Thursday, August 8, 2013


            My dedicated readers know that I’m a big fan of statistics, and because we now have so many ways to find out anything we want to know, it’s made my job a breeze, whenever I elect to cite some.
            Did you know, for example, that brown eggs come from chickens with red feathers and red ear lobes?  (I never said that statistics were funny; I just like them.  And, prior to researching this, I confess to never having once thought of a chicken’s ear lobe.) 
            For this column, I wanted to find out how many of us (men) are out there living alone.  I discovered that the United States ranks fifth in the world in the percentage of single-person households.  Sweden is number one, at 47 percent.  Here in America, there are 3 million men my age living solo.  I don’t know how many of us are Swedish, but I’ll bet I could find out.
            I’ve excluded single women from this, because I’d have to then research and factor-in how many of them do have a co-inhabitant in the house but feel like they don’t, especially on garbage collection day.
            It naturally follows that I and my 2,999,999 fellow solitary older men should have a code of conduct, if not a peer review or some kind of guide for going it single.  For this column only, we’ll allow our Scandinavian expatriates into the fold.
            Let’s start with the basics:
            Gentlemen, I’m not going to address why today we find ourselves living by ourselves.  There are 3 million of us, which means there are a minimum of 3 million reasons, many of them reasonable, why we’re making omelets-for-one today, and that’s a good place to start.
            COOKING:  I’m going to limit this to those of us who had little or no experience in meal preparation prior to our independent living. 
            I’m assuming that most of us have computers, which means we have some prowess in the art of multi-tasking.  You cannot cook a well-balanced diet without multi-tasking, unless you want every meal to last six hours.
            A few simple rules:
            Don’t eat anything green that started out as another color.
            Do remember to break the yolk in that egg before putting it in the microwave, unless you’re prepared to scrape it off the ceiling.
            Buy big tubs of peanut butter.
            The end.
            CLEANING:  This task has many variables, because we all have different acceptable levels of what constitutes dirt.
            Do clean any countertops, floors, carpets and walls that you’re certain were another color six months ago.
            Don’t vacuum the dog, even if he doesn’t fight you.  He doesn’t like it, and already thinks you’re crazy for blowing up your eggs.
            DUSTING:  Forget that.
            LAUNDRY:  No woman I’ve ever known has ever appreciated what I’ll call the Law of Reverse Osmosis.  Dirty clothes will, if given enough time, through a complex scientific process of membranous permeability, clean themselves.  Rotate your piles, sifting through them regularly.  Fluffing is optional, but it will speed things up.
            IRONING:  (see: Dusting).
            DISHES:  I remember my grandmother scolding me, not for not washing the dishes, but for not rinsing them off after eating.  I agree with this in principle.  The remains of a ruptured egg left unrinsed-off until the next day will become an integral part of the plate.
            This is easily bypassed by utilizing what some of my fellow North Country dog-owning brethren call “the canine pre-wash.”
            Lacking this resource, you may apply a variation of the laundry methodology.  Dirty-egged plates left overnight in the refrigerator will be neutralized enough to use again safely.  Don’t worry about germs.  You live alone.  You’re not going to infect yourself.
            SOCIAL LIFE:  Turn off your telephone.  Then, you’ll never have to wonder who isn’t calling you.
            HOME AND VEHICLE MAINTENANCE:  I won’t speak to those among us who are adept with tools.  You don’t need me.  I am concerned, however, for my comrades-in-clumsy who use screwdrivers for hammers and believe that body English will repair a sagging rain gutter. You must not be ashamed, nor does it make you less of a man if your solution for starting a cold engine is pounding the steering wheel.
Don’t be discouraged, if after you “tighten up” that loose lawnmower blade with a hammer shaped like a chisel, when said blade later flies off in mid-mow and helicopters across the lawn, narrowly missing your terrified but well-vacuumed pooch, and embeds itself in your truck bumper.
Just dig it out with a spatula.
You know --- the same one you used to chip dried egg off the ceiling.

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Senior Wire News Service syndicated humor columnist writes from Bethlehem, NH.  His new book: “Walk Tall and Carry A BigWatering Can,” is now available. Copyright 2013 by B. Elwin Sherman.  All rights reserved.  Used here with permission.