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Thursday, June 21, 2018

  • Friday, June 15, 2018 4:00 AM
    If you were the last person leaving your favorite restaurant and the only umbrella in the coatroom looked just like yours (but you knew it wasn’t yours), would you take it? That would be very wrong, and I wouldn’t do it. Unless, of course, it was raining.
    Here are some hypothetical situations and how I would advise anyone faced with these dilemmas.
    Q: I have been a waitress at a steak house for 35 years and I have a dark secret. I have been taking home a bottle of ketchup every night since 1985. I now have 9,000 bottles in my garage. Nobody missed them. What should I do? I feel very guilty but don’t want to get in trouble just before I retire
    A: Returning them all at once would raise suspicion. Return them the exact way you acquired them—one at a time. So, either put off your retirement or eat there every night until 2040.
    Q: When I travel, I always take the little bottles of shampoo and conditioner from the hotel bathroom. I was feeling bad about this until one desk clerk said the business expects people to take them. That’s why they put their name on the products. I recently picked up a Sony TV and a General Electric hair dryer from the Westin. Should I stop?
    A: Only after you cross the border.
    Q: For the last five years I have been having fun with my neighbor. After he leaves for work, I mow his lawn. Yesterday he told me it’s driving him crazy that his grass never grows. Should I tell him?
    A: What, and ruin this perfect practical joke? Hey, here’s my address. Wouldn’t it be funny if my car never got dirty?
    Q: I am a 16-year-old girl but look almost 40. As a result, I have been drinking beer, driving a car, and seeing X-rated movies for many years. My boyfriend says this is illegal and I could get in very serious trouble. Should I find a lawyer, just in case?
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  • Friday, June 8, 2018 4:00 AM
    David Raymond was a fanatic, or more precisely, a Phanatic. (The Philly Phanatic is the official mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies.) For 17 years he lived inside the iconic costume, taunting umpires, mocking the competition, dancing on the opposing team’s dugout—and even shooting hot dogs into the stands with a cannon launcher.
    Raymond started as an intern for the Phillies organization back in 1976 and soon became an insider—working literally inside the costume for a whopping 25 bucks a game. At the time, the San Diego chicken was the only mascot in pro sports. Raymond would help change all that as he brought to life a large, furry, green flightless bird with an extendable tongue. 
    His experience convinced him that a mascot was essential to a team’s ultimate success on the field, in the stands and at the box office. “A mascot is the perfect branding mechanism,” says Raymond. “Unlike players who retire or move from team to team, the mascot is perennial, bonding generations who come to the park together.”
    Now, 40 years later, Raymond may have outgrown the suit but not his passion. He and his associates will open the first Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Indiana. Yes, you read that right: Whiting, Indiana, where John D. Rockefeller started Standard Oil. Raymond thinks he has discovered gold right here in this quintessential Midwestern city, just a half hour from Chicago.
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  • Friday, June 1, 2018 4:00 AM
    Last week, ABC News reported that a Wisconsin man had just eaten his 30,000th Big Mac (more than one a day, for 50 years). Donald Gorsky lives in Milwaukee, which is unbelievable. No, not the Milwaukee part—the living part. Think about it: 30,000 Big Macs, according to a group of high school students who have researched this, is the equivalent of 800 heads of lettuce, 523 pounds of cheese, 100 gallons of special sauce, 14 heads of cattle and several million sesame seeds. And he says he never gets sick. He has no known health issues, but he has surely created some unknown ones.
    We have to give a guy like this some credit. Every health and dietetics book in the country would have predicted that Gorsky should have been in his McCoffin by now . . . but instead, the newspaper article claims he is healthy, robust and has actually fathered genetically viable children. And he broke four other records, as well:
    1: Most consecutive decades for one individual to surpass the recommended dietary allowance for saturated fat every day.
    2. Person with the most articles of clothing (26) with special sauce stains.
    3. The only person in history to order the exact same thing at the same McDonald's for 50 years and get the wrong order 27,000 times.
    4. First person to go on Weight Watchers and run out of points by 8:30 a.m. every day.
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  • Wednesday, May 23, 2018 4:00 AM
    We all recall Indy 500 winners like Rick Mears, Al Unser, Jr., and A. J. Foyt. Recently, a longtime friend (and race fan for 80 years) reminisced about some of his favorite not-so-famous racing characters. If you’ve never heard of these drivers, that’s okay. I’m pretty sure he made them up.
    THE CLEANEST RACE CAR DRIVER to ever enter the Indy 500 was Daring Dudley Doolittle, a fierce competitor, and an immaculate dresser. He astounded the crowd back in 1963 when he pulled his gleaming white racecar into the pits on the 100th lap. While his crew provided additional fuel and two new tires, he took a shower and shaved. But cleanliness was his downfall: before he could climb back into his car, he slipped on a bar of soap and ended up with the longest pit stop in history, some 32 minutes. Dudley may have been the cleanest driver ever, but after that race, his career was pretty much washed up.
    THE MOST ABSENT-MINDED STATISTICIAN in IMS history was Reginald Staffordshire. His recollection of racing trivia had no match. But in 1981, his memory failed. Arising at 5:00 a.m. for the race, he dressed and got in his car, but he remembered he forgot to kiss his wife good-bye. He returned to their bedroom and then left his keys on the dresser. When he retrieved the keys, he got back in the car and realized he forgot his press credentials. He went back in the house and got the necessary passes. He finally arrived at the track to discover he was late—a week late. He had the wrong date on his calendar. Since then, Reginald has been all but forgotten.
    THE ODDEST FUEL at the Indy 500 was used by a 1944 car driven by a guy named Percy Vichy of Paris, France. His lavender Chanel Number 5 Peugeot used pure perfume for fuel. The car was the brainchild of Andy Grandasmelli who had developed an allergy to gasoline fumes. The engine raised a stink from officials, but for Vichy the smell of victory kept getting stronger. HIs perfume-powered car led every lap until the last one, when he ran out of fuel and stopped one inch from the finish line. He knew the irony . . . he lost by a nose.
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  • Friday, May 18, 2018 4:00 AM
    In a piece I wrote several years ago, I poked fun at people who do yoga. People doing yoga hate being poked—however, in this case, I was commenting on their preferred pants, made by a company named Lululemon. The corporation had posted a warning on their website: “In some cases you may experience extreme sheerness, especially when bending over.” I’m good with a warning label on my statins, but if my garment had side effects, I might want to reconsider the selection. In that column, I also made fun of yoga, in general. In hindsight (ok, there’s a pun I didn’t plan), maybe I should have been less judgmental.
    I’m under fire again, after a recent column—this time about people who meditate. Here is an actual email I received:
    HOW DARE YOU CRITICIZE MEDITATION! I WAS AN UPTIGHT ANGRY PERSON UNTIL I STARTED MEDITATING. YOU ARE REALLY TICKING ME OFF!!!!
    Using all uppercase in emails is not a capital offense (or maybe it is), but it suggests that this guy still has a few issues. He did make me rethink my initial observations. In order to educate myself, I headed for a local health food market where they have a bigger selection of New Age magazines than granola flavors. I was trying to find the right publication, so I grabbed a magazine called Mindlessness, which I thought would advocate for my personal lifestyle. When I got home I realized it was actually titled Mindfulness, which was not something I was remotely interested in.
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  •  Wolfsie’s column leads to quite a reconnection
    Friday, May 11, 2018 4:00 AM
    Have you ever read something I’ve written that changed your life?
    I didn’t think so.
    Well, I am pleased to say that finally, after almost 20 years of writing, I submitted something that just maybe did make a small difference for someone.
    My column a few weeks ago was about a longtime friend, Keith Bratton. Now 92, Keith lives in a retirement community in Fishers, Indiana. I recounted some of his unique inventions over the years, like a urinal splash guard with Osama Bin Laden’s photo, Kosher confetti for Bar Mitzvahs and circumcisions, and a golf ball with GPS. Current in Fishers ran the article as a front-page feature. That was not the end of the story; a much better one followed.
    The write-up found its way onto a Facebook page viewed by Sarah Erdman, the daughter of Ron Bratton of Fort Wayne. Sarah forwarded the article to her dad, wondering if Keith might be a relative. Once Ron read the Facebook post, he was pretty sure this was his long-lost half-sibling. And that’s when Sarah learned for the first time that her dad had a half-brother. She also realized that the description of Keith’s quirky personality and creative bent mirrored her dad’s.
    It had been 68 years since they last saw each other, if they had ever met at all. It was hard to know for sure. Keith’s mother passed away when Keith was about 24 and his father remarried. Ron was the offspring from that relationship. The more than two-decade gap in age, accompanied by Keith’s entry into the Army and subsequent establishment of his own business, resulted in a failure to connect. It was a situation they both now lament.
    Ron was planning a trip to Indy for his granddaughter’s gymnastic event and decided to include a stop at Keith’s senior community. Ron approached the front desk and asked if there was a Keith Bratton living there. The receptionist was appropriately cautious. “Are you a relative?” she asked.
    “I think I may be his half-brother,” said Ron, which sounded a little suspicious. However, Ron was allowed entrance. Keith was told he had a visitor, but no other clues were given about the mystery guest. When this stranger entered the room, there was a classic Keith quip. “Don’t arrest me. I didn’t do it.”
    Ron introduced himself, revealing their relationship. Keith responded with another zinger. “What took you so long?”
    As they reminisced about nieces, nephews and cousins, names new to each of them, the phone rang. It was Keith’s daughter, Kim, who lives in Florida. “So what are you doing?” she asked.
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  • Friday, May 4, 2018 4:00 AM
    Sundays are always stressful in the Wolfsie household. Are we looking over our finances and trying to balance our budget? Nah. Are we going over plans for the new house and making a decision about our Internet provider? Nope! Are we considering a vacation and trying to book hotels and airfare? Not hardly.
    No, we are trying to decide what to watch on TV. Which shows should we wait to view ON DEMAND? What should we record on our DVR? What have we already taped that we can watch later? By Monday morning I have PTSD: Post Television Stress from DVR.
    Sunday is particularly troublesome because there are just so many great programs we both want to see on that night. To deal with this problem, my wife has a flow chart where she logs each show and then figures out how we can accomplish our viewing goals without missing anything.
    “Dick, I’m going to tape Madam Secretary, but we’ll watch Homeland live, and I can also record that mini-series about John Paul Getty. Then we can DVR Billions. Unless we can get it ON DEMAND Monday.
    “Okay, Mary Ellen, why can’t we record Homeland later, then you can watch Mystery Theater and I can see the baseball game? Wait, I can’t miss Deception. Can I watch both of them live?
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  • Friday, April 27, 2018 4:00 AM
    I’ve been kind of anxious lately, so my sister suggested I try meditation. She meditates and claims it makes her feel like another person. She has a small apartment in New York, so I hope there is enough room for everybody.
    I think meditating has worked for Linda because, as I reported in a previous column, she once sent me a recipe I’d requested with directions like:
    I Tbsp of chili sauce (DO NOT USE KETCHUP!)
    I cup of whole milk (ABSOLUTELY NOT SKIM MILK)
    She was a little on edge back then, but now when I ask for one of her famous recipes, I get things like:
    I tsp of butter (unless you prefer olive oil—just go with the flow)
    2 oz of sour cream (yogurt would be more wholesome, but use whichever tastes better to you)
    I wanted to learn how to meditate. I sent my wife a text while she was shopping to see if she was also interested in trying it. When Mary Ellen got home she was really upset. “We’ve never been happier. What brought this on?” My text said it was time for the two us to try mediation. Damn spell check.
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  • Monday, April 23, 2018 4:00 AM
    Former advertising man and WWII veteran Keith Bratton couldn’t get rich creating ads, so he decided to also not get rich by creating off-the-wall ideas, inventions and schemes. He’s been very successful. He hasn’t made a dime.
    Keith, 92, moved from Carmel to Meadow Brook Senior Living in Fishers two years ago following a stroke. Keith was one of the first people I met more than 35 years ago when I moved to Indy. I visit him often.
    Here’s a look back at some of Keith’s innovations: First, there were Santa-bolic Steroids, which were tiny pills to boost energy at Christmastime. There was Kosher Konfetti for Jewish weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and circumcisions. He invented a tiny mock cable to jump-start your watch battery from someone else’s.
    This one-time award-winning account executive for the State Fair set up a booth (along with WRTV food critic Reid Duffy) between the corn-on-the-cob vendor and the pork chop tent…that sold dental floss. He suggested the Fair sell cotton candy that was 60 percent polyester and only 40 percent cotton, so it would be reusable (just fluff and dry).
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  • Friday, April 13, 2018 4:00 AM
    I never know quite how to behave when I go to the doctor.
    I once got a bad case of the giggles during a blood test, and several years ago when they ripped the EKG pads off my hairy chest, I said a bad word. Generally, I bend over backward not to draw attention to myself, although one other time I was bending over forward and I may have yelped.
    Last week I had my annual physical. I was sitting in the waiting room filling out a new form that asks “if you have contracted any new diseases since your last appointment.” Maybe I'm old school, but if I had developed something serious, I probably would have squeezed in another visit.
    The last page of the questionnaire was titled: A SIMPLE TEST TO SEE IF YOU HAVE HEARING LOSS
    This was in big, bold capital letters, like they were already yelling at me—as if hard of hearing is closely connected to hard of reading.
    The survey had 10 questions to diagnose the problem. Here they are, verbatim:
    1. Do others complain that you watch TV with the volume too high?
    Every night, my wife comes into the bedroom while I'm watching Colbert, looks at me and says, "I can't believe how loud this is." I know she is saying that, because I can read lips.
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  • Friday, April 6, 2018 4:00 AM
    A common remark by people who read my column is: “Your wife certainly is witty.” This drives me up the wall because I am the one who puts the words in her mouth every week. Reading my column and then saying my wife is funny is like watching the Simpsons on TV and saying Homer is a great actor.
    The most common question my wife gets is whether the stuff I write about in my newspaper columns is really true. “If it is true,” people ask, “why do you let him write about such personal matters? And if it’s not true, why do you let him make up such baloney?” It’s hard for me to win.
    Most of what I write about is admittedly an exaggeration. If I said my wife left to go shopping and came back two days later, that is an obvious embellishment. If my wife were really gone for two days, I would, of course, have called the police.
    Here’s what I am concerned about. Because I am always trying to be funny, I’m afraid the cops wouldn’t take me seriously: “Hi. This is Dick Wolfsie. My wife left on Thursday to buy clothes, and I haven’t seen her in two days.”
    “Yes, Mr. Wolfsie, that’s a very amusing premise. We here at Missing Persons are aware of the use of hyperbole to create a humorous and whimsical effect. By the way, we suggest three days. Those of us who have an ear for comedy know that a wife missing for two days just isn’t catchy enough. You need the number three. Three is a funny number.”
    “I’m not trying to be funny, officer. I believe my friend Alan may have run away with my wife.”
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  • Friday, March 30, 2018 4:00 AM
    I have a friend (let’s call him Joe . . . which by the way, is his real name) who posts everything he eats on Facebook, or what could be called Feed Your Face Book.
    Joe photographs daytime snacks, late-night raids of the fridge, even the doughnuts he hid under the front seat of his car. He claims he has uploaded 3,000 food pictures onto his Mac—including a few dozen Big Macs, I might add. He wants to create a new app called Snack Chat. It’s like Instagram in the sense that the picture of the food disappears in a few seconds, as quickly as Joe’s lunch.
    I’m not sure this is a new idea. Unlike Joe, I’ve been uploading meals and then downloading them onto my shirts for more than 60 years. It’s not uncommon for people to ask me about certain food choices I have posted on my clothing for all my friends to see . . .
    “Looks delicious, Dick. Wasn’t that the special at the Olive Garden last week?”
    “Been to a ball game, Dick? I recognize the mustard.”
    People are always imposing a visual record of their lives on others. I am tired of friends showing me their pets on their cell phones. I’d rather see a serving of French fries than a French poodle. An adorable pic of your granddaughter on her new trike isn’t very interesting to me. But show me a snapshot of a slab of smoky baby-backs and I’d respond with: “Awww, how cute.”
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  • Friday, March 23, 2018 4:00 AM
    The Wolfsies are building a new house. That’s a misleading statement, because while my wife is making a lot of design decisions, I’m not doing anything that could remotely be called building. The new house is only a mile from our current house. Mary Ellen saw another subdivision she really liked but it was in a different ZIP Code and she was afraid it would take me too long to find my way home.
    We checked out lots of places during our house hunting. In one neighborhood, we saw a Commander Avenue, Commander Way, Commander Circle and Commander Court. Did they run out of nautical terms right after they named the development Commander Point? In another community, we saw a Sheila Road, a Shelly Court, and a Shirley Way. These must have been the builder’s daughters. Or his ex-wives.
    We presently live on a street with a long Native American name. My son was 10 before he could pronounce it and 17 before he could spell it, so I used to tell him that if he ever had to call 911 for me, it would be easiest just to drag me out to the highway. I told my wife I wanted to move to a wooded area where we could find a house on Elm or Maple Avenue. She found a great place on the corner of Sassafras and Eucalyptus, but we decided that was no improvement.
    One thing we learned is to never ask for directions within a housing development. Even the people who live there are clueless. If you’re not actually looking for the street you’re presently on, couples out for a leisurely walk will stare at you and shrug. Even their Lhasa Apso will give you a quizzical look.
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  • Friday, March 16, 2018 4:00 AM
    I'm doing Kegels right now, as I type. I'm supposed to do 50 per day. When my doctor suggested I do them following a medical procedure, I was not familiar with these particular exercises. My wife knew what they were; my sister knew, too. Heidi, my proofreader, was surprised to learn that men can do them. And I'm surprised…that this newspaper published this column.
    I hesitated to write about doing Kegels after Mary Ellen and I discussed that I might have to include some private parts of my life. (I think this is where I'm supposed say: no pun intended.)
    Kegels are a type of pelvic-floor exercise. If you are a guy and are clueless about them, as I was, please look it up. I would explain exactly how to do them in this column, but I was even embarrassed when the doctor gave me the instructions in his office. (Now, I'll wait while you ask Siri. Otherwise, the rest of this column will make no sense). By the way, Siri will definitely know what Kegels are. All women do. 
    Mary Ellen reminds me to be diligent about following the doctor’s orders. While we’re watching a TV show, eating dinner or going somewhere in the car, she asks, "Are you doing your exercises?" I always say "yes." It’s so easy to lie about this, compared to when I say things like "Yes, dear, I know it looks like I'm napping but I'm really on the treadmill.”
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  • Friday, March 9, 2018 4:00 AM
    Last week when Mary Ellen suggested we go to an 11 p.m. movie, I was surprised. 
    "That’s too late. I’ll doze off and you’ll be angry with me,” I yelped.
    "I don't care," said Mary Ellen. "We are going to see a movie tonight.”
    The Academy Awards were coming up and my wife wanted to be sure to see all the flicks in the "Best Picture" category. The last one left for us to see, Lady Bird, was only showing at 11:15. I wrote this column on Friday evening at 6 p.m., two days before the Sunday Oscars. And it was just about the time of day when I was already choosing which pair of pajama bottoms would go with which t-shirt. If we were to go out for a movie, we needed something to occupy ourselves between 6 p.m. and 10:30. We ended up watching a movie on Netflix, which is kind of like grabbing a bite to eat at home before heading out for dinner.
    I decided to ask our friends Bob and Cathy if they wanted to come along. “Bob, Mary Ellen and I are going to an 11 o’clock, movie. You guys want to join us?”
    “Cathy usually doesn’t get up until noon.”
    “No, I mean 11 tonight.”
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