered with the debris
of loved ones’ tokens,
tokens of love
tokens of regret
plastic and paper flowers
rolling in the wind
candied tumbleweeds smashed against the wire
and in this lot called Ashley
I found a letter
in a plastic bag
and the words were intact
and all a hush fell about my brood
as I began to read to them
this letter to the dead

It was a mom speaking to a daughter
and from the letter I gathered
the daughter’s life had come to an end
in a most tragic way
suicide it seemed
perhaps gunfire
or violence extreme
and in the letter
the mother was very weepy
very weepy and full of regrets
regrets, weeping and wondering why
why? why? why? dear daughter
why did you have to die
so, I felt kind of bad
that this piece of weepy sad writing
was like litter in an open field
and my youngest slice of flesh and blood
my youngest elixir of greed and breed
wanted to comb the graveyard
to find the stone
of the girl in the letter
but there was only a first name —
and how could I find one Sharon in a field of thousands of dead
and so, I simply put the letter
still encased in its plastic
over the edge of the fence
believing the wind would carry it back,
back to the place it belongs
and we felt better for that
and we carried on with our journey
watching the jogging zombie sweat through her velour
and the world smelled dirty
and the sky was gray
and Sharon was free
and so were we