The Rant 

Why, you might ask, am I thinking about toilet paper and corn kernels? Don't worry. It's not what it sounds like. Just when I thought I was not a chic person and began to question the electric flashing Jesus on a mountaintop hanging in my living room (not to mention my down comforter that's held together, most of the time, anyway, with duct tape to keep the feathers from flying around), I ran across an article that restored my self-esteem a bit.

It seems that some jackals of the retail industry in Europe have come out with a new and very expensive and chic product: black toilet paper. Yes, the world has finally come to this. I can't remember the exact price, but I think it was in the range of 20 euros for a six-pack -- much more expensive than most beers over there on the Continent. Why people would pay this exorbitant price for something they flush down the toilet is anyone's guess. Those crazy Europeans! I guess the Mohammed cartoons just weren't enough. Black toilet paper. Go figure. But I am way ahead of the game. See, in my house, there's already black toilet paper. Oh, stop thinking whatever you're thinking. You know how when you run out of the precious tissue and start scrambling around the house trying to find something that might work -- say, some napkins from the last take-out food order, paper towels, Kleenex, whatever -- and you just have to make do (no pun intended) with whatever you can find? (Have I really stooped this low? Yes.) A few months ago, I took home some black cocktail napkins left over from a function I helped host. They were in the trunk of my car. Can I tell you what a pretty sight it was when I was in the driveway in my pajama bottoms digging through the heap of things in that trunk during this emergency endeavor? Anyway, there is still a little stack of black cocktail napkins in my bathroom, so I am indeed a man of fine taste. I keep waiting for someone visiting the house to remark on them, but I guess they just don't want to even bring it up. I just hope everyone I know reads the same article, so now when they visit, they can say, "My goodness, Tim! Black cocktail napkins in the bathroom! How much more fabulous can you possibly get?" But I doubt it's going to happen. There are too many other distractions at my house. The stuffed bobcat head on the wall with the cigarette hanging out of its mouth. The headless concrete statue of St. Francis draped with necklaces from all over the world. The shag carpet on the ceiling fan blades. Oh, wait. That's just dust. Needless to say, I need a housekeeper, but no one seems willing to accept that challenge. Now about those corn kernels. Don't worry, it has nothing to do with black toilet paper. I read in the esteemed Dr. Gott's column the other day a letter from a woman who was convinced a corn kernel or two she had eaten went down the wrong way and got trapped in her lungs. Now, I'm convinced I have one in mine too. Not that I recall eating a corn kernel any time recently, but I feel certain there's one lodged down there. I do have some strange health issues, but whenever I read about a new ailment, I seem to come down with it, or at least become sure that I have it. Something has to explain the way I act. For a time, when I was a bit younger, wrist watches that ran perfectly on other people's wrists would stop if I put them on. Right now there's something moving around in my leg. I thought for a while that it was something in my pocket, but then it kept happening even when I didn't have any pockets. I finally realized it was inside the leg. It's still there. I'm afraid it's going to pop out one day and be some sort of alien being. And my eyeballs hurt. Maybe it's my glasses -- the pair with one stem half broken off and the metal digging into the side of my head like a meat grinder. Guess I should get new ones. Who has time, though? So I just limp around half blind with this thing moving in my leg and my eyeballs hurting. Getting old, as they say, is hell!

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