Sunday, May 3, 2009


The minute I became a homeowner, I started to realize that this former city boy had better learn to do some of the minor repairs and renovations himself, or be willing to sacrifice a few perks and frills such as food and clothing. (Look at this, I put myself in the third party!) The cost of hiring people to do all this stuff is astronomical! But I'm sure you all know that, right?! One of the first things I tackled was installing louvered shutters. I got so good at it I wanted to put an ad in the paper. But even though I was becoming an ace at installing multiple hinges, there just weren't that many people using shutters any more, and even if I did all of them, I'd be finished and out of business in a week.
Just as I was becoming a little too cocky with the hinge thing, I had to repair and install new bedroom doors. Well that was a humbling experience. After ruining two doors, I finally got help from a neighbor and by the third door, with the shimming and the straightening and the leveling, I finally got one door up and managed to do the other two by myself. I couldn't return the first two doors, because I had too many holes in them, so not being wasteful, I found a use for them.
I called the wife to see the new innovative look and said, "Honey, come look at what I made for you." She stared at it and said, "That's really nice, honey…but why did you hang doors on the wall?" I said, "Can't you see the beauty of it, Hon? It'll be like a temporary divider between the living room and the dining room. You can open it to give the illusion of two separate rooms, and close it when we have a lot of people over." Her eyes were saying to me "That's nice, honey, but take them down!". "Honey please don't make me take them down, it took me hours to get them PLUMB!" She asked, "What does that mean, plumb?" "It means, straight, level, even,” I tell her. She asks, "Why can't you just say that?" "Because you can't, according to the handy-man's manual horizontal is LEVEL and vertical is PLUMB!" Now she's thinking "I should've never bought him that HANDY-MAN Repair manual" but her eyes are armor piercing and shouting "TAKE IT DOWN NOW!"
Soon after I paneled the living room, snaked a clogged sink, and thanks to the SATURDAY morning "HOW-TO" shows, found myself replacing my 5&10 cent store tools, with some of the semi-pro, SEARS variety. By the time I graduated to POWER tools, such as a circular saw, drill, power screwdriver, it was time to start work on my new deck.
I'm not kidding; I built a three level deck! Well, I didn't actually do it all by myself, but I learned by working side-by-side with a friend of mine. I couldn't have done it without him, and HIS power tools. But I learned by doing, and my confidence level was going through the roof. I was now ready to tackle those walls my wife has been trying to get me to take down for the last couple of years. Even she was confident in me! She was so thrilled with the results of all the work I was doing around the house, that on my last birthday she bought me a power miter saw. I freaked out! I am probably the only comedy writer in the tri-state area with his own power miter saw!
I paid her back by building her a wooden stoop, complete with multi-level planters, just in time for Mother's Day! The problem was that I became compulsive! Did you know that if you stain wood, any kind of wood, it can look like furniture? So I recycled all of the wood that was left from when I took down the walls, and built my wife an entertainment center for our basement. Then I made frames for my paintings, all with PERFECT MITERS! I was driving my family crazy and running out of things to build. One day we were at a friend’s house and he was showing us how he built laundry chutes for every room, using the spare ductwork that the central air conditioning guy left around. I looked at my wife and her eyes were saying "DON'T YOU DARE!"
I just took some of that recycled wood, stained it and made something for the little woman. I hope she likes it. So I give it to her, she smiles and says, "Honey, I LOVE IT!", but her eyes are saying ...."WHAT IS IT?!?"

Sunday, April 19, 2009


What is it with us men? We develop an interest in the opposite sex while we're knee deep in pre-adolescence. Only we're too young to figure out how to deal with these urges. So when we see a girl we like, how do we let her know? By throwing things at her, calling her names, and pulling her hair. And if we really like her, we let her know by sitting across from her in the school cafeteria, filling our mouths with food and playing "look". At that age, we're so dumb that we think that their "E-E-E-W" is a sign of approval!
Then as we come bursting through our pimples and grow into adolescence, and our hormonal changes start us on our trek toward maturity, we begin to realize that we were doing it all wrong, and replace those previous tactics by carrying her books, walking her home from school, and buying her flowers. Instinctively we know that under all those zits, awaits a thing of beauty. We now begin to realize the meaning of that saying "You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar". Nay, these are not flies! They are more like BUTTERFLIES, bursting forth from their CLEARASIL cocoons, and if we've learned anything we will tell her that she's beautiful. We will compliment her hair. We will start the courting process by taking her to dinner and NOT playing "LOOK"!
If we haven't found our "partner-for-life" by the time we get out of college, we're forced to go through that SINGLES BAR, "Hi do you live around here?...Do you come here often?...What sign are you?"...mating ritual thing!
If we follow the game plan set for us by some unseen weirdo who implants all of these statistics in our heads, through the use of EMBRYONIC-BRAIN-BRANDS, we will marry, have 2.5 children and buy a split level or cape in the Burbs. We will own two cars, a mini-van and a late model four door. (Two door models or sports cars are a no-no until the kids are out of high school!) And you will probably be a two-income family!
Here are some stats they don't tell you about: Once you are a home owner and a father, you are expected to become DADDY-MAN! Being DADDY-MAN is an important job. It means that you are all things to all of those within the confines of your family. It means that you are now in charge of rubbish removal, lawn care, home repair, and winterizing the house, to name a few!
We hear, "Hey Mom, the toilet's overflowing again. Wait, I know what to do, I'll call DADDY-MAN!" There were no "DADDY-MAN" courses in college. Instead, you'll be expected to be taking those early evening DO-IT-YOURSELF classes at HOME DEPOT! Especially after experiencing the trauma of your first PLUMBERS bill!
As the children continue to grow, things are constantly changing. Then one day you experience a sort of strange metamorphosis just as you're becoming comfortable with your paternal role. You wake up one morning to the sound of children screaming at your feet. They move away from you and don't want you to touch them. You look down seeking out the source of what's frightening them. Oh no! There it is....It's my foot! A combination of little claws and miniature cobble stones are replacing my toenails....Oh my God, I'm developing DADDY TOES! "EAGLE TALONS!" And the bottoms of both feet, have the consistency of roofing shingles! Oh Lord, now the further evolution of DADDY-MAN is kicking in and I'm doing that "Opening the top button on my trousers" thing, signaling the end of a good meal. Oh no, I've just called my pants TROUSERS. I've never done that. They were always pants, never TROUSERS! And now I've incorporated that PULL-MY-FINGER Daddy ploy into my daily routine! I'm actually going around conning my kids and their little friends into pulling my finger and when they protest at the result, I further insult their intelligence, by telling them that in some parts of the world, what I just did is considered a compliment! My kid says, "Oh yeah, why don't you tell that to the EPA when we turn you in?!"
There are times when it's not too advantageous to be DADDY-MAN. Like when you take those long rides to the cabin, or Grandma's house. As you're driving and trying to concentrate on the road, World War III is going on behind DADDY-MAN'S throbbing head. "Give me that. Mom said I could play with it!" "I wanna sit behind Daddy now. Mommy said I could!" "Are we there yet?" "Hey Dad, why is that red light flashing behind us?" "Yes I know Miss Officer, Ma'am! I couldn't help weaving in and out of traffic. The kids had their hands over my eyes so that I couldn't see them as they tried to pry a lollypop out of my hair. No I guess it wasn't very nice of them to make faces and obscene hand gestures at you. Well, hello! I thought you looked familiar. Yes I think I did sit across from you in the cafeteria. Yes I did play "look", and I grossed you out all through Junior High? I'm so sorry. Now that I'm an adult, I don't do those things anymore! Well nice to see you again after all these years. Thanks for the ticket and you have a nice day too!"
Our kids are very squeamish, and the wife and I don't believe in spankings, so whenever we wanted to keep our kids in line, we each took a mouthful of food, tapped them on their little shoulders and played "LOOK"! Ooh did they hate that! And "DADDY-MAN" strikes again....

Sunday, March 15, 2009


For years I wondered, how come I never hear from my friends? No one ever calls me! My home and business numbers are the same, and yet only my long-time clients and people I DON'T want to hear from are the only ones who call!
I get most of my business through word-of-mouth, but that's a long slow process. One day while making small talk with the wife, I ask her why she thinks I don't have more business, how come new people never call? She says "Maybe it's because you keep forgetting to hand out your cards at parties, or other social events....Or maybe it's because our phone is unlisted." "Oh come on, you know how much I value our privacy." She shakes her head and says, "Then why do you use our number for business? Why are you always complaining that no one ever calls??" I had no answer, she was right, it was like opening a pizza parlor and having an unpublished number, I was an idiot.
I hang up from the phone company with a feeling of accomplishment and anticipation. I can't remember the last time I saw my name in the phone book!..I wonder when it comes out? Now I wait. A half hour goes by, an hour, an hour and a half. Then it rings, "Hi honey, did you do it?" It's the wife. "Yes, it's exciting, but I've been waiting for a couple of hours and so far, you're the first caller." Then her mommy stuff starts surfacing, "Now come on Big Bob, no one knows you're listed yet, give it a chance." Just then, I get a beep from my call waiting. "Hold on Hon, I've got another call." when I get back, I tell her we were just approved, over the phone for a credit card. Another beep, now they want to give us a free estimate on cleaning our gutters and drains. By the time our conversation was over, we were offered two more pre-approved credit cards and were told that "You, Bob Paiva, are already a winner of a valuable prize and are eligible to win the GRAND PRIZE, all you have to do is come to Florida for the drawing!”
Now the deluge of calls never seems to stop. From morning 'til night! "We want to be your fuel oil company" or "If your chimney is dirty, for only $39.95, we'll come to your house and clean it for you!" "Okay, give me the $39.95 and you can clean the whole house for all I care." They hung up! Another call, now another guy wants to clean my gutters. He hangs up after I tell him to get his mind out of the gutter!
Before long, we go from a fairly normal social life, to one that has people taking a number like they do in the Butcher shops. There's a pathway worn into our carpeting from all the insurance people, carpet cleaners, kitchen resurfacing sales force and the guy from the "We want to be YOUR Oil company" leaves in a huff when I question him about charging ME for fuel, as it's supposed to be MY Fuel company. I wouldn't charge me. Boy did he have foul mouth after I FIRED HIM!
Now I've always been a "PEOPLE" person, but that's about to change. I'll be installing one of those "SKEET SPRINGS" so whenever anyone rings our bell and we don't want to talk to them, one of us will yell "PULL!" Also we'll be contacting the government and find out if we're eligible for the "JEHOVAH'S WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM!"

Sunday, February 22, 2009


It was a mid-August Sunday morning, many years ago, when the Paiva family (me, the wife, daughter and mother-in-law) were sitting around the breakfast table reflecting on all of the things we'd managed to accomplish in the short nine months since moving into our new home. We'd installed a fireplace, paneled, painted the outside, landscaped, etc. There we were, sipping our coffee, still finding it hard to believe that we were "LAND BARONS!"
The wife and I are dreaming out loud as to how we could add rooms upstairs, enclose a portion of our patio to keep out the little beasties (Ah, yes! No more bugs in our burgers, ant-free corn on the cob, no floating gnats in our diet drinks!). We were intoxicated with the glee and merriment of new homeowners! There's no stopping us now; we'll build over the garage! I'm going mad, I tell you, mad!! But, however, after every statement, the elder statesman, the mother-in-law, breaks in with, "But won't that increase our taxes?!?", temporarily bursting our bubbles. But not for long! We can increase our hallway by extending our stoop, and install those long stained glass windows that we admired. Again she chimes in with, "But doesn't that cost a lot of money?" Now I inform the mother-in-law that there are two things of mine that you don't mess with...."My food"...and "My dreams".... and if she continues to do so, I will install a skeet-shoot-spring under her chair and yell "PULL!" So she throws out my food and raps me in my dreams with a wooden spoon.
At this point our daughter was bored stiff and asked if she could be excused and go play in the yard. "Sure honey, maybe mommy and daddy will come out and join you", figuring that the wife and I can do our dreaming outside, plus it'll give us the opportunity to survey the back forty of the "PAIVA-ROSA!" (Forty feet, not acres.) It will also give me a chance to stick the mother-in-law with the breakfast dishes and nurse the bump she gave me on my head!
I tell the wife how, if we use bi-fold doors and piano hinges, we could enclose the patio area, and fold it up in the winter when it's not in use. "As a matter of fact, why can't we use piano hinges on barn dormers upstairs, and fold them down when their not in use!" I ranted. Now my wife is looking at me as if I'm flirting with euphoric insanity. And from the kitchen window, the mother-in-law is bellowing, "The man is bonkers.... he’s trying to turn our beautiful house into a camper!" To tell you the truth, she was right. Even Rube Goldberg would agree with her on that one. Now more noise is emanating from the back window. "Why don't you come back to reality?" I answer the noise with, "Because reality costs too much! And besides, I'm a thinker...a creative person!" She fires back, "If you're so creative, why don't you figure out a way to fix our cracked stoop?" Here I am chasing windmills, and she's sending me to the store for a can of peas! My wife, the peacemaker, interrupts with, "My mom has a point. You're making all these plans, let's see what you can do with the stoop." I said, "What, me work with cement?...What do I know from cement?" But, they want the stoop fixed?..I'll get the stoop fixed. I spent the next day on the phone talking to contractors, trying to get estimates over the phone. The same question kept popping up. "How many square feet are we talkin' about?" they'd inquire. "How the heck do I know?" I'd respond. The only thing I knew about square feet was that Herman Munster had them on the end of his legs!
"Well Pal, I can't tell ya how much it'll cost, if I don't know how large your stoop is." I responded with, "Can't you give me a ballpark figure?" "It depends Pal. Are we talkin' Ebbets Field or Yankee Stadium here? I tell ya Johnny, there's no way'a tellin' ya over the phone! I gotta come see for myself!"
Soon the parade of contractors began. Dented, beat-up, vintage Buicks, Oldsmobiles and Chevy's...all with ladders strapped to their roofs, were pulling up to my door nightly. Men in work clothes, carrying clipboards, were throwing all kinds of numbers at us. "Well Mack and Mrs. Mack, it's gonna run ya anywhere from fifteen hundred to three thou to replace the stoop" they'd inform us. "And how much to just repair it?" we'd ask. "Fifteen hundred to three thou!" they'd fire back. Then the guy would look at me and say, "Look Mack, this aint 'Let's Make A Deal', and I aint 'Monte Hall'! Take it or leave it! I got plenty of work. I wouldn't be able to start work on your stoop until the beginin' of next summer anyway!"
I said, "This doesn't look like a 'LOVE CONNECTION', so why don't you do your talkin' walkin'?" (To myself) What I really said was, "Ya know 'MACK', being that you have so much work, I wouldn't want to add to your burden 'PAL' so THANKS but NO THANKS!"
I'm not the type that gives up easily and I fancy myself as somewhat of a bargain hunter, so I call up the guy who installed our fireplace and ask if he knew somebody! Not only did he know somebody, he said HE could do it, but first he asked "How many square feet?" (Again with the square feet) To which I replied, "Please don't ask me that question, I'm getting a headache!"
Twenty minutes later, a brand new car pulls up, he gets out wearing designer clothes and carrying a leather bound Gucci clipboard. He sizes up the situation, then informs me that he'd remove a portion of the existing stoop, apply a new surface and when he was done, it'll be a new stoop. He can begin work on it tomorrow and complete it in just two days and all for the price of THREE HUNDRED BUCKS!"
I gave him a deposit, we said our good nights and he left. I couldn't wait to get inside and gloat to the girls. A new stoop for three hundred smac-a-roos!
The two days he promised, turned into six weeks of driving up to an incomplete structure that was encased in what looked like the worlds largest sandwich bag (like who knew cement could go stale?), dry concrete footprints on our oriental carpet, plus several un-returned calls to the contractor.
On the first day of the seventh week we came home to discover that the clear plastic had been removed, and what was once a straight, but cracked stoop, had been transformed into the "Leaning-stoop-of Paiva!" My wife looked on in horror, but my daughter loved it. She thought we had built her her own custom made three-tiered slide! My mother-in-law looked at me and laughed then suggested we call the Olympic committee and rent it to them as a practice slope for down hill racers. With egg on my face, I called to complain only to find out that his phone had been disconnected and that he was out of business.

The moral of this story is, look for the contractors with the dented cars... they build straighter stoops! I gotta go now, it's starting to rain and I have to glue those little rubber flowers you put in the bathtub, on my steps. I wouldn't want anyone to slip and hurt themselves!

Monday, February 16, 2009


My brand new neighbor is about to become a brand new parent, and asked ME what to expect. So I told him.
Being a parent is quite cool. At first you're in awe of the miracle of birth. Then you take the little tyke home and the fun begins. Mom's going to be understandably incapacitated for a while, so being a liberated male, you take care of most of the newborn’s needs (I drew the line at breast feeding).
Being new to this, ten minutes after the new addition is home, while you're wife is resting, you call the hospital to tell them that you have a defective baby! You'd like a replacement! This one leaks!....and it keeps throwing up on you!
Before long you start becoming a champ at playing with and bathing the new kid on the block, not to mention changing it's diapers. This last part has accomplished something that your mother couldn't. You are cleaning your nails and washing your hands on a regular basis! Boy, it just doesn't get any more paternal than this, does it? Oh great, it just spit up on my new shirt!
You manage to get through the "Honey it's crawling, it's pulling things off the table, I think it's trying to stand” stage. This is when that ignored advice, about child-proofing your house, that other people have been warning you about, kicks in! You begin at warp speed to barricade rooms, raise things to above shoulder height, and remove all breakable items from the coffee table. But not before you find your little dependant sitting on the floor, covered in chocolate, with your wife's favorite crystal candy dish broken under the table (not to mention the yodel juice all over my new NIKES!).
The next stage is "THE TERRIBLE TWO'S" through Pre-K! This is the time that any Dad worth his weight will do anything to entertain his kid and the friends, who are sitting on the grass while you become part of the birthday entertainment. You're jumping up and down, making weird noises, talking like GOOFY and DONALD DUCK, and acting like a real jerk. Meanwhile, the other kids are telling yours that they think dad should cut down on his coffee intake. "He just keeps jumping up and down, making weird noises, thinks he's a Disney character and keeps acting like a real jerk. He's like, scaring us, okay?"

Pretty soon you're kid gets involved in sports, so you're throwing the ball around with your kid, goal tending (which means you're being barraged with hockey pucks and soccer balls), or shooting baskets and going a little one-on-one with that new basketball hoop. (Forget that you had to call the fire department to get you off the garage roof when you were installing it.) You spend your afternoons playing with your kid and evenings soaking in a tub of Mineral Ice and Ben Gay! You went from being an athletic jock in your youth to being a test dummy for the local TRAUMA Center!
Still wanting to be a hero to your kid, you figure that you may be too sore to play, but you're not too sore to coach. So you take over coaching the baseball team. It doesn't take long before you have absolutely no friends left in the community. Not only are your kid’s teammates not talking to you, but neither are their parents!
You survive class trips to zoos, museums, circuses, hikes that come complete with mosquito bites and poison sumac, amusement park rollercoaster rides (where it's pay-back time and now you spit-up on your kid), and the ever popular "HOLIDAY ON ICE!" show. Here your kid looks up at you with those baby blues and says, "Dad, will you teach me how to ice skate?" "Oh sure, I'll teach you. I haven't even come close to my threshold of pain. In fact, why not have our own show? We can call it "HOLIDAY ON ICE-PACKS!”

Sunday, February 1, 2009


My life is a little too structured, but I do have these occasional explosions of spontaneity. So last September, when I came into the house and announced that we were going on a FAMILY TRIP upstate to see the leaves change into their autumn hues and maybe stop off to do some pumpkin and apple picking, the wife first sniffs my coffee cup to see if I've been into the hard cider. After realizing that I was of sound mind when I made this impulsive proclamation, she says, "The heck with the house work!" and soon we're heading north in the Cherokee!

"Where are we going, Dad?" asks the daughter. "Don't really know" answers the father. "We'll just keep heading north, take the back roads and see where they take us." My wife joins in the conversation with, "Isn't that kind of risky, honey?" "Maybe", I answer, "But so is anything worth anything in life." "Spare us the philosophy, Dad, and just keep driving!"
Now I'm parked on the side of the road. "Yes, officer, it is a lovely day." "No, I wasn't going to a fire." "No, I wasn't aware that the speed limit within the city is 15 miles per hour... in fact I wasn't aware that this was a city!" "No, I guess going five miles over the limit isn't very funny and no, I don't think that I'm Mario Andretti!"

"Daddy, why did he give you five traffic tickets?" "Answer her, Mario Andretti", the little woman chides. "It was bad enough when Dear Old Dad, asked him how Opie and Aunt Bea was, but when he called the officer "Barney Fife" he was lucky to get off with just FIVE citations!"

As we drive around, my wife suggests that maybe we should've waited a week or so, as the leaves are still green and we could've purchased a map of the area so we wouldn't be lost now. As far as I was concerned, we were on an adventure, and we weren't lost! My daughter said "Dad, there's no more road left, we're LOST!" I told my daughter that when you own a JEEP you make your own roads. She bought that until I ran over an animal trap of some kind while driving through the woods.

After changing the flat, I finally made my way back to a road and eventually found a little town with a diner. We all make up for lost time in the rest rooms, go back to our booth and order our food. We were so hungry we could've beaten out the Tasmanian Devil in a pie eating contest!

Well fed, we're beginning to get back to being ourselves, turning negatives into positives by laughing at the day's experiences. However, we are having to shout at each other in order to be heard. We soon discover the reason. The roar of over a dozen Harley's pulling into the diner's parking lot.

Soon the door bursts open and the diner's filled with Bikers! This six foot eight bearded building wearing a studded denim vest, over a way too small tank top is headed our way. Every one of his steps vibrates the glassware on our table. This is a man who samples every one of the major food groups on an hourly basis. In my mind the words "fee-fi-fo-fum" are accompanying each of his steps. If he comes over to our table, I won't let him intimidate me. I'll be a man and stand nose to nose trading insults like we used to do in New York City! I'll look him in the eyes and say things like, "If you eat a salad once in awhile, Tiny, maybe your belly would stay inside your jeans where it belongs!" Or, "Try putting some vowels to those grunts, and who knows, maybe you could actually form words!"

He stops at our table. I stand, the girls watching....I extend my hand and say, "Hi, my name is Bob, I love the vest!" He shakes my hand and smiles, then says "My name's Henry, this is my place and I see by that baby-size spare on your Jeep that one of my animal traps must've eaten your tire! I can't apologize enough. I have a couple of my guys setting you up with a full size tire from my gas station next door. Sorry about the inconvenience. The meals on me and as soon as they have the new tire on your Jeep, they'll escort you to the thruway so you can get home."

On the way home my daughter says, "It wasn't a total loss, Dad. The trees may not have turned colors yet, but your face sure did...several times as a matter of fact!"

Monday, January 26, 2009


One of my favorite forms of entertainment is shopping. I just found out that my wife DOESN’T like to shop! She’s got a closet full of shoes that says otherwise. It’s like I’m married to a centipede! THE WOMAN HAS SHOES!!!
So if you have all of these shoes and you don’t like shopping, where are they coming from, elves?? Geppetto?? She says, “Duh! I shop on line. I don’t like malls, they’re much too crowded!” I said, “You could’ve fooled me.” It turns out that after all these years, I’m the one who likes to shop at malls! She’s just tagging along!! I said, “Crowds never bother me!” She said, “It’s no wonder! Look at you... you’re built like a room divider! You just plow through them, or they see you coming and they move out of the way!”
Let me tell you something… the minute we enter a mall, she makes a bee-line to the shoe stores! Knowing that I don’t like to go in them, she hands me her bag (but not before taking out her credit cards!) and goes in. Now the first time she left me HOLDING THE BAG, I felt sort’a self-conscious, until I noticed other guys standing around holding handbags, too. At first I didn’t make eye contact, but what the heck… we all seemed to have something in common and before you know it we’re not only talking, but we begin comparing our wives handbags. “Is that leather??” “No, it’s pleather!” “Really! It sure looks like leather”. Pretty soon we’ll be trading recipes! Look at this..male bonding over ladies accessories! What’s next, showing each other our operation scars??

And another thing…so how come if she doesn’t like malls, she has her own rating system?? She rates each mall by the number of shoe stores they have. Okay, can somebody explain this to me?? To phrase it like Seinfeld….”WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH ALL THESE SHOES?? You only have two feet!! I have two pairs of sneakers, two pairs of dress shoes, and two pairs of boots and have to put them under the bed because she’s confiscated my part of the closet and turned it into a SHOE CONDO!! Do the math honey, all those shoes and only two feet! I don’t think that I’ve married an Alien.
Ladies, listen to BIG Bad Bob..PULEEZE! If you’re trying to impress your men……The last thing in the world we’re looking at IS YOUR FEET!!!