Replaying cat-scratch fever, runaway beagle blues

I need two columns this year to express gratitude to all those who provided material for my weekly 2014 columns. So for this week, a big thanks to:

Our cat, Angel, who bit my wife one morning, resulting in what appeared to be nothing but a little redness. That night on our way to dinner, our friends spent 20 minutes in the back of our car Googling things like “lethal cat bites” and “death from felines.” We decided to spend the evening at Med Check because, with our great health insurance policy, the co-pay was cheaper than movies and a large popcorn.

To my lovely wife for having the best line of the year. We were on a cruise and were dressing for dinner. I opened a new dress shirt, fresh off the shelf from Macy’s. Mary Ellen noticed that the brand-new garment had some kind of a spot around the third button. “Wow,” she said, “they must really know you at Macy’s. They pre-stained it for you.”

To the nice folks at the New York State Retired Teachers Association who arranged for me to come back to the high school in New York where I once taught (and had attended) to teach for one more day so I would be eligible for the modest pension I didn’t qualify for 35 years ago. The kids in the class that day had parents who had not been born when I started teaching. I’m not sure any amount of money was worth discovering that.

To the people who invented the app on my phone that allows me to take a snapshot of a check and deposit the money remotely into my bank. When I try to do this, I end up retaking more pictures than I did of my wife on vacation when she was having a bad hair day. True, I have successfully deposited many checks, but I also have 175 photos of my thumb, or as Mary Ellen said, “I sure hope that is your thumb.”

For that priceless moment when my beagle, Toby, escaped from my grasp in a parking lot and ran into Kroger. Concerned he would go on a food-seeking rampage, I asked the lady at the customer-service desk to make an announcement that a dog was loose in the store and request that someone return him to the front office. “OK,” said the woman before she hit the PA system, “what kind of dog is it?”

To my loving sister, Linda, who up until this year had refused to give me her secret salad dressing ingredients, claiming it was a family secret. Apparently not our family — because I knew nothing about it. Here’s the recipe exactly as she sent it to me:

2 T sugar (NOT artificial sweetener)

2 T ketchup (NOT chili sauce)

1 T Durkee Famous Sauce (Do NOT substitute)

3 T apple cider vinegar (NOT red wine vinegar)

½ cup of vegetable or canola oil (NOT olive oil)

Put in blender (Do NOT whisk)

Clearly, my sister has a lot of control issues.

Finally, to me, for a line that got no laughs, at least not from my wife. At Mary Ellen’s high school reunion, she was sitting with an old heartthrob who told me that ever since Mary Ellen broke up with him in 1972, he’s been drinking. “Wow, still celebrating after all these years?” I asked. It was quite a frosty ride home in the car.