Once in a while in Philadelphia by Ron Neumer–Excerpt 2 | HumorOutcasts

Once in a while in Philadelphia by Ron Neumer–Excerpt 2

April 17, 2018

 We are excited to excerpt a second chapter segment from Once in a While in Philadelphia by Ron Neumer. The book is available on Amazon.You can  follow Ron Neumer on Twitter.

Fast Lane Friends


         I’m going to tell you something right from the get-go, and I’m not going to exhibit any restraints to describe it – screw that, I had a bad fucking week. I’m really tensed up. Now I’m not in any way going to apologize for using the F-word in the very first sentence. I don’t want to hear, “Oh damn, very first sentence curse word, curse word. Where does he go from here?” Just don’t confront me with that. It’s just a descriptive adjective that’s all it is. Nothing more. It just gives impact and describes the week in a clearer perspective. If someone says they had a bad week, without using the descriptive adjective—so what, who gives a damn. Who wants to hear it?

So this is what I had to deal with at work and I never had a week like this before. It was the week from hell and you’ve probably had one yourself and be honest, you probably came out with a descriptive adjective or two yourself to describe it. Computers were down, no help desk support available. Can’t make any deliveries because union drivers went out on strike. Customers calling with threats, “No deliveries – No checks!” Payroll says our direct deposits didn’t go through. Two people quit and they told us no new hires and everybody else will have to take up the slack. Some jerk off from the main office sends a directive stating the company needs a better bottom line or concessions on our benefits will be needed. And on our office bulletin board the office manager posts a notice saying she would like to see a more happy and cheerful and let’s all work together aura in the work place. Bullshit. Total bullshit!

Then I cut out of work a little early to get away from all this nonsense and I felt I was going to explode and the car battery conked out on an upper floor of a bi-level parking garage and I am going to have a hell of a time getting the car out of there because tow trucks don’t fit in bi-level parking garages.

Just screw all this bullshit. I’m reaching a breaking point.

So it’s early Saturday afternoon, thank goodness I’m off and I’m just trying to calm down and chill out and relax and clear my mind from all this nonsense so I figure I’ll wolf down a cheese steak or two with tomato sauce and fried onions and munch on some chips and scarf down a few bottles of beer from Denmark in greedy swallows and flip through the channels and see what’s on my 26-inch flat screen. You do whatever you need to do to relax.

First show I hit, no desire or energy whatsoever on my part to flip through the cable channels, besides I got a little buzz going on from the bottled beer from Denmark, these three nut balls each with a faraway look in their eyes are seated on a leather couch holding bottles of spring water.

One of the nut balls, tears welling up in his eyes, is clutching some tissues and across from them a head shrinker is seated in an olive tinted wrap-around leather chair, note book in hand, asking the nut balls questions about the trials and tribulations they are facing in everyday life. One of the nut balls on the couch is sobbing and the one seated next to him puts his arm around him trying to console him. Just what I need to give my aura an uplift, a show about depressed whacked out people in need of counseling. How cheerful will this be?

And the head shrinker with his narrow reading glasses perched inches above his forehead, notebook and expensive pen at the ready position, in a clear calming voice says, “Stanley, what you’re facing is not that serious. For god sakes grab hold of yourself! Use the tissues and stop the damn sobbing because you’re causing a scene and upsetting everyone. You have to have a sense of decorum about yourself for god sakes. If you‘re not calm, no one around you will be calm. Can you grasp that, damn it?”

Stanley throws some sobs out there followed by a few more.

Then for dramatic effect with his voice elevated sensing the television camera is eyeballing him and just maybe the producers will extend the show for a few more episodes, “Damn it Stanley! Man the hell up! Man the fuck up! Get a grip! Don‘t you want to walk in the sunshine with a sense of pride and your head held high at some point in your life?”

Now I didn’t catch the name of the show on the cable channel when I clicked it on but if I had to render a random guess I think it would be called, “Nut Balls on a Leather Couch Crying Out For Help With a Head Shrinker There to Assist in the Recovery.”

So then the consoling nut ball clutching tissues stands up and starts sobbing and gesturing and screaming at the head shrinker, “Don’t talk to him that way, how dare you! Because you don’t know what it’s like to have these emotional scars from childhood and everybody laughs at you and points their fingers at you and tells you the funny farm would be a good place for you because everybody in your family is fucking nuts. That’s right….fucking nuts! Everybody in your family…. Everyone! And take them to the nut house too.”

I have to admit I was getting caught up in the sob fest. I mean their pain was getting to me, and I was offering mental encouragement for speedy recoveries because the thought of what mental anguish can do to someone, you know going to the funny farm aspect of it, was also starting to get to me.

Now I know I am perfectly normal, at least I think I am, but you never know what a buildup of stress can do to you including being sidetracked from the straight and narrow path you try to walk and winding up sobbing on a leather couch on the nut ball show on cable television.

And then just like that, and I didn’t know what was going on, I was shocked, but the guy on the cable show offering consolation was growing weary of shouting at the head shrinker. So all of a sudden it’s like a shift of focus is going on and he’s trying to get my attention and to talk to me at the same time trying to push his face through the television screen trying to get closer to me for emphasis. I’m thinking, damn!….How much of this shit did I drink? Am I hallucinating?

Now he’s yelling at me trying to make eye contact. “I’m not nuts. See me trying to console Stanley? Screwballs can’t console anyone. Sure I’m unbalanced once in a while. Who isn’t? But I’m not going to any nut house as long as I’m thinking clear. I dare them to try to take me to the nut farm! Just let them try and I‘ll go off!”

I recoiled from the T.V. screen. He continued shouting his face almost on my side of the screen. “Don’t believe anything they try to tell you about me. I’m almost normal when I take my meds. I’m innocent of anything they say about me and I can prove it.”

Now I’m screaming at the T.V. telling him to stop trying to break into my house thinking my screen’s going to get ripped open and that would be a real bitch because I let my Extended Warrantee Service T.V. Contract expire because I was short on cash when the bill came due. To be honest, I missed paying some other bills also.

I was thinking about calling the police but how the hell could I explain what I’m seeing? Then I’m thinking the cops would probably drag me out of my house handcuffed and all and news clips for the evening’s news would announce, “Screwball dragged from his row house in handcuffs. Says someone tried to break into his house through his television screen. Film at eleven. What would my family and friends think of me then? They’d think I was fucked up.

Somehow I found the remote after a frantic search and I clicked him off, thank god; after the week I had I didn’t need any of this nonsense. And as crazy as it sounds it’s like I could still hear him yelling at me after the screen went black. I said to myself, You gotta get the hell out of here for a while. Your head’s really screwed up. Go now! Get the hell out now and breathe in some fresh air and suck in some benefits from the sunshine, some vitamin D to build up your bones and improve your

mental health and whatever else you get from the sunshine and fresh air. Get the hell out of the house right now before your mental stability gets impaired.

I know I need it after a week in that airless, windowless, shoe box size cubicle I work in. I feel like I’m working in a closet. And they got these overhead security cameras eyeballing you all the time and just try to check your E-Mail or try to buy a

pair of shoes at a discount price online.

Get this, the security cameras actually time you if you have to take a leak so you better be quick about it or they might write you up for stealing company time. I’m reaching a breaking point at that place, I really am, but I realize I have to remain calm after what I just saw on cable television because I don’t want to wind up on the nut ball show. I really need the job. I need the salary they toss at us just to keep the wolf from coming through my door and ripping me to shreds and then I will be on collection agency’s call lists.

Before I head out I’m thinking I better freshen up because you never know who you’re going to run into outside and you should always want to make a good impression. So I go to my upstairs bathroom, splash warm sink water on my face, then again, and I look in the mirror.  Damn guy! Look at you! That job has you stressed out to the max. Dark circles under your eyes, you look like a damn raccoon. You gotta make some changes man. Maybe you should make an appointment with the T.V. head shrinker.

So I head out of my row house (I felt a little wobbly. I gotta stop drinking that beer) and I walk five blocks down the avenue once lined with shade trees and they gave the avenue a nice look against some rundown houses, turn left at a narrow side street, right at another side street, then left at Cheltenham Avenue with the yellow painted mini-market on the corner on my way to the neighborhood park.


Donna Cavanagh

Donna Cavanagh is founder of HumorOutcasts.com (HO) and the partner publishing company, HumorOutcasts Press which now includes the labels Shorehouse Books and Corner Office Books (HOPress-Shorehousebooks.com). As "den mother" to the more than 100 aspiring and accomplished writers, producers, comics and authors, Cavanagh's goal is to allow creativity to flow. She is a former journalist who made an unscheduled stop into humor more than 20 years ago. Her syndicated columns helped her gain a national audience when her work landed in the pages of First Magazine and USA Today. She teaches the how-to lessons of humor and publishing at conferences and workshops throughout the country including The Philadelphia Writers' Conference and Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. The author of four humor books, Cavanagh hopes her latest book, How to Write and Share Humor: Techniques to Tickle Funny Bones and Win Fans, will encourage writers not only to embrace their humor talents but show them off as well.

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