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Many evenings, when it’s warm,

Many evenings, when it’s warm, Goblin and I see a large man wearing a fur hat and a knee-length tunic fashioned from a dirty and tattered blanket playing chess on a park bench with a relatively normal-looking man. They are usually surrounded by an equal number of human spectators and shopping bags full of what appears to be old clothing.

We witnessed this yesterday evening, and later in our stroll, there was the added attraction of a shirtless man who resembled an African-American Santa Claus, enthusiastically accompanying a recording of the Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night” with a pair of banana-yellow maracas.

I’m very glad I don’t have to make this sort of thing up.

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I’m moving today. Everything is

I’m moving today.

Everything is chaotic.

Too much. Too heavy.

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No doubt, you have noticed

No doubt, you have noticed there is a movement afoot to “Stop Hillary.” Hillary Clinton, that is . . . she Must Be Stopped.
Why, you ask?

Is she starting pointless wars? Is she destroying the environment? Is she alienating us from the rest of the world’s population? Is she dismantling the Constitution, rapidly transforming the world’s first democracy into a fascist state? Is she creating a disenfranchised class of citizen in her own country? Is she bankrupting the federal government, deteriorating the economy, eliminating the forty-hour work week, or deregulating industries in ways that will concentrate billions of dollars into the hands of her political cronies? Is she in favor of policing people’s bedrooms and arresting anyone whose personal activities she disapproves of? Does she lie to, cheat, and steal from the American people on a daily basis? Is she Evil Incarnate?

No no no, that’s George W. Bush.

Hillary Clinton had the nerve to write a memoir.

I am not a huge fan of Hillary Clinton. She is a lovely person, and she has been through a lot; she and her husband, however, have a history of selling out their ideals to do what is politically expedient. Politicians do this every day, it’s true. It’s the very definition of politics. But my annoying habit of holding people to their word becomes twice as resolute when it comes to people I desperately want to believe.

Nonetheless, in a tiny strike against the very real Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy that is out to destroy Hillary Clinton (as well as every shred of decency this country once stood for), I purchased her book today, and I will read it with an open mind.

And really . . . if anyone Must Be Stopped, it’s the middle-aged woman who walks up and down my street wearing baby-doll dresses, with heavily-rouged cheeks and her hair in pigtails.

Politics is one thing. Fashion is quite another.

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Snow day! Just like when

Snow day!

Just like when I was a kid. We stayed in bed until almost noon, at which time I trudged up the street for a humidifier and a box of soup then went for a frolic in the park with Goblin, who was sporting her nifty snow boots, which everyone we passed on the street called booties, as in, “Oh, look at the pretty doggie in her cute booties,” but Goblin and I could not even be bothered to curl a lip in disdain because we know they are boots.

Booties! The very idea!

Anyway. Then Rob and I watched TiVo all day and then we went to the movies and then Rob went home to strip the paint off of his medicine cabinet.

All right, all right. Wait a minute. I just spent ten minutes writing about booties. What has happened to my life?

Maybe I will let Goblin write over the weekend. Any requests?

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I received this email yesterday

I received this email yesterday from my ex-boyfriend’s current boyfriend. If you follow the link, you will discover a level of brilliance that illustrates (along with our own five-year relationship) what good taste my ex has in boyfriends. In fact, the link is so brilliant that, if Alex did not misplace a modifier in the first sentence of his letter below, I would be feeling awfully insecure right about now.

(R2D2 is that cat Erich and I adopted together, which I left with him when we broke up. Not to be confused with Monster Foo Foo, the cat Michael and I adopted together, which I left with him when we broke up. Or Hiss Miser and Chewbacca, the cats I adopted alone and left with my old roommate when I moved out. Goblin is awfully glad not to be a cat.)

David,
As a former owner of R2D2, I thought you’d be interested in seeing what he’s been up to recently. Over the past 18 months or so, he’s developed a habit of dragging clothes around the apartment when no one is home. Eventually, we started noticing patterns (he had a few favorite places to leave the clothes, he tended to arrange multiple articles of clothing near each other, etc.), so we decided that he’s actually expressing his artistic vision and we’ve started referring to these clothing displays as “installations.” Recently, he created an installation of startling artistic maturity, so I took a picture of it.

Here’s a photo of the artist with his masterpiece, along with a detailed analysis.

Alex

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So Wild Blue is fabulous.

So Wild Blue is fabulous. If you happen to be in the vicinity of swanky Dayton, Ohio, arts capital of Montgomery County, I highly recommend it. It’s running for the next three weeks. The show was reviewed in the local paper by an idiot whose chief complaint was that there was not a list of songs in the program. And . . . surprise . . . know what? There is a list of songs in the program, so apparently it’s perfect after all. I could have told him that.

Last night, before the show, we all got to meet a W.A.S.P. Not a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, which are a dime a dozen around here, but a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot, which are not. These are women who volunteered during World War II to ferry planes around and do a great deal of other work for which they received essentially no recognition. Since there’s a sequence in Wild Blue about the W.A.S.P.s, Rob and his collaborators were full of questions for this octogenarian, and I tried to stay out of their way. Later, she said to me (somewhat waspishly, I thought), “Well, it was nice to meet you, but what did you do for the show? Stand around doing nothing?” The director, who was standing next to me, winced at this and said, “He gave us a lot of emotional support.”

That made me feel good, although it’s hardly something that will turn up in a review.

Well, maybe one day, in my obituary. Or in someone’s Tony Award acceptance speech.

The funniest part was how we all deified this woman before she arrived, and she turned out to be fairly ordinary. I get the idea that one day, sixty years from now, I’ll be much sought-out for stories on my early years with a famous Broadway composer. I’ll especially enjoy regaling my audience with swashbuckling tales of how I stood around doing nothing.

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Last night, at the gala

Last night, at the gala premiere of Wild Blue (more on that later), I received a phone call from Stephanie, the woman who is Goblinsitting my dog. She spent ten minutes telling me how great everything was going, and how lovable Goblin is, and when I thought the conversation was going to end so I could get back to the party, she said in a different sort of voice, “Uh, I do have one question.”

“Yes?”

“Um, whenever we come in from her walks . . . well, is there some reason why she jumps into the bathtub and won’t come out?”

There is a reason.

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When the cat’s away, the

When the cat’s away, the mouse will play, they say. Or perhaps, in this case, when the mouse goes away, it will develop strange and compulsive habits that the cat would find entirely too amusing for words.

In his time in swanky Dayton, Ohio (arts capital of Montgomery County), Rob has developed a fascination for something called “Dawson’s Creek,” which is broadcast twice a day here. It is not so much a television show as a series of self-involved monologues strung together. I had to laugh at the melodrama . . . until I looked over and saw Rob so enraptured with it that I decided to laugh at him instead.

Who says I’m not a supportive boyfriend?

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Like a swallow to Capistrano,

Like a swallow to Capistrano, I have returned once again to swanky Dayton, Ohio, arts capital of Montgomery County. Rob picked me up at the airport yesterday afternoon, and we swooped in on the tech rehearsal of Wild Blue, which was a little rocky, but I got to experience the gorgeous lighting design and musical orchestrations for the first time. At the end of the evening, with the premiere in only three days, the directors and creative team decided to cut the penultimate number, which launched the group into a spate of brainstorming what might replace it. As I type this, Rob and his collaborators are huddled downstairs in Liv’s apartment, whipping everything into shape.

So this won’t turn into a boring, Mary Sunshine type of log entry, I will scrape the bottom of the barrel to find something to complain about. Um . . . on the morning of my flight, I got up early to let the new exterminator in. He showed up over an hour late and was very obviously either drunk or high on his own fumes; he knocked over piles of my possessions, leaked an immense puddle of insect poison on the kitchen floor, and left one roach trap under the sink. The entire experience took forty seconds, and by the time he left, my apartment looked like a disaster area.

Oh, and also, on the flight out, I sat next to five young men in their early twenties who were to be the pirates and Lost Boys in a Dayton production of Peter Pan. Though each was clearly as gay as is humanly possible to be, they were all comparing notes on their girlfriends. Too bad one is not allowed to use a cellular device on the plane . . . I would have called Dial-a-Clue and handed the phone over.

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Here are some good things

Here are some good things that happened this weekend.

It all started on Friday afternoon when I met Natalie and her husband, Billy Joe, for coffee and to discuss the possibility of me redesigning their web site. Natalie is an amazing, amazing, amazing singer who has built quite a following around town and has won many awards; she was in Rob’s last show, Too Much Information. Billy Joe is a performer and creative consultant and also manages Natalie’s career.

We had a great conversation that lasted for hours, and the best part was when Natalie asked me for the address of this web log. Really, the best part would have been the series of events that led to that inquiry. That is, Rob mentioned it to her months ago, so he must have thought it was something worthwhile. Then Natalie remembered it and thought to ask, so she must have thought it was something worthwhile. Then, later that night, she sent me an email to let me know how much she enjoyed reading the current entries and the archives. She gushed on to such a degree that it made me feel as if I am doing something worthwhile, something of which I am not often reminded. Thanks, Rob and Natalie and Billy Joe.

Saturday night, I was early meeting Faustus at the movies, so I leaned on a pillar and read my Macworld magazine (I never leave home without it). As I perused, a homeless man quietly approached, and when he cleared his throat to attract my attention, I faced a startling vision with a rain hat and a long, gray beard. “Hello,” he said, “I’m sorry to disturb you, but I just wanted to let you know that your hair looks nice tonight, and your face looks so young.”
I was instantly hooked, wondering all through his “give me money” monologue what such a brilliant man with such good taste was doing on the streets. I gave him two dollars as a reward for his honesty and considered paying him to follow me around full-time, lavishing me with sincere compliments at every turn and serenading me with ballads outside my window at night.

Sunday night, Faustus and I attempted to attend the midnight showing of Broadway Bares, a charity event at which many attractive Broadway stars do striptease numbers. This is precisely the sort of affair that would launch me to apoplectic heights of jealousy if Rob were to attend it without me, but luckily Rob is a much more reasonable person than I am, as he frequently reminds me. In any event, the line was so long (stretching literally all the way around the block), and they were running so far behind schedule, that we decided not to go in after all. Instead, funsters that we are, we gave our tickets away and went home.

As I walked from the train station, I could not help but listen for the soft shuffle of feet in my wake and, occasionally, a whispered reassurance: “Your hair really held up, even in this humidity.”

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Last night, I had the

Last night, I had the strangest dream. And since I just woke up remembering it, which is rare for me these days, I thought I would type it here.

I lived across a narrow street from a restaurant, which swept about a hundred small searchlights across the sky every night. They were for nothing in particular, not a temporary promotion: this was just the custom of that particular restaurant. I was working on a project, and I cannot remember what, but I think it was some sort of reading. (In real life, it could not possibly be a reading because I read out loud about as well as I did in third grade–and I did not do so particularly well then–but in the dream, I believe I was giving a reading.) Worrying that all of those lights would distract people away from my event, I walked over and asked the manager if they might focus just one of them–just one percent of the lights–on what I was doing. He refused. We had an extended argument about it, but he would not change his policy of shining the searchlights into the sky and at other random things. “Get your own searchlight,” he said, not very nicely. It actually seemed as if he was panicking.

(It occurs to me now, as I type this, that I did not actually want a searchlight; I wanted him to use one of his searchlights as a spotlight for me. I suppose that could be symbolic of outward vs. inward direction of blah blah blah blah. Back to the dream.)

“OK, fine. But I don’t know where to get one,” I said. “Will you tell me?”

“No.”

I stormed out of the restaurant and climbed up on the roof, determined to force one of the lights in the direction of my event. It seems I had a Wile E. Coyoteish scheme, but nothing would work. The lights would not budge.
Dejected, I roamed the neighborhood and found a kit for a searchlight at Radio Shack. It was too heavy to carry home, so I stole a shopping cart. When I got it home, I spread out all of the pieces and realized that there were no assembly instructions–and it did not seem as if all of the parts were there anyway. I tried all night, but I could not get it together. In the morning, I found a flyer from the restaurant on my porch it said something like, “We want to be here for the people in our neighborhood. Come on over if you have a problem.” I went over to speak to the manager again, but there was a line of people, also clutching flyers, who had arrived first. When I finally made it through the queue, I told him I had bought a searchlight of my own but that I did not know how to make it work. Would he help me?

“No.”

“But what about your advertisement about helping people in the neighborhood? You helped everyone else, why not me?”

“That’s just people we want to impress,” said the manager.

“Fuck you,” I said. I turned on my heel and stalked out, determined to get that searchlight working come hell or high water.

“Wait!” called the manager.

“What?”

“Come in and have some soup.”

I was hungry, so I did. It was delicious soup. As I finished, the manager came back. I wondered how he could take the time away from all of the other people who had come in with their flyers, but then I noticed that this was some sort of duplicate of the manager. The manager himself was still over at the head of the line, helping the people he wanted to impress. Or maybe that was the duplicate over there; it was hard to tell.

“What do you want?” I said.

“To see if you liked the soup.”

“It was not bad. Are you going to help me?”

“No,” he said.

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t want to. And because there’s only enough electricity in the world for my searchlights, so yours will never work.”

“Zero sum,” I said.

“Exactly.”

“I’m going to try anyway,” I said. I stood up, determined to do so. “If I get it working, will you come to my reading?”

“No, I don’t have time.”

“Thanks for the soup.” And I left.

Then another dream started about trying to fit on a bus to Annapolis, Maryland, but that is another story.

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I recently signed the lease

I recently signed the lease for a new apartment. Although it is not tremendously bigger than my current apartment, it does have a bedroom and a dishwasher. Right now, I have neither of those things. It is also on the top floor of a converted brownstone, so I will no longer be awakened at six o’clock in the morning by thudding footsteps overhead; it is rear-facing, so I will no longer be awakened at seven o’clock in the morning by people slamming the trashcan lids, or at eight o’clock in the morning by impatient motorists honking at the garbage truck. (I may be able to bypass the morning entirely!) And if a terrorist decides to blow up the synagogue across the street, I might not die.

Goblin and I love this neighborhood and did not want to move very far. If my dog is going to rule Central Park as an occupied territory, a more distant commute would have been inconvenient. (She would never trust it to a viceroy. She is a very paws-on sort of empress.) Luckily, our new apartment is in the building next door to our old apartment.

The thing is, the new apartment was quite controversial. Three months ago, before she could possibly know what was going to be available, I wrote to my building manager and asked her to let me know if a larger apartment was opening up in this or one of their nearby buildings at the end of my lease. I never heard from her again, so I started searching through a broker, who showed me this apartment in the building next door, which is owned by my current management company. So I called the building manager and said, hey, you did not let me know about this one apartment like I asked you, but even though I found it through an agent, could I get it without paying the broker’s fee?

She said no.

She is a bitch.

I mean, I felt bad that I was trying to get out of paying the broker (who I really quite liked) three thousand dollars for the fifteen minutes of her time it took to show me the apartment, but this is New York City: you snooze, you lose. I suppose I was the one snoozing: I had to pay the fee, and now I cannot afford to buy a stick of furniture. I suppose it is better this way for my karma, but we shall see what my karma has to say when it is sitting on the floor, eating ramen noodles out of the bag.

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Monday was the reading of

Monday was the reading of Faustus’s concentration-camp musical. I showed up at the theater twenty-five minutes early, and he asked me to walk with him to Tower Records to get some blank mini-discs so he could record his music, only Tower Records does not carry blank mini-discs, so we thought to get a quick bite to eat instead of buying mini-discs, only Faustus decided he would much rather spend the remaining time shopping for hair product, so we thought to quickly drop by a salon instead of buying mini-discs and eating, only Faustus decided he did not have time to shop for hair product, either, so he asked me to pick some up and meet him back at the theater.

I went to Duane Reade, perpetrator of Rob’s hypothetical Duane Reade Curse. My boyfriend has decided that every Duane Reade experience goes horribly, horribly wrong; I pooh-poohed this theory, purchased the hair product, a soda and a candy bar for Faustus, and an orange juice and a candy bar for me.

Then I got lost on the way back to the theater. The weather was heating up, and I had a quick sip of cool, refreshing orange juice, slipping the bottle back into the bag. I found the proper direction and ran as fast as I could to get back, arriving five minutes late. Panting and sweating, I burst into the small theater and grabbed a seat in the back row. Boy, I thought, do I need another sip of cool, refreshing orange juice right about now! I looked down into the plastic Duane Reade bag and saw . . . cool, refreshing orange juice. Everywhere. Sloshing around, submerging the candy bars and the hair product. Then the bag started leaking. Everywhere. All over my lap and the floor.

Considering everything, Faustus was really quite gracious about it.

And his music was brilliant, too.

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Yesterday morning, I took Goblin

Yesterday morning, I took Goblin out and realized that I had forgotten to bring my apartment key. My little dog and I were homeless! Abandoned on the mean streets of the Upper West Side, with no keys or money or cell phone. I was unshowered and unshaven and wearing my rumpled clothes from the day before. Faustus has a spare key, but since he had a fabulous guest, he could not bring it to me; Goblin and I walked thirty blocks uptown to retrieve it. It is not an unpleasant hike, but I remembered midway that I had a meeting scheduled. I had no clock with me, but I estimated I had about a half hour to get the rest of the way to Faustus’s apartment, get home with the key, take a shower, and then get to the meeting.

That put a spring in my step.

Faustus was wonderful. He gave me the key, lent me his dog’s carrying bag so I could take Goblin in a cab, and to top it all off, he gave me money for the cab. Thanks to him, I actually made it to my meeting in time to see my client choose the most hideous logo ever conceived and ignore my considerable efforts at dissuasion.

Later that evening, I gathered the key, the dog carrying bag, and the money he had lent me and took them out to meet Faustus at Barnes and Noble. It was only then, as I returned it, that I realized that the bag also contained a pornographic magazine, plainly visible to any passers-by through the mesh construction. Faustus had stuck it in there so his fabulous guest would not see it and then saw no way to remove it before we stuffed Goblin in.

As we laughed about my inadvertent (and highly obvious) transport of gay porn, a frighteningly intense man in a “Keep Religion Out of the Classroom” shirt stomped up and demanded, “Are there any animals in that bag?”

“No,” we said, perplexed. The man harrumphed and walked away, leaving us to wonder what his problem was. Did he object to exposing innocent young furry minds to a pornographic magazine?

Come to think of it, Goblin did quiet down awfully quickly in there, and I thought I heard pages turning and the muffled canine gasps of disbelief.

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I originally posted this entry

I originally posted this entry yesterday, but it seems to have been the one to have disappeared when I tried to delete the one I posted on Sunday. Since the comment box wasn’t working when this first showed up anyway, I thought I’d give it another go. Incidentally, scroll down for more posts from today.

The astute among you will have already noticed the new commentary link at the bottom of this post. Do feel free to make use of it, unless you intend to write something that hurts my feelings . . . or unless you are my mother, who may continue to write to me directly at my email address.

And now to fulfill yet another campaign promise:

I’mYou’re

We’ve
He’s
Can’t
Shan’t
Would’ve
Let’s

That oughta tide you over for at least another year.

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This morning, at an insanely

This morning, at an insanely early hour, my brother Mike left a message asking me to remove the news of his impending wedding from this site. He hadn’t told all of my brothers yet, and he wanted to do so in person without having them read it here first.

Clearly, he has nothing to fear, since the only person who ever reads this journal–inside or outside of my family–is my mother, and she already knew.

To humor him, I went to delete it anyway, but for some reason, it won’t disappear. I suppose he’ll just have to spread the news quickly, against the unlikely event that any of my other brothers remember I’m alive and decide to click by.

And if they do happen to read the news here first, I hope they have the decency to act surprised.

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The answer is almost certainly

The answer is almost certainly drugs.

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A few days ago, I

A few days ago, I was in the drug store trying to decide between two varieties of Pantene shampoo, when my brother Mike called my cell phone with the news that he is engaged to be married. I selected the clarifying formula, although I do not know what that word means when applied to shampoo. Everything in my life seemed particularly murky that day, and the transparent plastic bottle, like the raccoon I spotted later that night, promised elucidation.

I could not be happier for Mike. I adore Cate and am thrilled to have this connection with her.

I wonder what kind of shampoo she uses.

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Jesus was there again last

Jesus was there again last night, this time playing His trumpet behind a big rock. Honestly, you can’t swing a dead cat in Central Park at midnight without hitting Jesus playing the trumpet.

Surely He has better things to do.

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Yesterday evening, I attended the

Yesterday evening, I attended the debut party for a new literary magazine. It was on a Hudson River pier and cost ten dollars to get in. I amused myself by watching the attendees pretend they were there on literary agendae rather than for the drink tickets they got at the door.

Later, in a melancholy mood, I took Goblin for a late-night walk to the park. Jesus was there again, playing His lonely trumpet under the bridge. I watched Him for a few minutes from a distance: I could see His white robes shifting in the breeze, but I was not close enough to see whether He was wearing His oven mitts.

On the way home, we heard a clatter by the Diana Ross Playground. As we approached, a shadowy form leapt from the trashcan over the fence and headed for a tree. It was a raccoon, and a big one. Goblin, entranced by a creature that behaved like a squirrel but was bigger by half than she was, barked furiously. (Goblin actually never barks, a fact I am attempting to hammer home to my various prospective landlords.) The raccoon, realizing it was safe behind the fence, paused and gazed placidly at the excited Boston terrier before it disappeared up its tree. I think Jesus sent me that raccoon to let me know that everything is going to be all right.

That, or to give me rabies.

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Well, well, well. What have

Well, well, well. What have we here?

You may not be stunned to learn that today, 5 June 2003, is exactly one year after 5 June 2002. That it is exactly two years after 5 June 2001 is irrelevant–two years ago today, the world was a simpler place: it would be three months before the terrorist attacks, two months before I moved to New York City. But June fifth one year ago, the “president” renounced his own administration’s report on global warming, the “justice” department proposed draconian new restrictions on the civil rights of immigrants . . . and a certain literary masterpiece got its start.

Upside-down Hippopotamus is one year old today.

If you have been reading along (and reading between the lines), you know that it has been a tumultuous twelve months. I do not feel like the same person who, a year ago, sold his couch, killed some baby birds, and moved from Queens to Manhattan to start a new life with Goblin Foo Uvula. So little is the same. I have made some wonderful new friends. Clients have come and gone. My relationship is dramatically different. My dog and I became world-class advice columnists. I went from sixty to seventy-three pages in the book I am writing. I started going to the gym and to psychotherapy and to treatment with a new acupuncturist. Typical yearly changes, in other words, but the difference is that, for the first time, I can look back and track the journey thanks to this web log.

I do not know what the next year will bring. A new apartment, definitely. My completed book, it is to be hoped. Perhaps a new blog design, or a commentary section, or maybe I’ll even use a contraction or two. I hope you will keep reading to find out.

I will keep writing.

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It has been kindly pointed

It has been kindly pointed out by more than one person that there is indeed an “Oh-Flyway” (an Interstate connecting Ohio with Florida), as if I have been dying to embark upon such a driving adventure and have been thus far deterred only for want of a path blazed through the jungle of godforsaken states in between. (Note to residents of godforsaken states: I say this only to annoy certain people and, never having been there, cannot actually speak first-hand of the degree to which your home has been forsaken by any particular deity.)

So, anyway, USAirways (motto: The World’s Crappiest Airline) lost my luggage, and the cab driver took such a nonsensical route in from LaGuardia that I might as well have walked. My much-anticipated joyful reunion with Goblin was cancelled due to lack of any joy on her part: she had stayed for a week with her best doggie friend and resented my arrival to retrieve her.

The good news is that I found an apartment that I like. The bad news is that attempting to obtain it could either bankrupt me or plunge me into a murky and possibly unethical situation that will saturate my new home with bad feng shui before I even move in.

Can you tell I am back in New York?

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Nothing has happened yet today,

Nothing has happened yet today, and the prospects for liveliness look dim for the rest of the afternoon. In this part of Ohio, there is a thirty-seven-point-three percent chance of scattered amusement later this evening.

Tomorrow, I go back home to Manhattan, only to plunge headlong into an apartment search, an intense burst of activity to finish my outstanding work before I travel again in June and July, and life with a hyperactive Boston terrier.

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Today at dinner, I made

Today at dinner, I made a silly joke, much to Rob’s apparent surprise. I asked him what was so astonishing about the fact that I had a sense of humor. After all, I make my other friends laugh all the time. “I don’t know,” he said, “I guess you usually hide your light under a bushel.” I did not know to what he could be referring, and he also claimed ignorance as to what he meant when I pressed him on it.

I suppose it is possible that my Vulcan-like detachment often overshadows my more amusing facets; it is also possible (and infinitely more likely) that a certain other person’s compulsion to be the gregarious center of attention has habitually outdone my own, quieter wit.

The joke I told was that, if there were an Ohio-to-Florida highway, it would be called the “Oh-Flyway.”

I have a million of them.