White chili

White chili

My wife has been trying new recipes lately. I don’t like cooking, although my wife wishes I would. She also wishes I would cook with her. However, I will always try everything she dishes up.

Anyway, her latest recipe was White Chili. She was so proud that she cooked it up without any problems. With great fanfare, she announced that dinner was served. Then she waited for my verdict after my first spoonful.

It tasted good. Not great, but good. With a name like White Chili, I expected it to be white and to taste like chili. Failure on both counts. Not one ingredient was white. If you look at the bowl in the picture, you will observe that in no way does it resemble chili. My expectations for chili are much higher.

My wife was disappointed not only with the appearance of the resulting dish, but also the taste of it. And, as my wife usually does when she cooks, she prepared enough for a family of six–even though my wife and I live alone.

Well, I ended up heating and reheating this dish for about week until it was completely gone. I must admit that I dreaded the thought of eating non-chili white chili. The next day, it still tasted okay. And the day after, too. By the third day, I decided not to even think of it as chili at all. Suddenly, this bean soup tasted much better!

And so, it went as I ate bean soup every day until I had finished it alone. My refused to eat anymore after the first serving. The taste improved with age!

I told my wife that it tasted great if I didn’t think of it as chili, which it never really was. The last bowl certainly tasted the best. However, my wife will never prepare White Chili again.



Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

“A secret is something you tell one person at a time.'”
“Three can keep a secret if two are dead.”

I know how to keep a secret! A while back, my brother told me he was getting divorced after thirty-five years of marriage. He prefaced his announcement by asking me not to tell anyone. I promised not to tell anyone.

A few months later, my brother posted his plans to get divorced on Facebook. I saw the post and thought he phrased it in such a way that blamed neither party for the divorce. My wife was surprised by his announcement. She asked me, “Did you see that your brother is getting divorced?” “Yes, I knew about his divorce. He told me a few months ago that he was getting divorced.” My wife was surprised I knew and then asked me, “Why didn’t you tell me?” “Because I promised him not to tell anyone. So, I didn’t tell anyone.” She insisted that I could have told her because she was my wife, and she should have been privy to such information. Well, I did not–and will not in the future–tell her or anyone a secret someone shared with me in strict confidentiality.

I know how to keep a secret!


Twins are double the fun!

My twins are visiting me this weekend and I woke up before them. They’re still sleeping, but I like the feeling of knowing they’re here with me at least for the weekend.

Sometimes, I look in the mirror and think, “You’re somebody’s father!” Some days this thought totally surprises me. I have had a few surprises in my life–some pleasant and some quite horrific. I would like to tell you about one that left me quite speechless and changed my life completely. All for the better, of course.

When I was still married, my wife didn’t feel well. I suggested that she go to the doctor, which she reluctantly did. The doctor wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong with her, so he did some blood tests. I didn’t like this doctor because he wouldn’t tell her the results of her blood tests unless she went to see him in his office. He insisted that she had to go to his office for the results. I had never heard of doctor requiring you to schedule a visit to get test results. They usually tell you the results over the phone. So, she begrudgingly went. He told her that something was wrong with her liver. Then he made another appointment so she could have more blood tests done.

That meant two more visits to his office–and two more billings. Well, after the second round of tests, the doctor was pretty sure it was her liver that was causing her problems. I wasn’t convinced. Then, my health insurance denies payment for the follow-up visits to get the results of the blood tests. I, too, refuse to pay. The doctor himself calls me up demanding payment. I had never had a doctor call me in person about billing discrepancies. Somehow he didn’t seem very professional and I also didn’t believe his medical diagnosis of my wife. He called several times demanding payment. Finally, I told him that no doctor charges a patient for an office visit just to learn the results of their blood tests! He insisted that I pay him. So I told him, “If my insurance refuses to pay for those visits, they must not be legitimate charges. So I’m not paying you either!” And that was the last I heard from him.

However, my wife was still not feeling well. She saw another doctor and underwent another round of blood tests. This doctor was fairly sure something was wrong with her liver. He would have to do more tests. Déjà vu! Immediately, I make an appointment with another doctor. Another round of blood tests and–Voilà! My wife is pregnant! Okay, I was floored because this was the last thing I was expecting. But, it was much, much better diagnosis than liver or kidney problems.

Let’s see. We had a seven-year-old son. She stopped taking the pill about three years before. She was convinced that she had gone through menopause. I wasn’t, but I wanted a daughter, so I didn’t complain at all. But after two years, I adjusted my expectations and decided I was happy with only one son. We were all happy together. I was very happy with my small, intimate family. But, no! Now my wife was pregnant again! Would I get the daughter that I always wanted? I truly hoped so!

We made an appointment to get an ultrasound at Mercy Hospital. The ultrasound technician’s name is Domingo, which makes me nervous. In Spanish, domingo is a gift given to children in the form of money on Sundays. Is this Domingo my domingo? Well, I know that my wife is very scared and nervous by the fact that she may really be pregnant. When I ask her how she feels, she says, “I’m scare-vous!” Well, she goes in the ultrasound room with Domingo while I wait outside.

Finally, the door opens and I’m allowed to enter. My wife’s face is completely pale. Okay, I think, she really is pregnant! Domingo asks, “Are you ready?” I nod. Domingo scans my wife’s womb and says, “Here’s baby number one.” I immediately panic, but quietly, inwardly. Then, he says, “Here’s baby number two.” I say, “You better stop that!” He says, “That’s it. You’re having twins!”

I felt relieved that it wasn’t quintuplets!


Simba as a cute puppy

After Duke, the best dog I ever had, I never had another pet for as long as I lived alone. When I had my own apartment, I liked living alone so I never had a pet. Now that I’m living alone again, I have no pets. I guess I enjoy the solitude between visits from my sons.

However, when I was married, my wife and four-year-old son insisted that we get a dog. I kept making excuses at our first house in Bridgeport that the house wasn’t big enough, the yard wasn’t big enough, or someone would probably steal our dog. After a few years, I moved next door to my brother Jerry whose neighbor sold the house to me for a discounted price since he didn’t use a realtor. I enjoyed living next door to my brother for the most part–except that he always had some home-improvement project in progress and sooner or later he would call upon me to help him.

Anyway, once we settled into our new house, my wife and son started talking about getting a dog again. All of my previous excuses were no longer valid and I was too tired to invent new ones. So, we immediately went into negotiations. I knew we were getting a dog one way or another. And despite promises of my wife and son that they would be walking, feeding, and generally taking care of the dog, I knew that eventually the dog would become my sole responsibility. I insisted that I get to choose what kind of dog we got. I got my wish and chose a chow chow. Was I ever sorry! But not immediately.

I had a friend who had not one, but two chow chows. Whenever I would visit him, the dogs would look me over and then I would pet them and then they’d go away. So I pitched the idea of getting a chow chow to my family. They weren’t too enthusiastic about a chow chow. We saw one at the park and we went over to talk to the owner. He let us pet his chow chow and he was very friendly. My wife and son were then sold on the idea of getting a chow chow.

Well, we bought a six-week-old chow chow puppy and he was the cutest little fur ball that you ever saw. The woman who sold him to us said that if we ever changed our mind about having him, we could take him back to her farm in Indiana. My wife, son, and I had more negotiations over naming the new puppy. I insisted on naming him Beowulf, but my wife and son out-voted me and named him Simba, after The Lion King. My niece Bridget came next door to our house everyday to feed and play with Simba. He grew so fast and he wasn’t cooperating with the house training. He was almost full-grown and he was still relieving himself in the house. I would put his nose in it and hit him with a newspaper so he wouldn’t do it again. This had worked with other dogs that we had previously had. One day, I was about to punish him for pooping in the house when suddenly he turned on me and tried to bite me. Well, I had to show him that I was the master, so I picked him up and he kicked the wall and we both fell to the ground. I wanted to show him that I wasn’t afraid of him so I wrestled him to the ground. He bit my hand and forearm, but I took him back to his mess and hit him with the newspaper. When I let go of him, he growled at me and walked away giving me the evil eye. My wife and son were watching and they were both pretty scared by what they had just seen. I knew something was wrong with this dog because I never heard of dog biting its master before.

I also learned that chow chows are very territorial. My niece Bridget would come and go to house at will before we had Simba, but afterwards she came to visit him a lot. She really loved that puppy. Until, one day, Simba was sleeping by the side door of the house. She came into the yard to pet Simba, but he woke up and started biting her. As she ran out of the yard screaming, he bit her behind repeatedly until she was out of the yard. I really didn’t understand his behavior at all because Bridget took care of Simba since he was a puppy and she was like part of our household. I didn’t realize how vicious Simba was until then. There were a few more incidents where children walking by would see Simba in the yard behind the chain-link fence wagging his tail. When they tried to enter the yard to pet him, he wouldn’t growl or bark, he would continue wagging his tail. After they entered the yard, he would bite them. I put up a six-foot wooden fence around the whole yard to protect the neighborhood children from Simba.

A boy and his dog!

Simba never bit my wife or son, but when the twins were born, he bit Adam when he was about one and a half. Adam walked by Simba while he was eating and Simba bit him. I risked getting bit, but I punished Simba for biting my son. Most dogs don’t bite small children for something like that. I wanted to take him back to the farm where we bought him, but my wife said no. She insisted that we keep Simba. This dog was a real monster. If he didn’t like someone on the other side of the fence, he would start chewing on the wooden fence. I had to replace some of the boards on the front gate because he had chewed through them. Another time, my sons and I were going to a little league game. Simba was in the yard and I opened the garage door and the minivan side door for my sons. Simba ran and jumped into the minivan before my sons. He wanted to go for a ride, but we couldn’t take him with us. I told him to get out, but he wouldn’t. I told him a few times. So I reached to grab his collar, but he bit my hand so hard that I thought he had broken some bones. I started yelling at Simba like a maniac and tried to grab his collar again. He was so afraid of me that he ran out of the minivan. For two or three days afterwards, he would run away from me. A master and his dog should not have to live in fear of each other.

When my wife and I were getting divorced, we agreed on everything except what to do with Simba. I told her she could have him since she was the one who wanted a dog in the first place. Besides, Simba had never bitten her. She didn’t want him. I was stuck with Simba. When I was selling the house, I knew I had to give Simba away, but no one would be able to take him because he was too vicious. He even scared me and I was his master. Eventually, I had to take him to the Chicago Animal Control Center. But I didn’t know what else to do with him. Well, they probably had him put to sleep because he would probably bite anyone who tried to befriend him.

Now, my sons keep asking me to get a dog, but I keep making excuses. I’m afraid to get another dog! If I ever do, I’ll probably get a mutt.

Man date

Men mourning a break up

Man date. Sometimes you are the giver and sometimes you are the receiver. But this is one date to avoid if at all possible. I’m not talking about one man going out with a male friend to see a movie and there are plenty of seats to leave an empty one between you so no one thinks that “you’re together” as in you two are an item–if you know what I mean. I’m talking about you buying two tickets to a concert for a singer or band that only your girlfriend, fiancée, or wife would want to see. And you bought the tickets because you wanted to make her happy, for at least one night. But for some unexplained reason, she no longer wants to go to the concert with you. It could be for any number of reasons. She has a headache, she just doesn’t want to go to the concert anymore, or she broke up with you.  So now you have two concert tickets for which you paid good money! You can’t sell them on such short notice, so you call around and finally find a friend who is desperate enough to go to this concert with you because … well, just because. No real man will admit he wants to go to a concert with you. So you go to this concert with your friend because he once took you on a man date when his girlfriend dumped him and he had two tickets to Sting, but you feel guilty tonight because you’re only taking him to see Barry Manilow. You see the concert and make the best of a bad situation. Unfortunately, you have assigned seating and you two must sit right next to each other. You’re driving home and you realize that this wasn’t so bad after all. But then you wonder, should I take him straight home? Will, he be offended if I do? Should I take him out for a drink and then take him home? Will I look desperate if I just drive him to a bar without asking him if he wants a drink? All I want to do is talk about my female problems. But he also has female problems or he wouldn’t have gone to a Barry Manilow concert with you! Instead, you drive him straight home without saying a word. He doesn’t say anything either as he leaves the car. Both of you secretly hope that you’ll never have to go on a man date ever again!

May I take you out for a drink? Pretty please!

Cell phones

My electronic home monitoring device

I never had a beeper. I never had a brick phone. I never had the latest technological gadgets. But one day I suddenly had a cell phone. My ex-wife gave me one.

I actually had a cell phone before most people. Some people were really impressed that I had a cell phone. People could reach me wherever I was, which was both good and bad. However, I prefer to communicate via e-mail rather than talk on the telephone. A few people would call me, but mostly my ex would call me to see where I was. She would call and almost immediately ask, “Where are you?” Invariably, I would answer, “I’m at work,” “I’m at school,” or “I’m upstairs. I never left the house.” I felt like a parolee with an electronic home monitoring device.

The cell phone is a wonderful invention that I can live without and I haven’t had one for years now. With a cell phone you lose all of your privacy. I mean, everyone may contact you anytime, anyplace. If you give everyone your cell phone and home phone numbers, they call your cell phone first instinctively. You’re always available to everyone at all hours of the day. With a landline telephone, I would never answer the phone when I was showering, on the toilet, or away from the house. When I first had my cell phone, I always answered no matter where I was. I felt as if I was tethered by an electronic leash.

Once I was at Home Depot, when I unexpectedly had to use the bathroom. Suddenly, I could hear my stomach churning and the noises were traveling down my abdomen. I immediately went to the bathroom. I must admit that it was a very close call and I almost regretted not having a change of underwear in the car. While sitting on the toilet, my cell phone rings and I instinctively answer it. As I’m talking, my stomach starts churning again. Let’s just say the methane gases within me built up again and took the path of least resistance. Adding to the sound effect were the acoustics of this toilet stall that would rival any concert hall. I tried to control my bodily functions because I was holding a telephone conversation, but all my efforts were in vain. Suddenly, the pent up gases escaped from my body despite my most valiant effort with a mighty roar. My friend on the end of the line asks, “What was that?” I was too embarrassed to tell the truth so I said, “I’m at Home Depot. That was a saw.” My friend said, “But that noise was extremely loud.” “Well, it was a chain saw! There it goes again! See, doesn’t it sound like a chain saw?”

I’ve been living cell-phone free and happily for three years now.

Mexican Catholics

Mount Carmel Church, Chicago, Illinois

The Mexican stereotype is that all Mexicans are Catholics. And most of them are. However, when I met my ex-wife’s family, I was surprised, even shocked, that most of her father’s family were Mexican Protestants. And her family was Protestant in Mexico, too! Talk about culture shock. Even though I’m a Mexican Catholic, I, too, stereotype all Mexicans in Mexico as Catholics.

As a young boy I was a parishioner at a Lithuanian Catholic church, Holy Cross, where I also attended their grammar school. The church population consisted of mostly Lithuanians, but there were also a lot of Mexican families in the parish and school. We always went to mass on school days before we went to class and on Sundays we sat with our classmates and teacher for mass. All the Mexicans in the neighborhood went to mass, if not every day, at least on Sundays. My father’s family was extremely religious, so I had this image of all Mexicans being devout Catholics.

When I went to Mexico, I realized that my mother’s family wasn’t as religious as I had imagined. All of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family members always said that they were Catholic. What a disgrace it would be not to be Catholic!

Anyway, once I went to Mexico to visit for a month. By the third week, I realized that we had not even gone to church even once. I wasn’t really a practicing Catholic then, but I was worried about what my family would think of me if I didn’t go to church or even suggest going to church. So I asked them if they ever went church. Immediately, my aunt told everyone to dress up nice. We were going to church! Well, we went to church and there was no one there. There were no masses scheduled for that day, on a Sunday no less. We sat in the pews for a while attempting to pray, or at least pretending to pray, and then we went home.

So now that’s how I remember Mexican Catholics. People who want everyone to think that they’re Catholic. And, I guess, I’m no exception, either. Whenever someone asks me my religion, I say, “I’m Catholic!”