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WRITER: Burton Cole

Apparently you can lose at the fill-in-the-blank game

Long-married couples have a knack for finishing each other’s sentences. Terry and I do that. It’s too bad that we’re never talking about the same thing when we do. You’ve seen those creepy couples. They’ll be all smiles and doe-eyed as they carry on coded cut-off conversations that would confound James Bond, Ethan Hunt and Harriet the Spy. “Sweetheart, would you...” “... pass the salt? ...

Get ready to hurry up and wait

“Wanna hike through the woods?” “That’s a great idea,” my wife said. “Just give me a minute to gather up a couple things.” “No!” I cried. “We’ll never get there.” “Don’t be silly,” Terry said. “Once upon a time, when we decided to do something, we got up and did it. No planning. No packing. No hesitation. What happened?” “We got wiser.” She headed down the hall. “Did ...

I could really use dum-dum-dumm music

I’ve figured out why I’m in trouble so often — no background music. At first, I thought it was me. Maybe I am an insensitive clod. A clumsy oaf. A lazy laggard. Don’t be ridiculous. She was just having another bad day at the exact moment when I opened my mouth or spilled the ketchup on the Very Important Project. Again. But if life came with background music, I’d have avoided all manner of ...

Finding comfort

Sherri Mamounis, 56, of Youngstown, gets paid to be the live-in caretaker for her twin sister, Sheryl Lasky, who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Mamounis officially works 42 hours per week in her own home for about $300 per week under a state-approved program that allows family members or friends to be hired by a qualified agency to provide paid assistance to loved ones. She assists her twin with ...

Mowing the lawn is time well wasted

I stood at the picture window, staring at nothing in particular while my thoughts frittered and frolicked a million miles away. The voice froze a thought either mid-frit or mid-frol: “Yes, that grass sure is high.” I blinked myself back to the present. Turned to see my sweet wife. And said the first thing that came to mind: “Huh?” “The yard.” Terry pointed out the window. “You’ve been fretting ...

Having a sensible, adult breakfast

The stealth Pop-Tarts were left at the newspaper office in a brown paper bag. The attached note read: “Here is a Terry-approved breakfast option. I advise that you store it toward the back of your pantry, but if she should find it, you can blame it on a factory error.” I peeked inside the bag. It contained a rounded cardboard canister. Oatmeal. A sensible and responsible breakfast. What a mean thing to ...

Without experimentation, Pop-Tarts still worth craving

“Stop! You almost passed the Pop-Tarts.” “Let’s not leave the job half done,” my wife called over her shoulder. She pushed the shopping cart farther down the grocery aisle. I grabbed a 12-pack of frosted strawberry and caught up to her. “Don’t worry. I got them.” Terry reshelved the Pop-Tarts. “No. You’re 60 years old.” “Big boys eat Pop-Tarts, too,” I whined. “Ooh, look, ...

Birthdays and sales tax are constant

Like all my other schemes to get rich, this one collapsed due to circumstances no one could have predicted. At least, I didn’t. It certainly seemed better than the time I set up a roadside stand to sell cow pies fresh from the pasture. Who could have known that wasn’t how city gardeners wanted to buy fertilizer? Nor did it have the drawbacks of the time I stuck a for-sale sign in the front yard. “But ...

McDonald family conquers coronavirus

Editor’s note: This is the second in a sporadic series of coronavirus survivor stories. McDONALD — “I could have been one of the statistics, one more death in Trumbull County,” novel coronavirus survivor Jim Mashburn said. For a while, the idea seemed appealing. “(I said) I’m not sure I want to live with this, the muscles ached so bad,” he said. “I was so sick. My kidneys had started to ...

What to write when there’s nothing left to write about

I rocked my easy chair up a smidge so that I could brush Pop-Tart crumbs off my belly. I didn’t want the strawberry filling to stain my favorite T-shirt, the one that proclaims: “Please don’t interrupt me while I’m ignoring you.” I cued another hand of spider solitaire on the laptop resting on my knees. “I don’t know what to write for my column this week,” I called out to my wife, Terry, who was ...