I don’t have a lot of friends. I know lots of people, but that’s not the same. The people I do call friends sometimes disappoint me. Bob won’t take me to the airport at night (something about cataracts. Oh, please.) Pat won’t feed our cat when we go away for the weekend (yes, Angel has bitten her, but no stitches were required…either time) and Cathy won’t water our plants. (Sure, philodendron makes her windpipe contract, but what are friends for?)

The need for dependable friends was made clear when I was down in the basement recently and found an old box filled with expired coupons, unused gift cards and a few compositions from the class I taught at IUPUI in l986 and never got around to grading. At the very bottom of the pile, I found this:



Feed the dolphins at the Indianapolis Zoo

4 people

(Expiration: December 30, 2016)

I had no recollection of winning this, but I’m thinking it was a silent auction bid I made at an event a very long time ago. At these fundraisers, I usually end up with a year’s supply of oil changes or a quilt that I prayed someone would outbid me on. This was from Zoobilation, an annual gala where all the local eateries showcase their fares on the grounds of the park while you graze. I used to be a celebrity judge, but they stopped asking me about 12 years ago because I pigged out on so many cocktail shrimp at the first St. Elmo booth that I had no appetite (or working taste buds) for the next 30 restaurants whose food I was so supposed to sample.

Reality began to set in.  If I wanted to use this offer, I really needed to invite three friends soon.

“Hi, Rob, it’s Dick Wolfsie.  Say, I’m trying to get a group of people together to feed some dolphins…”

“Gee, Dick, only you, in landlocked Indiana, could find homeless, hungry dolphins.

“These are not homeless, hungry dolphins.  These are well-fed, happy dolphins.”

“Then you need to find a more deserving charity.  Aren’t we saving whales anymore?  Or bald eagles?”

“You don’t understand.  I bought this at Zoobilation. I think I paid three hundred dollars.”

“Yeah, I was there, too. I got the limo ride and drinks for 10 people for forty bucks.  I don’t seem to be having any problems finding friends to come along.”

I tried Mikki. She loves animals. “Mikki, how would you like to feed some dolphins with me?”

“Dick, I get the feeling that this request requires holding dead fish.”

“Yes, I think it does.”


Garry, it’s Dick. Would you like to spend a day feeding dolphins?”

“Dick, you’re retired. You’re supposed to be feeding ducks.”

The next time I go to one of these fundraisers, I’ll only bid on stuff my so-called friends would like, maybe even something extravagant like a cabin in Vail for three couples over a weekend. But I won’t be able to go. Who would water the plants and feed the cat?

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“Hey, there’s that grumpy old man,” said a lady at the grocery store the other day. “You talkin’ to me?” I snapped back (Mafia-style), which I think ruined any kind of denial I was planning to offer.

“I read your column every week,” she said. “You are always grouchy about something. Just like my husband. What good does it do you to complain?”

Am I really that cantankerous? I went back over all my weekly columns since 2001 to see if I could find any evidence of her claim.  I only found about 324 examples. However, that’s over 15 years, so I think that puts me in the “easy-going kind of guy” category.

Here are some of the things I’ve complained about over the years, along with a few new ones. Sadly, despite my whining, nothing is going to change.

CEREAL BOXES: I can go into the dollar store and buy 50 zip-lock bags for a buck, but the skinflints at Post and General Mills can’t find a lousy two cents to put their Cheerios and Wheaties into a zippable plastic pouch inside their cardboard boxes. I know that there are many out there who think the current packaging is just fine.  And that’s not even counting 100 billon tiny black ants.

PHONE EXTENSIONS:  I call people in their office at a small company and their phone extension is like 78456. Seriously. How about 6? Six would be a good extension. And by the way, I live on a street with four houses and my number is 8210. And while I’m in a grumpy mood about numbers, I don’t like having to put in the area code to call my neighborhood across the street. None of the numbers stored in my cell phone include the area code, so I have to copy the number down or remember it so I can dial it again, and this is really hard when I’m driving and drinking coffee. Now my blood pressure is going up, and it’s not the coffee.

ICED TEA: I want every waiter in Indiana to know that the next time I order an iced tea, I do not want it served with a thin slice of lemon desperately clinging to the rim of the glass. YOU CANNOT SQUEEZE A SLICE OF LEMON; YOU NEED A WEDGE OF LEMON. NOT A SLICE. A WEDGE!

Now, here are a few things I don’t want people to say to me when I am out and about.

“Would you like a bag for that?” Clerks ask me that all the time. That’s fine when you have several small items. But the other day I bought a small package of M&M’S. “Would you like a bag for that?”  “NO, THEY ARE ALREADY IN A LITTLE BAG.” (I’m yelling again, aren’t I?)

“Have you dined with us before?” Why do waiters ask that question? How could that make a difference? No, we’ve never been here before. I see food items listed on this big piece of paper with prices next to each one. Now what do we do?

“Will that be all? Oh, thank you for asking. Oh, yeah, I forgot that snow blower I came in for.

“Have any big plans this weekend?” Cashiers always ask me this on Thursdays and Fridays. I also don’t want them to ask if I had a nice weekend on a Monday or a Tuesday. This is why I only shop on Wednesdays.

So, do you still think I’m grumpy?  Hey, who asked you, anyway?

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