It’s day whatever. Time has left the building.


Brian Wilson got nothing on me / I’m under the bed and lost at sea / Rollin’ and tumblin’ and tossin’ and turnin’ / Been under so long my brain is burnin’.

Playing games is a good way to pass the time advise mental health professionals.

In a thin layer of dust covering the floor I spell out the word ‘dust’. I smile smug. Check.

The floor shakes, rearranges the word into a stellated polyhedral, reminiscent of mid-period Escher. Check and mate.

I just got mopped by the floor. Again.


Studies indicate that exercise improves mood

I yell at the top of my lungs a multisyllabic obscenity until I’m winded, gasping for air.

Check my mood ring: black.

Consult the mood chart.

“This person is stressed and tense.”

Re-check the headline: Ohhhh, ‘exercise’. I thought that read exorcise.

I need sleep. Sleep doesn’t seem to need me.


In times like these it’s important to stay in touch with friends, colleagues, loved ones.

“Fear. Is that it?” the black sock says, exasperated.

“Yes-. No-. I don’t know,” I say.

The sock goes quiet.

It seethes.

“She’s in pain. She misses her partner,” a voice says. I turn around. The voice emanates from a brown Oxford Classic right shoe.

“You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that would you?” the shoe says.

“No,” I say. Probably too quickly.

“You sure?”

“Of course,” I say.

“Because I heard rumours her partner was last seen in the garbage,” the shoe says.

I am feeling uneasy with where this conversation is going.

“We’re all in freekin’ pain,” the half bottle of Jack Daniels says. “But that’s no reason to seethe.”

“I think she’s frustrated with me,” I say. “I just don’t know why I’m here.”

“Frustrated or upset?” the right shoe says.

Sweat beads form a posse on my forehead. I feel like I’m the prime suspect in an episode of NBC Dateline. All that’s missing is Keith Morrison.

“Why is anybody anywhere?” We look over toward the bed wheel. It’s the Oxford Classic left shoe.

“Oh, here we go,” says the right shoe. “The world has no meaning. All is futile.”

“In a nutshell,” the left shoe says.

An empty peanut shell in the corner sighs.

“We live. We die,” the left shoe says. “I accept that.”

“Heavy. I would take a swig of myself if I could,” the bottle of Jack says. “Alan…”

The bottle offers itself up. I unscrew the top. Just before I’m about to drink I hear a loud guttural cry.


It’s the sock. She’s on her heel, pointing her toe toward me. 

                                                                                          (To Be Continued)



An uneasy new trend has infiltrated the business world from the dating world. I refer to the act of ghosting - cutting off communication with someone without letting them know. 

Just two weeks ago I was ghosted by a long-time client and, it left me more than a little confused.

What goes through the mind of a ghoster when they choose not to respond to, say, a follow up phone call, or email? It's a question anybody who has ever been ghosted wonders. It's a question I had to get to the bottom of.

And the only way I could do so would be to ghost myself.

I was taking a huge risk entering the mind of a ghoster. It might bring me to places I might not be able to come back from. But I had to do it. For the good of my sanity.

So, I call up myself and arrange for a lunch on the premise that I have a project I'd like to hire myself for. After a bit of back and forth we settle on a time and place.

The day arrives. Myself shows up, a whisk early. He's a real keener, I note. We discuss a project, possible deliverables, and timelines. I ask myself to send over writing samples. Then we go our separate ways, together.

The next day the samples arrive. I don't look at them because I'm busy on a Very Important Project, re-arranging my fridge magnets into the shape of a chest freezer.

I don't get to the samples until the following day. Meh. I'm not impressed. Myself isn't right for the project, I conclude. Now that's done I go back to work on another Very Important Project, cleaning out my veggie crisper using a pair of alligator forceps, a bottle of Nose Tork smelling salts and a book of Psalms.

The following day, while I’m in the middle of parking my hope on the road of despair, I receive a follow up email from myself politely asking if I'd had a chance to read over his samples. I ignore it. Why tell myself the bad news? Nobody wants to hear bad news, right? Right?!

A week later, I'm diligently at work on yet another Very Important Project, verifying the thread count of my pima cotton sheets, when I receive a second follow up email from myself. Hey, just wondering if you've had a chance to look over my samples. Well, myself, I have and I'm not impressed. I've already started the process of looking for another writer. I don't tell myself that. I just don't respond. Myself will get the message.

One week after that, I receive a third follow up from myself. It's cheerful and upbeat. Myself reiterates his qualifications and expresses how excited he is looking forward to working with me. The flattery is nice to hear. But there's no way I can respond. I've already moved on from myself. I'm looking forward. Making plans. Life is about the future! And I'm living it! 

And that's when it hit me. I was ghosting myself and, you know, I never felt better. 


An email from a reader:


I landed on your blog today while searching for a new welcome mat. You see my old welcome mat  frayed. You might say it wore out it's welcome. Ha. Ha. Get it! The welcome mat wore out it's welcome. I should have my own humour blog. It couldn't be any worse than yours. How do you sleep at night? Your blog is so unfunny I had to share it with my friend Eugene. Now he's funny.

An hour later I received the following from Eugene:

Question: Why did the chicken cross the road? C'mon, play along. Why did the chicken cross the road? No idea? I'll tell ya. To get away from your blog. Seriously, man. You call yourself a comedy writer? I've read funnier in a funeral home brochure. If I were head of the internet I would have your blog taken down and you banished from ever putting up another one. Your blog is so unfunny it's criminal! Which is why I've sent it to my many friends in law enforcement.


Two hours later I received the following:

Dear Alan,

This is agent Nick Bastone with the FBI. I'm just following up a complaint against your blog Welcome to Kafkaville (Pop.1). The complainant believes your blog is so unfunny it's a crime against humanity. So I read a few excerpts. I couldn't disagree with him. The stuff isn't funny. But crime against humanity? To be honest, I don't know. But just to be sure I've circulated it at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Yours truly,
N. Bastone, FBI


Then I received a flurry of messages from anonymous readers:

- You suck, Crapskaville!

- There's 5 min I'll never get back! 

- Your mother should've had an abortion!

- Earn $10,000 a month at home while SLEEPING! 


The next day I received the following:

Dear Alan,

I received an urgent message from the FBI to look into prosecuting you for crimes against humanity for your unfunny blog. If unfunny was the criteria for a crime against humanity, three-quarters of humanity would be on trial and the other quarter would be waiting to go on trial. I don't think much of what people call funny these days. I did read your blog, though, and, surprise, found it quite delightful. It's clever and thoughtful. Most of all, it's funny. Witty. With a lot of heart. I know the thing to do would be to share your blog. You'd probably like that. But this is one pleasure I don't feel like sharing.

Ting Pietersz,
International Criminal Court


"The reason you're stuck.." Violet says. " spend too much time in your comfort zone."

Violet is a friend. She scares me.

"I walk around feeling uneasy, dislocated and alienated. Is this my comfort zone?” I say.

"That's your comfort zone…”

“It feels uncomfortable."

“The uncomfortable is your comfort zone."

"So outside of my comfort zone. How am I supposed to feel?"

 "Uncomfortable," Violet says.

“I already feel uncomfortable. So I’m always out of my comfort zone. Job done.” I say.

“You feel uncomfortable with the comfortable which makes you feel uncomfortable. You need to feel uncomfortable without the comfortable which will make you feel uncomfortable in a different way. You need to rezone your comfort zone.”

"...rezone for..." 

"...the uncomfortable..." she says.

"...which is what I already feel..."

"...which is your comfort zone..."

"...of course...”


“Do you think everyone has a comfort zone?” I say.


" you how about…people in the camps like Aushwitz what was their comfort zone? Because it probably wasn't very comfortable."

"Are you comparing yourself to the people in the camps? You’re uncomfortable. They’re uncomfortable. I should smack you.”

“You are forbidden from applying The Smack.”

“It would get you out of your comfort zone.”

“It would hurt.”

“How about just once. On the fat part of the cheek,” she says.

“Are you saying I’m fat?”

“You make things up. Everybody has a fat part of the cheek,” Violet says.

“What about the people in the camps? I’ve seen pictures. No fat part.”

“Now I’m gonna smack you. Ready?”

“We’re in a crowded Starbucks.”

“Here it comes.”

“I’ll leave.”

“It’s on it’s way," she says.

“Okay, no. Stop.”

“How do you feel?”

“Extremely anxious and stressed.”

“Which is out of your comfort zone.”

“…of merely anxious and stressed.”

“The smacking hand rests. Mission accomplished.”

We finished our coffees in silence. Violet leaves. She has to go study. I call my therapist. Ask if she can squeeze me in. For another session. Today.


"Only way I leave there is in a pine box."

My 94 year old mother.


Her condo.


The medical team at the Geriatric Clinic at the Ottawa Hospital.


Being diagnosed with mixed dementia. Alzheimer's and Vascular. And encouraged to move to an assisted living environment.

"I don't like people."

My mother.



People. It turns out. Populate assisted living facilities.

"Only way I leave my condo is in a pine box."

A week later. Phone rings. I answer.

"Hi, can I speak with Alan," the Woman says.


"I'm from the Alzheimer's Society. I got your number from the Geriatric Clinic. Just want to know if there's anything we can help you with in dealing with your mother?"

"There is one thing. She lives in a condo. She says she'll only leave it in a pine box. But she needs to go food shopping and she enjoys pushing the shopping cart. Do you know where I can get a pine box with leg holes?  Hello? Hello?"


I'm taking a bath. Imprinting my rubber ducks. Again. (I suspect they're suffering from early onset Alzheimer's. I just can't get a Physician willing to give a diagnosis. Liability issues, no doubt.)

When I notice. My knee is no longer submerged. Leg hasn't moved. Knee no longer submerged.
Now calf. Now entire body. I am lying in the tub. And I feel naked.

My bathtub stopper has stopped stopping. 

The bathtub stopper has two responsibilities. Stop water from escaping down the drain. Prevent snakes and other amphibians from rising out of the drain. On the latter my bathtub stopper has Hall of Fame numbers. In  the year and a bit since owning the stopper no snake or amphibian has gotten through.

A little over a year. And the stopper has stopped. Stopping. Of course I wonder. Was it my fault?  I worshiped that stopper. Kept it in a cup of water so it wouldn't crack.  Put it by the window so it would have lots of light. Read it poetry. I read my bathtub stopper poetry. Anna Akhmatova. Rainier Maria Rilke. Prince. ('When Doves Cry' makes Seamus Heaney's 'Blackberry-Picking' seems like MC Hammer's 'U Can't Touch This')

I should've listened to my friend Kay. Whom I call K. Because she seems more like a K than a Kay. She cautioned me against that stopper.

At the hardware store. In front of the bathtub stopper rack. She wanted me to consider other stoppers. But I couldn't take my eyes off that stopper. It had a certain je ne sais quoi. I thought it would last forever. It said so on the package. 'The Last Bathtub Stopper You Will Ever Need'.  K now disputes the claim. She says I was reading between the lines. "There aren't many lines on a bathtub stopper package," I say.

I'm lying in the empty bathtub. Shivering. Picking up a new bathtub stopper seems like climbing Everest on crutches. Insuperable.

But I have to do it. I have to.

For the ducks. 


It's cold. Very cold. The heart wants what the heart wants. The heart wants. A quality pair of long johns.

"Carl," the heart says. "Ready the Bentley. A visit to Holts is in order."

The heart waits. Carl doesn't show. Neither does the Bentley. The heart sighs.

The heart must now consider the unconsiderable...public transportation.

Through a bracing wind that would tip a herd of Caribou the heart makes it's way to the subway only to discover the entrance takes tokens not coins. The heart has coins. The entrance takes tokens. The heart wants a token.

The heart spots a machine in the corner which turns coins into tokens. The heart doesn't quite understand the alchemy. It wants what it wants. A token. So the heart plugs all the coins into the machine. And waits.

No. Token. Drops.

The heart wants long johns from Holt Renfrew. The heart can't get long johns from Holt Renfrew unless it can get into the subway. And the only way it can get into the subway is with a token but it used all it's coins on a machine that promised a token but delivered no token.

The heart shouts the harshest of vulgarities into a speaker. There is no response. A man with a token going through the turnstile points at the out of order sign near the speaker which the heart didn't see because the heart was so full of turnstile rage. "Broken, dude."

Broken. The heart. It wants. A quality pair of long johns. And a cup of hot chocolate with a marshmallow. And Emily.

The heart wants Emily. She'll have a token.

The heart waits. For Emily.


In the cold cold.

It wants what it wants.


Sometime in the night. Phone rings. Interrupts a dream.

In the dream my Centaur friend Barry and I are playing mini-putt against Friedrich Nietzsche and his Theory of Eternal Recurrence. Nietzsche breaks a lot of putters. He has a problem getting the ball through the Windmill. But the Theory putts like Ben Crenshaw in his prime. And the outcome is always the same. We lose by three strokes.  And Nietzsche's moustache spikes the ball. Every. Single. Time.

I answer the phone.


A woman speaks.

"It's over, okay?” She says.  “Done. Finished. Don't call me. Don't text me. Don't Facebook me. I told you-. Very simple. I told you-. All I wanted-. Between you and me. Me and you. All I wanted. Sex. You know. Bend me over and make me take the Lord's name in vain repeatedly sex. Simple, right? Instead. In-stead. You ask about my feelings. With such punishing patience and empathy.  How are you feeling? You wanna know how I'm feeling? Pissed. Because you keep asking me how I'm feeling. Do I ask you how you're feeling? No. They're your feelings. Just like my feelings are my feelings. You can do whatever you want with your feelings. Whatever you want. My feelings. I keep them in a safe place. Somewhere nobody can get at them. I mean nobody. Not even me.

"Uh,” I say.  

"I'm not finished,” she says. “Which, by the way, are words I wanted to hear from you a lot. And again. And a lot. I'm not finished. As you ride me like a racehorse. Instead you say things like I read that poem you gave me. It's really good. Keep writing. How incredibly condescending. Who are you? Yanni? The only reason I gave you the poem was to get you off my back. And onto my front. So you could plough me like a potato field.


"Let me finish you tyrannically sensitive, crushingly supportive a-hole. You really crossed the line when you wanted to cuddle. I. Don't. Cuddle. I thought the notarized letter from my attorney made that clear. If that wasn't enough how about when I bent back your middle finger until it snapped. Or when I bit into your arm and drew blood so that you had to go to the hospital and get stitches. Most guys would've gotten the message. You. You write on your Facebook wall. Why do I love my girlfriend so much? She keeps me in stitches. Your optimism is like a North Korean labour camp. Oppressive."

"Excuse me," I say.


"You've got the wrong number."

Long pause.

"When you answered you said hello. Brandon usually says hi so…" she says. 

"I'm going back to sleep," I say.

"Can I ask you something?" 


"How was that? What I said. How did it seem?"

"Bit harsh.”

“Yeah, I didn’t want him to think I didn’t care.”

 Long pause.

“Yeah, I can see that. But not really. I have to go back to sleep,” I say. And hang up.

I get back into bed. Close my eyes. 

And wonder what people mean when they say what they mean. 

I also wonder where I put my Abe Maslow decoder ring.


“Here, the loveliest most beautiful apple you’ll ever have,” Steve says.

Steve is an aquaintance. I know him enough to know him enough.  

“You didn’t say the tastiest,” I say.

“If you don’t want it.”

“Hold on.”

I couldn’t refuse. I hadn’t eaten in four months. And I was in the middle of a massive field in the middle of county Nowhere.

It looks…so…beautiful. If there were a Fruit Hall of Fame this apple would hang in the Delicious Wing. It’s almost to good to eat. But then there’s this thing about the four months of no food. So I take a bite. Not a big one. Not a small one. A just right one. The just right one isn’t always the best choice. But it is always just right.

“Heyyy, that is a tasty tasty apple. Sweet and juicy. Not too sweet. Not too juicy. Good call.”

“Told ya.”

“That you did, my acquaintance.”

I take another bite. Yum. Yum. I am looking forward to spending a lot of quality time with this apple.

A third bite. Can this get any better?

A fourth. It just did.

A fifth. Ow! Ow! Ow! OW! What was that?! Something’s coming out of my mouth and it’s not saliva. A finger touch reveals…blood!

“Dude, blood is flowing from your mouth,” says Steve.

“Thank you Captain Obvious.”

I check out the apple. No razor blade just a really sharp piece of pulp. Do I take another bite?  The blood is pouring from my mouth and it’s sore like a son-of-a-bitch. Hmmm. How can I condemn an entire apple over one painful bite? It’s a complicated apple. It’s got dimension.

Big bite. Yuch! Ugh! Pugh! The worst taste ever. It’s like I bit into a rotting corpse. I look down at the apple and see a couple of maggots crawl out. Disgusting! Just yech disgusting! It looked so beautiful!

Need to take another bite to confirm. Yech! Peh! I spit out a couple of maggots.

Okay, one more. I mean, it was such a beautiful apple. I can still see it’s perfect shape, vivid colour, captivating stem.

I chomp down. Yechhhh! Ugh!!!!

Another bite. Uch! The worst! Although you kinda get used to the maggots. They’re like squirrely Nibs.

I keep eating. My teeth fall out. My gums redden and rot. It's such a lovely and beautiful apple. How can this be? The pain must be some kind of illusion. The sweet and juicy taste will return on the next bite. I'm sure of it. So I continue eating.

Along the way I make friends with one of the maggots. He sits on my shoulder. I call him Mark. He calls me Adam. The little guy has difficulty with the letter 'l'.