Addicted to Foo-Foos: A Beach Slapped Humor Collection (2009) by Barton Grover Howe by Barton Grover Howe - Read Online

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Addicted to Foo-Foos - Barton Grover Howe

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First of all: my thanks for buying this compilation. It means that you liked my first compilation enough to actually plunk down more money to keep reading. Speaking as a writer, you have no idea how self-vindicating it is to find that people are willing to actually give you money to be a smart-ass.

I have long suspected people would pay me money for this and since it beats actually working for a living, it’s nice to see I was right.

My first humor column got me no money whatsoever, as I wrote it while working on staff at a local newspaper. Years later, of course, I put it in my first compilation where thousands of people read it – and I still made no money, having basically given the book away. On the surface, I must admit this seems quite silly.

But it’s what they call a loss leader: giving people something on the cheap in the hopes that they will like it and actually go buy more. That’s hard logic to argue with, especially when you consider that’s the main reason people go to Costco on Saturdays: Get free samples, eat until you don’t need to pay for lunch, and then spend $37.99 on a 100-count bag of chimichangas.


Continuing the analogy, however, what you now hold in your hands is that written bag of chimichangas. Something you’ve been willing to pay for having gotten a cheap sample to whet your appetite. And – also like the chimichanga – I promise no surprises; what you sampled before is what you get now.

Nothing’s worse than getting home from Costco and discovering that whatever it was you sampled in the store, what you have now in your home, is nothing like that. Were they lying to you before about what you were putting in your mouth? Was there some secret preparation technique they neglected to tell you? Was it the residual bacon in your teeth from the chocolate squares in aisle 37 that made it taste so good? It was something, and now the only taste in your mouth is bitterness.

No bitterness here; these columns are just like my other ones. Nothing rewarding about them, no higher purpose involved, no attempt to make you a better person. (I believe we may still be talking about chimichangas.) Is there the occasional bit of healthy residue? Possibly. But not so much that you feel like you swallowed something weird.


Barton Grover Howe

Lincoln City, Oregon

If I could talk to the animals – I’d be scared

Jan. 7, 2009

Being a teacher, I have recently returned to work from two weeks of vacation, ready, recharged and excited to work with today’s young people. I believe we’ll start with math skills, and mainly that it’s only 74 days until spring break.

This doesn’t mean I don’t love my job, I do. But the truth is, when I spend my days at home, I get to learn all kinds of things, first being that my wife hates me for having two weeks off when she has to work. I have encouraged her to apply for a job at Chrysler; they seem to have lots of time off of late.

I’ve also learned just what it is my cats do when I am not at home, which is largely nothing. No surprise there. But actual confirmation that I’m spending $108 a month to pump cat food into multiple stomachs that don’t do anything but throw it back up on my rug is a little annoying.

Not that they don’t ever move. Every time I come within six inches of them, they perceive it as a threat to their very existence and run as fast they can down the stairs so they can resume sleeping on another pillow nowhere near me. If inbred behaviors are any indication, when it comes to cats’ evolutionary place on the buffet of life, cats must have been snacks.

In truth, this is why I really don’t mind being back in school after two weeks off. At least there, when someone tries to flee my room I can make them come back through a combination of threats, phone calls home and tiny darts. I can’t do this with my cats; they don’t listen to a word I say. (And they move too fast for the dart gun.)

Indeed, if my two weeks with felis cati has taught me anything, it is to appreciate the things that separate Homo sapiens from the lower species. The most important being that only Homo sapiens giggle at their own name well into seventh grade (and in places like Arkansas, continue to be offended by it.)

There are other things, of course, that clearly separate us from animals, although they do call into question just how much lower they really are. Among lions, for instance, when a leader’s first period of leadership is done, he is relegated to the edge of the pride and eventually left to die. Most sociologists agree this country would have been far better off if Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had done the same thing.

Even those things that we used to consider uniquely human are now debatable. For many years it was accepted that only humans used tools, until we discovered that sea otters use stones to crack open shells. At the Oregon Coast Aquarium, their sea otters have even been known to steal screwdrivers and hide them. (This is true.) Many Alaskan otters, still upset about their virtual extermination and the Exxon Valdez, are learning to use guns. (This should be true.)

Also, we used to think humans were the only ones with organized language, (although the rise of texting is making some scientists reconsider). But now we know that whales and dolphins do so as well. In the years to come, scientists hope to decode this language, mainly so we can figure out just how whales feel about thousands of tourists a year checking them out while they’re both naked and eating. (The whales, not the people, thank God.)

I also suspect we’ll discover that thanks to Flipper, humans have forever tipped the balance of power in a millennia-long blood feud between dolphins and tuna. Worse, that the tuna have been talking to the otters. See, Charlie? All you have to do is put your fin right here and pull back on the trigger.

Living this close to the ocean, I must admit this concerns me, especially if the otters start talking to my cats. On the other hand, I’ll bet my cats can say Homo erectus without giggling.

I’ll let you know in 74 days.

Losing weight, one annoying friend at a time

Jan. 14, 2009

Living in a small town, it’s nice to know there are all kinds of people willing to lend a hand, which, unless you’re having a prostate exam, is always a good thing.

Better, many of them actually thank you for giving them the opportunity to help. A remarkable fact when you consider some people’s idea of getting help is asking someone they barely know to liberate an unknown creature from a live animal trap. Stunning even, when they’re still thanking you after that animal turns out to be a wet skunk that sprays them in the mouth.

From this I have learned two things: 1. I owe someone a lunch and a bottle of Listerine. (Or tequila, their choice.) 2. Helping people can be fairly awkward.

I mention this last one not so much because getting skunk smell out of your insides is weird. (Although I have to imagine after rebuffing friends’ offer of a prostate exam, it’s more than a little rude to ask for help medicating the other end.) But because if my students at school help me one more time, I might have to bury them out back — and that would be awkward to explain to their parents when I see them at Ace Hardware. (Yes, this is my third shovel this month. Why do you ask?)

Every day I have a group of about a dozen students who gather in my journalism lab for lunch. And with the arrival of the Chinook Winds Celebrity Weight Loss Challenge, they have once again taken on the role of policing me from my worst gastronomic tendencies.

First among them is Jace, who is so militant about keeping fatty things out of my mouth that the other students have taken to calling my diet Jace Watchers. If I was as committed to my health as Jace, I would be a supermodel (albeit a hairy one). I would also have to commit suicide because at least three times a week I decide I have to kill Jace.

Last year during the challenge a parent brought the entire cast of, Little Shop of Horrors, homemade cinnamon rolls. Not only would Jace not let me have one, when he left to work on something else, he stationed the biggest football player in the school between me and the food. I pondered throttling them, but since Jace’s mom is my friend, I thought that would be rude. (And I couldn’t reach the football player’s neck.)

Next is Casey, who doesn’t so much monitor my diet as he does my entire existence. Before he can even scold me about my need to be in a celebrity weight loss challenge, he reminds me that I am probably not even a Lincoln City celebrity. And even if I am, it’s still a title akin to being named Best Golfer in Siberia. A fairly humble and modest person, Casey’s goal is to make sure my ego can fit through the door, along with my butt.

Next is Sam the enormous football player, who I think got even taller in the last year, despite the fact that he should have been out of puberty three grades ago. ‘Nuff said.

Not that everyone is mean to me; Brian has often been the anti-Jace, willing to fetch me a Burger King breakfast sandwich when I’m having a particularly bad day. (Any day with Jace, Casey and Sam.)

Unfortunately, even that sweet release of fat is now denied me, as the transmission in Brian’s car is currently lying on the floor of his garage. I have contemplated giving him the keys to my BMW so he can go on food runs for me. But I’m pretty sure that would be fatal for both my career and my life, as my wife’s office lies between the school and Burger King.

And so I go into this third edition of the Chinook Winds Celebrity Weight Loss Challenge with a group of students fully armed against my arms holding anything that actually tastes yummy. Admittedly, however, it feels good to know there are so many people who care about me. even if it’s only because if they told any of their other teachers to Get that away from your pie-hole, fatty, they would get expelled.

The truth about lying

Jan. 21, 2009

Friday marks 1,096 days — that’s three years for those of you still counting on your fingers — of marital bliss with my wife. A time of mutual discovery, we’ve spent our time learning how to live with one another and reducing those areas of incomprehensible incompatibility to a tiny few.

Like marital mystery No. 497: Why does my wife insist on asking me questions she not only knows the answer to, but will also hate the answer?

Witness: As a household with many stupid cats who have no idea how good they have it living indoors with free food and no domestic predators save for the vacuum, my wife constantly worries they will escape when I leave the door open. This is a valid concern; our French doors have warped in the rain and don’t exactly close right. (Apparently, it does not rain in France; perhaps that explains all the burning cars.)

So, being a concerned husband, I actually used power tools and drilled many holes in our door to install a device designed to keep the door pressed shut when I neglect to overcome its Frenchness. (Heck, I was committed enough to drill three times as many holes as I actually needed.) I did this because I love my wife, I tolerate our