Mothballing My Wambulance


Waaah! (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Wambulance: I first heard it from Lily, Cam and Mitchell’s daughter on television’s Modern Family. The Urban Dictionary defines and illustrates:

A joke used insultingly toward a person who is whining about something stupid like a tummy ache.

Whiner: Ow! Damn it to Hell, this paper cut hurts!

Other guy: Boo Hoo, let me dial WHINE-1-1 and call you a wambulance.


Pillsbury Doughboy (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve nothing to whine about these days, but that doesn’t stop me—at least from whining on paper. Coleman stock suffers in silence, sometimes at our health’s expense. What’s going on inside is another story. A good bit of the time, I’m an interior crybaby, preoccupied with spiritual tummy aches and paper cuts. As a fifty-one-year-old with the constitution of the Pillsbury Doughboy and a rickshaw full of neuroses, I guess my chances of changing are zilch. This being the case, I’ll share my latest snivel.

In previous posts I’ve speculated about my wobbly psyche being tasered by PTSD and adrenal fatigue. Whatever’s going on, I’ve noticed a bothersome sensation that reminds me of something cars used to do. Back when people actually changed their own oil, dumped STP into their gas tanks, and considered themselves qualified to look under their hoods, my throttle occasionally got stuck open, probably because I neglected my vehicles. The cure for the resulting racing engine was spraying the carburetor with carb cleaner. At least that’s how I remember it.

My personal throttle is frozen open these days. My motor’s revving at full testosterone rage even when I’m sitting at a red light. In the past I’d have moved directly on to a panic attack, but now I sit behind the wheel, breathe, and smile at my stupid throttle. It’s more of a drag than anything else. I’m not going to lie; when it goes on too long, I hit it with pharmaceutical STP, Xanax, which gets things unstuck.


Pull toy with string attached to the happy cow’s chest (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Here’s another way to describe the feeling: I’m a kid’s pull toy. Some brat with a snot mustache has ahold of the string attached to my chest—a kid who’s snuck a few of his old man’s 5-hour ENERGY Shots and can’t stop dragging me across the hardwood floors of home while yodeling and barking.

What to do? I already pray and nap as much as a human should. In truth, my need for midday oblivion is often related to my stuck throttle, my off-the-hook little snot. If I lie or sit still anymore, I’ll be mistaken for a mound of clay. And I’m not about to get hooked on Xanax or up my Zoloft dosage. The former is a idiotic black hole; the latter would render me the emotional equivalent of 98% fat-free hamburger. Blah! I’ve got to find another way.


Just try talking with a pebble between your lips.

Abba Agathon is said to have had a practice that might help me. Many sources, including Desert Wisdom by Yushi Nomura, report that for three years, the sage “carried a pebble around in his mouth until he learned to be silent.” Fortunately, I’ve made enough progress in shutting up that holding a stone in my puckered lips isn’t necessary, but the ancient abba gives me an idea.

A ring on my pinkie, that’s the ticket. I’ll wear a heavy peace sign ring until I learn to remove the pull toy string from my chest, to ease down my throttle—to slow down! Racing for years from one crisis to the next, my head and heart always hear, “Gentlemen, start your engines.” As I stumble through middle age, health and gladness depend on finding a new way of being.


A finger burdened until its owner learns peace

A new way: just as Abba Agathon held a pebble in his lips, I’ll keep peace on my finger—a ring. “Receive this day’s grace,” it will remind me. “Breathe in slowly the new air of blessing. Don’t rush off to phantom disasters.”

Can I learn a new way of being in three years? Here’s hoping a hippie ring will be my teacher. I pray my siestas will be more celebration than survival. And I mean to mothball my wambulance.



Wanting To Be Verklempt After Nappus Interruptus


More people should go to this joint! 3741 West 26th, Erie, PA.

I’m sipping an iced, decaf latte at Brick House Coffee at 5:19 p.m. Micah’s talking life over with his therapist—a life in progress. Those words triggered my question for the day: should I say in progress or incomplete? The answer depends on whether I’m glad or disgruntled. My aura is foggy and fatigued, thanks to a neighbor whose yard work occasionally collides with my siesta, so for the moment, disgruntled wins. She’s nice, but has the loudest leaf blower and weed whacker on the market. A couple years ago when Micah’s death metal band Festering Pestilence practiced in the Coleman basement, I could nap through their roaring hits “Dead and Leaking” (a tribute to one of the boy’s ex-girlfriends) and “Stench of Greed.” Those were the days! But lawn grooming’s high-pitched wheeee and whirrrr make the maple tree propellers, weeds, and me all toss and turn. I gave up and joined neighbors Joy and Kevin on their porch for a Saranac pale ale, which landed in my belly like a quart of bacon grease. Delicious, but ugh.


Mike Myers as Linda Richman on Saturday Night Live, getting verklempt. (Credit: Wikipedia)

In addition to my cases of nappus interruptus and gut slosh, Zoloft also has a cry trapped in my chest. Yes, I’m a man, and I could use a good blubber. Who knows exactly what it’s about? This is one drag about being on an anti-depressant. Before Zoloft, every day was a swim upstream. I’m much more peaceful overall now thanks to a slim 50 mgs of a chemical, but the sanity comes at a price. Geritol and the Church of Latter Day Saints commercials used to make me verklempt. No more. Tears are rare these days, and I miss them. Anyway, the point: an incomplete cry is exhausting. You try to sigh it out, cough it out, talk it out, whatever. Nothing works. (I’d be glad to hear from any of you who can relate.)

Fortunately, not all of the day’s incompleteness has been a bummer. After prayer this morning, I surveyed the downstairs bathroom, which wonder-wife Kathy is tantalizingly close to finishing. Check out the photographs for a summary.


Register not yet de-crudded. Cats stay out!


I’d probably be okay with this for a year.


Until the privacy curtain is finished, we shower at the rodeo.


Bathroom door still under anesthetic in the garage. From this angle, it could be art.

Since the bathroom is functional in all necessary ways, I put it in the joyful, in-progress category.


Shower, sink, toilet: yep, it’s a bathroom, all right.


Until the door is finished, a curtain fit for a brothel.

Micah himself is obviously in progress. Possibly for the first time in his post-pubescent years, he’s taking employment seriously. (A good friend went to bat for him, got him a job. Gracias!) Nearly one-year clean now, my twenty-one-year-old slides into the passenger seat after a day of painting, lights up a Camel Wides Menthol, and groans. It’s a good tired. For once I’m grateful for cigarette smoke, which smothers his lathery stench of work.

Near the complex where Micah’s painting, a multi-generational gaggle of geese congregates. When I dropped him off this morning, I thought to myself that the youngsters are in progress, which can be a gentle way of saying, “Kind of stupid.” One of them was sleeping in the middle of the road, and as I approached, one of the adults waddled out and said, “Hey, Scooter, get your downy rump off the road.”


Come along, Scooter.


Don’t judge me. I’m “in progress.”


One of the rooms at Brick House. (They also have micro-brews!)

From my corner of the Brick House, I laugh at a gosling and a man-cub, but if ever there were a work in progress it’s me. Or am I incomplete? Eh, whatever. If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s a brick shithouse. I mention this because Micah asked me about the term’s origin as we passed this coffee house on the way to therapy. I told him it probably comes from the image of a structure that’s stronger than necessary for its purpose. I was right, basically. Check out if you can’t find anything else to do with yourself.

Off now to fetch my son from shrinkage. He’ll light up, I won’t cry, and we’ll drive home, each thing we speed past praying in its own way for an aura that shimmers hope and growth into the ambiguous afternoon.


A brick . . . outhouse, surrounded by trees putting out a hopeful aura. (Credit: Wikipedia)