Friday, January 16, 2015

The Bittermans in Review

I am attempting to set up a "Pages" feature in which to store all the Bitterman snippets in one place.  Not working yet.  Meanwhile, here they are if you wish to reread them without searching through three years of stuff.

The Bittermans

Amity in the Home 

"Lose control of the remote, there's going to be a lot of Oxygen, Lifetime, and HGTV coming into the house." --Herk Bitterman

Herk is just a whiner. We know he has another TV in the house.

Another Saturday with Herkimer

"A woman is the only creature known to science who thinks she can change the past by carping about it in the present." --Herk Bitterman

I don't know what it is between Herk and Tildy, and I'm not going to get into it. But he will go on about "stuff."

More Whining

"Any man says he can't read women is seriously vision impaired. The only thing written there are two big letters about the size of the top line on the eye chart:


--Herk Bitterman

Teen Learns Economics from Washington

Herk and Tildy's son, Teen, getting his financial house in order:

Hmmm. Last week I spent $5. I owe Dad 14, but he'll lend me more.
Next week I'll spend the same, except I'm adding 2 for jelly beans and 2
for a new app. Total $9.

Dad says okay; I'll loan you 2 more. But you'll have to cut your spending.

Okay, I say, No problem. I can live without the jelly beans. I'll cut 2.
(I'll spend 7, and look! I cut $2. (9 - 2 = 7).

What? You're saying I spent less last week; how is that a cut?
Shut up, already.

About Herkimer's Past

Herk told me that when he was in high school he took his Dad's current wife, Lyla, to the prom.

"Well," he said, "she wasn't Dad's wife then. She was just Ly. She sat in front of me in social studies class."

Herk's Not a Fan of TV

Herk dropped by last evening. Told me Tildy was watching "The Good Wife." Said he was glad to see her getting into self-improvement programs. 

On the Web

Herk said that he told Tildy that she and her mother should have a website where they could post their best ideas. Said they could call it "Wikiwacky."

Cortisone, Girth, and Exile

It seems that Tildy told Herk that the ambient noise created by the TV being on all the time was causing her to gain weight. Some quasi-scientific mumbo-jumbo about cortisone, yakkety-yak. Herk told her that her knife and fork were causing her to gain weight. So Herkimer is over here in my garage watching me work.

Now, That's Shopping!

Tildy came home from shopping a bit shaken. "I was mugged on Second Avenue," she told Herk. "He took my purse, everything. My phone, my billfold, Mother's meds.
"My, gosh," said Herk. "I'm glad you're okay, but we've got to call the card companies."
"Oh, don't worry, that's not a problem. I maxed both of them out on stuff I ordered at Tiffany's and Saks."

The Bittermans Play Jeopardy

The Jeopardy answer was, "This student of Socrates founded an academy in Athens in 327 B.C."
"Who is Plato?" said Tildy.
"I thought Plato was stuff in cans that kids play with," retorted Herkimer.
"Ha ha," Tildy replied.

Herk was not joking. He is clueless in, oh, so many ways.

Three-day Reprieve

Herk came over and told me he just sent Tildy to a three-day stress management seminar, said, "I feel less stressed already!"


I was in the middle of reassembling an engine and encountering the tiniest bit of frustration with it when Herkimer walked into the garage. He started talking to me, apropos of nothing, as is his wont.

Presently I heard him say, "The key to a happy marriage is the one that starts the car when I need to get away from her for a while."

"I thought your path to happiness," I said, "was the one from your kitchen door to my garage, seeing you are here whenever I am."

"Haha," laughed Herk. "You are a riot, Bob."

Correct, But Wrong

Tildy exclaimed, "I lose another twenty pounds I'll be a hot chick!"

To which Herk replied, "You'll be a smaller old hen, but you'll never be a chick again."

That man just never learns.


Herk just wandered into the garage. I glanced up and noted that he looked pretty dejected.

"What's happening, Herk?" Though I should have known better than to ask.

"I just don't know where I've gone wrong. I try so hard to make that woman happy. She just told me, 'Herkimer, the budget is in a bit of a crunch, so I think you should take a staycation this winter while my sister and I take a Caribbean cruise.'"


Herkimer came in while I was sharpening my axe, sparks flying off the grindstone. I shut it off, and as the motor wound down, Herk said,
I told Tildy I was thinking about new diamond earrings for her birthday, but she has such a sparkling personality that giving her jewelry would be like sending coal to Newcastle. I thought she'd be flattered. There is a difference between "sparkling" and "sparks flying."

First She Says She Will, Then She Won't

"That woman," said Herk, "is gonna be the death of me. Yesterday she liked it, today she doesn't."
"So," said I, "everyone knows it is a woman's prerogative to change her mind."
"Inconsistency your name is woman!" Herk left the garage shaking his head.

I did not tell Herk, but my wife often says, "The only thing I am consistent about is being inconsistent." And that's the truth.

Love My Neighbors

Herk said, "The Mizzus and I have been talking about a much-needed vacation. We agreed we needed to get away from it all. Then I came home from work last night and discovered that she had booked a cruise for the two of us.

"I says to her, 'If we were going to get away from it all, why would we go together?' and then it started..."

"Merry Christmas, Herk," I said. "See you later."

Herk's Neighbors

I thought the Bittermans had their problems. Then at the New Year's Eve party the other night, I overheard my wife tell Tildy, "Bob may not be the most handsome or swiftest guy on earth, but he's mine."

I hope she wasn't complaining.

Herk's Hair and Tildy's Tease

I was stripping the library table which will go behind our couch when it is finished. Herkimer strolled in unbidden, as is his wont.

"Women," he said. "That Tildy, man, I don't know what she wants." I grunted, "Ungh," which gave him all the encouragement he needed to proceed.

"Ever since we've been married, she's been on me about how I dress, about my hair. If I let the hair dry naturally, she says, 'Put some gel in it., then go like this.' So this morning she saw me standing in front of the mirror, putting gel in my hair, running my fingers through it just like she showed me. She looked at me and said, 'You sure are vain, aren't you?' What the heck?!"

Short List

"Tildy's always telling me I don't know how to have fun," Herk whined. "Today, she said the only two things on my bucket list are 'eat' and 'sleep.'"

To Shop or Not to Shop

After they had been in the produce section for many minutes, Herkimer pushed on ahead with the cart. Finally, after selecting some bread, he looked back and Tildy was staring at a carrot display. He ambled back that way, and she said, "Stop running off with my cart!"

Herk said, "All you are doing is strolling past things, staring at the produce."

Tildy, fixed him with "the look" and said, "It's called shopping, Herkimer!"

(Herkimer spent the rest of the morning strolling around the store by himself, looking at stuff. Tildy bought the groceries.)


Herk:  There I've got the toilet seat replaced.

Tildy:  You put a white seat on a cream-colored bowl.

Herk:  Yeah?

Tildy:  That'll have to be changed.

Herk:  You'll get used to it.

Tildy: No.

Herk: Then you'll have to learn to live with it.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Herkimer walked into the garage just as the belt sander wound down.

Herk said, I baked peanut butter cookies last night, cleaned up in the kitchen and everything. Cookies were good, too.

Where are mine? I asked.

Tildy told me, Herk continued as though I had said nothing, "They're not as good as mine." What's with that? Didn't stop her from eating four of 'em before she went to bed.

Herk, I said, it's an all around win for Tildy, and you win, too, if you just eat cookies and keep quiet. And agree with her; maybe she'll bake next time!

Herk offered me his recipe. Thanks, I said. You used the one on the Jif jar, didn't you?

Bitterman Update

Herk walked over to the flower plot I was weeding.  I straightened up, not so much to eyeball him while we talked as to give my back some relief.  "Some nice looking flowers," he remarked.  "Thanks," I said.  "The bearded iris would be my favorite flower if only the bloom lasted longer."

"Oh, yes," Herk responded, "beauty fades quickly, doesn't she?"  I knew Herk was not talking about flowers, so I didn't make any comment.  Now, it is well-known that his wife, Tildy, was a real beauty in her youth, and she has the pictures and the clippings to prove that that fact was recognized by the County Fair committee back in nineteen-something-or-other, for she was Queen that year.  Herkimer doesn't realize it sometimes, or perhaps he is simply not as thoughtful as he might be, but Tildy has aged well, and she is, as is sometimes said of a lady of a certain age, "a fine figure of a woman."  What I am saying is, Herkimer is darned lucky, and he doesn't even know how lucky he is.  In all fairness, though, I should say I don't have to live with her, and Tildy does have a way with words.

We chatted a bit about the storms in Kansas and the flax crops in North Dakota, then Herkimer took his leave, and I bent again to the task.

Paint and Palaver

I was weeding along the side of the house.  I had noticed that Herk and Tildy were at their front entryway with paint and brushes.  Projects they attempt to do together seldom turn out well.

As time passed, I could hear some back-and-forth, but I could not make out their conversation.  Until, that is, I heard:
Herk:  *blah blah, something*  Bwahahaha!

Tildy: Just shut up and paint!

Herk:  I wish you had a sense of humor!

Tildy:  I wish you had some sense!

New Season: TV Review

Herk walked down my driveway and watched my puttering with a little project for half-minute, then he said

Didja watch the new show, Blacklist?

I did.

Whatcha think? Pretty cool, huh?

Totally derivative.  The crook-aids-law-enforcement straight from White Collar;  blood and gore from any number of crime programs, just another in the list of shows that hope to see how far they can go, and how soon they can turn your stomach; kick-ass tough girl on the side of good from NCIS, NCIS -LA, SVU, and any number of other programs; spouse with a secret life, well you've seen it all before.  And James Spader played his role with the same arrogance with which he played a lawyer in Boston Legal.  Why not?  Lawyer, crook.

I see no compelling reason whatsoever to put the show on my watch-list.

Herk was already half-way home.

New Years Day at the Bittermans

Tildy told Herkimer that any Christmas goodies left after today would be thrown in the trash.

Then she ate all the chocolate fudge.


Herkimer Bitterman stopped by his dad's house to drop off his rent check.  Dad invited him in, so they were sitting at the kitchen table having coffee.  Herk's stepmother, Lyla, came in, "Hi, Herky! So are you going to our twentieth class reunion on Saturday?"

"Are you?"

"Sure.  I wouldn't miss it for the world."

"Then no," said Herkimer.

Lifetime Renter

Herkimer and Matilda Bitterman have lived next door since they married fifteen years ago.  Herk and Tildy are good neighbors, keep the place up nicely, and don’t bother me unduly.  Herk will borrow a tool now and again, but he always returns the item by and by.  The Bittermans rent the house from Herk’s father.  Now the elder Mr. Bitterman, “Bitty” to his friends, is married to Herk’s high school classmate, Lyla.

Six years ago when Bitty told his son he was going to marry Lyla, Herk said, “Dad! What are you thinking?”  
“That,” replied his father, “is none of your business.”

And that was so.
I once asked Herk why he rented.  Wouldn’t his dad sell him the house, I wondered.

“Here’s the deal.  Dad has the monthly income from the rent.  Part of his retirement package, you see.  If I bought the house, Lyla would go through the money in a week.  Then where’s his income?”

“Your dad could sell it to you on contract.”

“True.  But it would pay out eventually, income stops.”

“But your father is surely going to pass before Lyla does.  Then she’ll get the house, and you will be out of luck.”

“Not at all.  Dad’s will specifically conveys the house to me and Tildy.  Lyla gets the house where they live and the IRA.”  Works for everyone.”

Light Housework

Funny thing, I told Herk.  Housekeeping, I mean.

How so?

When I was a kid, I could seldom get it good enough to please Mama; lot of chores done twice.

Herkimer chuckled.

But I got pretty good at it, and now I am thinking, I said, how much things change.

Herkimer, quizzically, Really?

Yeah, I explicated, for years meeting Mama's standard in my own home was the goal.  You know, perfection.  But as I got older, things changed.  Now I am at a point where "good enough" is good enough.  At the rate I am going, the day will come when "not at all" is good enough.

Herkie laughed.  I was just remembering, he remarked, the early times in my married life.

Do tell, I encouraged.

Well, he said, Tildy and I had been married maybe two, three weeks.  I remarked to her that the house looked like she needed to dust.

Dust? she asked, in all seriousness.  What's "dust"?

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